TARKHAN DYNASTY AT MAKLI HILL, THATTA (PAKISTAN): HISTORY AND ARCHITECTURE OF THE SELECTED MONUMENTS
MUHAMMAD NAEEM QAZI
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MUHAMMAD NAEEM QAZI
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April 30, 2023
Thatta remained the centre of the built heritage, was founded before the arrival of Alexander the great in July 323 BC. The Greek historians have recorded it with the name of “Patala”. Alexander has re-strengthened the port city of Patala. This port city was feeding the seaport of Baribarikon or al-Daybul. Moreover, this river port city became the distributing centre for the sea port during the succeeding centuries. It may be added here that during the Scythians rule over Sindh, the same river port city was remained their capital city, however, they changed its name “Patala” with Men-Nugur or Men-Nagara. In this connection, it may be further added here that Periplus visited this region between A.D 50 until A.D 70, who mentioned Men-Nagar. During this phase of time it was ruled by the Parthians.
It may be pointed out that since the Kusāna have constructed the Buddhist stūpas in the Sindh valley. In this regard, the stūpa of Moenjodharo is one of the significant evidence of this phase. Moreover, F.A. Khan in 1958 during the course of excavations at Bhanbore, has revealed the Kusāna level. However, we have no evidences regarding the Kusāna rule over, Thatta or the ancient Men-Nagar. It is significant to advocate here that perhaps during the second or might be in the third century A.D, this name was changed with Medawari or Medabari or even Mendabari. Later on, before the arrival of Arabs the Brahmans ruled over the area, who named it Sawaminagar or Semeenugur defining the city of the gods.
It is interesting to argue here that the status of these twin ports was highly acknowledged by the Arabs. Who named these with “al-Daybulan” the twin ports the one Daybul–Thatta the river port and the other al-Daybul the seaport.
The Sumras established their capital city at Thatta in A.D 1052. It remained the capital city of the Sammas under their founder Jam Unar-I A.D 1337. However, later on, Samui at Thatta was established as a capital city under the Sammas until Jam Nizamuddin Nindo’s rule during A.D 1458-1509, when Thatta was re-established as a capital city. Which onwards remained the capital city under the Arghuns (the Central Asian Turks) from A.D 1520 until A.D 1555, Tarkhan A.D 1555 until 1613 and finally the region of Thatta came under the Mughal rule.
It is equally significant to elaborate here that in the presence of historical references it can be undoubtedly proved that from the 4th century BC until this day Thatta is playing a vital role in the history of art and craft, however, the built heritage of Thatta on one hand,
whereas, Makli Hill the asset of Thatta on the other hand is yielding significant position in the whole of Sindh valley. It is equally pertinent to elaborate here that in Pakistan six archaeological sites have been included in the world heritage list of UNESCO. In this sequence, in the year 1991 the famous necropolis of Makli Hill was included in the world heritage list (Khan, M.I., 2000: 57).
It may be further added here that different scholars, such as, Henry Cousens (1929), M.A. Ghafur (1964, 1968), A.H. Dani (1982), I.H. Nadiem (1997), Kaleemullah Lashari (1992,1993 & 1995), Sheikh Khurshid Hasan (1996), Lari (1997) and Hastenrath (2003) have contributed their research works concerning to the built heritage of Makli Hill necropolis.
However, one way or the other their work seem to be restricted in terms of the glorious heritage of Makli Hill, which is possessing a variety of buildings and surface decorative features. Furthermore, many buildings have been declared unidentified, however, these buildings are showing the date and as well the name of the deceased person. In this connection, an attempt has been made to identify such monuments in the light of inscriptions executed inside these buildings.
Moreover, the present researcher has classified the various monuments at Makli Hill into six groups such as, 1. Mosque 2. Madrasah pavilion 3. Graves with platform 4. Graves with mosque enclosures or Rank 5. Mausoleum architecture and 6. Chaukhandi tombs. Besides, their proper identification, descriptive analysis and their comparative study, the other worth mentioning issue is the chorological sequence of these buildings. In this process, style critical-method has been adopted to evaluate these buildings in order to formulate a time scale for the monuments at Makli Hill necropolis.
In the at issue method of research work the style of the buildings and the existing architectural components, moreover, the various decorative designs are analytically analysed in order to formulate its time scale for these buildings. In this process, the aims and objectives would be to identify the unidentified buildings in the region of our study and to know about the stylistical approach. Moreover, to study the different sources of its impacts. Furthermore, to evaluate the various ornamental designs in order to know about its exact routes of origin. Besides, their proper classification shall be the other significant objective in order to know about their stylistial developments. Similarly, the shrouded history of Thatta and Makli Hill likewise, their proper nomenclature shall also be discussed at length in order to solve the prevailing contention among the various scholars. The aims
and objectives of these analytical observations and investigations would be to bring forth the different controversial issues and their solutions. The main purpose of this research work would be to finalise this document in such a way to prepare a certain road map for the future researchers, can be benefited during their course of research work. It may be pointed out that the present researcher is contributing a fraction of work, however, a lot more to be done in order to develop and to promote the built heritage of the under discussion locality. Such activities will develop the interest of the national and international students and tourists, which will obviously promote the tourism industry, it is of course an important source for the earning of foreign exchange, which can play a useful role in the uplift of the national economy. Therefore, such topics of worth potential must be selected for the research purpose, in this process the present researcher shall be studying the selected monuments, however, we need to contribute more research work in order to bring forth the various matters of contention.
It is equally important to advocate here that it is indeed impossible to carry out the research work on the entire Makli Hill built heritage, therefore, the present researcher shall be focussing on the selected buildings of the last two categories of the above stated groups of buildings at Makli Hill such as, 1. Mausoleum architecture and 2. Chaukhandi tombs.
Besides, the architectural analyses the present researcher shall also be focussing on the selected decorative designs among the vast number of ornamental motifs. It is indeed pertinent, to add further that the art and architecture of the Makli Hill necropolis is undoubtedly denoting the western Indian traditions alongside the Sindhians values, which have greatly influenced the Makli Hill style of art and architecture. Later on, the Central Asian and Persian interactions have glorified the building art of the inquestion vicinity. Thus it appears, that the variety of buildings and variation in the surface decoration, possessing different theme of adornment. These have been wrought in various techniques.
To conclude the matter here that a gem of art and architecture was evolved out due to the cultural interactions which eventually styled into a versatile format, showing a unique form of stylistical approach, therefore, may be undoubtedly termed unparallel in the contemporary architectural activities. Thus, in the light of different examplary precedents from the at issue region, which originated, developed and innovated at one place during different ruling dynasties. Therefore, this unique and unparallel assemblage of exquisite workmanship of this area may be clearly claimed as the “Makli Hill School of Art and Architecture”.
1. Origin and Nomenclature of Thatta and Makli Hill
1.1. Location of Thatta
Thatta is located about 98 km east of Karachi, and 50 miles southwest of Hyderabad
(Cousens, 1929: 110; Pithawala, 1959: 70) (Fig. 1 & 2). It is important to add here that different geographical positioning of Thatta has been recorded by the researchers, such as, “Manjhi is recording it 24 ̊ 44' in north latitude” (Manjhi, 2007: 294-95). Whereas, District Census Report of Thatta 1972 and 1998 have recorded its (Thatta) position in 23 ̊ 43' or 25 ̊ 26' north latitude and 67 ̊05' to 68 ̊45' east longitude (D.C.R., 1972: 3; 1998: 1). While, V.A Smith calculated Thatta in North latitude 24 ̊ 45' and east longitude 67 ̊58' (Smith, 1957: 108). Similarly, H. Pottinger is mentioning it 24 ̊ 44' north latitude and 68 ̊ 17' east longitude (Pottinger, 1816: 352- 53). However, the most authentic geographical positioning of Thatta has been recorded by the concerned authorities that is 24 ̊ 46' in north latitude and 68 ̊59' east longitude (Pithawala 1959: 10; Sorley, 1968: 344; Dani, 1982: 6). It may be pointed out that Thatta is bounded on north by Dadu, Hyderabad and Badin regions. Whereas, India is located on its eastern direction. While, Kutch area and the Arabian Sea are lying to its South. Moreover, Karachi is situated to its western direction (D.C.R., 1972: 5).
1.2. Nomenclature of Thatta
It is indeed sterling to pinpoint here that the autobiographers, traders, missionaries and
the geographers in their accounts have assumed different supposed versions of its origin. In this sequence, the literary records are possessing key role in the reconstruction of historic events. Moreover, these are providing solutions for the hypothetic assumptions. In this regard, such recorded versions of information can be used as a source material in both identification and definition of a certain issue. In this connection, it is indeed pertinent to proclaim here that the term Thatta can be observed in different languages, such as, Sanskrit, Hindi, Sindhi and Persian. In this process, both the structure and composition of these terms may be scientifically analysed to match each other, both in pronunciation as well in definition.
In this process, it may be advocated here that in the past Thatta has been mentioned with different names. Such as, the earliest record may be observed in the Greek accounts. They have mentioned that Patala is a river port, located behind the sea port of Barbarikon (present day Banbhore and the al-Daybul of the Arab conquest). Whereas, during the Scythians this name was replaced with Min-Nagara or Mendawari or Mendabari. However, the Patasila of Hiuen Tsang seems to be the continuation of the same Patala. Later on, this name was changed with
Sameenagur or Swaminagar. Whereas, at the advent of the Arabs, for both Thatta (river port) and 1
Banbhore (sea port) a common name was applied, such as, “al-Daybulan”, denoting the twin ports. It may be further added here that by the dawn of the 10th century A.D the name Thatta appears for the first time in the Arab accounts. While, some of the Arab travelers of the 10th and 11th century A.D, have mentioned it with the name of Daybul Thatha. Besides, this region was also called “Thato-Nagar”, defining a city on the river bank. Thus, one way or the other all the above stated names are denoting to the same name and place.
It is indeed sterling, to advocate here that the definitions of the above stated names can be analysed in the light of folkloristic traditions, myths and literary sources. In this connection, the analytical study of these sources can lead us to the proper conclusion of the prevailing matter. In this sequence, Dani, Sachau and Knappert, have discussed the mythological aspect of Patala and its proper definition at length. In this process, both Dani and Sachau are quoting Alberuni, who recorded that in the Hindu mythology, the lower world is termed as “Nāgaloka” or “Naraloka”, defining the world of serpents, moreover, it is also denoting the hell. Furthermore, it also defines the lowest world, or the land of Nāgas (Alberuni, 1962: 76; 1973: 85). Whereas, Knappert is proclaiming that Patala is a locality situated beneath the earth, which is resided by the Daityas, Danavas, Yaksas and Nāgas. This can be divided into several kingdoms. In this regard, he further claims that Patala or Nitala is ruled by Vasuki, moreover, it is also termed the residence of Nāgas or serpent gods (Knappert, 1995: 193). Further more, it is pertinent to advocate here that Patala is also signifying the Delta country. Therefore, due to its subterranean nature the region was called Patala (Lambrick, 1964: 112; Burton, 1976: 5). Thus, it became quite obvious that in the Deltaic region or at Patala a town was established on the bank of the river, which eventually became known as Patala.
In this sequence, it may be further elaborated here that Lambrick is quoting Megesthenese, Ptolemy and Pliny, who are defining that Patala or the Delta has formed two different islands, the larger one is called “Prasiance”, whereas, the smaller one is known “Patala” or “Patale” (Lambrick, 1964: 134; 1973: 109).
It is equally interesting to take note of Wilson suggestion, which is concerning with the proper derivation of the term Patala. He mentions that Patala is a realm of the Nāgas. In this regard, Wilson is advocating that Patala seems to have been derived from “Potalaya” or “Potala”, which means a harbour. Similarly, the Buddhist literature of the Tibet, has associated a harbour (Patala) with a city in the Delta of the Indus (Wilson, 1997: 211). Moreover, Cunningham is advocating its derivation from a Sanskrit word “Patali” defining a trumpet flower or bignonia suaveolens (Cunningham, 2007: 240; McRindle, 1992: 84). It is utmost pertinent, to argue here
that both Cunningham and McRindle have claimed a justified verdict, which is seemed to be 2
based on rational reasons, such as, it’s geographical setting, which has got the form of a trumpet flower. It can be pointed out that Patala in Sanskrit means the world beneath the water or the land of the Nāgas and demons. This definition is supporting the above stated view of the scholars, such as Dani, Sachau and Knappert, who discussed the same mythology. To evaluate this matter further, it can be remarked here that due to its prevailing geographical attitude is denoting, that the region of our concern is fenced by the eastern Nara or Kori and the Bhagar or the western arm. This fencing attitude is representing the form of Patala or the shape of trumpet flower, it is, therefore, called “Patali” (Cunningham, 2007: 240; McRindle, 1992: 84). In this regard, it may be advocated here that its favourable environments attracted the people, who migrated here and afterwards inhabited the area. Thus, small scale communities were formed, these were locally called “Thati” whereas, “That” is the developed form of Thati, which because of its emporium nature, evolved in to “Thato-Nagar”. It eventually conceived into Thatta.
Since, the area of our concern has been flourished and nourished by the river Indus in different eras, these have been eventually caused for the change of name. In this connection, the historians and geographers are claiming various names for the inquestion vicinity, such as, Manjabari or Manchabari or Manhabari or Mandabari even Mindawari, Manhatari, Medhabari or Medawari. In this connection, it is equally important to elaborate here that Mumtaz Hussain Pathan disagrees with the above stated suppositions for Thatta (Pathan, 1978: 364). However, Cunningham, Raverty, Elliot and Dowson on the basis of geographical positioning, have identified the above stated Mandawari with Thatta (Elliot & Dowson, 1956: 145; Cunningham, 2007: 245; Raverty, 1979: 82). In this connection, Cunningham is quoting Lieutenant Wood, who has advocated that “Thatta” is very vital due to its trade and communication abilities. Moreover, because of its favourable geographical position it has gained importance, therefore, such qualities were duly acknowledged by Alexander in July 325 BC, when he established a naval station, located ahead of Barbarikon, which was corresponding as a feeding centre for the sea port. In this connection, Wood further argues, that since the summit of the Delta is not a fixed point, therefore, the site of this city would have been varied its position and names. In the support of Lieut. Wood arguments Cunningham is advocating that this change of site, would have naturally caused for the change of names. Therefore, it may be assumed here that “Thatta” was the actual position of the Manhabhari of the Arab geographers (Cunningham, 2007: 244).
In this process, Cunningham is advocating that the “Mand” tribe had dominated the lower Sindh (Cunningham, 2007: 244). Besides, Alberuni and Ibn-e-Haukal have also recorded the “Mand” tribe of the lower Sindh. Whereas, Rashid-ud-Din suggested the arrival of Mand tribe in
the lower Sindh at a much earlier date. Moreover, in Mahābharata details have been recorded, 3
regarding the “Mer or Med or Mand” tribe and its relation with lower Sindh. Furthermore, Cunningham is quoting Masudi, who has mentioned “Mind” tribe in the lower Sindh (Cunningham, 2007: 244-45). It is significant to advocate here that the different supposed terms, like Mendabari, Mendawari, Medabari etc have been recorded by the Arab historians, such as, Idrisi, Masudi, Ibn-e-Haukal, Rashid-ud-Din and Alberuni are seemed to be the corrupted versions of the same Min-Nagar. It is worthwhile, to conclude here that Cunningham, Haig, Raverty, Lambrick, Burnes and others have quoted that Periplus during A.D 50 until A.D 70 had visited this region, who has mentioned it Min-Nagara, the city of the Min tribe, which was located on the bank of the river. In this process, Cunningham and others on the basis of rational justifications have identified it with the present day Thatta (Cunningham, 2007: 246; Haig, 1972: 30-32; Lambrick, 1964: 136; Raverty, 1979: 183; Burnes, 1973: 31).
It may be added here that the term “Thatta” has been developed from the word “Thatti” in Sindhi it means a small settlement on the river bank. Whereas, N.A. Baluch has termed it “Thatha”, while “Tahtah” stands for “layer above layer”, which itself is suggesting various levels of occupations, lying one upon the other during different periods of history (Baluch, 1982: 200; D.C.R., 1972: 3; Dani, 1982: 5).
It may be claimed here that “Thatti” or “Thatt” or “Thatto” all these terms in Sindhi are denoting, a settlement located on the river bank, including any of its perennial branches. In this regard, N.A. Baluch advocates, that if such a settlement is temporary, in case of fishermen community, who inhabited the river banks for fishing, is known “Miyāni or Miyān”. However, if the settlement is a permanent or a developed one, such as, fishermen with their fish and the peasants with their cattles, have formed a town, which was known “Thatti” (Baluch, 1982: 199). In this process, its early stance, such as, “Thatti” in Sindhi means small group of cattles or fishermen with their fish, whereas, “Thatt” defines a large group, while “Thatto” stands for the most developed group. It is indeed significant, to elaborate here that such settlements must have been located on the bank of the main river or even on its subsidiary branches (Baluch, 1982: 199).
It is worth mentioning to express the view of Alexander Cunningham, who in his monumental work, has stated that “Thatha” means a shore or a bank of a river. Thus in this process, “Nagar Thatto” or “Nugur Tattah” (Orlich, 1976: 103-104), is defining the city on the river bank, which actually caused for the origin of the term Thatta (Cunningham, 2007: 243; D.C.R., 1972: 3; Baluch, 1982: 200). In this process, when the present researcher consulted the Sanskrit dictionary, therefore, has been able to find out the proper etymology of the under
discussion word. In this connection, it is indeed sterling to add here that Monre William has 4
defined, its different routes, such as, “Tata” means declivity or the lower most portion or part or a shore. Whereas, in Mahābharata it stands for the sound of Śiva or his abode or even his temple (William, 1963: 132, col. I).
It is important to add here that “Tata-Stha” in Sanskrit means the lower most or lower part or a bank (William, 1963: 432, col. I; Dani, 1982: 5). In this sequence, it is striking to advocate here that Raverty has cited the logical justifications denoting its derivation from the Sanskrit version, such as, “That” stands for a bank or a shore or stands for a “river side situate”, locally known as “Nagar Thato” (Raverty, 1979: 185, n. 316). The above stated definitions are clearly proving that the “Nagar Thato” a city on the river bank was eventually caused for the origin of Thatta.
It is indeed sterling to elaborate here that the etymology of Thatta is further evaluated by V.A Smith in his contributions. He believes, it has been derived from “Tattah” (Smith, 1981: 254). Moreover, in his other works he claims, it is taken from “Tatha” (Smith, 1957: 108). Likewise, William Jackson, Wilson and Kalichbeg, are advocating its origin from “Tatta” (Jackson, 1987: 92; Wilson, 1997: 30; Kufi, 1985: 115). In this connection, keeping in view its proper definition, which is clearly denoting the assemblage of people or a bank of river, undoubtedly indicating a city on the river bank.
It is significant, to make a mention here that Ijaz-ul-Haq Qudusi in his “Tarikh-e-Sindh”, has claimed its nomenclature from “Thet-et” denoting the lower part or declivity. In this sequence, the Sindhians have the local terms for upper piece of land or upper valley known as “Seero or Siro”, while declivity or lower valley is called “Laar or Lar”, so this privilege term made its nomenclature of this area. This may be further proved in the case of “Taket” or even “Thatha” which eventually evolved into Thatta (Quddus, 1992: 232). While, Qani in “Tuhfat-ul- Kiram” has recorded different Sindhian terms, which caused for the origin of the under discussion word. In this sequence, he advocates that “Thate” is taken from “Tah Tah” means declivity. Whereas, its second version is denoting its derivation from “That”, which in Sindhi means the assemblage of people. Qani further suggestes that the area in the past was also known as “Tete” means the lower part or may be termed as lower valley (Qani, 2002: 569).
Apart from the Sanskrit version, Raverty has worked out its definitions in Hindi, such as, “Thatha”, stands for sport or fun and “Thath” means “a crowd or a throng”. In this regard, assemblage of the people is probably yielding close affinity to the origin of the name (Raverty, 1979: 185). In this process, it may be claimed here that since they gathered on the bank of river, therefore, passing through various developmental phases, finally evolved into a city called, “Nagar Thato”.
The view of Syed Abdul Quddus is seemed to be more convincing as he refers, “since the foundation of this city was laid at the foot of the Makli Hill, therefore, was called “Tateh” or “Taeh Taeh”, which means lower or below thus, in the course of time slowly and gradually called as, “Taheta” and then Thatta (Quddus, 1992: 232). It is significant to advocate here that all the Persian historians have recorded it “Thathā” (Raverty, 1979: 185, n.316; Cousens, 1929: 110). Similarly, Cousens is quoting the Sindh Gazetteer, mentioning it “Thattah”, where as, Captain Wood writes “That’hah” (Cousens, 1929: 110, n.1). Moreover, Beglari spells it “Thatah” (Beglari, 1980: 42). Furthermore, in “Lubb-e-Tarikh-e-Sindh” it is mentioned, “Thatha”. While, Ijazulhaq Quddusi in “Tarikh-e-Sindh” claims, since located in the lap of Makli Hill or in its lower level therefore, it is called “Thehtheh” or “Thahthah” showing different occupational levels of its inhabitants (Quddusi, 1976: 473). It is equally significant to elaborate here that Syed Sulaman Nadvi in his book “Arab wa Hind kai Taloqat” has mentioned that it was known to the Arabs “Diwal or Dibal” while the Persians called it “Thatha” (Nadvi, S.S., UD: 248). Whereas, John Wood believes that “Thatta” is the corrupted form of “Thathah” (Wood, 1976: 5-6).
It can be assumed from the evidences reported by Mir Ali Sher Qani and N.A. Baluch that the logical concept of “Thatti” and “Thatt” respectively corresponding either “small dwelling and slightly developed settlement where as, its improved stance is “Thatto”. In this connection, Qani has been able to make a mention of such early settlements, still existing in the southwestern portion of Thatta. These are the two streets. The one of “Islampur” has been recorded by Qani where as, the second one has been mentioned by N. A. Baluch. In this regard, it is utmost pertinent that “Thatt/Thath Paro” is located to the south of “Islampur Paro”, is still known with the same name. Whereas, the other is located to the southern direction. It has been recorded “Mulo Thatti”. During 866-893 A.H/A.D 1462-1488, Jam Nizam-ud-Din Nindo’s Hindu minister Lakhdhir and his son Mulo shifted to this place with the blessings of Saint Shah Murad. This Thatti was existed during the time of Mir Ali Sher Qani. Thus, it appears that both “Thatti” and “Thatt” are clearly denoting the developmental stages, which eventually evolved into Nagar Thatto (Qani, 2002, 569; Baluch, 1982: 201).
It is of vital importance to advocate the views of Masudi, Alberuni, Ibn-e-Haukal, Rashid-ud-Din, Qani, Alexander Cunningham, Elliot & Dowson, Raverty, N.A. Baluch and others, who have suggested that due to the changes in the main or in the subsidiary branches of the Indus actually caused for the shifting of the people, from one place to the other, has caused for the origin of the city and its name. Thus it appears, that Patala the earliest occupation level was replaced by Min-Nagar. It was then succeeded by Sameenugur or Swaminagar later on, it
has been converted into Manhabari or Mandawari, then turned into Thatta. These are of course, 6
advocating its different settlement names or the various occupational levels. Thus, the above stated etymology of the word Thatta is visibly showing that it has been originated from “Thati” later on, converted into “That” which eventually evolved into Thatta. It seems to be the proper nomenclature of the inquestion name.
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Very good information.
Shah Sharaf Barlas
If possible anyone have shijra family tree of Mughal Barlas traib of Attock Pakistan please share with me.