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The Chaukhandi tombs


The Chaukhandi tombs are situated 29 km (18 mi) east of Karachi on N-5 National Highway near Landhi Town in Pakistan. The Chaukhandi tombs are remarkable for the elaborate and exquisite stone carving.

Tombs and graves at Chaukundi, the Chaukhandi tombs. situated 29 km east of Karachi on N-5 National Highway near Landhi Town. The style of architecture is typical only to the region of Sindh, and unique in that it is found nowhere else in the Islamic world. Generally, the elements are attributed to Jokhio (also spelt Jokhiya) also known as the family graveyard of Jokhio tribe, some people of Baluch tribe also buried were built between the 15th and 18th centuries.

Description
This type of graveyard, in Sindh and Baluchistan, is unique with their orientation from south to north. These graves are constructed in buff sandstone. Their carved decoration presents exquisite craftsmanship. These graves were constructed either as single graves or as groups of up to eight graves raised on a common platform.

Their primary sarcophagus has six vertical slabs, with two long slabs standing on each side of the grave covering the length of the body and the remaining two vertical slabs covering the head and foot side. These six slabs are covered by a second sarcophagus consisting of six more vertical slabs similar but in size giving the grave a pyramid shape. This upper (second sarcophagus) is further covered with four or five horizontal slabs and the topmost (third) sarcophagus is set vertically with its northern end carved into a knob known as a crown or a turban. These tombs are embellished, besides with geometrical designs and motifs, with figural representations such as mounted horsemen, hunting scenes, arms, jewellery etc..

19th century
The earliest passing reference about Chaukhandi tombs (a.k.a. Jokundee) in the Western world is available in a letter which J. Macleod had addressed to H. B. E. Frere in 1851[citation needed]. The tombs, however, were given serious attention by H. D. Baskerville, Assistant Collector of Thatta in Karachi district in 1917. The tombs near Landhi were brought with the pale of the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904 in the year 1922.  
Dr. Salome Zajadacz-Hastenrath summarizes earlier research as follows: 

Early 20th century
A cemetery of this type was discovered at the turn of the 20th century in Hinidan by Major M. A. Tighe, Political Agent in southern Baluchistan. J. P. Vogel[2] was the first to investigate this and other cemeteries – including Karpasan (a plateau south of Hinidan), Gundar (a village near Dinga, south of Hinidan), and Manghopir(...) – and he drew attention to another cemetery discovered by Captain Showers, Political Agent in Kalat, lying between the Hub River and Sonmiani (...). Vogel recognized that the tombs were Islamic, as indicated by the use of the Arabic script and the alignment of the monuments. According to Islamic custom, the dead are laid to rest in such a way that they are aligned towards Mecca over their right shoulder. Mecca lies approximately to the west of Sindh; the longitudinal axis of the tombs accordingly lies more or less in a north-south direction, with the head always lying in the north. (...)

Jokhio, Jokhia or Jokhiya are said to be the descendant of the Samma (tribe). Chaukhandi cemetery, consisting of names or Quranic Verse. Some of the Jams who were named were said to belong to the Jokhio tribe still resident in the area.and the 1st raitar Mr, Ali Muhammad Jokhio of Jokhio History.

In (...) 1910, Sir Thomas Holdich described a similar cemetery near Malir and also referred to several other cemeteries (...). He stated that local tradition ascribed these to the 'Kalmati' Baluchis, and he linked this name to the town of Kalmat on the Makran Coast.

In 1917, H. D. Baskerville discovered a similar cemetery in the vicinity of the village of Chaukhandi, near Karachi. (...) Baskerville's published report (...) raised the question of above-ground burial – but he dismissed this possibility, describing a careful investigation of one of the stone chambers in the cemetery, which had not contained any remains. A number of tomb inscriptions were found at the Chaukhandi cemetery, consisting of names and/or sayings from the Quran. Some of the Jams who are named were said to belong to the Jokhiya tribe still resident in the vicinity. Only one of the tombs was dated – by the date of death inscribed on it with the numbers in reverse order – as AH 1169 (AD 1756).

In 1925, Henry Cousens devoted a chapter of his book on the antiquities of Sindh to 'Baluch tombs'.[3] He studied tombs in Jarak (now spelt Jerruck), Sonda and Kharkharo, which were also of the same type. Referring to the studies by G. E. L. Carter, he noted that more than twenty such cemeteries had in the meantime been identified, and he rejected the theory regarding above-ground burial, due to the frequent occurrence of arcade-like perforations in the lower casket. (...) Cousens was the first to draw comparisons with other architectural monuments in Sindh, and he refers to similarities between the decoration of a tomb in Sonda and the tombs of Mian Ghuam Shah Kalhoro (Shah Wardi Khan) (d. 1772) in Hyderabad and The tomb of the Samma king, Jam Nizamuddin II (reigned 1461–1509), is an impressive square structure built of sandstone and decorated with floral and geometric medallions. Similar to this is the mausoleum Isa Khan Tarkhan the Younger (d. 1644) in the necropolis on Makli Hill. With regard to the covering of the tombs with chattris, he points to similar tombs in the same necropolis and to the tomb of Mir Masum in Sukkur. He considers the tombs to be of approximately the same date as the tombs of Ghulam Shah Kalhora - the second half of the 18th century. He states that depictions of riders, as seen on some of the tombs, are found on sati stones in Kathiawar and Kutch as well. (...)

Information about a single tomb of the type described, in the vicinity of the village of Baghwana, south-west of Las Bela (princely state), was published in 1931 by Sir Aurel Stein. According to local tradition, the tomb was that of Mai Masura, a saintly beggar women; according to the legend, the stone slabs had miraculously flown through the air from Kandahar. The tomb was thought to have been in place when the local Rind tribe entered the area fourteen generations previously. Stein considered it to date from the end of the 15th century.

In 1934, in a publication concerning monuments recently recorded in Sindh, Nani Gopala Majumdar described a funerary enclosure on Tharro Hill near Gujjo. He believed that the cemetery enclosure dated from the 14th century, and was, therefore, older than the monuments on Makli Hill; he also found some additional tombs of lesser First decade of the 21st century

In 2003 (i.e. after the author's decease in 1998), an English translation of the book was published in Pakistan. 

Later, the Italian Professor Gian Giuseppe Filippi visited Sindh and examined some prominent sites of Chaukhandi graveyards. He traced the Rajput influences in Chaukhandi graveyards.[15] In this article he mentioned that it is well known that many Munda warrior groups have family ties with the so-called Rajput tribes of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Even in this case, their warlike behavior and the confusing definition of the Rajput caste keeps open the ‘structure’ of Hinduism. Some among the Rajput tribes, namely the Jokhio, the Numeri, the Burfat and the Lashari emigrated from Kutch (Gujarat) and Rajputana towards the Sindh and Makran regions during the Samma Dynasty. All these tribes mentioned had close relations among each other including matrimonial ties, both within their own group as well as with the Baluch tribe of the Kalmatis. His hypothesis envisions a tribal Rajput origin in the utilization of not only the monolithic slabs and pedestals in the step-and-house-shaped Chaukhandi graves, but also in the naive decoration of some tombs which rather resemble a house facade like a human face as if drawn by a child. The decoration of the tombs (mostly with geometric motifs) is derived from wood sculpture. With few exceptions human figures are avoided in accordance with Islamic beliefs.

Some articles on the structural development of stone-carved graves were contributed by Dr. Kaleem Lashari. Later, Lashari highlighted the Bhawani Serai and the Tutai Chaukhandi graveyards[citation needed], and called for an urgent act of conservation .significance in the vicinity of the nearby mausoleum of Sheikh Turabi.



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