‘Taung Graveyard’ – centuries-old forsaken necropolis of Sindh

Archaeology History

The historic site is located 130km off Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway north of Thana Bula Khan; there are more than 392 tombstones that dot the landscape of the area

Sindh Courier Feature

It was in July 2018 that Mr. Manzoor Kanasro, Director General, Antiquities & Archaeological Department of Sindh announced on his Facebook wall that a team of his department has discovered centuries-old forlorn necropolis located at high altitude in Khirthar Mountain range, about 130km north of Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway beyond Thana Bula Khan, although contrary to his claim, it was a known historical but forsaken site visited by some archaeologists in the past and certain research papers and books are also on record.

“The survey team was surprised to see a necropolis larger than Chowkhandi graveyard when it reached at Taung after traversing the mountainous area,” he had stated sharing the photographs of the tombstones.

In response to his post claiming the discovery, a FB friend rejected his claim saying that the site was discovered much earlier and referred to a book ‘Sindh je Kohistan jo Tarikhi Jaezo’ authored by Mashkoor Phulkaro. “There are also the ruins of a pyramid known as ‘Meri Ji Buthi’ and the graves of Suraj Wansi and Chandur Wansi era as the sun and moon are engraved on gravestones,” he had stated.

That friend said, “The tragedy is that the department you are associated with, has done nothing for preservation or promoting such sites for tourism nor it had ever facilitated the researchers. The universities too have never invited the scholars nor have they offered Ph.D. programs on such sites.”

According to information gathered later, Late Ali Ahmed Brohi too had written a book on Taung Necropolis while a researcher Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro had also traversed this area for a detailed study and his research paper titled ‘The Tombs of Burfat Tribe at Taung, Thana Bula Khan, Sindh’ is available online on the website ‘Ancient Asia- A Journal of the Society of South Asian Archaeology’.

His paper deals with the tombs of the Burfats in small village Taung in Thana Bula Khan. “There are four graveyards Rankan Waro or Mehmmod jo Qaburistan, Jam Lohar jo Muqam, Jam Aali jo Muqam and Boshen jo Muqam in and around Taung which are generally called Taung tombs,” Mr. Kalhoro writes. In this paper, the author has discussed about these four graveyards which are located south and north of Taung village respectively. The author has also discussed the role of the Burfat tribe in the socio-political history of Sindh.

According to Mr. Kalhoro there are more than 392 tombstones that dot the landscape of the area locally called as Taung.

The historic necropolis remained forsaken for around five decades, as it falls in the limits of Khirthar National Park spread over 3087 square kilometers, established in 1974 to protect the wildlife facing the threat of extinction. The visit of general public to this area was prohibited since then.

This mountain range also houses some prehistoric and Buddhist sites and a number of historical graveyards. However, this necropolis in Taung is quite prominent. Taung is a fertile and picturesque town in Kohistan, the hilly area. Its name is a phonetic variation of Taunger Rai, a Buddhist merchant who lived during the rule of the Buddhist Rai rulers of Sindh (499-641 A.D). He was very rich and that’s why still the word ‘Taung’ is meant to be rich. He controlled the business of the mountainous regions of Sindh and Baluchistan provinces.

It had been a center of cultural and political activity during the rule of the Burfat tribe over Kohistan area of Sindh and the present-day district of Lasbela in Balochistan province, some four centuries back.

The necropolis is said to be of the Burfat tribesmen since it is located on a small hill, and is conspicuous from a distance. Most of these graves belong to various lineages of the Burfat tribe and are fabulous pieces of art.

Tombstones are locally called Rumis. Those belonging to males are decorated with the depictions of riders and weapons, while the Rumis of females bear jewelry depictions. The height of the Rumis, which range from four to 18 feet, indicates the status and position of the dignitary in his life time. Most of the taller Rumis belong to the descendants of Chieftains Jam Lohar, Jam Hamal, Jam Bapar and Jam Baadin, whose tombstones too are erected at the necropolis. The tombstones of the royal family are either built on a double platform or there is a beautiful gallery around the structures. These tombstones have more decorations compared to the others.

The Burfat were a valiant tribe of Sindh. They played a very important role in the socio-political history of Sindh during the reign of the Sammas dynasty (1350-1520), the Arghun invaders (1520-1555), the Tarkhan invaders (1555-1590), the Mughal invaders (1590-1700), the Kalhora dynasty (1700-173) and the Talpur rulers (1783-1843). When the Arghuns supplanted the Samma dynasty, the Burfats, who are also an offshoot of the Sammas, launched a guerilla war against them. The Arghuns were terribly scared of the guerilla tactics of the Burfat fighters. They were unable to subdue the tribe. However, the Mughal rulers of India bestowed some areas upon them to establish their local rule. Likewise, the Kalhora rulers also attached them importance.

Being forsaken for decades, this necropolis had not been included in the national heritage list.

Mr. Kanasro had announced that ‘now his department will initiate the process to protect and preserve this historic site’ but unfortunately no progress in this regard is visible.

 

 

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