The landscape of Sindh-Kohistan in Sindh is dotted with a number of historical necropolises. However, the necropolis of the Burfats in Taung is quite prominent. Taung is about 70 km from Thana Bula Khan town in Jamshoro district. The necropolis of the Burfats is located on a small hill and conspicuous from a distance. There are more than 380 tombstones that dot the landscape of the necropolis. Most of these belong to the various lineages of the Burfats. The principle tombstone in the necropolis belongs to Jam Lohar Aali, the ancestor of the Loharani section of the tribe. Legend has it that Jam Lohar Aali was son of Jam Aali. As for Jam Aali, he had four sons including Jam Lohar Aali. His other three sons were Hamal, Bapar and Baadin after whom sprang the lineages of the Hamalani, the Baparani and the Baadinani. The mausoleum of Jam Lohar was constructed over his tombstone by the Hindu community of Thana Bula Khan who held him in great reverence. Near his tombstone is the stone-carved grave of his son Jam Nindo. Locally these tombstones are called ‘Rumis’.
To the west of the mausoleum of Jam Lohar are situated the Rumis (tombstones) of Bapar Aali and his son Soomar Bapar. Both Rumis are erected over the platform. The Rumi of Bapar Aali bears the depiction of a rider. The Rumis belonging to males are decorated with depictions of riders and weapons while the Rumis of females bear jewellery.
The height of the Rumi indicates the status and position of the dignitary during their lifetime. The heights of the Rumis range from 4 feet to 18 feet. Most of the taller Rumis belong to the descendants of Jam Lohar, Jam Hamal, and Jam Bapar. Nowhere in Sindh are taller Rumis than those in the necropolis of the Burfats at Taung. Apart from this cemetery, there are many graveyards of the Burfats located in Mangho Pir, Malir, and some tombstones in the Chaukhandi necropolis in Karachi, Oongar in Thatta and Burfat tombs in Kotri town. Usually, these types of the tombstones have one, two or three chambers or caskets. At the Chaukhandi necropolis and Shaikh Lakho graveyard at Malir in Karachi, one finds tombstones having either two or three caskets. But here in the necropolis of the Burfats at Taung, there are many tombstones which have four caskets or chambers. The distinctive feature of these tombstones is the addition of a charpoy motif (decorative bed post) on the fourth chamber of the structure. Usually, one finds the motif either on the lower platform or on the first or second chambers. Another feature of the tombs is a large number of carved depictions on the gravestones. If one compares these tombstones with various other similar structures at the graveyards of Chaukhandi, Goth Raj Malik, Shaikh Turabi, Dars Warayo, Shah Hussain, Pir Qureshi, Jungshahi, Pir Lakho, Oongar, Sonda, Pir Patho, one does not find a large number of weaponry depictions on the gravestones or headstones. I have visited all the above-mentioned graveyards, but I have not found taller gravestones or headstones.
The tombstones of the members 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 Burfats are known to have been a valiant tribe of Sindh. They played a very important role in the socio-political history of Sindh during the reigns of the Sammas (1350-1520), the Arghuns (1520-1555), the Tarkhans (1555-1592), the Mughals (1592-1700), the Kalhoras (1700-1783) and the Talpurs (1783-1843). When the Arghuns supplanted the Samma dynasty, the Burfats, who are also an off-shoot of the Sammas, launched a guerilla war against them. They used to ransack the villages and towns which fell under the dominion of the Arghuns and unleashed the reign of terror in the region. The Arghuns were terrified by the guerilla tactics used by the Burfats. They were unable to subdue the tribe. The Mughals bestowed some jagirs upon them. Likewise, the Kalhoras and Talpurs also gave them importance.
One of the descendants of Jam Hamal was Malik Pahar Khan who was considered a cultural hero in the annals of the Burfats. He established his rule in Sindh-Kohistan and Lasbela. After establishing his rule in these areas, he began setting his eyes on the Kachho areas of Dadu. The Kachho area was under the dominion of Mian Yar Muhammad Kalhoro (1701-1718). He also invaded some areas of Sehwan. In order to rein in the brinkmanship of Mailk Pahar Khan Burfat, Mian Yar Muhammad Kalhoro decided to invade his headquarters in 1705 and defeated him. After that defeat, he dumped the idea of capturing the Kachho and set his eyes on Hub and Gadap areas of Karachi and Lasbela which he succeeded in consolidating as part of his dominion. During the reign of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro (1719-1753), Malik Pahar Khan became close to him. Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro bestowed some jagirs upon him and used him against some tribes in Sindh-Kohistan and Lasbela.
Malik Pahar Khan died in 1741 and was buried in the necropolis of Pir Tearo in Lasbela where he is venerated as a saint by local community. His wife Mai Chagali became the new ruler of Sindh-Kohistan and Lasbela. During her rein, the Ronjhas managed all the affairs of the government. However, Jam Aali, the headman of Kaureja tribe snatched Bela town from Mai Chagli and established his rule there. Mai Chagali migrated to Sindh and settled in Kotri where her tomb is situated. Later on, her son Malik Izzat Khan Burfat became the general of Mian Ghulam Shah Kalhoro. He displayed his heroism in many battles. He died in 1776 and was buried next to his mother’s tomb in Kotri. The tombs of Mai Chagli and Malik Izzat Khan Burfat are located near the government degree college, Kotri.
Besides, Pahar Khan and Malik Izzat Khan, there is another very celebrated person from the family of the Burfats – Bula Khan Numerio/Burfat after whom Thana Bula Khan is named. He was a chief of the Burfats during the reign of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro. As ruler, Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro had bestowed a jagir upon him. Bula Khan Numerio played a significant role in the affairs of Sindh during the reign of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro. He also helped the generals Masu Faqir Samitio and Bilawal Naich of the Kalhora army in 1747 against the Rana of Dharaja in Thatta. The tomb of Bula Khan is located in Mangho Pir, Karachi, and is now encroached upon by land-grabbers.
The author is an anthropologist at PIDE. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org