Hospitality and generosity are the hallmarks of Sindhi society and many women of this land are famous for these traits. Mai Jaman, the wife of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro (1719-1753); Mai Khairi, the mother of Mir Fateh Ali Khan Talpur, the founder of the Talpur dynasty; Mai Chagli, the mother of Izzat Khan, an adviser to Mian Ghulam Shah Kalhoro; and the wife of Malik Pahar Khan Burfat, the cultural hero from the Burfat tribe – all of these women won the hearts of the poor by engaging themselves in welfare work.
Mai Jaman was the more prominent one among them. She belonged to the Junejo tribe. She got married to Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro and bore him two illustrious sons, Mian Abdul Nabi and Mian Ghulam Nabi, both of whom ruled Sindh. Rakhial Khan Junejo was the brother of Mai Jaman, who later on enjoyed a very prestigious position during the reigns of Mian Abdul Nabi and Ghulam Nabi. Mian Faqir Muhammad Khan Junejo, a nephew of Rahkial, after whom Faqir Jo Par in Hyderabad is named, also played an important role in the Kalhora dynasty. Other members of the Juneja tribe also played a significant role during the reign of Mian Sarfraz Khan Kalhoro. Mian Ghulam Nabi Kalhoro also got married into the Juneja tribe. Her brother-in- laws Mithal Khan and Pir Muhammad were very close to him.
Legend has it that Mian Mubeen, a religious scholar during the time of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro, asked people not to offer prayers in the mosques built by Mai Jaman
Many other Kalhora women played an important role in the Kalhora court. Mai Gulan who was also a wife of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro was an influential lady. Mian Noor Muhammad constructed a mahal (palace) for his beloved wife, Mai Gulan, which is located in Tando Ghulam Hussain. The wives of Mian Ghulam Shah (1757-1772) also contributed in architecture. One of his wives, Sindhi Rani, who was daughter of Wasuji, a cousin of Rao of Indian Kutch, was also an influential lady. His second wife Mai Bahu Begum, who was popularly known as Mai Sahib Daluat, built some mosques and dug wells for the poor. She was a daughter of Nawab Nisar Khan Gujar of Dera Ghazi Khan and sister of Nawab Allah Dad Khan who was the chief advisor of Mian Sarfarz Khan Kalhoro (1772-1775). Mai Sherbano, a sister of Mian Ghulam Shah and a daughter of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro and Mai Gulan, was also believed to have built a mosque and Madrasah located near Pucca Qila in Hyderabad.
Mai Jaman undertook a number of public welfare works. Her generosity and righteousness are reflected in her social work. She helped excavate many wells for the poor and also constructed inns and mosques. There were a total of eight mosques which she helped construct, of which six now survive. All these mosques are located in various talukas of the Sanghar district, carrying the name of Mai Jaman. There are two mosques in Chuteyarun and one in Tando Mitha Khan in Sanghar taluka, one mosque at Sui Kandhar in Tando Adam taluka, one in Bhopi Beelo (forest) in the Khipro taluka and one in Tilah Shah in Jam Nawaz Ali taluka. All these mosques now stand neglected.
The mosque that is located about 4 km south of Chuteyarun at the dam site is the biggest of all. It was a three-domed mosque. This mosque is built on a raised platform and has three arched entrances leading to the main chamber hall, which was spanned with three domes – of which only one has survived.
The Chuteyarun mosque used to have a spacious courtyard which is now completely covered with sand. Formerly the façade of the mosque was decorated with glazed tiles, which are now scattered near the arched entrances.
One of the distinctive features of the mosque is the rich embellishments found on its exterior as well as on the interior walls.
Apart from this mosque, there is another mosque of Mai Jaman in the bazaar of Chuteyarun town which has been entirely rebuilt. It was also a prototype of the one located near Chuteyarun Dam.
About 10 km away from Chuteyarun, there is another mosque of Mai Jaman near the village of Siran wari that is noted for its exposed brick style. Locally it is called “siran wari” (literally meaning that it is built of exposed bricks). The mosque has three arched entrances which lead to three aisles (flanking chambers) and the nave (central chamber) of the mosque. Moreover, the nave of the mosque is crowned with a vaulted dome whereas the aisles carry the hemispherical dome. At present the mosque lies in very deplorable condition.
About 10 km northwest of Tando Adam town is situated a dilapidated mosque of Mai Jaman in Sui Kandhar. This mosque is almost similar in terms of architecture to the one located in Bhopi Beelo in Khipro. It is three-domed-structure. The central dome is flanked by two flat domes. This mosque is quite different from one at Chuteyrun. This mosque is well-known for the façade which resembles the early Kalhora mosques.
The mosque is decorated with glazed tiles from inside, but most of the tiles have come off and fallen on the ground. People have placed most of these tiles on the graves of their relatives. One can find hundreds of tiles spread all over the necropolis. Near the mosque are the graves of the brothers of great Sufi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai. It is believed that the haveli of Habib Shah, the father of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai (1689-1752), once existed there. Then there is another mosque in Tillah Shah in Jam Nawaz Ali taluka, which has collapsed and only the remains can be seen near the tomb of Dault Khan Marri.
There is another mosque built by Mai Jaman at Bopi Beelo in the Khipro taluka, which is also falling to pieces. It is a real prototype of the one located in Chuteyarun but is small in size. Only the façade of the mosque has survived.
One legend has it that Mian Mubeen, a religious scholar during the time of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro, asked people not to offer prayers in the mosques built by Mai Jaman, saying that looted money had been spent on their construction. Another legend has it that he was an orthodox religious leader and asked people not to pray in mosques which were built by a woman, Mai Jaman.
From a preservation point of view, all the mosques of Mai Jaman lie in a deplorable condition. In order to save the historical heritage of the Kalhora period (1700-1783), the concerned authorities should immediately renovate all the surviving mosques of Mai Jaman.
The author is an anthropologist. He may be contacted at: email@example.com