Wednesday, August 2, 2017



Makli or Makli Necropolis  is one of the largest funerary sites in the world, spread over an area of 10 square kilometres near the city of Thatta, in the Pakistani province of Sindh. The site houses approximately 500,000 to 1 million tombs built over the course of a 400 year period. Makli Necropolis features several large funerary monuments belonging to royalty, various Sufi saints, and esteemed scholars. The site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 as an outstanding testament to Sindhi civilization between the 14th and 18th centuries.

Makli Necropolis is located on a plateau located approximately 6 kilometres from the city of Thatta, the capital of lower Sindh until the 17th century. It lies approximately 98 km east of Karachi, near the apex of the Indus River Delta in southeastern Sindh.

The site, and nearby hills, are said to derive their name from a legend in which a Hajj pilgrim stopped at the site and erupted into spiritual ecstasy, declaring the site to be Makkah for him. The Sufi saint Sheikh Hamad Jamali is then said to have named the site "Makli", or "Little Makkah", after hearing the story of the pilgrim.

The Sufi saint, poet and scholar Shaikh Jamali established a khanqah, or Sufi gathering site, at Makli and was eventually buried there. The 14th century Trakhan ruler, Jam Tamachi, venerated the saint and wished to be interred near the saint, beginning the tradition of using Makli as a funerary site.

The site rose to prominence as a major funerary site during under the rule of the Samma dynasty, who had made their capital near Thatta.

The most architecturally significant tombs at the site date from around the time of the Mughal era, between 1570 and 1640 CE.

Makli Necropolis occupies 10 square kilometres, housing at least 500,000 tombs. It stretches from Pir Patho at the southern end of the Makli Hills, northward in a roughly diamond shape. Its eastern edge is formed by the Makli Hills ridge. The largest monuments are generally found at the southern edge of the site, though the Samma tombs are found in the north.

The funerary architecture of the largest monuments synthesizes Muslim, Hindu, Persian, Mughal, and Gujarati influences, in the style of Lower Sindh that became known as the Chaukhandi style, named after the Chaukhandi tombs near Karachi. The Chaukhandi style came to incorporate slabs of sandstone that were carefully carved by stonemasons into intricate and elaborate designs.

The earliest tombs displayed three to six slabs of stone stacked on top of one another into the shape of a small pyramid. Evolving funerary architecture then incorporated small plinths.

By the 15th century, decorated rosettes and circular patters began to be incorporated into the tombs.More complex patterns and Arabic calligraphy with biographical information of the interred body then emerged. Larger monuments dating from later periods included corridors and some designs inspired by cosmology.

Pyramidal structures from the 16th century feature the use of minarets topped with floral motifs in a style unique to tombs dating from the Turkic Trakhan dynasty. Structures from the 17th century at the Leilo Sheikh part of the cemetery feature large tombs that resemble Jain temples from afar, with prominent influence from the nearby region of Gujarat.

Several of the larger tombs feature carvings of animals, warriors, and weaponry - a practice uncommon to Muslim funerary monuments. Later tombs at the site are sometimes made entirely of brick, with only a sandstone slab.

The largest structures in the most archaetypal Chaukhandi style feature domed yellow sandstone canopies that were plastered white with wooden doorways, in a style that reflects Central Asian and Persian influences. The size of the dome denoted the prominence of the buried individual, with undersides embellished with carved floral patterns. The underside of some canopies feature lotus flowers, a symbol commonly associated with Hinduism.

Some tombs came to feature extensive blue tile-work typical of Sindh. The use of funerary pavilions eventually expanded beyond lower Sindh, and influenced funerary architecture in neighbouring Gujarat.

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