CHAUKHANDI TOMBS SINDH

Chaukhandi_tombs

The Chaukhandi Tombs are 29 kilometres in the East of Karachi on N-5 National Highway near Landhi Town in Pakistan. The Chaukhandi tombs are remarkably famous for their elaborate and exquisite stone carving. The architecture of the tombs is typically of Sindhi origin, and unique in the sense that it is found nowhere else in the world. It is attributed to Jokhio (also spelt as Jokhiya) known as the family graveyard of Jokhio tribe, where some Baloch tribal people are also buried. These were built in the 15th to the 18th centuries, during Mughal era.

The word Chaukhandi is derived from Sindhi language, which means four dimensional shaped or a four walled enclosure which is open from above. In the cultural tradition of Sindh, a walled enclosure is called a Chaukhandi, which is constructed out of respect around the grave of a saint. Chaukhandi is therefore not a grave or tomb in itself, but the four walled enclosure in which the person(s) has been buried.

In the early 20th century scholars were attracted to one of the peculiar graveyards of Sindh and Balochistan, with their orientation from South to North. These graves are constructed with sandstone. Their carved decoration presents an exquisite craftsmanship. These graves are constructed either as single graves or in a group of up to eight graves, which is raised on a same platform. Their basic 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 secondry sarcophagus consisting of six more vertical slabs similar but in size giving the grave a pyramid-like 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 figures such as mounted horsemen, hunting scenes, arms and jewelry etc.

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