CRUMBLING MOSQUES OF MAI JAMAN
June 24, 2011
Hospitality and generosity are the hallmark of Sindhi society. There are many Sindhi women who are famous for their generosity. Mai Jaman, the wife of Mian Noor Mohammad Kalhoro; 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 them won the hearts of the poor by engaging themselves in welfare work.
Mai Jaman was the more prominent one among the lot. She belonged to the Junejo tribe. Her father, Mitha Khan Junejo, was landlord of the Chuteyarun area of the present Sanghar district. There is still a small village Tanda Mitha Khan near Chuteyarun which is named after him. Mai Jaman got married to Mian Noor Mohammad in 1740. She bore him two illustrious sons, Mian Abdul Nabi and Mian Ghulam Nabi, both of whom ruled Sindh. Her maternal uncles later on enjoyed a very prestigious position in the court of the Kalhoras of whom Rakhial Khan Junejo was prominent.
Mai Jaman was a God-fearing, pious and generous lady who undertook a number of public welfare works. Her generosity and righteousness 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 the Sanghar taluka, one mosque at Sui Kandhar in the Tando Adam taluka, one in Bhopi Beelo (forest) in the Khipro taluka and one in Tilah Shah in the Jam Nawaz Ali taluka. All these mosques now stand neglected. Save for local people nobody knows about the existence of these structures. Whosoever knew about these mosques never made an effort to bring the splendid structures into the limelight.in order to bring the poor condition of these mosques to the attention of the authorities concerned, I, along with two famous personalities of Sanghar, Nawaz Kumbhar and Mir Nizamani, visited them.
The mosque that is located some four kilometres south of Chuteyarun is the biggest and loftiest of all. This mosque is built on a raised platform and has three arched entrances leading to the main chamber hall which is covered with three domes. Except the central dome, which is in a fairly good condition — the other two have cracks. The mosque used to have a spacious courtyard which is now completely covered with sand. Only the western wall of it is slightly visible.
One of the distinctive features of the mosque is rich embellishments found on its exterior walls. The northern wall of the structure is still covered with glazed tiles. On entering into the prayer hall, one finds many fallen tiles strewn all over the hall. One also encounters bats that have made the mosque their permanent abode. Ironically, the mosque escapes the attention of the authorities concerned who frequently pass by the mosque. Nawaz Kumbhar told this scribe that he had approached the authorities concerned in order to bring the poor condition of the mosque to their attention but they said that the monument was not declared a protected one under the Antiquities Act 1975.
Apart from this mosque, there is another in the bazaar of Chuteyarun. This mosque has been entirely rebuilt.
About five kilometres away from Chuteyarun there is another mosque of Mai Jaman near the village of Tando Mitha Khan that is almost levelled to the ground. Its walls only have survived while all the three domes have caved in. The fallen glazed tiles are piled up in one of the corners of the mosque. According to Mir Nizamani, people have started to take away the bricks from the site to build their own houses. Some notables of the area tried to restore the structure, but when they found out that the renovation might cost five lac rupees they shunned the idea.
Tando Adam Khan, founded by Adam Khan Marri, also contains some structures of historical significance.
Some 10 kilometres northwest of the 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. 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. Nearby 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 Bhitai, once existed there. Then there is another mosque in Tillah Shah in the Jam Nawaz Ali taluka which has collapsed and only the remains of the mosque can be seen near the tomb of Dault Khan Marri.
The mosque located in Bopi Beelo in the Khipro taluka is also falling to pieces. It is a real prototype of the one located in Chuteyarun but is small in size. It is the only structure which has murals apart from tile decorations. The mosque is not in a good condition. Two of its domes have caved in. Its courtyard walls have completely vanished and the arched gateway has partially survived. If one looks at the architecture of all these mosques constructed by Mai Jaman, one could argue that these are greatly influenced by Jami Mosque of Khudabad in Dadu. In one way or another, the mosques of Mai Jaman borrowed many elements from the earlier architecture of the Kalhoras.
Legend has it that Mian Mubeen, a religious scholar during the time of Mian Noor Mohammad Kalhoro, asked people not to offer prayers in the mosques built by Mai Jaman saying that looted money had been spent on their construction. Responding to his call, people later on built separate mosques near the mosques of Mai Jaman. The exact reason for this is not known. One fails to understand why he asked the people not to offer prayers here.