Tombs of the Jam Nobles

Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro on the sites of interest at a royal necropolis near Lasbela, Balochistan

Tombs of the Jam Nobles
Like other districts of Balochistan, Lasbela is host to a number of historical and archaeological sites. Among such historical sites, the necropolis of the Jams of Lasbela is quite prominent. This necropolis is located about 8 km away from Bela Town at Bara Bagh. This necropolis contains more than 100 tombs, of which 40 belong to the royal family of the Jams of Lasbela.

Legend has it that Jam Aali attacked Lasbela from his ancestral area of Kanrach valley. He snatched Lasbela from Mai Chagli, who was wife of Malik Pahar Khan Burfat, the cultural hero of the Burfats. Jam Aali Khathurio was believed to have been the founder of Jam dynasty of Lasbela, laying the foundations of the Jam dynasty in 1742. This family ruled over Lasbela for over two centuries and produced nine able rulers namely Jam Aali (1742-1760), Jam Ghulam Shah (1760-1776), Jam Mir Khan I (1776-1830), Jam Aali Khan II, Jam Mir Khan II, Jam Mir Khan III, Jam Kamal Khan, Jam Ghulam Muhammad Khan and Jam Ghulam Qadir Khan.

Tombs of Jam Aali, Jam Dagar, Jam Dinar and Jam Jangi

The Jams of Lasbela are believed to have claimed their ancestry from the Sammas of Sindh who ruled from 1351 to 1524. One of their ancestors Jam Araddin migrated from Sindh and settled in Kanrach during the reign of Mughal emperor Jahangir. Later on, one of the descendants of Jam Araddin, Jam Rabno or Rab Dino, became known for his bravery and generosity. Jam Rabno had four sons namely Jam Aali, Jam Digar, Jam Dodo and Jam Jangi. At that time, Lasbela was under the rule of the Burfats. After the death of Malik Pahar Khan Burfat, his wife Mai Chagli became the new ruler of Lasbela. The Roonjhas were powerful and commanding tribe of Lasbela. Some of the nobles from the Roonjha tribe were also administrators in the service of Mai Chagli and managed the affairs of Lasbela. The Roonjhas were very worried about the rising power of the Jams of Kanrach and out of frustration killed Jam Digar, one of the chiefs of the tribe. In order to avenge the death of his brother, Jam Aali along with his tribesmen invaded the capital of Mai Chagli and snatched rule over Lasbela from her. They killed those who murdered Jam Digar. Mai Chagli took her infant son Malik Izzat Khan and went to her ancestral place Taung and later on moved to Kotri where her tomb is located just behind the Government Degree College.

After supplanting the rule of the Burfats, Jam Aali became the new ruler of Lasbela. He ruled Lasbela very wisely and prudently. He had strong relations with the Khan of Kalat. During the tribal battle between the Jokhias and Burfats, fought at Siri in Thatta, Jam Aali sided with Jokhia chief Jam Bijar Jokhio.

Inscription on Ghulam Shah's tomb

After death of Jam Aali, his son Jam Ghulam Shah Jamote became the new ruler of Lasbela. He was very wise ruler. During his rule, life and property were safe in Lasbela. Mir Naseer Khan, then ruler of Kalat, gave his daughter to Jam Ghulam Shah Jamote.

The necropolis of the Jam rulers contains one of the most impressive stone carved graves in Balochistan. Unfortunately, all the tombs of the Jams of Lasbela are falling to pieces. There is a row of five stone carved graves   built over platforms which are in dilapidated condition. The first tomb belongs to Jam Aali followed by Jam Dagar, Jam Dina or Dinar and Jam Jangi. There is no inscription on the fifth tomb. To the west of these tombs is located the chhatri or canopy of Jam Ghulam Shah Jamote.

Three tombs that lie under the chhatri. The first tomb belongs to Ghulam Shah Jamote, which carries following inscription: “Ghulam Shah Walid (son of) Jam Aali quom (caste) Jamote 1190 (circa 1776 AD)”

Close to his tomb is a grave bearing the inscription, “Bibi Mithi Ajiza Ghulam Shah 1190.”

And nearby is the tomb of Sukh Bai Ajiza Jam Bijar Johkio. The tomb of Bibi Mithi depicts jewellery. One does not find such refined jewellery carvings in the whole of Balochistan. Nor is there such an imposing chhatri located elsewhere in Balochistan. The tomb of Sukh Bai is also decorated with jewellery. I have visited many graveyards in Lasbela district but I have not seen such splendid jewelry depictions.

In the graveyards at Bala near Winder, Bhawani Serai, at Hub, artists did not work so diligently as at the necropolis of Jams of Lasbela at Bara Bagh. However, there is the tomb of Mai Asudi in Hinidan graveyard, 20 km south of Dureji, which bears some fine jewellery depictions. Mai Asudi was wife of one of the Jakhra chiefs. The Hinidan graveyard is one of the most popular and impressive cemeteries of the Jakhra tribe in Sindh and Balochistan. The Jakhra tribe also trace their ancestry from the Sammas of Sindh.

The tomb of Jam Bijar Jokhio, then ruler and cultural hero of the Jokhio tribe, is also located north of the chhatri of Jam Ghulam Shah. The tomb of Jam Bijar Jokhi is built over a platform and lies in a rather crumbling condition.

The author is an anthropologist at PIDE. He may be contacted at:

The author is an anthropologist. He tweets at: @Kalhorozulfiqar