1902 Encyclopedia > Sind


SIND, the westernmost territorial subdivision of India, and a frontier province of considerable importance in a geographical and political aspect, lies between the 23d and 28th parallels of N. latitude and between the 66th and 71st meridians of E. longitude. Its length from north to south is estimated at 360 miles, and the average of its breadth from east to west at 170. On the north it is bounded by the Khelat state (see BALUCHISTAN), the Punjab, and Baháwalpúr; on the E. by Jaisalmir and Mulani, or generally the more desert tracts of Western Rajputana; on the S. by the Runn of Cutch (Rann of Kachh) and the Indian Ocean; and on the W. by Khelat, which overlaps it on the north. Including the alienated district of Khairpur and the extensive tract to the south called the political superintendency of the Thar and Parkar, its area is set down as between 56,000 and 57,000 square miles.

== IMAGE: Map of Sind.

The one great geographical feature in Sind is the lower Indus, passing, as it does, through the entire length of the province, first in a south-westerly direction, then turning somewhat to the east, then returning to a line more directly south, and finally inclining to the west, to seek an outlet at the sea. Though there is much similarity in the appearance of the landscape on the two sides of the broad river, the distant line of mountains between Sakhar and Sehwan, the steep pass overhanging the water at Lakki, and the hill country below Sehwan give a distinctive character to the right bank, and lend it special attraction when contrasted with the flat lowlands, merging into desert, on the left. Sind has been aptly likened to Egypt. If the one depends for life and fertility on the Nile, so does the other on the Indus. The cities and towns are not so readily to be compared. Hyderabad, notwith-standing its remarkable fortress and handsome tombs, can scarcely vie in interest as a native capital with Cairo; nor can Kurrachee, as a Europeanized capital, be said to have attained the celebrity of Alexandria. Yet there are some respects in which this particular province would not be wholly eclipsed, even in its outside pictures. It contains many monuments of archaeological and architectural interest, and to the traveller descending the river from the Punjab, or ascending it from Kotri, the coup d'oeil on the approach to Rohri is at times singularly striking. The beautiful little island of Khwaja Kidhr is a gem in itself; and there is at certain seasons undoubted poetry in the very dreariness of Sakhar and Bakhar.

Owing to the deficiency of rain, the continuance of hot weather in Sind is exceptional. Lying between two monsoons, it just escapes the influence of both. The south-west monsoon stops short at Lakhpat Bandar, the north-west monsoon at Kurrachee, and even here the annual rainfall is not reckoned at more than six or eight inches. At times there is no rainfall for two or three years, while at others there is a whole season's rainfall in one or two days. The average temperature of the summer months rises to 95° F., and the winter average is 60°, the summer maximum being 120° and the winter minimum 32°. The temperature on the sea-coast is much more equable than elsewhere. In Northern Sind we find frost in winter, while both there and in Lower Sind the summer heat is extreme and prolonged. This great heat, combined with the pois-onous exhalations from the pools left after the annual inundation and the decaying vegetable deposits, produces the fever and ague with which the name of the country is associated, and to which even the natives themselves fall a prey.

Soil and cultivation. The soil is largely dependent on the river overflow. This grand provision of nature is, however, uncertainly exercised; and not only is the actual volume of water supplied from the upper Indus liable to fluctuation, but the particular lands inundated or untouched by inundation vary according to the caprices of the river. Questions of alluvion and diluvion are therefore of frequent occurrence; and it is often as hard to say whether newly-thrown-up lands belong to the state or an individual proprietor as it is to decide who is the loser in the case of lands newly submerged. In the lands which, as a rule, are reached annually and in fair proportion by the inundation, the soil is so rich as to produce two crops or even more in the year without the assistance of manure. Salt is present in great quantity. The two principal yearly crops are the vernal, known as rail, sown in autumn and reaped in spring, and the autumnal, known as kharif, sown in summer while the river is high and reaped from October to December. In some districts there is a distinct third crop called peshras, sown in March and reaped in July and August. The implements of husbandry are the plough (har), drawn by two bullocks; the harrow (sahar), a heavy log of wood drawn by four bullocks, a man standing on each end ; the seed-sower (nári), a tube fixed to the plough with a wooden funnel on the top, used while the ground is being ploughed for the last time ; a curved hook (dátro) with teeth like a saw, for reaping; and a hoe (kúriah), for weeding.

Products. The principal products are bájri (a well-known Indian grain), and juári (the Indian millet), rice, cotton, sugar-cane, tobacco, oil-seeds, wheat, barley, and indigo. Of these, wheat may be considered the staple produce of Upper, and bájri and juári of Middle and Lower Sind. Dates, plantains, mangoes, limes, oranges, pomegranates, citrons, figs, grapes, apples, tamarinds, mulberries, and melons are said to be fruits common to the country ; and it is added that of late years nectarines, peaches, apricots, and other fruit trees have been successfully introduced, but the statement must be received with some reservation in respect of quantity and quality. There is no doubt that the fruits imported by the Afghan traders find more favour than any home products.

Manufactures. Among the chief manufactures may be mentioned the gold, silver, and silk embroideries, carpets, cloths, lacquered ware, horse-trappings and other leather-work, paper, pottery, tiles, swords, and matchlocks, and the boxes and other articles of inlaid work introduced more than a century ago from Shiraz. The lac work, a widely extended industry in India, is also in vogue in Sind. Variously coloured lac is laid in succession on the boxes, &c., while turning on the lathe, and the design is then cut through the different colours. Hyderabad has long been famous for its silks and cottons, silver and gold work, and lacquered ornaments, and the district could once boast of skilled workmen in arms and armour ; but, unless the demand for the products of its industries increase, it is to be feared that its old reputation will not long be maintained. In the cloths called sudi, silk is woven with the striped cotton—a practice possibly due to the large Mohammedan population of the country, as no Moslem can wear a garment of pure silk without infraction of the law. As regards the carpets, Sir George Birdwood states that those from Sind are the cheapest, coarsest, and least durable of all made in India. Formerly they were fine in design and colouring, but of late years they have greatly deteriorated. The cheap rugs, which sell for about 9s. each, are made with the pile (if not altogether) of cow hair, woven upon a common cotton foundation, with a rough hempen shoot. The patterns are bold and suited to the material, and the dyes good and harmonious.

Fauna. In 1837 the zoology of Sind was reported by Burnes to comprise of genera and species 20 mammals, 191 birds, 36 fishes, 11 reptiles, besides 200 in other departments of natural history. Of wild animals we find the tiger (in the jungles of Upper Sind), the hysena, the gúrkhar or wild ass (in the south part of the Thar and Parkar district), the wolf, jackal, fox, wild hog, antelope, pharho or hog deer, hares, and porcupines. Of birds of prey, the vulture and several varieties of falcon may be mentioned. The flamingo, pelican, stork, crane, and Egyptian ibis frequent the shores of the delta. Besides these there are the ubára (bustard) or filar, the rock-grouse, quail, partridge, and various kinds of parrots. Waterfowl are plentiful; in the cold season the lakes or dhandhs are covered with wild geese, kulang, ducks, teal, curlew, and snipe. Among other animals to be noted are scorpions, lizards, centipedes, and many snakes.

The domestic animals include camels (one-humped), buffaloes, sheep and goats, horses and asses (small but hardy), mules, and bullocks. Of fish there are, on the sea-coast, sharks, saw-fish, rays, and skate; cod, sir, cavalho, red-snapper, gassir, begti, dangára, and buru abound. A kind of sardine also frequents the coast. In the Indus, the finest flavoured and most plentiful fish is the palo, generally identified with the hilsa fish of the Ganges. Dambhro (Labeo rohita) and mullet, moráko (Cirrhina mrigala), gandan (Notopterus kapirat), khago or catfish (Rita buchanani), popri (Barbus sarana), shakúr, jerkho, and singhári (Macrones aor) are also found. Otter, turtle, and porpoise are frequently met with; so too are long-snouted alligators and water-snakes.

Forests. The extent of forest land is relatively small. The forests (about eighty-seven in number) are situated for the most part on the banks of the Indus, and extend southward from Ghotki in the Rohri deputy collectorate to the middle delta. They are described as narrow strips of land, from two to three miles in length, and ranging from two furlongs to two miles in breadth. The largest are between 9000 and 10,000 acres in area, but are subject to diminution owing to the encroachments of the stream. The wood is principally bábul (Acacia arabica), bahan (Populus euphratica), and kandi (Prosopis spicigera). The táli (Dalbergia Sissú) grows to some extent in Upper Sind; the iron-wood tree (Tocoma undulata) is found near the hills in the Mehar districts. There are, besides, the nim (Melia Azadirachta), the pipal (Ficus religiosa), the bér (Zizyphus Jujuba). The delta has no forests, but its shores abound with mangrove trees. Of trees introduced by the forest department we have the tamarind (Tamarindus indica), several Australian wattle trees, the water-chestnut (Trapa natans), the aula (Emblica officinalis), the bahera (Terminalia Bellerica), the carob tree (Ceratonia Siliqua), the China tallow (Stillingia sebifera), the bél (Aegle Marmelos), and the manah (Bassia latifolia). There is a specially organized forest department.

Territorial divisions. For administrative purposes the province has five well-understood divisions:— (1) Frontier, Upper Sind, of which the principal town is Jacobabad, named after the late General John Jacob, C.B., its founder; the hamlet which occupied its site in 1843 was a mere speck in the desert, and its name, Khangarh, can hardly be associated with the fine canal and abundant vegetation now marking the locality; (2) Shikarpur, with its capital of the same name and Sakhar, both notable places on the right bank of the Indus; in this division also are the towns of Larkhána and Rohri, the last on the left bank of the river; (3) Hyderabad (Haidarabad), of which the chief town, having the same name, was the capital of the province prior to the British occupation; (4) Kurrachee (Karachi), with its modern Europeanized capital and harbour and Tattha, a town of interesting local associations; (5) Thar and Parkar, an outlying district on the south-east, more or less part of the desert tract extending far and wide in that particular quarter. Besides these there is the territory of Mir ' Ali Murad, Talpur, greatly curtailed of its original dimensions, but still forming a large land alienation in Upper Sind.

Revenue. Where cultivation depends so much on the character of the year's inundation, it is natural that the revenue should be uncertain. In 1883-84, for instance, the river was abnormally low. Consequently the area of cultivation was contracted, and, while considerable re-missions had to be granted, collections were with difficulty carried out. The rainfall, moreover, except in the Thar and Parkar district, was not only scanty but unseasonable. In Thar and Parkar the rainfall was especially favourable, and owing to an early in-undation and wise preparations lands never before cultivated were brought under the plough.

The gross canal revenue in Sind amounted in 1883-84 to Rs.3,686,754, and the land revenue to Rs. 1,171,925. In round numbers and English figures—without reference to the deteriora-tion of the rupee—the total is about £487,000, of which three-fourths is due to canal irrigation.

Population. The population may be roughly reckoned at two millions and a half, an estimate which is borne out by the census of 1881. Kurrachee is now the most populous of the capitals, and its numbers far ex-ceed those of Shikarpur and Hyderabad. But the character of its inhabitants differs from that of other large towns in Sind. They are for the most part foreign and migratory, and do not represent the true Sindis.

Races and castes. Of the two great divisions of the people in Sind the Mohammedans comprise about two-thirds of the whole, the Hindus the remaining third. The Mohammedans may be divided into two great bodies—the Sindis proper and the naturalized Sindis. The Sindi proper is a descendant of the original Hindu. In religion he is a Súni, though some of the Sindis belong to the Shia sect. There are probably more than three hundred families or clans among the Sindis. There is, as a rule, no distinction of caste, except that followers of certain vocations—such as weavers, leather-workers, sweepers, huntsmen—are considered low and vile. The six different classes of naturalized Sindis are—the four families of the Saiyids (the Bokhári, Mathari, Shirázi, and Lakhiráyi); the Afghans, from Khorasan; the Baluchis ; the slaves or Sídís— originally Africans; the Memans; and the Khwájas. The Hindu population of Sind may be divided into the following principal castes:— the Brahmans, Kshatrias, Waishias, and Súdras, with their subdivisions. Besides these there are the Sikhs, and the religious mendicants—the Sanási, Jogi, Gosain, and Ogar,—all of Brahman origin.

Education. The educational progress made in Sind during the quarter of a century succeeding the mutiny has been very great. In 1858 there was but one Government English school, with 82 boys, at Kurrachee, and one with 25 boys at Hyderabad ; and of the 82 only 8 of the pupils were Sindi. In 1884-85 Sind could boast of a Government high school at Kurrachee with 400 pupils, of another high school at Hyderabad with 338 pupils, and of a third at Shikarpur with 228 boys. The three passed 39 out of 48 candidates for matriculation at the Bombay university. Of vernacular or Sindi-Persian schools under native masters there were 34 which came under Government supervision in 1858, whereas there were in 1884-85 no less than 23 middle schools—teaching the vernacular and English—with 1165 pupils; and in the primary schools the number of pupils was nearly 20,000.

Language and literature. Captain (now Sir Richard) Burton has given a clear and instructive account of the language and literature of Sind. The large proportion of Sanskrit and Arabic words admitted, the anomalous structure of the grammar, and the special sounds of certain letters of its alphabet render the first remarkable ; and the original romantic poems and translations of Arabic religious works com-mand the attention of scholars to the second. Among the more celebrated of the native writers are Makhdum Hashini, Makhdum Abdullah, and Saiyid Abdu'l-Latif.

History. The leading features of the two years' campaign of Alexander the Great in the Punjab and Sind have been touched on elsewhere (see INDIA, vol. xii. p. 787). About 711 A.D. the Hindus of Sind were conquered by Muhammad Kasim, the young general of the caliph Walid, but his successors were unable to hold their ground. In reality it was the overwhelming irruption of Mahmud of Ghazni three centuries later which finally subjugated the province. Nearly six centuries later still, Sind was annexed by the great Akbar to Delhi. In the meanwhile it had been governed by princes and petty chiefs, all of whom are celebrated in local history. After Akbar, and up to the time of Nadir Shah's invasion of India, there is little historically important to distinguish the province, separated from the other divisions of the Mughal empire, though its governors possessed a certain delegated power which might well have tempted the more ambitious to revolt. When Nadir took possession of the lands west of the Indus, one Núr Muhammad Kalhora was the quasi ruler in Sind. The tribe to which he belonged claimed lineal descent from Abbas, uncle of the prophet, and had a widely-spread repute for sanctity. Their political influence had been, moreover, increasing for many years, and in the person of one or two of their stronger chiefs they had on sundry occasions risen in arms against the imperial troops. In 1701, or thirty-eight years before the Persian invasion, Yar Muhammad Kahora had obtained possession of Shikarpur, and managed to get from the Mughal emperor a firman conferring upon him the "subahdári" of the Déra districts, with the title of "Khuda Yár Khan." On his death in 1719 he had extended his territory by the acquisition of the Kandiara and Larkhana districts, and of Síbí, a vast tract of country then including within its limits Sakhar as well as Shikarpur. He was succeeded by his son Núr Muhammad, who, as above shown, was in the unenviable position of having to account for his actions to no less notable an antagonist than Nadir himself. The latter was eventually appeased by an annual tribute of 20 lakhs of rupees, and on his return to Persia conferred upon the Kalhora prince the title of "Shah Kuli Khan." On Nadir's death the Sind lands of Núr Muhammad became tributary to Ahmad Shah of Kandahar, the transfer being sealed by the bestowal of a new title, '' Shah Nawáz Khan." This occurred in 1748, from which date till 1783—when Abdul Nabi, the last of the Kalhora princes, was defeated by Mir Eath Ali Khan, and the ruling dynasty forcibly superseded by the Talpiir Balueh chiefs—the local history is a mere record of conflicts and reconciliations, treaties and evasions of treaty, as regards out-side powers, and of revolution and bloodshed within. The seat of government had become established at Hyderabad, founded by Ghulam Shah Kalhora in 1768. We now come to the Talpúrs. These Baluchis had immigrated to Sind from their native hills under a Mir Shahdad in the early part of the 18th century, and had taken service under Núr Muhammad Kalhora. Shahdad, raised to rank and influence, died, leaving four sons, the third of whom, Mir Bahrain, succeeded as head of the tribe. His murder by a grandson of Niir Muhammad was one of the main causes of the ill-feeling which had culminated in bitter hostility when later acts of treachery and barbarism sealed the fate of the tyrant rulers. The Talpúrs entered Hyderabad as conquerors; but unfortunately for the consolidation of their sovereignty the suspicious nature of Mir Fath Ali, the head of the house, alarmed his near relatives. His nephew Sohrab fled to Upper Sind, and founded the principality of Khairpur, while Tara, moving eastward, became the independent chief of Mirpur. Later on, Mir Fath Ali, undeterred by divisions which he had no power to prevent, admitted to a share of his own government of Hyderabad his three younger brothers, Ghulam Ali, Karm Ali, and Murad Ali. On the death of Fath Ali in 1801 the three continued to rule together ; and when Ghulam Ali was killed in 1811 the duumvirate remained supreme ; but, on the death of Karm Ali in 1828 and Murad Ali a few years later, the old system was revived, and a government of four again instituted. Such was the state of things when British relations with the province had become necessarily an urgent consideration, owing to the Afghan expedition of 1838 (see vol. xii. p. 807).

During this crisis of Anglo-Indian history the political officers in Sind and Baluchistan had a difficult task to perform, and it is infinitely to their credit that more mischief did not ensue in these countries from the many and heavy British disasters in the north. But the amirs of Sind were to he dealt with for infractions of treaty if not for open hostility; and Sir Charles Napier had to call them to account soon after his arrival at Sakhar in the autumn of 1842. The long and complex narrative need not be here repeated. Suffice it to state that the outcome was the conquest of Sind,—the immediate result of the battle of Miáni, fought in the vicinity of Hyderabad in February 1843. A course of wise, firm, and kindly administration inaugurated by Sir Charles Napier himself, and continued by Messrs Pringle, Frere, Inverarity, Gen. John Jacob, Sir W. Merewether, and later commissioners, has since made the province an important section of the western presidency of India. The story of the eight years' rule of Sir Bartle Frere in Sind has yet to be written, but his name is associated with numerous matters of paramount importance,—in relation especially to the position and fortunes of the deposed amirs, the rights and immunities of the old privileged landholders, the organization of municipal institutions, the promotion of systematic education, the due administration of justice, and the erection of public works of utility.

See Hughes's Gazetteer of Sind; Burton's History of Sind; Bombay Government Records, No. xvii.; Bombay Educational Report, 1885; Annual Report on Administration of Sind; Report of Director of Public Instruction, Bombay, 1857-58; Birdwood's Handbook to Indian Court, Paris, 1873. (F. J. G.)

The above article was written by: Major-General Sir Frederick J. Goldsmid, K.C.S.I., C.B.

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