Epigraphy of Makli

Epigraphy of Makli
In nineteenth a significant number of historic sites/towns received academic focus of the epigraphers. In this regard Makli, boasting of the huge epigraphic material, received very little focus from scholars of the field. The Necropolis of Makli is situated sixty miles east of Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh province, in Pakistan. Spread over a prominent part of a long hillock, running north to south, it is skirting medieval town of Thatta on its west. The site is studded with a good number of graves and tomb buildings, mostly erected in the late medieval period. It displays a wide variety of inscriptions in traditional Arabic and Persian epigraphy, carved on good quality sandstone, however few are written on glazed ceramic tiles as well. Unfortunately the natural reasons and the neglect of centuries have taken its toll; a considerable number of cenotaphs and slabs from this graveyard are totally lost to us, much exists in highly dilapidated condition. It is feared that with in few more years we may lose another substantial part of it.

Present work is an outcome of the study that takes into consideration the amazing mass of the writings on the cenotaphs and the monuments. The documentation of the site de-notes each grave, whether it is an elaborately carved one, or lime plastered, or it is a later day cemented one. It also indicates the clay hump or pebble strewn grave: if it has not been already flattened. This information is charted, along with the situation of the structures, on an appropriately scaled map, helping in locating these with required accuracy. The coordinates, shown on these maps, can guide to every single point on the hill.Therefore virtually all structures and graves can be specified on Makli. It continues to document the variety of inscriptions: these being informal funerary statements, or regular epitaphs, or part of diversely rich selections from Surah / chapters from Quran. This information is made available through the photography that ensures that all five sides of the cenotaphs are captured, to appreciate the, calligraphic excellence. These inscriptions are further read, an onerous task in itself; the reading is given in regular print so that the contents are fully understood, and the information can be utilized, in further studies.
This work incidentally fulfills the conditions for the presentation of an important historic site. The heritage norms and governing laws duly emphasize on its presentation and on making it accessible so that its unique character is appropriately appreciated. Makli with its enormity, reflected through its stone carved graves and tomb buildings, has a special place among the common heritage of the world, thus winning for itself a place on the coveted World Heritage List.

It is an effort to fill the void that exists between the requirements and availability of the information on the epigraphic richness of the site. It shows the written word executed by the sure hand of the scribe, and carved by the loving artisan. The general public passing by these graves, struck with the sheer beauty and enormity of the site may not realize variety of the content; the closer scrutiny however shall let them realize that the inscriptions may be rendering of sacred text or secular literary pieces; thus begins the relationship with the site. Presence of a large number of funeral structures at Makli: tomb buildings, enclosures, musalla, plateforms and above all the indulgently carved cenotaphs, don’t leave any doubt that the site has received fancy of the men of world as well as of the men of arts.


Kaleemullah Lashari


Culture, Tourism, Antiquities and Archives Department- Government of Sindh- Pakistan






Social Sciences


Art and Culture


Global Asia (Asia and other parts of the World)
South Asia