Online Encyclopedia

SIND

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 143 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
SIND, a former province of India, now a division of the Bombay presidency. It is the most northerly portion of the presidency, lying between 23° 35' and 28° 29' N. and between 66° 40' and 91° ro' E., having an area of 53,116 sq. m. and a population (1901) of 3,410,223. It includes the six districts of Karachi, Hyderabad, Thar and Parkar, Larkhana, Sukkur and Upper Sind Frontier, together with the native state of Khairpur. It differs widely in physical features and climate, no less than in the language, dress and customs of the people, from the rest of the presidency, from which it is cut off by the deserts or the sea. It is bounded on the N. by Baluchistan and the Punjab; on the E. by the desert tracts of W. Rajputana; on the S. by the Runn of Cutch and the Indian Ocean; and on the W. by Baluchistan. Physical features.—Sind proper, or the central alluvial plain watered by the Indus, lies between the Kohistan or hilly country that rises to the Kirthar range on the Baluchistan border, and the Registan or Thar desert that stretches E. into Rajputana. The Kohistan in years of good rainfall yields abundant fodder for cattle and camels, and supports a scanty tillage on the banks of the hill streams or nais, one of which, named the Hab, forms the boundary between Sind and Baluchistan. Central Sind lies on both banks of the Indus, which flows S. in a bed that has been raised by the deposit of silt above the surrounding country. Except where its bed is confined by rocks, as at Sukkur, Rohri and along the edge of the Kohistan from Lakhi to Jhirak, the river constantly changes its course, especially in the delta, the head of which is now opposite Shahbandar. Central Sind depends on the yearly inundation of the Iridus, which begins to rise in March and reaches its highest point about the middle of August. The water is distributed by a very ancient system of canals, which has been greatly improved and extended since the British conquest. The soil is a plastic clay desposited by the river. The great geographical feature in Sind is the lower Indus, which passes through the entire length of the country, first in a S.W. direction, then turning somewhat to the E., then returning to a line more directly S., and finally inclining to the W., to seek an outlet at the sea. The distant line of mountains between Sukkur and Schwan, the steep pass overhanging the water at Lakhi, and the hill country below Sehwan give a distinctive character to the right bank. 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, notwithstanding its remarkable fortress and handsome tombs, can scarcely vie in interest as a native capital with Cairo; nor can Karachi, as a Europeanized capital, be said to have attained the celebrity of Alexandria. The province contains many monuments of archaeological and architectural interest. 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 S.W. monsoon stops short at Lakhpat in Cutch, the N.W. monsoon at Karachi, and even here the annual rainfall is not reckoned at more than 6 or 8 in. At times there is no rain 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 6o°, the summer maximum being 120° and the winter minimum 28°. The temperature on the sea-coast is much more equable than elsewhere. In northern Sind we find frost in winter, while both here and in Lower Sind the summer heat is extreme and prolonged. This great heat, combined with the poisonous exhalations from the pools left after the annual inundation and the decaying vegetable deposits, produces fever and ague, to which even the natives fall a prey. Agriculture.—The salt of the delta is the only mineral product of commercial importance. Timber and fuel are supplied chiefly by the babul (Acacia arabica), bahan (Populus euphratica), kandi (Prosopis spicigera) and iron wood (Tocoma undulate), and fruit by the date, mango and pomegranate. The chief rabi or spring crops, sown from August to October and reaped from February to April, are wheat, barley, gram, oilseeds and vegetables. The chief winteror kharif crops, sown from May to July and reaped from October to December, are the millets (bajri and juar), rice, urad (Phaseolus radiatus), mung (Phaseolus mungo), cotton and indigo. Efforts are being made to introduce the long-stapled Egyptian cotton. Agri-culture is almost entirely dependent upon irrigation from the Indus. Manufactures.—Among the chief manufactures may be mentioned 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 from Shiraz. Lac work, a widely extended industry in India, is also in vogue in Sind. Variously coloured lac is laid in succession on the boxes while turning on the lathe, and the design is then cut through the different colours. Hyderabad was long 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 these old industries are now on the decline. In the cloths called sudi, silk is woven with the striped cotton—a practice possibly due to the large Mahommedan population of the country, as no Moslem may wear a garment of pure silk. Chundari, or knotting, is another method of decorating cotton and silk goods. The extension of cotton cultivation in Sind has caused a brisk development in ginning factories of recent years. The Sind cotton-printers are the most skilful and tasteful in the Bombay presidency. Cotton carpets, rugs, horse-cloths, towels and napkins are manufactured at the gaols. Woollen saddle-cloths, blankets and felts are also made. Sind produces the best pottery of India. The art was introduced or developed by the Mahommedans, whose rulers gave it every encouragement. Magnificent tombs and mosques, now in ruins, testify to the skill of the ancient potters. Leather is worked in a variety of articles, such as saddle-covers for camels and horses, shoes, leggings and accoutrements. In 1904 two new flour and rice-cleaning mills were started at Sukkur. Trade.—The trade of Sind is carried on through Karachi with foreign countries, and across the land frontier with Afghanistan, Baluchistan and Seistan. Karachi is the great port for the grain trade of all N. India, and is also the great strategic military port for the N.W. frontier. The chief articles of import are cotton and woollen goods, iron and steel, mineral oil, sugar, tea and machinery; while the chief exports are wheat and other grains, cotton, wool, oilseeds, hides and skins, and bones. On the land frontier the chief articles of import are horses, ponies, mules, sheep and goats, woollen and cotton piece-goods, wheat, gram and pulse, rice, fruits and nuts, provisions, stores, leather, ghee, raw wool, silver, assafoetida, drugs, hides, fish, seeds, manufactured silk, spices and tobacco; while the exports are cotton twist and yarn, piece-goods, leather, metals, coal and coke, wheat, husked rice, liquors, ghee, sugar, tea, tobacco, wool and silver. Fauna.—The last tiger in Sind was shot about 1885. Among other wild animals are the hyaena, the gurkhar or wild ass'(in the S. 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 ubara (bustard) or tiler, 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, dangara and buru abound. A kind of sardine also frequents the coast. In the Indus, the finest flavoured and most plentiful fish is the pals., generally identified with the hilsa of the Ganges. Dambhro (Labeo rohita) and mullet, morako (Cirrhina mrigala), gandan (Notopterus kapirat), khago or catfish (Rita buchanani), popri (Barbus saran), shaker, jerkho and singhari (Macrones aor) are also found. Otter, turtle and porpoise are frequently met with; so too are long-snouted crocodiles and water-snakes. Forests.—The area of reserved forest in Sind is 1065 sq. m. The forests are situated for the most part on the banks of the Indus, and extend S. from near Rohri to the middle delta. They are narrow strips of land, from 2 to 3 M. in length, and ranging from 2 furlongs to 2 m. 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 babul (Acacia arabica), bahan (Populus euphratica) and kandi (Prosopis spicigera). The tali (Dalbergia Sissoo) 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 nine (Melia Azadirachta), the pipal (Ficus religiosa), the beer (Zizyphus Jujuba). The delta has no forests, but its shores abound with mangrove trees. Of trees introduced are 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 bel (Aegle Marmelos) and the manah (Bassia latifolia). There is a specially organized forest department. Irrigation.—The Indus at its source is 16,000 ft. above sea-level. At Attock it'is still 2000 ft. above the sea. It is, therefore, a rapid river, which brings down a great quantity of silt from the mountains and deposits it in the Sind valley. The bed of the river is always rising, and has to be constantly watched to prevent its overflowing its banks, while the quantity of silt that the water contains makes it very valuable to the cultivator. The inundation canals of the Indus have, therefore, been carried to a high degree of perfection, though the water of the river cannot be fully utilized until the proposed barrage is constructed at Sukkur. The chief of the existing canals are: on the right bank of the Indus, the Desert, Undarwah, Begari, Mahiwah, Sukkur, Ghar, Sattah, Sind and Western Nara canals; and on the left bank the Eastern Nara, Hiral, Jamrao; Dad, Nasrat, Fuleli and Hasanali canals. Within the area watered by these canals all vegetation is luxuriant; but beyond the reach of the silt-laden waters the dry and hardened ground is almost bare. Railways.—Sind is traversed by the North-Western railway, which follows the Indus from the Punjab to the sea at Karachi. The Indus is twice bridged: at Rohri where the main line crosses the river and a branch goes off to Quetta; and at Kotri, opposite Hyderabad, whence a narrow-gauge line was opened into Rajputana in 19oo, and another branch runs S. to Budin in the delta. A chord line connects Hyderabad with Rohri, to evade the erosion of the Indus, giving an alternative route from Karachi to Quetta and the N.W. frontier. One of the main purposes of the Indus valley line is the strategic defence of that frontier. Population.—The great majority of the inhabitants of Sind are of Hindu descent, converted to Islam. They speak a language of their own, which is akin to that of the Punjab, though retaining many archaic peculiarities. Mahommedans, who form more than three-fourths of the total, may be divided into Sindis proper and naturalized Sindis. The Sindi proper is a descendant of the original Hindu. In sect he is a Suni, though the Talpur mirs adopted the Shiah persuasion. 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 Bokhari, Mathari, Shirazi and Laghari); the Afghans; the Baluchis; the slaves or Sidis—originally Africans; the Memans; and the Khwajas. More than half of the Hindus are Lohanas, originally traders, who have almost monopolised government service and the professions. Brahmans are few and uninfluential. Sikhs are numerous. Administration.—Sind is administered as a non-regulation province, under a commissioner, who resides at Karachi. The highest court, independent of the High Court at Bombay, is that of the judicial commissioner, consisting of three judges, one of whom must be a barrister specially qualified to deal with mercantile cases. The Karachi brigade, forming part of the Quetta or fourth division of the Southern army, is distributed in cantonments at Karachi, Hyderabad and Jacobabad. History.—Sind has a history of its own, distinct from the rest of India. In the early centuries of the Christian era it was ruled by a Buddhist dynasty, with capitals at Alor and Brahmanabad. It was the first part of the peninsula to be invaded by the Mahommedans, under Mahommed bin Kasim, a general of the caliph, in 711. The invasion was by sea, from the mouth of the Indus; and for nearly three centuries Sind remained nominally subject to the Arab caliphs. Though conquered by Mahmud of Ghazni in the course of his raids into India, Sind long preserved a semi-independence under two local dynasties, the Sumras and the Sammas, both of Rajput descent but Mahommedans in religion. The latter had their capital at Tatta, in the delta of the Indus, which continued to be a seaport until the 18th century. The Sammas were followed by the Arghuns, of foreign origin, and the Arghuns by the short-lived Turkhan dynasty. It was not till the time of Akbar, who had himself been born at -Umarkot in Sind, that the province was regularly incorporated in the Delhi empire. When that empire broke up on the death of Aurangzeb, local dynasties again arose. The first of these was the Kalhoras, who were succeeded by the Talpurs, of Baluch descent, who were ruling under the title of Mirs, with their capital at Hyderabad, when the British first entered into close relations with the country. The East India Company had established a factory at Tatta in 1758; but the Talpur mfrs. were never friendly to trade, and the factory was withdrawn in 1775. In 183o Alexander Burneswas permitted to pass up the Indus on his way to the court of Ranjit Singh at Lahore, and two years later Henry Pottinger concluded a commercial treaty with the mirs. It was, however, the expedition to Afghanistan in 1838 for the restoration of Shah Shuja that forced on matters. The British army under Sir John Keane marched through Sind, and the mirs were compelled to accept a treaty by which they paid a tribute to Shah Shuja. surrendered the fort of Bukkur to the British, and allowed a steam flotilla to navigate the Indus. The crisis did not arrive till 1842, when Sir Charles Napier arrived in Sind and fresh terms were imposed on the mirs. The Baluch army resented this loss of independence, and attacked the residency near Hyderabad, which was bravely defended by Outram. Then followed the decisive battle of Meeanee and the annexation of Sind. A course of wise, firm and kindly administration inaugurated by Sir Charles Napier himself, and continued by Sir Bartle Frere, Sir W. Merewether and later commissioners, has since made the province peaceful and prosperous. See H. M. Birdwood, The Province of Sind (Society of Arts, 1903) ; and Sir Richard Burton, Scinde (1851).
End of Article: SIND
[back]
BART SIR JOHN SINCLAIR
[next]
VOYAGES OF SINDBAD THE SAILOR

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.