Meds

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Med are an ethnic community found in the coastal areas of Balochistan, Pakistan, mainly in the regions of Makran and Las Bela,[1][2] and the Makran region of Sistan and Baluchestan Province of Iran.[3]

Origin

There are different theories as to the origin of the Med community. According to their own tribal traditions, the Med originate from Gandava in the Bolan District (Kacchi) region of Balochistan. It is likely that the Med are one of the earliest settlers of the Makran coast, and this is reinforced by the fact that the Med are mentioned in the chronicle of ancient Sindh, the Chachnama, as one of the tribes that inhabited coastal Balochistan. The Med now speak Balochi language, and consider themselves as Baloch. However, in both Makran and Las Bela, they are seen as distinct by both the Sindhi language and Baloch people. The Mohana tribe of Sindh and southern Punjab claim to of Med origin. [4][5]

Distribution

In Lasbela District they are found mainly in the cities of Miani and Ormara, and villages in between these towns, while in Makran they are found in the cities of Gwadar and Sonmiani, and the villages in between. The Med are divided into four clans,

1.the Chilmarzai, who claim descent from Numrio tribe of Sindh,
2. the Jalalzai and
3.Gazbur, who claim Baloch ancestry and
4.the finally the Olmari who claim Pashtun ancestry.

This suggests that the Med community is of diverse origin, absorbing different groups which migrated to Makran. In recent time the Med have absorbed groups of African ancestry such as the Siddi. Meds are Muslims and like many other Makran communities, they are also divided along sectarian lines. Many Gwadar Med belong to the Zikri sect while vast majority of Meds are Sunni Hanafis. Along coastal Balochistan, fishing is entirely in the hands of the Med, with an individual fishing boat owned by a particular lineages. The Med also form an important element within the Baloch population of Karachi.[6][7]


In Iran, the Med settlements cling to the coastline of Makran region of the province of Sistan and Baluchestan . They are largely engaged in fishing, but some of their settlements on the banks of the various seasonal streams also engage in agriculture. The Med have vague traditions of having originated in Sindh, but now considers themselves and looked by others as Baloch. Like other Iranian Baloch, the Med are Sunni, as distinct from the majority in Iran, who are Shia.[8]

History of the Jats and Meds

Sir H. M. Elliot and John Dowson[9] provide us following account of Jats and Meds:

As an account of the Jats and Meds is given in the first part of the original work, I shall commence mine by making them the subject of it.


[p.104]: The Jats and Meds1 are, it is said, descendants of Ham. They dwelt in Sind and (on the banks of) the river which is called Bahar. By the Arabs the Hindús are called Jats. The Meds held the ascendancy over the Jats, and put them to great distress, which compelled them to take refuge on the other side of the river Pahan, but being accustomed to the use of boats, they used to cross the river and make attacks on the Meds, who were owners of sheep. It so came to pass that the Jats enfeebled the Meds, killed many of them, and plundered their country. The Meds then became subject to the Jats.

One of the Jat chiefs (seeing the sad state to which the Meds were reduced) made the people of his tribe understand that success was not constant; that there was a time when the Meds attacked the Jats, and harassed them, and that the Jats had in their turn done the same with the Meds. He impressed upon their minds the utility of both tribes living in peace, and then advised the Jats and Meds to send a few chiefs to wait on king Dajúshan (Duryodhana), son of Dahrát (Dhritaráshtra), and beg of him to appoint a king, to whose authority both tribes might submit. The result of this was satisfactory, and his proposition was adopted. After some discussion they agreed to act upon it, and the emperor Dajúshan nominated his sister Dassál (Duhsalá), wife of king Jandrát (Jayadratha), a powerful prince, to rule over the Jats and Meds. Dassal went and took charge of the country and cities, the particulars of which and of the wisdom of the princess, are detailed in the original work. But for all its greatness, and riches and dignity, there was no bráh-man or wise man in the country. She therefore wrote a long letter to her brother for assistance, who collected 30,000 bráhmans from all Hindústán, and sent them, with all their goods and dependents, to his sister. There are several discussions and stories about these bráhmans in the original work.

A long time passed before Sind became flourishing. The original work gives a long description of the country, its rivers and wonders, and mentions the foundation of cities. The city which the queen made the capital, is called Askaland.2 A small portion of the


[p.105]: country she made over to the Jats, and appointed one of them as their chief; his name was Júdrat. Similar arrangements were also made for the Meds. This government continued for twenty and some1 years, after which the Bhárats lost possession of the country.

* * * * * * *

History of Meds and Mands by Elliot

Sir H. M. Elliot[10] writes about Meds and Mand:

[p.526]: They may either have been transplanted to the banks of the Indus when the Medo-Persian empire extended so far to the eastward; or they may have migrated thither at some indefinitely early period; or they may have sought an asylum there upon the occupation of their country by the Scythians; or during the persecution of the Magi, who constituted one of the six tribes of Medes, just as the Pársís did in Guzerát, at a later period and on similar occasion. It is worthy of remark that Ibn Haukal places the Budhas, or Budhyas, in the same category with the Mand, representing them as comprising several tribes to the west of the Indus. Now, the Budii were also one of the six Median tribes, and the juxtaposition of these two names in the province of Sind should not escape notice, for they also may have formed a body of similar emigrants.1

All arguments against the probability of such dispersions stand self-confuted, when we consider that Sindians were on the Euxine;2 and that, besides the familiar instances of Samaritans and Jews under the Assyrians, we read over and over again in Persian history, of the deportations of entire tribes, expressly termed αυασπάστοι by Herodotus.3 Thus we have the removal of Pæo-nians to Phrygia,4 of Barcæans from Africa to Bactria,5 of Milesians to Ampe, near the Tigris,6 of Egyptians to Susa,7 of Eretrians from Eubœa to Ardericca,8 and to Gordyene,9 of Antiochians to Mahúza,10 and others which it would be tedious to specify.

There is another curious coincidence worthy of notice. It is well known, that from below the junction of the Panjáb rivers down to Sihwán, the Indus takes the name of Sar, Siro, or Sira, and from below Haidarábád to the sea, that of Lár. It is more correct, but unusual, to add an intermediate division, called Wicholo, "central," representing the district lying immediately around Haidarábád, just


[p.527]: as on the Nile, the Wustání, "midlands," of the Arabs represented the tract between Upper and Lower Egypt.1 Sir A. Burnes says that Sir and Lár are two Bulúch words for "north" and "south." But the first is a Slavonic word also, which Gatterer and Niebuhr tell us is retained in Sauro-matæ, signifying "northern" Medes. There were also a province of Siracene, and a tribe of Siraceni, and other similar names north of the Caucasus.2 The Slavonic and Persian show a great similarity: thus, spaco signifies "a bitch" in both, and the same with the first syllable of Sauromatæ, or Sar-matæ.3 Hence Sar for the "northern" Indus, was more probably a remnant of Median than Bulúch emigration, though the Persian element could be accounted for, even on the latter supposition, seeing what a strong tincture the Bulúchí language retains of its original Íránian connection.4

Moreover, amongst the several tribes of Kshatriyas, who, having neglected to observe the holy customs, and to visit the Bráhmans, became so degenerate that they were expelled their caste, and regarded as "Dasyus," or robber tribes, Manu enumerates the "Pah-lavas." 5 "They are," continues the holy legislator, "Dasyus, whether they speak the language of Mlechchhas, or that of Áryas." Árya in Sanskrit, airya in Zend, means "noble," "sacred," "venerable;" hence a portion of Upper India is called Aryavarta, "the holy land," or "country of the Áryas." The Medes being also of the same original stock, were universally called Arii. The Áryas of Manu, therefore, are not necessarily, as some interpret, only degenerate natives, but may likewise have been Medes occupying


[p.528]: the valley of the Indus. It is probable that a still earlier, and more degenerate branch of the same family may be spoken of under the name of "Meda," in the code of Manu, "who must live without the town, and maintain themselves by slaying beasts of the forest." Allusion seems here to be made to the Mers of the Árávalí.1

These indications need not be enlarged on further in this place. Many will, of course, look upon them as fanciful and extravagant. Others, who feel so disposed, must pursue the investigation for themselves; for it is foreign to the main design of this Note, which has merely been to show that we have the Meds of the Arabs retaining their own name to this day, as well as probably under a slightly varied form, in and around the original seats of their occupation. That object has, it is hoped, been accomplished satisfactorily, and with regard to all extraneous matter, to use the words of Cicero, sequimur probabilia, nec ultrà quam id, quod verisimile occurrerit, pro-gredi possumus, et refellere sine pertinaciâ et refelli sine iracundiâ parati sumus.2

General Cunningham, in his Report for 1863-64, says:-"The Meds or Mands are almost certainly the representatives of the Man-drueni , who lived on the Mandrus river, to the south of the Oxus; and as their name is found in the Panjáb from the beginning of the Christian era downwards, and in none before that time, I conclude that they must have accompanied their neighbours, the Iatii, or Játs, on their forced migrations to Ariana and India. In the classical writers, the name is found as Medi and Mandueni, and in the Muhammadan writers, as Med and Mand." To show that these


[p.529]: two spellings are but natural modes of pronunciation of the same name, the General notices the various ways in which the name of a village on the Jhelam is spelt in different maps and books- Meriala, Mandiali, Mámriála, Mandyála, Mariála, and Merali.

"The earliest notice of the Meds is by Virgil, who calls the Jhelam Medus Hydaspes. The epithet is explained by the statement of Vibius Sequester, which makes the Hydaspes flow "past the city of Media." Now this is clearly the same place as Ptolemy's Euthy-media , or Sagala, which was either on or near the same river, and above Bukephala. Lastly, in the Peutingerian Tables, the country on the Hydaspes, for some distance below Alexandria Bucefalos, is called Media. Here then we have evidence that the Medi, or Meds, were in the Panjáb as early at least as the time of Virgil, in B.C. 40 to 30, and as we know that they were not one of the five tribes of Yuchi, or Tochari, whose names are given by the Chinese writers, it may be inferred, with tolerable certainty, that they must have belonged to the great horde of Sus, or Abars, who entered India about B.C. 126, and gave their name to the province of Indo-Scythia."

As the date of the Peutingerian Table is not later than A.D. 250, we have a break of upwards of four centuries before we reach the earliest notices of the Muhammadan writers. In these we find the Meds or Mands firmly established in Sindh, along with their ancient rivals the Játs, both of whom are said to be the descendants of Ham, the son of Noah. Rashíd-ud dín further states that they were in Sindh at the time of the Mahábhárata, but this is amply refuted by the native histories of the province, which omit both names from the list of aborigines of Sindh. Ibn Haukal describes the Mands of his time (about A.D. 977), as occupying the banks of the Indus from Multan to the sea, and to the desert between Makrán and Famhal. Masudi, who visited India in A.D. 915-16, calls them Mind, and states that they were a race of Sindh, who were at constant war with the people of Mansura. These notices are sufficient to show, that at some time previous to the first appearance of the Muhammadans, the Meds must have been forced to migrate from the Upper Panjáb to Sindh. There they have since remained, as there can be no doubt that they are now represented by the Mers of the Árávalí Range to the east of the Indus, of Káthiáwar to the south, and of Biluchistán to the west."


[p.530]:

"The name of Mer, or Mand, is still found in many parts of the Punjáb, as in Meror of the Bari and Rechna Doabs, in Mera, Mandra, and Mandanpur of the Sind Ságar Doab, and in Mandali, of Multan. Mera, which is ten miles to the west of Kalar Kahár, is certainly as old as the beginning of the Christian era, as it possesses an Arian Pali inscription, fixed in the side of a square well. The Mers would seem also to have occupied Lahore, as Abú Ríhán states that the capital of Loháwar was named Medhukur or Mandhukur.1 This place is said to have been on the east bank of the Ravi, and, if so, it was most probably Lahore itself, under a new name. There is an old place called Mandhyawála, on the west bank of the Ravi, and only twelve miles to the south-west of Lahore, which may possibly be the Mandhukur of Abu Ríhán. But the old mound of Mirathira, in the Gugera district, in which figures of Buddha and moulded bricks have been discovered by the railway cuttings, is a more likely place. This frequent occurrence of the name in so many parts of the Panjáb, and always attached to old places, as in Mera, Mandra, and Meriali, of the Sindh Ságar Doab, and in Med-hukur or Mandhukur, the capital of Loháwar, offers the strongest confirmation of the conclusion which I have already derived from the notices of the classical authors, that the Meds or Mers were once the dominant race in the Panjáb. The special location of the Medi on the Hydaspes by classical writers of the first century of the Christian era, the evident antiquity of Mera, Meriali, and other places which still bear the name, and the admitted foreign origin of their modern representatives, the Mers, all point to the same conclusion, that the Medi, or Meds, were the first Indo-Scythian conquerors of the Panjáb."

[* * * * "About this time (30 to 20 B.C.) the Meds may be supposed to have retired towards the south, until they finally established themselves in Upper Sindh, and gave their name to their new capital of Minnagara. As this could scarcely have been effected with the consent of the former occupants of Upper Sindh, whom I suppose to have been the Iatii, or Jats, I would refer to this period as the beginning of that continued rivalry, which the historian Rashídu-d dín attributes to the Jats and Meds.2 To this same cause I would also refer the statement of the Erythræan Periplus, that about A.D. 100, the rulers of Minnagara were rival Parthians, who were mutually expelling each other."

External links

References

  1. Balochistan District Gazetteers Lasbela State pages 57 to 59
  2. Balochistan District Gazetteer Makran pages 105 to 107
  3. Nomadism in Baluchistan by Brian Spooner in Pastoralists and nomads in South Asia by Lawrence S Leshnik pages 172 & 175 ISBN 3-447-01552-7
  4. Conservatism and Change in Desert Feudalism: The Case of Southern Baluchistan by Carroll Pastner pages 247 to 260 in The nomadic alternative : modes and models of interaction in the African-Asian deserts and steppes / edited by W. Weissleder The Hague : Mouton, 1978
  5. Balochistan District Gazetteer Makran pages 105 to 107
  6. Conservatism and Change in Desert Feudalism: The Case of Southern Baluchistan by Carroll Pastner pages 247 to 260 in The nomadic alternative : modes and models of interaction in the African-Asian deserts and steppes / edited by W. Weissleder The Hague : Mouton, 1978
  7. Balochistan District Gazetteer Makran pages 105 to 107
  8. Nomadism in Baluchistan by Brian Spooner in Pastoralists and nomads in South Asia by Lawrence S Leshnik pages 172 & 175 ISBN 3-447-01552-7
  9. The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians/I. Mujmalu-t Tawáríkh,pp.104-105
  10. The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians/Note (C).- Ethnological,pp.526-531

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