Gujjral, Matyal, Nagyal and Thathaal tribes

In this post, I shall look at four tribes, who are generally of Jat status in Jhelum and Mirpur districts, but are considered Rajput in Rawalpindi. They are all aals, or clans of larger tribal groupings. The Gujjral are Bhattis, the Matyal are Thakkars, Nagyals are Minhas and Thathaals are Suryavanshi. Unlike the Bar tribes in my last post, they have no recent tradition of pastoralism. In fact, these Chibhalis are in essence mountain farmers, but in Jhelum, both the Chibhalis and Bar groups have intermarried, producing a distinct Jhelumi Jat culture. This is especially true in the Pind Dadan Khan plains, where the Chibhali groups like the Nagyal and Thathaal are found in close proximity to Gondal, Tarar and Ranjha who are all Bar nomads.

 

Gujjral


I shall start off by looking at the Gujjral, a clan of Jat status found in Jhelum and Gujrat districts. Just to clarify, these Gujjral Jats, as far as I know have no connection with a Khatri clan, also called Gujjral, which incidentally was historically also found in the same region. In my earlier postings, I made reference to the fact that the various tribes in Pothohar and the Jhelum valey have name often ends in al, which is patronymic, for example, the sons of Kals, are the Kalyal and so on, very similar to the Arabic Bin or Slavic ovich or ov. So the Gujjral are the descendents of Gujjar, which itself opens a number of questions. For the Gujjar is a well known tribe found through out Punjab, with a large presence in the Jhelum valley, who do not and are not considered as Jat. So how did these sons of Gujjar evolve in the a Jat tribe. The answer lies in the traditions of the tribe, which states their ancestor was a Bhatti Rajput, who was suckled by a Gujar foster mother, and given the name Gujar. Despite this close relationship with the Gujjars, the Gujjral intermarry with clans such as the Gondal and Lilla, who are of Jat status, and not with groups that fall within the Gujjar category. Outside Chakwal, they are found in the village of Dhok Gujral near the town of Dina in Jhelum District, Mohra Heeran near Choa Khalsa in Rawalpindi District and the village of Pind Jattan in Bhimber District (Azad Kashmir) is an important tribal settlement.

Matyal

I next look at the Matyal, sometimes pronounced as Mathyal, a tribe largely found in Jhelum and Rawalpindi districts. Like other tribes of the Pothohar region, the Matyal have a good many traditions as to their origin, often these being quite contradictory. According to one of there traditions, the Matyal get their name from the Hindu goddess mata, the Matyal being the devotees of Mata. The goddess mata is popular incarnation of Devi and one of the main forms of the Goddess Shakti, a deity closely associated with kshatriya groups in North India. These devotees of mata were members of Thakhar caste, a group of quasi-Rajputs found in the Jammu hills. This would mean that like the Kanyal, and Nagyal, the Matyal are immigrants from the country known as the Chibhal. However, another tradition makes the Matyal a clan of the Tanolis, a tribe of Barlas Mughal origin found in the hills of the Hazara division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Tanolis have two divisions, the Hindwal and Pallal, of which the Pallal are further divided in twelve clans, these being Bhujal, Rains, Ansal, Tekral, Baigal, Judhal, Sadhal, Dairal, Bainkaryal, Matyal and Lanhya. According to this tradition, the Matyals left their Hazara home in the thirteenth century, and settled in Malot There is still a hamlet or dhoke near the town of Malot called Dhoke Matyal or hamlet of the Matyal. Most of the Jat Matyal add suffix Chaudhry to their names, but some Matyal in the Pothohar region ( Sohawa and Gujar Khan) prefer to add Raja to their names.

In terms of distribution, the Matyal are found mainly in Chakwal, Jhelum and Rawalpindi districts of Punjab, as well as the adjoining Mirpur and Bhimber Districts of Azad Kashmir. They are also found in the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad. According to the census of India 1911, they numbered 1,147 in Jhelum District.

Villages in Punjab

In Punjab, important Matial villages include Aheer, Budhial, Dhok Matyal near Sasral, Lilla, Mohra Kaley Khan, Matial, Sasral, Sukho, Pothi and Punjgran Kalan in Gujar Khan tehsil of Rawalpindi District, Matial, Ranja Mattial, Bhondna, Pandori, Chak Balian and Maira Matial (Ranjha Maira) in Jhelum District, Pinwal in Chakwal District and Matyal in Attock District.

Villages in Islamabad Territory

In the Islamabad Capital Territory, the center of Matyals is the village of Gagri situated on the Soan River.

Villages in Azad Kashmir

Their villages include Matyal near Gangesar, Matyal in Kotli District, Ghura Matyal and Nar Matyal in Bhimbar District and Jatlan and Mohra Matyal in Mirpur District.

Nagyal

We now look at the Nagyal, or Nagial sometimes pronounced Nangyal, with n sound hardly stressed, a tribe of Jat and Rajput status. Unlike the tribes already made reference who tend to localised, being concentrated along the Jhelum River, the Nagyal are very widespread in the Pothohar and neighbouring Chibhal region. In customs and traditions, they have more in common with the tribes referred to in my earlier posts such as Bangyal and Dhamial. They are distinct from Nagrial and Nagrawal, who are clans of the Bhatti Rajputs, with whom the Nagyal are often confused with.

So who are the Nagyals, and short answer is that they are a clan of the Minhas tribe of Jammu. They claim descent from a Nag Singh, a Jamwal Minhas, who is said to left his homeland migrated to Akhnur. But it quite possible the Nagyal have some connection with a ancient people called the Nagas. The Nagas were mentioned as an snake-worshipping tribe of ancient India, and Puranic legends have constructed the genealogy of the Nagavanshis as a sub-clan of the Suryavansha. Interestingly, the snake was used as a tribal totem among the peoples of Himalayas. Like Matyals mentioned in my earlier post, who are said to be worshipers of Mata, we may conjecture that the Nagyals were somehow connected with the snake cult.

According to their own tribal traditions, the tribe came to be called Nagyal due to an event that took place. The mother of the ancestor of the tribe left her son in a cradle asleep. She had gone out to visit someone, and shortly she came back and saw that her son was awake and happily playing with a cobra. She was shocked to see that the wild venomous snake had not bitten the child but, in fact, was trying to protect. .From there onwards she and her family vowed not to kill snakes, and hence the child and its descendents were referred to as Nagyals. This legend itself indicates that at one point in their history, the Nagyal were followers of the cult of the Nag.

Like other Chibhalis groups referred to such as the Kanyal, once the Nagyal lefts the hills of the Chibhal and arrived in the Pothohar plateau, a process of conversion to Islam occurs. Different Nagyal groups have different tradition is to their history of settlement. The Ghik, a clan of the Nagyal, now settled in Gujar Khan Tehsil, have a tradition that they descend from four brothers that came to settle in this region during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. One of the brothers settled at Ghik Badhal, from whom descend the Ghik Rajputs, second brother settled in Dhok Nagyal, from whom descend the Nagyals of that village, third brother settled in Bagwal and fourth brother settled at Qutbal. So it seems small groups of Nagyal left the hills and settled land that must have been lightly settled.

Presently, the Nagyal are found in Jhelum, Mirpur and Rawalpindi districts, with those of Rawalpindi generally being acknowledged to be of Rajput status, while those of Jhelum and Mirpur considering themselves as Jats. Starting off with the Islamabad Capital Territory, the Nagyal are found in Mohra Nagyal village. In neighbouring Rawalpindi District, they all found in all the tehsils bar Murree.

In Kahuta Tehsil the villages of Hardogher and Nagyal, and in Rawalpindi Tehsil, their villages are Banda Nagyal, Mohra Nagyal and Maira Nagyal, while in Kallar Syedan they are found in Basanta, Bhalla, Dhamali (Chak Mirza), Doberan Kalan (in Dhok Allah Rakha), Jocha Mamdot and Nala Musalmanan. There is a whole clusters of villages in Gujar Khan Tehsil that entirely inhabited by the Nagyal, or they form an important element, and these include Bajwal, Bhatta, Begwal, Dhok Baba Kali Shaheed, Dhok Badhal, Nagial Umer, Dera Syedan, Dhok Nagyal (near Gharmala), Katyam (near Ratala), Karyali, Nata Mohra, Mohra Nagyal, Ghick Badhal, Chak Bagwal, Qutbal, Gharmala, Hoshang, Sasral, Bhai Khan, Nagial Sohal, Saib, Gagian, Mohra Jundi, Dhok Nagyal in Bewal and Nagial Pahlwan. In Jhelum District, Chautala, Dhok Kanyal, Dhok Masyal, Dhok Nagyal, Gora Nagyal, Nagyal, Sohan and Wagh (near Pind Dadan Khan) are important villages, while in the neighbouring Chakwal District, their villages include Ghazial, Mohri, and Potha. In Azad Kashmir, they are found mainly in Mirpur District, an important Nagyal settlement is the village of Nagial.

Thathaal

We now look at the Thathaal, sometimes spelt and pronounced referred to as Thothal and even Thathiyal. They are a clan of a Rajput and Jat status found in the area between Salt Range, Gujrat, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Narowal , and in Azad Kashmir. There also a community of Sikh Thathaals found in Hoshiarpur and Himachal Pradesh. Prior to partition, there were several Muslim Thathaal villages in Gurdaspur District, all of whom moved to Pakistan.

 

According to their clan traditions they are said to be the descendants of a king named Raja Karan. The Rajah comes in tribal history of several Chibhal tribes such as the Narma, but whose identity is unclear. It could refer to Karan, the figure from the Mahabharat. The tribe claims to belong to the Suryavanshi branch of Rajput, claiming descent from Raja Karan through his son Raja Thathu whose other son Naru is said to have founded the Narma clan. However, as we have already said, the Narma are Agnikul and not Suryavanshi. But the two tribes live in close proximity, so it is possible one group adopted the other traditions. According to some tribal traditions, Raja Thathu was the first member of the tribe to convert to Islam. Due to the many dialects of the Punjabi language, the pronunciation of Thathal differs according to locality. In Potowar/Pahari it is pronounced Thothal. In Gujrat district it is written Thathal or Thathiyal. Other variations of the name in Pakistan and India include Thathar, Tharar and Thorar.

Some of the Kharian Tehsil Thathaals have a family tree that show that the name of their ancestor as Thuthir. This sound more like an Indian name than “Thutho” or “Thotho”, and is possibly a version of Sudhir. There is a strong possibility that “Thotho” or “Thutho” could be a shortened version of the original name. The next question is who was this Rajah Karan. Some Thathaals make reference to Karan being the ruler of Kashmir. It could be that the reference could be to Karan of the Mahabharata, who gave away his kavacha ( chest shield) and kundala (ear rings) to Lord ndra, who was disguised as a beggar. This generosity is to have cost Karan very dearly and he was killed by his brother Arjuna in the battle of Kurukshetra. Or could it be that there was indeed a Karan that lived much latter. Thathaal tradition refers to Karan being a contemporary of the Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar ( lived between 1542–1605), and it was not Karan but his son Thatho who was first convert to Islam. This would tally with the fact that there are still Thathaals who follow the Hindu or Sikh faith in eastern Punjab.

In terms of villages, in Kharian Tehsil of Gujrat District, we have the villages of Chaphar, Khambi Kaleechpur, Sahan Kalan, Kotla Arab Ali Khan and Mehmand Chak. In neighbouring Mirpur District, they are found in Panyam, and Dheri Thothaal. In Rawalpindi District, they are found in Bhair Allu, Chak Mirza near Jocha Mamdot, Haji Borgi near Qazian, Jatli and Mohra Thathaal in Gujarkhan Tehsil, while in Islamabad, they are found in the town of Tarlai Kalan. In Jhelum District, they are found in Dhok Thathaal, Potha and Shepur (near Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil). While in Attock District, they are found in Khabba Barala in Fatehjang Tehsil.

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5 thoughts on “Gujjral, Matyal, Nagyal and Thathaal tribes

  1. There were Sikh and Hindus Thathal Jatts before partition then Jhelum district now Chakwal district. The Sardars of Vahali, they owned a lot of land in choa saidan shah but had to migrated due to partition.

      1. The Sardars of Vahali refer to the historical jagirdars (landowners) of the villages of Wahali Zer and Wahali Bala in present-day Chakwal District of Pakistan. They belonged to the Thathal Jat caste. In 1909, this was one of the largest landowning families in the province, holding close to 14,000 acres, and was prominently featured in Griffin’s Punjab Chiefs text. Members of the family served in the administrations of several rulers of Punjab and Kashmir – from the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to the Rajas of Kashmir and Poonch, Queen Victoria of the British Colonial Government, and King George after her. Their power declined after the independence of Pakistan in 1947, when the family lost most of its landholdings and wealth.

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