Bhutta, Langah, Kanju, Shajra and Uttera tribes

In this post, I shall look at five tribes, the Bhutta, Langah, Kanju, Shajra and Uttera. Of these, three have a substantial presence outside Punjab, namely the Bhuuta (known in Sindh as the Bhutto), Langah and Shajra, while the Kanju and Uttera are confined to south Punjab. All speak Seraiki, are largely Sunni Muslims, and are considered by themselves and others as Jat. Just to make clear, with regards to the Bhutta, there is a well known clan of Arains also called Bhutta, but this post will only look at the Jat Bhutta. The Bhutta, Langah and Shajra also have traditions of being descended from a common ancestor. Just one more point to note, the Uttera have sometimes been confused with the Uttra, but both tribes are distinct.

Bhutta

Like almost any tribe in Punjab, much has been written about the origin of the Bhutta. There is also much confusion between the Bhatti and Bhutta, and whether there is any connection between the two tribes. In terms of numbers, the Bhutta are probably the largest tribe of Jat status in south Punjab, although they are now found as far north as Jhelum (Please see Muslim Jats of Rawalpindi Division).

According some Bhutta traditions, they are a clan of Suryavanshi Rajputs, whose ancestors left Ayodhya, arrived in Multan, and converted Islam at the hands of the Sufi Bahauddin Zakaria. A significant number of Bhutta claim to have descended from Solar Rajputs. Raja Bhutta, the supposed ancestor of the tribe is said to have left Hindustan (roughly the modern states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh) arrived in Multan, which was then ruled by Raja Dahir, and captured a city which he renamed it Bhutta Wahan. Rajah Dahir could not take any action against Bhutta, as his kingdom was soon facing an invasion by the Arabs, who were successfully in overthrowing Dahir’s kingdom. The city still exists today and is located 16 km north of Rahim Yar Khan on the banks of the lost river of Hakra. After the death of Raja Bhutta, his son Ang Pal became the ruler. During Ang Pal’s rein, Bhutta Wahan was invaded by an Arab army, and he was killed fighting while his six brothers managed to escape. The family dispersed in various directions and most of them embraced Islam.

In Bahawalpur, there is a tradition the Bhutta are the same stock as the Bhatia, a well known Hindu caste found historically in south Punjab, Sindh and Gujarat. Incidentally, if this tradition is correct, the Bhutta are Chabdravanshi, and not Suryavanshi. However, there are also claims that the Bhutta descend from Raja Bhutta, of was said to be fifth in descent from Raja Karan (of the Mahabharata) and say they were forcibly converted even earlier , by Mehmood of Ghazni and driven from Uch. The tradition of descent from Rajah Karan is fairly widespread among tribes of this region of Punjab, and all it seems to suggest that a particular tribe has long been resident in the region. In Unch, there are oral traditions, that the town was ruled by the Bhuttas until they were overthrown by the Gilani Sayyids.

During the rein of Sultan Rukn-u-din Feroz Shah (1229 AD ~ 1236 AD), one of Raja Bhutta’s descendents, Muhammad Sadiq Bhutta migrated to the city of Sialkot from Uch. Muhammad Sadiq Bhutta took employment in the court of the Governor of Punjab and as a reward for his services was awarded a estate of about thirty villages (one of these villages – Kotli Bhutta, is still in the possession of his descendents. The Jethal of Jhelum also have traditions that they a branch of the Bhutta tribe.

Bhutta Pirzadas

Perhaps the most famous branch of the clan is found in the town of Khairpur Tamiwali near Bahawalpur, who now claim to be Sayyids. These Pirzada Bhuttas have entirely separated from the rest of the tribe, and there is no intermarriage between them and other Bhuttas. They are descended from Pirzada Murad Baksh Bhutta.

Distribution

The Bhutta are found mainly in southern Punjab, in the districts of Multan, Sahiwal, Lodhran, Bahawalpur, Vehari, Sargodha, Bhakkar, Muzaffargarh and Layyah, although Jhelum and Chakwal districts also have several Bhutta settlements.

Villages in Northern Punjab

In terms of villages, I have already referred to Kotli Bhutta in Sialkot. Starting with Jhelum District, they are found in Chak Mujahid Janubi, Dewanpur and Jalalpur Sharif. Next door in Chakwal District, they are found in Kot Chaudharian, Khokhar Zer, Mureed, Roopwal and Thoha Bahadar villages. These are also large Jat villages, and also home to other Jat clans such as the Gondal. Moving south, in Sargodha they are found in Chak 114 NB and Jalpana. Further west in Khushab District, they are found in Chak 50 MB and Jaura Kalan.

In South Punjab

In Lodhran District, they are found in the villages of Basti Ameerwala, Basti Naseerabad, Bast Mochianwala, Basti Muhammadi Wala, Basti Khalisa, Basti Raitwala, Basti Mahtamwala and Tahir Bhutta near Dunyapur.

 Langah

I shall next look at the Langah, a tribe that is extremely interesting as it provided a dynasty that ruled southern Punjab for almost a century.

The Langah claim to have been orignally an Pashtun tribe, who came to Multan from Sibi, in what is now the Balochistan province, for the purposes of trade and eventually settled at Rappri, near the city of Multan. In the confusion that followed the invasion of South Asia by Tamerlane, the city of Multan became independent of the Sultanate of Delhi. The inhabitants chose Shaikh Yousaf Qureshi, a descendent of the famous Sufi Baha-ud-din Zakariya, as governor. In 1445, Rai Sahra, chief of the Langah, whose daughter had been married to Shaikh Yousaf, introduced an armed band of his tribesman into the city by night, seized Shaikh Yousaf, and sent him Delhi, and proclaimed himself king, under the title Sultan Qutbudin. This a list of the Langah kings of Multan:

Sultan Qutbudin 1445–1460

Sultan Hussain 1460

Sultan Firuzshah dates unknown

Sultan Mahmud dates unknown

Sultan Hussain 1518–1526

Sultan Mahmood Langah 1526-1540

The Langahs lost the city of Multan to Jalal ud-din Akbar. After their overthrow, the Langah left the city, and settled mainly in Shujabad district, where there is a solid of Langah villages.

There are however other traditions as to the origin of the Langah. Among the people of the Multan region, Langah are perceived to be of Jat status, and certainly seem to have little in common with Durrani Pathans of Multan city. One theory, mainly referred to by early British colonial writers such Rose, makes the Langah out to be

Panwar Rajputs, and related to neighbouring Panwar tribes such as the Kharal, Harral and Lak. According to James Todd, an earlier British authority, the Langah are a clan of Solanki Rajputs, who inhabited Multan and Jaisalmer, and were driven out by the Bhattis. Although, we certainly find no reference of a tradition of Solanki descent among the Langah. It therefore likely, the Langah were migrants from Sibi, although whether they were Pashtun is detainable. It is quite possible, that they are Jats, originally from Sibi, who migrated to southern Punjab in the early Middle Ages.

Some modern Langah also claim Arab ancestry, having said to have come from Arabia some eight centuries ago. However, although the trend to claim Arab ancestry has become popular among many Punjabi Muslim tribes, most Langah still claim an Afghan origin.

Kanju

The Kanju are one five tribes, which include the Hattar, Noon and Uttera, that claim a common ancestry.

According to their traditions, the tribe claims descent from a Bhatti Rajput nobleman, a Rana Rajwadhan. The Rana lived in Ghazni, and then moved to Delhi in India. After some time, he moved to Bhatner. In the 13th Century, the Rana moved to Chanb Kalyar, in what is now the Lodhran District. The ruler of the area was a Raja Bhutta. The Raja wanted to marry the daughter of Rajwadhan, who refused. As a result a battle took place, and the Raja was slain. The tract was then divided by Rajwadhan, and his five sons, Kalyar, Uttera, Kanju, Noon and Hattar. Each son was given an area to occupy, the Kanju were given Lodhran, where the bulk of the tribe is still found. Here the Kanju lived the life of pastoral nomads, similar in customs and traditions to other Bar nomads until the region was invaded by Baloch tribes in the 15th Century. In the 19th Century, there land was seized for the purposes of colonization, and the nomadic Kanju were settled. The village of Alipur Kanju, near Kahror Pacca, is still a stronghold of the tribe, and Bohar Mailsi is also an important Kanju settlement.

Outside Lodhran District, Multan District, and Rahim Yar Khan districts in Punjab, Ghotki, Daherki and Nawab Shah districts in Sindh. The town of Muqeem Shah in Dera Ismail Khan District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is large Kanju settlement.

Shajra

The Shajra, or sometimes spelt Shujra, are a tribe of Jat status, found both in SAindh and Punjab. To clarify, there is a Jat tribe called Chhajra, with whom the Shajra have no connection. Like other tribes already referred to in and other posts, the Shajra have several traditions. What is interesting is that older traditions of Hindu ancestry are being replaced by claims of Arab origins. British sources in the early part of the twentieth Century recorded the following origin; the Shajra claim descent from Mahli, who is said to be a Suryavanshi Rajput. This Mahli is said to have four sons, Shajra being one of them, the other three being Bhutta. Naich and Langah, from whom descend the Bhutta, Naich and Langah tribes. Interestingly, although the Bhutta and Naich claim Suryavanshi descent, they have no tradition connecting them with the Shajra.

However, more recently claims of Arab ancestry have been made. Their ancestor Shajra, now is a Yemeni Arab, who was a soldier in the army of Mohammad Bin Qasim, the Aran conqueror of Sindh. Interestingly, the word shajra in Arabic means a tree, and it could be possible that it was a nickname of an ancestor. The Shajra might be of Arab origin, however after centuries of intermarriage, they have merged with the other Jat clans of south Punjab. In Punjab, the tribe speaks Seraiki, while in Sindh it speaks Sindhi. The Shajra of Sindh also have a chief, who resides in Ghotki and the current one is Muzafar Ali Shujra.

In Punjab, they are found mainly in the districts Khanewal, Multan and Rajanpur districts.

Uttera

In this post I will finally look at the Uttera. There origin myth is looked in some detail in the entry on the Kanju, with whom they share many customs and tradition. Just a point of clarification, the Uttera are distinct from the Uttra, who are discussed in my first post. The Uttera are Bar nomads, who traditional area was near Kahror Pacca, a region that they share with the Kanju. Like the Kanju, they lost a lot of their traditional grazing area when the Lodhran area saw the immigration of Baloch tribes. The Uttera were fully settled in the 19th Century by the British.

They are now found mainly in Lodhran, Multan,and Bahawalpur districts.In Lodhran District, the village of Kotla Uttera is an important centre of the tribe. Other Uttera villages include Mouza Muhammad Saee ( near the town of Kahror Pacca), Rind Jada and Khubbriwala.  There are also a cluster of Uttera villages near Dunyapur such as Bankeywala, Maywala Gogran, Chah Dhoraywala, Chah Dahana, Tundianwala, Qasimwala, Talibwala, Arwarwala, Balochwala, and Basti Shareenwala Gogran.

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3 thoughts on “Bhutta, Langah, Kanju, Shajra and Uttera tribes

  1. salam .I m bhutta mujhe apna shajra nikalna hai kisi tarah .how can I find .I born in qatar living in qatar any suggestions plz.thnx

    1. Hi Khalil,

      I would speak to your elders first. The best way is to go to your village, or if not then at least speak to someone from the village. Also find out whether you are Jat Bhutta or Arain Bhutta, they have different origins.

      Hope this has been helpful

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