Bawarij: The Prominent Sindhi Pirates

Bawarij were the renowned Sindhi pirates from the province of Sindh named for their distinctive barja warships. They looted Arab shipping bound for the South Asia and China, but entirely converted to the religion of Islam during the rule of the Samma Dynasty (AD 1335–1520). Bawarij are mentioned by Ma’sudi as frequenting the pirate den at Socotra and other scholars describes them as pirates and sailors of Sindh.

Ibn Batuta explains their ships warships as having fifty rowers, and fifty men-at-arms and wooden roofs to protect against arrows and stones. Tabari describes them in an attack upon Basra in the time period of 866 CE as having one pilot (istiyam), three fire-throwers (naffatun), a baker, a carpenter and thirty-nine rowers and fighters making up a complement of forty-five. These ships were unsuited for warlike maneuvers and lacked the sleek prows or ramming capabilities of other contemporary naval units, but were purposed to provide for hand-to-hand battles for crew upon boarding.

 

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