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The Pundits

British Exploration of Tibet and Central Asia

Waller Derek


Editeur - Casa editrice

The University Press of Kentucky

  Asia
Himalaya
Tibet
Everest

Anno - Date de Parution

1990

Pagine - Pages

327

Titolo originale

The Pundits: British Exploration Of Tibet And Central Asia

Lingua originale

Lingua - language - langue

eng

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The Pundits: British Exploration Of Tibet And Central Asia

The Pundits  

On a September day in 1863, Abdul Hamid entered the Central Asian city of Yarkand. Disguised as a merchant, Hamid was actually an employee of the Survey of India, carrying concealed instruments to enable him to map the geography of the area. Hamid did not live to provide a first-hand count of his travels. Nevertheless, he was the advance guard of an elite group of Indian trans-Himalayan explorers―recruited, trained, and directed by the officers of the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India―who were to traverse much of Tibet and Central Asia during the next thirty years.

Derek Waller presents the history of these explorers, who came to be called "native explorers" or "pundits" in the public documents of the Survey of India. In the closed files of the government of British India, however, they were given their true designation as spies. As they moved northward within the Indian subcontinent, the British demanded precise frontiers and sought orderly political and economic relationships with their neighbors. They were also becoming increasingly aware of and concerned with their ignorance of the geographical, political, and military complexion of the territories beyond the mountain frontiers of the Indian empire. This was particularly true of Tibet.

Though use of pundits was phased out in the 1890s in favor of purely British expeditions, they gathered an immense amount of information on the topography of the region, the customs of its inhabitants, and the nature of its government and military resources. They were able to travel to places where virtually no European count venture, and did so under conditions of extreme deprivation and great danger. They are responsible for documenting an area of over one million square miles, most of it completely unknown territory to the West. Now, thanks to Waller's efforts, their contributions to history will no longer remain forgotten.

 


Recensione in altra lingua (English):

The Great Trigonometrical Survey of India was officially instituted in 1818. In their desire to extend the survey into the Tibetan plateau, then closed territory, the British authorities trained Indian natives in surveying techniques. It was their work beyond the northern frontiers of India which resulted in the charting of over one million square miles of virtually uncharted territory, often at great risk to themselves. Waller's book is the first scholarly study of these 'Pundits', as they came to be called. Of particular relevance is chapter 6, which covers the surveying work made by Hari Ram during the 1870s in the Everest region



Recensione in lingua italiana

I mitici Pundit, i veri esploratori dell'Himalaya e del Tibet ignoto.