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Trans-Himalayan Caravans

Merchant Princes and Peasant Traders in Ladakh

Rizvi Janet

Editeur - Casa editrice

Oxford University Press


Anno - Date de Parution


Pagine - Pages


Titolo originale

Trans-Himalayan Caravans: Merchant Princes and Peasant Traders in Ladakh

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Trans-Himalayan Caravans: Merchant Princes and Peasant Traders in Ladakh

Trans-Himalayan Caravans  

This intriguing account of Ladakhi trade is spiced with enough personal details of the traders at all levels, to demonstrate that trade is something more than a matter of routes and commodities, prices and rates of profit; it is an activity carried out by real human beings, profoundly colouring their entire way of life.
This book documents the extraordinarily complex pattern of trade upon which the pre-Independence economy of Ladakh largely depended. At the subsistence level, food-grains grown in the valleys were exchanged with wool and salt from the high-altitude plateaux of Tibet. Ladakh was also the conduit by which the luxury fibre pashm (or cashmere) passed from Tibet’s high-altitude plateaux down to Srinagar, to be worked into Kashmir’s famous shawls. In addition, its capital, Leh, was the halfway stage on the route for the long-distance trade in textiles, carpets, dyestuffs and narcotics between the Punjab and eastern central Asia (Sinkiang), and also the entrepot for trade between central Asia and Lhasa.
Although the trans-Himalayan traffic in subsistence commodities in other parts of the Himalayan has been researched, that in Ladakh has until now remained almost entirely undocumented. The book is based mainly on oral evidence; this is related to documentary sources ranging from the seventeenth to the twentieth century.



Rizvi, freelance writer and researcher, was brought up in Scotland and graduated PhD in history from Cambridge. She has spent many years of her adult life in Jammu and Kashmir as the wife of an officer of the state Government. Her book Ladakh, Crossroads of High Asia has been continuously in print for over 20 years; she is also the author of Trans-Himalayan Caravans, Merchant Princes and Peasant Traders of Ladakh. As well as the chapter ‘Woven Textiles’ in The Crafts of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, she has contributed articles on the Kashmir shawl to The Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion (New York) and The Encyclopedia of India. She contributed the chapter ‘The Asian Trade in Kashmir Shawls’ to Textiles from India, The Global Trade.