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 pashmina (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.
The book is based mainly on oral evidence; this is related to documentary sources ranging from the seventeenth to the twentieth century.
To purchase Trans-Himalayan Caravans: Merchant Princes and Peasant Traders in Ladakh, by Dr Janet Rizvi on Amazon click here