Trade in Wool and Pashmina — Historic and Contemporary

by Monisha Ahmed


“The British too made several attempts to break this monopoly between Tibet, Ladakh and Kashmir. The first attempt, in 1820, was to send William Moorcroft, superintendent of the military stud farm of the Company near Patna, to Ladakh. Moorcroft went on the pretext of buying horses for the British but was actually there to investigate the possibility of diverting part of the pashmina to British India and establish a shawl industry there or in Great Britain itself (Rizvi 1999: 56). He achieved neither. In 1847, the British government sent Alexander Cunningham to locate trade routes used by smugglers, in the hope that the same routes could be accessed by the British (Cunningham 1854: 219). However, the Ladakhis maintained a well-guarded monopoly on pashmina produced in western Tibet and any attempt to export this article to areas other than Ladakh was severely punished by both Ladakhi and Tibetan authorities (Datta 1970: 18).”

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Monisha Ahmed

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British, Business, Luxury, South Asia