Page images

for he is a Hindoo, a Mahometan, and would become a Christian if a priest were at hand, according to the fashion or interest of the day. THE environs of the town, to the east and west, are laid out in private gardens, which, skirting the banks of the Jalum, or supplied with canals from the lake, afford a various retreat of pleasure to the inhabitants. The plane-tree, that species termed the Platanus Orientalis, is commonly cultivated in Kashmire, where it is said to arrive at a greater perfection than in other countries. This tree, which in most parts of Asia is called the Chinaur, grows to the size of an oak, and has a taper straight trunk, with a silver-coloured bark; and its leaf, not unlike an expanded hand, is of a pale green. When in full foliage, it has a grand and beautiful appearance, and in the hot weather it affords a refreshing shade. But I may venture to class in the first rank of vegetable produce, the rose of Kashmire, which, for its brilliancy and delicacy of odour, has long been proverbial in the east; and its essential oil or ottar is held in universal estimation. The season, when the rose first opens into blossom, is celebrated with much festivity by the Kashmirians, who resort in crowds to the adjacent gardens, and enter into scenes of gaiety and pleasure, rarely known among other Asiatic nations. There, all that exterior gravity which constitutes a grand part of the Mahometan Vol. II. C

character, is thrown aside; and the Turk, Arab, and Persian, as if fatigued with exhibiting the serious and guarded deportment of their own country, give a licentious scope to their passions.

The valley of Kashmire is of an elliptic form, and extends about ninety miles in a winding direction from the south-east to the north-west. It *#widens gradually to Islaamabad, where the breadth is about forty miles, which is continued with little variation to the town of Sampre,* whence the mountains, by a regular inclination to the westward, come to a point, and divide Kashmire from the territory of Muzzufferabad. To the north and north-east, Kashmire is bounded by what is here termed the mountains of Thibet, a branch, I apprehend, of that immense range, which rising near the Black Sea, penetrates through Armenia, and skirting the south shore of the Caspian, extends through the north-east provinces of Persia, to Thibet and China. On the south-east and south, it is bounded bjjKishtewar, and on the south-west and west, by Prounce,f Muzzufferabad and some other independent districts.

THEJalum, the western of the Punjab rivers, having received the numerous rivulets of the

* About twenty-five miles to the westward of the city. +. Through this district lies the pass of Berabcr, minutely described byBeruier.

valle)-, and the overflowing water of the lakes, becomes a spacious stream, and is discharged through the mountains near the town of Baramoulah, where its current, from the declivity of the land, runs with rapid force.* At Baramoulah the Kashmirians say, Solomon rent the mountains, and gave a passage to the waters, which from the beginning of time had floated on their plains.

About eight miles to the westward of the city, the Jalum is joined by a small river, called the Chote, or little Scind, which I was informed, by a Kashmirian Pundit, arises in the Thibet mountains, and is the only stream not produced within the valley. Previously to the Mahometan conquest of India, Kashmire was celebrated for the learning of its Bramins, and the magnificent construction of its temple. The period of its subjection to the Mahometans is not recorded in any history that I have seen ; but we may believe, that a country, containing a, valuable commerce and a profusion of natural beauties, would, at an early date, have attracted their notice and inviled .their conquest. It was governed, in a long series of succession, by a race of Tartar princes, of the Chug or Chugatay tribe, until the year 1586, when Acbar subdued it: aided more, it is

* SeeBernier.

said, by intrigue, than the force of his arms: Kashmire remained annexed to the house of Timur for the space of one hundred and sixty years, after which it was betrayed by the Mogul governor, to Ahmed Shah Duranny, who formed it into a province of the Afghan empire. The valley of Kashmire has generally a flat surface, and being copiously watered, yields abundant crops of rice, which is the common food of the inhabitants. At the base of the surrounding hills, where the land is higher, wheat, barley, and various other grains are cultivated. A superior species of saffron is also produced in this province, and iron of an excellent quality is found in the adjacent mountains. But the wealth and fame of Kashmire have largely arisen from the manufacture of Shauls, which it holds unrivalled, and almost without participation. The wool of the shaul is not produced in the country, but brought from districts of Thibet, lying at the distance of a month's journey to the north-east. It is originally of a dark grey colour, and is bleached in Kashmire by the help of a certain preparation of rice flour. The yarn of this wool is stained with such colours as may be judged the best suited for sale, and after being woven the piece is once washed. The border, which usually displays a variety of figures and colours,is attached to the shauls after fabrication; but in so nice a

manner, that the junction is not discernable. The texture of the shaul resembles that of the shaloon of Europe, to which it has probably communicated the name. The price, at the loom, of an ordinary shaul, is eight rupees, thence, in proportional quality, it produces from fifteen to twenty; and I have seen a very fine piece sold at forty rupees the first cost. But the value of this commodity may be largely enhanced by the intro* duction of flowered work; and when you are informed that the sum of one hundred rupees is occasionally given for a shaul to the weaver, the half amount may be fairly ascribed to the ornaments.

A Portion of the revenue of Kashmire h transmitted to the Afghan capital in shaul goods, which I had an opportunity of seeing previously to the dispatch, and from the information then received, I am reasonably confirmed in the ac» curacy of this statement I have given. The shauls usually consist of three sizes, two of which, the long and the small square one, are in common use in India; the othet long and very narrow, with a large mixture of black colour in it, is worn as a. girdle by the northern Asiatics.

A Wine is made in Kashmire, resembling that of Madeira, which, if skilfully manufactured by age, would possess an excellent quality. A spirituous liquor is also distilled from, the grape, in,

« PreviousContinue »