Until 1952 Nepal was virtually closed to outsiders and Professor Haimendorf was the first anthropologist to explore the regions of higher altitude along the kingdom’s extended frontier with Tibet.
Until 1952 Nepal was virtually closed to outsiders and Professor Haimendorf was the first anthropologist to explore the regions of higher altitude along the kingdom’s extended frontier with Tibet. From 1953 until today-he has continued to study various tribal group, and his earlier book, The Sherpas of Nepal, revealed the rich social and spiritual life of one of these communities of Buddhist mountain dwellers. In the course of numerous periods of field work he accumulated extensive data on the trans-Himalayan trade which has always been a vital element in the economy of the inhabitants of Nepal’s northern borderlands-both Sherpas and other high altitude dwellers. The trade, which has linked Tibet, Nepal and India over the centuries, was disrupted by the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1939, and Professor Haimendorf demonstrates the drastic repercussions on commercial patterns that resulted from this event.
In his new book he shows in striking detail how these trading patterns operated over a very wide range of communities. The first four chapters are in some way a sequel to his earlier study. While they cover subjects additional to those already dealt with there, they also describe the modifications of social arrangements brought about by recent events.
Sherpas are only one of the many Bhotia populations of Nepal’s alpine regions. Others are characterised by a great diversity of dialects and life-styles, and this ethnographic complexity provides a fascinating background to a masterly study of intricate and far ranging trading systems both traditional and contemporary. Since the old patterns remained constant over long periods of time they constitute important material for comparative studies of archaic systems of commerce throughout the world.
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