Friday, July 27, 2012

Breaking down Bijbehara

80, 65, 15, 8, 20, 10, 5, 5,9, 5, 4, 1, 2 ,3, 5, 7, 2, 10, 7, 8, 2, 2 , 3, 1, 12 , 40, 20.

Bijbehara. 1917.
From: 
'Cashmere: three weeks in a houseboat' (1920) by Ambrose Petrocokino
"At Bijbehara, immediately above which the Jhelam begins to narrow considerably, there is one of those, numerous and exquisitely picturesque-looking Kashmir bridges, resting on large square supports formed of logs of wood laid transversely, with trees growing out of  them and overshadowing the bridge itself. This town has 400 houses; and the following analysis, given by Captain Bates [in the 'Gazetteer of Kashmir (1870-72)'], of the inhabitants of these houses, affords a very fair idea of the occupations of a Kashmir town or large village : Mohammedan zemindars or proprietors, 80 houses ; Mohammedan shopkeepers, 65 ; Hindu shopkeepers, 15 ; Brahmans, 8 ; pundits, 20 ; goldsmiths, 10 ; bakers, 5 ; washermen, 5 ; cloth-weavers, 9 ; blacksmiths, 5 ; carpenters, 4 ; toy-makers, 1 ; surgeons (query phlebotomists), 2 ; physicians, 3; leather-workers, 5 ;milk-sellers, 7; cow-keepers, 2; fishermen, 10 ; fish- sellers, 7 ; butchers, 8 ; musicians, 2 ; carpet-makers, 2 ; blanket-makers, 3 ; Syud (descendant of the prophet), 1 ; Mullas (Mohammedan clergymen), 12 ; Pir Zadas (saints!), 40; Fakirs, 20. It wi11 thus be seen that about a fourth of the 400 houses are occupied by the so called ministers of religion ; and that the landed gentry are almost all Mohammedan, though the people of that religion complain of their diminished position under the present Hindu (Sikh) Raj in Kashmir. For these 400 houses there are 10 mosques, besides 8 smaller shrines, and several Hindu temples, yet the Kashmiris are far from being a religious people as compared with the races of India generally. Let us consider how an English village of 4000 or 6000 people would flourish if it were burdened in this way by a fourth of its population being ministers of religion, and in great part ruffians without family ties. 

It is a very rough and uncertain calculation which sets down the population of Kashmir at half a million. The whole population of the dominions of the Maharaja is said to be a million and a half, but that includes Jamu, which is much more populous than the valley. Captain Bates says that the estimate of the Maharaja's Government, founded on a partial census taken in 1869, gave only 475,000 ; but that is better than the population of the year 1835, when oppression, pestilence, and famine had reduced it so low as 200,000. It is, however, not for want of producing that the population is small ; for, according to the same authority, "it is said that every woman has, at an average, ten to fourteen children." I do not quite understand this kind of average ; but it seems to mean that, on an average, every woman has twelve children. That shows a prodigious fecundity, and is the more remarkable when we learn that the proportion of men to women is as three to one. This disproportion is produced by the infamous export of young girls to which I have already alluded ; and it is impossible that such a traffic could be carried on without the connivance of the Government, or, at least, of a very large number of the Government officials. Dr Elmslie's estimate of the population of Kashmir, including the surrounding countries and the inhabitants of the mountains, was 402,700 - of these 75,000 heing Hindus, 312,700 being Suni Mohammedans, and 15,000 Shias. His estimate of the population of Srinagar was 127,000; but the census of the Government in 1869, gave 135,000 for that city."

~ 'The Abode of Snow: Observations on a journey from Chinese Tibet to the Indian Caucasus, through the upper valleys of the Himalaya' by Andrew Wilson (1875) .
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