Report on the Valley of Spiti; and facts collected with a view to a future Revenue Settlement.- By Captain W. C. HAY, B. A.,
Cant Commissioner, Kulu.
Journal Of The Asiatic Society
Approaches to the county.-I gather from information that the valley of Spiti is approachable from our own territory and Kunnawar, by uix different routes.
First, and easiest, is through Knnnawar, via Shidlkar, over a h range of hills by the K f b r paee to “Sfimrih,” the laet
village in the B d i r temtory, and thence across the Spiti river
to a’L4ti,” the 6rmt village in Spiti. By thia route you meet with
three mountain pnaaee ; viz. the ” Warang,” between ” Chuni” md
Lop&’ in Kunn4war, which M 13,000 feet high ; the Runnag,”14,508 feet, between Kannar and Shgnam in Kunn4war; and fie
” HQghg,” 14,837 feet, between ” Sbgnam” and ‘I HungoYm-and
have to crow the ,Spiti river which’is not bridged ; rapid, and 3+ feet
S d paw M&rirang.-The eecond is over the “M4ni9* pass,
commonly called the “MBnirnng ;” but “rang” merely signifies a
p w . The road to tbis is from “Sdngnam” in Kunn4wr, to
1′ Bobak” where copper mines are worked by the Budhir Rdj4 ; then
over the pas% which Captain Gerard, I think, calls 18,000 feet to
Mhl,” a viUage in Spiti, and one march from Dankar : this prss
No. XLi1.-NEW Sr~rrs. 3 K
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430 Report on the Falky of Spiti. vo. 6.
ie not open until May, and closes usnally in October. The ” Wnf’
paas beam from Dankar East 46 ; there are two very high peake above
the paw, and a lake called ” Mdnf-ke-Choh.”
Third Paas a BhubM.”-The third paw is the “Bhub4h Jhote!’
The road to this jhote strikes off from the Sutlej at the Waugtli-
bridge, amending to the village of ” Gutg40n9′ in the Pargannhh of
Bhub4h in Busdhir; thence the pass is two marches from any
habitation : it is a high pasa, probably near 18,000 feet ; you cross it
and descend to the village of “Mddh” in Spiti, only one march.
Thii is by far the shortest road to Umpdr ; but the pass is only open
from May until October. I contemplated coming to Spiti by thia
route, but snow fell for four days eucceeaively, and I gave np the
intention. .Two Spiti men afterwards tried it, and had to m d
unceasingly for two days in 3 feet of snow, and one man was fmst
bitten ; it is certainly impracticable for Hindustanis in November.
Fourth Pass “Sato1M.”-The fourth pass is the “Satobih,” whieb
leads into K614 entering it at ” Jagat Sdkh ;” by this pass you han
to p w the Shigri ; the marches are as follow :
From Dankar to Kurjeh, 1
Pdmo, 2 in Spiti.
KGneam ghat, on this aide 4.
Shigri Ghhti, 5.
Gdnzd Pattar, 7.
Jagat Sukh, 8.
In this route, it is said, there are three streams to paea, which ue im-
practicable for Ghoonts, and only open from May until October.
Fifth Pass ” Kanzum.”-The fifth pass is ” Knnzum Urn&”
” Umd” signifies pass : this leads into Kulu, viA the Rotang pres,
and is only open from May until October.
Sixth Pass “Bard Lachi.”-The k t h pas8 is the Bar4 T.ru?hb a
L4houl and the Rotang pas. The marchee to Lohaar are a8 at thc
fourth pass, thence to Tnkpokongyah to Bara Lachh, kc. :–Only o p
from May to October.
These are the pnsaes from our own Territories and BudQhir, t h m d
the outer chain of mountaine.
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1850.1 Report on the Valley of Spiti. 43 1
Passer into Tartoy.-Through the second chain of mountains into
Ladak and Tartary, there are three passes.
1st to Chbmdirti.-The first from Ldri to Chhrnbrti in Tartary ; the
marches are aa follow, being six days’ journey.
3 r 4 Th-tbn.
these plac.cea are be- 4th, Pdt-pdt
said to be a very
yond our frontier.
2nd Pas8 into Tartoy-” P&rcmg.”-The second pass is over the
ggPbrang” limG, upwards of 16,000 feet, md goes by the villages of
Ki Gbmp4″ and Kibar to Rdksd, a district in Ladak. This is
usnally called the ‘* PQrang Lh,” Ld being the contraction of “Urn#’
3rd Paas into Tartary-u Tscngling:’-The third pass is over the
l’Tnngling” limti, a very high paw, also leading to Rtikd, a11d the
road strikes off between the villages of ” Hall” and ” Qatu,” bat on
the opposite side of the Spiti river.
These are all the passes through the mountains into Spiti that I
have as yet become acquainted with.
Bacndariea.- The boundaries of Spiti are as follow. I t is bounded
on the North by the PQrang range, which separates it from Ladak. To
the North East there is uo defined boundary, but inaccessible mountains.
To the South and South East by the Mhni pass ranges which sepa-
rate it from Kunniwar.
To the East a valley, called “Karat?’ takpo, separates it from
To the West, the snowy range from ” Bhubdh” to “Bard LachQ”
Bhublih Jhote, separating it from Budhir, and the latter from Kulu,
and Lahoul. The Bhubh Jhote is to the W. S. W. and the Bari
Lnchi N. W. These appear to be all natural boundaries.
Pal2yr.-The length of the Spiti Valley, longitudinally, I shoold
estimate at about sixty-six miles; the following being my supposed
dietancea between each place situated in the valley. From the boundary
3 ~ 2
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432 Beport or, t b Valley of Spiti. P o . 6.
before reaching Uri, . . . . .. 6 m h
From Ldri to Po, .. . . . . .. 8
Dankar, . . . . .. 10
Lidang, . . . . .- #
Kiii Sing, . . . . .- a
Rangrik, . . . . .. 5
u* . . . . .. 10
Hansi* . . . . .. 10)
Lohsar, . . . . .- 5+
Total,. . 66 miles.
T h m are three trrnsved vdeya, one in the direction of the carved
line of mountains extending from the Bad Lacld to the B h u W p.
The length of this vdley to which vilw extend may, from the Spiti
river to the village of ” MGdh,” be eatimJed at SO miles.
The second tranavernal valley extenda from the Spiti valley, in the
direction of another curve of high monntaina, separating the 8piti
valley from Tartary, and whence uim motber line of water heads;
the riven running in m opposite direction. The inhabited part d
this valley doen not extend above ten milee. From this again, M a
lateral vdley, mnning dm& parallel with the Spiti, in which are only
two villages in about three miles.
A third tranrved valley is the Pdrme;” leading up to tbe
g’ Pdrang pare” into Rukau, or Ladak ; in this there are only hm
villages in about two and a half miles. These may be anid to contab
the inhabited and cultivated part8 of Spiti
The p&s throngh theae valleys I have already mentioned.
Crop.-The crops in Spiti coaaist of two kinds of barley, one d
wheat, peas* and mnstard from which oil is made. Thep BOW in May,
and reap in September.
Biver8.-The principal river is the Spiti ; I followed it up u fu as
*# Lohw,” where it dividee into two branchee, one called ” PnC
running from the North West, and another flowing from the Khmm
h$” and called ” LichS* from the South Weet, md said to be foor
The peculiarity of this river ia the immense width of ite bed, being
(from the time it takee a South and South East direction, where the
———————– Page 5———————–
1850.1 B q w t 01) the Val1 y of &ti. 433
6. p h g ” river enten it, to a point where another atream f l m into
it from the fi M4ni rang”) seldom less than half a mile wide, and, in
-me parfa, nearer a mile.
At thia seaaonof the year, the main stream is not in most place8 above
forty yuda wide, or above three feet deep,-that ia above Dankar.
This river ia also remarkable for its very flat bed, and for not contain-
ing boulden of any large +none above a foot in measurement, but
much more generally small stones, gravel, sand, and a calcareous mul.
Its principal tribntariea are the a Tungling,” P4mg” and ” Ling-
ti” flowing into it from the left bank j and the river “Peen” on the
W t .
The *”l’unglin$s and Pbrsng” flow from mountains of the oame
nuncu, each source distant about 20 miles.
The river ” Lingti” flows from Lhgp4: it ia d d to be two days’
journey, m d above the village of “Lilong” it is called the a Pedm-
gehi;” ite bed is about eighty yards, and the stream at prerent is about
20 feet wide.
The river “Peen” is d d to flow from the “Bhnbtih” Jhote d
above takes the name of the “Bhub4h.” When the river takes a
8. W. direction it ia joined by another considemble stream, the
**Yen&” flowing from a mountain of that name two day$ jo-ey
fiom its junction with the “Bhubfh.” Another large stream then
joins the a BhubhSs called ” P u a Kiij,” which is said to flow from a
mountain of that name four dryss journey; its course appears to be
nearly South. The BhubW then takes the name of ” Peen” from
the Koti of Pin&” or valley, through which it flows. The width of
&is river bed ie from 300 to 800 yarl.
There are many other feedere to the Spiti, but which may be mom
appropriately termed torrents, principally running into the Spiti, on
its right bank, with a coune from the mountain, through which they
hsrs forced their way, of about half a mile: some of their beds are ,
very remarkable, from 300 to 500 pards wide, quite straight and
padel, iike the banks of a canal, md the d6briq in some instan-
from 200 to 300 feet above the water level : the rush of water on the
melting of the snow, must be very great through these channl. The
Spiti river in, at this maon of the year, in some parts completely
frozen over, and you can both hear m d aee the stream flowing beneath
———————– Page 6———————–
&port arr the 7aU.y of &piti. P o . 6.
the ice. A great qaantity of border ice ie frequently broken np md
arried down the stream, which ocwionally geb jammed, and t h
pcreaage ie interrupted ; the river above then inueuea in depth, d
The bed of the Spiti ie m deep an to prevent ita water being of my
aaaiatmce to the people in cultivating ; they depend entirely upon the
-11 etreama from the mountah feeding their koole. On the right
bank of the Bpiti are immense beds of dhris, forming plateaus d
mmetimee two miles in length, and from half to one tnile in breadth ;
a quantity of calcareous deposit haa taken place upon the dkbris. md
would afford excellent arable ground, but for ite aridity, and i m p
eibiity of conducting courses to water it: in mme eiesmne when r
great abundance of enow haa fallen upon the r q of mountaim
immediately above the level ground, cultivation is attempted, but it M
very uncertain, and in taking revenue from the couuty, it mnnot be
mounted aa productive soil.
The probable total length of the Spiti river, from ite eonrce to ib
junction with the Sutlej, may be eetimated at one hundred wd tarn9
mila. I am told that fieh have never been seen in the Spiti river.
PhyuicaZ and General view.-The Phyeical and Geological account
of this country, much as I am able to give, can be embraced in a amdl
compass. The account of the mountaine, valleys, and pasees will, i
fat, explain the phyeical position.
Gypuum and Alum.-The formations that I have seen, belong w h q
to the secondary period : in fact, Spiti may be described generally rr
being of varioue kida of lime and sandetone, with a few elates d
ehalea, and conglomerates. On descellding to the bed of the Spiti,
after croseing the range which ~eparatee it horn Kundwar, becb d
red wdatone are firat met with; in connection with these, beb.
U e in gypsum, and alum; and, from the water all the way frmP
Ldre to Dankar being saline, I have no doubt but that rock dt
may be discovered in the vicinity of the gypsum.
F-1 be&.-These secondary strata cohhin eome a & d y inter-
wting f o d beds. The firat which I eumined are in the pin6 vrllq,
and above the village of Mekicin ;” they are 8 marina d e p d , ad
———————– Page 7———————–
belong to the ” Porkilitic” group, being situated betwee.n the be& of
“lower new red mnd~tone” and the Magnesian gronp or dolomitic
conglomerate ; these again being aseociated with beds of ahale, and
mountain limestone, point it out an an exceedingly likely locality for
coal ; the snow however was on the ground and the Thermometer not
above 100 in the middle of the day, when I visited the place, so that
my observations were uneatisfactory.
The fossil beds of Ammonites are of great extent, varying from the
size of a cart wheel, to an inch in diameter: in a very short time I
collected an many ae two men could carry, and could distinguish as
many an six or seven different species of Ammonite, with a variety of
other shelle, and one or two vertebrae of fish.
O d e of Iron.-A large quantity of red oxide of iron ia found
somewhere in the vicinity, which is used by the people for ornamenting
their houses, marking their sheep, &c. ; thie locality, when free from
mow, would be worth observing, because beds of thie description ofien
overlay eilver and lead ores.
Lias and h e r Oolitic beds.-The other fossil beds, which I exa-
mined, are in one of the lateral valleys near the village of ” Gienmul.”
The formation corresponde with our well known 6g Lias,” and “lower
oolitic” reposing on the Liaa. The mountain, behind which these
beds are situated, ia composed of a seriea of calcareous and sandstone
bede, in an almost undisturbed position.
The decomposing Lias, with much indurated mud or clay, and greatly
tinged with iron, have greatly the appearance of a coal field, and are
on undulating hills; these are filled with ammonites of only one
species : the decompomtion of thie group furnishes the richest ground
in Bpiti ; the soil at 66 Lidang” and Lh1.B” seems also to be of thii
description, bat the fossils are not so abundant. The lower oolitic
reposes on the Liaa, and is composed of rather complicated strata,
containing immense quantities of dead shells in a black deposit of
extreme iinenese ; this clay is perhaps m indication of the neighbow-
hood of coal. I proenred a quantity of these foesils, coneistine; of a ra-
riety of bivalve shells, one or two univalvee, and varieties of Belemnita
The mountain limestone is the moat abundant formation in Bpiti,
.ad h n d e with epeciee of ammonite, Orthocerry Spirifer, T m
———————– Page 8———————–
bratulae, kc. kc. ; some of these beds may perhaps be attributed to the
primary f d f e r o n e or ” Silurian” p u p , since they are in a h o k t r l
position, and have never been dietorbed sinca their deposition, and they
are a dark gray argilkceoue depomt, below which a slaty srndstone
ia met with ; the fomib generally being, pentamerus,” tentaculitd’
unmonitcs and belemnites-dl indicative of the Binrim group.
Sd.-This brief description will SO far tend to show that the pw
ductive soil of Spiti, is in general calaue~ue. Ba far an Lidang it
ie of a light coloor ; from Lidang to gi, the soil is blackened by
the foesils ; and above these places, to the head of the vallq, the wil
assumes a reddish appearance, from the calcamow mil being more or
less mixed with the decomposing siliceous partidea of red eurdstone.
These soils are all light, md eaaily turned up by the plongh, and
should, if properly watered, be highly productive.
Secondcry Strata.-It ia a fact to be noted, that Herbert in hb
mineralogical survey of the Himhya, travelled aa far M the Hungrung
pas8 in Kunndwar, and leaven it with a remark, that lime-stone ie lomr,
in these mountains, a principal formation: now, the principal lime-
stone formation ia only there beginning, the whole of Spiti may be
said to be a lime-stone formation ; likewise, a great part of Lahod
Herbert also mys, after mentioning the formation of gneiw, &c., tint
“outside of the whole are very limited examples of the eecondq
rtrata.” Now the eecondary strata are of great extent, but not a
observed by him. The secondary strata begin at the Hungrung pm,
which k a mere spur from higher mountains, chiefly cornpod d
lime-stone and sandstone, ae the boulders in the river at Slhngorm
might have pointed out, but he merely sighted the limaetane, d
drew, in my opinion, an incorrect conclusion.
The Bad Laohti, and many other mountains fmn 16,000 to 50,006
feet high, are eecondary, although certainly very uncommon height for
secondary formations : and it will be a natural conclusion that nearly
the whole range, bounding the Tartar plains in this direction, ue
secondary or certainly not older, which would give as p a t a bredtb
of secondary ae primary formation.
Population.-The five Kotie into which Spiti is divided a m h
upwar& of sixty villages, enumerated in Table No. 1. The whole d
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185?3.]’ Report on the 7% of r9piti. 437
theae rillages contain only three hundred md sixteen houses, and their
population ia as follows, the censua being from actual enumeration.
Adult males, . – – 392
B o p under 12 years, – – – 191
Adult femalee, – – 593
Girls under 12 years, – – – 238
h b r a or prieste not included above, – – 193
Total, – 1,607
giving a total of one thousand six hundred and seven souls.
The population ia represented to me aa having been on the increase
for the laat five peers.
Rmmue.-It is not without some di5culty that I got the people
to make me acquainted with the revenuea which had been formerly
paid, but I believe the following to be pretty correct.
Rcamne for 1847-48-49.-The revenue for the pear8 1847-4849 has
been paid to the Vazir of the BQjB of Bus4hir-at least for 1847 and
was tendered to the Vaeir, who hsa &CB written
1848; that for 1849
to me to receive it on account of Govenunent. The revenue paid to
Mandk DBe, the Vaxir of the Bw6hir RBji, in 18.17, was merely 753
In 1848, the name sum was paid, with the addition of 400 lace* of
p i n , the produce of some land at Dankar, which was called Sirchi.
The revenue for 1849 is still in hand, andis 753 rupees cmd 500 lacs
of grain, now in the fort of Dankar, which will be made over to the
V&r of the RQj& and 753 rupees, credited to Government.
ManaClka Das, Vaeir, made an offer to Mr. Edwards, the Super-
intendent of hill rtatea, to continue farming Spiti, upon an i n c r e d
rent of 1,000 rupees, and I believe he recommended to the Board that
hie ofir should be accepted ; but I t h i k it very objectionable, for the
Spiti people believe that he only took the sum fixed for the three yeue,
with a view of obtaining a longer lease, when they were apprehedve
that it wan hia intention to exact more from them.
The Spiti Vasir holds a paper, written in Thibetan, signed by the
lPte Mr. Mew, which the people here my ia guaranteeing to them that
ao more than 753 rupees should belevied from them. I have no m m r
* Sea page 440.
———————– Page 10———————–
438 &port on the Valley of Spiti. P o . 6.
of testing the troth of their ssrertion, nor do I how whether Mr.
Agnew was authorized to make such an agreement, but I hare tmtsd
the subject lightly, nor could they have considered it very b i i
from the fact of their having paid to Mansdka Ws, in ucew of the
753 mpees, grain to the value of 200 rupees or upwards.
for 1844-45-46.-In the years 1844-45 and 46, the amid
revenue paid to the T h h u r at Ltadak was 1,031 rupeea. Bwida
this, 100 ” MGndls” or iron crow-ban ; likewise two Ghoonb, d r
n m f i of 15’mppeea annually to the Thdddttr, and 60 sheep io
During these three yerre the &iks are d d to have further plan-
dered the country of 4,000 rupees, also 60 ghoonte, and much othu
Rmenuefim 1839 to 1843.-From 1839 to 1843, both iwlush,
m annnal revenue of 2,000 rupees was paid to RBj6 OolB Singh.
Beeidea this, 100 sheep within the five years; and, in 1839, three
Ghoonts were preeented as nauan, and one Ghoont annually for tbs
four eucoeeding years.
Prior to 1839.-Before 1839 the revenues from time within memory,
was always paid to the U j 6 of Ladak, as follows; 396 rupees in
cash, 200 lacs of grain, 100 mdndis, 34 piece8 of cloth (Barmiu), d
132 e h w of paper, equal to 660 Hindusdni thktehs. During thw
years, they also paid annually to the Rdj6 of Kulw, six rupees, md
two pieces of cloth, as tribute. Alao to the RQj6 of Budbir 30
pieces of cloth as tribute. And to China (f~om 50 Chinese firmilEa
settled in Spiti) about 200 lace of grain.
Thii reTenue to China hae been diecontinned for the laat 12 y e a ;
but, before my arrival, some Chinese were sent from Tolung to demand
the ancient tribute.
Demandr of the Chinere for revenue.-Since my arrival, VaW hm
been eent to me from Toluug and Chdmdd, netting forth their dJm
to this tribute, but I told them that, an it had not been paid for tbe lut
12 years, and the Company had the means of protecting their own sub-
jects, that I did not think it would be continued ; h t that as I rrs
not vested with political authority, I would make their request known
to my superiors.
Thin ancient tribute does not appear to have originated with tbe
———————– Page 11———————–
Chineae government, but in nncient timd there were Tartar hordes
upon the border, and the Spiti people appear to have paid this grain
to be protected from plunder.
Rmnnre how hitherto eoZkcted.-The revenue of Spiti haa hitherto
been collected by a Vazir (hereditary) ; whatever revenue ia required
bas been levied equally from the five Kotis : in the collection, he ia
rrseisted by five uGatpos” or MSlkihs. The Vazir has hitherto
been allowed to pap himself at the rate of one rupee in four, m d he
holds the rillage of ” Biding” in Jhghir.
h a t of grain produced, a d probable h e consumption.-The
whole five Hotis contain 2,554 lacs of ground. The probable pro-
duce of this land will be 20,667 lace of grain, and the probable annual
home consumption 15,000 lace; which, deducting 800 lacs for the
produce of the JBghir lands, will leave them 4,867 lacs to pay their
revenne with 3 which, roughly calculated, wonld be about 1,600 rupee&
besides the sale of Ghoonts, my 400 rupees, and m y tax upon their
Commerce.-The Spiti people are not essentially traders, their conn-
try &or& but little pasturage, and they have seldom more s h e p than
to eupply their own wants.
&ports.-The exports are confined to grain and a few Ghoonts,
together with a few manufactured blankets, and pieces of Barmhr
cloth. The return for their grain is salt, and wool. For grain they
receive equal weight of salt, and for three lacs of barley they receive
eight ” kiria” of wool; the kiri ia a Chinese weight, and differs from
12 to 16 seem.
Bade with Chinere.-The Chinese are their o m carriers: they
come to Spiti in November, and take about 1,000 laca of grain, and a
few Ghoonte. The Spiti people my that this trade might be increased.
The Chineae do not barter ” pashm” or Shawl wool, but take rupees
From the Chinese, the Spiti people buy their sheep, (a very fine
description) giving five lacs of grain for one sheep.
Trade with Bwdhir and Ladak.-They export to Bueahir about
250 lace of grain, chiefly to Sdngnam, and receive in exchange rupees :
.the BuBhir people are their own carriers : a few Ghoonts are also sold.
TO the B d h i r people they also exchange part of the salt they
3 ~ 2
———————– Page 12———————–
reaim from China, for iron and tobacco, and a d pnmtiiy d
prshm, h t 12 mmnda, is a h exchanged for iron: if thin irm m
more than dicient to supply their own wante, they trade with it to
L h k , or R6W and exchange it for onumentn for their women, a d
They alllo exchange about 250 lacs of grain with the Tartus, from
B&d, for wool and salt.
The nsaal eelling price of grain amongst themselva appears to be
from 2+ to 3 lacs of barley, and 2 lacs of wheat for the rupee.
This appears to be their entire trade.
ZPeiglb and Memreu.–Their measares us of three d d –
#4 linmr,- 44 agrarian,” and of solidity.
“Linear.”-By the linear measure, cloth is sold by the “h&h”
M in Hindustan. Wool is sold by what is called a “khi” or bum
dle, which differs M to weight, h t is two hathi in length ; thie in uned
in commerce with the Chinese.
dgra+ian.-The agrarian measure eetimatee by the quantity of grab;
in Kulu it is ” Bhare,” here it is by “lam,” a lac being 32 catchi
seers, or 12 pucka Beers.
Capacity and Solidity.-The return of grain sawn is 14 to 1 of
barley, and from 10 to 12 for 1 of wheat. Gram is sold by the sea
of 20 double pice weight ; our aeer in h m 80 to 84 tolaa, thek eea
is 32 tolas.
They have also a amnll measure called a ” M W or “Tbi,”
which ie a small wooden cup ; thie is of two eires, the one nsed fa
buying, called ” Chayreh,” holding 29 rupees weight of grain ; and tbs
other, by which they sell, ulled “Guyreh,” which only holds 21 Ra
weight; small articles of value are bought and mold by the barlg-arn
weight, ae a grain of rice ie used in Hiidustan.
Liquor.-Liquor is measured by the Puttah” of 2 mm, equal to
seer pucka. Their liquor ie of one kind, distilled from barley edlcd
” C h ~ g , ” and ie sold 30 wputtahs’s for the mpee. They c o n w m t
large quantities, md one man is mid to drink, on oceoeiom of feeti*,
am muah Y four puttahs.
Domedic Animals. Cattk, &c.-Their animda consist of Y h
Jabb6 or half Ytlks, Cows, Ghoonte, Asses, Sheep, Qoota, Dalp
———————– Page 13———————–
Ydh-The Y&k is a highly asefnl animal; with it they plough,
carry loads, and it furnishes milk, and hair for their ropee.
In the merest weather, thie animal appears to enjoy itself in the
snow, and it is often to be peen with iciclee, of several inchea in length,
hanging to its nose, and a foot or more of ice hanging to the hair
falling from its neck and shouldera. Long hair hangs over the eyes,
and prevent8 their freezing.
Number of P&b, Jabblia, Cow8 and Ghoont8,-Chinere brted.
The total number of Yaks in Spiti is 439 : and of Jabbds and Core
412. The Ghoont, although an uaefnl animal, seldom carries any
burden but a man; the total number in Spiti is 365, but bred
chiefly for sale. They have two breeds, one a small Ghoont, never
above 12 hands high, peculiu to the country. The other a large
breed of Ghoonts, from 13 to 13+ hands high, is bought from the
Chinese, and urually comes from ggCh~mbrti.” For a Chinese
Ghoont two years old, they give a four year old Spiti Ghoont. All are
equally hardy, and are kept out the whole winter,-& except the year-
linge, which am housed. During winter, the Ghoonta live entirely upon
the roota of stunted bushes, and are very expert at acraping the mow
from off them with their fore feet.
But little attention, exoept in a few cases, is paid to the breeding of
thew Ghoonte ; a certain number of entire Ghoonte are turned loom
amongst the mares, and the sire of a foal is seldom known. Such
are not required for breeding, are castrated when between two and three
years of age.
The right of castration h a usually been the right of one peraon,
given under a d from Ladak.
The breed of Ghoonts with a little care might be considerably
improved. Many are killed during winter by wolves and leopards, and
I snw some which had been much lacerated, but escaped.
&#.-The aaa ia also an useful animal, and is of a peculiarly
strong breed, not in general large, but with powerful limbs; they
am chiefly employed to carry firewood, and are said to be able to go
wherever a sheep can: their milk is also drunk. w e total number in
Spiti is 79.
Sheep and Goatu.-ne sheep appear to be of two distinct breeds ;
t h e common one ploducee the fine “Bibnghp” wool, the other is
———————– Page 14———————–
442 Report on the VaUy of &ti. [No. 6.
a very large epecies which is brought from “Ch6mM’ with r q
long wool, but not ao fine an the other.
The goat is of the description which prodncea the Shawl d or
prshm. The total number of sheep and goeta in Bpiti is 1095.
The Spiti people are not carriers, or they would have a luger
number of sheep. Each village has its three or four dog, and a v q
fine black species of cat: these I think comprise all their domeatit
2iwlogy.-I am here at a very unfavorrrblg w o n of the year to
make any observationa, eitheran the Zoology or Botany of the coontrg;
in fact, with the latter scierie1 am unacquainteb, and, with regard to
the former, having been a keen obaerver through these mountains, I
have been struck with but two new species; i f bid of the gem
“Erythrospiza,” and uRuticilla,” every thing else that I have seen b
well known and described.
Physical constitution, morals, manwr, &c. of the peopk.-Tb
poition of Spiti, situated amongst ranges of high monntaing mbjcd
to extreme wld, and far from civilization, point0 out in a degree the
phydecrl constitution of its inhabit-.
The Bhotih are a phyeically robwt cast of people, the climrtc
not being safficiently severe to impede the vital functions; with
strongly marked weather-beaten countenances ; of middling height;
with muscular body, flat faces and noses, and, in general, d
eyes. The natural wlour of their skin is a light brown, and tbc
reflection of the sun from the snow gives them a ruddy hue, which i
so peculiar to all the race of Butan. Their hair from exposure to the
atmosphere ia extremely coarse and matted. The women are a h raJ
muscular, and all burdens, except in cases of extreme necessity, sm
carried by them, the men merely ploughing the fielde. They an
subject to much disease, and live usually to 70 years of age.
Diaeaees.-Small-pox is their greatest enemy, which occasiody da
populatee whole villages. Stomach diseases are not mcommon a n d w u
may be increased perhaps by the entire want of vegetables. WerLneg
of the eyes is a h pmmon. Although depending entirely on WW
ice water, and in a county of lime-stone goitre ia acarcely known i
or two caees, they my, may exist in the whole country.
Age8 of Marriage.-The common age8 of marriage are, a
men, from20 to 21, and women from 15 to 20.
———————– Page 15———————–
Report on the Valley of %piti.
Polyand~.-The abominable cuetom of polyandrism prevaih, that
is, a woman marries a family of brothers.
A man in good circumstances has aometimea two or three wive8 ;
but, from the fint circumstance, and the priesthood not marrying, the
proportion of unmarried femalea is large.
&vrry unkmm.-Slavery ia unknown amongt them. They are
free in their manners, without being mde, or inquisitive ; and have a
certain degree of Chinese cunning.
No hterert taken for may.-They never take interest for money,
b u t o h lend and borrow amongt themeelvea.
Hme8.-Their housee are large and well built, and generally two
or three stories high. The first three feet built of stone, and the r e
maimler of sun dried bricka, 18 inches long, 8 wide, and 6 deep, cement-
ed with calcareous mortar. The roofs are flat, with a lrrper of willow
o r tamarisk *, t over which is about 6 inches of earth. On tbe
euter walls are usually depoeited grass and wood for winter me, and the
housee of the richer zemindars are always distinguished by the neatnear
with which thia is etored. Thia keepa the snow off their walls. One
mom in a house ia uaually 20 feet square, or 24 by 20, the roof sup-
ported by a double row of wooden pillare, the architrave being, in the
better houeea, hiehly carved in Chineae style, in the form of dragons,
LC. The two centre beama, are about 2 feet apart, nnd over thew, to
form a ceiling, willow or juniper sticka, pealed of their bark, are
crossed, and placed close together giving a neat and clennly appearance ;
this however is much destroyed by the lighting of fires in the room
and there being no exit for the smoke, except by the door and some
very small windom, which are usually on only one aide of the room.
The walls are generally waahed with a slate-colored marl, and a m i c e
imitated by a band of white and red, sometimes yellow, made from
gypanm, and red and yellow ochre. Generally speaking they are ex-
tremely well housed. On the outside corners of the honsea are usually
erected poles, with a b h k %Ik9s tail on each. The whole family live
in one home, coneieting n s d y of a grandfather and mother down to
the grandeon, &c.
E h t a k prerented, a Chinere curtom.-When the parties can afford
it, distinct buildings, but close together, are occupied; the grand-
parents occupying the second beat. If they die, the father occupies
———————– Page 16———————–
bi father’r quutere, and the yonager couple the bat. Such are their
arrangement.. They appear to live happily together, aeldom qouFel,
and crimes are ve ry ancommon. Their customs are ereentidly Chinerq
and I was alwaye preaemted with a Khatak,” or white siU d, by
every head of a village.
Mode of reckoning time.-Their mode of reckoning time is by hmu
months of 29 and 30 days alternately, and every three yeam they add
a month to reconcile the motions of the wn and moon. Their preaent
Snmvat (gild) commenced on the 15th of December.
Made of detecting crime a d oath.-When two partiee are acctmed
of crime, an oath is taken in the following manner. The names of
each are written on paper or engraved on stone, then wrapped up in
flour, and either thrown into hot oil, or water, a person then pluugu
in hi hand, and the firet name that comes up is conaidered the gpilt
Petty t h e f t a p i s h e d 6yJw.-Petty thefta are punished by fiwr.
A pereon dying without an heir, the personal property goes to the
C h e r h p u r W . – I f a woman deaerts her hnsband, and $ar
to another man, the man pays the expeneee that have been incurred by
the buaband, with an occasional fine, according to circumstances.
Bad crimes, as maiming, wounding or murder, have hitherto been
pux&hed by orders from Ladhk, generally by the cutting off a luuul.
dmurer~aentu.-Shooting with a bow and arrow is one of their fa-
rite pastimes; the irnplementa are of Chinese manufacture. A mort
of religio-dramatic performance conetantly takea place, the actors am
Lambas, who repeat religioue sentenceq and are joined in a chom
by the crowd ; on these occasions grain is bestowed, and every donor’r
name registered in a book kept in the glrnp4.h or the k9dewk8h.
Dresr.-All are clothed in woollen coarse cloth and blanket at 111
eeaeons, and in winter, a goat or sheep skin cloak reachiog from
herd to near the feet, the hair inside. The women wear a mrt d
loose wrapper with arm, extending to below the knee, bound rod
the waist with usually a red coarse shawl of paehm; loow tronse~
usually red, which are gathered close below the knee, and stuffed intu
a pair of cloth -1 attached to a large Chineae shaped ahoe, (thee
le&p onewering for stock&) and tied round the crrlf af the ig
———————– Page 17———————–
Z~pott on the Idky of Spiti.
with r woollen string. The ehoe b made large and the qacuum filled
rith bdrsa or wool,
Their heda are m d l y b’ but they have a large moveable orna-
med d e of k, or aometimes of dver and gold, studded with e
vuiety of turquoiciea, which atem% horn b e forehead vver the partiag
of ihe hair, and reeehea in a long tail behind. They wear their hair
long in a number of plaits. Thy a h wem a variety of neckhoes of
amber, coral, &a. ; m d coral erringe and wrbt ornaments cut from the
chalk shell. No woman is without thea ornaments. The higher
dus mnnetimea wear a kind of cap made of Kimkhab .nd. trimmed
with & fur, but thaw am eeldom seen ; a m a a n may be said almost
h y u to appear with a bne head : they are in no way secluded, and
ue h e and frank in their marmere, m d of very cheerful dispomtion.
The d m of the men much reeenbles tbat of the women, but theit
he& am g e n d y covered with a aheep skin cap, or one of black
W e t hanging loom, with a light blue border. Many wear their hair
in one long platted tail, with, occaeiody, turqwisee m d corals.
Tbq have dl a neeklace of coarse amber aud other beode. They also
we6, enspended round their wsiet, a 9int and oteel, and round their
necks a polished piem of bmea which serves aa a looking glaae, and
The Lambaa have a variety of head dream, but all in the Chinese
style, either a cap or a hat.
Pd.-Their food conaiats almost entirely of a aort of Satt4 made
from wheat, barley, or pea. They occasionally eat meat boiled into a
soup ; and drink quantities of tea, b o i i with butter and salt. YWe
flesh h errten without prejudice; but, in k i i any animal they abetain
from shedding blood, md w d y &angle. They hare no poultry ; in
fact I doubt if fowls would live. They have not a fruit or vegetable
their corntry. Turnips, which are cultivated in Kunnhwar, are not
#en here. I think that cabbagea and beet root might be introduced
Bere with @eat advantage to the B d t h of the people. Potatoerr would + –
not thrive, the cold being too mere. Tobacco ie smoked by nearly
every man, who By a pipe made of iron stnck into hie cammarband,
and a leather pouch for hie t o b .
Bslighu Imtitutha.-The faith of all the Witauta of Spiti ie
” h d d h b . ” The priesthood form a large portion of such a small
———————– Page 18———————–
p~palstion, there being nearly 200 distributed in the five KO&
They c o h t of a Herd &long, who is their gnrn or high prid:
under him again are five other &longe, b d all the reat are “Chrm-
W’ and ” CheUh~.” The two lsst or inferior ordera can be mde
here, but a priest must go to Lahaswr to be mlde 8 Oelong, by the
T d d Lamb&.. The “Chehih~” are made indiscrindnately &om
the peasantry. In 8piti there are five Gum& or l’hMrde~&I~~,
each having it6 Oelong. All then, are. under the orden of the Tesh6
Lambd at Lahama. The prieete must either be clothed in red, or
yellm, and on no account wear white; their head dreeses are very
varioua. They am strictly prohibited from exertding any other b
tions but those of religion. They are entirely mpported by the psople,
and they collect grain for their support at hameat time from the people;
they have a store room to each Onmpi. The Chinese trmiliee settled
in Spiti are called #’Chuji,” and they present a n n d y , 200 kes of
grain to the head Gum$. The priesta are prohibited from marry-
ing ; if they do, or are known to have connexion with a W O ~ thq ,
are beaten m d dismissed from the order. There are however two sects
of Lamban ; one called NeingmB” anawering to the Byr6gk of E
dustan ; who though not allowed to marry, are allowed to keep aomen;
there are only 13 of this wct in Spiti.
The other sect is the NGilop8″ who represent the ; S . n n y k :
they consider themaelves defiled if they touch a woman. The ” Neing-
mh” aect generally wear long hair, and the other short. They dispute
with one mother an to their superiority of learning.
The prieat attend at births, marriages, and deaths : at a birth, several
prieste are called, who go through a ceremony of ~trology pr&
ing the fortune of the child, and receive preeente.
Partiea are mamed by a guru in the open air, when prayere are
read; the tilak is then marked on their foreheado, they have “Elm
take” (white silk acarfa) given to them by the guru, when they 6
to their house, and he departs with preaente. At a f a n e d a Lambs
attends whilst the body ia burnt. The w a n d other priests thea
attend, and presents u e distributed. The aahee are thrown into a
river, and the
place where they were burnt, heaped over with COW d q
and clay ; and, if the frienda of the deceased can d o r d it, a monument
is erected in the &ape of an urn. There are no napneriea or n m in 8pitZ
———————– Page 19———————–
They believe in. one God Supreme, but have a variety of inferior
divinitien, which are represented in their temples. Prayers and charity
ue, in their estimation, sufficient to ensure happinea~ in another world.
Tbey believe.in various birth hereafter : that r ~nrm’s span in thb
world is 70 years : but. in the seeond it will be 60, the thud 50, and eo
vn till 10, when a mm is only to.be a h a (I+ ft.) in height. They believe
in many ya%s ; they say that only three have arrived, and that nine
hundred and nineky-eeven are yet to come. Metempsychoaia forms a
part of their. belief, but they are not explanatory on the subject, and
my. that only the Teehd Lambd can explain it. It ia rather extraor-
dirurry with this belief that they ehould eat the fled of mimale, which
they .dl not kill, but receive to be eaten when they have been killed,
or hwe died. The storehouse of the Gumpi hse a hrge supply of
dried dead animals, and pieces of flesh strung and dried.
Once a month, the whole of the prieats aesemble for general prayer,
it ie first read by the ,&long, and repeated by all the rest. Their
moat remarkable festivals are a d y at the full moon.
Thia is all the infonuation which I have thought it ntxeway at pre-
sent to collect, regarding their religious inatitutiona and cpstoma. The
Lambas are quiet and idensive, and much reepected by the people
If the country ia highly taxed, it will be neoessary to make some
provision for the priesthood in the ehape of J4ghlr.
LahaMla ia called by the people here “Chod Chb,” and the coun-
try between Lahassa and Mdnslrearovu or “Mantaloi,” ia called
” Guaxi.” China Proper is called ” Gynuk.” The country of Little
Thibet is called “Bdlti,” or that portion above. Cashmere, &c. The
Ladak country goes by its own name.
Chute.-Having no Barometer with me, I am unable to m r t a i n the
.tmospheric pressure, but with a Thermometer only graduated to Zero,
I have, ss e a r l y as I could, taken the temperature of the air einm
my arrival ; always morning and evening, but being generally on the
march at mid-day, I have not often been able to ascertain it at that time.
I give in a table (No. .2) the range ss observed, which will point out
:the winter climate as being very mere. .The dimiition of atmospheric
pmmre is inimicnl to the growth of trees, and there are only to be
found a few.staated trees of ” Junipenu excelna” and willom.
3 x 2
———————– Page 20———————–
The prevailing win& are from 8011th to EMt, and at timeaveq
high, and the greater portion of the t o p of the higher mountaha
have dl the MOW wept off by the wind. I remuk putidarb in
Spiti, what strwk me so much l u t July in Lahoul, .ndeape&Uy
North of the Bar6 h h & *that the mil ghm out much d& by ndk
tion. The rant of heat and abmapheric pr- ue; in these q h m ,
p t l y again& vegetation.
Haring gim a succinct uww)unt of this country and itr p o p 4 I
may mm it up by saying, that @it. is a maw of -19 b.re roch,
with here and there small patoher of cultivation, dm& entirely with.
out tree& thinly populated, and amdl villapa the largeat not having
above 25 homes. The table which I annex d l give the number md
housee of the villagee.
I have now hut to add a &etch map of the -try, mch ur uii
dord a referenoe to vilhges. I do not prafea to give the mountah
in their pmper form or dutinct r a m i b h u . I have taken
angles ; but, without a protnctor, annot hy them Qm; bcsida,
that tmk has moat likely been already done, and much better done tbn
with my opportunities or reaouroeo, I canld hope to @nn it.
Conel&.-I truat that any defieidm in thin repad dl h
excued. I have no proper paper ; my hand8 are m benumbed with odd,
that I can with ~ m l t write, y and the ink thxzea in my pen at emq
two or three worda. I have had no b d 8 or m a p to guide me, rd
am in perkt ignorance of any thing that may have hithewto bar
writtan : all is from my own Mgaided observation. I ehould, apa
the whole, any that the country is in a prosperous ststs, the peopL
ue well housed, well clothed, and powem an abundance of food, web u
they are accuetomed to : they are contented end happy, with ptinciph
of order and induntry ; and, with a modante bxath, I think tbq d
prove good eubjecb, and wfd and bedicid to the Oovcanwntb
which they are now annexed.
Having thus etated factr, which I wan alone ordend to eoW
s view to ensble a htwe settlement to be made, h m b p l d s
these may he, though collected to the best of my ability, I tmt tbrt
my superiom rill be able to form a judgment both of the umnbg d
(Sied) W. E. EAT,
———————– Page 21———————–
———————– Page 22———————–
———————– Page 23———————–
———————– Page 24———————–
1850.1 R p t on the PaUq ofsp’ti. 445
TABLE NO. 1.
Lakt of the gotis in &ti, with the Pillages, and tpftlity of land
Chrmchugmih, …….. 1 ,.
Ladupdig,.. ………. 2 ,.
Nqupu ,………….. 1 ,.
Rbm&…. ……an…. 8 ,.
LiQng, ………….. 6 ., 10 pati#.
. . .
PiiorPinpa …… ..,’heghygm6, ……..
ToDBtp Kugmb, ……..
K d i i , …………..
In Jmgir to h j u n 6hu-
K W ,…………..
Khwt a ……………
———————– Page 25———————–
4 50 Report on the Valley of Spiti. P o . 6.
P o w , …..,……. hngrik, ………….. 149 ,.
chil~im, ………….. ioo ..
Yibu, ……………. 182 ..
-KioR,.. ……..e….. 40 ..
. ………… .,
Total in the 5 Kotb, . . 0564 I0 or Bhm S19S8 pbk
———————– Page 26———————–
TABLE NO. 2.
Range of Thermometer in Spitifrom the 9th December, 1849, to the
15th Janwuy, 1850, upwed to the Sun.
1849, loth not obraried
13th 74′ 20′
14th 10 16′
15th tt 1 7′
16th o 14′
17th 12 21′
18th 14 cloudy ii’ 18′
19th 13 99 21′ Snow.
20th 12 19′
211t 11 di’ 25′
22nd 13 68′ 22′
23rd 14 11 24′
24th 14 20′
25th 6 . !ii8 20′
26th 6 19 14′
27th 4 t s 24:
28th 4 st
29th at Zero. t t E’
30th 18 s t 22′
318t 12 t t 6′ snow.
Jannary, I6t at Zero. ts 6′
1 8 6 ~ . 2nd 12 6′ Snow.
3rd 14 3% 14′ Snow. .
4th 13 28′ 18′ Snow.
5th 10 49′ 13′ Snm.
6th at Zero. 46′ 1-2′ Fair. ,
7tll 8 56′ 13′ Snow.
8th 13 43′ 1 I’ snow.
9th 6 24′ 18′ Snow.
10th 18 48′ 16′ Snow. ‘
11th 15 27′ 13′ Snow.
12th 14 22′ 7′ Snow.
13th at Zero. 63′ 11′ Fair.
14th 6 66′ 10′ Fa&.
15th 4 2d 10′ Snow.
16th 2 20’
(Signed) D. F. M c L r o ~ ,
C o m a – d Supm’nt&t, ..
lkaM Sutkj Stat-.
Secretary to the Board.