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14 From Benaras to Leh—The Trade and Use of Silk-brocade

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Chapter Summary

This chapter looks at the historical context of the trade in silk-brocades from Benaras to Leh, and discusses how this trade first started. It presents how these fabrics are made in Benaras and discusses their various uses in Ladakh. Finally, it examines the contemporary status of the trade and the continued importance of silk-brocades in the lives of Buddhist Ladakhis. The important use of silk-brocades was in the religious world of the monastery. These fabrics were used for altar and seat coverings, canopies, door hangings, and pillar covers. The fabrics were used to make robes worn by the monks during religious dances, at monastic festivals as well as edging for their hats and boots. Brocade dealers from Benaras, visit Ladakh in the summer carrying samples of their brocade with them. They do the rounds of the main cloth-shops in the market in Leh, and show them samples of their brocade.

Keywords: Benaras; Buddhist Ladakhis; Leh; monastic festivals; silk-brocade



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