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Early Medieval Bengal and the Trade In Horses: a Note

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image of Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

This essay brings into focus a relatively neglected aspect of economic life in early medieval Bengal. Like many other parts of India, Bengal during ancient and early medieval times did not have any indigenous, good quality war horses. The emergence of Bengal as a regional political entity to reckon with during the early medieval times (c. AD 600 - 1300) must have increased the demand for war horses. The paper analyses the epigraphic accounts of the procurement of these indispensable war animals from northern and northwestern India by the rulers of early medieval Bengal. The Tabaqat-i-Nasiri of the thirteenth century gives an indication of the availablity of northeastern horses - probably Tibetan ones - in Bengal. Chinese accounts of the fifteenth century and some Arabic accounts of the invasions of the Deccan by the Delhi Sultante have been utilised here to suggest that early medieval Bengal not only received regular supplies of imported horses, but also witnessed the transportation of some of these war machines to the Deccan and China.


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