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0052 Innermost Asia : vol.1
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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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Albërilni's Bhatta- varyan and Bhatta- Shah.


B aram ûla, the ancient western ` Gate ' of the kingdom, has, for the two marches leading to the capital, on his ` left the mountains of Bolor and Shamildn '. The latter local name can, it is true, no longer be traced. But there can be no doubt whatsoever that it was applied by Albèrûni's informants to the mountains south of Childs and probably also Astôr ; for in a preceding passage he speaks of the rivers Kusndri and Mahwi as coming from the ` mountains of Shamilân ', and the identity of these rivers with the Kunhar and Kishanganga has been demonstrated by me.5 As regards the much-discussed term Bolor, it is certain that it primarily included the whole mountain region drained by the river of Gilgit.6 Its application, which is certainly vague wherever we meet it, may well have also extended as far east as Skardo or Baltistdn. But in that sense, too, its use here by Alberûni's informants was perfectly justified, since the chain of great mountains which attracts the eye of the traveller on his left as he moves up the Kashmir valley towards Srinagar, its capital in Albêrûni's time just as now, prominently includes the big ice-girt massif of Mount Haramukh and other high snowy peaks that could be more accurately described as lying south of Skardo than of Gilgit.

An interesting question is raised by the terms Bhattavarydn and Bhatta-Shah which Albérûni's information records as the names of the tribes inhabiting these mountains of Bolor and Shamilàn and of their ruler, respectively. When previously discussing these names I suggested that ` Albertini's Bhatta may possibly represent the term Bhulta or Bhaulla (the modern M. Buta) which is applied in the Sanskrit Chronicles [of Kashmir] to the population of Tibetan descent generally, from Ladakh to Baltistdn '.' This view may be supported by the fact that the Balti people inhabiting what is now known as Baltistdn or Skardo are certainly Tibetan in stock as well as in language,$ and that the application to them by Albérûni's informants of the designation Bhutta or Bhautta would have been fully justified.9 But it deserves to be pointed out that in Childs an important section of the population, supposed to represent the original branch of Shina,

i. e. pure ` Dard ', settlers, are known as ` Bots '.10 Drew states that the people of Childs ` are


5 Cf. Rajas. II. pp. 361 sq.

8 Regarding ` Bolor ', the references given in Ancient Khotan, i. p. 6, note 5, may be supplemented by Chavannes, Voyage de Song Yun, p. 28, note 7. In Raverty, Notes on Afghanistan, pp. 295 sqq., a useful synopsis will be found of the notices bearing upon the use of the term by Muhammadan authors.

As regards the early use of the term, I now believe with M. Chavannes that the Po-lu-le of Sung Yün, the Po-lun of the pilgrim Chih-mêng (A. D. 404 ; cf. Chavannes, Voyage de Song Yun, p. 53, note 5), as well as Hsüan-tsang's Po-lu-lo and the P`o-lü of the Tang Annals, are all intended to render a name corresponding to ` Bolor '. The last two names extended also to Baltistàn (` Great P`o-Iii ').

7 Cf. Rajat. II. p. 363, note 64 ; for Bhulta or Bhautla, see my note Rajas. i. 312-16.

8 See, regarding the Baltis and their character as Muhammadanized Tibetans, Drew, Jummoo and Kashmir, pp. 356 sqq.

9 At the present time the term But° is still generally applied throughout Kashmir to people coming from Tibetan-speaking parts, whatever their religion, though those better informed know also the name Balti (pronounced Baltt in Kashmiri) and apply it, as distinct from the Ladakhis, to the men of Skardo who annually pass in numbers through Kashmir in search of work.

The use of the term But° for the people of Baltistdn is proved to be old by the terms ` Little and Great Bhuttaland ' found in Srivara's Chronicle. They correspond to the present Lukh Butun and Bud Butun by which Kashmiris mean Baltistdn and Ladakh respectively ; cf.Rajas. II. p. 435.

Some confusion has arisen between the terms But° and Bad, which latter is applied by Kashmiris to Lamas or Tibetan Buddhist monks and is derived from Skr. Bauddha, ` a Buddhist '. This confusion is easily accounted for among Dôgras and other Indians who are employed in Kashmir but are generally ignorant of its difficult language. It is reflected e. g. in the statement : ` The word Bhot means Buddhist or perhaps, more particularly, Buddhist Tibetan ' ; cf. Drew, Junzrzoo and Kashmir, p. 231. The term But° clearly represents the Tibetan name Botpa, Bod-pa, by which the Ladâkhis call themselves ; cf. Cunningham, Laddk, p. 290.

10 I take this statement from an official report on the Gilgit Agency (1909), printed but not published, which I have been allowed to consult. Evidently to the same ethnic designation relates the tradition recorded by Biddulph, Hindoo Koosh, p. 16, about an old feud that once ` broke out in the community between two brothers, Bôt and Matchuk, which ended in the defeat and expulsion of all the partizans of the latter. The Bôte are now the most prosperous family in Chilas.'

In view of what has been stated in the preceding note