Documents on Himalayan Borderlands

State Formation in the Himalayan Borderlands: Administrative Documents on the Aṭhāra Saya Kholā region (Tsum, Kutang and Nubri) from the Rāṇā Period

Main Editors: Nadine Plachta / Rajendra Shakya / Rune Bennike

Documenta Nepalica

Religions- und rechtsgeschichtliche Quellen des vormodernen Nepal

Foto eines Hauses an der Grenze zum Himalaya. Am Dach hängen tibetische Gebetsfahnen.

These documents provide insight into a region known as Aṭhāra Saya Kholā (lit. land of eighteen hundred rivers), an administrative unit of central Nepal integrated into the Gorkha kingdom by Ram Shah (ca. 1606-1641) in the seventeenth century. The region first stretched along hilly terrain to the east and west of the lower Budhi Gandaki river before being extended to its upper reaches under the Rana government to include Tsum and Nubri. The documents show how previously Tibetan areas were gradually absorbed into the nation-state of Nepal from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. Spanning from 1828 to 1944, the records constitute the earliest Nepalese legal documents related to the designation of state sovereignty over the region. Primarily written by the commanding generals of the army, the documents contain valuable information about landholdings, cross-border trading rights, and taxes. They also provide a useful historical record for the assessment of communal and political institutions in the area, as many local governing structures remain relatively unchanged today despite new federal and regional administration across Nepal.

The reading and analysis of selected documents will produce new understandings of local and regional dominion processes and result in forthcoming publications about the political history of a little-known border region during the Rana period.

The translation of the Kutang and Nubri documents is supported by the European Research Council (ERC) under the grant: State Formation through the Local Production of Property and Citizenship [grant number Ares (2015)2785650 – ERC-2014-AdG – 662770-Local State] as well as by the Independent Research Fund Denmark [grant number DFF – 6109-00275].


L_1200_0020: A letter from Dalabhañjana, Balabhañjana and Raṇagambhīra Pāṇḍe ordering newly appointed dvāres not to overcharge when collecting the fee owed them by local functionaries upon their arrival (VS 1885)

L_1200_0019: A letter from Captain Kanaka Siṃ Mahata acknowledging the receipt of a fine for slaughtering a cow (VS 1899)

Tsum_0001_0006: A letter from Jagat Samsera to dvāres of Aṭhāra Saya Kholā not to bother village headmen for their past actions (VS 1912)

Tsum_0001_0009: A receipt for two packs of ghee sent by Mukhiyā Chyāṃ Ḍuḍup (VS 1912)

Tsum_0001_0042: A receipt from General Jagata Samsera Jaṅga Rāṇā acknowledging the entry of a penalty from the five headmen of Pācapārvā (VS 1912)

Tsum_0001_0008: An order from Jagat Samsera to five mukhiyās of Aṭhāra Saya Kholā to pay an amount due (VS 1913)

Tsum_0001_0032: A receipt from Patan Tahabila acknowledging payment of penalty sum by five headmen from Pācapārvā (VS 1913)

L_0923_0003: A letter from Jagat Śamśera re reported incidents of plundering and abduction in the Aṭhāra Saya Kholā region (VS 1915)

Tsum_0001_0013: A copy of a rukkā from Jaṅga Bahādura exempting subjects in Doce from the obligation to supply an assigned quota of rations (VS 1917)

Tsum_0001_0016: A document from General Jagat Samsera acknowledging the obtainment of cash and kind from Pāro Gāũ (VS 1919)

Tsum_0001_0052: A receipt issued by Cumāvana Kacaharī for the entry of revenue collected for the initiation and marriage ceremony of the crown prince (VS 1920)

L_1200_0026: A letter from Dhīra Śamśera re complaints of troubles caused by Thakālī traders from Mustang (VS 1923)

L_0923_0004: A letter from Dhīra Śamśera renewing the annual lokābhāra contract for contractors from Chāvā Gāũ (VS 1924)

L_1200_0029: A letter from Dhīra Śamśera renewing the annual lokābhāra contract for contractors from Sāmā Gāũ (VS 1924)

E_3446_0020: A letter from Dhīra Śamśera formalizing the annual lokābhāra contract for contractors from Chāka Gāũ (VS 1929)

L_1200_0009G: A rukkā from Jaṅga Bahādura ordering Jimmāvāla Chimi Dorjye Khunu not to allow Tibetans to collect sirto tax from locals (VS 1931)

E_3446_0012: A letter from Dhīra Śamśera awarding a three-year monopoly on the purchase of nirbisi herbs to Chimi Dorje (VS 1931)

L_1200_0027: A letter from Subedāra Saraṇabhadra Silavāla to a Kerung Aḍḍā official re a boundary dispute (VS 1933)

E_3446_0027: A letter from Subedāra Śaraṇabhadra Silavāla seeking assistance from Ḍhevā Khāmsāṅ Vāṅdī in collecting money lent to Dhāvā Chiriṅ (VS 1934)

E_3446_0028: A purjī from Subedāra Saraṇabhadra Silavāla to Subbā Ṅavāṅ Khunu re pressing matters relating to Bhoṭa [ca. VS 1934]

L_0923_0002: A letter from Jagat Jaṅga retaining the annual lokābhāra lease contract for Lārkyāpa village (VS 1934)

E_3446_0007: A letter from Jagat Jaṅga instructing people from villages in Syārabhoṭ to consult Jimmāvāla Kaisāṅ Khunu regarding matters relating to lokābhāra contracts (VS 1934)

E_3446_0011: A letter from Jagata Jaṅga Bahādura Rāṇā to officials in Kutāṅbhoṭ regarding Dasaĩ practices (VS 1934)

L_1200_0009B: A letter from Jagat Jaṅga that, following a request of Jimmāvāla Kaisāṅ Khunu, announces the appointment of Chāṅvā Chiriṅ Khunu as a co-jimmāvāla of 14 villages in Syārabhoṭ (VS 1936)

L_0922_0002: A letter from Jīta Jaṅga that formalizes the annual lokābhāra contract for Ruibhoṭ without a pledge of property as collateral (1936 VS)

L_0923_0001: A letter from Jīta Jaṅga reinstating the annually leased lokābhāra revenue-collection contract for Ruibhoṭ without taking collateral (VS 1937)

L_1200_0009C: A letter from Jīta Jaṅga appointing Chima Dorjye as jimmāvāla of 14 villages of Syāra (VS 1937)

E_3446_0001: A letter from Jīta Jaṅga formalizing a raitāna lokābhāra contract in favour of Mukhiyā Chiduṃdu after the death of his predecessor (VS 1941)

Tsum_0001_0014: A document from Dalāna Tahasila Aḍḍā acknowledging the obtainment of lokābhāra from Pāro Gāũ (VS 1943)

Tsum_0001_0012: A document from Dalāna Tahasila Aḍḍā acknowledging the obtainment of payment for emolument from Pāro Gāũ (VS 1944)

E_3446_0003: A letter from Candra Śamśera formalizing a lokābhāra contract in favour of Mukhiyā Karmā Chikyāp of Chākagāũ (VS 1945)

E_3446_0010: A letter from Candra Śamśera formalizing a lokābhāra contract in favour of Mukhiyā Dhāvā Dorje of Sāmāgāũ (VS 1945)

Tsum_0001_0002: A letter from Jagat Samasera ordering to enforce customary fees on mogalāniyā traders before trading in Pācapārvā of Syāra (VS 1946)

E_3446_0006: A letter from Candra Śamśera appointing two jimmāvālas in Aṭhāra Saya Kholā and formalizing a lokābhāra contract in their name (VS 1948)

Tsum_0001_0023: A receipt for the amount received for fraudulently-traded salt sold in auction (VS 1950)

Tsum_0001_0010: A purjī from Ḍaḍu Lāmā summoning Chokaṃ Jimmāvāla to assemble the salt traders from the villages to pay customs duties of the trade (VS 1951)

Tsum_0001_0019: A document acquitting Neko Bhoṭenī by fining her for a criminal offence (VS 1951)

Tsum_0001_0026: A five-day ritual prescription for Pāro Gāũ for expiating sins of adultery with people from lower castes (VS 1951)

Tsum_0001_0029: A receipt for payment of ṭheka by Pāro Gāũ mukhiyā to commanding general of the west (VS 1951)

Tsum_0001_0024: A copy of a purjī by the office for salt transactions in Gorkha ordering the confiscation of salt (VS 1951)

Tsum_0001_0001: A receipt for goḍadhuvā sum for Princess Prāṇa Lakṣmī from Phurva Gāũ (VS 1955)

L_1200_0010: A petition from Torcye Bhoṭe demanding actions be taken against Syākapo Bhoṭe and his sons together with a reply from Western Commanding General Candra Śamśera Jaṅga Bahādura Rāṇā (VS 1955)

L_1200_0009A: A letter from Candra Śamśera authorizing Jimmāvāla Chāṃmvā Khunu to seize and auction off stolen timber (VS 1956)

E_3446_0035: A purjī from Sirtibāsa Jagāt Bhansāra to local functionaries re the operation of a copper mine in Khānīgāũ (VS 1957)

L_0922_0003: A document from Phattye Śamśera formalizing an annual lokābhāra contract for Ruibhoṭ village (VS 1959)

L_1200_0025: A letter from three Bhoṭe brothers agreeing to hand over a bā̃dhā labourer to his master, Chāmbā Khunu (VS 1960)

Tsum_0001_0017: A jāherīpatra from Lagan Guruṃ demanding Tenjin Bhoṭe to be punished for attacking him and the return of his property forcibly snatched by the accused (VS 1963)

L_1200_0013: A purjī from the Gorkhā Māla Aḍḍā ordering Subbā Dorje Indu Bhoṭe to have villagers fill out official forms (VS 1968)

E_3446_0045: A receipt from Subbā Nara Jaṅga Gurung acknowledging the payment of revenue from Mukhiyā Dhorjye Ḍhuṃḍul of Bihi Village (VS 1973)

L_1200_0023: A dharma bandejapatra meant to settle a jurisdictional dispute between two tālukadāras in the Aṭhāra Saya Kholā region (VS 1974)

L_1200_0022: An istihāra mandating that all property transactions and money loans be registered with the government (VS 1985)

E_3447_0028: A document from the Bihi Adālata, West No. 2, recording the confiscation of property belonging to Vāṃṭā Bhoṭe of Lho village (VS 1988)

L_0922_0008: An istihāra to the hill districts announcing the non-imposition of a separate levy on winter crops (VS 1988)

L_0923_0005: An istihāra to the nation regarding the use of traps (VS 1988)

L_1200_0009I: AA letter from the Mahārājagaṃja Gośvārā Tahabila Aḍḍā formalizing a lokābhāra lease contract for villages in the Doce sector of Aṭhāra Saya Kholā (VS 1993)