This brief essay discusses the presence of an Indian merchant community in Bukhara in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The author surveys a small number of sources, mostly travel literature and some published secondary works, to produce a handful of references that illustrate a number of ways that the Indians contributed to the active commercial relationship between these two regions. The essay endeavours to demonstrate that the Indian community in Bukhara numbered in the thousands and that their trade was varied and substantial. References to the primary sources identify a number of the specific commodities transported between India and Bukhara. The discussion concludes with the assertion, however incorrect, that Indo-Central Asian trade relations came to an abrupt end in the 1870s, in the wake of the English colonisation of India and the Russian conquest of Bukhara in 1868.
The author has published a somewhat expanded English-language version of this essay under the title “Indian Merchants in Nineteenth-Century Bukhara: Trade Network and Socio-Cultural Role,” in the eighth volume of the Toronto Studies in Central and Inner Asia series: Michael Gervers, Uradyn E. Bulag and Gillian Long, eds, Traders and Trade Routes of Central and Inner Asia: The ‘Silk Road,’ Then and Now (Toronto, 2007): 93–108. Readers interested in the subject of Indians in Central Asia, or India’s relations with Central Asia in general, should consult the following works, which Kalandarova does note cite: Stephen Dale, Indian Merchants and Eurasian Trade, 1600–1750 (Cambridge, 1994); Claude Markovits, The Global World of Indian Merchants, 1750–1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama (Cambridge, 2000); Scott C. Levi, The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and its Trade, 1550–1900 (Leiden, 2002); Claude Markovits, “Indian Merchants in Central Asia, the Debate,” in Scott C. Levi, ed., India and Central Asia: Commerce and Culture, 1500–1800 (New Delhi, 2007).