Pious Endowments and Rural Economy in the "Kashgar Triangle" ca. 1900
(University of Montana)
This paper presents research in progress on the Kashgar Waqf Scroll, a manuscript hand list of pious endowments in the area of Kashgar made around the year 1900. This hand list offers for the first time a snapshot of a major sector of the agrarian economy across the "Kashgar Triangle," an area 80 km on each side defined by the holdings of major pious endowments and the influence of the Kashgar Islamic court. Through the data it presents, we can approach a number of basic questions about law, economy, and religion that have nevertheless eluded scholars before: What proportion of arable land was held as waqf? And indeed, how much farmland was in use? How many people might have been employed by Islamic institutions? How many madrasas were there in Kashgaria, and how many students? The paper argues that a high proportion of Kashgaria's economy was tied directly to a small number of shrines, which held land across the triangle. The newly-reformed Kashgar court, by accounting for these resources, was fairly successful in projecting its authority over the region as an alternative source of government for Muslims.
Geographies of Piety in Kashgaria: New Sources, New Perspectives