About the Residents of the Indian Trading Yard in Astrakhan (on the Materials of the 18th Century)
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About the Residents of the Indian Trading Yard in Astrakhan (on the Materials of the 18th Century)
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The article is devoted to the problem of social relations in the colony of Indian traders, which existed from the 17th to the 19th centuries on the Volga (Astrakhan). The main sources for analyzing the situation are documents of the Astrakhan archive of the 17th and 18th centuries. In addition to archival documents from Astrakhan, the study attracts notes of European travelers of the 17th and 18th centuries. In the course of the research, a number of problems that have not been considered either in the domestic or foreign scientific literature so far are formulated. The main one is the social composition of the Indian community on the Volga. The caste status of the Indian colonists is almost not discussed in the documents and notes of travelers. Sources depict their community as almost homogeneous. Therefore, both documents and travel notes of Europeans ignore those features of Indian life that indicate a caste hierarchy. However, a careful analysis of documents and stories of travelers allows us to speak about the heterogeneity of the society of Astrakhan Indians. The general conclusion of the study is that not only those persons whose caste status prescribed trade as their main occupation came to Astrakhan from India. Those people thanks to whom a caste Hindus even in a foreign country could build his life according to the rules prescribed by tradition, causing minimal damage to caste purity, were included to the inhabitants of the Indian court in Astrakhan, and within the circle with which the Indians maintained their contacts. The population of the Indian court in Astrakhan, as far as possible and by all available means sought to create an imitation of their life at homeland.

About authors
Kseniia Nikolskaia
Associate Professor
Lomonosov Moscow State University, The Institute of Asian and African Studies

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