Saffron in Kashmir

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK
Thu Nov 11 12:02:21 UTC 1999

Vaughan & Geissler's _The new Oxford book of food plants_ (1997, isbn
019850567) is an authoritative source of much fascinating information.
It says that saffron "probably originated in Asia Minor but has been
cultivated in the Meiterranean area since ancient times.  Today the main
areas of cultivation are Spain, Turkey, and India." (p.142).

Dymock's _Pharmacographia Indica_ (vol.3, p.453--61) gives a good
historical account of saffron in India.  He refers to passages in
Jayadeva's Gitagovinda and other Persian, Arabic, and Latin sources.

He then mentions (457) that "The Rajanighantu, which was written about 600
years ago by a native of Cashmere, speaks of saffron as coming from
Cashmere, and the plant is still cultivated there on the Kareewahs near
Pampur..."  Dymock refers to Ince, Handbook of Cashmere.  He also notes,
rightly, that the earliest [Sanskrit] medical writers mention saffron.

Narahari's Rajanighantu was probably composed ca. 1400, in Kashmir.

Dominik Wujastyk
Founder, INDOLOGY list

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