A book series of four velvet-cloth covered hand-bound books, titled: Geography (I), Mountains (II), People (III), Religion (IV). Pages of the books are handmade from soil, sand and shukpa (fragrant juniper) collected from Ladakh, which are juxtaposed with photographs, drawings and writings of school children (in 2018), snippets from my personal travelogue (written in 2011 on my first visit to Ladakh) and a historical document (from 1854) that claims in its preface to be “a full and accurate account of Ladák.”
This was the result of a reading of Ladák, Physical, Statistical, and Historical; with Notices of the Surrounding Countries (1854) by Alexander Cunningham in tandem with my personal account, and an engagement with students at Lamdon Model Senior Secondary School, Leh, Ladakh. Rendered in the space of a study for viewers, the work attempts to trigger a dialogue about Ladakh through the conversations that sprout amongst the multiple authors of these books, putting into question the fullness and accuracy of historical archives.
I am indebted to Mr Eshey Tundup, former Principal of Lamdon Model Senior Secondary School Leh for permitting me to engage with the students. I am also grateful to the school’s administration for facilitating the activity, and Mrs Stanzin Norzum for going beyond her call of duty to help me.