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Monisha Ahmed and Clare Harris, editors of Ladakh: Culture at the Crossroads point out in their introduction that there is much more to Ladakh than just its Tibetan Buddhist heritage. A crossroad - since the earliest times - between India, Tibet, Central Asia and Kashmir, Ladakh is a complex layering of cultures. Artistic and architectural influences from these areas combined with local practices and Tibetan influences, such as thangka painting and carpet weaving, to create a unique cultural identity. The articles that comprise this book are on subjects ranging from traditional architecture to contemporary art. Focusing as much on objects of everyday use as on 'high' culture, they include what is claimed to be the first published article on Islamic architecture in Ladakh. The writers are all leading experts in their fields and the articles are lucid and concise. The text has enough academic weight to be more than an overview, but a generous helping of illustrations- including contemporary colour and archival black and white photographs - give the book a lively feel. It's a little pricey and the production and design are good rather than outstanding, but this book is a useful reference for anyone with more than a passing interest in the region.
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