Himalayan cannabis landraces. The alpine ranges of the Western Himalaya – from Central Nepal one-thousand kilometres northwestward to Kashmir – are renowned worldwide for their hand-rubbed hashish, most famously for underground charas brands such as Malana Cream and Nepalese Temple Balls.

For cannabis, this region comprises a distinct zone, both culturally and botanically. Traditional Himalayan cannabis strains are usually multipurpose domesticates (“landraces”) selected for their fibre, seed, and resin. Less commonly, they’re wild-type or purposed exclusively for resin production. Typically, they’re harvested by hand-rubbing the seeded inflorescences of standing or freshly cut plants to produce charas.

In the Himalaya, the cannabis crop is most closely associated with Pahari villages. Historically, Paharisthe people of the Pahar (alpine ranges) were known as the Khas or Khas Arya. They’re believed by some to have once been nomads, like the Scythians, and to have migrated to the Himalaya from Central Asia, probably from around Bactria or Xinjiang. It’s conceivable that the ancient Khas introduced cannabis cultivation to the Himalaya, where evidence for the crop becomes apparent quite suddenly around 500 BCE. This is the same period in which definitive historical and archaeological evidence for fumigation of cannabis by Scythians appears in Ukraine and Xinjiang.

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