Friday, September 25, 2009

Post #3

Teresa Green
Post 3- Muslim Merchants
Part 1:
In roughly the 13th century the Asian sea trade that was slanted in the direction of the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Southern China Sea was broken into three interchangeable circuits, which each had communal authority of both economic and political movers and shakers that were in charge of trade between nearby places. The major explanation for these divisions of circuits was geographic; interestingly enough these sets of circuits soon became cultural domains.

The circuit located farthest west was mainly populated by Muslims which included: ship owners, major merchants, and merchants who had ships in the northwestern coast of India. They conducted their business in three major ports: port of Cambay in Gujarat, and the Malabar port enterpots of Calicut and Quilon. They were able to carry out business by route of large resident “colonies” of Muslim Merchants. A portion of the merchants were from the Middle East, but began to settle, marry, and usually adapt to their new environment. The others who were native to the northwestern coast of India soon picked up on Muslim culture and language through extended exposure of trade.

Part 2:
I find it interesting how the Muslim merchants were such important players in trade, but did not venture far off to trade with other people not close by.

Part 3:
What do you think the Muslim merchants could have done back then to ensure that they would still be a powerful player in trade as they were then? If you think there was nothing they could have done what do you think they could do now to become a more major part of trade now?


  1. Well, it was really difficult to navigate those waters with the complex cycles of monsoons. Although they could have traveled around or through India to get to Southeast, they didn't really need to because Southeast Asians were coming to India and India, furthermore, had pretty much everything they needed, anyway. At least, this is what I understood from Abu-Lughod.

  2. I found it interesting too that the Muslims, and India, and China didn't all try to gain more world power. They all probably could have become THE major world player and the hegemony in the system. I think they could have done a lot to become a powerful player. As you said the Muslims "included: ship owners, major merchants, and merchants who had ships in the northwestern coast of India." With all these aspects I think they just didnt have the desire needed to become a major power.

  3. I agree with the previous posts in that India certainly had the capacity to achieve hegemony in the 13th century. To answer Starr's question concerning what the Muslim merchants could have done to ensure that they would still be a powerful player in trade as they were then - Abu-Lughod states that their oral tradition in the makings of commercial contracts and agreements hurt the longevity of their power, especially when compared to other markets, whose contractual agreements were written. In addition, I think that the Muslim tradition was such that they were more than satisfied with the fruits of their more localized trade, and especially considering the security risks of travel and sea trade, the Muslim people did not see enough of an added benefit in the expansion of their trade during th 13th century.