Civilizations in Contact

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Research topics - Caroline Stone

Emporia: Major Links in the Eurasian Trade Network 1400 - 1650 CE

Photo of Sind veil, early 20th century, (detail).

Sind veil, early 20th century,

This project is centered upon emporia and an attempt to estimate the extent to which the management of the human element - by facilitating commercial, legal and religious conditions for the very diverse trading community – affected their success.

The area chosen is India-Japan during the period 1450-1650 CE, with particular reference to Ayutthaya because of the wide range of sources available for its development in the 16th-17th centuries and also because this will allow links to other projects within Civilizations in Contact, particularly those on the Ming Voyages and the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean. Furthermore, the question of how Ayutthaya and other culturally and ethnically varied centres such as Batavia, Malaka, or Hirado handled their residents in legal, administrative and human terms has a certain resonance today.

Photo of Fez belt, late 18th century (detail).

Fez belt, late 18th century,

Travellers’ accounts form an important element in the sources for this research and an opportunity has arisen to produce a series of little-known and largely unavailable travellers’ accounts, a mixture of reprints and original translations, with the addition of new introductions, and bibliographies where required. Although these are not necessarily linked to the prime area of study, it is hoped that they will make a number of texts more easily accessible both to the scholarly community and to those with more general interest in travel accounts.

Photo of Canton shawl, 19th century, (detail).

Canton shawl, 19th century,

One aspect of these accounts of particular interest is why each one was written, in so far as it can be deduced from what is known of the author and his or her background, since without some sense of the intention and bias of a given work it is hard to estimate the value of the information that it provides.

This research also involves examining the links between Ayutthaya and the other emporia of the region, especially the Japanese and the Hispano-Lusitanian network stretching to the Americas during this period. An ancillary branch of this project is the completion of a work on Chinese export embroideries, specifically mantones de Manila and their design influence, which usefully exemplifies this route at a somewhat later date. Its publication is planned for 2009-10.