INDIAN OCEAN TRADE Most regions of the Indian subcontinent were self-sufficient in staple foods such as rice

, wheat, barley, and millet. The case was different, however, with metals, salt, and specialized crops that grew well only in certain areas. Iron grew from the Ganges River Valley near Bengal, copper from the Deccan Plateau, Salt mostly from coastal regions, and pepper from southern India. These and other commodities sometimes traveled long distances to customers in more isolated parts of India.

Southern India benefited especially handsomely from this trade. As invasions and conflict disrupted Northern India, southern regions experienced rapid economic development. The Chola kingdom provided relative stability in the south, and Chola expansion into southeast Asia opened markets for Indian merchants.

The wealth of India was partly a product of Indian society, but it also spring from the large amount of wealth that circulated in the commercial trading world of the Indian Ocean Basin. The postclassical era was not the first time that there had been trade in the Indian Ocean. Indian merchants had already ventured to Southeast Asia during the classical era, and they had dealt regularly with sailors from the Roman Empire who traveled to India in search of pepper. However, larger ships, better technology, and better commercial organization led to a large increase in Indian Ocean Trade in the postclassical era.

As larger, more stable ships came into use, mariners increasingly were willing to brave the reasonably predictable monsoons and sail directly across the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. However, it was impossible to make a round trip across the entire Indian Ocean without spending months at distant ports waiting for the monsoon winds to change, so merchants usually did their trade in stages.

Because India stood in the middle of the Indian Ocean basin, it was a natural site for emporia and warehouses. Merchants coming from east Africa or Persia exchanged their cargo at Cambay, Calicut, or Quilon for goods to take back west with the winter monsoon. Mariners from China or southeast Asia came to Indian ports and traded their cargo for goods to ship east with the summer monsoon. Because of their central location, Indian ports became the principal clearinghouses of trade in the Indian Ocean Basin. Because of all the trade happening, Indian ports became very diverse centers of cultural exchange. Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and others who lived in Indian port cities did business with traders from all over the eastern hemisphere.

Southeast Asian lands provided fine spices. and slaves. Indian artisans built thriving industries in the production of highquality cotton textiles. Incense. in the Bay of Bengal and the China seas. and lacquerware. and dates came from southwest Asia. Chinese boats called junks also ventured into the western Indian Ocean and called at ports as far away as east Africa.Trade in the Indian Ocean surged after the establishment of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties in southwest Asia and the Tang and Song dynasties in China. horses. merchants in different areas began to specialize in specific commodities. Other lands concentrated on the production of different manufactured goods. China produced silk. . Arabs and Persians usually dominated the carrying trade between India and other points west. East Africa contributed gold. ivory. Malay and Chinese vessels were most prominent. porcelain. During the Song dynasty. To the east. As the volume of trade in the Indian Ocean basin increased.

Why was India a natural place for emporia and trade centers? 9. What factors led to an increase in Indian Ocean trade during the Postclassical Era? 6. What did the traders have to brave to cross the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal? 7. Where did the Chola empire open up new markets for Indian merchants? 4. What commodity came from the Ganges River Valley? 2.INDIAN OCEAN TRADE QUESTIONS 1. What is the word for Chinese boats? . What good had Roman traders come to India to get during the classical era? 5. Why did the traders do their trading in stages? 8. From what region of India would you get copper? 3.


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