The Indian Ocean in the Making of Early Modern India 9781138234826, 9781315276809

This volume looks into the ways Indian Ocean routes shaped the culture and contours of early modern India. IT shows how

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The Indian Ocean in the Making of Early Modern India
 9781138234826, 9781315276809

Table of contents :
Half Title
1. Africa and Africans in the Making of Early Modern India
2. Trade in the Shaping of Early Modern India: Notes on the Deccan
3. The Story of Bengal's Urbanization: Role of Trade in the Early Modern Period
4. Aceh-India Commercial and Literary Relations in the Seventeenth Century
5. Warfare in Early Modern South Asia, c.1520-c.1740
6. What Does the Emperor of India Look Like? European Representations of Indian Rulers (1650-1740)
7. 'Floating Political Rhetoric' in the Indian Ocean: Situating the Portuguese in the Mughal Foreign Politics
8. Scourge of the Seas: Malabar Pirates and the European Expansion in the Indian Ocean (c.1600-1800)
9. Weavers in Early Modern South Asia (Sixteenth-Seventeenth Centuries)
10. Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire: The Example of Damascus around 1700
11. The Maratha Court and the Embassies of Saint-Lubin and M. Montigny: A Truce towards Cordial Relations
12. The Unquiet Religious Backdrop to European East Indies Trade: Christian Polemical Literature and the First Portuguese Translation of the Bible, 1642-1694
13. The Techniques of Sword Making and Trade Practices: Taiid-e-Bisarat, a Treatise from Eighteenth Century Mughal Court
14. Elephants and the Making of Early Modern India
List of Contributors

Citation preview

The Indian Ocean in the Making of Early Modern India

Edited by Pius Malekandathil

The Indian Ocean in the Making of Early Modern India Edited by Pius Malekandathil

an informa business

ISBN 978-1-138-23482-6



The Indian Ocean in the Making of Early Modern India


First published 2017 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2017 selection and editorial matter, Pius Malekandathil; individual chapters, the contributors; and Manohar Publishers & Distributors The right of Pius Malekandathil to be identified as the author of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. Print edition not for sale in South Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Bhutan) British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Catalog record for this book has been requested ISBN: 978-1-138-23482-6 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-27680-9 (ebk) Typeset in Garamond by Kohli Print, Delhi 110 051








1. Africa and Africans in the Making of Early Modern India EDWARD A. ALPERS


2. Trade in the Shaping of Early Modern India: Notes on the Deccan ARCHISMAN CHAUDHURI


3. The Story of Bengal’s Urbanization: Role of Trade in the Early Modern Period BYAPTI SUR


4. Aceh-India Commercial and Literary Relations in the Seventeenth Century SHER BANU A.L. KHAN


5. Warfare in Early Modern South Asia, c.1520-c.1740 PRATYAY NATH


6. What Does the Emperor of India Look Like? European Representations of Indian Rulers (1650-1740) CORINNA FORBERG


7. ‘Floating Political Rhetoric’ in the Indian Ocean: Situating the Portuguese in the Mughal Foreign Politics MANYA RATHORE




8 . Scourge of the Seas: Malabar Pirates and the European Expansion in the Indian Ocean (c.1600-1800) BINU JOHN MAILAPARAMBIL


9 . Weavers in Early Modern South Asia (Sixteenth-Seventeenth Centuries) MURARI JHA


10. Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire: The Example of Damascus around 1700 COLETTE ESTABLET-VERNIN


11. The Maratha Court and the Embassies of Saint-Lubin and M. Montigny: A Truce towards Cordial Relations UMESH ASHOK KADAM


12. The Unquiet Religious Backdrop to European East Indies Trade: Christian Polemical Literature and the First Portuguese Translation of the Bible, 1642-1694 LUIS HENRIQUE MENEZES FERNANDES AND STEFAN HALIKOWSKI SMITH


13. The Techniques of Sword Making and Trade Practices: Taiid-e-Bisarat, a Treatise from Eighteenth Century Mughal Court CHANDER SHEKHAR


14. Elephants and the Making of Early Modern India MARTHA CHAIKLIN


List of Contributors



For one coming from the generation of historians that graduated in the late 1950s, what fascinates most about the discipline is that almost everything we had received in our classrooms and from the books now stands on its head. One of the major lessons we had grown up with was centred on the notion of a generalized oriental stasis, or what Pius Malekandathil calls in his Introduction to this volume the ‘medieval, backward and feudal’ state of affairs prior to c. 1500. Today, not a fragment of that notion remains intact, indeed either before or after 1500 or for that matter around any other date. What emerges from this excellent collection of studies in and around the Indian Ocean is the image of a society in perpetual, almost frenetic dynamism, a dynamism that is all-encompassing. It touches upon economic production, distribution and consumption, societal reverberations of technological and economic adaptations and mutations, the thought processes that resulted in the evolution of new ideologies and modes of thinking, enrichment of the languages, increasing integration of the subcontinental landscape inwards and outwards, and integration with market demands from long, very long distances over the land, the rivers and the oceanic routes. For sure, this volume does not stand alone in transforming our understanding of the subcontinent’s history, nor is it even the first or among the first. But it magnificently sums up the long drawn process of revision of the historical vision and opens up new windows for research. History, for my generation, was centred on the state, indeed on the rulers. Most works of history went into details of dynastic and regnal displacements. Even economic history followed the dynastic and regnal cycles. Thus the benchmark works of economic history, W.H. Moreland’s Agrarian System of Moslem India basically delineated land revenue system from one reign to the next during India’s ‘medieval’ centuries. Or his India from Akbar to Aurangzeb. The notion prevailed that Indian history was often fragmented as the



large empires broke up into severed units or sometimes India came alive as and when an Ashoka, or a Chandragupta or an Akbar brought large territories of the land under their administrative control. This volume demonstrates that economic expansion is often a far more efficient as well as durable agency of territorial integration than conquests by armies. One lesson of history is that every endeavour at answering some questions always entails raising a few others and that in some ways remains its abiding value. This anthology too gives rise to some very significant questions. It touches on the redrawing of historical periodization. By focusing on c. 1500 as the virtual line of departure for a new ‘early modern’ period of Indian, or indeed South Asian history, it forcefully highlights the vast and encompassing mutations the region was undergoing around and after that point. Fair enough. But change, very fundamental and encompassing change, was not confined to the early sixteenth century alone. The period between c. seventh century and c. twelfth century, treated at one time as the historians’ ‘no man’s land’ in that it was considered too dull, too static to invite their labour, was later held up as the period of some of the most durable technological, economic, social and administrative transformations, such that a few of these survived right up to our times and not all have passed down into history even now in some regions. Water wheels developed in three stages for irrigation, for example, or the ubiquitous oil press or cotton cleansing devices and many more. Indeed, even the period after the seventh century had witnessed its dynamism as a cumulative effect of the consolidation of petty peasant production, or what R.S. Sharma called, perhaps with some exaggeration, ‘the transformation of all sudras into peasants’. The question of change and continuity in history is clearly a very complex one and not quite amenable to a simple dividing line. What appears as a fast paced change often accumulates over time and bursts out energetically at some point. But it connects continuity and change rather than counterposing these as binaries which is what Greek philosopher Heraclitus’ (sixth-fifth centuries BC) dictum—‘you can’t put your hand in the same river twice’—implies. As a practicing medievalist, I have been somewhat ‘landlocked’



with my preoccupation with empires. The high degree of scholarship that marks the contributions to this volume as well as its Introduction unfolds a vast arena of history that is so inviting. Among many others, this is a strong reason to welcome it as a testimony to the ever evolving discipline of History that we all cherish. New Delhi



The seminal ideas for this volume took origin in 2012, when I was asked by the executive committee of the Indian History Congress to preside over the Medieval Indian History section of its seventyfourth annual session at Cuttack, Orissa in 2013, which made me prepare the presidential address on the impact of the circulatory processes in the Indian Ocean upon the socio-economic and cultural climate of India during the period between 1500 and 1800.* The supportive comments that I got from Prof. Irfan Habib and Prof. Shireen Moosvi for the presidential address and the encouragement that I received from friends made me think about the processes in connection with the theme of early modernity in India that I have been keeping close to heart for years. The various comments that I got after the presidential address made me look at the topic from different perspectives and share the views with many of the like-minded historians working upon the theme of connected histories. This work would not have taken shape without the academic dedication of the contributors who, sharing a common world-view, tried patiently to refine and formulate their arguments within the larger thematic frames and concerns of the compendium. India’s participation in the circulatory processes of the Indian Ocean and its consequent rebuilding within the web of global interconnectedness form the texture of the discussions that the various contributors weave together as to constitute this volume. The meanings of early modernity in India is looked at against the background of the economic, cultural and * The paper was later published.

Pius Malekandathil, ‘Indian Ocean in the Shaping of Late Medieval India’, in Studies in History, vol. 30, no. 2, August 2014, pp. 125-50; a slightly abridged version is seen in Pius Malekandathil, ‘Indian Ocean in the Shaping of Late Medieval India’ (Sectional President’s Address), in Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, Delhi, 2014, pp. 178-95.



intellectual march of India from the so-called age of ‘stagnation’ and ‘isolation’ to a stage of consciousness of being considerably ‘progressive’ and ‘advanced’, something which evolved over years out of India’s connectedness with the rest of the world and its ability to localize the variegated influences emanating out of it by frequent and selective processes of absorption, adaptation and accommodation. I am particularly grateful to Prof. Harbans Mukhia, who has blessed this volume with his erudite foreword. It has been a pleasure to recall the academic help and encouragement that he always extends to me. The kindness, care and unstinting support that I experience from Bishop Mar George Madathikandathil and Bishop Mar George Punnakottil have been specially remembered and I place on record my great debt of gratitude to them. It has been energizing and heartening to have Prof. Dietmar Rothermund, Prof. K.S. Mathew, Prof. M.N. Pearson, Prof. Teotonio R. de Souza, Prof. Luis Filipe Thomaz, Prof. João Paulo Oliveira e Costa, Prof. Jos Gommans, Prof. Gita-Dharampal-Frick, Prof. Anthony Disney, Prof. M.G.S Narayanan, Prof. Rajan Gurukkal, Dr. João Teles e Cunha and Dr. Paolo Aranha as mentors and friends and I recall with overflowing feelings of indebtedness the generosity that I drew out of interactions with them at different points of time. I was able to call upon their advice and guidance as often as I wished to. My friends in Lisbon, Leiden and Heidelberg have been my constant source of support, upon whom I could bank at any point of time to get access to rare documents and relevant books. I would like to thank specially Herr Bernhard Kotzur and his family in Heidelberg for being extremely supportive of my academic activities and for accommodating me during my short research-cum-academic trips to Europe. It has been a privilege to interact with some of the finest minds of the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, both the teaching faculty and the students, who always made me think differently with fresher questions and newer logic. Often I have been a silent listener trying to pick up the right kind of thread out of the enmeshed basket to weave the fabric. I recall with love and fond memories the academic interactions with Rajat Datta,



Yogesh Sharma, Ranabir Chakrabarti, Vijaya Ramaswamy and the large number of students who took me to an academic world which compelled me to address the type of questions and issues, from which this volume took origin, but which otherwise I would not have done. It is my pleasant duty to acknowledge and appreciate the patience of Sr. Christo, who went through the manuscripts and helped me to organize the papers thematically. I would like to thank Mr. Ramesh Jain and the editorial team of Manohar for giving the book its final shape. Finally, I am grateful also to all of my friends and well-wishers, who help me in many silent ways, and who even shoulder some of my responsibilities as to enable me to focus on my research-cum-academic works better. New Delhi May 2015



As the title suggests, this volume looks into the way how the Indian Ocean circuits shaped the nature and contours of early modern India. The frequent movement of people, commodities and ideas through the Oceanic space particularly after 1500 brought in variegated forms of changes that effected some sort of break from the intensely rural societies of medieval period and helped India to march towards a different stage showing some marked progress with specific consciousness and world-views of its own. The recurring circulation of goods and wealth of different forms between the maritime exchange centres of India and the nodal centres of its hinterland during this period helped to reduce the relative isolation of the rural and semi-rural societies and relatively overcome the growth constraints by facilitating the integration of far-flung production centres of the hinterland with the various exchange centres of the coastal rim in an intense way, causing some forces of early modernity to permeate into the subcontinent. Intensified circulatory processes in the Indian Ocean from c. 1500 onwards were followed by equally intense moves from various political players and economic actors to burgeon their realms of power and profit through subtle channels of coast-hinterland connectivity and nuanced linkages that they managed to develop eventually between the two. In this process the narrow borders of regional polity, languages and ethnicities as well as societal isolation started crumbling down carrying India further forward and facilitating the process of knowledge circulation, technological uses and information exchanges in an unprecedented way to a larger portion of its geography. 1


Pius Malekandathil I

The contraries of ‘medieval, backward and feudal’ started appearing in a relatively significant way in many parts of India from 1500 onwards, which led the subcontinent to a ‘new type of consciousness and way of life’. Generically speaking ‘early modern period’ marks a temporal break as well as a changed way of being and signifies the time, to which the roots of institutions, epistemologies and organizational structures familiar today can be historically traced back. In western Europe ‘early modern period’ represents a time-span when Europe started rebuilding and reorganizing itself after long cycles of famines, plagues and mortality and when labour shortages were compensated by resorting to mechanical contrivances, within the emerging global systems of international economic, cultural and intellectual exchanges. It also reflects the historical process of march towards new and sophisticated modes of political and economic organizations, humanism triggered off by Renaissance, the intense processes of wealth-circulation following Geographical Discoveries and Commercial Revolution and refers to the population which was wealthier, more literate and much more ready to question authority and traditional thoughts (even to the extent of challenging the overwhelmingly universalist control and absolute authority of the Catholic Church). It was an age that gave rise to a large middle class comprising merchants, artisans and officials and which accelerated the spread of literacy and the new scholarship, a time period when there was progress in experimental science and technology, reduction of the isolation of societies and shrinkage in time needed for covering long distances because of the progress in transportation and communications as well as new supplies of bullion that intensified the minting process and use of money. The scholastic philosophy of medieval period was almost incapable of explaining the meanings of these changes and perceiving the character of the evolving world, which prompted the philosophers like Rene Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Leibniz and later Immanuel Kant to keep rationality at the centre of stage and argue that one can understand the world only through reason. However, the rationalist strand of early modern understanding about the world is complimented by the em-



piricist approaches of English philosophers like Francis Bacon, John Locke and Thomas Hobbes who used to argue that the world can be learnt about only through the senses, or by the way how one experiences the world.2 Though quite vast is the range of changes that Europe experienced from material to intellectual, they collectively and ultimately went into the shaping of a particular historical phase in human march towards progress often known as ‘early modern period’; however, its essence lies in its globalizing character and the nature of its inter-connectedness with the rest of the world.3 Nevertheless, these changes and sequence of events seen in the European trajectory are no longer viewed as essential constituents of early modernity in other parts of the world, as the content and nature of modernity in other places of the world varied on the basis of the contexts within which and the modes through which the experience was perceived, lived and articulated. In Marxian perception it is the type of mode of production of the modern society, i.e. ‘capitalism’ that constitutes the essence of ‘modernity’. However, industrial capitalism and wage-earning proletariat, which form the core aspects of modern period, did not exist significantly during the period between fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. Still a form of capitalism, often known as ‘commercial capitalism’ and ‘proto-industrial production’, prevailed during the period between fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. It is characterized by production of commodities being oriented towards markets and the profit from trade went principally into the hands of non-members of the dominant class, despite the fact that the dominant class was feudal.4 In this sense ‘early modern’ is viewed as a form of society in which markets were an active source of profits to merchants, who ordered their affairs rationally in order to pursue profits in a manner different than the still ‘feudal’ (for example, concerned with rank and honor) nobility. Moreover, governance was neither ‘modern’ (for example, dominated by bourgeois politicians) nor ‘feudal’ (for example, decentralized and dominated by independent lords), but centralized and partly bureaucratized, albeit under the direction of traditionally-sanctified monarchies and their noble ministers and officers.5

Though the European experiences cannot be fitted comfortably


Pius Malekandathil

into non-European contexts including those of India, historians have been trying to see whether there were actually some identifiable markers of early modernity in India. Sanjay Subrahmanyam while delinking the concept of ‘modernity’ from the trajectories of Europe, speaks of South Asian ‘early modernity’ and argues for ‘connected histories’ rather than ‘comparative histories’.6 In the recent studies ‘globalizing character’ and the ‘interconnectedness of world cultures’ are projected as the hallmark of ‘early modernity’.7 Obviously there was a shift in India from local non-market economy to marketoriented economic activities during the period between fifteenth and eighteenth centuries and India’s economic, cultural, intellectual and political rebuilding that happened during this period depended principally upon the forces that reduced India’s isolation and facilitated its connectedness with the rest of the world. In fact, it was often the frequency as well as the extent of commodity movements and the intensity of the inflow of wealth that considerably reduced the isolation of different parts within India, as well and augmented interconnectedness with its various economic regions too. In course of time there was a slow, steady and perceptible move towards ‘localizing’ the evolving experiences of being a part of the larger entangled and connected world through a nuanced process of selective absorption, adaptation and accommodation as to create India’s own unique traditions. This volume has taken shape out of the attempts to find some answers to the questions that many of the like-minded historians have been grappling with for years: How much of the consciousness and feel of being different from the previous age actually existed among the people who were living in India during the period between fifteenth and eighteenth centuries? How much of the changes of this period in material life, socio-cultural processes, political and military organization, religious perceptions, the uses of science and technology, permeation of knowledge including information about medicine and health care did actually stand as contraries and antithesis to ‘medieval, feudal and traditional’ modes of experiences? How far these changes in India could be attributed to its participation in the emerging global systems of international economic, cultural and intellectual exchanges and how far was it shaped by the evolving globalizing process and the consequent



material as well as cultural interconnectedness? How far did the circulatory processes in the Indian Ocean help to reduce the ‘previously existing barriers’ and led India towards greater interdependence and integration? How far the experiences of being a part of the larger entangled and interconnected world were being subsequently felt ‘localized’ through a process of selective absorption, adaptation and accommodation as to create India’s own traditions? II Very feeble and fragile links of connectivity were visible from tenth century onwards with the circulatory processes of the Jews linked with Cairo Geniza who established commercial networks from Broach in Gujarat up to coastal south-east India,8 followed by the setting up of the trading-cum-religious networks of the Rasulids of Yemen in the thirteenth century from coastal Gujarat to Coromandel9 and later the al-Karimi networks in fourteenth and fifteenth centuries stretching from Mamluk Egypt to coastal western India.10 The commercial activities of these merchant groups were confined chiefly to the major specialized centres of trade in maritime India, like Kerala, Gujarat, Konkan and Coromandel, from whose immediate hinterland were made available those items of cargo the overseas markets largely needed. In most cases the primary and secondary production centres catering to the commercial needs of these maritime trade centres were located in their immediate vicinity and the connectivities of these coastal trade centres with the deep interior were obstructed by rigid boundaries of regional polity, language and hurdles of wilderness. Consequently, the impact of overseas trade on the economic activities in the interior and remote hinterland was relatively negligible in many parts of India until 1500. III By 1500 the waters of Indian Ocean experienced intense process of commodity circulation thanks to the trigger given to commercial expansion with the entry of the Portuguese and later the Dutch as


Pius Malekandathil

well as with the increase in the consumerial classes in the Asian gun powder empires like the Safavids of Persia, the Mings of China and the Mughals of India. Meanwhile the eastward movement of the Ottomans from 1516 onwards to procure cargo from the Indian Ocean brought them closer to the ports of Red Sea, Persian Gulf and even to the Gujarati port of Diu (1538) and the Kerala port of Vizhinjam (1538).11 Thanks to increasing demand for cargo of various forms and nature in the coastal trading centres from these five different directions, there was an equally stimulated effort to expand production, both primary and secondary, to as much areas as possible and ensure subtle connectivities between the newlyemerging hinterland and the maritime centres of exchange. During the first hundred years after the entry of the Europeans in India, spices formed the major item of maritime trade so much so that it could rightly be called ‘the century of spices’. Though textile trade from Coromandel with South-east Asia and from Gujarat and Konkan with East Africa also happened in a considerable degree during this time period, it had only a secondary role to play in the larger maritime trading scenario of sixteenth-century India. The textile trade of the Portuguese private traders from Coromandel with Southeast Asia in the sixteenth century was often carried out for the purpose of procuring spices from Southeast Asia and the Portuguese textile trade from the ports of Konkan and Gujarat was to collect gold from Menomotapa and East Africa, besides ivory and slaves, and the East African gold was used for financing the spice trade of the Lusitanians from Malabar.12 Initially the Portuguese used to take from the pepper ports of Kerala about 1,04,920 kg of pepper,13 which increased to 30,000 quintals by 1505-6,14 whose value was around 79,800 cruzados in Malabar; however, in Portugal it fetched for them 6,60,000 cruzados.15 The difference out of this transaction was 580,200 cruzados, which went to the Portuguese as profit, but obviously after having deducted protection cost and other expenditure related to shipping and transportation. In 1509 the volume of pepper taken to Lisbon from the spice ports of Kerala like Cochin, Quilon and Cannanore was 40,000 quintals, having the value of 106,400 cruzados in Kerala; however, its value in Lisbon was 8,80,000 cruzados. This shows the



magnitude of value of Kerala’s trade at this point of time. However, during the period between 1510 and 1580 the volume of peppertrade fluctuated: it stood between 15,000 and 20,000 quintals, whose value was between 39,900 cruzados and 53,200 cruzados respectively in Kerala. However, its value in Portugal was 3,30,000 cruzados and 4,40,000 cruzados respectively. 16 Recent researches have shown that Portugal was not the only destination to which pepper was flowing from the ports of Kerala during this period. Through Marakkar traders it entered the Red Sea ports of the Ottomans and the markets of Saffvid Persia rather regularly.17 In the 1520s when the total production of pepper was estimated to be about 16,000 bhars18 (i.e. 26,69,280 kg), out of which the Portuguese managed to take only about 20,000 to 30,000 quintals of pepper annually to Lisbon, from where it was taken to Antwerp for further distribution in different parts of Europe.19 This formed only 40 per cent of the total produce of pepper. Out of the remaining, about 5,00,490 kg, i.e. 19 per cent of the total produce went through the ghat-routes to Coromandel ports and 25 per cent for trade in different Asian markets including the ports of Persian Gulf and Red Sea, while about 4,17,075 kg, i.e. 16 per cent of the total production was used for domestic consumption.20 The ever-increasing demand from the Asian markets of Ming China, Saffavid Persia, the Mughals and the Ottomans, along with that of the Portuguese intensified the expansion of pepper cultivation in Kerala and south Canara. In 1587, Ferdinand Cron, the commercial agent of the German mercantile houses of the Fuggers and the Welsers in Cochin, writes that about 3,00,000 quintals of pepper were produced yearly in India,21 which when compared with the figure of 1520s shows that there was an increase of 600 per cent in pepper production in the hinterland of Kerala during the gap of 60 years.22 The significant increase in pepper production is further supported by Francisco da Costa, who spent 35 years as the Portuguese official for pepper trade in Cochin, and according to his calculation the total production of pepper in 1603 was 1,00,000 bhars or 2,58,000 quintals.23 Though pepper production increased in the hinterland by 600 per cent, only 3.10 per cent of the total produce went to Europe for trade, while 15.5 per cent was con-


Pius Malekandathil

sumed domestically by the end of sixteenth century.24 The remaining pepper that was about 81.4 per cent was transhipped to the markets of the Mughals, Ming China, Saffavid Persia and the Ottomans.25 An increase in the maritime trade of Kerala was followed by expansion of pepper cultivation into the interior part of Kerala and consequent flow of wealth into the pepper hinterland in an unprecedented way, which in turn accelerated the hinterland-coastal connectivities. The value of annual import trade of Cochin through the channels of intra-Asian trade in the last quarter of sixteenth century was 7,34,900 pardaos.26 Following the unprecedented flow of wealth to hinterland because of intensified trade, the junctional points of such trade became centres of relative power-concentration, causing several secondary and satellite power units to emerge in the hinterland as a parallel development to the formation of ‘the maritime city-states’ of Calicut and Cochin on the waterfront. The most important secondary political unit among them was Vadakkenkur with its capital at Thodupuzha, which being the heartland of pepper production was called the pepper-kingdom by the Portuguese and the Dutch.27 The ruler of Vadakkenkur with his capital at Thodupuzha, which is located about 80 km in the interior, used to receive an annual remuneration of 72,000 reais from the Portuguese for being their ally and ensuring regular supply of pepper to Cochin for their trade.28 This is also indicative of the nature of connectivity that evolved between the centres of pepper production in the interior and centres of its exchange on the sea front. The Portuguese in their attempt to integrate more and more spice-producing hinterland with their port of Cochin, used to give regular annuity of 72,000 reais to the rulers of Alengad and Diamper and 36,000 reais to two rulers of Thekkenkur principality,29 one being based at Kottayam and the other at Kanjirappally, which is located about 75 km away from Cochin. With the increase in maritime trade there was an increasing attempt from the Portuguese to integrate more and more distant spice-hinterlands with their maritime exchange centres through monetary incentives to the local rulers. The flow of bullions and later copper to the hinterland of Kerala as pepper money from the Atlantic exerted a considerable impact



on its societal, economic and cultural processes. Though gold and silver were imported initially as pepper money, the highest demand was for copper, which was imported about 4,000 quintals in the first decade and 6,000 quintals in the second decade of the sixteenth century.30 A large chunk of this imported copper was consumed in the south itself, where it was used in a big way for the manufacturing of temple bells, bronze/copper utensils like chembu, kuttakam, uruli, varpu, etc., of the aristocratic families and bhojanasalas or feeding centres of temples. Concomitant to this process was the unprecedented dissemination of the artisan groups like copper-smiths as well as bronze-smiths and their eventual transformation into castegroups in the major centres of trade and religion in Kerala during this period. Simultaneously the immense flow of wealth from maritime trade to the hinterland and the consequent monetization stimulated literary and cultural productions in an unprecedented way in the inland parts of Kerala, which are necessitated by the new forms of bhakti tradition disseminated through the Adhyatma Ramayanam of Ezhuthachan (1495-1575) 31 and Jnanapana of Poonthanam (1547-1640).32 The waves of Bhakti tradition started spreading from the low-lying paddy cultivating zones to upland regions of Kerala where spice-cultivation used to take place and where new forms of wealth started reaching from intensified spice-trade. In the 1580s about 1,70,000 cruzados used to enter the markets of Kerala annually as pepper money.33 In 1629 gold coins worth 2,884,000 reais and uncoined gold worth 15,184,000 reais, besides silver worth 29,481,000 reais reached the port of Cochin as pepper money. 34 A major share of this wealth flowed to the pepperproducing upland regions of Kerala. The mass copying, writing and circulation of the new Bhakti literature by the scribes to meet the growing needs of the expanding devotional space of Kerala involved a huge labour process that was sustained by the surplus from intensified pepper trade and spice cultivation. The immense wealth flow and the consequent monetization stimulated the process of cultural production, as required by the new wave of bhakti. The regions around the river system of Bharatapuzha, through which commodities were floated down to the coastal trading centre of


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Ponnani turned out to be core area of cultural production in Kerala, where surplus from spice production and trade went into the sustenance of this new type of devotional practice and culture that emerged by sixteenth century with the works of Ezhuthachan and Poonthanam. In the midst of these new developments the deities of upland regions like Sasthavu and Muthappan, whose sacred shrines and sites were then located in the upland regions on the periphery of the early Vaishnavite and Saivite movements, started experiencing radical transformations with new definitions and new meanings. Sasthavu, which was a deity often linked with Bodhisattva cult of Budhist tradition, was now presented as Harihara Suthan or son of Vishnu and Siva in the midst of these new bhakti developments, providing a converging point for both Saivite and Vaishnavite traditions in the spice producing upland regions, while Muthappan another deity in the uplands of northern Malabar was increasingly depicted as incarnation of Krishna.35 IV From the seventeenth century onwards, textiles formed the major cargo taken for trade from the various maritime centres of exchange, particularly with the rise of Europe as a new market for Indian textiles. Along with this, the increasing demand for textiles from South East Asia, East Africa and Saffavid Persia led to regional specialization in its production particularly in the vicinity of the ports of Bengal, Coromandel, Gujarat and Konkan, where the various European commercial companies also started setting up their trading houses. With the change in the commodity composition of maritime trade in the Indian Ocean in the seventeenth century, ‘Indian cloth started functioning as currency in Africa, a wage good in South East Asia, and a fashion article in Europe’.36 The Konkan ports which provided maritime outlets to the hinterland products of Vijayanagara and Bijapur kingdoms experienced intense trade in the sixteenth century. By 1550 the income from customs duty of Goa was 68,000 pardaos. Since the customs duty then levied was 4.5 per cent, the actual value of trade then happening in this port was around 1,511,096 pardaos.37 However, by



1571 the income from customs house of Goa was 1,18,000 pardaos, out of which tax income from textile trade in Goa was 12,110 pardaos and from silk trade was 4,200 pardaos.38 Textiles reached Goa mainly from across the ghat, particularly from Bijapuri territories as well as from the terrains of erstwhile Vijayanagara kingdom. Belgaum and Darwar were the main cotton producing enclaves in the kingdom of Bijapur.39 In 1587 Ferdinand Cron, the agent of the German business houses of the Fuggers and the Welsers, noticed about 800 to 1,000 oxen moving between Goa and the hinterland in Deccan procuring cargo.40 Through the same route a portion of the wealth derived from Goa’s maritime trade also flowed back into the hinterland either as return cargo or as bullions. Sometimes cloth was brought to Goa from Gujarati production centres for further transhipment to East Africa. In 1611 the price of the cloth item bertangi in Gujarat was 100 xerafins; but it was priced at 200 xerafins at Goa, and 620 xerafins at Menomotapa,41 which information is also indicative of the levels of profit accruing at different markets. In 1634 about 14,000 corjas (equivalent to 700 bahars or 2,80,000 pieces) of cloth that were bought at Goa for 2,64,000 xerafins were sold at 1,270,000 xerafins in Mozambique.42 This wealth was then conveniently converted into Menomotapan gold, or slaves and ivory, which the Portuguese casados brought back to Goa. These data show that the price of Indian cloth was very high in African markets, suggesting tentatively the level and degree of profit made out of this trade and the volume of wealth flow to coastal western India. The Portuguese ports of Goa, Chaul, Bassein, Diu and Daman were the main doors through which textiles from the Deccan were carried to East Africa to procure gold, slaves and ivory. In the vicinity of these maritime exchange centres of India there evolved a long chain of weaving centres supplying different varieties of cloth to meet the demand from Africa. Immediately after the Portuguese occupation of Chaul from the sultan of Ahmedanagar in 152143, attempts were made to connect the textile production in the Deccan with the trade of East Africa through this port. In 1530s it was decided that the customs duty on the various categories of cloth taken to Mozambique and Sofala should be paid at


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Chaul, where the African ivory was also to be sold in return. This was to give economic stimulus to the emerging Portuguese settlement of Chaul, which was intrinsically connected with the various weaving villages of Deccan. The connectivity with the weaving centres in the Deccan helped the Portuguese to dispatch annually two fleets from Chaul to the ports of east Africa with textiles in the second half of the sixteenth century,44 and later the number of vessels carrying textiles from Chaul to Mozambique varied between one to three.45 However, the textiles from the Konkan played only a secondary role in the textile circuit of the times, mainly because of the fact that they were often viewed as inferior to the cloth of Gujarat.46 Through the port of Chaul textiles along with steel from Deccan were also taken to Persia and Yemen by mid-seventeenth century.47 By 1610 the annual income from the customs collection of Chaul was 31,200 xerafins, which meant that the total value of its trade was about 6,92,650 xerafins.48 As the major share of its trade was textiles, a considerable chunk of this wealth coming as profit went into the hinterland from where textiles were procured. In the seventeenth century most of the ports of Konkan through which textiles were taken to overseas markets were controlled by the Portuguese, who bagged straight 4.5 per cent as customs duty. A substantial share of the profit went into the hands of a wide variety of merchants, out of whom the Portuguese casado traders stood prominent, followed by the Saraswat Brahmins of Goa, the banias of Diu and the Muslim merchants of Daman. The Bijapuris for long kept Dhabul as their main maritime trade centre, through which textiles produced in Belgaum and Kolhapur were transhipped to the markets of Saffavid Persia. In fact, the land routes from the textile production centres of Belgaum and Kolhapur to Dabhul were under the protection of the Adilshah.49 Later by the 1680s with the recurring wars between the Mughals and the Marathas to control the textile hinterland of Deccan and with the erasure of the Bijapuris from the scene, Dhabul started declining as a port and clothes from its vast feeder hinterlands began to move either to Coromandel ports, particularly after the establishment of Maratha rule in Tanjavur under Ekoji or to Surat controlled by the Mughals.50



The major maritime outlets for Gujarati textiles in the seventeenth century were Diu, Daman and Surat. In 1574 the customs houses of Diu and Daman were auctioned for an amount of 1,34,000 pardaos,51 which would mean that the actual value of trade happening in these ports was about 29,77,780 pardaos. With the increasing flow of Gujarati textiles from Daman and Diu to East Africa, where the Portuguese casado traders and banias sold them for procuring gold, ivory and slaves, the value of trade in these Gujarati ports increased in an unprecedented way. In Diu it rose to 54,27,900 xerafins in 1610, while in Daman it was 12,25,440 xerafins and in Bassein, which was one of the most active trading centres on the Konkan, it was 31,99,680 xerafins.52 Gold from Menomotapa formed the major value-intense commodity that was taken to India by these traders as return cargo.53 Vitorino Magalhães Godinho holds the view that by 1591 the gold export from Southeast African markets was about 716 kg.54 Recent studies have shown that the annual average of gold exported out of Southeast Africa was 1,000 kg around 1600, out of which 830 kg were taken to Goa.55 The trade agents and Indian brokers of the Saraswat Brahmins of Goa and the banias of Diu used to take textiles to the markets along the River Zambesi or to Sofala for retail trade. There were also traders from Diu, operating often as agents of Cambay merchants, who used to take as many as 40 dhows to Mrima coast and the various Swahili towns, where they conducted trade with the help of their African collaborators.56 In the interior markets of Africa the Indian merchants and their partners used to sell Gujarati textiles on the basis of the length of elephant tusks and invariably the ivory pieces that they brought back to coastal western India were relatively very long and of superior quality. By the end of the sixteenth century the volume of African ivory taken to India was about 40,000 to 50,000 pieces.57 Mello e Castro estimated in 1753 that textiles and other Indian wares that moved to Mozambique from Diu, Daman and Goa were worth 6,00,000 cruzados, while the Mozambican wares reaching India were of the value of 20,00,000 cruzados.58 As the investment was done in the form of commodities and the profit was to be assessed on the basis of the value of the return cargo, the profit for Indian merchants from the outcome of this African trade was around 334 per cent.59


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The Mughal port of Surat turned out to be one of the biggest outlets for the cloth produced in the hinterland of Gujarat, Deccan and northern India.60 With the Akbar’s introduction of new technologies in the manufacturing of cotton and silken cloths aimed at quality innovation, skill upgradation and making Indian pieces excel the Persian and European ones,61 there was an eventual acceleration in the process of textile production catering to the taste of the consumer classes of the Ottomans, the Saffavids and the Europeans. The foreign experts were used to teach the Indian weavers about the method of quality innovation in cloth-making, at times mixing the Iranian, European and Chinese patterns with Indian. The cities of Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Lahore and Ahmadabad became the laboratories where these technological and quality-innovating experiments were frequently done, causing them eventually to become the major pockets for craft-production.62 As per the details obtained from 1624, the Dutch used to invest about 2,46,050 florins annually for procuring various types of textiles from Surat.63 The huge investment in the textile trade of Surat by the English, the French, the Challebis linked with the Ottoman markets64 and the Yaariba merchants of Oman, who also had a fortified warehouse at Surat in 1690s,65 caused it to evolve as the chief junctional point of major commodity streams in the Indian Ocean. Bullions formed a significant component of return cargo to the ports of Gujarat. The bullions and other cargo carried by the imperial ship of Akbar in 1577 was worth the value of 6,00,000 cruzados,66 while those of Rahimi, actually belonging to Jahangir’s mother Maryamuz Zamani, was worth 1,00,000 pound.67 During the period between 1585 and 1595, which corresponds to the period immediately after Akbar’s incorporation of coastal Gujarat into Mughal economy, about 246.29 tons of silver reached the mint of Ahmedabad, which rose to 290.72 tons of silver during the period between 1596 and 1605.68 This is also reflective of the value of import trade of Gujarat. The intensification of maritime trade in textiles along coastal western India was followed by the extension of weaving activities to new geographies and the consequent intensification of cotton cultivation in the immediate neighbourhood of these maritime enclaves. The inventories of some 121 deceased people of Otto-



man Damascus for the period between 1686 and 1717, shows that out of 27,313 piatsers of textiles obtained from the various shops of Damascus about 2,092 piasters of textiles were of Indian origin. In the recent study of Colette Establet,69 it becomes clear that the oft repeated categories of cloth in these inventories were alaja70 (including Bairoch alaja and alaja from Dah-l),71 atlas, 72 sûsî, 73 daraya,74 betilles,75 bindal 76 and yamani (including Bairoch yamani ),77 which in turn also throw light on the different geographies of specialized textile production in India from where these goods moved to the Ottoman market of Damascus. The textile hinterland extended from the interior of Punjab to Karnataka on the west and from Bengal to Tamil Nadu on the east. The proliferation of weaving activities to the interior of India coincided with the expansion of cotton cultivation to larger areas like Berar, Darwar, Belgaum, southern Maharashtra, Aurangabad, Burhanpur, Gujarat, Lahore, Multan, Ajmer, Allahabad and Awadh on the west.78 The stimulation in maritime trade followed by intensification of weaving activities acted as magnets that attracted more and more labourers from the country side to the new types of occupations related to the cotton processing, weaving and dyeing activities, besides causing some to switch over to the cultivation of cotton. In the seventeenth century as the overseas trade from many of the ports from Konkan and Gujarat were carried out by Indian merchants after paying the customs duty of roughly 4.5 per cent to early colonial powers, these merchants and their partners used to directly procure textiles and other cargo from the hinterland for their overseas commerce, which in turn helped to augment the intensity of hinterland—coast connectivity. V Nagapattinam, Mylapore, Pulicat and Masulipatnam were the principal textile ports of Coromandel.79 In the sixteenth century, the Portuguese casado traders used to take textiles from these ports to Southeast Asia on a regular basis to procure spices, particularly cloves, mace and nutmeg which they in turn supplied to Lisbonbound vessels of the Portuguese crown. Initially the Chetty


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merchants from Pulicat, who had to face tough competition from the Gujarati traders bringing cloth from Cambay and Chaul, used to pump Melaka with textiles.80 In 1514 the value of textile trade between Coromandel and Melakka was 100,000 cruzados81 and this as per the value of the early seventeenth century meant tentatively about two million yards of cloth.82 The large volume of trade in textiles went hand in hand with intensified process of textile manufacturing in the neighbourhood of these ports. This led to unlocking of labour and consequent migration of artisans from the environs of temples, where cloth manufacturing used to take place earlier, to coastal enclaves of the merchants in the vicinity of the major maritime trading centres.83 Thanks to these new developments by 1600 about 4,10,000 pieces of textiles worth the value of 4,30,000 Spanish dollars were taken from the ports of Coromandel to Southeast Asia.84 The flow of textiles to Southeast Asia increased to 17,60,000 pieces by 1641, whose value was around 17,60,000 Spanish dollars. 85 The large flow of cotton cloth to Southeast Asia further accelerated demand for more textiles, which acting as magnets attracted the artisans to move more and more from the inland regions towards the coast in the vicinity of the ports like Nagapattinam, Porto Novo, Devanampattinam, Kunimedu, Mylapore and Pulicat. Recent studies have shown that by sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 80 per cent of the weaving centres were in the immediate neighbourhoods of major ports of Coromandel.86 The growth of textile trade through Masulipatnam coincides with the consolidation of political power of the Qutb Shahis and the subsequent integration of eastern Deccan with the maritime economy. In the beginning of seventeenth century, textiles and other cargo from northern Coromandel moved to Mocha, Achin, Arakan, Pegu and Tennasserim.87 The entry of the various European commercial companies and the trade connectivity with Saffavid Persia, particularly after the fall of Portuguese Hormuz in 1622, raised the demand for painted chintz from Masulipatnam in a big way. By 1682, the English exported about 4,579,000 yards and the Dutch 4,844,500 yards of textiles from Masulipatnam.88 The fact that some traders of Masulipatnam came from such distant places like Sayamapeente (about 208 miles away in the interior),



Nagulavancha (located about 117 miles away from the port) and Wentapalem (distant by about 104 miles)89 shows the intensity of connectivity between the port and the economy of distant hinterlands. In interior places like Nagulavancha, out of 690 households, 170 households were involved in weaving and related activities, while 130 households were engaged in trade, which together formed 43 per cent of the total households.90 Eventually the Banjaras, who seem to have entered Deccan in a big way with the army of Shah Jahan in 1630 as carriers of provisions, used to take cotton from distant cotton growing enclaves in the Deccan to the weaving centres along the coast and in return they carried salt back into the interior, a process which intensively activated the market mechanisms of the hinterland.91 Bengal having the specialization for producing luxury cotton, silk and mixed cloth produced fabrics more for the luxury markets of Europe than for the Indian Ocean societies that mostly needed low-cost fabrics. Sonargaon in Dhaka produced the best quality muslins. The 1580s onwards, the good quality muslins like khasas and malmals, besides silks, were sent frequently from Bengal ports to Europe via overland route or Cape route.92 With the increase in European demand for Bengal fabrics, there was intense proliferation of weaving activities in Bengal with a large number of looms for manufacturing silk and muslin textiles. By late seventeenth century the textile trade of Bengal provided jobs for about 100,000 people in the manufacturing sector.93 In one of the weaving enclaves like Radhanagar alone there were 5,000 looms producing silk and mixed textiles with an annual output of 2,40,000 pieces that fetched a total amount of 15 lakh rupees at an average price of 6¼ rupees per piece.94 With the increase in maritime trade and subsequent demand for weaving activities, there was an extension of cotton cultivation in the neighbouring areas like Orissa and Patna.95 VI The stimulation in maritime trade along coastal India caused different forms of mercantile organizations and community-based commercial activities to evolve in the principal hubs of trade both


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on the coast and in the interior. A large number of traders with better organizational capabilities for long distance trade and wider networks in the Indian Ocean as well as in the interior like the Saraswat Brahmins of Goa, the Muslim merchants of Daman and Surat, the Kaphol banias from Diu, Chetties and Komatis from Coromandel, besides the Indo-Portuguese and some of the European private traders began to emerge as merchant capitalists.96 From the beginning of seventeenth century on, the Saraswat Brahmins began to emerge as traders, bankers and revenue farmers in Goa.97 Mangoji Sinay from Salcete took up the right of customs collection on tobacco, silk and cotton being brought to the city,98 while Vitula Naique was the rendeiro for the collection of customs duty charged at Passo de Santiago,99 which was the main ford between Goa and the mainland. He also was one of the prominent suppliers of saltpetre to the Portuguese. Krishna Sinay and Nana Chati were other prominent rendeiros or tax-farmers in the city of Goa in the 1640s who were also the leading bankers of the city.100 Meanwhile many traders from different cultures started settling down in the city, diluting the Portuguese element in the city. We also find Nana Sinay conducting trade and banking business in the city of Goa as a commercial representative of Gema Bhai Vena operating from Sanguiser near Bombay. Nana Sinay took up the contract to collect customs duties on coral brought to the city in 1655. 101 By the 1750s the traders from the Saraswat Brahmin business families, like the Mhamais, Kushta Sinai Dhempe, Govind Sinai Navelkar, Shaba Sinai, Anta Sinai and Rama Pai, who were involved in transoceanic trade with Brazil, Mozambique and Macao, emerged as merchant capitalists in Goa, where later its capital Panjim was built with the wealth obtained as customs duties from these merchants.102 The Saraswat traders used to do their business mainly as joint stock companies such as Bulla Nayyak, Vitoba Nayyak and Upea Suba. They also had individual firms like that of Mhamai Kamat. 103 The huge demand for Brazilian tobacco in India made the private traders of Goa frequent Bahia (in Brazil) with Indian wares, including textiles from Kolhapur, Dharwar and Belgaum, Chinese silk obtained from Macao, saltpetre and dia-



monds. In return, tobacco from Brazil was brought to India, where it was widely used for chewing, smoking and sniffing. The concept of joint stock companies of Indian merchants for the smooth management of trade probably emerged for the first time in northern Coromandel in the second half of the seventeenth century. It was the Dutch who promoted this idea and the association of merchants of Pulicat was eventually made to become a joint-stock company during the time between 1665-80. The Dutch soon spread this concept to Masulipatnam, Palikollu, Draksharama, as well as Rajamundry, located in the Godaveri delta.104 In Masulipatnam there were four joint-stock companies, in which 58 local merchants took shares worth the value of 300 pagodas per share and invested 21,300 pagodas for conducting trade.105 The mercantile associations and the locally organized joint-stock companies minimized the power of the producer to decide on the price and quality of his produce.106 This model of organizing local merchants into joint stock company was also introduced in Madras by the English, though it later ended up in failure, because of disunity of the merchant community.107 During this period there was a move in Coromandel towards ‘gradual subjection of producer by the merchant capitalist’, as Kanakalatha Mukund argues.108 In 1680 even the Portuguese too worked out an idea of forming a joint-stock company of the banias in Diu for conducting trade with East Africa. Since the Gujarati textiles formed an essential and vital commodity for exchanges in Africa, viceroy Conde de Alvor permitted mahajan (the assembly of bania traders) of Diu in 1686 to form a joint-stock company (known as Companhia de Comercio dos Mazanes) for the purpose of conducting trade with East Africa.This bania company was allowed to send two or three vessels annually to Mombasa and Melinde from Diu. However, in return, the banias were required to give money to the Portuguese to meet their expenses of wars with the Omanis, which the Portuguese then repeatedly waged along the coast of Konkan and East Africa. Though the monopoly of the Mazanes Association was temporarily suspended in 1693, in 1701 it was again revived by incorporating the mercantile wealth and personnel from Diu, Surat and Cambay.109 The commercial company of the banias and the


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individual merchants from this community began to invest huge capital in East Africa. During the time span between 1723 and 1730 the Portuguese owed an amount of 2,40,000 cruzados to four principal Indian traders and this formed 83 per cent of the total public debt of the Portuguese in Mozambique. Between 1745 and 1754 the debt of the Junta de Comercio of Mozambique to the banias stood between 3,00,000 to 3,75,000 cruzados, suggesting the amount and degree of dependence that the Portuguese activities of Mozambique had on the Indian mercantile capital. Meanwhile, during the same period the customs duty paid in Mozambique by the banias of Diu and Daman for the textiles from Cambay and the return cargo of ivory, slaves and gold rose to 78,000 cruzados.110 Meanwhile the Muslim traders of Daman like Baxira Mucali also pumped Indian mercantile capital to Mozambique in a big way in 1720s. 111 There may be dozens of other trading groups like the Komatis, the Chuliyas and the Chetties of Coromandel, the Tamil Pattars, the Jews, the St. Thomas Christians of Kerala (Thachil Mathu Tharakan being the prominent one among them in the eighteenth century), the Parsis, the Armenians and the Bohras in Mughal terrains who emerged as merchant magnates at different time periods, thanks to their participation in intensified transmarine commerce. However, the saga of success of these merchants or their mercantile organizations as well as institutions had only a short life-span because of the monopolistic commercial goals of early colonial powers.112 These traders were not merely merchant capitalists in the sense the term was often used, but ‘collaborative merchant capitalists’, whose economic stature actually depended on their ability to present themselves acceptable and receptive before the early colonial masters and to collaborate with them in their economic and political projects. The early colonial powers saw to it that the banking and commercial activities of the banias in Southeast Africa, or their various supportive merchant groups in India always depended on the political capital, which was compelled to be expanded along with the expansion of commercial and credit capital for their early colonial enterprises.113



VII The maritime circuits in the Indian Ocean played a considerable role in shaping the nature of agricultural activities and the pattern of land-utilization in early modern India, consequent to which the rural landscape of India began to change considerably. There was an increasing preference for cash crops and as we had seen earlier in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries cotton was planted wherever it grew as it fetched more profit than food crops. The first ring of geography in the immediate neighbourhood of maritime centres of exchange had the immense pressure to move towards cotton cultivation in the seventeenth century. Even places like Goa which are not conducive for cotton cultivation, also became laboratories for testing the feasibility of cultivating cotton. Due to the high demand for cotton in international markets, cotton saplings were repeatedly planted at different sites in Goa during the period between 1776 and 1794, although the venture was not profitable.114 An ‘American crop’ that reached India through maritime channels and changed the agrarian scenario of its interior regions was tobacco. It is said to have been introduced in India in the second half of the sixteenth century by a Jesuit priest Luis de Gões, who was the brother of Pero de Gões, donatory of the captaincy of Paraiba do Sul in Brazil.115 Very soon the consumption culture of tobacco spread to different parts of India, following which it was cultivated in various regions in the vicinity of its major ports. Moreland refers to the availability of tobacco leaves in Gujarat in 1613.116 In 1620 tobacco was exported from Masulipatnam to Mocha and Arakan.117 Francois Bernier refers to the dealers of tobacco in Bengal during the mid-seventeenth century.118 In the early decades of seventeenth century, Surat-Broach area in Gujarat and Masulipatnam and its hinterland emerged as the principal specialized regions for the cultivation of tobacco.119 With the widespread culture of tobacco consumption in India for chewing, smoking and sniffing, the cultivation of tobacco was promoted by the local rulers as a wealth generating mechanism from the second half of the seventeenth century onwards and its cultivation was quickly extended to Bijapur, Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Gujarat and south India.120 Even in Kerala, its cultivation was extended by the Dutch, consequent to which


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Muttam near Chertalai and Kururnadu near Ernakulam became the major centres of tobacco cultivation promoted by the king of Cochin. It was the Saraswat Brahmin merchants like Perimbala, Wittula Nayak, Wittula Kamat who took up king’s tobacco farming in these places in the second half of the seventeenth century.121 In 1671, returns from the tobacco cultivation of the king was said to have been the most important source of income for the king of Cochin, which eventually increased by banning others from its cultivation.122 The other plants and crops from America like potato, tomato, chilli, papaya, pineapple, peanuts, cashew-nuts which eventually transformed the dietary habits of the subcontinent, also reached India through maritime channels.123 They were initially cultivated in the neighbouring enclaves of European settlements on the coast, from where they were eventually taken to the interior parts of India both through the trails of Christian missionaries and traders. In course of time the demand for these ‘American’ crops rose so high that their cultivation got quickly extended to the countryside, following which the agrarian landscape of India began to get remarkably changed by the beginning of nineteenth century. Now no Indian can think of a food item without potato or chilli or tomato. Meanwhile, there was also a considerable increase in the cultivation of food crops on the west coast, following the rising demand for rice in West Asia and East Africa. The Jaariba traders from Oman made agreement with the Ikkeri ruler, Somasekhara Nayak I (1663-71), for regularly taking rice and food materials from the ports of Honawar, Barçelor and Mangalore.124 When the Mysorean ruler Chikkadevaraja (1672-1704) occupied these rice ports on the Canara coast, the Omanis started supplying horses to him in return for the rice and other food materials that they took from there for their trade in the food-deficient zones of Arabia and East Africa.125 The food tradition of bread (pão) and cakes, besides a variety of culinary culture, that reached India through maritime circuits spread along the length and breadth of the country. The food tradition of vada-pão which is very strong in Maharashtra and the Konkan is suggestive of the merging of the European food culture with Indian



food tradition; but the major ingredient is potato that reached India from America, as in the case of the samosa of north India. Similarly the Portuguese loan words like mesa (table), cadeira (chair), janela (window), toalha (towel), mestre or mestri (master), leilão or lelam (auction), cinzel or chinter (angling rod, chisel), batalhão or pattalam (regiment), chave or chavi (key), cozinha or kusini (kitchen), etc.,126 which are seen in most of Indian languages, reached the interior parts of India through the networks of maritime-inland connectivities realized through the various groups of traders and the Christian missionaries, who actually introduced many of such things over there for the first time. VIII Another impact of Indian Ocean trade on India was connected with the large inflow of slaves from Africa, who, besides supporting the economic activities of various parts of India, eventually formed a substantial ethnic group in Gujarat, Mahrashtra and Karnataka. East Africa and North-east Africa formed the major source for bonded labour in India for a long period of time. A considerable part of the African slaves brought by the Portuguese and their commercial collaborators to India were absorbed in many of their enclaves, particularly Goa, where there was a slave market. African slaves were used in the region between Chaul and Daman (often known as Provincia do Norte) as a labour force for cultivating the plots of land that the Portuguese casados and petty officials received from the crown in return for their military service in India.127 However, a large number of the African slaves, whom the Portuguese traders brought to their ports, were further taken to the interior territories of the Mughals, and the Deccani kingdoms. Indian traders used to purchase African slaves also from Mocha, Jedda and Muscat, where they were supplied by the Omanis through their commercial bases in East Africa.128 They were differently known as Siddis or the Habshis, with one segment (Siddis) concentrating on the maritime zones of Gujarat and Konkan to participate in sea-related activities, while the other (often known as Habshis) focussing on Ahmednagar and its vicinity. There were about 5,000 Habshis


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living in the sultanate’s capital at Ahmednagar during the time of Bahadur Khan (1526-37), some of whom were later absorbed into military service. Eventually some of these Habshis were elevated to higher positions, among whom Malik Ambar, the virtual ruler of Ahmednagar (1600-26) stands prominent.129 The chief of the Siddis of Janjira was made the admiral of Bijapuri fleet and later on the erasure of Biapur kingdom he was appointed as the admiral of the Mughal fleet for the purpose of protecting commerce at Surat.130 With the intensification of maritime trade and the consequent increase in secondary production more and more in the interior, the junctional points of major trade routes acquired characteristics of urbanity, where circuits of Sufis and Bhakti movements also used to converge. The merchants, weavers, artisans and craftsmen of these emerging towns of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries found their social position relatively improving with the intensification of production and maritime exchange and with the sizeably significant amount of wealth reaching them as wages. They needed an ideology that would recognize their new social position and assert and legitimize the culture of work, which they happily found in Sufism and Bhakti movements that was spreading to different parts of India in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By challenging the Brahminical social order that despised human labour, these heterodox movements made themselves exceptionally acceptable to the various craft-groups and merchants linked with the trade circuits, who in turn sustained the diverse programmes of these religious movements that predominantly addressed their spiritual, social and psychological issues and concerns.131 The itinerant weavers, artisans and craftsmen who went from town to town carrying the new religious values and culture of bhakti in north India, were also carriers of the newly-emerging urban culture and technological knowledge as well as devices that used to ease the hardship and boredom of textile weaving.132 Most of the bhakti saints who challenged the ritualism and fossilized traditions of Brahminical religion and its overarching control lived in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and this fact shows that the wealth coming through multiple channels of trade during this period had in fact given the various social groups attached to



bhakti movements the required power and ability to raise their voices of dissent and live their religion in the way they wanted. The bhakti traditions and the religious reorientations of the Nirguna bhakti saint Kabir (c.1440-1518), the Telugu Vaishnavite saint Vallabacharya (c.1479-1531), the Bengali Vaishnavite saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (c.1486-1534), the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak (1469-1539), the author of Ramacharitmanasa Tulsidas (sixteenth century) and the Gujarati saint Dadu Dayal (1544-1603) were sustained principally either by the artisans and craftsmen then living in the emerging towns or by those who got new wealth through the activation of trading activities whose channels finally merged into Indian Ocean circuits.133 The evolving multi-layered changes of the period generated new types of perceptions about the changing world within which individuals were then frequently shaped and re-shaped as well as about themselves and the translations of these perceptions to bhakti domain made the saints look at the changing self and the world vis-à-vis the changeless Being by analysing aspects of commonality and difference. The result was evolution of philosophical thinking that helped to rationalize the emotionality of bhakti as in the case of Shuddhadvaita (pure non-dualism),134 Achintya Bheda Abheda (inconceivable oneness and difference),135 Vishishtadvaita (qualified non-dualism)136 and Dvaitadvaita (duality in unity),137 which ultimately contributed to the formulation of a world-view that underlined the perception that the (changing) world is as real as the individual is and that realization of God can be achieved only by being in the (changing) world, which (despite changes) is also the body or part of God as the individual self is.138 This philosophical trajectory, which originated in various religious-cum-spiritual enclaves lying closer to the major centres of Indian Ocean trade, marks a progress towards recognizing the worth of the changing world and obviously the value of human pursuits as well as involvements in the world, which is a clear break from the old understanding dominated by Sankara’s Kevaladvaita (absolute monism) perception, which being developed in the age of feudalization, viewed world as illusory, temporary and relatively unreal, demanding detachment of soul from matter.139


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The above discussion shows that there was an unprecedented concentration of wealth in most of the maritime trade centres of India because of the intensification of overseas commerce during the period between fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. However, the monopolistic commercial goals of the early colonial powers, which controlled the trade of most of these maritime enclaves and appropriated a major chunk of its profit, did not allow the remaining profit to evenly reach the various Indian economic players involved in production and exchange processes. Depending on the degree of involvement of these economic players in the overseas trade of the early colonial powers, the remaining profit was shared and distributed among them rather unevenly through diverse means, so that a hierarchy of beneficiaries suiting their agenda might operate for them. In places like Goa, Bassein, Daman and Diu, the mainstream maritime trade of the Portuguese declined in the seventeenth century with the advent of the Dutch and the English and in this gap the big Indian merchants like the Saraswat Brahmins, Daman Muslims, and banias emerged to manage the networking between production centres of inland India and the overseas markets; however, they had to pay the required amount of customs duty to the Portuguese. In such places, as the sharing of profit with the Portuguese was relatively less when compared to the Dutch and English enclaves, there was an inordinate concentration of wealth in the hands of these Indian merchants, causing them to evolve as merchant capitalists or better ‘collaborative merchant capitalists’ in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These merchant magnates invested their profit for further productive ventures both in India and East Africa. In India it was used mainly for procuring large bulk of textiles from the interior weaving villages for East African trade at times competing with the merchants of Surat, a process that intensified the weaving process in the hinterland, which in turn necessitated the expansion of cotton cultivation to more and more areas from Punjab to Karnataka. This led to a process of circulation of wealth from maritime fringes to the interior, a part of which through different recycling processes later reached either the coffers of the state or the religious-cum-social



institutions and movements. In East Africa it was invested in the multiple ventures of the Portuguese or for procuring gold, ivory and slaves, which had high demand in the various markets of Red Sea, Persian Gulf and the Mughals. However, in places like Kerala, Coromandel and Bengal, where the mainstream maritime trade was conducted by the Dutch, or the English or the French, the Indian traders had only a secondary role to play. The merchants who formed joint-stock companies or the individual merchants in the Coromandel stood mostly as a bridge between the producer and the company, which actually did the large bulk of overseas commerce. Though some of the traders of Coromandel and Bengal were involved in commercial activities with Saffavid Persia and Southeast Asia, they formed only an insignificant strand, when compared with the large bulk of trade of the commercial companies. The early colonial powers who took into their hands by force the major share of overseas trade of Coromandel and Bengal also appropriated the largest chunk of profit out of it. The chances of Indian merchants in Coromandel for wealth accumulation often rested in their ability to reduce the power of the producer to dictate the price and quality of the produce and their emergence to merchant capitalists happened at the cost of the producer, who was invariably given low wages. The increase in maritime trade in spices in the sixteenth century accelerated the production process in the interior of Kerala almost 600 per cent, causing many power edifices to emerge at the junctional points of inland trade routes and sustaining the Bhakti movement that entered spice producing upland regions through the devotional works of Ezhuthachan and Poonthanam. The bhakti tradition, particularly Vaishnavism, that appeared in other parts of the subcontinent during this period and the ideologies that sustained the culture of devotion started projecting the changing world to be as real as the individual is, obviously recognizing the worth of the changing world and the value of human pursuits as well as involvements in the world, which in turn is being elevated to the position of ‘the body or part of God’ as the individual self is. With the emergence of textiles as the single largest commodity that was taken for overseas trade in the seventeenth century, there happened a chain of changes that affected greatly the society and


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economy of early modern India. On the one hand the increasing trade in textiles intensified weaving activities across the length and breadth of the subcontinent, causing eventually expansion of cotton cultivation to new geographies. This was followed by the introduction of new plants and crops in India from South America through trails of Portuguese traders and missionaries. The cultivation of such crops like potato, tomato, chilli, peanuts, etc., eventually got proliferated all over India changing its agrarian landscape and later by nineteenth century these American crops evolved as major sustaining pillars of the agrarian economy and dietary system of India. Concomitant to it was the exchange of information about health care, medical practices, new technologies of warfare and economic institutions. The convergence of commodity circuits at the nodal centres of maritime India did not stop at the coastal rim at all; instead they used to go on circulating within terrestrial India as well, breaking the walls of isolation of regions and emitting forces for economically linking otherwise scattered geographies within the subcontinent. The tracks of military expeditions of the period and trails of the traders, weavers, missionaries, sufis and bhakti saints, which at times surprisingly converged at different intersecting points, were also the channels of commodity and wealth movements between coast and hinterland. Circuits of goods went hand in hand with circuits of new crops, people and ideas from the maritime to the inland on an onward cycle and vice versa on a reverse cycle. These circuits, despite the manoeuvrings of early colonial powers, created interconnectedness between the various regions within the subcontinent, emitting forces and dynamics for a larger cohesion as well as integration and causing shared traditions of production and culture of work to evolve among them. The cumulative benefits of these developments finally merged into the larger processes that helped to usher in an almost pan-Indian atmosphere, intensifying the consciousness and experience of ‘early modernity’ in India. X The contributors of this volume, who hail from different disciplinary and sub-disciplinary backgrounds and have been working



for years on the various trajectories of connectedness, make attempts to look at the meanings of early modernity of India within the complex web of activities connected directly or indirectly with the circulatory processes in the Indian Ocean. One of the questions that have dominated studies on the character of early modernity in India is the nature and forms of circulatory processes in the Indian Ocean and their impact on the socio-economic processes in India. Edward A. Alpers focuses on the interconnectedness between Africa and India and analyses the geographies, where ‘Africa and Africans were an important presence in India’, besides highlighting the meanings of Indian textile trade in Africa. As it is a theme that has been less studied, this article gives a new dimension to the understanding of the political processes of early modern India and the meanings of circulatory processes in the Indian Ocean. Archisman Chaudhuri and Byapti Sur reflect on the way how trade emitted forces for urbanization and political formulations in early modern India, despite the difference in the geography and approaches they have taken in their studies. Archisman Chaudhuri looks at aspects of wealth flow, urbanity and political economy of Deccan in general and Golconda in particular, while Byapti Sur focusing on Bengal examines the broader socio-economic processes within which the various Bengal towns got shaped and reshaped over time and occupied changing positions in the urban hierarchy. Sher Banu A.L. Khan’s study opens up new possibilities for historians of early modern India by showing the vast range of connectedness in the domain of trade, religion and literary cultures between Aceh and India. Her contribution shows that the movement and connectedness of commodities, ideas, cultural practices and historiographical traditions between these two regions were complimented by equally frequent scholar movements, as well. Pratyay Nath dwells upon the changing nature of warfare in early modern South Asia, particularly with the introduction of gunpowder weaponry in the region. He also argues about the emergence of a thriving labour market of firearm-equipped mercenaries and says that the nature of warfare resorted to in different regions of the subcontinent during this period depended upon the physical geography, geopolitical considerations, societal forces, cultural practices and financial factors. Corinna Forberg looks into


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the way Indian miniatures taken to Europe during this period captivated the attention of European artists and examines the multiple modes by which the early modern rulers of India were imagined and represented in contemporary European paintings and book-illustrations giving new interpretations and contextualization. She also highlights the meanings of naturalism that appeared in the Netherlands and Mughal India within whose frames these miniatures and paintings took shape. Manya Rathore looks at the Mughals as a ‘sea conscious empire’ and tries to examine the role that Indian Ocean played in shaping the foreign politics of the Mughals. She draws also on the Mughal politics of Hajj and shows how the Mughals, by accessing sea lanes and trading networks going to Hajj, handled the ‘thorny political problem between different Islamic empires and the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean’. Binu John Mailaparambil while tracing the meanings of piracy in coastal India looks into the historical processes that shaped the social world of pirates in maritime societies. Besides sketching the socially and politically mutinous image of the pirate, he argues that ‘Malabar pirates’ should not be viewed only as a representative case of a ‘traditional’ and ‘static’ pre-colonial Oriental identity; instead they embody the dynamics of pre-colonial South Asian political economy. Murari Jha’s contribution is particularly significant for the way he locates the labour process and issues of the weavers in the highly dynamic sector of textile manufacturing in Bengal and Gujarat. He also tries to see the growing integration of the textile producing regions into the orbit of Indian Ocean trade and the globalizing world economy. Colette Establet-Vernin focuses on the nature of trade on Indian textiles with the Ottoman markets, which she does by analysing the corpus of Damascene inventories and pilgrim records. Examining the names of the various textiles figuring in the Damascene inventories of 1700, she speaks of the Indian penetration into the domestic textile world of Damascus. Umesh Ashokrao Kadam concentrates on the meanings of FrenchMaratha relationship during the time when the Maratha rule had turned out to be a confederacy under the Peshwas. He also shows the exigencies which compelled the Marathas and the French to go for political re-building by trying to keep Nizam Ali and Tipu



as allies and the English as the common enemy. Luis Henrique Menezes Fernandes and Stefan Halikowski Smith demonstrate the larger Catholic-Calvinist polemics against which the first systematic translation of the Bible into Portuguese language in the East by a Portuguese Calvinist gain significance. They argue that the biblical translation goes beyond its biographical and typographical content and should be viewed as a part of his religious and polemical attacks on the contemporary Catholic Portuguese society. Chander Shekhar’s essay analyses the Persian literary treatise on sword making and throws light into the aspects of their quality, effectiveness and demand in the war-markets. The formulation of a distinctive and separate literary genre for treating the aspects of weapon-manufacturing and their sophisticated uses are to be viewed against the background of larger interconnectedness, which is evident in the reference to Iranian links and the use of European words. The contribution of Martha Chaiklin, which views that ‘early modern India was literally built on the back of elephants’, gives us a sense of the range of issues that should be addressed while examining the meanings of early modernity in India. She highlights the colonial policies regarding elephants and argues that it was through the labour of the elephants that India was transformed from the crumbled remnants of the Mughal empire to a colonial Imperial state. Though this volume does not claim to cover all the issues, themes and aspects that are to be examined as to get a holistic view of the meanings of ‘early modernity in India’, the topics which this academic endeavour addresses help to approach the question with a difference. The satisfaction with which this volume is presented before the larger academic audience does not come from the type of answers that we manage to provide to the questions, but from the type of potentials that this compendium gives in raising queries about the nature and consciousness of early modernity in India.


Pius Malekandathil NOTES

1. For a discussion on the theme for the period before 1500 see Ranabir Chakravarti, Trade and Traders in Early Indian Society, New Delhi, 2007. For a discussion on the long-term changes from a different perspective see Rajat Datta (ed.), Rethinking a Millennium: Perspectives on Indian History from the Eighth to the Eighteenth Century, New Delhi, 2008. For discussions on the social formation of the anterior period, see Harbans Mukhia (ed.), The Feudalism Debate, New Delhi, 1999. 2. Jan de Vries, European Urbanization, 1500-1800, Cambridge, Mass., 1984; Jan. de Vries, ‘The Industrial Revolution and the Industrious Revolution’, Journal of Economic History, 54, 1994, pp. 249-70; Jan de Vries and Ad van der Woude, The First Modern Economy: Success, Failure and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500-1815, Cambridge, 1997; Michael Walter Flinn, The European Demographic System, 1500-1820, Baltimore, 1981; Myron P. Gutmann, Toward the Modern Economy: Early Industry in Europe, 15001800, Philadelphia, 1988; Peter Kriedte, Peasants, Landlords, and Merchant Capitalists: Europe and the World Economy, 1500-1800, tr. V.R. Bergahn. Leamington Spa, 1983; Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, The Territory of the Historian, tr. Ben Reynolds and Sian Reynolds. Chicago, 1979; Geoffrey Parker, The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West 1500-1800, Cambridge, 1988; Edward Anthony Wrigley, People, Cities and Wealth: The Transformation of Traditional Society, Oxford, 1987; Jonathan Dewald, ‘The Early Modern Period’, in Guido Ruggeiro (ed.), Encyclopaedia of European Social History, New York, 2000, pp. 165-77; Kathleen Davis, ‘Timelines: Feudalism, Secularity and Early Modernity’, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, vol. 38, no. 1, 2015, pp. 69-83. 3. Jan de Vries, ‘The Limits of Globalization in the Early Modern World’. Economic History Review , vol. 63, no. 3, 2010, pp. 710-33. 4. Jack A. Goldstone, ‘The Problem of the “Early Modern” World’, The Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 41, no. 3, Leiden, 1998, pp. 252-3. According to Karl Marx ‘history represented progression of modes of production’, initially from slave to feudal and then to capitalist. However, in each stage one could see the emergence of a particular class as the dominant one. The passage and transition from one stage to another is marked by ‘violent expropriation’ through war or revolution. 5. Jack A. Goldstone, ‘The Problem of the “Early Modern” World’, p. 253. 6. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Connected Histories: Notes towards a Reconfiguration of Early Modern Asia’, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 31, no. 3, 1997, pp. 737-8. See also Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Hearing Voices: Vignettes


7. 8.



11. 12. 13.


of Early Modernity in South Asia, 1400-1750’, Daedalus, vol. 127, no. 3, September 1998, pp. 75-104. Jan de Vries, ‘The Limits of Globalization in the Early Modern World’, Economic History Review , vol. 63, no. 3, 2010, pp. 710-33. The information about the trading activities of these Jews is obtained from the letters preserved in Cairo Geniza. In fact, Geniza is a place where discarded writings on which the name of God was written and deposited in order to preserve them from desecration. Most of the papers of the Cairo Geniza were preserved in a room adjacent to the synagogue of Cairo. See S.D. Goitein, Letters of Medieval Jewish Traders, Princeton, 1973; idem, A Mediterranean Society, 4 vols., Los Angeles and Berkeley, 1967-84; idem, Jews and Arabs: Their Contacts through the Ages, New York, 1964. See also Ranabir Chakravarti (co-editor), Indo-Judaic Studies in the Twenty First Century: A View from the Margins, New York, 2007. Elizabeth Lambourn, ‘India from Aden: Khutba and Muslim Urban Networks in Late Thirteenth Century India’, in Kenneth R. Hall (ed.), Secondary Cities and Urban Networking in the Indian Ocean Realm, c.14001800, New York, 2008, pp. 60-90. For details on Al-Karimi merchants, see Walter J. Fischel, ‘The Spice Trade in Mamluke Egypt’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. I, Leiden, 1958, p. 165; Eliyahu Ashtor, ‘The Venetian Supremacy in Levantine Trade: Monopoly of Pre-colonialism’, Journal of European Economic History, vol. III, Rome, 1974, p. 27; Genevieve Bouchon, ‘Calicut at the Turn of the Sixteenth Century’, in The Asian Seas 1550-1800: Local Societies, European Expansion and the Portuguese, Revista de Cultura, vol. I, 1987, p. 42; Pius Malekandathil, Maritime India: Trade, Religion and Polity in the Indian Ocean, New Delhi, 2013, pp. 132-4. Pius Malekandathil, Maritime India: Trade, Religion and Polity in the Indian Ocean, pp. 115-16. Pius Malekandathil, The Mughals, the Portuguese and the Indian Ocean: Changing Imageries of Maritime India, New Delhi, 2013, pp. 125-6. This is the figure for 1501. See for details ‘The Anonymous Narrative’, in William Brooks Greenlee (ed.), The Voyage of Pedro Alvarez Cabral to Brazil and India, London, 1938, p. 86; Luis de Albuquerque (ed.), Cronica do Descobrimento e conquista da India pelos Portugueses: codice anonimo Museu Britanico, Egerton 20901, Coimbra, 1974, p. 25; Marino Sanuto, I Diarii di Marino Sanuto: 1496-1533, ed. G. Berchet, R. Fulin, N. Barrozi, F. Steffani and M. Allegri, vol. IV, Venice, 1879, cols. 66-7; Rinaldo Fulin, Diarii e diaristi Veneziani, Venice, 1881, pp. 157-64; Wilhelm von Heyd, Histoire du commerce du Levant au Moyen Age, vol. II, Leipzig, 1886, p. 512.


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14. Vicenzo Quirini, ‘Relazione delle Indie Orientali di Vicenzo Quirini nel 1506’, in E. Alberi (ed.), Le Relazione degli Ambasciatori Veneti al Senato, vol. XV, Firenze, 1863, p. 12. 15. The price of pepper per quintal in Malabar was 2.66 cruzados, whereas the price for the same weight of pepper in Lisbon was 22 cruzados. For details see Pius Malekandathil, Portuguese Cochin and the Maritime Trade of India:1500-1663 (A Volume in the South Asian Study Series of Heidelberg University, Germany), New Delhi, 2001, p. 285.. 16. Pius Malekandathil, Portuguese Cochin and the Maritime Trade of India:15001663, pp. 167, 179, 266. 17. Pius Malekandathil, Maritime India, pp. 112-16. . 18. One bhar was equivalent to 166.83 kg. 19. Marino Sanuto, I Diarii di Marino Sanuto, tom. IV, p. 544; tom. XVII, p. 191; tom. XXVII, p. 641; Pius Malekandathil, Portuguese Cochin and the Maritime Trade of India, pp. 166-7; K.S. Mathew, Portuguese Trade with India in the Sixteenth Century, pp. 114-29. Though the Portuguese got only 52, 459 kg of pepper in 1502, the export to Europe increased to 944,262 kg of pepper in 1503. Later with the localization of Portuguese power in Cochin in 1505, the export of pepper and ginger to Europe began to shoot up: in 1505 the export was 154,120 kg of pepper and 23,607 kg of ginger; however in 1513 the pepper export was 1,050,250 kg and ginger export was 210,200 kg. In 1517 about 2,309,875 kg of pepper and 129,574 kg of ginger went to Europe. 20. This percentage-wise estimate is made on the basis of the information given in a document written in the second decade of the sixteenth century. As per this document the total production of pepper was estimated to be about 16,000 bhars (one bhar is equivalent to 166. 83 kg), i.e. 26, 69,280 kg. Out of this 2500 bhars (4,17,075 kg) were consumed domestically. About 3000 bhars (5,00,490 kg) were taken to Coromandel ports through the ghat-route. About 600 bhars (1,00,098 kg) went to Diu by sea for further distribution in Gujarat and Persian Gulf areas. About 9,900 bhars (16,51,617 kg) went to Europe, Hormuz, the Red sea and the ports of Bengal. Raymundo Antonio de Bulhão Pato, Cartas de Affonso de Albuquerque, tom. IV, pp. 174-6; M.N. Pearson, Coastal Western India: Studies from the Portuguese Records, New Delhi, 1981, pp. 27-32. The percentage calculation of European trade is done on the basis of the average annual export to Lisbon from Cochin. For details see Pius Malekandathil, ‘The Mercantile Networks and the International Trade of Cochin’, in Ernst van Veen and L. Blusse (eds.), Rivalry and Conflict: European Traders and Asian Trading Networks, Leiden: Leiden University, 2006, p. 146.



21. See the letter of Fernand Cron, sent from Cochin, dated 26 December 1587, Fürstlich und Gräflich Fuggersches Familien und Stiftungs Archiv, Dillingen Donau, MSS. Cod. no. 46, I, fols. 50-1v; Pius Malekandathil, The Germans, the Portuguese and India, Münster, 1999. 22. Pius Malekandathil, ‘The Mercantile Networks and the International Trade of Cochin’, in Ernst van Veen and L. Blusse (eds.), Rivalry and Conflict: European Traders and Asian Trading Networks, pp. 154-5. 23. The report of Francisco da Costa, ‘Relatorio sobre o Trato da Pimenta’, in Antonio da Silva Rego (ed.), Documentação Ultramarina Portuguesa, vol. III, Lisboa, 1963, pp. 315, 351. 24. Pius Malekandathil, Portuguese Cochin and the Maritime Trade of India:15001663, pp. 202-3. 25. The letter of Fernand Cron, sent from Cochin , dated 26 December 1587, Fürstlich und Gräflich Fuggersches Familien und Stiftungs Archiv, Dillingen Donau, MSS. Cod. no. 46, I, fols. 50-1v. 26. BNL, Fundo Geral, Codice No. 1980, ‘Livro das Despezas de hum porcento’, Taboada Section, fols. 5-16. As per the information from 1605, the king of Cochin used to earn about 60,000 pardaos annually as customs duty from the private traders. BNL, Cod. 11410, fol. 116v; Antonio da Silva Rego (ed.) Documentação Ultramarina Portuguesa, vol. III, 1963, p. 314. 27. Antonio Antonio da Silva Rego (ed.) Documentação Ultramarina Portuguesa, vol. III, 1963, p. 310; Vitorino Magalhães Godinho,Les Finances de l’état Portugais des Indes Orientales (1517-1635): Materiaux pour une Etude Structuralle et Conjoncturelle, Paris, 1982, p. 306; Diogo do Couto, Decada XII, Lisboa, 1778, p. 286. 28. Francisco da Costa, in Antonio da Silva Rego (ed.), Documentação Ultramarina Portuguesa, p. 310. 29. Simão Botelho, ‘Tombo do Estado da India (1554)’, in R.J. de Lima Felner (ed.), Subsidios para a Historia da India Portugueza, Lisboa, 1868, p. 25; Panduronga S.S. Pissurlencar, Regimentos das Fortalezas da India, pp. 21719; Antonio Antonio da Silva Rego (ed.), Documentação Ultramarina Portuguesa, vol. III, p. 310; Vitorino Magalhães Godinho,Les Finances de l’état Portugais des Indes Orientales (1517-1635) , pp. 306-8. 30. ANTT, Corpo Cronologico , I, Maço 12, doc. 77; Hermann Kellenbenz, Die Fugger in Spanien und Portugal bis 1560, vol. I, p. 53. After 1570s following the copper crisis in Europe, it was from China and later from Japan that copper reached Cochin and Goa. BNL, Fundo Geral, Cod. 11410, fols. 123-4; Boletim da Ultramarina Portuguesa, no. 2, p. 298. 31. See V. Nagam Aiya, Travancore State Manual, vol. II, Trivandrum, 1940, pp. 430-1.


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32. See Gopi Kottoor, Poonthanam’s Hymns: The Fountain of God, Calcutta, 2002. 33. Reinhard Hilder Brandt, Die ‘Georg Fuggerischen Erben’, appendix, pp. 191-6; M.A.H. Fitzler, ‘Der Anteil der deutschen an der Kolonial politik Philipps II von Spanien in Asien’, Vierteljahrschrift für Social und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, vol. 28, 1935, pp. 243-81. 34. For details see A.R. Disney, Twilight of the Pepper Empire: Portuguese Trade in Southwest India in the Early Seventeenth Century, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 104-5, 164. 35. The sacred shrines of Sasthavu are even now known not as temples but as kavus, despite the passage of long span of time since this transformation process. 36. Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy, ‘Introduction: The World of South Asian Textiles, 1500-1850’, in Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy (eds.), How India Clothed the World, Leiden, 2009, p. 10. 37. Simão Botelho, ‘O Tombo do Estado’, pp. 48-9. 38. Artur Teodoro de Matos, O Orçamento do Estado da India, 1571, Lisboa, 1999, pp. 57-60. 39. Vijaya Ramaswamy, Textiles and Weavers in Medieval South India , Delhi, 1985, p. 6. 40. Fürstlich und Gräflich Fuggersches Familien und Stiftungs Archiv, Dillingen Donau, MSS Codex no. 46. 1, fols. 50-1v. 41. Manuel Lobato, ‘Relações entre India e a costa Africana nos seculos XVI e XVII’, O Papel do Guzerate no Comercio de Moçambique’, in Teotonio R de Souza and Charles Borges (eds.), Portuguese India and its Northern Province (Actas do VII Seminario Internacional de Historia Indo-Portuguesa), Mare Liberum, Numero 9, Julho 1995, Lisboa, 1995, p.170. 42. Kartikeya Kohli, ‘Falsifying Gold: Trade and Trade Strategy in Portuguese Southeast Africa in the Seventeenth Century’, in João Paulo Oliveira e Costa and Vitor Luis Gaspar Rodrigues (eds.), O Estado da India e os Desafios Europeus, Actas do XII Seminario Internacional de Historia Indo-Portuguesa, Lisboa, 2010, p. 57. 43. Gaspar Correia, Lendas da India, tol. II, pp. 659-61; J. Gerson da Cunha, Notes on the History and Antiquities of Chaul and Bassein, Bombay, 1876, pp. 3, 60-5. 44. Lobato ‘ Relações entre India e a costa Africana nos seculos XVIe-XVII’, p. 162. 45. R.J. Barendse, The Arabian Seas: The Indian Ocean World of the Seventeenth Century, New Delhi, 2002, p. 347. 46. João Manuel de Almeida Teles e Cunha, Economia de um Imperio: Economia



48. 49. 50. 51.


53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58.



politica do Estado da India em torno do mar arabico e golfo Persico, Elementos Conjunturais: 1595-1635, Mestrado Dissertation submitted to the Faculdade de Ciencias Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 1995, p. 215. AHU, Caixa da India, Caixa 18, doc. 44, 19 November 1646; R.J. Barendse, The Arabian Seas: The Indian Ocean World of the Seventeenth Century, New Delhi, 2002, p. 59. João Manuel de Almeida Teles e Cunha, Economia de um Imperio, p. 215. R.J. Barendse, The Arabian Seas: The Indian Ocean World of the Seventeenth Century, p. 58. Ibid. It was in 1675 that Ekoji , the half brother of Shivaji, became the ruler of Tanjavur , where he laid the foundation for Maratha rule. Jean Aubin, ‘Le Oraçamento do Estado da India de Antonio de Abreu (1574)’, Studia, no. 4, Lisboa, 1959, pp. 179-80. In 1592 the income from the customs duty of Diu was 103,000 pardaos, which makes us estimate the value of its trade at 2,28,600 pardaos. Artur Teodoro de Matos (ed.), O Tombo de Diu 1592, Lisboa, 1998, p. 31. The value of trade of these three ports are determined on the basis of customs duty collected from them in 1610. The income from Diu was 2, 44,500 xerafins, while that of Daman was 55, 200 xerafins and of Bassein was 1,44,000 xerafins. For details see João Manuel de Almeida Teles e Cunha, Economia de um Imperio, p. 215. In 1634 the value of trade of Chaul was 11,91,851 xerafins (customs duty collected here was 53,687 xerafins), of Daman was 11,88,125 xerafins (53,519 xerafins was the customs duty collected from here) and of Bassein was 27,18,815 xerafins (1,22,469 xerafins was the customs duty). Ibid., p. 362. Artur Teodoro de Matos (ed.), O Tombo de Diu, 1592, Lisboa, 1999, pp. 79, 85-6. Vitorino Magalhães Godinho, Os Descobrimentos e a Economia Mundial, vol. I, p. 207. Kartikeya Kohli, ‘Falsifying Gold: Trade and Trade Strategy in Portuguese Southeast Africa in the Seventeenth Century’, p. 54. Ibid., p. 339. Manuel Lobato ‘Relações entre India e a costa Africana nos seculos XVIeXVII’, p. 168. A. Rita-Ferreira, ‘Moçambique e os Naturais da India Portuguesa’, in Luis de Albuquerque and Inacio Guerreiro (eds.), II Seminario Internacional de Historia Indo-Portuguesa-Actas, Lisboa, 1985, p. 621. Pius Malekandathil, The Mughals, the Portuguese and the Indian Ocean: Changing Imageries of Maritime India, New Delhi, 2013, p. 132.


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60. See Ashin Das Gupta, Indian Merchants and the Decline of Surat 17001750, Wiesbaden, 1979. 61. Irfan Habib, ‘Akbar and Technology’, in Irfan Habib (ed.), Akbar and His India, New Delhi, 2005, p. 132. 62. See ibid., pp. 132-3. 63. Om Prakash (tr.), The Dutch Factories in India, 1624-7: A Collection of Dutch East India Company Documents Pertaining to India, New Delhi, 2007, pp. 108-11. 64. Ashin Das Gupta, Decline of Surat, p. 77. 65. R.J. Barendse, The Arabian Seas, p. 17. R.J. Barendse argues that the Omanis even threatened to attack Surat in 1696 for the rights to fortify their factory. The administration of these fortified establishments of India was carried out by officials appointed by the governor of Muscat. Ibid. Ashin Das Gupta refers to the tumults that the Omani fleet caused in Surat in 1694. He also mentions a fight that was waged between the local soldiers and Muscati forces in 1699. Ashin Das Gupta, Indian Merchants and the Decline of Surat, p. 71, n. 2. See also Pius Malekandathil, ‘From Slumber to Assertion: Maritime Expansion of the Ibadis of Oman and the Responses of Estado da India, 1622-1720’, in Michaela Hoffmann-Ruf and Abdulrahman al Salimi (ed.), Oman and Overseas, Zürich/New York, 2013, pp. 203-16. 66. Diogo do Couto, Da Asia dos feitos que os Portuguezes fizeram na Conquista e Descobrimento das Terras e Mares do Oriente, Decada X, pp. 300-4. 67. William Foster (ed.), Early Travels in India, 1583-1619, Oxford, 1921, pp. 191-2, 203. When Jahangir heard about the capture of the ship Rahimi by the Portuguese , he got highly angry about it and even thought of capturing Daman and closing the Jesuit church of Agra. 68. Shireen Moosvi, People, Taxation and Trade in Mughal India, New Delhi, 2008, p. 46; Irfan Habib, ‘The Currency of the Mughal Empire (15561707)’, Medieval India Quarterly, vol. IV, nos. 1-2, pp. 4-10. 69. See the paper presented by Colette Establet, ‘The Place of Textiles in Damascene Houses and Shops in and around 1700’, a paper presented in the XIII International Seminar on Indo-Portuguese History: The Mediterranean as a Pathway to India (Skills, Memory, Imagination, Networks), Aix-enProvence, 23-7 March 2010. For the synoptic details see the Souvenir of the seminar, pp. 51-2. 70. Alaja written differently as alleja, alchah, alajah or alachah was a silk cloth with the length of five yards and is believed to have been introduced by the Mughals in Agra. Some of the fancy cotton goods from the western Punjab were also known as lacha (alacha). A.C. Burnell and William Crooke (eds.),









Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive, New Delhi, 1995, p. 13. Ain-i Akbari refers to Alchah as a corded stuff. See Abul-Fazl Allami, The Ain-i Akbari, tr. H. Blochmann, vol. I, New Delhi, 2006, p. 97. Bairoch alaja refers to the cloth from the city of Broach in Gujarat and Dah-l alaja is suggestive of the fact that it was from Dhabul. At the period of composition of this inventory in Damascus, the word alaja seems to have been used in Gujarat to refer to silk or mixed cotton and silk, as is evident in the account of John Freyer (1673), who calls it alajah or cuttanee . John Freyer, A New Account of East India and Persia being Nine Years’ Travels, 1672-81, ed. William Crooke, vol. II, New Delhi, 1992, p. 113. Cuttanee is either silk or mixed silk and cotton. See A.C. Burnell and William Crooke (ed.), Hobson-Jobson, p. 289. Atlas is an Arabic word that stands for a species of Indian satin. Surat was an important port on the west coast of India from where atlases were exported on a large scale during this period. J. Ovington, A Voyage to Surat in the Year 1689, edited by H.G. Rawlinson, New Delhi, 1994, p. 131; Alexander Hamilton, A New Account of the East-Indies being the Observations and Remarks of Alexander Hamilton from the Years 1688 to 1723, vol. I, New Delhi, 1995, p. 160. Sûsî was a fine-coloured silk cloth made chiefly at Battala and Sialkote and in 1690s Ovington writes that there was a great amount of trade traffic happening from Surat on ‘sooseys’. A.C. Burnell and William Crooke (eds.), Hobson-Jobson, pp. 854-5; J. Ovington, A Voyage to Surat in the Year 1689, p. 131. Daraya (written differently as doriya or doriyah), which initially seems to have been a cotton fabric ; but was later manufactured in silk or silk and cotton combinations. A.C. Burnell and William Crooke (eds.), HobsonJobson, p. 325. In 1590s Ain-i Akbari calls it dârâî, which was very light and pretty, besides being rain-proof. Abul-Fazl Allami, The Ain-i Akbari, vol. I, p. 96. Betilles (written differently as beteela, beatelle, beatilha and byatilhas) stood for a kind of Indian muslin obtained from Bengal and Masulipatnam, 75 from where they seem to have moved to the shops of Damascus. Ovington writes in 1720s that the terrain of the Sundas (Sondes near Goa) produced the finest variety of betilles. Bindal seems to have been a corruption of the word bandanna that stood for the silk variety obtained chiefly from Pulicat and Gujarat A.C. Burnell and William Crooke(ed.), Hobson-Jobson, p. 57.


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77. The word yamani figuring in the inventory of Damascus seems to refer to the muslin variety called jamdani and Bairoch yamani obviously refers to the jamdani muslin from Broach. A.C. Burnell and William Crooke (eds.), Hobson-Jobson, p. 90; Hamilton, A New Account of the East-Indies, vol. I, p. 264. 78. Valentine Ball (ed.), Tavernier’s Travels in India, 1640-1676, vol. I, New Delhi 2007, pp. 42-3; Irfan Habib, The Agrarian System of Mughal India, 1556-1707, New Delhi, 1999, pp. 43-4 n. 45. 79. John H.van Linschoten, The Voyage of John Huyghen van linschten to the East Indies: From the Old English Translation of 1598, ed. Arthur Coke Burnell and P. A. Tiele, London, 1885, vol. I, p. 91. 80. S. Jeyaseela Stephen, Expanding Portuguese Empire and the Tamil Economy (Sixteenth-Eighteenth Centuries), New Delhi, 2009, p. 160. 81. Letter of Rui de Brito dated 6 January 1514 in Ramos Coelho (ed.), Alguns Documentos da Torre do Tombo, acerca das navegações e conquistas Portuguezas, Lisbon, 1892, p. 347. 82. Joseph Jerome Brenning says that the price of a yard of cloth in Pulicat in the beginning of the seventeenth century was .05 cruzados and if we go by this price data with 1,00,000 cruzados, one could buy about 2 million yards of cloth. For details on the price of cloth see Joseph Jerome Brenning, ‘The Textile Trade of Seventeenth Century Northern Coromandel: A Study of a Pre-Modern Asian Export Industry’, Ph.D. thesis submitted to the University of Wisconsin, 1975, pp. 8-9. 83. Vijaya Ramaswamy, Textiles and Weavers in Medieval South India , Delhi, 1985. 84. Anthony Reid, Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce, c. 1450-1680, vol. II, New Haven, 1993, pp. 27-31; Anthony Reid, ‘Southeast Asian Consumption of Indian and British Cotton Cloth, 1600-1850’, in Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy (eds.), How India Clothed the World , p. 35. 85. Anthony Reid, ‘Southeast Asian Consumption of Indian and British Cotton Cloth, 1600-1850’, in Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy (eds.), How India Clothed the World , pp. 35-6. 86. See Vijaya Ramaswamy, Textiles and Weavers, p. 7; S. Jeyaseela Stephen, Expanding Portuguese Empire, p. 159. 87. Joseph Jerome Brenning, ‘The Textile Trade of Seventeenth Century Northern Coromandel: A Study of a Pre-Modern Asian Export Industry’, Ph.D. thesis submitted to the University of Wisconsin, 1975, p. 20. 88. Ibid., pp. 44-5. 89. Ibid., p. 142.



90. Ibid., p. 148. 91. Ibid., pp. 232-8. 92. Niels Steensgaard, Carracks, Caravans and Companies: The Structural Crisis in the European-Asian Trade in the Early Seventeenth Century, Kopenhaven, 1973, p. 166; Om Prakash, The Dutch East India Company and the Economy of Bengal, 1630-1720, Princeton, 1985, pp. 183-6; Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Cochin in Decline: 1600-50: Myth and Manipulation in Estado da India’, in Roderich Ptak (ed.), Portuguese Asia: Aspects in History and Economic History , Stuttgart, 1987, p. 65. 93. Om Prakash, The Dutch East India Company and the Economy of Bengal, 1630-1720, Princeton, 1985. 94. Om Prakash, ‘From Market-determined to Coercion-based Textile Manufacturing in Eighteenth Century Bengal’, in Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy (ed.), How India Clothed the World, p. 240. 95. Irfan Habib, The Agrarian System of Mughal India, 1556-1707, pp. 43-4 n. 45. 96. Merchant capitalist here means a social agent who uses whole or a part of the accumulated capital for the generation of not of ‘use-values’ but of ‘exchange values’. 97. M.N. Pearson, Coastal Western India, pp. 97-111. 98. Mangoji Sinay was also a rendeiro of tobacco, silk and cotton during this period. HAG, Conselho da Fazenda, Mss. 1163, fol. 19v; Mss. 1164, fol. 62v; M.N. Pearson, Coastal Western India, p. 101. 99. To know more about the diverse types of commercial activities of Vitula Naique see HAG, Conselho da Fazenda, Mss. 1161, fols. 88-9, Mss. 1162, fol. 144; See also Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Merchants, Markets and the State in Early Modern India, Delhi, 1990, pp. 87-100. 100. ANTT, Junta da Real Fazenda do Estado da India, Lo.6, Petição 12 November 1654; Ibid., Provisão 15, ec.1654; Ibid., Provisão 29 December 1657. M.N. Pearson gives a long list of Saraswat Brahmins who held different types of the rendas. For details see M.N. Pearson, Coastal Western India, p. 101. 101. HAG, 656, Livro das arrematações das rendas. 102. Celsa Pinto, Trade and Finance in Portuguese India. A Study of the Portuguese Country Trade, 1770-1840, New Delhi, 1994, pp. 60-73. The shifting of capital to Panjim happened in 1843. 103. R.J. Barendse, Arabian Seas, 1700-63, vol. IV: Europe in Asia, Leiden, 2009, pp. 1469-70. 104. Ibid., pp. 97-8, 105.


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105. Ibid., p.100. There were about 26 merchants in the joint-stock company of Palikollu, where the share price was 250 pagodas and the total investment was 21,300 pagodas. 106. Ibid., p. 104. 107. Ibid., pp.106-21. 108. Kanakalatha Mukund, The Trading World of the Tamil Merchant: Evolution of Merchant Capitalism in the Coromandel, Hyderabad, 1999, p. 169. 109. Luis Frederico Dias Antunes and Manuel Lobato, ‘Moçambique’, in Maria de Jesus dos Martires Lopes (ed.), O Imperio Oriental, 1660-1820, vol. V, tomo 2, Lisboa, 2006, p. 101; Manuel Lobato, ‘Os Regimes de Comercio externo en Moçambique nos seculos XVI e XVII’ in Portugal e o Oriente: Passado e Presente, Revista Povos e Culturas, Lisboa, 1996, pp. 309-10; R.J. Barendse, The Arabian Seas, p. 333; E.A. Alpers, ‘Gujarat and the Trade of East Africa’, International Journal of African Historical Studies, vol. 9, 1,1976, pp. 38-41; Luis Frederico Dias Antunes, ‘ A Crise do Estado da India no final do seculo XVII e criação das Companhias de Comercio das Indias Orientais e dos Baneanes de Diu’ , in Mare Liberum, Numero 9, 1995, pp. 19-29. 110. Ibid., pp. 317-18. 111. Luis Frederico Dias Antunes and Manuel Lobato, ‘Moçambique’, p. 316. 112. See also Irfan Habib, ‘Potentialities of Capitalistic Development in the Economy of Mughal India’, Journal of Economic History, vol. 29, I, 1969, pp. 32-78. 113. Pius Malekandathil, The Mughals, the Portuguese and the Indian Ocean, p. 135. 114. Remy Dias, ‘Socio-Economic History of Goa with Special Reference to the Communidade System, 1750-1910’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis submitted to Goa University, 2004, pp. 212-42. 115. Philomena Sequeira Antony, The Goa-Bahia Intra-Colonial Relations, 1675-1825, Tellicherry, 2004, p. 228. For early use of tobacco in Mughal court see Irfan Habib, The Agrarian System of Mughal India, 1556-1707, p. 50. 116. W.H. Moreland, India at the Death of Akbar, Delhi, 1962, p. 148. 117. Joseph Jerome Brenning, The Textile Trade of Seventeenth Century Northern Coromandel, p. 20. 118. Francois Bernier, Travels in the Mogul Empire, p. 441. 119. B.G. Gokhale, ‘Tobacco in Seventeenth Century India’, Agricultural History Society, vol. 48, no. 4, October 1974, p. 485. 120. Ibid., pp. 484-92.



121. Hugo K.S. Jacob, The Rajas of Cochin, 1663-1720:Kings, Chiefs and the Dutch East India Company, New Delhi, 2000, pp. 64, 90, p. 171. 122. Ibid., pp. 129, 166, 171. 123. Jose E. Mendes Ferrão, A Aventura das Plantas e os Descobrimentos Portugueses, Lisboa, 1994. 124. João Teles e Cunha, ‘Economia e Finanças’, in Maria de Jesus dos Martires Lopes (ed.), Nova Historia da Expansão Portuguesa: O Imperio Oriental, 1660-1820, tomo I , 2006, Lisboa , pp. 280-1. 125. Binu M. John, ‘The VOC and the Prospects of Trade between Cannanore and Mysore in the late Seventeenth Century’, in K.S.Mathew and Joy Varkey (eds.), Winds of Spices: Essays on Portuguese Establishments in Medieval India with Special Reference to Cannanore, Tellicherry, 2006, pp. 210, 212; Pius Malekandathil, ‘From Slumber to Assertion: Maritime Expansion of the Ibadis of Oman and the Responses of Estado da India, 16221720’, in Michaela Hoffmann-Ruf and Abdulrahman al Salimi (ed.), Oman and Overseas, New York, 2013, pp. 203-16, see especially p. 209. 126. P.M. Thomas, ‘Linguistic Indebtedness of Hindi to Portuguese Language and Portuguese Scholars (A Study based on Portuguese Loan words in Hindi and ‘Grammatica Indostana)’, in K.S.Mathew, Teotonio R de Souza and Pius Malekandathil (eds.),The Portuguese and the Socio-Cultural Changes in India, 1500-1800, Fundação Oriente, Lisbon/IRISH, Tellicherry, 2001, pp. 19-25. 127. The slaves were very often brought from East Africa by the traders of Chaul, Daman and Diu. See also Jeanette Pinto, ‘ The Decline of Slavery in Portuguese India with Special Reference to the North’, in Mare Liberum, Numero 9, Julho 1995, p. 236. 128. Pius Malekandathil, ‘From Slumber to Assertion’, pp. 209-12. 129. See the article of Edward Alpers, ‘African Slaves in the Making of Early Modern India’ given in this volume. 130. A.R. Kulkarni, The Marathas (1600-1848), p. 41; Ashin Das Gupta, Indian Merchants and the Decline of Surat, c.1700-1750, pp. 26, 97 n. 1, pp. 159-60, 260, Shanti Sadiq Ali, The African Dispersal in the Deccan: from Medieval to Modern Times, New Delhi, 1996. 131. This is evident in the metaphors and similes that the saints were then using. Kabir increasingly used metaphors and similes from weaving in his verses. Irfan Habib also discusses the issue of artisan participation in the Bhakti movements of north India from a different perspective. Irfan Habib, ‘The Historical Background of the Popular Monotheistic Movements of the Fifteenth-seventeenth Centuries’, in Bisheshwar Prasad







Pius Malekandathil (ed.), Ideas in History, Bombay, 1969, pp. 6-13; See also Satish Chandra, Essays on Medieval Indian History, Delhi, 2009, pp. 295-300. A large number of towns like Jaunpur, Gwalior, Mandu, Burhanpur, Varanasi, Ludhiana, Panipat, Ahmedabad, etc., experienced this process. Kabir whose initial profession was weaving spent a great amount of time in the weaver’s town of Benares, addressing the spiritual and societal issues of urban city-dwellers through his poetical pieces. Dadu who was born of a cotton-carder at Ahmedabad in 1544 kept small towns like Kalyanpur, Kevalpur, etc., as his main centres of activities. Winand M. Callewaert, ‘Dadu and Dadu-Panth: The Sources’, in Karine Schomer and W.H. McLeod (eds.), The Saints: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India, Delhi, 1988, pp. 33-6, 67-72. Pius Malekandathil, ‘Medieval Cities: Theoretical Perceptions and Meanings’, in Yogesh Sharma and Pius Malekandathil (ed.), Cities in Medieval India, New Delhi, 2014, p. 10. See for details J.S.Grewal (ed.), Religious Movements and Institutions in Medieval India (History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization), vol. VII, pt. 2, New Delhi, 2006; Shahabuddin Iraqi, Bhakti Movement in Medieval India, Delhi, 2009; Karine Schomer and W.H. McLeod (ed.), The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India, Delhi, 1987; David. N. Lorenzen (ed.), Religious Change and Cultural Domination, Mexico, 1981; Vijaya Ramaswamy, Devotion and Dissent in Indian History, New Delhi, 2014. Shuddhadvaita (pure monism) connected with the bhakti school of Vallabhacharya looks at the universe and the individual soul as part and parcel of Brahma (the ultimate Being) and emphasizes aspects of unity and non-difference. In pure form Brahma exists both as creator and the created and there is no difference between the two and hence it is called pure non-dualism Achintya Bheda Abheda (inconceivable oneness and difference) of Gaudiya Vaishnavism of Chaitanya argues that quality-wise the soul (jiva) is identical with God, but quantity-wise the individual jivas are infinitesimal when compared with the unlimited supreme Being (Krishna). However, the exact nature of this relationship of being simultaneously one and different with Krishna is intellectually inconceivable. It can be experienced only through bhakti. Vishishtadvaita (qualified non-dualism) of Ramanuja school combines Advaita (monism) with vishesha (attributes) and holds the view that the Lord (Narayana) has two inseparable prakaras or modes, namely world and soul, which are related to the Lord as body is related to soul. The



world and soul inhere in Narayana as attributes in a substance and they have no existence apart from Him. The world and soul constitute the body of the Lord. 137. Dvaitadvaita (Duality in unity) espoused by Nimbarka holds the view that there are three categories of existence, viz., cit (soul), acit (matter) and God (Isvara). As far as the attributes and the capacities are concerned, cit and acit are different from Isvara, who is independent and exists by Himself. But cit and acit cannot exist independent of Him. As they have an existence dependent on Him, they are not different from Him. 138. For details on the philosophical traditions see P.T. Raju, The Philosophical Traditions of India, Delhi, 1992. 139. For details on Sankara’s philosophy see Eliot Deutsch and J.A.B. van Buitenen, A Source Book of Advaita Vedanta, Honolulu, 1971; Hirst J.G. Suthren, Sankara’s Advaita Vedanta: A Way of Teaching, Routledge, 2005.


Africa and Africans in the Making of Early Modern India EDWARD A. ALPERS

Gwyn Campbell, Director of the Indian Ocean World Centre at McGill University in Montréal, Québec, Canada, argues persuasively that Africa must be regarded as an integral component of the Indian Ocean World global economy.1 In making his case he vigorously distances himself from the dismissive attitude of Kirti Chaudhuri, who says relatively little about Africa in his seminal Trade and Civilisation in the Indian Ocean: An Economic History from the Rise of Islam to 1750 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985) and explicitly excludes it from his later Asia before Europe: Economy and Civilisation of the Indian Ocean from the Rise of Islam to 1750 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990). It is therefore most welcome that in a volume devoted to the place of the Indian Ocean in the making of early modern India, the editor has decided to include a chapter on Africa. In fact, Africa and India, especially western India, have a long tradition of ‘connected histories’, to use Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s felicitous construction.2 In this modest contribution I propose to focus on the presence of Africans in India and the trade in textiles from India to Africa during the period under consideration as a means to understand the contribution of Africans and Africa to the early modern history of India. India and Africa were linked by circulatory processes of exchange long before the early modern period. To take only one very early example, Indian spices were traded to Roman Egypt through the Red Sea port of Berenike, where the largest archaeological single


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find of Malabar pepper was excavated.3 In the medieval period, Indian textiles were traded to the important Swahili city-states of eastern Africa in exchange for gold and ivory. In the fourteenth century the intrepid Moroccan traveller and jurist, Ibn Battuta, travelled extensively in India. Near the great fortress city of Gwalior, in modern Madhya Pradesh, Ibn Battuta described the small town of Alabur, the governor of which ‘was the Abyssinian Badr, a slave of the sultan’s, a man whose bravery passed into a proverb. He was continually making raids on the infidels alone and single handed, killing and taking captive, so that his fame spread far and wide and the infidels were in fear of him.’4 Later, when he embarked from the Bay of Khambhat bound for Malabar, the ship on which he sailed was accompanied by a roofed galley, ‘which had a complement of fifty rowers and fifty Abyssinian men-at-arms. These latter are the guarantors of safety on the Indian Ocean; let there be but one of them on a ship and it will be avoided by the Indian pirates and idolaters’.5 Finally, at the great port of Calicut, which was the principal entrepôt for Chinese merchants in India, he noted that when the factor of one of the huge Chinese merchant vessels went on shore, ‘he is preceded by archers and Abyssinians with javelins, swords, drums, trumpets and bugles’.6 In short, wherever Ibn Battuta travelled in India, he encountered Abyssinians, whether slave or free, serving as valued military personnel on both land and sea. Elsewhere in medieval Muslim India, African military slaves were present in both the Delhi and Bahmani sultanates, where they often played an important role in palace intrigues by siding with one faction or another. As early as the first half of the thirteenth century, notable Africans appear occasionally in the early history of the Delhi sultanate. A century later the overextended Delhi sultanate began to break up and by the mid-fifteenth century independent sultanates were established across northern and central India. Africans played important roles in all of these new states. In Bengal an Abyssinian dynasty ruled briefly from 1487 into 1493.7 In the Bahmani state of the Deccan, Habshis—the generic name for enslaved and freed Africans from northeast Africa—and Muwallads— the offspring of African fathers and Indian mothers—tended to

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side with their Deccani hosts against outside claimants to leadership. One visible sign of African presence in the Bahmani sultanate is the Habshi Kot (Abyssinian fort) at Bidar, where a number of important African figures from this period are buried.8 The presence of African soldiers and political elites was not, however, confined to the medieval period. Conditions of conflict in both India and Africa combined to create a demand for military slaves in Gujarat and a ready supply of captives in warfare in Northeast Africa. Northeast Africa had long been a source of supply of bonded labour for India, but in the sixteenth century the outbreak of intense warfare between Christian Abyssinia, with its Portuguese allies, and Muslim Adal, supported by the Ottoman Empire, yielded thousands of captives who were shipped off to Arabia and India. The spark for this conflict was the decision by the Abyssinian ruler, Lebna Dengel (r. 1508-40) to strike a decisive blow against Adal after decades of alternating fighting and trade. At the same time in Adal there emerged a radical party to challenge the ruling Walasma dynasty, which shared many economic interests with the Solomonic rulers of Abyssinia. In 1527 a jihad was declared under the leadership of Ahmed Guray; two years later his army crushed the Abyssinians at the Battle of Shembera Kure, to the east of modern Addis Ababa, and Lebna Dengel was driven into monastic exile. In subsequent years, Ahmed Guray’s armies swept across the Ethiopian highlands every dry season. Finally, with battlefield support provided by a Portuguese force led by Cristovão da Gama, in February 1543 the army of Emperor Galawdewos (r. 1540-59) defeated the Muslim army and killed Ahmed Guray at Wayna Daga, east of Lake Tana.9 Irrespective of whichever side had captured its opponents in battle, the sultanate of Gujarat was the major consumer of these soldiers. In the sixteenth century, the rulers of the sultanate of Gujarat found themselves challenged on land by the expanding Mughal empire and on the coast by the Portuguese. Maintenance of a powerful army was absolutely essential to the survival of the state and soldiers were recruited from wherever able-bodied men were available. During the reign of Bahadur Khan (1526-37), a population of some 5,000 Habshis inhabited the sultanate’s capital


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at Ahmedabad. While not all of these individuals would have been soldiers, indeed some were probably captured women, such a great concentration almost certainly reflects the consequences of the Muslim victory at Shembera Kure in 1527.10 Bahadur’s successor, Mahmud Khan (1537-54) is also reported to have had a retinue of Habshi servants and appointed several Habshi slave soldiers to high office.11 As is fairly well known, Habshi military slaves and high officials became especially prominent in the Deccan during the early modern period. As Sunni Muslims, Habshis were natural allies of Deccani Muslims against Shi’a Muslim mercenaries who were infiltrating the kingdom from the north. Habshis were centrally involved in court intrigues following the collapse of the Bahmani kingdom and its replacement by several new, independent kingdoms. They were especially important in the sixteenth-century kingdoms of Ahmednagar, Bijapur and Golconda. By the last quarter of the sixteenth-century competition for political dominance in Ahmednagar had become fierce between the Deccanis, who included Habshis among their ranks, and the Afaqis, who were mainly immigrants from Persia and the Arab world. One of these Habshis was involved in the chaotic political aftermath of the assassination of Sultan Murtaza Nizam Shah I in 1588 and his son Sultan Miran Husain Nizam Shah II a year later. Led by a millenarian figure named Jamal Khan, who was a follower of the Mahdawi movement, the Deccanis seized power and reduced the latest ruler, Ismail Nizam Shah, to a puppet. According to Abdullâh Muhammad al-Makki, author of the Arabic History of Gujarat, who claims he was a witness to these events, military support by Habshi military slaves was critical to Jamal Khan’s victory. ‘They were Malek Farh"ad Kh"an, Shamshir Kh" an, Abnak Kh" an, Shuj"a ‘at Kh" an, Jah" a ngir Kh"an, Habash Kh"an, Dil"awar Kh"an. They were all habshis and their chief was Farh"ad Kh"an. They were ten thousand horses in strength.’ This writer notes further that the ‘pomp and glory of the habshis got strengthened’.12 Farhad Khan was appointed chief minister (peshwa) by Jamal Khan, but two years later Jamal Khan was removed from power and the puppet monarch replaced by his father, Burhan Nizam Shah II (r. 1591-5). During what became a

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bitter struggle against the Portuguese at Chaul, Farhad Khan was dispatched as head of some 4,000 reinforcements to relieve a fort Burhan Nizam Shah had ordered to be built overlooking Chaul. In the final battle in September 1594 the Portuguese decimated the Ahmednagar forces, killing as many as 12,000 men. Among the captives taken by the Portuguese was Farhad Khan, who was ultimately converted to Christianity and taken to Portugal.13 The most famous of these influential Habshi figures in the political history of the Deccan was Malik Ambar, who was wazir and the virtual ruler of Ahmednagar from 1600 to 1626.14 Probably born in southern Ethiopia and bearing the name Chapu, he was enslaved, driven to the coast, and transported to Mocha. From there he was sold in Baghdad to an insightful merchant who recognized Chapu’s intelligence, had him educated, converted to Islam, and renamed him Ambar, the Arabic word for ambergris and a characteristic slave name. His value undoubtedly enhanced, in the early 1570s his owner sold him to Chengiz Khan, himself a Habshi and former slave who was by then peshwa of the sultanate of Ahmednagar, one of the Bahmani successor-states. Over the next quarter century Malik Ambar rose to prominence as a military leader and savvy political operator, working tirelessly to beat back the encroachment of the Mughal empire under his contemporary Akbar the Great (r. 1556-1605) into the territory of the Nizam Shahi rulers of Ahmednagar. Having arranged a marriage between his own daughter and his favoured youthful claimant to the Nizam Shahi throne, Malik Ambar’s army defeated an invading Mughal force in 1601 and secured the throne for the chosen heir, Murtaza Nizam Shah II. As regent and prime minister Malik Ambar rearranged the kingdom’s revenue system, organized the army to defend against the Mughals, founded a new capital city at Khirki (later Aurangabad) in 1610, and ordered the construction of a sophisticated water supply system to the town. Following Malik Ambar’s death, another Habshi, Hamad Khan, replaced him as major-domo for the kingdom, while he in turn was followed by Malik Ambar’s grandson. During this same period, the Habshi Ikhlas Khan (1627-56) served as wazir of Bijapur. Related to the renown enjoyed by Habshi military and court


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officials in the Deccan at this time was the emergence of a small Habshi state as the dominant naval power along the coast of western India. Following the conquest of the coastal region of the southern Konkan coast from Gujarat either in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century, the ruler of Ahmednagar gave command of the island fort at Janjira to the Habshi Sidi Yaqut because of his military exploits and leadership during its capture. Over the next century, successor Ahmednagar officials, none of them Sidis, ruled the strategically located island, rebuilding its wooden fort as a massive stone stronghold, construction of which was completed in 1567. In 1618 Malik Ambar appointed one Sidi Surur (r. 1618-20) to govern the island-fortress and its environs. For the next two centuries the Sidis, as they became known, dominated the coastal waters to the south of Bombay, whether serving Ahmednagar, the Mughals, or their own interests, and holding off challenges by both the English East India Company and the Marathas.15 Before leaving the broad topic of the African military presence in early modern India, it is well to remember that the Portuguese themselves regularly manned their ships with both slave and free Africans. Owing to the very high mortality rate of Portuguese sailors on the Carreira da Índia, without the labour of both slave and free Africans as sailors, the Portuguese would arguably not have been able to operate as an Indian Ocean maritime power in western India.16 Portuguese troop strength in India was also supplemented by the African slaves of Portuguese nobles, as well as by local mercenaries. Among these local freelance soldiers were both Indians and Sidis, the descendants of enslaved Habshis. In 1686, for example, the Portuguese army at Daman included a number of Sidis.17 As R.J. Barendse notes, these bands of free, armed Sidis were often as much a threat to those who employed them as their allies. In 1693 a group of Sidis threatened violence against the Dutch at Surat, who had imprisoned one of their number for manslaughter.18 Four decades later, during the intense competition between rival merchant groups at Surat to control the trade of Mocha, Sidis were still reckoned to be ‘a powerful group in both the trade and politics of Surat’.19 In general, however, it is quite evident that the Portuguese slave trade to India was minimal, most

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captives serving as a form of conspicuous consumption for Portuguese notables who emulated their Indian counterparts by engaging large retinues of servants. Elsewhere during this period in the Indian Ocean world, captive Africans were steadily becoming employed in productive activities, but as we have seen, their primary role in early modern India was military and political, both as foot soldiers, cavalry, and ministers of state. The other major connection between Africa and India over these 250 years was primarily through the trade in Indian textiles. This commerce can be divided into two major components. First, in the hands of Indian merchants conducting business in eastern Africa, textiles were exchanged for African primary products, most notably ivory. Second, when carried on European ships to West Africa to purchase captives for the Atlantic slave trade, Indian textiles were purchased with bullion. Sufficient data do not exist to enable historians accurately to winnow out the percentage of the African trade in the total, global export of Indian trade cloth in the early modern period, but there can be no question of its importance in fueling the exploitation of Africa’s human and animal resources during this era. As for the impact of this trade on India, there are many competing interpretations. Looked at across the economies of the entire South Asian region, Africa probably was not a major factor; but looked at ‘on a regional level’, as Prasannan Parthasarathi suggests, ‘cloth exports look much more significant’.20 Three areas, in particular, were deeply committed to the manufacture and export of cotton textiles: Bengal, Coromandel, and Gujarat. All exported cloth to Africa. For example, in the second quarter of the eighteenth century, India provided about half of all textiles sent from Great Britain to West Africa, worth between half and three-quarters million pounds sterling.21 Although the African market constituted only one element in this business, its impact on India cannot be dismissed. Although Parthasarathi’s analysis carries beyond the early modern period, his assessment still merits our attention for this period. The manufacture of these cloths for export was vital for economic life in eighteenth century South Asia. It primed the monetary pump by bringing in bullion and other goods that were used as money. It generated a massive amount


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of commercial activity and internal trade in cotton, yarn, grain, cloth as well as other goods that made up the basket of consumption for weavers and merchants.22

Although both Bengal and Coromandel were linked economically to West Africa, 23 the most historically significant branch of the Indian textile trade to Africa focused on western India, in particular on Gujarat. At the end of the fifteenth century, the dominant port of Gujarat was Cambay, whose vessels traded directly to all the major ports of the Swahili coast, from Mogadishu to Sofala.24 For various reasons, however, Cambay was rivaled and shortly surpassed by Diu, which became an early target of the expanding Portuguese seaborne empire. After a series of naval encounters and sieges over the first half of the sixteenth century against both the Gujarat sultanate and the Ottoman empire, in 1555 the Portuguese finally took control of this important island and port. For the next century textile exports to Mozambique were still carried primarily on official Portuguese ships. By the mid-seventeenth century, however, Vaniya merchants from Diu and Daman, who were primarily Hindus involved in the world of commerce and banking, had progressively increased their share of the shipping, in addition to their established control of supplying Indian cottons and other merchandise to Portuguese East Africa, extending from the Lamu Archipelago and Mombasa in the north to Mozambique Island and Inhambane in the south.25 By the end of the seventeenth century the Portuguese lost control of Fort Jesus, Mombasa, to a combined force of local resistance and Omani intervention, thus limiting Portuguese claims to suzerainty to the coastline of modern Mozambique. As the ruling Ya‘arubi dynasty of Oman imploded over the course of the first half of the eighteenth century, control of the Swahili coast became fragmented and trade undoubtedly suffered.26 Yet even under these conditions we know that Vaniya merchants provided shipping to the Omani force that participated in the final expulsion of the Portuguese from Fort Jesus in 1728-9. They also were reported to trade to the southern Somali port of Barawa, which lay beyond Omani control.27 Weakened by both more powerful European rivals and the Omanis—in the 1660s the latter launched devastating attacks on

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Mozambique Island, Mombasa, Pate, and Diu—the Portuguese ability to control trade at Mozambique suffered significantly. It is in this context that the Vaniya merchants of Diu who were already trading successfully to Mozambique concluded an agreement with the Portuguese that gave them a monopoly of the trade in Indian merchandise to Portuguese East Africa and in ivory from there to Gujarat. These men, who are identified in the Portuguese documents as ‘the Company of Mazanes’, were in reality members of a citywide mahajan or merchants’ organization in Diu. Unfortunately, we know very little about how this monopoly operated until the 1750s, that is, at the end of the early modern period.28 Furthermore, we can only guess at the number of Vaniya firms and residents at Mozambique Island before the later eighteenth century, when there were perhaps two dozen or more firms and some 300 residents.29 Nevertheless, as Parthasarathi suggests, it seems quite reasonable to argue that the impact of the Mozambique trade at Diu and into its hinterland, involving spinners, weavers, dyers, and middlemen, was a significant regional feature of Indian economic life during the decades after 1686. Certainly, by the 1730s, contends Pedro Machado, the link between the Vaniya merchants of Diu and Daman and the hinterland region of Jambusar was intimate. Located in the most important cotton district of western India, Jambusar also grew its own indigo and sustained a large population of spinners and weavers. ‘By the mid-eighteenth century they concentrated their procurement there to the almost complete exclusion of other weaving centres in Gujarat’. Indeed, Machado asserts, ‘between 85 and 95 per cent of all textiles exported to Africa on Indian vessels were manufactured in Jambusar’.30 While there were certainly other connections between Africa and India during the early modern period, I have isolated what I believe to have been the two most important features of this relationship as they related to the impact of Africa and Africans on India. These were the role played by different groups of Africans and by individual African personalities in the military and political history of early modern India, most notably in Gujarat and the Deccan, and the regional impact on Gujarat of the export textile trade. As we have seen, in different times and places there were political


Edward A. Alpers

situations where African slave soldiers and mercenaries were engaged by Indian and European authorities to supplement existing military strength. Equally, in the fluid political situation that characterized the collapse of the Bahmani sultanate at the end of the fifteenth century in the Deccan, there were opportunities for ambitious and skilled African elites like Malik Ambar to emerge as major Indian political figures. But although most of the Africans who figured in the early modern history of India were either enslaved or the descendants of slaves, nowhere were Africans engaged in any serious economically productive activities. In this regard, then, the experiences of enslaved Africans in early modern India were distinct from those of captive Africans in the long nineteenth century, who were for the most part employed as labourers on agricultural plantations in Africa itself, Arabia, and the Gulf, although some were also recruited as military in Arabia. The rise of the British Raj and the emergence of British domination over the Indian Ocean in the nineteenth century further stimulated the trade in textiles to East Africa as Bombay and Karachi became integral nodes in the imperial linkages connecting India to Muscat and to the Omani Empire in Zanzibar.31 As a consequence, the modest increase in Indian settlement in Mozambique that marked the early modern period was now extended to Zanzibar Town and significantly increased. This later period also witnessed the exploitation of Indian indentured labour to replace the slavery that had mainly affected Africans so that thousands of Indian peasants migrated to both South and East Africa as agricultural and railway labourers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These developments and the settlement of many of these Indians after completion of their contracts reflected a major change in the relationship between India and Africa from what had obtained in the early modern period.32 To return to the place of Africa and Africans in the making of early modern India, in this short chapter, I have neither argued for an unexpected influence of Africa on early modern India nor have I lamented that Africa was inconsequential in the Indian history of this period.33 What I suggest, instead, is that in certain places at particular moments in time, Africa and Africans were an important

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presence in India. To claim more would be hyperbole; to claim less would be to ignore history.

NOTES 1. See, e.g. Gwyn Campbell, ‘The Role of Africa in the Emergence of the Indian Ocean World Global Economy’, in Pamila Gupta, Isabel Hofmeyr and Michael Pearson (eds.), Eyes Across the Water: Navigating the Indian Ocean, Pretoria: Unisa Press, 2010, pp. 170-96; and for his provocative critique of the application of the ‘early modern’ framework to Indian Ocean history, see Campbell, ‘Africa, the Indian Ocean, and the “Early Modern”: Historiographical Conventions and Problems’, in Toyin Falola and Emily Brownell (eds.), Africa, Empire and Globalization: Essays in Honor of A.G. Hopkins, Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2011, pp. 81-92. 2. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Explorations in Connected Histories, 2 vols., Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004. 3. Steven E. Sidebotham, Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Route, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2011, pp. 224-7. 4. Ibn Battúta, Travels in Asia and Africa 1325–54, ed. and trs. H.A.R. Gibb, London: Darf Publishers, 1983 [1929], p. 224. 5. Ibid., pp. 229-30. 6. Ibid., p. 236. 7. Fitzroy André Baptiste, John McLeod, and Kenneth X. Robbins, ‘Africans in Medieval North India, Bengal, and Gujarat’, and Stan Goron, ‘The Habshi Sultans of Bengal’, in Kenneth X. Robbins and John McLeod (eds.), African Elites in India: Habshi Amarat, Ahmedabad: Mapin Publishing, 2006, pp. 125-37. 8. Fitzroy André Baptiste, John McLeod and Kenneth X. Robbins, ‘Africans in the Medieval Deccan’, in Robbins and McLeod (eds.), African Elites in India, pp. 31-43. 9. For a reliable summary of these events, see Richard Pankhurst, The Ethiopians: A History, Oxford/Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1998, pp. 81-93. 10. E. Denison Ross (ed.), An Arabic History of Gujarat: Zafar ul-Wálih bi Muzaffar wa Ålih, by ‘Abdallah Muhammad bin ‘Òmar al-Makkim, alÅsafí, Ulughkhání, London: John Murray, 1910, pp. xxxiii-xxxiv; Omar Khalidi, ‘African Diaspora in India: The Case of the Habashîs of the Dakan’, Hamdard Islamicus. XI, 4 (1988), p. 7.


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11. Abdull"ah Muhammad al-Makki al-Åsafi al-Ulughkh"ani H"ajji ad-Dabir, Zafar ul W"alih bi Muzaffar wa Ålihi, An Arabic History of Gujarat (English Translation), tr. M.F. Lokhandwala, Baroda: Oriental Institute, 1970, vol. I, pp. 228, 243, 247. 12. Ibid., p. 157. For the Mahdawi movement and Jamal Khan, see Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Writing the Mughal World: Studies on Culture and Politics, New York: Columbia University Press, 2012, pp. 174-5. 13. Ibid., pp. 176-7; Baptiste, McLeod, and Robbins, ‘African in the Medieval Deccan’, pp. 37-9. 14. See the excellent summary of Malik Ambar’s life and career in Richard M. Eaton, ‘Malik Ambar and Elite Slavery in the Deccan, 1400-1650’, in Robbins and McLeod (eds.), African Elites in India, pp. 45-66; also Omar H. Ali, Malik Ambar: Power and Slavery Across the Indian Ocean, New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. 15. On the Sidis of Janjira, see Faaeza Jasdanwalla, ‘The African Legacy’ and John McLeod, ‘The Later History of Janjira’, both in Robbins and McLeod (eds.), African Elites in India, pp. 177-83 and 188-93. 16. Malyn Newitt, ‘Mozambique Island: The Rise and Decline of an East African Coastal City, 1500–1700’, Portuguese Studies, 20 (2004): 27. 17. R.J. Barendse, The Arabian Seas: The Indian Ocean World of the Seventeenth Century, Armonk, New York & London: M.E. Sharpe, 2002, pp. 111-12. 18. Ibid., p. 115. 19. Ashin Das Gupta, ‘The Crisis in Surat, c. 1730-32’, in Uma Das Gupta, compiler, The World of the Indian Ocean Merchant 1500-1800: Collected Essays of Ashin Das Gupta, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 354. 20. Parsannan Parthasarathi, ‘Cotton Textile Exports from the Indian Subcontinent, 1680-1780’, GEHN Conference, University of Padova, 17-19 November 2005, p. 10. 21. Ibid., p. 6, citing Marion Johnson, Anglo-African Trade in the Eighteenth Century, ed. J.T. Lindblad and Robert Ross, Leiden: Brill, 1990), pp. 28-9, 54-5. 22. Ibid., p. 13. 23. For the regionally important trade of cotton textiles, including so-called Guinea cloth, from French Pondicherry to Senegambia, see Richard Roberts, ‘Guinée Cloth: Linked Transformations within France’s Empire in the Nineteenth Century’, Cahiers d’Études Africaines, 32, 128 (1992); 597-627; see also Colleen E. Kriger, ‘Guinea Cloth’: Cotton Textiles in West Africa before and During the Atlantic Slave Trade’, in Giorgio Riello

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28. 29.





and Prasannan Parthasarathi (eds.), The Spinning World: A Global History of Cotton Textiles, 1200–1800, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 105-26. Edward A. Alpers, ‘Gujarat and the Trade of East Africa, c. 1500-1800’, in East Africa and the Indian Ocean, Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2009, pp. 9-10; Pedro Machado, ‘Awash in a Sea of Cloth: Gujarat, Africa, and the Western Indian Ocean, 1300-1800’, in Riello and Parthasarathi (eds.), The Spinning World, pp. 164-6. We know much less about trade from Gujarat to Madagascar at this time; see Sophie Blanchy, Karana et Banians: Les communautés commerçantes d’origine indienne à Madagascar, Paris: L’Harmattan, 1995, pp. 33-50. For a nuanced discussion of the Gujarati Vaniya, see Machado, Ocean of Trade: South Asian Merchants, Africa and the Indian Ocean, c. 1750-1850, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. See Patricia Risso, Oman & Muscat: An Early Modern History , New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986, pp. 39-46, 119-21; Michael N. Pearson, Port Cities and Intruders: The Swahili Coast, India, and Portugal in the Early Modern Era , Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998, p. 159. Alpers, Ivory and Slaves: Changing Pattern of International Trade in East Central Africa to the Later Nineteenth Century, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1975, pp. 90-1. See ibid., and for the period after the mid-eighteenth century, Machado, Ocean of Trade. Machado, ‘Gujarati Indian Merchant Networks in Mozambique, c. 17771830’, Ph.D. thesis, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 2005, p. 32. Machado, ‘Cloths of a New Fashion: Indian Ocean Networks of Exchange and Cloth Zones of Contact in Africa and India in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries’, in Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy (eds.), How India Clothed the World: The World of South Asian Textiles, 1500-1850, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2009, p. 75. For a recent overview see Thomas R. Metcalf, Imperial Connections: India in the Indian Ocean Arena, 1860-1920, Berkeley/Los Angeles/London: University of California Press, 2007); see also Abdul Sheriff, Slaves, Spices & Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770-1873, London: James Currey; Nairobi: Heinemann Kenya; Dar es Salaam: Tanzania Publishing House; Athens: Ohio University Press, 1987. Two outstanding examples of how these changes played themselves out


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during the twentieth century are James R. Brennan, Taifa: Making Nation and Race in Urban Tanzania, Athens: Ohio University Press, 2012); and Sana Aiyar, Indians in Kenya: The Politics of Diaspora, Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2015. For an important early literary treatment, see M.G. Vassanji, The Gunny Sack, Oxford: Heinemann, 1989. 33. For a comparative critique of efforts either to inflate or to minimize the influence of Indians on Africa, see Pearson, ‘Indians in East Africa: The Early Modern Period’, in Rudrangshu Mukherjee and Lakshmi Subramanian (eds.), Politics and Trade in the Indian Ocean World: Essays in Honour of Ashin Das Gupta, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 227-49.


Trade in the Shaping of Early Modern India: Notes on the Deccan* ARCHISMAN CHAUDHURI


With a focus on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, this essay wishes to look at how trade contributed to the shaping of early modern India, particularly urbanization and political processes. The Deccan has been chosen as the unit of study because it provides the essay with a thematic and geographic coherence. Neatly corresponding to the three levels of analysis attempted here, the essay has been divided into three sections. While the first section looks at the nature and implications of trade in the Qutb Shahi Sultanate of Golconda, the second and third sections try to raise questions for further research. This essay is mainly based on secondary literature. The idea here is not to provide the readers with a mine of new information on the theme, rather to reflect on the subject through secondary literature. Far from concluding as a definite voice on the theme, the idea here is to raise questions if possible. *This essay derives mostly from a seminar paper I wrote at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi under the supervision of Pius Malekandathil. My first thanks go to him for requesting me to revise the paper and rewrite it for publication. Second, I thank my friends Aparajita Das and Apurba Chatterjee who read an earlier draft of this essay, pointed out mistakes, made incisive comments and suggestions for improvement. I am responsible for the errors that remain.



The Deccan plateau forms the southern and peninsular part of the mainland of India. Christened as the ‘Dakshinapatha’ in the Ramayana and Mahabharata, in the Markandeya, Vayu and Matsya Purana, and in Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara in the eleventh century and as ‘Dachinabades’ in Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, the distinct and separate character of the landmass lying to the south of the Vindhya mountains and the Narmada River was not unknown. This peninsular region has five physiographical divisions— the Western Ghats or the Sahyadri range with the coastal strip, the northern Deccan plateau, the south Deccan plateau, the eastern plateau and the Eastern Ghats with the eastern coast region. In a somewhat restricted sense, contemporary sources used the term ‘Deccan’ to mean Bahmani Deccan. Portuguese chroniclers referred to the Vijayanagara kingdom as the neighbour of the Kingdom of Daquem. Ferishta, only once, uses the term in its broad sense when he says that Dakhan was the son of Hind and had three sons in turn—Marath, Kanhar and Tilang, thus referring to the broad region.1 Dakshinapatha or southern India was recognized as a broad region of the Indian subcontinent by early Indian texts as well as accounts of Chinese pilgrims. As the suffix patha refers to a road, Dakshinapatha may also be interpreted as the southern road. More precisely, it is the south-eastern road connecting central India, through Malwa and the Deccan plateau, to the Carnatic towards the Bay of Bengal. Not only did the Dakshinapatha stand for a north-south relation, but also for an east-west connection between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.2 For geographers dividing the Deccan plateau into separate units of study poses problems.3 This essay understands the Deccan in terms of the major physiographic divisions—the northern plateau, the southern plateau, the eastern plateau, the Western Ghats along with the western coastal strip and the Eastern Ghats with the eastern coastal strip. Since the first section of the essay focuses on the Qutb Shahi Sultanate of Golconda, let us have a look at the geography of the TilangAndhra region. The geographical formation of the Tilang-Andhra region is granitic. The hills here are devoid of vegetation, though the plains are

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covered with scattered brushwood of every description. Domeshaped hills and wild boulders give the region a gloomy aspect. Unlike the soil of the Deccan trap, this soil is sandy and does not retain moisture. So, the rivers run dry during the summer and this creates the need for storing rainwater, manifest in the many manmade reservoirs and tanks in the Tilangana region.4 The physical aspect of the Tilang-Andhra region partakes characteristics of both the Mysore plains and the black-cotton soil of Maharashtra. The Andhra plains have tors (hills or rocky peaks) and bosses (knoblike masses of rocks, especially igneous or metamorphic rocks) similar to eastern Mysore and the deltas of the region between Krishna and Godavari are very fertile, rich in alluvial deposits. Extensively cultivated up to the coastal plains, this part of the plateau is also covered with dense forests to the east of the Godavari. Dominigo Paes observed in the early sixteenth century that this part of the plateau was covered with scrubs, very dense and inhabited by great beasts. 5 As a result, movement of troops was not easy in this region and only once the route via Sirpur-Tander was used by Alauddin Khalji of Delhi (AD 1296-1316). The preferred route to the south was via Daulatabad, which was made a base for expansion into the south by the Khaljis and a new administrative centre by the Tughlaqs. Nevertheless, the forest area to the east of the Godavari escaped the clutches of big powers till Akbar (AD 1556-1605) finally captured it. The northern part of the Tilangana plateau witnessed the impression of the Bahmani power in the fourteenth century when Bhongir (c. 1350) and Golconda (c. AD 1363) fell to them. From here expansion towards east to Warangal and beyond became possible. About AD 1425, Gulbarga was annexed to the Bahmani dominions. The road to the coastal plains between the Krishna and the Godavari were cleared. The same route was later used by the Qutb Shahis. Western Andhra country or Rayalseema had forts like Mosallimadugu, Sakanikota, Adoni, Etgir, etc. This area passed into the hands of the Vijayanagara rulers and withstood Bahmani advance for a long time.6 The Nallamalai range acted as a barrier between Vijayanagara and eastern Tilang-Andhra and also between Bijapur and Golconda after AD 1565 when Bijapur occupied Karnul and Adoni. The Sul-


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tanate of Golconda extended its dominions east of the Nallamalai hills while that of Bijapur advanced towards the west and southwest. Their boundaries finally settled on the coastal area around Madras. While Golconda’s boundaries extended from Srikakulam to beyond the outskirts of Madras, those of Bijapur extended from there to Porto Novo and further south to Negapattinam. Eventually both these states came into contact with the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English.7 Unlike the Western Ghats, the Eastern Ghats are not a high, forbidding wall for the hills are separated from each other by easy passages from the edge of the plateau to the coast. The hills disappear for about 100 miles between the Godavari and the Krishna. To the north of the Godavari, the Ghats come fairly near the coast where they are well-forested and their lowlands covered with scrubs. A number of streams flow down from these hills into the Bay of Bengal. At their mouths the coastal strip is very fertile, while the deltas of the Godavari and the Krishna render greater fertility to it. The coastline from the Gulf of Mannar to the Godavari was known as the Coromandel coast, while the coast to the north of this point was sometimes known as the Orissa coast, more often as the Gingelee coast and generally as the Golconda coast. During the seventeenth century small ports proliferated along this coast where the European trading companies established their factories.8 Important ports were strewn along this coastline. In the south of the Coromandel coast, Nagapattinam and Porto Novo were important ports, while Pulicat was another outlet into the sea near Madras. Karedu, located at the mouth of the Munyeru River to the north of the Pennar, transported goods north up the coast to Masulipatnam and Petapuli. Further up the coast, Masulipatnam emerged as the most important sea-port during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.9 Narsapur had a thriving shipbuilding industry on the Golconda coast. The last coastal outposts of the Qutb Shahis along this coast were Vishakhapattanam and Vimlipattanam to the north. Routes from other small ports joined the main MasulipatnamHyderabad route on the east coast.10 The Tilang-Andhra region had access to different kind of resources through agriculture, industry and trade. The fertile coastal plains between the deltas of Godavari and Krishna produced rice and other granaries in great quantities.

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The Coromandel coast provided access to maritime trade through the various ports strewn along it. This coast was famous in the Indian Ocean world for its textiles, which were prized items of trade. I. THE QUTB SHAHIS OF GOLCONDA

The Sultanate of Golconda was founded by Sultan Quli Qutb-ul Mulk, who came to India in a party of horse-traders in the fifteenth century and in the late fifteenth century arrived in the Bahmani capital of Muhammadabad-Bidar.11 Later he entered the service of Sultan Shihabuddin Mahmud in the Bahmani kingdom and slowly rose in the ranks. Eventually he was appointed as the tarafdar of Tilangana and the fort of Golconda was added to his jagirs.12 The weakness of Bahmani administration allowed most of the tarafdars to rule rather like freemen, and Quli Qutb-ul Mulk was no exception to this. However, despite surviving the last Bahmani sultan by at least five years, he does not seem to have formally declared his kingship or assumed royal dignity. In a royal genealogy of the Qutb Shahis, he is not mentioned as a Qutb Shah.13 Nevertheless he extended the frontiers of Golconda to the sea. Though he never declared his kingship officially, he ruled like an independent ruler and laid the foundations of the Sultanate of Golconda in the early sixteenth century. The most successful rulers of the Qutb Shahis during the sixteenth century were Ibrahim Qutb Shah (AD 155080) and Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah (AD 1580-1612). The latter constructed Hyderabad as the new capital across the Musi. Abdullah Qutb Shah (AD 1626-72) had a long reign and the last ruler was Abul-Hasan Qutb Shah (AD 1672-87). Golconda fell to the Mughals in AD 1687. Contemporary observers remarked that the Sultan of Golconda was next in wealth only to the Mughal emperor. The countryside of the kingdom had a good productivity and the urban places in it had busy trade.14 TRADE IN QUTB SHAHI GOLCONDA The travel accounts of Tavernier, Bernier and Thevenot are instructive in reconstructing the boundaries of the Qutb Shahi Sultanate in the second half of the seventeenth century.15 Around 1670 the


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part of the Coromandel coast covered by the Qutb Shahi Sultanate was studded with ports like Masulipatnam, Pulicat, Madras, San Thome and Bimlipatnam,16 with Masulipatnam being the premier port. Evidence of sea trade from Masulipatnam in the early sixteenth century is absent. The area where Masulipatnam lay, between the mouth of the Krishna and the Godavari, continued until the mid-sixteenth century to be the frontier between Vijayanagara, Qutb Shahi Golconda and and the Gajapati kingdom of Orissa. The port frequently passed from one to another. The port occurs in the Portuguese records for the first time during the 1540s when on the one hand correspondence between Goa and São Tome mentions it as a haven for fugitive and renegade Portuguese and on the other hand the Portuguese chronicler Barros refers to it as a source of white and painted textiles. Far from being a prominent port, at this juncture, Masulipatnam supplied textiles to other ports on the coastal network.17 Sultan Ibrahim Qutb Shah (1550-80) brought the area around Masulipatnam under his administration during the 1560s and eventually close links were forged between Golconda and Masulipatnam that continued for more than a century and set the port on its way to prominence and affluence. That the port rapidly rose during the 1560s is attested to by the Portuguese records. However, the Portuguese description of Masulipatnam as anti-Portuguese pointed to the presence of private Portuguese traders there, outside the service of the Estado da India. During the 1570s and 1580s, trade from Masulipatnam went to Aceh, the ports in the Malay Peninsula, Pegu and Arakan. Coastal trade linked it to Pipli in Orissa.18 Masulipatnam consciously avoided trade with Malacca, the Portuguese stronghold, till 1600.19 By the beginning of the seventeenth century, Masulipatnam had emerged as a prominent port. The English traveller Ralph Fitch reports that ships from India, Pegu and Sumatra came to Masulipatnam and the cargo included pepper, spices and other commodities. India, in this case, is taken to mean Portuguese India.20 But does this also refer to the coastal trade coming to Masulipatnam? We do not know in certain terms. Ralph Fitch visited Golconda in 1585,21 and if by referring to India he meant Portuguese India indeed we need to take a quick look at how the relations between Golconda and the Portuguese unfolded.

Trade in the Shaping of Early Modern India


Having identified Masulipatnam as a port hostile to its interests, the Portuguese Estado da India licensed Portuguese privateers to wait outside the port and capture ships. One such expedition from Goa sunk a Peguan ship in an engagement while the Acehnese ships eluded their grasp at the same time. By and large such ventures were unsuccessful and Masulipatnam continued to grow. Following two decades of hostility, Goa and Golconda began to negotiate in the 1580s and 1590s. In 1590 the Sultan of Golconda agreed to send an annual shipload of rice to Portuguese garrisons in Ceylon, a destination that was later modified to Malacca, while Goa issued several cartazes to Masulipatnam. This was necessary since around 1590 Masulipatnam initiated links with the Red Sea and Mecca. Textiles from northern Coromandel had a demand in the Middle East in the seventeenth century. A large ship, constructed in the shipyard of Narsapur, embarked annually in late December or early to mid-January on a voyage to the Red Sea. The ship carried not only goods of the Sultan, his nobles and major merchants and the rice to be distributed as alms in Mecca, but also a large number of pilgrims on Hajj who carried their own wares to finance the journey.22 Negotiations that followed in the last decade of the sixteenth century had limited success for the Portuguese and only in 1600 an arrangement was reached to station a Portuguese captain at Masulipatnam to collect the tribute and issue cartazes for Red Sea bound vessels. The rice tribute continued to be elusive.23 The trading connections forged with the maritime world of the Indian Ocean through Masulipatnam had significant impact on Qutb Shahi Golconda which we will discuss later. The redoubtable stature of Masulipatnam in the commerce of the Coromandel coast continued in the seventeenth century as well. But in the seventeenth century, the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (henceforth VOC) or the Dutch East India Company and the English East India Company (henceforth EIC) entered into the trade of the Indian Ocean. The records of the VOC constitute a very important body of literature for studying the commerce of Golconda. This is demonstrated by the works of historians such as Tapan Raychaudhuri, Sinnappah Arasaratnam, John F. Richards and Sanjay Subrahmanyam.


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Figure 2.1: The VOC (The Dutch East India Company) and the contemporary powers24

Even before the VOC established its first factories on the Coromandel coast, individual Dutch merchants, probably representatives of the ‘Pre-Companies’, had come into contact with the region. In 1605 Paulus van Soldt secured for the VOC the right to trade in Masulipatnam, where several VOC employees led by Pieter Yassacx, organized trade. The VOC concluded agreement with the governor of Petapuli and opened its first factory on the Coromandel coast there. In the same year van Soldt and Pieter Willemsz went on a mission to Golconda and secured a royal firman with several privileges. The result was a factory in Masulipatnam.25 Hostilities on the part of local officials created problems for the VOC in Masulipatnam and to a lesser extent in Petapuli as well. After a few initial hiccups the Dutch also established a factory at Pulicat.26 Troubles with local authorities in Masulipatnam were

Trade in the Shaping of Early Modern India


not uncommon during the 1620s. Matters came to a head when the Dutch blockaded Masulipatnam in 1629. The move was a financial failure, but politically successful as the Dutch finally secured a new farman in December 1629.27 Interestingly, in 1627 the English had discussed with the Dutch, possibilities of combined operations against the local government and they were the first to abandon Masulipatnam in September, 1628 and capture some boats outside the port in February 1629.28 We may presume that such confrontations with the local authorities were a regular feature of trade on the Coromandel coast. Let us have a look at a few pieces of correspondence between Dutch officials. Adolff Thomasz, a Dutch official in Pulicat, wrote to Amsterdam in 1617 that Indians had a large-scale trade on the Coromandel coast when the Dutch arrived there. The Portuguese were hostile to this trade and tried to counter it by naval force. He says that the local officials were also involved in this trade, for they suffered a reduction in income when the Dutch disrupted the trade conducted by the Portuguese.29 In the same year, Hans de Haze from Masulipatnam wrote to Jan Pietersz Coen at Bantam that the factory in Petapuli had been closed in the face of resistance and troubles created by the havaldar. The Dutch politely turned down the requests to reopen it. This forced the havaldar to befriend the Dutch again.30 So the officials appointed by the Qutb Shahis at port towns on the Coromandel coast earned profits from trade. The Dutch arrival had threatened the Portuguese and resulted in a reduction in income of the port officials. Hence hostility followed. This picture would be a little clearer if we juxtapose this against two other pieces of evidence. In 1619 de Haze wrote from Masulipatnam to Coen in Bantam that the king of Golconda had issued a farman allowing the Dutch to trade in and around Masulipatnam for an annual payment of 3,000 pagodas, and promising better treatment by officials. Itimad Khan was appointed as the new havaldar of Masulipatnam. The Muslims in the region were quite keen that the Dutch stayed in Masulipatnam. The farman issued spoke in unambiguous terms that the Dutch should reopen their factory, trade in the region and non-compliance with the orders of the king would tantamount to treason.31 During the 1630s, the Dutch


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equipped with increased resources, further developed their trade and extended it to other regions from the coast, though wars, famine and official rapacity continued to plague them.32 The EIC established a factory in Masulipatnam in 1611, though the first EIC voyage to the Coromandel coast was organized only in 1614. Despite an accord, problems between the VOC and the EIC continued on the Coromandel coast. Matters worsened and the EIC withdrew from Pulicat in 1623. A factory was established at Armagon. A factory was established in Madras in 1640 which became the chief factory of Coromandel the next year. Factories were also established in Cuddalore and Vizagapatnam.33 In the seventeenth-century world of commerce, best cotton especially muslins and betilles, were produced in the Golconda region and exported from the port of Masulipatnam. The Qutb Shahi sultans encouraged the growth of this trade and commerce. Golconda had many traditional weaving villages dating from pre-Qutb Shahi times. These clusters of villages eventually emerged as important commercial towns and the earliest European factories were established at these centres.34 The Qutb Shahi rulers considerably interested themselves in the political economy of the textile trade. This was particularly true of the Red Sea trade in which textiles from Golconda were exchanged for horses. Ships of the king of Golconda used to sail annually to the Persian Gulf laden with muslin, chintz and coloured chintz. These ships were usually entrusted to the Dutch navigators. The need of this trade for the wealth of the towns was recognized by the Qutb Shahi rulers. Ibrahim Qutb Shah constructed a bridge across the Musi River, linking the fortress of Golconda to the road to the east coast. Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah decided to construct a new capital on the bank of Musi, a logical point for moving goods from the east coast to the west coast.35 The trade from Golconda through Masulipatnam went to distant markets. As a Shia state it maintained strong political, economic and cultural ties with Safavid Persia. Persian and Armenian merchants from the Persian Gulf used to come to the port of Masulipatnam and other interior cities. This connection also strengthened trading ties with Southeast Asia, western India, Bengal and Ceylon. The rulers of Golconda also

Trade in the Shaping of Early Modern India


forged commercial ties with the rulers of Arakan, Pegu, Ayuthaya, Kedah, Sultans of Bantam, Aceh, Macassar and Johore.36 A major economic activity in Golconda in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was diamond mining. Diamond mines were discovered in the region in the early part of the sixteenth century. Soon Golconda became the largest producer of diamonds in the world. By the 1670s at least 23 such mines were being operated in Golconda. Controlled and regulated by the state, this provided a steady source of income to it.37 In a letter from 1621, Andries Soury in Masulipatnam wrote to the Directors of the VOC in Amsterdam about the discovery of such a diamond mine. About a year back, a diamond mine had been discovered at a place 4850 miles from Masulipatnam. This mine had been farmed out for 300,000 pagodas per annum. Diamonds of more than 8 carats were to be given free of charge to the king. Violation of this clause would have rendered both the buyers and sellers liable to confiscation of their goods. So, he laments that only few diamonds of more than 7 carats were being brought to Masulipatnam. This trade in diamonds, he says, was partly responsible for adversely affecting the sale of spices and other goods because people were investing their money in the low-risk business of diamonds. At the same time, he adds that trade in the Deccan had come to a standstill because of the fear that war may break out between the Mughals and Malik Ambar of Ahmadnagar. Burhanpur, a major inland trading centre between north India and the Deccan that connected Golconda and other Deccan sultanates with the north, had been besieged. Spices were lying in the warehouses.38 The letter from Andries Soury is particularly revealing of the nature of trade in the region. First, it becomes clear that though the mines were farmed out annually to bidders, the Sultan of Golconda maintained a stranglehold on the trade in diamonds which gave him huge revenues. Second, Soury writes that the trade in diamonds was a low-risk business. Does this covertly hint at other issues which had plagued trade at that juncture? For third, Soury writes, in the wake of a possible war, routes had been closed and goods could not be transported. Burhanpur was located in the northern part of the Deccan, but was a major inland trading centre. A besieged Burhanpur re-


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sulted in the suspension of trading activities. Was a tendency to invest in the diamond trade an effect of the siege of Burhanpur? We may argue that Soury writes from a VOC perspective on the trade in spices. Did the potential buyers of the spices invest in the diamond trade? We are left wondering. None the less, the Dutch concern over safety of trade routes in the wake of a war is also telling of the inroads that Dutch trade had made into the interiors. Thus this reinforces the position of Golconda as a major inland centre of trade. In another letter from the same year, Huybert Vissnich from Masulipatnam wrote to the VOC directors in Amsterdam that little capital had been invested in the trade in diamonds for the only big potential buyers were the Dutch and the English. The bulk of the diamonds were sent to Goa, Hormuz, other places in Persia, Aleppo and Turkey.39 These substantiate the trading connections of Golconda with the western Indian Ocean as well as Southeast Asia. In AD 1652, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier visited the kingdom of Golconda. His travelogues serve as a major source for a picture of the mining activities in Golconda. Tavernier discusses the routes from the town of Golconda to the major diamond mines in the region. A diamond mine, known as Gani in the language of the country, was located to the east of Golconda, at a journey of seven days.40 Similarly, he describes the route to another diamond mine at Rammalakota.41 Other contemporary travellers allude to the trade in diamonds from Golconda and immense wealth cornered from it by the king. Philip Baldaeus remarks that diamonds from the kingdom of Golconda had a great trade in Masulipatnam. The ones weighing above 25 carats were reserved for the king, while the remaining were for those who farmed the mines.42 John Fryer observed in Masulipatnam that the king of Golconda receives huge revenues from the trade in diamonds. He adds that these mines were annually farmed out to those who bid the most.43 The merchandise of Golconda included all sort of calicoes, salt petre, paintings, carpets of all kinds, raw and wrought silk, etc.44 The cities of Qutb Shahi kingdom produced a large quantity of printed cloth, that was claimed to be the best in India. Calicoes of all kinds were manufactured in the Qutb Shahi cities. Not only

Trade in the Shaping of Early Modern India


were they cheap and plentiful, but also of a different texture and pattern from those of other regions. The painted cloth of the Qutb Shahi cities was quite famous due to the dyestuff called ‘chai’ used on them. This was produced only in the eastern Deccan and hence was monopolized by the king of Golconda. Warangal was a centre of carpet weaving. Coastal cities like Masulipatnam used to have carpets being woven for export by Persian immigrants. Another instance of the state’s involvement in economic activity and trade is in the reference to the working of the karkhanas. In Golconda, the Qutb Shahi kings used to collect excellent workmen, who included a number of workers on precious stones and they were kept too busy in the karkhanas to work for anyone else.45 At the court of Golconda guns, muskets, expensive arms, cloth, etc., were produced in workshops that met the immediate need for consumption of the court, the nobles, the army and this production was not connected with the market.46 There is more to the involvement of the state in commerce in the Qutb Shahi Sultanate of Golconda in the seventeenth century. Let us turn to that. Portfolio capitalists had different backgrounds. From the late sixteenth century into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, theirs was a remarkable presence in the Deccan and other parts of India. If some of them were Telugu-speaking Niyogi Brahmins, others were drawn from Balija stock or from other Naidu groups. Still others were Habshi, and more conspicuously Iranians. Iranian migration to Deccan increased from the second half of the sixteenth century. A lot of them migrated to Deccan, particularly Golconda.47 A prime example of such a portfolio capitalist functioning in the state of Golconda was the Persian immigrant, Mir Muhammed Sayyid Ardestani, better known to us as Mir Jumla. He arrived in Deccan in early seventeenth century in the retinue of a horsetrader. He was very successful in farming a diamond mine. Then he entered the fiscal administration of Golconda, first as ‘sardaftar’ in Hyderabad, and later as ‘havaldar’ in Nizamapatnam region. By the 1640s he became the second most important authority in Golconda after Sultan Abdullah Qutb Shah. Out of the money that he made from the working of the diamond mines, he made


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investments into both inland trade and seaborne trade to Pegu, Tenasserim, Aceh, Arakan, Persia, Bengal, Mocha, Maldives and Macassar.48 He was exceptionally successful in his ventures and eventually defected to the Mughal service during AD 1655-6. However, he was not the only portfolio capitalist of that time. There were others as well. Within the Sayyid community of Golconda, of which Mir Jumla was a part, there were figures such as Mirza Rosbihan Isfahani, Mulla Muhammed Taqi Taqrishi, Mir Kamaluddin Mazendarani and Mir Muhammed Murad, and Madanna and Akanna Pandit also. There were such figures outside Golconda as well—Tubaki Krishnappa Nayaka of the Senji family, his associates Kesava Chetti and Laksmana Nayaka, Shaikh Abdul Qadir of Kizhakkarai, Gopal Dadaji of Arcot and many others. All of these men belonged to elite groups and actively participated in trade.49 Others who combined political influence and commercial operations included Malaya, alias Astrappa Chetty, who was a major overseas trader to Southeast Asia and Ceylon, a supplier of goods and a wholesale merchant in imported goods. His ships traded with Arakan, Pegu, Tenasserim, Kedah, Acheh and Ceylon. After his death in AD 1636 his business ventures were continued by his brothers. Another merchant-general like Mir Jumla was Khan-i Khanan, the Bijapur general and governor of Karnataka who became actively involved in overseas trade, owned ships and merchants operated on his behalf. These merchants used their political positions to promote their commercial interests.50 Contemporary accounts also point to such activities. The English traders rather detested Mir Jumla and his local governors along the coast, particularly Bala Rau for the exactions they made from the English. The English seized one of Mir Jumla’s vessels weighing about 500 tons off San Thome and the seizure created a lot of trouble.51 This trend of portfolio capitalism declined from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. Particularly independent seaborne commerce disappeared from the scene due to severe competition from the European companies.52 Thus the portfolio capitalists had a remarkable presence in political economy of urban Golconda during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Theirs was a case when political influence and commercial operations combined. It

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may be argued that the wealth generated by their commercial activities enabled the portfolio capitalists to increase their political power. In Golconda, the career of Mir Jumla stands as a testimony to this when political power and resources were used to promote commercial interests in close relation with the urban economy. So, the Qutb Shahi Sultanate of Golconda took a keen interest and involvement in oceanic commerce during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Qutb Shahi Sultans realized the importance of trade and the wealth that used to be generated within the kingdom from it. Let us try and have a look at what kind of an impact trade had on Golconda. Golconda became prosperous during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim Qutb Shah (1550-80). Even before his son, Ibrahim thought of strengthening the fortifications of the capital. A continuous influx of people from Turkistan, Arabia, Khurasan and adjacent lands had been continuing into the city of Golconda. These were travellers, traders, calligraphers, architects, men of religion and adventurers. Golconda thus saw a meeting of south Indian and PersoArab cultures. Ibrahim provided these men with gifts and pensions. This means that the population of the city of Golconda increased considerably, which made it all the more necessary to expand the fortifications. A wall of 8,000 running yards was completed during 1559-60 in the vicinity of present-day Hyderabad. New gates and gateways were also laid across the fort to accommodate the growing population of Golconda.53 As the population of Golconda had been increasing there was hardly any space left for constructing new buildings within the city walls. So, the expansion of the city beyond the city walls became very necessary. In the wake of this, a bridge was constructed across the river Musi in 1578, two years before Ibrahim passed away.54 Therefore, the need for greater space within the city walls had necessitated the construction of a new city. The process had been started by Ibrahim and was to be completed by his son and successor MuhammedQuli Qutb Shah. This started a new era in the urbanization of eastern Deccan. Sultan Muhammed-Quli Qutb Shah (AD 15801612) succeeded his father Ibrahim Qutb Shah. The area chosen for the construction of Hyderabad had been


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growing in population for quite some time. A Muslim divine named Shah Chiragh had already made his home in the predominantly Brahmin locality of Chichlam. There the necropolis of Mir Mumin grew. Muhammed-Quli thought that he could lay out the new city to the south of the plain of Musi. The city of Hyderabad was built on the gridiron plan in the form of a giant double-cross. A road ran from Golconda to Masulipatnam and east coast towns of the kingdom. A new road was built running north and south to intersect it at where Charminar stands.55 Golconda had emerged to be a major centre of inland trade and was connected to the coast through Masulipatnam. So the construction of this road and the choice of the site of the city were conscious decisions. Not only did it underscore the connections of the capital with Masulipatnam, but the new city was also an expression or a statement of the increasing power and resources available to the Qutb Shahis. The Charminar was completed in AD 1592 with four broad roads jutting out from its four portals. The northern road ran north as far as the Musi to the point where the Afzal bridge stands at present, while the southern road went straight to the Koh-i Tur. The eastern road to the Bay of Bengal through Masulipatnam and the western road towards Golconda remained as before. Jilukhanah, a square flanked by four large arches, was about 80 yards to the north of Charminar. One of the four streets that intersected this area led to the great gate of the royal palace. The centre of the piazza had a very large fountain. Once this main layout of the city had been completed, orders were given to construct and build 14,000 shops, schools, mosques, caravanserais and baths on both sides of the roads. Once this was complete, the court moved out to the new city.56 Golconda was reputedly second only in wealth to the Mughal Empire. Contemporary travellers have described the city and its surroundings. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier visited Golconda in AD 1652. He writes that Golconda is a rich country abundant in corn, rice, cattle, sheep, fowls and other commodities necessary to life. Good fish was abundant due to numerous tanks in the region. The tanks were situated in elevated positions and it was necessary to make a dam only on the side of the plain to retain the water. After the rains the sluices were opened from time to time to let the water

Trade in the Shaping of Early Modern India


run into the fields where it used to be received in small canals to irrigate the lands of private individuals.57 Tavernier writes that Hyderabad was well-planned and well-opened out. It had many fine large streets. These were unpaved and hence caused a lot of inconvenience during summer. Near the bridge across the river Musi, there was a suburb called Aurangabad where the merchants, brokers and artisans dwelt as well as the common people. The city was inhabited only by men of quality, the officers of the king’s house, the ministers of justice and military men. The merchants and brokers came to the town from the suburbs in the morning and traded with the foreign merchants till evening. These suburbs had two or three beautiful mosques that served also as caravanserais.58 Mir Alam writes in his work Haqiqat-ul Alam that Hyderabad was looted by the Mughals in January AD 1656. The Royal karkhanas were ransacked. Fine books, chinaware and many valuable things fell into the hands of the victors. Nevertheless, valuable things were so much abundant that even though the plunder continued for some days, houses were full with them after the marauders had left.59 Though this account of the sacking may be a bit exaggerated, the crucial part is the allusion to the huge wealth, so huge that even a few days of plunder could not carry it away. Also, the description of the plunder probably comes from the centre of the city and we may only conjecture how the suburbs fared. Not only this, but we also have a rough idea of how the organization of houses in Hyderabad reflected the power relations or hierarchy. If the city was housed by the king’s officers, military men and other ministers, the merchants, brokers, artisans and other commoners lived in the suburb of Aurangabad, an example of how building patterns reflected social hierarchy. During the early phases of Hyderabad’s construction, Mir Mumin Astarabadi, the Peshwa of the Sultanate since AD 1588, had been associated with the process of layout and expansion of the city from the outset. He constructed a number of edifices, both religious and civil, on his own account, within and outside the city.60 Not only did trading connections influence the construction of Hyderabad, but they also generated immense wealth in the Qutb Shah Sultanate. Trading networks, inland and overseas, influenced urbanization in Qutb Shah Gol-


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conda. Hyderabad’s location on the main route between west-coast ports and east coast ones ensured that it would develop as a centre for inland trade.61 During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, clusters of weaving villages emerged as important textile towns. The earliest factories of the European companies were established here. By and large, the companies established their factories around the nucleus of these textile centres, surrounded by weaving villages.62 Masulipatnam was a traditional weaving region. When the English began to negotiate with the rulers of Golconda for a settlement at Mallavol near Masulipatnam in AD 1634, weavers and others immediately began to settle in the area, doubling its population. Similarly, the Dutch claimed that their presence in Narsapur had also drawn weavers to the neighbourhood.63 The lives of the weavers now revolved around the company settlements and the Black Towns, rather than the temples.64 Tavernier writes that Masulipatnam is a sprawling town where the houses are built of wood. On the seashore, it has the best anchorage in the world. Masulipatnam was the sole place in Golconda from where ships sailed to Pegu, Siam, Arakan, Bengal, Cochin, China, Hormuz, Mecca, Madagascar, Sumatra and Manillas. Wheel carriages did not travel between Masulipatnam and Golconda. Oxen, pack-horses and palanquins were used for the conveyance of men, goods and merchandise.65 Other contemporary observers also point to its trade. John Fryer writes that Masulipatnam had three marketplaces crowded with people and commodities. The residents of this town included Moors, Persians, Gentiles, Sojourners, Armenians, Portuguese, Dutch, English and a few French. Golconda was a journey of fifteen days from Masulipatnam.66 Philip Baldaeus writes that Masulipatnam had a great trade with Moluccas and China. Merchants from different places also traded there.67 Therefore the Sultanate of Golconda, connected through Masulipatnam to the Indian Ocean, was a land of wealth and great trade. The state was aware of the importance of these connections and sought to tap the resources they generated as much as possible. The construction of Hyderabad on the road to Masulipatnam, the king’s measures to control diamond mining and trade in diamonds,

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the investment of the nobles in trade and their confrontations with the European companies, all point to a world where trade played a crucial role in shaping urbanization patterns, influencing careers of nobles, economic production and imparting to a state much required stability through wealth. In a nutshell, trade shaped the making of the Qutb Shahi Sultanate to a very large extent. Is it possible for us to argue, in general terms, how trade and concerns out of it shaped some of the other political processes in the contemporary Deccan? II. THE DECCAN, MUGHAL EXPANSION AND EUROPEAN COMPANIES

Four major political entities of the Deccan were confronted by the threat of an expanding Mughal war-machine in the late-sixteenth century—the sultanates of Ahmadnagar, Bijapur and Golconda and the Portuguese Estado da India based in Goa. Portuguese official circles were alarmed by the threat of Mughal expansion since the 1570s as they feared that the vacuum created by the fall of Vijayanagara would result in further Mughal inroads into Goa. Contemporary Surat and Goa enjoyed important trade links with Hormuz. Bullions and other goods came to Mughal territory through Surat, while the Portuguese received customs revenue and Gujarati textiles brought to Goa used to be carried to Europe. So an accommodation of interests was necessary to make it possible for the coastal cafilas to ply on along the western coast or to keep embarking the annual fleets to the Persian Gulf. This was also necessary for the Hajj pilgrimage to continue.68 The Portuguese perception of the impending Mughal threat was not unjustified for in the late 1560s and 1570s Ahmadnagar and Bijapur had collaborated to launch attacks against the Portuguese settlements of the Konkan and Goa. So long as the rice fleets from Kanara came in, the Portuguese were secure in Goa, but in general the geopolitical shifts of the 1560s in the Deccan were unfavourable to the Portuguese. However, it is difficult to link these events directly with Mughal expansion into the Deccan.69 Contemporary accounts of the expansion into Ahmadnagar preclude us from concluding


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that trading concerns played a very significant role at this juncture in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century.70 While campaigning in Burhanpur against Ahmadnagar, Akbar had sent a Mughal envoy named Mir Jamalududin Inju Shirazi to the Bijapur court to arrange a marriage between Prince Daniyal and Ibrahim Adil Shah’s daughter. However, Shirazi took an inordinately long time to accomplish the task and delayed his return. Annoyed, Akbar sent Asad Beg Qazwini to Bijapur as the new envoy.71 In Bijapur Asad Beg was greeted with tremendous hospitality marked by valuable gifts in money and kind. He was even tempted to stay back there with the lure of a good sum of money as gift. These made Beg realize how Shirazi had been induced to stay on in Bijapur longer than he was supposed to and why he was so reluctant to leave. Shirazi had been making quite a fortune with the payments from Bijapur and Golconda.72 Thus it appears that instead of entering into military engagements, the Adil Shahi sultanate of Bijapur sought to counter the imminent Mughal advance through diplomacy and caution. Gifts, monetary and of other kinds, played a big part in the attempts to induce the Mughal envoys. On the other hand, the Mughals too seem to have avoided direct military engagements in Bijapur and instead sought to expand into the Deccan through marital alliances. A huge amount of bullions reached the Deccani sultanates of Bijapur and Golconda through channels of commerce in the Indian Ocean as profits of trade in textiles and other goods, stimulating the primary and secondary production within these kingdoms. The invasion and annexation of Gujarat by Akbar resulted from the desire to tap these bullions flowing into western India.73 Eventually the Mughals realized, particularly Aurangzeb, that the wealth coming into the Deccani sultanates through their participation in the oceanic commerce enabled them to withstand Mughal pressure. So, an expansion into the Deccan was necessary to integrate the bullion-rich coastal areas with the Mughal empire. This was reflected in his construction of the city of Aurangabad in northern Deccan as a base against the Deccani powers. Such a move towards a quasimercantilist ideology is substantiated by the appointment of Mir Jumla, whom we have encountered before, as Aurangzeb’s chief

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minister in 1657. This formed the first step in the plan to capture Bijapur and Golconda.74 The Portuguese, who harboured no doubts that an eventual Mughal victory over Bijapur and Golconda would threaten their own position, allied with Shivaji to resist the Mughals. The Marathas were allowed to hide from the Mughals in the Portuguese settlements along the coast, while Portuguese sailors and soldiers were seen plundering Surat along with the Marathas in 1664. However, following the sack of Surat the Portuguese did not entertain the Marathas any more. With a severe economic crisis gripping the Mughal empire in 1679, Aurangzeb decided to make a bid to reduce the Deccani kingdoms to subjugation once and for all as he moved to the Deccan. The fall of Bijapur (1685) and Golconda (1687) made it possible for wealth from the coasts to reach the royal treasury with the express purpose of reactivating the severely weakened Mughal economy. Not only were the Mughals now close to the Portuguese settlements of Chaul, Bassein, Daman and Diu, but also the English centre of Bombay and the Dutch settlement of Vengurla. As the European companies controlled the tiny coastal pockets, the hinterland was sought to be integrated with the Mughal world. The Mughals incorporated the Sidis of Janjira within the empire to lead the Mughal fleet and protect Mughal commerce in the western Indian Ocean.75 The aforementioned argument in favour of a Mughal expansion to the south for more bullions needs to be looked at more carefully. The use of evidence in this case is, at best, circumstantial. We are left wondering more about the quasi-mercantilist ideology as well as about the precise motivations of Aurangzeb on the eve of the campaigns. Mughal expansion followed a south-eastern direction, corresponding to the ancient Dakshinapatha which connected not only the north with the south, but also the east coast with the west coast. The farthest point of Mughal expansion in the south was Gingi.76 At this juncture we may ask the question how did Mughal victory over Golconda in 1687 affect the trade in the erstwhile Qutb Shahi kingdom and Masulipatnam. The wars, Jadunath Sarkar concluded, ruined cultivation, manufacturing and trade. Pestilence and natural calamities followed in the train of warfare as trade was disrupted,


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leading to impoverishment and decline.77 John F. Richards argued that the Deccan wars drove greater and greater number of peasants off the land. Production was hindered as villages and towns were burnt and traders and caravans suffered at the hands of bandits.78 Gijs Kruijtzer argues that ruination of agriculture, desolation and famines followed continuous warfare in the Deccan when Aurangzeb campaigned.79 If by trade in the shaping of early modern India we mean here how trade and the wealth generated through it influenced political and economic processes, it is crucial to analyse the economic impact of warfare. In other words, it is necessary to find out how trade responded to the political conditions. We have discussed how the trading connections forged through Masulipatnam made Golconda a wealthy sultanate receiving migrants from abroad which shaped urbanization. Is it possible to briefly analyse the impact of Mughal conquest on the Hyderabad-Masulipatnam network and the response of European companies to it? III. HYDERABAD AND MASULIPATNAM AFTER 1687

Alexander Hamilton wrote of Masulipatnam in the eighteenth century that it used to be one of the most flourishing ports of India in the last century.80 Raychaudhuri argues that the Mughal-Maratha struggle undermined peace and security around Tanjore and Gingi, severely affecting the Dutch trade in the region. On the contrary, the English with their better resources and Indians with their lowcost trading technique achieved an expansion of their commerce.81 The most serious threat to Dutch commerce during the 1680s was encountered in Golconda. Having come to power, two Brahmin ministers Madanna and Akkana tried to increase their financial resources in a manner reminiscent of Mir Jumla, the portfolio capitalist whom we have discussed earlier. In 1685 weavers throughout northern Golconda were forbidden to supply cloth to the Dutch and boats laden with the VOC’s return cargo were seized by Akkana’s men. The ministers’ assassinations (1685) and a mission by the Dutch governor Laurens Pit to the Golconda court bore little fruit. Against such a background, the Mughal invasion worsened matters.

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Disastrous effects followed Mughal victory. Famine, pestilence, high prices and desertion of merchants brought the trade from Masulipatnam to a standstill as goods could not be transported to Golconda due to insecure conditions.82 We have discussed in the first section how war between Mughals and Malik Ambar had affected the VOC’s trade earlier in the seventeenth century. Insecure and unfavourable conditions forced the transfer of VOC headquarters in the Coromandel from Pulicat to Nagapattinam in 1690.83 Subrahmanyam traces the decline of Masulipatnam as a port in 1656 when Mir Jumla defected to Mughal service. However, he qualifies that this assumed serious proportions from the late 1660s when European attacks on Masulipatnam shipping in the western Indian Ocean and the decline in the political fortunes of the Persians in Golconda caused the port to be dominated increasingly by English private traders and shipowners. During the last quarter of the seventeenth century, Masulipatnam increasingly acted as a feeder for Madras which rose rapidly since 1650s.84 The analyses of Raychaudhuri and Subrahmanyam argue for different processes of decline for Masulipatnam as a port. Arasaratnam argues that Mughal administrative machinery and financial control upset existing relationships between Masulipatnam and Golconda. Wealthy Persian merchants lost their ties with the government and finances from nobles into the trade dried up. Narsapur and Madapollam declined as shipyards, while trade shifted north to Vishakhapatnam, Ingeram and Ganjam, which became more important textile exporting ports. 85 At this juncture we are confronted by a question—if the Mughals, particularly Aurangzeb, launched their campaigns in the Deccan with a view to tapping the resources and wealth coming to the coastal regions from maritime trade, did this prudence last too short? Following the arguments in favour of the havoc wrought by Aurangzeb’s campaigns, it appears that the Hyderabad-Masulipatnam network of trade was severely affected. Arasaratnam argues that Masulipatnam was not of great importance to the Mughals whose principal port remained Surat. Though Hyderabad was supplied by Masulipatnam, trade routes to Gujarat and Rajasthan supplemented this.86 Along the western coast, Aurangzeb allowed


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flexibility to prevail despite Mughal integration. The European merchants were not driven away and the Portuguese and the English continued to trade from their respective enclaves.87 How did Mughal conquest affect the Hyderabad-Masulipatnam network of trade? Immediately after the Mughal victory, hardly any business was conducted in Hyderabad—the greatest market in the province. Diamond production stopped and mines were deserted. Weaver communities and craftsmen disappeared along the coast. Slavetrade, induced by starvation, was the only flourishing economic activity as the Dutch and other European trading companies bought and shipped a large number of people. The Dutch estimated that recovery would take several years.88 The Mughals sought to integrate Hyderabad with the economic system of the empire. But the problem of official rapacity or illegal exactions continued to plague trade. An agent of merchants from Berar complained to the diwan of Deccan that accountants in Hyderabad demanded and collected a forbidden cess on goods. Thus local officials violated norms to make profits.89 Long-distance trade declined. Between 1702 and 1704 caravans did not come to Hyderabad from the west coast ports or northern India. The Hyderabad-Masulipatnam road had been cut-off by bandits. 90 Rich coastal ports were targeted by Maratha attacks.91 The major trade routes, to and from Hyderabad, were severely affected in the aftermath of the Mughal conquest. But though temporary there was some improvement with the establishment of Mughal administration. John F. Richards demonstrates that revenue returns from Golconda around 1696-7 show improvement, reflecting that the connections between the state and craftsmen, merchants and agrarian cultivators had been restored to an extent. Though diminished in importance, Hyderabad continued to be a great commercial and financial centre. But Maratha raids from 1700 onwards yet again led to a decline in trade. Two other thriving commercial centres, Warangal and Bhongir, were subjected to severe bandit attacks after Aurangzeb’s death in 1707.92 Aurangzeb was eager to tap the rich resources of Golconda to reinvigorate the war-devastated region. He granted customs concessions and other privileges to the European companies which were similar to those under the last Qutb Shahi sultan. The French

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East India Company became the first to be reconfirmed in their trading privileges. Retaining their custom-free privileges, they were allowed to trade freely in Masulipatnam. Similarly, a Dutch mission by Johannes Bacherus to Aurangzeb’s court secured for the VOC trading concessions in extremely favourable terms. Freed from any payment of road tolls, land and sea customs or market duties, the VOC could trade throughout Golconda, collect customs and mint coins in Pulicat. The proceeds from port customs and mints were to be divided between the company and the state. The Dutch governor in Pulicat could settle minor disturbances in the internal administration of the city, but any greater problems, including attacks on the settlement by other Europeans were to be referred to the Mughal governor in Hyderabad.93 The British too were confirmed in their privileges after some initial difficulties.94 Eventually the Dutch shifted their headquarters on the Coromandel coast from Pulicat to Nagapattinam, closer to the Dutch base in Ceylon, in 1690. Madras, Pondicherry and Nagapattinam became the three major European enclaves on the Coromandel coast in the early eighteenth century, marking a significant shift in the trade and urbanization patterns from those prevailing in Golconda in the seventeenth century.95 This is reflected in the movement of ruby trade, controlled by Armenians, from Hyderabad to Madras, as reported from Madras in 1705. The Dutch reported from Masulipatnam around 1709 that wealthiest merchants at the port had begun to migrate to Madras or Bengal. In a similar fashion, Nagapattinam too attracted many migrants.96 So, in a manner similar to the flexibility which Aurangzeb allowed to prevail along the western coast, the European companies on the Coromandel coast were reconfirmed in their privileges. The Mughal emperor was eager to exploit the resources generated by them. The fact that trade suffered due to inability to provide security and restore peace and order does not colour this willingness. The inability of the Mughal empire to effectively administer Golconda after annexation forced and encouraged the European companies to build coastal city states. However, around 1712 these companies did not control any more than a few square miles of territory despite their importance. None the less they signified a shift in the patterns of trade and


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urbanization. Madras, rather than Hyderabad, became the great metropolitan centre for eastern Deccan in the first half of the eighteenth century.97 From the foregoing discussion, it appears that trade in the erstwhile Qutb Shahi sultanate was severely affected following the Mughal conquest of 1687. Though the European companies were reinstated in their privileges, ineffective Mughal administration, official rapacity, banditry and Maratha raids produced an uncongenial environment for trade. Hyderabad, as a great urban centre and entrepôt for inland trade declined, while Madras rose rapidly. That there was a decline of trade along the Hyderabad-Masulipatnam network is more or less agreed to by scholars. But we may add a qualifier at this juncture and ask the question—to what extent was this decline uniform? Hyderabad eventually established itself as an independent state in the eighteenth century. We have discussed at some length how the trading connections through Masulipatnam shaped the polity and urbanization in Qutb Shahi Golconda. The present author is tempted to ask the same question for Hyderabad under the Nizams—how did trade shape the urban and political processes in the state of Hyderabad in the eighteenth century. Richards’ analysis pointed out how the Mughals had temporarily restored the connections between the state and the agricultural producers to an extent. Does this mean that good governance could still reinvigorate the economy of the region and develop it despite the decline of Masulipatnam? Sunil Chander argues that the region continued to be of economic and political importance in the eighteenth century as immigrants poured in from western, central and northern India, central and western Asia, eastern Africa, Europe and Afghanistan. This would hardly have been possible if the region had ceased to be lucrative. However, Chander also points out that the Asaf Jahis relocated their capital in Aurangabad, Gulbarga, Bijapur and Bidar between 1724 and 1758 before finally moving to Hyderabad, at the heart of a semi-arid region. The political capitals of the Hyderabad countryside usually coincided with its principal trading centres. Local political powers in the form of zamindars or nawabs protected and patronized agriculture, trade and manufacture in return for revenue, support, power and pres-

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tige.98 Drawing from such an analysis, it may be tempting to jump to a conclusion that trade continued to shape urbanization patterns and power structure. However, we may note that the Asaf Jahis shuffled their capitals four times before moving to Hyderabad in the second half of the eighteenth century. This raises a question— did stability and trade not return to Hyderabad before the second half of the eighteenth century? In other words was the decline so uniform that merchants left the city en masse? From the foregoing discussion, it appears that to an extent trade shifted to the north and south of Masulipatnam in the eighteenth century. We need to investigate how trade to the north and south of Masulipatnam shaped urban and political processes. On another front an enquiry into the trade in Hyderabad in the first half of the eighteenth century may help us analyse to what extent and if the decline was uniform. CONCLUSION

Trade influenced urbanization and political processes in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Qutb Shahi Golconda tapped the resources coming into the region through maritime trade. As the influx of people continued from the lure of its legendary wealth, exigencies of better infrastructure necessitated the construction of Hyderabad. The Qutb Shahi sultanate involved itself in economic production and long-distance trade. Officials combined mercantile interests with politics. The European companies, on the other hand, negotiated with and played around such currents to ensure their prosperity. The bullions played their part in Adil Shahi diplomacy against the Mughals in Bijapur, while the Portuguese viewed the Mughal expansion into the south with increasing alarms. On their part, the Mughals realized the importance of the bullion-rich coastal belts and the need to integrate the wealthy sultanates of Bijapur and Golconda with the Mughal empire. Their wealth was perceived as the answer to economic difficulties of the empire. While Aurangzeb fought wars in the Deccan for twentyfive years, famines, pestilence and disturbances followed. The Dutch shifted their headquarters on the Coromandel coast from Pulicat


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to Nagapattinam, while the English settlement of Madras grew in importance and Masulipatnam’s eminence dipped. We need to investigate how Hyderabad fared in the first half of the eighteenth century to see how uniform or deep was the decline. Trade and the resultant changes during the early years of the Asaf Jahi state need to be investigated. The nascent Asaf Jahi state grappled with the political changes engulfing the Deccan in the eighteenth century. More precisely we need to look at how trade shaped the making of the Asaf Jahi state. Apart from the big powers like Hyderabad and the Marathas, analysis of the smaller states of Kurnool, Cuddappah and Ikkeri may also provide fresh insights. Kurnool and Cuddappah, two states, were carved out along the traditional horse-trade routes to the south. While Kurnool was located along the river Krishna, Cuddappah was close to Madras.99 Ikkeri, on the other hand, had relations with the Dutch.100 In sum, trade played a crucial part in shaping early modern south Asia. The foregoing discussion and analysis strove to demonstrate how trading connections through the Indian Ocean shaped urbanization patterns in Golconda and how the wealth from maritime trade contributed to the making of the political processes. On the other hand, political and military affairs also influenced trade. Wars and rapacity affected economic production and commerce, resulting in the shift of trade and people from one urban centre to another. There was apparently decline, but to what extent and with what kind of contours is a big question to be grappled with.

NOTES 1. P.M. Joshi, ‘Historical Geography of Medieval Deccan’, in H.K. Sherwani and P.M. Joshi (eds.), History of Medieval Deccan (1295-1724) , Hyderabad: Government of Andhra Pradesh, 1973, pp. 3-4. 2. Jos Gommans, Mughal Warfare: Indian Frontiers and High Roads to Empire, 1500-1700, London: Routledge, 2002, pp. 17-19. 3. O.H.K. Spate, A.T. Learmonth and B.H. Farmer, India, Pakistan and Ceylon: The Regions, London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1967, p. 683. 4. Joshi, ‘Historical Geography of Medieval Deccan’, p. 5. 5. Ibid., p. 11.

Trade in the Shaping of Early Modern India 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24.


26. 27. 28. 29.

30. 31.


Ibid., p. 12. Ibid., p. 13. Ibid., pp. 23-4. Ibid., pp. 24-5. Ibid., pp. 26, 28. H. K. Sherwani, History of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty , New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1974, pp. 2-3. Ibid., pp. 6-9. Ibid., pp. 15-16. John F. Richards, Mughal Administration in Golconda , Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975, p. 2. Sherwani, History of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty, p. 488. Ibid., map facing p. 493. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, The Political Economy of Commerce: Southern India 1500-1650, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990, pp. 148-9. Ibid., pp. 149-51. Ibid., p. 154. William Foster (ed.), Early Travels in India: 1583-1619, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1921, p. 16. Subrahmanyam, The Political Economy of Commerce, p. 155. Ibid., pp. 157-8. Ibid., p. 160. George D. Winius and Markus P. M. Vink, The Merchant-Warrior Pacified: The VOC (The Dutch East India Company) and its Changing Political Economy in India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1991, frontispiece; points out the major ports on the Coromandel Coast (though Masulipatnam is missing) and the configurations of political powers in the region. Tapan Raychaudhuri, Jan Company in Coromandel 1605-90: A Study in the Interrelations of European Commerce and Traditional Economies, ‘SGravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1962, pp. 15-16. Ibid., pp. 17-18, 21. Ibid., pp. 30-4. Ibid., pp. 32-3. Om Prakash, The Dutch Factories in India, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1984, pp. 23-4, Letter from Adolff Thomasz at Pulicat to the Directors at Amsterdam, 8 May 1617. Ibid., p. 27, Letter from De Haze to Jan Pieterszoon Coen at Bantam, 5 January 1617. Ibid., pp. 109-10, Letter from De Haze at Masulipatam to Jan Pieterszoon Coen at Bantam, 22 July 1619.


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32. Raychaudhuri, Jan Company in Coromandel, p. 38. 33. Om Prakash, European Commercial Enterprise In Pre-Colonial India, The New Cambridge History of India, vol. II.5, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998, pp. 129-31. 34. Vijaya Ramaswamy, ‘Trade in Textiles in Medieval Golconda’, in R. Somareddy, M. Radhakrishna Sarma and A. Satyanarayana (eds.), Trade and Commerce in Andhra Desa, Hyderabad: Osmania University, 1998, pp. 92-3. 35. Ibid., pp. 104-5. 36. Sinnapah Arasaratnam, Merchants, Companies and Commerce on the Coromandel Coast, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1986, pp. 41-2. 37. Richards, Mughal Administration in Golconda, pp. 14-15. 38. Prakash, The Dutch Factories in India, pp. 147-9, Letter from Andries Soury at Masulipatnam to the Directors at Amsterdam, 29 January 1621. 39. Ibid., pp. 181-2, Letter from Huybert Vissnich at Masulipatam to the Directors at Amsterdam, 23 October 1621. 40. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, Tavernier’s Travels in India between 1640-76, vol. 2, tr. Valentine Ball, New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 2007, pp. 56, 73. 41. Tavernier, Tavernier’s Travels in India Between 1640-76, vol. 2, pp. 72-3. 42. Philip Baldaeus, A True and Exact Description of The Most-Celebrated East India Coasts of Malabar and Coromandel and the Isle of Ceylon, New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 2000, pp. 654-5. 43. John Fryer, A New Account of East India and Persia , New Delhi: Periodical Experts Book Agency, 1985, p. 29. 44. Thomas Bowry, A Geographical Account of Countries Round the Bay of Bengal, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1997, p. 111. 45. H. Fukazawa, ‘Non-Agricultural Production: Maharashtra and the Deccan’, in Irfan Habib and Tapan Raychaudhuri (eds.), The Cambridge Economic History of India, vol. 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982, pp. 310, 314. 46. L.B. Alaev, ‘Non-Agricultural Production: South India’, in Irfan Habib and Tapan Raychaudhuri (eds.), The Cambridge Economic History of India, vol. 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982, p. 315. 47. Sanjay Subrahmanyam and C.A. Bayly, ‘Portfolio Capitalists and the Political Economy of Early Modern India’, Indian Economic and Social History Review 4, 25 (1988), pp. 408-9. 48. Subrahmanyam and Bayly, ‘Portfolio Capitalists and the Political Economy of Early Modern India’, pp. 410-11; both Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk and Mir Jumla, two remarkable figures in the history of the Qutb Shahi sulatanate,

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49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68.

69. 70. 71. 72. 73.


came to India in the party of horse-traders. For an innovative interpretation of how horse-trade was related to state formation in eighteenth-century India, see Jos Gommans, The Rise of the Indo-Afghan Empire, c. 1710-80, New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Subrahmanyam and Bayly, ‘Portfolio Capitalists and the Political Economy of Early Modern India’, pp. 411-12. Arasaratnam, Merchants, Companies and Commerce on the Coromandel Coast, pp. 222-3, 225. Henry Davison Love, Vestiges of Old Madras 1640-1800, vol. 1, New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1996, p. 165. Subrahmanyam and Bayly, ‘Portfolio Capitalists and the Political Economy of Early Modern India’, p. 412. Sherwani, History of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty, pp. 199-201. Ibid., p. 202. Vijaya Ramaswamy, Textiles and Weavers in Medieval South India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 14. H.K. Sherwani, Muhammed-Quli Qutb Shah, Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1964, pp. 14-15. Tavernier, Tavernier’s Travels in India between 1640-76, vol. 1, pp. 121-2. Ibid., p. 123. Mir Alam, Haqiqat-ul Alam, tr. B.D. Verma, in V.C. Bendre (ed.), Gowalkondyachi Qutb Shahi, Pune: Bharat Itihas Samsodhak Mandal, p. 72. Sherwani, Muhammed-Quli Qutb Shah, p. 34. Richards, Mughal Administration in Golconda, p. 15. Ramaswamy, Textiles and Weavers in Medieval South India, p. 118. Ibid., pp. 120-1. Ibid., p. 170. Tavernier, Tavernier’s Travels in India Between 1540-76, vol. 1, pp. 141-2. Fryer, A New Account of East India and Persia, pp. 27-9. Baldaeus, A True and Exact Description of the Most-Celebrated East India Coasts of Malabar and Coromandel and the Isle of Ceylon, pp. 654-5. Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘The Deccan Frontier and Mughal Expansion, ca. 1600: Contemporary Perspectives’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 47, 3, 2004, pp. 360-1. Ibid., p. 364. Ibid., pp. 365-7. Ibid., p. 380. Ibid., p. 382. Pius Malekandathil, ‘Shifting from Inland to the Frontiers of Coastal Societies: A Study on the Integration of Coastal Northern Konkan with the


74. 75. 76.

77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84. 85. 86. 87. 88. 89. 90. 91. 92. 93.


Archisman Chaudhuri Mughal World’, Paper presented at the international seminar on The Rise of Asia’s Maritime Frontiers: Old and New Regimes at the Interface of Coast and Interior, c. 1650-1720 jointly organized by Leiden University, the Netherlands and Colombo University, in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 14 to 18 August 2011, pp. 4-5. Malekandathil, ‘Shifting from Inland to the Frontiers of Coastal Societies’, pp. 8-9. Ibid., pp. 10-12. Jos Gommans, Mughal Warfare, pp. 188-9, map on p. 188 shows the southeasterly direction of Mughal campaigns from Aurangabad through Bijapur and Golconda to Ginji; this corresponds with the Dakshinapatha as discussed earlier. Jadunath Sarkar, History of Aurangzib, vol. 5, Calcutta: M.C. Sarkar & Sons, 1952, pp. 360-70. John F. Richards, The Mughal Empire: The New Cambridge History of India, vol. 1: 5, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995, p. 245. Gijs Kruijtzer, Xenophobia in Seventeenth-Century India, Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2009, 201-2, 272-3. Alexander Hamilton, A New Account of the East Indies, vol. 1, New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1995, p. 370. Raychaudhuri, Jan Company in Coromandel, pp. 66-7. Ibid., pp. 68-70. Ibid., pp. 73-4. Subrahmanyam, The Political Economy of Commerce, pp. 217-18. Arasaratnam, Merchants, Companies and Commerce on the Coromandel Coast, pp. 159-60. Ibid., pp. xiv-xv. Malekandathil, ‘Shifting from Inland to the Frontiers of Coastal Societies’, p. 12. Richards, Mughal Administration in Golconda, p. 70. Ibid., p. 190. Ibid., pp. 220-1. Ibid., p. 227. Ibid., pp. 185-6, 243. John F. Richards, ‘European City-States On The Coromandel Coast’, in P.M. Joshi (ed.), Studies in the Foreign Relations of India (From the Earliest Times to 1947), Hyderabad: Government of Andhra Pradesh, 1975, pp. 508-9. Ibid., p. 511.

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95. 96. 97. 98.

Ibid., pp. 512-13. Ibid., pp. 514-15. Ibid., pp. 520-1. Sunil Chander, ‘From a Pre-Colonial Order to a Princely State: Hyderabad in Transition, c. 1748-1865’, Unpublished Ph.D Dissertation: University of Cambridge, 1987, pp. 18-19. 99. Jos Gommans, The Rise of the Indo-Afghan Empire, c. 1710-80, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999, map on pp. 67, 101. 100. Jos Gommans, Lennart Bes and Gijs Kruijtzer, Dutch Sources on South Asia, c. 1600-1825, vol. 1, New Delhi: Manohar, 2001, 180-1.

BIBLIOGRAPHY PRIMARY LITERATURE Alam, Mir, Haqiqat-ul Alam tr. B.D. Verma, in V.C. Bendre (ed.), Gowalkondyachi Qutbshahi, Pune: Bharat Itihas Samsodhak Mandal, n.d.* Baldaeus, Philip, A True and Exact Description of the Most-Celebrated East India Coasts of Malabar and Coromandel and the Isle of Ceylon, New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 2000. Bowry, Thomas, A Geographical Account of Countries Round the Bay of Bengal, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1997. Fryer, John, A New Account of East India and Persia, New Delhi: Periodical Experts Book Agency, 1985. Foster, William (ed.), Early Travels in India: 1583-1619, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1921. Hamilton, Alexander, A New Account of the East Indies, vol. 1, New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1995. Love, Henry Davison, Vestiges of Old Madras, vol. 1, New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1996. Prakash, Om, The Dutch Factories In India, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1984. Tavernier, Jean-Baptiste, Tavernier’s Travels in India Between Years 1640-1676, vol. 2, tr. Valentine Ball, New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 2007. * A copy of the book is available at the Centre for Advanced Studies Library of the Centre for Historical Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.


Archisman Chaudhuri


Arasaratnam, Sinnapah, Merchants, Companies and Commerce on the Coromandel Coast, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1986. Gommans, Jos, Lennart Bes and Gijs Kruijtzer, Dutch Sources On South Asia, c. 1600-1825, vol. 1, New Delhi: Manohar, 2001. Gommans, Jos, Mughal Warfare: Indian Frontiers and High Roads to Empire, 1500-1700, London: Routledge, 2002. ——, The Rise of the Indo-Afghan Empire, c. 1710-1780, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999. Habib, Irfan and Tapan Raychaudhuri (eds.), The Cambridge Economic History of India, vol. 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982. Joshi, P.M. (ed.), Studies in the Foreign Relations of India, from the Earliest Times to 1947, Hyderabad: Government of Andhra Pradesh, 1975. Kruijtzer, Gijs, Xenophobia in Seventeenth-Century India, Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2009. Prakash, Om, European Commercial Enterprise in Pre-Colonial India: The New Cambridge History of India, vol. II: 5. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Ramaswamy, Vijaya, Textiles and Weavers in Medieval South India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1985. Raychaudhuri, Tapan, Jan Company in Coromandel 1605-90: A Study in the Interrelations of European Commerce and Traditional Economies, ‘S. Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1962. Richards, John F., Mughal Administration in Golconda, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975. ——, The Mughal Empire: The New Cambridge History of India, vol. 1: 5. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Sarkar, Jadunath, History of Aurangzib, vol. 5, Calcutta: M.C. Sarkar & Sons, 1952. Sherwani, H.K., History of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1974. Sherwani, H.K. and P. M. Joshi (eds.), History of Medieval Deccan (1295-1724), Hyderabad: Government of Andhra Pradesh, 1973. Somareddy, R., M. Radhakrishna Sarma and A. Satyanarayana (eds.), Trade and Commerce in Andhra Desa, Hyderabad: Osmania University, 1998. Spate, O.H.K., A.T. Learmonth and B.H. Farmer, India, Pakistan and Ceylon: The Regions, London: Methuen & Co., 1967. Subrahmanyam, Sanjay, The Political Economy of Commerce: Southern India 15001650, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Trade in the Shaping of Early Modern India


Winius, George D. and Markus P.M. Vink, The Merchant-Warrior-Pacified: The VOC and its Changing Political Economy in India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1991. ARTICLES

Alaev, L.B., ‘Non-Agricultural Production: South India’, in Irfan Habib and Tapan Raychaudhuri (eds.), The Cambridge Economic History of India, vol. 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982, pp. 315-24. Alam, Muzaffar and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘The Deccan Frontier and Mughal Expansion, ca. 1600: Contemporary Perspectives’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 47, 3, 2004, pp. 357-89. Fukazawa, H., ‘Non-Agricultural Production: Maharashtra and the Deccan’, in Irfan Habib and Tapan Raychaudhuri (eds.), The Cambridge Economic History of India, vol. 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982, pp. 308-15. Joshi, P.M., ‘Historical Geography of Medieval Deccan’, in H.K. Sherwani and P.M. Joshi (eds.), History of Medieval Deccan (1295-1724), Hyderabad: Government of Andhra Pradesh, 1973, pp. 1-28. Malekandathil, Pius, ‘Shifting from Inland to the Frontiers of Coastal Societies: A Study on the Integration of Coastal Northern Konkan with the Mughal World’, paper presented at the international seminar on The Rise of Asia’s Maritime Frontiers: Old and New Regimes at the Interface of Coast and Interior, c. 1650-1720 jointly organized by Leiden University, the Netherlands and Colombo University, Colombo in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 14 to 18 August 2011, pp. 1-12. Ramaswamy, Vijaya, ‘Trade in Textiles in Medieval Golconda’, in R. Somareddy, M. Radhakrishna Sarma and A. Satyanarayana (eds.), Trade and Commerce in Andhra Desa, Hyderabad: Osmania University, 1998. Richards, John F., ‘European City-States on The Coromandel Coast’, in P.M. Joshi (ed.), Studies in the Foreign Relations of India (From the Earliest Times to 1947), Hyderabad: Government of Andhra Pradesh, 1975, pp. 508-21. Subrahmanyam, Sanjay and C.A. Bayly, ‘Portfolio Capitalists and the Political Economy of Early Modern India’, Indian Economic and Social History Review, 1988, 4, 25, pp. 400-24. DISSERTATION

Chander, Sunil, ‘From A Pre-Colonial Order to a Princely State: Hyderabad in Transition, c. 1748-1865’, Ph.D Dissertation, University of Cambridge, 1987.


The Story of Bengal’s Urbanization: Role of Trade in the Early Modern Period BYAPTI SUR


Tome Pires wrote, ‘When they (people in Malacca) want to insult a man they call him a Bengalee’,1 Humayun renamed Gaur as Jannatabad (literally meaning land of paradise);2 Ibn Battuta described Bengal as ‘an extensive and plentiful country’ and added, ‘I never saw a country in which provisions were so cheap’;3 Manrique observed that, ‘The Bengalas are . . . mean-spirited and cowardly, more apt to serve than to command, and hence they easily accustom themselves to captivity and slavery.’4 Several such diverse and contradictory accounts have been produced over the ages on this stretch of land that has remarkably survived invasions, partitions, colonial dominations, religious contentions and exhibited significant dynamism in terms of urbanization. The rivers and the other water channels of Bengal had always been crucial to its towns and urban life. They have fostered trade and overseas connections between Bengal and the kingdoms beyond. Many a battle on this delta had been won, thanks to the navigational skills of the native people against the raw attempts of their enemies who were used to fighting on land. In the process, Bengal thus frequently changed hands and came to be subjected to a wave of dominating forces. From the medieval years of the Afghan and Mughal rulers down to the centuries of colonial encounters, Bengal had had administrative


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centres with ‘powerful (kings and) . . . a hundred thousand mounted men in his kingdom’,5 or even busy ports with ‘The Bengalees (as) . . . merchants with large fortunes’6 or for that matter religious centres with ‘vast crowds of paganism of both sexes come (coming) in pilgrimage . . . from the surrounding as well as from far distant places.’7 It goes beyond doubt therefore that there hung a fairly heavy cosmopolitan ambience around these urban hubs in Bengal which brought about varying shifts in its pattern of urbanization. This chapter is precisely an attempt to trace these shifts especially with the broader changes in time and space that shaped the structure and functions of towns and determined their positions in the urban hierarchy. PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED

Before delving into this aspect further it is necessary to deal here with three specific problems that make research in this area a tad bit challenging. The problem of determining the geographical extent of Bengal when we talk about periods spanning across the medieval and the early modern seems to be the most perplexing. Added to this is the question of identifying what qualifies as ‘urban’ with respect to the changing eras and how to deal with this instability. The third problem that looms large is very technical associated with the task of locating places correctly with the descriptions and names unearthed from our sources, especially from foreign travel accounts. A closer examination of these questions, as has been carried out in the course of this chapter, has actually enabled us to situate our case study of the change in early modern urban Bengal along those lines. The most difficult part about Bengal is probably trying to trace her geographical boundaries since it appears to be an ever elusive never ending conundrum. We are fortunately disposed though with a mosaic of options in this case. To start with there are the hydrographical divisions that seem to be the most feasible and convenient tool among scholars working on ancient or early medieval and medieval Bengal. Based on the numerous rivers and rivulets that have cut across the Bengal delta, four zones have been recognized—

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the uplands of Varendra, the tract of Radha, the region of VangaVangala and the regions of Harikela-Samatata.8 However, in order to tackle the instability of the terrestrial margins etching out Bengal’s borders on the map of the Indian Oceanic world, scholars like Richard Eaton have come up with more intangible fluid frontiers—precisely, the political, the agrarian, the Sanskritic and the Islamic frontiers.9 The Riyaz-us Salatin described the ‘Subah of Bengal’ as including parts of modern Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Bihar, Orissa and Assam.10 However, the Ain-i Akbari complicates the situation more with its unique ways of defining places within the Bengal Subah.11 Under such circumstances all we are left with is a confused geographical position. In this chapter we have thus focused on the status of the urban towns and cities of undivided Bengal which had been known to the contemporary travellers and have been mentioned in the medieval accounts that roughly incorporate modern day Bangladesh and West Bengal. The act of studying the ‘urban’ involves two levels—approaching the subject on the basis of the varied urban theories and approaching it from an angle of practical applications. The difference becomes much more apparent in the way both of these try to understand urbanism—the former as ‘what is urban?’ and the latter as ‘how to identify the urban?’ Numerous urban theories have sprung forth over the years and had been so vast with so many schools of thoughts and methodologies that it is impossible here to produce a concise historiography of the same.12 With a number of contentions ranging from viewing the town as a generic socio-cultural entity to a socioeconomic unit to Max Weber’s description of it as ‘a strident assertion of mankind against time’,13 Philip Abrams have had come up with a broader and better solution banking on Weber’s use of the term— ‘complex of dominations’.14 Abrams have dismissed the idea of generalizing towns and reducing it to just a living, social, economic or cultural being. He has zoomed out to focus on the larger context and setting that gives birth to towns and cities as products of their ‘action and relationship within the complex of domination’.15 This chapter takes into consideration this theoretical assumption and explores the rise and fall of towns in Bengal.


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As regards the concerns of the practical aspects, the act of identifying what exactly should qualify as urban still remains without definite conclusions. More so, since these qualifications are variables subject to differences in regions, countries, continents and specific time periods. This is what makes these features responsible for distinguishing the urban from the non-urban supremely interesting and amusing. So when we imagine of a city today we visualize bright neon hoardings proclaiming discounts and boosting consumerism; or daily commuters in the metros and buses talking about the dip in census points; or the schoolgoing children, the women bargaining in the markets, the dirty mongrels in the narrow alleys and the crows perched on the electric cables breathing in the same air; or the silhouettes of the skyscrapers standing tall against the night sky with headlights from the cars zigzagging the city as they speed by. However, the situation turns complex when the standards of determining urbanity change in the medieval or early modern contexts. It becomes evident then that these tags are highly flexible and subtle. They change in degrees of intensity, context and the forms of manifestation so that the whole understanding of what is urban ends up as being subject to the relevant period. A medieval or early modern city could thus be well imagined as one where there would be horses galloping across; or men talking about the king, his policies and the succession fights; or the women attending to their religious chores; or the busy ports booming with the loud siren from the ships and the loading and unloading of merchandise; or the night carriages passing by the half lit coal lanterns alongside. However, conjuring up such generalized images are also almost as dangerous as committing a sin of blurring the otherwise so carefully etched out differences in studying urbanism.16 The act of singling out medieval and early modern sites as urban requires the knowledge of certain historical, archaeological and anthropological technicalities. In case of India, the fact that urban history was stripped off the glory of well-kept records that European towns prided so much in 17 was always problematic for urban studies. The literature of the medieval period and other written sources have of course been helpful but thanks to the well-intended

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or not intended European chartered companies’ efforts, attempts of recovering traces of the urban in the early modern era has proved to be relatively easier and faster. For sites that might be in ruins today, scholars like B.D. Chattopadhyay have made the situation appear less hopeless by positing a fair amount of reliance on archaeological evidences. Chattopadhyay has highlighted the importance of the differentiated use of space as an urban phenomenon in the earlier era. There were of course no census records to determine the density of population, nor was it convincing that size alone mattered. What really then had to be taken into account was whether or not space in a particular settlement was differentiated and heterogeneous. For instance besides the regular residential spaces, there were supposed to be spaces utilized for construction of roads, or artisanal areas or even religious shrines and community spaces and spaces of other types as stronger proof of urban existence.18 Besides the physical appearance, H.C. Verma’s characterization of highly impersonal and professional economic relations19 as being typical of urbanization gains little credibility in the face of strong caste and community affiliations in trade and daily financial transactions in the Indian context.20 The idea then is to go back to the web of power equations, to the tangle of historical resources and recover and disentangle them. And in this course, we make an attempt to analyze the pattern of urbanization and the hierarchy of the towns in the urban scale that have been shaped by the complex of dominations. A third and last factor that is more technical rather than conceptual, is the problem arising from the confusion in the varied use of names for a particular place. The medieval or early modern names of towns and cities often gets largely changed in the history of their continuance into the modern centuries, or at times even absolutely erased. At other times though we can trace phonetic similarities, it becomes hard to associate them with a definite place because of a number of possible options that somehow fits into the vague descriptions that follow in the travel accounts for these places. For our case study of Bengal in the medieval period, this has been a recurrent hindrance.



Just as David Held and others have argued in the book Global Transformations that there were varying degrees of globalization even before the term ‘globalization’ had actually been coined.21 I would, in the same way, argue that urbanization had been in existence throughout the ages in varying degrees and intensities even before its conventional association with capitalism and modern state system came to be fostered. There is nothing new about this though, but what needs to be further stressed is the hierarchy of towns and cities in the urban pattern that came to rest on the complex of dominations. The concentration or dilution of social, political, economic and other blends of power at different points of time had created debacles of authorities and influences, adding extensively to or subtracting from the assorted forms and features of urban towns and centres in every state. This had been never stable or constant though and the aim here is to precisely examine the process of this change in the power structures and to study its impact thereby on the consequently changing hierarchy and the urban pattern. The medieval centuries in Bengal’s history is traditionally considered to commence from the years of her Islamic rule till the decades of the European imperial expansionist forces setting in.22 Keeping aside exaggerated contentions of Mohammad Habib who associated the influx of Muslim rulers in the medieval decades as heralding some sort of ‘urban revolution’;23 observations from K.M. Ashraf 24 and others indeed directs us towards understanding the growth of particular towns as a result of Islamic conquest. Standing as perfect examples for the theory of the ‘complex of dominations’, these towns demonstrate ‘moments in a process of usurpation and defense, consolidation, appropriation and resistance; as battles rather than as monuments’.25 Naturally therefore when the Sultanate reign began in Delhi, they had to stretch their resources up to Bengal and win over the last of the Sena rulers who were then ruling in Bengal. The rise, fall or continuance of the towns and cities were consequently moments of usurpation in a grander frame—attempts of consolidation of new rule by new rulers from a new land with new faith; tales of nuanced appropriations and intermittent resistances, and most importantly ensuing struggles that geared the process of

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studying towns and urban hubs as consequences rather than as causes or spoils of the battles. The Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi elaborates on the threefold division of the kingdom of Bengal under Ghiasuddin Tughlak Shah in the early fourteenth century—viz. ‘Diyar-i-Sunargaon, comprising Eastern Bengal’, ‘Diyar-i-Satgaon, comprising Western Bengal’ and ‘Diyari-Lakhnauti, comprising Northern and Central Bengal’.26 This could have led one to assume that these had been the primary nodes or important axis of urbanization in medieval Bengal; had it not been for the accounts of the travellers like Ibn Battuta or Ma-Huan that registered the presence of another vital urban port variously spelt as Sutirkawan, Sunarkawan or sometimes as Sutarkanwan.27 This place has now, almost to end heaps of disputes, come to be associated with the port town of Chittagong.28 But the conspicuously little importance attached to this place in the medieval administrative chronicles and records contrary to contemporary traveller’s accounts where the same place promises strikingly urban instances provides a fresh insight into this issue of hierarchical power play in the urban scale. Hardly any local source prior to the coming of the Portuguese enables us to conjecture a composite image of the value and importance of the port town of Chittagong. Perhaps that has been a reason for claiming that the kings of Bengal in the inland towns had never been massively interested in seas and trade.29 However, one cannot deny Chittagong’s importance as a trading hub for the neighbouring kings in Arakan and the Mughal governors who fought over its possession in the later centuries. Yet the relatively lesser weight alluded to the town of Chittagong in the administrative records of the early medieval times proves true Abrams’ writings. To quote him, this ‘points towards certain types of relationship as being especially likely to help us understand the structure and functions of a town in relation to its larger setting in time and space’.30 It opens before us the dimensions to contemplate and realize that Chittagong perhaps did not play so eminent a role in the contemporary socio-political surroundings unlike its more able urban counterparts. The importance of no other city perhaps has been as clearly and strongly acknowledged as the city of Gaur-Lakhnauti, the capital of Bengal in the medieval times. That it had been the seat of


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governance of the Delhi Sultanate as well as the capital of the independent Muslim rulers of Bengal till the middle of the sixteenth century has been attested both by the literary and the archaeological sources.31 Though the Tabaqat-i Nasiri narrates the details about the ambush of Bakhtiyar Khalji on the then ruler in Nadiah,32 Minhaj goes on to narrate how Bakhtiyar then proceeded towards Lakhnauti to set up his capital there—‘he invaded and conquered Bengal, storming and sacking Nadia, and establishing himself at the village or mouza of Lakhnauti’.33 The existence of the fortress in Gaur as revealed by the archaeological remains had inspired H.E. Stapleton to attempt a reconstruction of the same at length.34 Throughout the years of Humayun’s rule, khutbas had been read from here and coins had been minted.35 Its position in the hierarchy of the urban gradation of medieval Bengal was thus undisputedly the highest. Closely following in importance was the other administrative capital of East Bengal called Sonargaon. Appearing in the Tabaqati Nasiri as the place of refuge for the king who had fled after Bakhtiyar’s attack, there have been contentions that the place mentioned as Bikrampur written as ‘Sakwanat Bang’ actually meant Bengal’s residence. This could have been an evidence of the fact that Sonargaon served as an alternative seat of the royal authority in East Bengal.36 Even recognized as a Sarkar in the Tarikh-i Firuz Shahi by Ziauddin Barani, we come to know of Balban’s pursuit of Tughral in Sonargaon under the Delhi Sultanate.37 The first independent ruler of Bengal, Fakhruddin Abul Muzaffar Mubarak Shah, proclaimed his independence at Sonargaon, where he resided and even minted coins.38 These and other instances make it amply clear that the town of Sonargaon too held a respectable position in the hierarchy of towns and cities in Bengal’s urban history. Satgaon with its strategic location as a port in the south of GaurLakhnauti had always been mentioned in the literary sources but its ambiguous position beside the port town of Chittagong has contributed to the difficulty of assigning neat hierarchical statuses to either of them. This problem complicates when we look further into the history of the following decades where both Chittagong and Satgaon serve as veritable trading posts. J.N. Sarkar while

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writing about Saptagram or Satgaon (literally meaning seven villages) observes that this town had been, ‘the theme of old Bengali poetry and legend and early traveller’s tales’.39 Perhaps he was referring to the mention of Saptagram as one of the busy ports in the Manasamangala Kavya by the fifteenth-century poet Bipradas Pipilai and in Chandimangal by the sixteenth-century poet Mukundaram.40 The commercial value of the port town of Chittagong either seems to have been less highlighted in the sources prior to the sixteenth century or have been lost in the wrong identification of names of places. Nevertheless its presence as an entrepôt can be well ascertained from the accounts of Ibn Battuta, Ma-Huan, IbnMajid and other travellers in the medieval period as well as the account of the visit of an Imperial Chinese fleet in 1405.41 Also noteworthy is the fact that the name of Chittagong does not occur in the list of mint towns mentioned in the Riyaz-us Salatin where however the name of Satgaon features, along with Lakhnauti and Sonargaon. A town called the Shahr-i Nau has been enlisted but has been marked as unidentified.42 Any amount of conjecture is possible, but what can be confirmed is that it had certainly been a port town since the name literally meant ‘City of Boats’. And to add to it, there had not been many a port town in the medieval history of Bengal that could have so easily fitted into this label apart from the larger ports of Satgaon and Chittagong.43 However, in the face of a lack of any strong conclusive evidence, we might as well assume that the story of Bengal’s urbanization before 1500 remained chiefly three-pronged. Care should be taken however to avoid eliminating or writing off the level of intermediate towns or suburban hubs in this urban hierarchy which were no less important in their individual capacities.44 THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION OR THE FUMBLING ZONE

The period of the sixteenth century has been significant in the history of Bengal since it led to the advent of new powers and a shuffle in the nature of these powers. It consequently shaped the history of the towns through ‘a history of appropriation and resist-


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ance, (a history of ) internal and external war, defiance and monopoly, a history in which resources are concentrated for the pursuit of some struggle, for the enhancement of power’.45 As an eventful period both in the history of Bengal and that of the Indian subcontinent, Delhi witnessed the invasion of the Mughals who waged war against the Lodis till the latter were toppled and the former seized political power. While confusion and political chaos seized the capital, the province of Bengal broke free and passed under the independent rule of the Hussain Shahi dynasty. Bigger moments were triggered by the conflict between Sher Shah Suri and Humayun when Bengal became a thorn in the path of Mughal consolidation.46 It was only until the second half of the sixteenth century when Akbar regained power and brought Bengal under his partial control that this territory came to be included within the Mughal Subah. The frequent imbalances and turmoil in the power structures resulted in substantial shifts and disturbed the existent tripartite axis of Bengal’s urbanization. However, there was a crucial time split in the course of these events. The initial half of the sixteenth century was more of a period of transition where the hierarchies of the prominent towns kept constantly moving up and down the urban scale. With the emergence of Portuguese trade and traders and the establishment of the Portuguese settlements towards the later half of the century, a sketchy image of a changed yet gradually formulating hierarchical division began to be conceived. This hierarchy developed further strongly in the succeeding years of the seventeenth century. The continuity of Lakhnauti as a strong metropolitan town continued in this case till the middle of the century, with Tanda and Pandua operating as alternative capitals.47 It is to be borne in mind in this case that a capital town does not, under all circumstances, vanish into thin air or lose its urban character even it ceases to hold its position as an administrative town within a short time span. It might be a different case in a long-term context or under circumstances of sudden changes brought about by environmental factors.48 The same was true for Sonargaon in East Bengal. However, the fact that it was giving way gradually can be perceived from the statistics of the revenue generated from each of these sarkars—the highest

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was derived from the sarkar of Jannatabad or Lakhnauti, which was also ‘commonly known as Gaur’.49 Followed by Satgaon, Chittagong and finally Sonargaon.50 While Gaur-Lakhnauti was supposed to yield a sum of 18,846,967 dams as revenue, Satgaon was estimated to provide 16,724,724 dams, followed by Chittagong at 11,424,310 dams and Sonargaon 10,331,333 dams. The diminished importance of Sonargaon can thus be adequately deduced in this connection though Satgaon comes up still as a strikingly thriving case. The fact that the port town of Satgaon still yielded greater revenue in comparison to the port town of Chittagong though the Portuguese labelled Chittagong as their major port, leaves matters confusing. S. Subrahmanyam has pointed out that in the early years of the sixteenth century, the major part of overseas trade from Bengal passed through two ports: to the west Satgaon on the river Saraswati and to the east through Chittagong at the mouth of river Karnaphuli.51 The fact that both of these port towns existed and operated simultaneously at this time is beyond doubt but nothing concrete can be inferred as regards their hierarchy or relative prominence in Bengal in this context. It remained largely a combination of continuities amidst gradual changes. One can partially say that Satgaon being located closer to Gaur-Lakhnauti and a little more inland in comparison to Chittagong could have meant that the Portuguese and the other travellers had an easier access and a stronger footing in Chittagong. This can be ascertained more definitively from the administrative records which shows lesser vigilance on Chittagong as a port town compared to Satgaon. With Chittagong on the peripheral zone bordered by seas, it enjoyed greater openness and more space, thereby explaining its lax monitoring. To add to this could be the possible explanation of Chittagong changing hands between the rulers of Bengal and Arakan frequently during this period, so much so that the Portuguese sneaked in and took advantage of the situation and virtually became, thanks to their naval supremacy, the masters of this town.52 All in all, this period seemed to be a fumbling zone in the history of Bengal’s urbanization. The complex of dominations followed a fluid pattern so that there was no neat hierarchy that could have


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possibly emerged. The saga of urban life was one wrought with too many appropriations and resistances within the same domain in a short span of time. What naturally came forth is a scramble for positions that was gained alternatively by various towns and cities but none was retained strongly for a long time. This was clear in the example of Tanda that was coming up as a strong alternative capital along with Pandua for replacing Gaur-Lakhnauti in times of crisis.53 The basis for the phenomenon of urbanization to acquire its specific pattern was still vague and in a fumbling state of obscurity. No amount of light shed on the power situation could clear this fuzz. This period thus remained best described as a transitional moment, a fumbling phase in the process of ‘appropriation’ and ‘resistance’ towards a possible or probable ‘consolidation’ of the complex of domination. THE ADVENT OF THE PORTUGUESE

As the chartered Companies swept the shores of the Indian Ocean, the sixteenth century heralded a new era of imperialism. Networks of European empires began interacting with the local kingdoms in the domain of trade, that often cut into the political arena. It weaved newer webs of power struggles; it offered fresher boosts to the complex of dominations that reshaped the conventional urban pattern in Bengal. The process of transition had undoubtedly kicked in; the Portuguese interruption only accelerated the process. At the close of the sixteenth century, a clearer perception of the urban hierarchy and urban pattern began to originate. The air now reeked of trade and commerce, and Bengal witnessed the advent of yet another new force—from even newer lands with a still newer faith. There were fresher experiences of ‘struggle’ and ‘defiance’ that was being driven towards ‘monopoly’ and all of these was registered in the rise, growth and decline of towns and cities. That trade in Bengal had been a lucrative option is a fact that has been recognized widely in all the sources and travel accounts of this period. Ralph Fitch had left accounts of the extensive Portuguese settlements in Bengal of which he painted a picture of ‘rich(ness) and prosperous(ity)’,54 Tome Pires called it a ‘very

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productive’ land, flourishing in trade with a large number of ‘Bengalee merchants’55 while Caesare Federici described Satgaon as ‘a reasonable(y) faire city’ where every year almost 30-35 big and small ships were laden with many ‘sorts of merchandise’ at its port.56 There has been enough evidence about Bengal being an active participant in the intra-Asian as well as colonial trading networks. Ample incentives lay in Bengal therefore for the Portuguese to set up factories and trading bases there. Vasco da Gama was quick to realize the worth of Bengal since he had written back in Portugal that ‘The country could export quantities of wheat and very valuable cotton goods. Cloths which sell on the spot or twenty-two shillings and six pence fetch ninety shillings in Calicut. It abounds in silver’.57 This led to a power struggle that ensued partly from mercantile disputes and partly from political conflicts. It should be noted here that there was really no clash of power in terms of religiosity58 since often in many instances the Portuguese had provided military assistance to Islamic rulers (the case of Bahadur Shah against Humayun in Surat) against other Muslim rulers. It was purely the private benefits and trading interests that led to some collision between the Portuguese and the rulers and governors of Bengal. Bengal’s geographical position at the periphery of the Indian subcontinent with political tensions and a looser control from the centre, led to its steady profit from the seaward trade till it ended up as one of the core areas of the subcontinent. The flow of trade boosted the economy and the concentration of mercantile power in these lands enhanced the political significance of Bengal in the Mughal sphere of influence. According to J.J. Campos, who had produced a seminal work on the Portuguese in Bengal, the frequent streaks of hostilities and distrust between the Portuguese and the native rulers as well as some indigenous merchants led to power struggles and disruptions. It is interesting to note here how the early modern era brought in an intense intermingling in the domain of politics and trade in Bengal, so much so that the port town of Chittagong which had been swinging between the governance of Bengal and Arakan became the restive site of power struggles and fiasco. A curious mix


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of the mercantile and political elements meant that power now acquired a new colour and language. The entry of the Portuguese traders who made their presence felt all of a sudden pretty much strongly, made the political actors sit up and reckon these elements as newly sprouting forces. The interplay of all these forces and powers initiated a different urban pattern. To borrow the words of Abrams, such emerging patterns were ‘highly complicated and many-sided’59 and ‘it is such patterns that towns pre-eminently invite us to identify and disentangle’.60 The ups and downs in the saga of Bengal’s urbanization took its twists and turns according to these nuances in the complex of dominations. Under such circumstances, the vibrant port towns started becoming increasingly important for political control in the following decades. The major port towns of this time were Chittagong and Satgaon which came to be known as the ‘Porto Grande’ or great port and ‘Porto Piqueno’ or little port respectively. They served as trading bases for the Portuguese factories for a long time. The intelligence reports of one of the earliest Portuguese visitors to Bengal, Fernao Lopes de Castanheda reveal the importance of Chittagong as a promising port for the Portuguese. Described as a city wellserved with water so that every road there flowed into a ribiero (a brook) which were covered by bridges that served the roads and the casa terreas (low lying houses), Chatigam or Chittagong seemed to offer a lucrative commercial base for the first Portuguese.61 No sooner had its potential been realized, there was a pressing desire for the acquisition of this town. Permitting the Portuguese to settle there inevitably provoked frictions with the Mughal officials posted in Bengal. Complaints from the Mughal governor at Chittagong that the Portuguese trading posts were causing a significant reduction in their revenue earnings thus grew.62 The port of Satgaon on the other hand, due to extreme silting soon became obsolete, so that a Mughal farman granted the Portuguese to found a new settlement close to Satgaon by the name of Hooghly in 1579.63 At this juncture, the tumult in the hierarchical positions in the urban scale gradually began to move towards some kind of a partial stabilization with another probable tripartite urban pattern on the formation. The manner in which these factories had been appro-

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priated after much infighting and their temporal nature has already been enumerated by Campos and Subrahmanyam in details. But what might interest us here are the power equations playing a fast and furious role in shaping the urban nodes. The nature of acquisition of the towns of Satgaon and Chittagong, with the former replaced by Hooghly at a later stage was very much what Abrams identified as the dynamic of ‘the champions of freedom in one relationship within such a complex . . . (as) practitioners of oppression in other relationships.’64 The seizure of these port towns and the pain endured by the Portuguese in achieving the same have been so sympathetically portrayed by Campos, that one could already see through it the underlying glory of a triumphant moment in the history of Portuguese imperialism. Also, as an ally to the local rulers and the Arakans, the Portuguese helped them fight for their freedom against the Mughal Emperor and his armies.65 At the same time the issuing of Portuguese cartazes, or the menace of Portuguese piracy that plagued the waters around the Bay of Bengal were detrimental to the Mughal governors’ interests.66 The political involvement of the Portuguese for exchanging trade deals against military assistance were sure signs of force that left strong colonial imprints in the Indian Oceanic maritime history. Accused of using the naval supremacy to their advantage in trade, especially private trade, they proved to be a cause of substantial botheration to the local governors and political actors in contemporary Bengal. Besides these regular port towns of Hughli and Chittagong, Dacca as an administrative centre appeared to aim for an ambitious position in the hierarchy. The diminishing vivacity of the urbanism of Gaur-Lakhnauti had come to be replenished eventually by other political bases like Rajmahal and Tanda alternatively.67 However, with Sher Shah Suri’s project of the Grand Trunk Road trying to connect Dacca with Chittagong improved the chances of the urban potential of Dacca. The entire focus of Bengal now it seemed came to be shifted on the eastern part and Dacca gradually began to replace Sonargaon, Lakhnauti and other alternate political capitals.68 However, what is again striking is the manner in which Dacca became noteworthy. Settled by the Portuguese traders in 1580,69


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this town had been praised by Fitch and others as famous for producing fine silk and muslin cloth as valuable trading commodities. It was only much later in 1608 when Islam Khan turned Dacca as his new capital, that this city gained administrative worth.70 Going further down the centuries, only when Dacca had emerged as a stronger administrative state did it display a special politicoeconomic dimension. But at the very end of the sixteenth century, the port towns along with their new political companion towns witnessed another shift in the urban pattern of Bengal that reflected an enhanced bonding of political and economic relations. CONCLUSION

This chapter is therefore a summary of the urban patterns that changed with the change in the power structure and equations of Bengal. In the story of the advent of European trade and the clash of powers between the Islamic rulers and the Portuguese traders, is writ large the story of the rise and decline of towns and sea ports in early modern Bengal. The idea of exploring this dimension in the history of Bengal’s urbanization has been based on Abram’s dialectic of ‘power and freedom’. As Abrams puts it, it had been a journey ‘towards the imposition of power as law and the usurpation of power as freedom; towards a world of regulation and resistance, incorporation and escape and reincorporation’.71 The towns of Bengal were struggling with sudden bouts of subjugation and independence. The law of the Senas were changed and invested with new meanings and dimensions after the usurpation of power by the Islamic rulers. The local rulers of Bengal in the process were trying to combine their schemes of administration with those at the centre. But fraught with tensions and disturbances, this balance was always precariously tilted. Naturally the slimmest opportunity for snapping ties with the throne at Delhi was never missed which brought about intermediate spells of independent rule till the Mughal suzerainty would descend heavily and regain control again. What remained common amidst all these sweeping changes was the site where these actions took place—the towns and cities that

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were part of the story of ‘regulation and resistance, incorporation and escape and reincorporation’. With the commencement of the Islamic rule in the medieval centuries,72 cities and towns as zones of struggles and battles emerged. The urban life and culture of Gaur-Lakhnauti was entrusted into the hands of its new power holders and its appearance and spirit came to be fashioned accordingly. As the then context of time and space had been one that was heavily coloured with territorial conquests and invasions, the administrative fortified spaces serving as political centres turned out to be the most important. The entire act of resisting the older forces, imposing newer dictates and reshaping or reincorporating those spaces with newer meanings was what defined the rise of the capital towns like Gaur-Lakhnauti and Sonargaon. The sea then formed a negligible part of the political scenario, with Bengal struggling to assert its independence from the rulers at the centre in Delhi. The complex of domination by which Abrams meant, ‘a loosely integrated struggle to constitute and elaborate power’ thus operated in full play in this case. The towns of Gaur-Lakhnauti and Sonargaon reigned supreme in the urban race followed by the rather slightly less important port town of Satgaon. The pursuit of constitution and elaboration of power determined the nature of towns that were pushed up the hierarchical scale. An extension of this complex of domination resurfaces in the early modern era, which ushered in a new facet and understanding of power in a different setting of time and space. The importance of trade in an era of expanding imperialist forces weakened the internal political bickering and squabbling and channelled the attention of the native rulers towards containing the outer forces. The entire perspective of power struggle consequently changed and so did the position of the towns and the cities that became involved in it. Newer definitions in the complex patterns of urbanization streamed forth and thus trade and colonial designs determined a new hierarchy. The port towns now became dominant centres of influence with even rulers of other kingdoms struggling to gain control over them, as was the instance with Chittagong


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and Hooghly. Nothing could however stop these towns from flourishing and before long they came up as the busiest of the urban hubs of Bengal. Thus by the end of the period we get a roughly new hierarchy where the towns of Chittagong and Hughli surge forth besides Dacca that was slowly emerging as the next big political capital under the Mughals. By the end of the seventeenth century, Dacca had turned into a prominent urban centre of significant political and commercial magnitude marking the political-trading marriage of the time. It is of immense importance at the same time to take note of the nuances in this complex of domination. The fumbling zones, as I would call them is where these dominative forces interact at a transitional level and are still scurrying to gain a position before assuming dominative stances. The first half of the sixteenth century in Bengal fits perfectly into this framework. This is usually the period of change, the demarcation of a transfer from one power structure and nature to another. It engulfs the phase of ‘appropriation and resistance’73 or just captures that momentary setting phase of ‘defiance’74 before the dawn of ‘monopoly’75 breaks in. Every town or city at this stage waits unabatedly and is fated to uncertainty in the urban race. The closing years of the century in contrast mark the culminating phase where relations are better etched out and the intensity of the power mêlée had been much lessened. There are then the lines of a probable new hierarchy that are taking shape and are likely to ripen and expand in time to consolidate a different pattern of urbanization. Towns and cities should be studied and analysed as repositories of power and spaces for interaction of power relations. The rise and decline or the allocation of hierarchical positions of these urban centres operates in accordance with the power equations. Urbanization in Bengal always has had varying perspectives, qualities and components which had been manifested in varying degrees and intensities over the consequent periods. The component of trade in this case penetrated the complex of dominations in early modern Bengal and reasserted its prominence through the shifting and changing balance in the pattern of Bengal’s urbanization and nature of urbanism.

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NOTES 1. Tomé Pires, The Suma Oriental of Tomé Pires: An Account of the East, from the Red Sea to Japan, Written in Malacca and India in 1512-15 and the Book of Francisco Rodrigues: Rutter of a Voyage in the Red Sea, Nautical Rules, Almanack and Maps, Written and Drawn in the East before 1515, Hakluyt Society Series, Nendeln: Kraus Reprint, 1967, p. 93. 2. Ghulam Husain Salim, The Riyazu-s-Salatin: A History of Bengal, Calcutta: The Asiatic Society, 1902, p.142. Also see Abul-Fazl Allami (trans. H. Blochmann), The Ain-i Akbari, vol. II, Delhi: Low Price Publications, 1949 (rpt. 2006), p. 135. 3. Ibn Battuta, The Travels of Ibn Batuta, printed for the Oriental Translation Committee and sold by J. Murray etc., London, 1829, p. 194. 4. Sebastian Manrique, Travels of Fray Sebastien Manrique 1629-43, vol. I, London: Oxford University Press, 1926, p. 64. 5. Pires, Suma Oriental, p. 89. 6. Ibid., p. 88. 7. Ibid., p. 70. 8. Amitabha Bhattacharya and Bratindra Nath Mukherjee, Historical Geography of Ancient and Early Medieval Bengal, Calcutta: Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, 1977, pp. 9-10. 9. Richard M. Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760, California: California University Press, 1993, pp. 2-4. 10. Ghulam Husain Salim, The Riyazu-s-Salatin, A History of Bengal, tr. Maulavi Abdus Salam, Calcutta: The Asiatic Society, 1902, pp. 7-19. 11. See under Bengal Subah in Abul Fazl, Ain, vol. II, p. 129. 12. For a concise summary see Philip Abrams, ‘Towns and Economic Growth: Some Theories and Problems’, in Philip Abrams and E.A Wrigley (eds.), Towns in Societies: Essays in Economic History and Historical Sociology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978, pp. 9-33. 13. Max Weber, The City, New York: The Free Press, 1966, p. 10. 14. Abrams, Towns and Economic Growth, p. 31. . 15. Ibid. 16. Weber has made clean distinctions between the orient and the occident while the later theories do not speak much about urbanism in the Asian context. 17. This is mainly to indicate the use of church records, i.e. the birth registers which though were not deprived of their own shortcomings were at least a standard measure of gaining a whole lot of useful data. The Indian contemporary scenario hardly provides such a parallel attempt of organized information.


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18. Brajadulal Chattopadhyay, Studying Early India: Archaeology, Texts, and Historical Issues, Delhi: Permanent Black, 2005, p. 68. 19. H.C. Verma, Dynamics of Urban Life in Pre-Mughal India, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1986, p. xvi. 20. The Indian trading communities were tightly knit communities of a common caste with familial affiliations and sometimes even having a community headman. The Banias or the Chettis were just a few to be mentioned amongst others. These merchant communities however were largely different from the structure and functions of the European medieval guilds. See Om Prakash, ‘The Indian Maritime Merchant 1500-1800’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 47, 3, 2004, pp. 435-57. Also see Shireen Moosvi, ‘Merchants in Medieval India’, in J.S. Grewal (ed.), The State and Society in Medieval India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 135-46. 21. David Held and Anthony G. MacGrew, The Global Transformations Reader: An Introduction to the Globalization Debate, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003. 22. J.N. Sarkar designates the Muslim Period of Bengal from 1200 in his book J.N Sarkar, The History of Bengal: Muslim Period 1200-1757, Patna: Academica Asiatica, 1973. Though use of terms like the ‘Muslim period’ or the ‘Hindu period’ is highly outdated and problematic in itself, we can still designate the time starting with the Islamic conquest as a distinctly different time period in the history of Bengal. 23. Reeta Grewal, ‘Urbanization in Medieval India’, in Indu Banga and J.S. Grewal (eds.), The State and Society in Medieval India, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005, p. 400. 24. K.M. Ashraf, Life and Conditions of the People of Hindustan 1200-1550, Calcutta: Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1935, pp. 127-35 and pp. 197-205. 25. Abrams, Towns and Economic Growth, p. 31. 26. Cited in editor’s note in Salim, Riyaz, p. 10. 27. Ibn Battuta, Travels, p. 194. 28. The identification of the place rests primarily on the accounts of Ibn Battuta. Calling the place Sadkawan, Batuta has described it as ‘large and situated on the sea-shore’. He has also mentioned the name of ‘Fakhr Oddin’ as the then ruler of that place. It has been confirmed from the inscriptions and coins that Fakhruddin ruled between c. 1339 and 1349 as there was a simultaneous succession dispute with Ali Mubarak Shah ruling in Lakhnauti at the same time. But whether it was from Chittagong or Sonargaon is still debatable. One possible assumption is that though his seat of power was in

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30. 31. 32.

33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41.

42. 43.


Sonargaon, Fakhruddin’s so-called ‘kingdom’ encompassed Chittagong as well. Going by the description of it being on the sea-shore we can assume that it could have been Chittagong but the Riyaz does not enlist Chittagong amidst the mint towns then. However, after some point Battuta writes about the city called Sutirkawan where he finds ‘a junk which was proceeding to Java, between which and this place there is a distance of forty days’. This could have well been either Satgaon or Chittagong but judging by everything, the general consensus is more inclined towards identifying this place as Chittagong. However these debates are still not finally settled. Reena Bhaduri, Social Formation in Medieval Bengal, Kolkata: Bibhasa, 2001; Pius Malekandathil, ‘Indian Ocean in the Shaping of Late Medieval India’, in Studies in History 30 (2), pp. 126 and 147. Abrams, Towns and Economic Growth, p. 32. See editor’s note on the frontiers of Muhammadan Bengal in Salim, Riyaz, p. 10. In the Riyaz it is mentioned that Muhammad Bakhtiyar ‘set out for the town of Nadiah, which at that time was the Capital of the Rajahs of Bengal’. This is probably reproduced from a similar account of Bakhtiyar’s sudden invasion in the Tabaqat-i Nasiri. See Salim, Riyaz, pp. 62-3. Ibid. H.E. Stapleton, Memoirs of Gaur and Pandua, Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Book Depot, 1924. The Ain also acknowledges Gaur as having a ‘fine fort’ in Abul-Fazl, Aini Akbari, vol. II, p. 135. Salim, Riyaz, p. 63. Nitish K. Sengupta, Land of Two Rivers: A History of Bengal from the Mahabharata to Mujib, Delhi: Penguin Books, India, 2011, pp. 66-8. Salim, Riyaz, p. 40; Abdul Karim, Corpus of the Muslim Coins of Bengal (Down to AD 1538), Dacca: Asiatic Society of Pakistan, 1960, p. 36. Sarkar, History of Bengal, p. 318. Dulal Bhowmik, ‘Mangalkavya’ in Sirajul Islam (ed.), Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, 2003. Stephan Van Galen, ‘Arakan at the Turn of the First Millennium of the Arakanese Era’, in Jos Gommans and Jacques Leider (eds.), The Maritime Frontier of Burma: Exploring Political, Cultural and Commercial Interaction in the Indian Ocean World, 1200-1800, Amsterdam: Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, 2002, p. 153. See editor’s note in Salim, Riyaz, p. 28. Rila Mukherjee has, however, also shown the presence of other smaller



45. 46. 47.

48. 49. 50. 51.


53. 54. 55. 56.

57. 58.

Byapti Sur ports around which there developed, what she called the deltaic towns like Bakla, Sandwip, Chandikan or Sagor, Sripur and so on. Rila Mukherjee, Strange Riches: Bengal in the Mercantile Map of South Asia, Delhi: Foundation Books, 2006, pp. 3, 334-5. Ranabir Chakravarti, ‘Between Villages and Cities: Linkages of Trade in India (c. 600-1300 AD)’, in Georg Berkemer, Tilman Frasch, Hermann Kulke and Jürgen Lütt (eds.), Explorations in the History of South Asia, Delhi: Manohar, 2001, pp. 99-119. Abrams, Towns and Economic Growth, p. 32. Iqtidar Husain Siddiqui, History of Sher Shah Sur, Aligarh: Aligarh University Press, 1971. Sarkar, History of Bengal; Evidence of mints for silver and copper coins in Tanda have been found between 1556-1605, expressed in M.P. Singh, Town, Market, Mint and Port in the Mughal Empire, 1556-1707, Delhi: Adam Publishers & Distributors, 1985, p. 239. These environmental factors referred to the frequent change in the course of the river Ganga and the plague that followed at times. Abul-Fazl, Ain, vol. II, p. 143. Ibid., pp. 143-54. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Improvising Empire: Portuguese Trade and Settlement in the Bay of Bengal 1500-1700, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 99. Jacques Leider, ‘On Arakanese Territorial Expansion: Origins, Context, Means and Practice’, in Jos Gommans and Jacques Leider (eds.), Maritime Frontier of Burma: Exploring Political, Cultural and Commercial Interaction in the Indian Ocean World, Amsterdam: Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, 2002, p. 131. Tanda and Pandua served as royal capitals in between because of change in river courses, frequent civil wars and rising epidemics. Michael Edwardes, Ralph Fitch: Elizabethan in the Indies, London: Faber and Faber, 1972, p. 86. Pires, Suma Oriental, p. 88. Caesare Federici, The Voyage and Travaile of M. Caesar Frederick, Merchant of Venice, into the East India, the Indies, and Beyond the Indies, tr. Thomas Hickock, London: Printed by Richard Jones and Edward White, 1588, pp. 22-3. Cited by J.J. Campos, History of the Portuguese in Bengal, London: Medical Publishers, 1919, p. 25. Pius Malekandethil, Maritime India: Trade, Religion and Polity in the Indian Ocean, Delhi: Primus Books, 2010.

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59. Abrams, Towns and Economic Growth, p. 32. . 60. Ibid. 61. Ronald Bishop Smith, The First Age of the Portuguese Embassies, Navigations and Peregrinations to the Ancient Kingdoms of Cambay and Bengal (150021), Bethesda: Decatur Press, 1969, p. 70. 62. Ibid, p.69; Tapan Raychaudhuri, Bengal under Akbar and Jahangir: An Introductory Study in Social History, Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1969, pp. 111-14. 63. Subrahmanyam, Improvising Empire, p. 121. 64. Abrams, Towns, p. 32. 65. A.M. Chowdhury, ‘Dhaka’, in Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, 2012. [Online version available on] 66. Biplab Dasgupta, ‘Trade in Pre-Colonial Bengal’ in Social Scientist 28 (5/6), 2007, pp. 52-3. 67. The fact that both were mint towns and were named Akbarnagar (Rajmahal) and Akbarpur (Tanda) prove their importance as alternative administrative capitals in Mughal Bengal. Singh, Town, Market, p. 239. 68. Rila Mukherjee, however, contends that throughout this period after the policies of the Husain Shahi dynasty, the focus of trade in Bengal shifted from the eastern to the western Bengal, but Dhaka as a political capital in the east grew more important and with time also evolved as what Mukherjee herself calls a market-town. Mukherjee, Strange Riches, pp. 187 and 219-20. 69. Campos, History of the Portuguese, p. 53. 70. Sarkar, History of Bengal, pp. 201 and 204; Abdul Karim, Dacca: The Mughal Capital, Dacca: Asiatic Society of Pakistan, 1964, pp. 4 and 9-14; also see Chowdhury, ‘Dhaka’, in Banglapedia [online version at] 71. Abrams, Towns, p. 31. 72. It is not to be forgotten that Islamic Bengal was differentiated into Sultani, Mughal and Nawabi Bengal despite the usage of the blanket term Islamic. Mukherjee, Strange Riches, p. 18. . 73. Ibid. 74. Ibid., p. 32. 75. Ibid.



TRANSLATED PRIMARY SOURCES Abul Fazl Allami, The Ain-i-Akbari (trans. H. Blochmann), vols. I-III, Delhi: Low Price Publications, 1949 (rpt. 2006). Battuta, Ibn, The Travels of Ibn Batuta, Printed for the Oriental Translation Committee and sold by J. Murray, etc., London, 1829. Barbosa, Duarte, The Book of Duarte Barbosa: An Account of the Countries Bordering on the Indian Ocean and their Inhabitants 1480-1521, tr. Mansel Longworth Dames, vol. II, London, Hakluyt Society, 1921. Federici, Caesare, The Voyage and Trauaile of M. Caesar Frederick, Merchant of Venice, into the East India, the Indies, and Beyond the Indies, tr. Thomas Hickock, London: Printed by Richard Jones and Edward White, 1588. Manrique, Sebastian, Travels of Fray Sebastien Manrique 1629-1643, vol. I, London: Oxford University Press, 1926. Pires, Tomes, The Suma Oriental of Tomeì Pires: An Account of the East, from the Red Sea to Japan, Written in Malacca and India in 1512-15 and the book of Francisco Rodrigues: Rutter of a Voyage in the Red Sea, Nautical Rules, Almanack and Maps, Written and Drawn in the East before 1515, Hakluyt Society Series, Nendeln: Kraus rpt., 1967. Salim, G. Hussain, The Riyazu-s-Salatin: A History of Bengal, Calcutta: The Asiatic Society, 1902. Weber, Max, The City, New York: The Free Press, 1966. SECONDARY SOURCES Abrams, Philip, ‘Towns and Economic Growth: Some Theories and Problems’, in Philip Abrams and E.A Wrigley (eds.), Towns in Societies: Essays in Economic History and Historical Sociology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978, pp. 9-33. Ashraf, K.M., Life and Conditions of the People of Hindustan 1200-1550, Calcutta: Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1935. Battuta, Ibn, Ibn-Batuta’s Account of Bengal, tr. Harinath De, ed. Pranabendra Nath Ghosh, Calcutta: Prajna, 1978. Bhaduri, Reena, Social Formation in Medieval Bengal, Kolkata: Bibhasa, 2001. Bhattacharya, Amitabha and Bratindra Nath Mukherjee, Historical Geography of Ancient and Early Medieval Bengal, Calcutta: Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, 1977. Bhoumik, Dulal, ‘Mangalkavya’, in Sirajul Islam (ed.), Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, 2003.

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Braudel, Fernand, Capitalism and Material Life 1400-1800, tr. Miriam Kochan, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd., 1967, rpt. 1973. Campos, J.J., History of the Portuguese in Bengal, London: Medical Publishers, 1919. Chakravarti, Ranabir, ‘Between Villages and Cities: Linkages of Trade in India (c. 600-1300 AD)’, in Georg Berkemer, Tilman Frasch, Hermann Kulke and Jurgen Lutt (eds.), Explorations in the History of South Asia, Delhi: Manohar, 2001, pp. 99-119. Chandra, Satish, From Sultanat to the Mughals: Delhi Sultanat (1206-1526), Delhi: Har-Anand Publications, 2006. Chattopadhyay, Brajadulal, Studying Early India: Archaeology, Texts, and Historical Issues, Delhi: Permanent Black, 2005. Dasgupta, Biplab, ‘Trade in Pre-Colonial Bengal’, in Social Scientist 28(5/6), 2007, pp. 47-76. Eaton, Richard, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760, Berkeley: California University Press, 1993. Edwardes, Michael, Ralph Fitch: Elizabethan in the Indies, London: Faber and Faber, 1972. Foster, William, Early Travels in India 1583-1619, London: Oxford University Press: 1921. Grewal, Reeta, ‘Urbanization in Medieval India’, in Indu Banga and J.S. Grewal (ed.), The State and Society in Medieval India, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 396-429. Held, David and Anthony G. MacGrew, The Global Transformations Reader: An Introduction to the Globalization Debate, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003. Hoselitz, Bert F., ‘The Role of Cities in the Economic Growth of Underdeveloped Countries’, in The Journal of Political Economy, vol. 61, no. 3 (June 1953), pp. 195-208. Karim, Abdul, Dacca: The Mughal Capital, Dacca: Asiatic Society of Pakistan, 1964. ——, Corpus of the Muslim Coins of Bengal (down to AD 1538), Dacca: Asiatic Society of Pakistan, 1960. Leider, Jacques, ‘On Arakanese Territorial Expansion: Origins, Context, Means and Practice’, in Jos Gommans and Jacques Leider (eds.), The Maritime Frontier of Burma, Amsterdam: Koninklije Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, 2002, pp. 127-49. Malekandethil, Pius, Maritime India: Trade, Religion and Polity in the Indian Ocean, Delhi: Primus Books, 2010. ——, ‘Indian Ocean in the Shaping of Late Medieval India’, in Studies in History 30 (2), pp. 125-49.


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Mandal, Sushila, History of Bengal: The Middle Age, Part I, Calcutta: Prakash Mandir, 1970. Moosvi, Shireen, ‘Merchants in Medieval India’, in J. Grewal (ed.), The State and Society in Medieval India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 135-46. Mukherjee, Rila, Strange Riches: Bengal in the Mercantile Map of South Asia, Delhi: Foundation Books, 2006. Prakash, Om, ‘The Indian Maritime Merchant 1500-1800’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 47, no. 3, 2004, pp. 435-57. Purchas, Samuel, Early Travels in India Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries: Reprints of Rare and Curious Narratives of Old Travellers in India in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Delhi: Deep Publications, 1974. Raychaudhuri, Tapan, Bengal Under Akbar and Jahangir, Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1969. Sarkar, J.N., The History of Bengal: Muslim period 1200-1757, Patna: Academica Asiatica, 1973. Sengupta, Nitish K., Land of Two Rivers: A History of Bengal from the Mahabharata to Mujib, Delhi: Penguin Books, India, 2011. Siddiqui, I.Q., History of Sher Shah Sur, Aligarh: Aligarh University Press, 1971. Singh, M.P., Town, Market, Mint and Port in the Mughal Empire 1556-1707, Delhi: Adam Publishers and Distributors, 1985. Smith, Ronald Bishop, The First Age of the Portuguese Embassies, Navigations and Peregrinations to the Ancient Kingdoms of Cambay and Bengal (1500-1521), Brethesda: Decatur Press, 1969. Subrahmanyam, Sanjay, Improvising Empire: Portuguese Trade and Settlement in the Bay of Bengal 1500-1700, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1990. Stapleton, H.E., Memoirs of Gaur and Pandua, Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Book Depot, 1924. Tarafdar, M.R., Trade, Technology and Society in Medieval Bengal, Bangladesh: International Centre for Bengal Studies, 1995. Van Galen, Stephan, ‘Arakan at the Turn of the First Millennium of the Arakanese Era’, in Jos Gommans and Jacques Leider (eds.), The Maritime Frontier of Burma: Exploring Political, Cultural and Commercial Interaction in the Indian Ocean World, 1200-1800, Amsterdam: Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, 2002, pp. 151-62. Verma, H.C., Dynamics of Urban Life in Pre-Mughal India, Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1986.


Aceh-India Commercial and Literary Relations in the Seventeenth Century SHER BANU A.L. KHAN


As crossroads of maritime trade between east and west, Southeast Asia had long been exposed to external influences—from India, China and later Europe. Influences which the region had ‘localized’, i.e. selectively absorbed, adapted and accommodated within its own indigenous traditions. From the early centuries AD to the nineteenth century (even now), India had maintained strong economic links with Southeast Asia. Besides commercial links, India was an important source of inspiration for the peoples in this region for its religious, political, philosophical, literary and aesthetic exports. This chapter does not attempt the ambitious goal of explicating such varied links that span such a long period of time. Its more modest aim is to focus on Aceh-India commercial and literary relations in the seventeenth century. Based on Aceh’s unique location at the northern-most tip of the island of Sumatra and the first land on sight by merchants traversing the Indian Ocean on its way south, Aceh had more links and in turn was more influenced by India than any other state in the Malay Archipelago. These influences were in turn transmitted through Aceh to the rest of Southeast Asia. The kingdom of Aceh Dar al-Salam is perhaps best known as a staunchly Muslim kingdom and a major trading centre for pepper,


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tin and gold in the seventeenth century. The fall of the Muslim Melakan Sultanate to the Portuguese in 1511 provided the favourable context for the rise of this Muslim port-polity since many Muslim Asian merchants abandoned Melaka for this independent port. This kingdom, being the successor of the early Muslim kingdom of Pasai was founded by Sultan Ali Mughayat Syah (r. 1514-28). Ali Mughayat Syah from the Mahkota Alam dynasty married a princess, Putri Sri Indera, from the Dar al-Kamal dynasty and the kingdom was formed as a result of the union of these two dynasties. Tomé Pires, who was in Malacca in 1513, observed that even before Aceh Dar al-Salam was founded, its precedent, Pasai was a rich country with a flourishing trade. The capital had more than 20,000 inhabitants and amongst the merchants trading in Pasai were Bengalis, Rumes (Genoese or Venetians), Turks, Arabs, Persians, Gujaratis, Malays, Javanese and Siamese.1 Denys Lombard suggests that the arrival of Islam, the introduction of pepper from Malabar and the role of Bengali merchants who constituted a major part of the international trading community in the Straits may have been instrumental in the founding of Aceh.2 Pepper propelled Aceh’s ascendency in the sixteenth century and it became the main Muslim commercial centre supplying pepper to the Mediterranean via the Red Sea. This northern connection, namely, Aceh’s trading relations with Indian merchants was one important factor in the rise of Aceh from the sixteenth century onwards. Before the arrival of the Portuguese, the ‘prodigious movement’ as termed by Denys Lombard and Genevieve Bouchon, was the Islamization of the ocean littoral and this was to remain a force from the 1500-1800. Indeed, according to M.N. Pearson, the continuities were more important in the history of the Indian Ocean than the discontinuities which resulted from the Portuguese impact. Expansion of Gujarati trade continued unabated in the fifteenth century once the first Portuguese disruptions were past. Farther south, Arun Das Gupta pointed out that Javanese trade and shipping continued, although the Portuguese conquest of Melaka meant a rearrangement of the trading networks. In this region, after the fall of Melaka, ports such as Aceh, Bantam and Makassar provided focal points for a continued Asian commerce.3

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The export of Indian textiles covered every important Indian Ocean port while the barter between Indonesian spice and Indian cloth formed an important part of the economic network of the ocean. At the eastern network of junk trade, the port of Aceh, together with Melaka and Bantam linked the southern Chinese coast with the Indian Ocean. According to Sanjay Subrahmanyam, in the late sixteenth century, the rise of Masulipatnam and its alliance with Pegu at the mouth of the Irawaddy River and Aceh built up a nonPortuguese, even an anti-Portuguese alliance in the Bay of Bengal.4 In 1539, Sultan Alauddin Riayat Syah al-Kahar of Aceh, continued his father’s, Sultan Ali Mughayat Syah’s expansion and he sent an envoy to Turkey to obtain military aid against the Portuguese.5 Aceh became part of an important anti-Portuguese alliance both militarily and commercially.6 Islam assumed a prominence in the kingdom and Aceh pursued a policy of profitable and long lasting relationship with the northern Islamic empires such as the Ottomans, Safavids and the Mughals. By the end of the sixteenth century the Red Sea had emerged as India’s principal market overseas. To some extent the emphasis upon the Red Sea was a result of the diversion of Indian shipping from Melaka which fell to the Portuguese in 1511. Indian shipping which gave up the Melaka voyage and found the Persian Gulf closed found the vacuum being created for them in the Red Sea much too tempting especially since it coincided with the increasing importance of the Hajj and the trade in Yemeni coffee. The importance of the Red Sea for India’s maritime commerce remained a feature of the Indian Ocean trade throughout the sixteenth–seventeenth centuries.7 Gujarati Muslim shipowners interested in preserving the freedom of high-seas navigation and wanting to retain the hold they had on the trade in the middle Indian Ocean were bitterly opposed to the Portuguese penetration. After Melaka fell, the Gujarati merchants did not stop their southward trade links with the Malay Archipelago. They did abandon Portuguese-occupied Melaka but they chose the independent Muslim port of Aceh instead.8 Aceh provided pepper, nutmeg, cloves, mace, tin, gold, ivory and elephants which brought considerable profit in India and the Middle East. Aceh under the reign of Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah Al-Qahar (c. 153771) became a principal rendezvous for Gujarati shipping which


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successfully exploited the failure of the Portuguese to close the mouth of the Red Sea. After a dislocation during the first three decades of the sixteenth century, the spice trade to the Red Sea revived significantly and Charles Boxer was of the opinion that almost certainly more pepper was being carried by Gujarati ships from Aceh to the Red Sea at the end of the sixteenth century than was being taken by the Portuguese round the Cape to Lisbon.9 A description from Couto’s Decada Oitava in 1568, where he notes that ‘the viceroy D. Antao de Noronha sent D. Luis de Almeida with six ships to Daman to go to Surat to prevent the ships that leave there for Aceh without cartazes and those which were to come back from Mecca to that river which always return laden with silver and rich goods’10 indicates the threat posed by the AcehSurat link to the Portuguese pepper trade. ACEH-INDIA TRADE IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

Indian maritime trade was further rearranged during the seventeenth century by the emergence of the English and Dutch Companies in the Indian Ocean. The arrival of the Northern Europeans and the final breakdown of Portuguese restrictions liberated maritime trade in the Indian Ocean and caused prices to rise remarkably in several areas. Pepper rose five times compared to 1599 in Aceh, the favoured Gujarati market.11 Aceh’s onward rise from the sixteenth century reached its peak according to many scholars during the reign of Sultan Iskandar Muda (r. 1607-37). His reign inaugurated a ‘golden age’ when Aceh not only expanded its trade but also its territories. Aceh’s influence expanded as far south as Padang in Sumatra and Johor on the Malay Peninsula. Many of the smaller polities such as Pariaman, Tiku, Barus, Inderapura in the west coast of Sumatra and Perak and Kedah on the Malay Peninsula became vassal states of Aceh and with this territorial control came also the control of their rich resources for trade. During the middle decades of Iskandar Muda’s reign (c. 1615-18) however, the earlier profitable trading ties between Aceh and the Gujarati merchants in the pepper trade declined.

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Basing his arguments on contemporary English records, A.K. Das Gupta states that Gujarati trade to Aceh stopped completely in 1615; there was limited revival in 1618 but the traffic never regained its old footing.12 The near complete abandonment of Indonesian voyages left the Gujaratis with only the Red Sea market and the Gulf. Moreover, the trade to the Red Sea came to be more and more in Indian textiles as spices were no longer obtainable. As the English factors at Surat put it, ‘The merchants of this place are alsoe undone by our trade to the southwards (i.e. Achin, Bantam, etc.) which hath taken (as we may terme itt) the meats out of their mouths and overthrown their trade that way’.13 As mentioned by the English factors above, the reason why Gujarati trade with Aceh declined in the first two decades of the seventeenth century is because of the English factor. The VOC had not yet made significant inroads in the early decades of the seventeenth century in the Malay Archipelago. The context was one of intense Anglo-Dutch rivalry in wooing the indigenous rulers for trade concessions and in this rivalry, the Aceh Sultan, Iskandar Muda, favoured the English, allowing them to have an upper hand in the pepper market. In 1613, the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir had granted a farman enabling the English to set up a factory in Surat. The English direct access to Gujarat cloth enhanced their importance as traders in Aceh and Sumatra West Coast. The English could use the traditional route taken by Indian merchants from the west coast of India to Aceh and then to the west coast of Sumatra. The English could barter Gujarati cloth for pepper at reasonable rates in the smaller pepper port of Priaman and an even smaller one of Passaman. In 1613, the English were favoured by Iskandar Muda more than the Dutch because the Dutch helped to defend Johore, Aceh’s enemy, when Iskandar Muda attacked Johore in 1613. Iskandar Muda was also not happy with the Gujaratis and seized their ship since they had traded with Perak, Aceh’s enemy. The Gujaratis were confined to trade [only] in Aceh. Even then, Iskandar Muda was not willing to give undue concessions to the English for trade in Sumatra West Coast and any other special privileges. In A.K. Das Gupta’s view, the Sultan was courteous but inflexible in his determination to pursue an independent policy.


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It took the English another year to take advantage of its favourable position in Aceh. In 1615, the Hector and the Thomas arrived in Aceh from Surat with a large consignment of cloth. This time round the English were able to secure licenses to trade at Tiku and Priaman but with great difficulty and delay, not just because of Iskandar Muda but because of John Oxwick, the English chief merchant. His rude and arrogant manners so annoyed the Sultan that he told Oxwick that Aceh was not beholden to the English but the English to Aceh.14 Oxwick was denied his request for custom-free trade in both Tiku and Priaman. The Laxamana told the rest of the English merchants not to allow Oxwick to go to court and advised them that with good words they might obtain their desire but with bad words never!15 Oxwick was removed from duty and Arthur Spaight continued negotiations with Iskandar Muda. Between 1615-18, the English established a factory and conducted flourishing trade in Aceh and the Sumatra West Coast. From 1616 onwards, Iskandar Muda was no longer content with issuing licenses from Aceh at a high price for permission to trade in Sumatra West Coast. He began to draw pepper away from these areas to Aceh port itself. He wanted to sell pepper himself and supply cloth to his own subjects. But he still needed the English and Gujarati merchants to supply cloth to him. Thus he adopted a policy of minor concession and firm control over product and pricing. The English, however, still brought Surat cloth to Aceh because they needed to exchange this for pepper which would then be brought to Bantam to supply homeward bound ships. Despite restrictions, the English could still make some profits from cloth sold in Sumatra. From 1618 onwards, Iskandar Muda’s centralizing policy was drawing more and more pepper to Aceh and the English began to lose their special position at Tiku and Priaman. The English failed to extend their licenses to trade in these places. The Gujarati and Dabul traders began to regain their position as the main suppliers of cloth to Aceh and the Dutch obtained the upper hand in the Anglo-Dutch rivalry for Sumatran trade since Iskandar Muda gave them license to trade for two years on the basis of Dutch promise

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to help him attack Portuguese Melaka and the valuable gifts they presented him with.16 The Dutch and even the French were able to bring Surat commodities to Aceh. With so many competitors, and assured supply of Surat cloth, Iskandar Muda was able to safely set the price of pepper high.17 The 1620s to 1631 saw a gradual contraction of English trade in Aceh and the rest of Sumatra. In 1631, the English withdrew from Aceh. The Dutch capture of Melaka in 1641 and the gradual control they established over the trade in spices rearranged the trading network in the archipelago.18 According to A.K. Das Gupta, the initial buoyancy of the early seventeenth-century trade soon withered as the VOC followed the footsteps of the Portuguese but with greater efficiency and ruthlessness. The VOC monopoly of the spice trade was real and nearly effective by the middle of the seventeenth century. Indian merchants felt the pressure keenly and although Coromandel merchants held on tenaciously at Aceh, the Gujaratis appear to have given up the south-eastern voyages fairly early, not many going to Sumatra after 1618.19 A mining of Dutch VOC records and indigenous Malay texts unearthed new evidence contrary to A.K. Das Gupta’s argument that the Gujarati merchants did not go to Sumatra after 1618. There was a drastic decline of Aceh-Gujarati trade from 1615 onwards, however, when English influence waned in Aceh in 1631, Gujarati trade in Aceh was revived. Gujarati and other Indian traders were active in Aceh from the mid-seventeenth century on, especially during the reign of Iskandar Muda’s daughter, Sultanah Safiatuddin Syah’s reign from 1641-75. Contrary to the received view that the VOC monopoly was real and effective by the mid-seventeenth century, the VOC complained bitterly against the competition they faced from the Indian traders in Aceh. The decline of the famed spice trade did not represent as great a setback for Asian maritime commerce as used to be supposed, and as S. Arasaratnam argues in his survey of the seventeenth century, the marked expansion of Indian maritime commerce during this period summed up much of the developments in the Indian Ocean.


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The major tendency in the seventeenth century was to consolidate the deeper penetration of the continent by trade which had begun a century ago. The three great Islamic Empires, the Ottoman, the Safavid and the Mughal continued to assure reasonable protection to the trader and built up the internal network of commerce.20 ACEH-INDIA RELATIONS DURING THE REIGN OF SULTANAH SAFIATUDDIN SYAH (1641-75)

The daughter of the late Sultan Iskandar Muda (r. 1607-37) was coronated as Sultanah Safiatuddin Syah three days after the death of her predecessor husband, Sultan Iskandar Thani (r. 1637-41).21 During the first few years of Sultanah Safiatuddin’s reign, it was not the Dutch or the English traders who were commercially prominent at Aceh’s harbour but the Asian merchants. In 1643, when the Supply anchored at Aceh’s harbour and Walter Clarke, the English East India Company’s representative, went on shore to make his presentation to the Sultanah, he complained that the English were opposed by the Gujarati merchants. The English claimed that the Gujarati merchants bribed Acehnese officials to hinder the passing of goods through custom house.22 The English also reported that the Dutch, who had a lodge close to theirs, faced stiff competition from the Gujarati merchants that they had scarcely any funds left. Besides the Gujarati merchants, the English and Dutch faced competition from other Indian/Muslim merchants from Bengal, Masulipatnam and Pegu.23 The above report was supported by an indigenous Malay text, the Bustan al-Salatin, written in Aceh in 1638 by a Gujarati-born Muslim religious scholar (ulama) by the name of Nuruddin alRaniri. This ulama was appointed as the Sheikh al-Islam, the highest religious appointee in the court of Aceh. Nuruddin alRaniri related in the Bustan that the Gujarati delegation that was in Aceh when the Sultanah’s husband, Sultan Iskandar Thani died, expressed their disappointment since what was promised to them by Iskandar Thani would now not be realized. Besides the merchants, Mughal royalty such as Emperor Aurangzeb and Dara Shukoh participated in Aceh’s trade and Aurangzeb sent a delegation to

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Aceh and exchanged presents with Sultan Iskandar Thani in 1641.24 Although it was not stated in the Bustan what was promised to the Gujaratis by Iskandar Thani, when their expressed disappointment was heard by the newly-coronated widow of the dead Sultan, she decreed to her ministers that the Gujarati delegates be granted exactly what was promised to them without a single change. Not only the Sultanah kept her late husband’s promises, she presented the Gujarati delegates with eight elephants, one in particular deserved a special mention because it had four tusks! Never before, related al-Raniri, was there a more generous grant given by the Sultanah to any delegation. Not surprisingly, he mentioned that the Gujarati delegation was very grateful to the Sultanah and went home happy.25 Another incident indicating the favoured position of the Gujarati in Aceh was when one Courteen ship seized two Surat junks at Aceh’s harbour and threatened to confiscate them unless a certain sum was paid. The Sultanah reacted swiftly. She imprisoned the Courteen factors until they agreed to repay the Surat merchants. She ordered William Locke to repay the amount and this to a great extent was done.26 From 1642-5, the English also complained about the many Asian ships found in Aceh which rendered trade for the English to be ‘dull’.27 The English withdrawal from Aceh in the 1640s left the Dutch free from dealing with a European rival but they still had to contend with the Indian merchants. Though the English admitted temporary defeat in Aceh, competition was healthy between these two European nations in India. Dutch attempts to control Indian shipping to Southeast Asia by restricting the issue of passes started in 1641.28 Before this, both the English and the Dutch maintained good relations with the Mughal administration and prominent Indian merchants by granting passes more freely and promises of protection of Indian shipping to Southeast Asia. After the Dutch conquest of Melaka in 1641, in an effort to divert Indian trade to Melaka, the Dutch officials in Surat received orders from Batavia to restrict passes to Aceh and other ports and that these would be given only on the condition that these vessels first called at Melaka and paid taxes there. This caused tensions between the Dutch and Indian merchants. For example, Nawab Mir Jumla, General of the


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Golconda, was an exceptionally powerful man. He traded with Pegu, Tenasserim, Aceh, Arakan, Persia, Bengala, Mocca, Perak, Maldives and Macassar.29 Both the Dutch and English were anxious to be in his good graces. The nawab was extremely irritated by the Dutch refusal to grant passes to Indian ships who wanted to trade with Ceylon, Aceh and all other districts where the Company wanted to establish a monopoly.30 Mir Jumla threatened to attack Pulicat but was appeased when the Dutch promised to restore to grant passes to Aceh and other places.31 The Dutch too were unable to maintain their pass system since, in return for concessions given by the Mughal Emperor to them, the envoys there found themselves obliged to undertake that passes were to be freely issued for Indian vessels bound to Aceh and other parts under Dutch control.32 The English, too, facing increasing opposition from local Indian merchants resolved to reduce their establishment in the East to the lowest practicable limit. Instructions were sent out in September 1653 for the dissolution of all factories under the Eastern Presidency except for Fort St. George and Masulipatnam. 33 TIN TRADE

After conquering Melaka in 1641, the VOC was determined to make the port a commercial success, or at least, to make it pay for its own upkeep.34 The Company officials wanted to ensure that they inherited what they believed were Portuguese rights—one of which was the surrender of half of Perak’s tin to Melaka at a fixed price. The problem was that these so-called rights existed merely in theory. In 1641, the VOC officials realized that in reality, Perak was channelling lucrative tin to Aceh instead and the kingdom was reaping the profits of the tin trade by selling the highly demanded tin to other traders at her port, the English, Indians and Asians. Tin, besides copper, had been imported through Masulipatnam and had sold well into the interior.35 The tussle between Aceh and VOC over control of the tin trade in the Melaka Straits and in Perak in particular, was long and drawn-out. The VOC’s main instruments to control the tin trade on the

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peninsula was to pressurize the tin-producing areas to sign contracts with the Company and, when necessary, blockade them. On 11 July 1642, the Company signed a contract with Kedah with stipulations for Kedah to deliver half of its tin to the Company traders at a fixed price and to forbid all other foreign traders without pass from Company authorities from trading in its port. A similar contract was signed on 20 October 1643, with Ujong Salang, and on 1 January 1645, with Bangeri. Only Perak refused to sign a contract with the Company saying that they had no right to do so since Perak was a dependency of Aceh.36 Frustrated with their failure to obtain enough tin, Van Diemen, the Governor-General, blockaded the Perak River in 1644 and 1645, allowing only Aceh and Perak vessels to pass. The Company stated that they blockaded Perak to claim what the Dutch alleged was the Company’s right to half the tin of Perak, a right they believed was formulated from the Portuguese and now they should inherit.37 This blockade was ineffective and fruitless. Perak and Aceh vessels continued to bring tin from Perak to Aceh, where traders from India, ever willing to pay higher prices, bought tin. These Indian traders established themselves at Sumatra North Coast and transported tin as subjects of the Acehnese Sultanah under the very eyes of the Dutch ship captains. Tin was exported from the Malay Peninsula to Aceh where Indian ships were already waiting and then from Aceh, these were transported to the more western parts of Asia. On 24 March 1645, the Company sent an envoy, Arnold Vlamingh, to Perak to negotiate a contract but the Sultan again refused to conclude a contract on his own authority and referred Vlamingh to the Queen of Aceh.38 Whilst the VOC opened diplomatic channels, they maintained their blockade throughout. The Governor of Melaka, Van Vliet, wrote to the High Council in Batavia maintaining that the blockade of Perak was important because of its contribution to the prosperity of Aceh. As long as Perak flourished, Aceh was Melaka’s ruin. He complained that through the supply of cloth by the Indians via Aceh to Perak and then to other areas in the Peninsula, nobody wanted to come to Melaka. He feared that because of this, Kedah too no longer wanted to maintain their contract. Jan Harmanszoon wrote to the Governor-


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General on 25 February 1645, that Kedah and Perak decided to supply each other with cloth.39 In 1646, the Company received 300 bahar 40 of tin, half of what they received in 1645. Furthermore, Kedah had allowed foreign traders to trade in Kedah once more.41 Antonio Van Diemen realized that in order to get to Perak’s tin, he had to first negotiate with Aceh, as its overlord. He appointed Arnold Vlamingh to head this mission. On 23 June 1645, when Vlaming arrived in Aceh, he was well received as usual, but he discovered that the Acehnese were not happy with the Dutch because of the Perak blockade and their actions on the Sumatra West Coast.42 The Acehnese and the Asian traders, especially those from India, bought pepper from Sumatra West Coast and transported them to Aceh. These Indian traders brought their manufactured goods to Aceh in exchange for tin and pepper and from Aceh exported cloth to the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra West Coast. Due to the exclusive nation treatment privilege granted to the Company by the Sultanah in 1641 for the pepper trade at Sumatra West Coast, the High Council in Batavia ordered that pepper from Sumatra West Coast must be brought to Batavia first and as long as the Company ships were not filled, no foreign ships could be allowed to take pepper. This order was so strictly followed that Vlamingh received news that Aceh ships, even those belonging to the Sultanah were accosted and the pepper forcefully unloaded from these ships.43 Despite the Company’s violation of the contract, which protected Acehnese rights to pepper based on its overlord position, the Sultanah honoured her promise of granting the Company exclusive nation treatment. During her negotiations with Vlamingh, the Sultanah renewed Dutch privileges in Sumatra West Coast but until the end of his visit, Vlamingh failed to obtain any contract for Perak except for the vague promise from the Sultanah to order the Sultan of Perak to deliver a good quantity of tin to the Company. Two years on, Vlamingh, who was then the Governor of Melaka, wrote to his successor Jan Thijssen, that he had not received a kati 44 from Kedah and from Perak, not more than 10 bahar whilst the Indian traders continued to transport 4,88,000 pounds of tin to Surat and from Perak alone they obtained 1,500 bahar.45 Vla-

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mingh proposed a radical measure to force Indian traders to pay tolls in Melaka first before they could go to the tin quarters. Vlamingh wanted a new trade network to be between Mataram, Melaka and Batavia to rival the Surat, Aceh and Sumatra West Coast network. The Dutch in Melaka would obtain rice from Macassar, pepper from Sumatra East Coast, to be exchanged with cloth obtained from Palimbang and Andragiri. Other foreigners were forbidden to trade.46 In December 1647, Jochum Roelofszoon Van Deutecom was sent to Aceh to address what the officials termed as the alarming situation where the Acehnese were making extraordinary profit and appeared not interested to continue with our friendship and alliance.47 The Acehnese allowed Muslim traders access to trade and tin in Perak and had shut the Dutch out.48 The Sultanah of Aceh, the Dutch claimed, had forced their junior trader Liven van Rossen to give a pass for free passage to a small Muslim ship that left Aceh for Perak and returned with tin and other goods to Surat which Arent Barens was helpless to stop. The Dutch were sure that the Sultanah herself was making great profits from the tin trade. Van Deutecom was accompanied by twenty-four soldiers for this mission in Aceh to ensure that ‘everything was in good order there’. Van Deutecom declared the desire of the Company to maintain the friendship and alliance with Aceh till eternity. Having done this, he asked the Sultanah to grant the Company’s requests to trade in Perak and to get tin and preferential treatment over Muslims. The Company ‘requested earnestly for the Queen to give her clear opinion and send a short dispatch so that the Company could see clearly that they were given better purchases and given the whole tin trade to the exclusion of all other nations’ in return for the Company’s continued friendship. If the Company’s situation regarding the tin trade did not improve, the Company ‘resolves not to stand this anymore and will move our office and will do all in our power to stop the Muslim traders and block the Perak River so that no tin could be exported. This is fair for the maintenance of our rights and reputation’.49 To appease Van Deutecom, the Sultanah sent two Acehnese envoys to Batavia to negotiate the tin trade of Perak. Even after intense


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negotiations, the Acehnese envoys refused to promise that a yearly fixed quantity would be delivered to the Company, certainly not the 600 bahar as Deutecom demanded. They argued that this would hurt the interest of the Sultanah; furthermore, there should be free competition between them and the Dutch. The claim that the Company were securing the rights that once belonged to the Portuguese made no impression on the Acehnese envoys. In an amorphous and fluid environment such as in the Malay world, there was no such knowledge of fixed ‘legal rights or obligations’ even less of inherited rights of previous overlords.50 Besides pressuring the Acehnese to grant VOC exclusive nation treatment in Perak, the Governor-General, Cornelis Van Der Lijn,51 warned all the Captains of Muslim ships who had landed in Aceh not to appear there again, nor could they frequent Perak, Kedah and Ujong Salangh and the surrounding areas. The penalty was confiscation of cargo unless they obtained passes from the Dutch chiefs in Surat, Coromandel and Pegu. They would also be fined if they went to Aceh and other tin quarters or they would be detained and brought to Melaka.52 The Company however had no legal recourse to stop Muslim traders from frequenting Aceh since Aceh had not signed any treaty that granted the Dutch exclusive nation treatment in Aceh. In 1648, however, the Dutch found the legal excuse to stop Indian traders, especially those from Surat to enter Aceh and other tin producing areas in the Malay Peninsula. Dutch officials’ policy of restricting passes for Gujarati ships sailing to Aceh since 1641 had angered these merchants, including the agents of the Governor of Surat and Princes Aurangzeb and Dara Shukoh.53 Dutch ships cruising and intercepting these vessels to inspect their passes and directing them to Melaka and released only after payment of dues aggravated tensions. These tensions erupted on the 19-20 April 1648, when the Dutch factory in Surat was attacked, and the goods and cash seized in compensation for duties extorted on Mughal ships in Melaka. In July, the Dutch went to Surat with a big fleet of ships to exact indemnity. This resulted in a Treaty,54 forced on the Suratis, which stipulated that Muslim traders from Surat, Bengal and other places, must leave Aceh, Perak, Kedah and

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Ujong Salangh or their ships would be seized and confiscated by the Dutch.55 Muslim traders would be kept out of Aceh and other tin producing areas by the Company blockading the Perak River, stopping trade in Kedah and preventing Surat vessels from coming to Aceh. The Company would no longer respect Aceh’s autonomy over her harbour and Surat ships plying her harbour would be forcefully stopped.56 The Company foresaw that there was to be no more rival traders in the surrounding areas around Melaka or in Aceh and by end of 1648, they would be able to procure enough tin not only for the whole of Persia but also to get enough supplies for Formosa. The oppercoopman (chief trader) Huibrecht Van den Broek was sent to Aceh in May 1648 to vacate the factory and to make an impression on the Sultanah. The Company hoped that this break of relations and the emptying of the factory, would make the Acehnese fearful and realize the advantage the Company’s trade could yield for their kingdom. This plan however, was to go hopelessly awry. Governor-General Cornelis Van Der Lijn appointed the oppercoopman Johan Truijtman as the Commissar to Aceh to carry out the Company’s plans. He arrived in Aceh on 13 September 1649. Truijtman found five ships—two English, one from Gujarat, one from Masulipatnam, one from Bengal plus two other vessels, one from Maldives and one from Malabar.57 Aceh’s harbour was busy despite the blockade imposed a year earlier. On 12 October 1649, the Sultanah gave her resolutions namely, that she wanted Dutch patrol ships at the Acehnese harbour that were keeping watch on the Gujarati Muslim traders, to be taken farther away. She would write a letter to the Governor-General to complain about the blockade of Perak and the monitoring of Aceh’s harbour so that a solution could be found and these matters redressed. The Sultanah registered her displeasure strongly to Truijtman regarding the Company’s blockade of the Perak River and their patrols of her own river and demanded restitution. During the last meeting with the Sultanah before his departure, the Sultanah asked why the ships had remained in her harbour especially when she no longer kept guard over the Company officials at their lodge,


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to which Truijtman replied that they were keeping watch of the Gujarati Muslims who were their enemies. The Sultanah asked, ‘if the Gujaratis were the enemies of the Dutch, why must you monitor our harbour? Should you not blockade and patrol outside Surat’s harbour instead, where your enemies are, not here to the aversion and terror of my people?’ The Sultanah decided to send the envoy Sri Bidia Indra to Batavia to negotiate about the grievances with the aim of resolving these problems. Far from resolving these problems, Aceh-VOC relations further worsened because of the Perak Massacre in 1651 where 27 of the VOC’s men were killed. As a result, one issue stood out in the 1653 and 1654 reports of the Generale Missiven—how best to respond to the murders, humiliations and losses the Company had suffered, i.e. to go to war or not go to war with Aceh. One point of view amongst Company officials was that war with Aceh was desirable because after the conquest of Melaka, all trade went to Aceh.58 The Indian merchants brought cloth to Aceh and this attracted other traders there to exchange their wares for these cloths. The cloth sold in Aceh was much cheaper than cloth sold in Melaka by the Company. 59 Furthermore, war was justifiable because of the inhuman acts committed by those from Perak on Company officers who were then protected and defended by those from Aceh. Without war with Aceh, the Company could not forbid the Gujaratis, Klings, Bengalis and others to sail to Aceh nor could they claim the old Portuguese rights in Melaka which they believed they inherited. The anti-war argument stated that war with Aceh would bring more trouble because this would alienate the Indian traders, whose supplies of cloth were still needed to generate exchange. The blockade of Aceh’s harbour might not bring a corresponding benefit to Melaka since the trade from Aceh could instead be diverted to Tennasserim, situated around 60 to 70 miles from Pegu or between Pegu and Aceh. This was an area of great traffic where Indian traders supplied the whole area and its surroundings with cloth and other merchandize in exchange with elephants brought overland from Siam together with tin.60 Besides the above reasons the Governor was also afraid that war

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with Aceh would bring benefits to the English instead. For example, an English yacht belonging to Mr. Winter from Masulipatnam returned there from Aceh with 16 elephants, benzoin, camphor, tin and gold.61 The Dutch feared that the English would fish in their troubled waters and they had no legal justification to prevent English traders from trading in any port that had not signed the exclusive nation treatment agreement with the Company–Aceh was one such kingdom. In addition, due to the peace between the Dutch and English, the Indian traders found an ingenious way to continue to circumvent the Company’s blockade. They loaded their cargo on English ships or they employed Englishmen to man their ships and flew the English flag. The English issued passes freely to these Indian traders to frequent ports in Aceh and other parts of Southeast Asia and the Company faced the dilemma whether to honour these or not.62 Thus, the Company concluded that war with Aceh was not advisable. Arasaratnam and Raychaudhuri stated that Indian trade with Aceh increased in the 1660s.63 They stated that Aceh continued to be frequented by Indian traders who sold cloth there and bought tin and spices. Indian traders began to use Aceh as their centre for the Southeast Asian trade. But evidence below shows that Indian traders had used Aceh as a centre of trade and that trade between these traders and Aceh had continued even in the 1650s. In 1651, Gujarati merchants, high administrative officials of Surat and Gujarat, even the emperor himself started pressing demands for passes to Southeast Asian ports. The merchants threatened to send ships to Aceh with or without passes and if they suffered any damage at Dutch hands, the emperor had the power to seek reparations in Gujarat. The emperor continued to put pressure on the Dutch and issued a farman in 1653 instructing the Dutch to issue passes to any Indian ship wanting to sail to Aceh.64 Joan Maetsuyker reported that in 1653, besides English yachts, many Muslim ships from different places had once more frequented Aceh despite the Company’s threats unlike the previous year (1652). At that point, in time, there were already eight Muslim ships in Aceh, one belonging to the governor of Masulipatnam.65 The Company remained gravely concerned about the Muslim traders, since


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more and more traders arrived and they supplied the surrounding lands with cloth and all other merchandize that it would be very difficult for Melaka since there was no sale of cloth here.66 Bengal ships brought nine elephants from Kedah, in return for cloth. Twenty-six vessels from Perak were said to have sailed to Aceh loaded with tin. The Governor began to wonder whether ‘our siege of Perak is in vain; that this could be stopped and more money is spent on more advantageous things’.67 Even with the blockade, a great many vessels with tin had gone to Aceh.68 It appeared that those in Perak had enough opportunities to take care of their needs and necessities without any need to break away from the blockade since they found a new way to transport these supplies into Perak from Kedah. Three Muslim ships were found in Kedah, two from Masulipatnam and one from Bengal with passes from respective countries and they easily obtained tin from Perak overland.69 A similar situation faced the Company in Aceh, despite the blockade of the Aceh River, in 1654, a year later, thirty-six vessels with tin from Perak arrived in Aceh. In Aceh’s harbour, the Company found three ships from Surat, four from Coromandel, one from Maldives, one belonging to the Sultanah of Aceh herself, two from Macassar and one freeburgher ship from Cambodia.70 From the time of the Dutch naval blockade twelve years earlier and the Dutch company officials’ pressures to gain trading concessions up to 1655, they still complained about how damaging the Muslim trade was to VOC.71 From 1655-9, VOC intensified its blockade of Aceh and Perak harbours in retaliation to a Company official’s murder in Perak which had a temporary dampening effect on Aceh’s trade with the Indian merchants. But after the signing of the 1659 peace treaty between Aceh and the VOC, these Muslim merchants who were forced to go to Melaka returned to Aceh to trade. The VOC’s trade in Melaka was once again badly affected by this shift.72 Company officials also complained that as a result of the great Muslim traffic in the textile trade, the Company’s own textile trade had suffered.73 By the 1660s VOC backed out and allowed Indian traders to sail to Aceh and other southern ports without restriction.74 According to S. Arasaratnam, by this time, the Dutch realized that the policy

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of forbidding Indian shipping to Southeast Asia was a failure. Furthermore, this was a means to keep on the good side of the Mughal government.75 The increased trade to Southeast Asia after 1660 coincided with the expansionary spurt in Gujarat and Mughal shipping in Surat. Though the fortunes of Asian merchants were cyclical, as were European ones, on the whole the Asian merchants worked a successful trade in Aceh up till the end of the seventeenth century. ELEPHANT TRADE

Another important trading community in Aceh were the Indians from the Coromandel Coast. Persian merchants were encouraged by the Golconda ruler Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah to settle down in Golconda. These Persian and Golconda Muslim communities provided resources for a strong Muslim trade centred at the port of Masulipatnam. The import of elephants from Pegu, Tenasserim and Aceh had been most profitable to Masulipatnam merchants and the purchases had been by the rulers and generals of the Golconda state.76 In southern Coromandel, Chulia Muslims participated in the textile and elephant trade by visiting ports in Southeast Asia, especially Aceh. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Coromandel merchants used Aceh as their primary trading area. Their textiles were in high demand and Coromandel factories created special designs and colours to suit local tastes. The Coromandel traders both Muslims and Hindus also exported rice, iron, steel, indigo and slaves and in return got pepper, tin, ivory, elephants, cloves, nutmegs and mace. Their knowledge of proper care of elephants on long voyages made them leading traders of elephants in Bengal and Golconda, Bijapur and Tanjore.77 Bengal merchants favoured Aceh because it could supply the burgeoning demand for elephants by the Mughal army in the seventeenth century. Aceh so valued this trade that it retained a resident agent in Masulipatnam. Golconda reciprocated and likewise had its agent in Aceh.78 Sultan Iskandar Muda of Aceh (r. 1602-37) established trading links with the Sultan of Golconda and other Persian nobles from Masulipatnam and Aceh was an important terminal port of its


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trade and these commercial relations were strengthened by political ties.79 In 1628, a Dutch officer in Masulipatnam reported that merchants from Golconda brought many elephants from Aceh and Arakan in their ships every year. Around 62 elephants were shipped to Bengal and Masulipatnam between 1628-35. The number of elephants exported increased significantly from 1641, during the reign of Sultanah Safiatuddin Syah. In 1641, the number of elephants exported from Aceh to Masulipatnam, Bengal, Orissa and Coromandel was 32. Shah Shuja, the son of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, when he was the viceroy of Bengal, shipped seven elephants from Aceh in 1642. In 1644, he sent an envoy to Aceh on a three-year appointment to arrange the purchase of 125 elephants on his behalf.80 Although the number fluctuated from 1641-62 ranging between 2 and 32, in 1663 it reached up to 43.81 After the Dutch capture of Melaka, the Dutch tried to lure the Indian merchants away from Aceh to Melaka by trying to capture elephants in areas around Melaka and selling them to the Indian merchants. On Johan van Twist’s advice, the Dutch made it a policy to hunt and capture elephants so that they could participate in this trade. According to a 1644 annual report, the Dutch efforts to capture wild elephants however, failed. Those few which were caught in traps escaped and another captured in a hole, died. Furthermore, the elephants they did manage to purchase from Siam and Ceylon could not be sold to the Indian merchants in Bengal since ‘these beasts were never once demanded’ even when they were sold at a lesser price. Clearly the hostility the Dutch factors faced from the Bengal merchants did not only arise from economic considerations. 82 The Johan Truijtman mission to Aceh in September 1649 mentioned above had two aims. Besides demanding for exclusive nation treatment in Perak, the Dutch also wanted a hand in the lucrative elephant trade. The price of an elephant sold in Aceh according to a report by Peter Sourij in 1642 was about 1,200 reals (250-300 tahil). In 1645, Jan Harmanszoon reported that a calf cost about 70-150 tahil, while the bigger ones were sold for between 200300 tahil.83 It was no wonder then that the Dutch were clamouring for this trade and jealously resented this profitable trade between

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Aceh and the Indian merchants. Truijtman wanted royal consent for the purchase of some elephants and requested the customary visits to the orangkaya (political/commercial elite) so that he could discuss Company’s business. In his Dagh-Register, he wrote, ‘Her Majesty promptly denied this request and with such violent demeanor’. The Sultanah also postponed Truijtman’s visits to the orangkaya as a sign of displeasure and to delay the execution of the Company’s business.84 Truitman concluded that all the resistance and hostility from the Acehnese was due to the ‘malicious party’ (anti-Dutch faction) at court. He continued to report that the Queen gave ‘frivolous’ reasons and ‘futile objections’ to his request to purchase elephants, saying that during the time of her father Marhom Makota Alam, the Company never bought nor exported any elephants. Furthermore, she argued that she had given the Company enough privileges in Sumatra West Coast and Perak to the exclusion of all other foreign traders, European and Indian. The Sultanah concluded that the Company officials should be contented and should not ask for new demands yearly. Truijtman did not believe the Sultanah; instead, he saw these as mere excuses. The real reason, Truijtman suspected, was the Muslim trade from Masulipatnam and Bengal whose traders since time immemorial had bought a great number of elephants yearly, which brought great profits to the Acehnese Queen and her orangkaya. In addition, they received much profit from the important toll and other heavy duties imposed on this trade.85 Based on Dutch officials’ complaints that Muslim merchants had given ‘excessive presents’ to the Sultanah and her nobles just to be allowed to purchase the elephants for trade and export, and Truijtman’s special request to purchase them, this meant that the elephant trade was a royal prerogative. Iskandar Muda directly traded in this trade and in 1634, exchanged elephants and other merchandise for the purchase of horses in Masulipatnam. This was not surprising since besides being a source of great wealth, elephants were symbols of prestige and power. Stately elephants, richly decorated and paraded in processions were meant to impress both foreign envoys and subjects.86 Elephants were also gifts of exchange between the Acehnese and Mughal courts. In 1628, Sultan Iskandar Muda


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sent 12 elephants as return gifts to Emperor Shah Jahan.87 As mentioned earlier, in 1641, his daughter, Sultanah Safiatuddin presented Aurangzeb with eight elephants. DECLINE OF ACEH-INDIA TRADE IN THE EARLY EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

According to Ashin Das Gupta, the decline of Aceh in the later seventeenth century freed the Dutch from any challenges from that quarter. Indian trade in the eastern waters during the later years of the century tended to concentrate more on Malayan ports like Johor, Kedah and Perak.88 The reason why there was a higher concentration in Johor, Kedah and Perak needs further research since based on contemporary records by English and Dutchman merchants in Aceh from the 1670s to the 1690s, Aceh did not appear to be a port in decline. Thomas Bowrey and John Pitt who resided in Aceh in the 1670s and 1680s, reported a still thriving trade at the port. Thomas Bowrey reported that the port was being frequented by many ships and numerous traders and craftsmen such as the English, Dutch, Danes, Portuguese, Chinese, Malayalis, Bengalis, Gujaratis, Javanese, Malays and the Makassarese, etc.89 John Pitt who was in Aceh in 1685 reported that the price of rice and cloth, two commodities the English hoped to supply and sell in Aceh in return for pepper and gold, were very low.90 The cause of this low prices was because of the oversupply of these goods in Aceh brought ‘by a great fleet of ships that lay in the road with bales of cloth and laden with rice’. In the 1690s, the Dutchman, Jacob de Roy wrote about the thriving port city of Aceh where some hundred European vessels came each year as well as a great number of native vessels. De Roy rated Aceh as the best place in the East Indies to make one’s fortune.91 Bengali and Gujarati shipping to Aceh appeared to have ceased though by the turn of the eighteenth century. According to Ashin Das Gupta, it seems reasonable to hold that the later seventeenth century was the golden period of Indian maritime trade as well as trade in textiles. Bengali shipping appeared to have reached its high water-mark in the 1670s but fell away rapidly in the last two

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decades of the seventeenth century. Trade to Aceh in particular which had been brisk almost ceased at the turn of the eighteenth century.92 Similarly, while there is a record of important Gujarati ships belonging to the Surat shipping magnates calling at ports such as Aceh and Melaka till the end of the seventeenth century there is no evidence of their doing so in the eighteenth century.93 However, whilst Gujarati trade might have stopped going southwards, other traders from ports such as Madras, San Thome, Cuddalore, Nagore, Hugli, Balasore, Masulipatnam, and other Coromandel ports like Pulicat, Negapatam and Porto Novo concentrated on the trade of the Bay of Bengal. Ships from these ports maintained a steady intercourse with Aceh and other ports such as Pegu, Arakan, Tenasserim and even Makassar.94 South Indian trading interests continued their linkages with the Sultans of Aceh and ships recorded as belonging to the Sultan of Aceh sailed into Coromandel ports till the 1740s. One feature that continued in the early decades of the eighteenth century was the freighting of Indian goods in Danish vessels starting from Tranquebar to Aceh. This was very strong in the last quarter of the seventeenth century but subsequently declined in intensity and continued on a smaller scale. In 1731, for example, two Danish ships were freighted by Indian merchants to Aceh.95 According to Ashin Das Gupta, the reason why the brisk Indian trade almost ceased at the turn of the eighteenth century remains obscure. However, one possible reason was the withdrawal of investments in shipping by Mughal officials while other merchants continued their low-key commerce as before.96 By the early eighteenth century, the debacle of Indian shipping could be ascribed to the political collapse in India and Persia which was accompanied by the crippling civil war in Yemen from the second decade of the eighteenth century. 97 ACEH-INDIA CULTURAL AND LITERARY LINKS IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

From early centuries AD to the nineteenth century, India remained an important source of inspiration for creators of traditional Malay


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culture and Malay men of letters. Literary ties between HinduIndia and Muslim-India with the Malay world were extensive. Besides the close commercial links with India, Aceh Dar al-Salam, unlike the more southern and eastern Malay Sultanates could be said to be highly influenced by Mughal/Persian court traditions. According to the Acehnese literary scholar, Teuku Iskandar, India was a source of literary influence even during the kingdom of Samudera Pasai (antecedent of Aceh Dar al-Salam) during the fourteenth and early fifteenth century. The account of Ibn Battuta testifies to the close relationship between the courts of Pasai and Delhi, of which the court language was Persian. Persian literature was predominantly translated into Malay during the heydays of Pasai.98 The defeat of this Pasai Sultanate by Sultan Mughayat Syah of Aceh (AD 1514) did not mean an end to the Persian influence on Malay culture. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Aceh became the most productive centre of written Malay literary activities and excelled particularly in Islamic literature. According to Vladimir Braginsky, another scholar of Malay literature, there are two important Mughal-Aceh parallels. The first is the preponderance of Ibn al-Arabi’s wahdat al-wujud (existential monism) Sufi school during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar (1542-1605) which after a severe criticism by Ahmad Sirhindi temporarily gave way to a more orthodox wahdat al-shuhud (experimental monism) school during the reign of Akbar’s grandson, Shah Jahan (1627-58). A strong resonance of a similar religious pattern was discernible in Aceh. In the 1620s-1630s, there was a predominance of Hamzah Fansuri’s wahdat al-wujud in Aceh during the reign of Iskandar Muda (1607-37) and its temporary retreat in the 1640s during the reign of his son-in-law, Iskandar Thani under the pressure from a more orthodox criticism of Nuruddin al-Raniri.99 The second parallel is the popularity of the same literary works and genres in both the Mughal Empire and in Aceh in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Many of the literary works originating from Aceh are Malay translations or adaptations of Persian texts, such as Hikayat Amir Hamzah (Tale of Amir Hamzah), Hikayat Bakhtiar (Tale of Bakhtiar), Kalila dan Damina (Kalila and Damina), Hikayat Bayan Budiman (Tale of the wise parrot, adaptation of the

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Persian Tuti-nama), Taj al-Salatin (Crown of Sultans) and Bustan al-Salatin (Garden of Kings). The Amir Hamzah epics enjoyed enormous popularity under Humayun and Akbar. Around the end of the sixteenth century, on Akbar’s orders, Abu‘l Fazl composed new versions of the Tutinama and Kalila wa-Dimna. The Taj alSalatin, although based on Al-Ghazali’s Nasihat al-Muluk (Counsel for Kings), is comparable to the ‘mirror’ written for Mughal emperor Jahangir (1605-27).100 Indeed, the Sultanate of Aceh was already known in Mughal court in the early seventeenth century and this was reflected in writings of the time such as the Ain-i Akbari by Abu‘l Fazl and the Rauzat ut-Tahirin by Tahir Muhammad.101 In the Ain-i Akbari, Aceh was seen as constituting part of Hindustan. ‘Hindustan is described as enclosed on the east, west and south by the ocean, but Sarandip, Achin, Maluk and Malagha and a considerable number of islands are accounted within its extent’.102 In the Rauzat utTahirin, only two kingdoms in Southeast Asia merited elaborate discussion—Pegu and Aceh.103 Tahir Muhammad related that the ruler of Aceh had sent a delegation to India and had sent some wood from which camphor is made together with other gifts to the emperor Akbar. He then described the other commercial products of the kingdom, its trade, legal institution and the dynastic history of the Sultanate and the Sultanate’s obsession with fighting the Portuguese.104 One text that reflects this Aceh-Mughal connection is the Hikayat Aceh (Tale of Aceh). T. Iskandar in a pioneering study argues that the Hikayat Aceh follows the pattern of Persian historiography, namely the model of Akbarnama by Abu‘l Fazl, the panegyric chronicle of the Mughal emperor Akbar composed around 1602.105 This Hikayat differed from other Malay Hikayat in terms of its structure and content. Unlike other Malay Hikayat, the Hikayat Aceh did not eulogize a whole dynasty but only one ruler—Iskandar Muda of Aceh (1607-37), similar to the Akbarnama.106 Moreover, other elements that sets the Hikayat Aceh apart from other Malay Hikayat are—the Hikayat Aceh is more deeply Islamized and is structured by a set of Islamic formulas which meets the requirements of Muslim historiography and that this Hikayat contains dates.


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In contrast to T. Iskandar, V.Braginsky is inclined to cite the Malfuzat-I Timuri (Autobiography of Timur) by Abu Talib alHusayni as the Hikayat’s main source of influence. He painstakingly compared all three chronicles and concluded that although all the three chronicles largely follow a similar pattern, the Akbarnama lacks three essential parts that are found in the Hikayat and Malfuzat.107 In both Hikayat and Malfuzat, the figure of the great conqueror (the hero) stands at the centre of the narrative. In both chronicles holy men and parents of the hero see prophetic, luminous dreams which symbolically outline the future territories that would come under the hero’s control. The hero in both chronicles show particular respect to the ulama and Sufis. Most importantly, the authors of both works use the form of an annual account of the hero’s exploits throughout the text, beginning with seven years of age in the case of Timur in the Malfuzat and three years of age with Iskandar Muda in the Hikayat Aceh. Despite these disagreements however, they both claim that the Hikayat Aceh obtained its inspiration from external sources and in this case both pointed to the Mughal-Timurid influence. Similarly, according to Leonard Andaya, what distinguished Aceh’s literary production from other Malay courts in the archipelago was its emphasis on Islamic themes and literary models from India and the Middle East.108 Besides literature Andaya further claims that Aceh’s court and administrative practices reflected practices of the Muslim courts in India and the Middle East. Aceh’s model of having four ministers of state owed less to Melaka than to the Mughal dynasty. Under Akbar (1556-1605), four ministers of equal power were appointed and met occasionally as an advisory body to the ruler.109 This is similar to Aceh’s four principal ministers—the Leube Kita Kali (principal judge of secular and religious law), Orangkaya Maharajah Sri Maharajah (chief minister of state affairs), Orangkaya Laksamana (chief security officer) and Panglima Bendahara (chief treasurer). A Malay court practice far more developed in Aceh compared to Melaka was the use of royal edicts and the royal seal. The use of the royal seal seemed to have been a practice borrowed from Muslim

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empires, in all probability from the Mughals. G.P. Rouffaer’s study described how Aceh’s royal seal was similar to that of the Mughal’s.110 B. Schrieke enumerated Mughal parallels to the palace architecture, park design, royal processions with elephants, festive river trips, even Mughal fashion. Also Schrieke pointed out that another AcehMughal parallel was the important function of eunuchs in both courts.111 Sultanah Safiatuddin Syah had a close confidant in a eunuch named Maharajah Adonna Lela, who not only held an important position at court but served as an intermediary carrying out her orders on business affairs outside the palace.112 Thomas Bowrey who visited Aceh in the latter half of the seventeenth century reported that the attendants to the third Queen, Sultanah Zakiatuddin Syah, are said to be 100 eunuchs.113 The number of these eunuchs and the extensive functions they served in the Acehnese court put Aceh closer to the style and practices of the Muslim empires to its north especially the Mughals. In the Mughal dynasty castrated young boys from the slave markets of Bengal were purchased to become slave-eunuchs. These slave-eunuchs formed a variety of functions such as servants, guards, the more able ones were entrusted to serve women in the royal harem. Some even filled high positions in the military, became court scribes or travelled to other ports to trade on behalf of their masters. In 1658, a eunuch named Haji Mahmet brought 24 packs of various cloths and some iron and steel to Aceh to sell for his master the Paleacatte Governor Mir Shah Deli.114 Some court officials in Aceh carried similar titles as those from the Ottoman and Mughal dynasties. B. Schrieke also drew attention to the Mughal origin of titles of some Acehnese officials such as karkun (scribe) and kotval (chief of city guards). The use of the word karkun for scribe was a borrowing from a Persian word. So was the word syahbandar (harbour master) and only in Aceh, unlike in Melaka, that the syahbandar was assisted by nazir (inspector of trade) and dalal (middleman) which were Persian titles.115 Mughal India, of course, was not the only inspiration of the Acehnese court who also paid close attention to the developments in other Muslim empires such as the Ottomans and Safavids. Given its close relationship with Persia and Muslim India and


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the presence of learned men at the court hailing from these regions, there are still Shi‘ite traces in the Sunnite Islam as practised in latter-day Aceh. Although Ibn Battuta speaks of Syafi‘ite Sunnite school of thought prevailing in Pasai, until before the Second World War there were still Syi‘ites elements discernible in Aceh. The commemoration of the ‘Asy#ura (Persian: the tenth of Muúarram), the death of Husain, son of ‘Al$û and Fâtimah and grandson of the Prophet was celebrated. In Persia and Muslim India this festival of remembrance is observed on a grand scale. In Aceh this day is called Acura or Asan-Usén (Hasan-Husain grandsons of the Prophet) and was celebrated by eating a special kind of porridge (consisting of rice, coconut milk, sugar, and pieces of such chopped fruits as pomegranates), which is called kanji acura. It is cooked in a huge pan for the consumption of the entire village.116

NOTES 1. Tomé Pires, The Suma Oriental of Tome Pires, London: Hakluyt Society, 1944, p. 142. 2. Denys Lombard, Le Sultanate d’Atjeh au temps d’Iskandar Muda 1607-36, Paris: Ecole Francaise d’ Extreme-Orient, 1967, pp. 32-4. 3. Ashin Das Gupta, Merchants of Maritime India 1500-1800, Aldershot: Variorium Ashgate Publishing, 1994, pt. II, p. 31. 4. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Trade and the Regional Economy of South India, c. 1550-1650’, unpublished dissertation, Delhi: Delhi School of Economics, 1986, cited from Ashin Das Gupta, Merchants of Maritime India 1500– 1800, Part IV, p. 358. 5. Ismail Hakki Goksoy, ‘Ottoman-Aceh Relations as Documented in Turkish Sources’, in M. Feener, Patrick Daly and A. Reid (eds.), Mapping the Acehnese Past, Leiden: KITLV, 2011, pp. 65-96. See also A. Reid, ‘Sixteenth Century Turkish Influence in Western Indonesia’, Journal of Southeast Asian History, 10-3, pp. 395-414. Also, Giancarlo Casale, ‘ “His Majesty’s Servant Lutfi:” The Career of a Previously Unknown Sixteenth Century Ottoman Envoy to Sumatra Based on an Account of his Travels from the Topkapi Palace Archives’, Turcica, vol. 37, 2005, pp. 43-81. 6. Ashin Das Gupta, Merchants of Maritime India 1500-1800, pt. II, p. 36.

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7. Ibid., Part I, p. 426. 8. Ibid., p. 427. 9. Charles Boxer, ‘A Note on Portuguese Reactions to the Revival of the Red Sea Spice Trade and the Rise of Atjeh, 1540-1600’, Journal of Southeast Asian History, December 1969, pp. 415-28. 10. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Explorations in Connected History: Mughals and Franks, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 28. 11. J. Kathirithamby-Wells, ‘Acehnese Control over West Sumatra up to the Treaty of Painan 1661’, Journal of Southeast Asian History, December 1969, pp. 453-79. 12. A.K. Das Gupta, ‘Achin in Indonesian Trade and Politics, 1600-41’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Ithaca: Cornell University, 1962, p. 442. 13. William Foster (ed.), The English Factories in India 1618-1669, 13 vols., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906-27, p. xiii. 14. Ibid., pp. 115, 128. 15. A.K. Das Gupta, ‘Achin in Indonesian Trade and Politics, 1600-1641’, p. 137. 16. Ibid., pp. 149-50. Evidence that the English had fallen out of favour was seen when the Dutch seized four English ships off the west coast of Sumatra. The Dutch bought pepper with the money and cloth from the English ships. When William Nicolls tried to excite Iskandar Muda to take action against the Dutch since they had dared seize ships at his port, the King replied, ‘Silence!’ 17. A.K. Das Gupta, ‘Achin in Indonesian Trade and Politics, 1600-1641’, p. 148. 18. Ashin Das Gupta, Merchants of Maritime India 1500-1800, pt. II, p. 38. 19. A.K. Das Gupta, ‘Achin in Indonesian Trade and Politics, 1600-1641’, p. 442. 20. Ashin Das Gupta, Merchants of Maritime India 1500-1800, pt. II, pp. 33-4. 21. For a detailed study of Sultanah Safiatuddin together with the succession of three more women rulers in Aceh from 1641-99, see Sher Banu Khan, ‘Rule Behind the Silk Curtain: The Four Sultanahs of Aceh 16411699’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Queen Mary University of London, 2009. 22. William Foster (ed.), English Factories in India, p. 129. 23. Ibid., p. 130. 24. S. Arasaratnam, Maritime India in the Seventeenth Century, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 67. 25. Teuku Iskandar (ed.), Bustan Us-Salatin, Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1966, pp. 59-60.

166 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34.




38. 39. 40. 41. 42.

43. 44. 45. 46. 47.

Sher Banu A.L. Khan William Foster (ed.), English Factories in India, p. 170. Ibid., p.146. S. Arasaratnam, Maritime India in the Seventeenth Century, p. 70. William Foster (ed.), English Factories in India, p. 12. Ibid., p. xxxiii. Ibid., pp. xxxiii-xxxiv. Ibid., p. xii. Ibid., p. xxxv. See Sinnappah Arasaratnam, ‘Some Notes on the Dutch in Malacca and the Indo-Malayan Trade 1641-1670’, Journal of Southeast Asian History, 10.3 (December 1962), pp. 480-90, esp. p. 481. S. Arasaratnam, ‘The Eastward Trade of India in the Eighteenth Century’, in R. Mukherjee and L. Subramaniam (eds.), Politics and Trade in the Indian Ocean World: Essays in Honour of Ashin Das Gupta, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 210-26, esp. pp. 211-12. J.E. Heeres and P.A. Tiele (eds.), Bouwstoffen voor de Geschiedenis der Nederlanders in den Maleischen Archipel, The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1890-5, p. xi. See also B. Andaya, Perak, the Abode of Grace: A Study of an EighteenthCentury Malay State, Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, pp. 44-5. J.E. Heeres, Bouwstoffen, p. xi. See also, G.W. Irwin, ‘The Dutch and the Tin Trade of Malaya in the Seventeenth Century’, in Nicholas Tarling and Jerome Ch’en (eds.), Studies in the Social History of China and Southeast Asia, London: Cambridge University Press, 1970, pp. 267-87, esp. p. 268. J.E. Heeres, Bouwstoffen, p. xlv. Ibid., p. xlvi. A Malay measure of weight varying roughly from 210-30 kg. J.E. Heeres, Bouwstoffen, p. xlviii. For a detailed description of Arnold Vlamingh’s missions to Aceh to discuss the Dutch East India Company’s demands for concessions for the tin and pepper trades in Perak and Sumatra West Coast respectively, see Sher Banu Khan, ‘Rule Behind the Silk Curtain: The Four Sultanahs of Aceh 16411699’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Queen Mary University of London, 2009. J.E. Heeres, Bouwstoffen, p. xlvii. A Malay measure of weight, 1 kati is about 625 g. J.E. Heeres, Bouwstoffen, p. i. Ibid., p. xlix. NA, VOC 1166, f.733R. Memorije voor den E.Jochum Roeloffs van Deutecum Raat van Indie gaende de legatie aende Coninghinne van Atchin met de jachten Zeerob, ijrslingen ende de fluijt den Engel over Malacca waer naer sijn E. Sich sal hebben te reguleren.

Aceh-India Commercial and Literary Relations


48. NA, f.733V. Memorije voor den E. Jochum Roeloffs van Deutecom. 49. NA, f.734V. Memorije voor den E. Jochum Roeloffs van Deutecom. 50. According to a study by Barends, the legal frame where European nations traded with local powers in the Arabian Sea consisted of court orders (farmans) where special rights were granted. Difference between Mughal and Persian farmans was that in the Mughal empire the farmans were irrevocable whereas in Persia farmans were brought under renewed scrutiny when a new shahanshah came to power. Privileges had to be reconfirmed after a new emissary was sent. Rene J. Barendse, The Arabian Seas: The Indian Ocean World of the Seventeenth Century, Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2001, p. 92. 51. Cornelis van der Lijn was Governor General in Batavia from 1645 to 1650. 52. J.E. Heeres, Bouwstoffen, p. li. 53. S. Arasaratnam, Maritime India in the Seventeenth Century, p. 71. 54. This treaty was signed on 18 September 1649 between the Company and the Mughal Governor of Surat, Miermosa. The Company seized two large ships belonging to the Mughal Emperor with a cargo valued at 1.5 million guilders. See Sinnappah Arasaratnam, ‘Some Notes on the Dutch in Malacca and the Indo-Malayan Trade 1641-1670’, in Journal of Southeast Asian History, 10.3 (December 1962), 480-90, p. 487. 55. Heeres, Bouwstoffen, p. lii. 56. Ibid., p. liv. 57. NA, VOC 1171, f.182V. Rapport substanteel aen d’ Ed Heer Cornelis van der Lijn Gouverneur Generale ende Heeren Raad van India, over d’expeditie in Aetchijn en de Coninglijk Majestijt aldaer, gevolchlijk ende repective onderhorige plaetsen van Ticu, Priaman en Indrapoura, bij heur subalte Gouveneurs ende subjecten alle op de Sumatra Westcust door den oppercoopman Johan Truijtman op 13en Augustij Anno 1649 van Batavia naer derwaerts gecommitteert. 58. Ph. Coolhaas (ed.), Generale Missieven, 1653, vols. 1-4, The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1960-74, p. 687. 59. In 1660, Aceh was so full of cloth that one bale of Guinea cloth as good as the one sold by the Company fetched only 48-50 reals whilst the usual price was 80 reals. Balthazar Bort, Report of Governor Balthasar Bort on Malacca, tr. M.J. Brenner Introduction and Notes by C.O. Blagden, Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 5, 1927, pt. 2., p. 132. 60. Generale Missiven Manuscript, 1653, f.100v. 61. Ph. Coolhaas (ed.), Generale Missieven, 1654, p. 688. 62. S. Arasaratnam, Some Notes on the Dutch in Malacca, p. 488.


Sher Banu A.L. Khan

63. Ibid., pp. 488-9, Tapankumar Raychaudhuri, Jan Company in Coromandel, 1605-1690: A Study in the Interrelation of European Commerce and Traditional Economies, s’.Gravenhage: Nijhoff, 1962, pp. 123-4. 64. S. Arasaratnam, Maritime India in the Seventeenth Century, pp. 72-3. 65. Ph. Coolhaas (ed.), Generale Missiven, 1654, p. 752. 66. Ibid. 67. Ibid., 1655, p. 775. 68. Ibid., f.47V. 69. Ibid., 1654, p. 752. 70. Ibid., 1955, p. 819. 71. Ibid., pp. 19, 23. The Dutch reported that the Muslim merchants from Surat, Masulipatnam and Pegu were able to sell their cloth at very low prices in Aceh which were in turn bought by the local Asian traders in exchange for their own products such as cloves. A great number of Chinese wares brought from Johor, Patani and Melaka were also traded in Aceh. 72. Ph. Coolhaas (ed.), Generale Missiven, 1655, p. 324. 73. Ibid., p. 337. 74. S. Arasaratnam, Maritime India in the Seventeenth Century, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994, pp. 72-3. 75. S. Arasaratnam, Maritime India in the Seventeenth Century, p. 73. 76. S. Arasaratnam, The Eastward Trade of India in the Eighteenth Century, pp. 211-12. 77. S. Arasaratnam, Maritime India in the Seventeenth Century, pp. 120-1. 78. S. Arasaratnam and A. Ray, Masulipatnam and Cambay: A History of Two Port-towns 1500-1800, Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1994, pp. 11, 26-9. 79. Ibid., pp. 26-7. 80. Takeshi Ito, ‘The World of the Adat Aceh: A Historical Study of the Sultanate of Aceh’, unpublished Ph.D thesis, Canberra, Australian National University, 1984, p. 416. 81. Takeshi Ito, ‘The World of the Adat Aceh’, p. 415. Ito provided a yearly table for the number of elephants exported from Aceh to Masulipatnam, Bengal, Orissa and Coromandel. 82. Takeshi Ito, ‘The World of the Adat Aceh’, p. 421. 83. An idea of the relative cost of an elephant may be gained from the fact that the monthly running expense of the Dutch factory in Aceh was 242 guilders, less than 25 tahil. The chief factor’s monthly salary was only 9 tahil. See Takeshi, ‘The World of the Adat Aceh’, p. 417. 84. NA, VOC1175, f.309R. Origineel rapport van den oppercoopman Johan Truijtman in dato 13 January 1651.

Aceh-India Commercial and Literary Relations


85. NA, VOC1175, ff. 323V-324R. Bijlagen tot vorenstaend rapport, 1651. 86. Sher Banu Khan, ‘The Sultanahs of Aceh 1641-99’, in Schroter Graf and Wieringa (eds), Aceh: History, Politics and Culture, Singapore: ISEAS, 2010, pp. 9-10. 87. Takeshi Ito, ‘The World of the Adat Aceh’, p. 413. 88. Ashin Das Gupta, Merchants of Maritime India 1500-1800, pt. II, p. 38. 89. Thomas Bowrey, Geographical Account of Countries ‘round the Bay of Bengal, 1669-1679 ’, ed. Sir Richard Carnac Temple, London: Hakluyt Society, 1905, p. 286. 90. Rice was selling at 16 bamboos per mas, the usual was at four to eight bamboos. 91. Voyage Made by Jacob Janssen de Roy to Borneo and Atcheen, 1691. Completed in 1698 in Batavia at the order of William van Oudtschoorn, Governor-General of Netherlands East Indies. Translated from the Dutch into English in 1816 BL, India Office MSS Eur/Mack (1822)/5, pp. 356, 363. 92. Ashin Das Gupta, Merchants of Maritime India 1500-1800, p. 432. 93. S. Arasaratnam, The Eastward Trade of India in the Eighteenth Century, p. 211. 94. Ashin Das Gupta, Merchants of Maritime India 1500-1800, p. 432. 95. S. Arasaratnam, The Eastward Trade of India in the Eighteenth Century, p. 215. 96. Ashin Das Gupta, Merchants of Maritime India 1500-1800, p. 432. 97. Ibid. 98. T. Iskandar, ‘Aceh as a Crucible of Muslim-Malay Literature’, in M. Feener, Patrick Daly and A. Reid (eds.), Mapping the Acehnese Past, Leiden: KITLV . Press, 2011, pp. 39-64. 99. Vladimir Braginsky, ‘Structure, Date and Sources of Hikayat Aceh Revisited’, Bijdragen tot de Taal -, Land-en Volkenkunde, 162, no. 4, 2006, pp. 441-67. 100. Ibid., p. 442. 101. See Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Southeast Asia as Seen from Mughal India: Tahir Muhammad’s “Immaculate Garden” (ca. 1600)’, Archipel, vol. 70, 2005, pp. 209-37. 102. Quote cited from Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Southeast Asia as Seen from Mughal India’, p. 209. 103. Ibid., p. 220. 104. Ibid., pp. 224-31. 105. Teuku Iskandar (ed.), De Hikayat Atjeh, s’.Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1958, pp. 20-4.


Sher Banu A.L. Khan

106. Vladimir Braginsky, ‘Structure, Date and Sources of Hikayat Aceh Revisited’, p. 443. For more details on Malay translations from Persian and literary ties between Muslim India and the Malay world, see G.E. Marrison, ‘Persian Influence in Malay Life (1280-1650)’, Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 28-1, 1955, pp. 52-69. Also, Claude Guillot, ‘La Perse et al Monde malais; Echanges commerciaux et intellectuels’, Archipel , vol. 68, 2004, pp. 159-92. 107. Vladimir Braginsky, Structure, Date and Sources of Hikayat Aceh Revisited, p. 447. 108. L. Andaya, ‘Aceh’s Contribution to Standards of Malayness’, Archipel, vol. 61, 2001, pp. 29-68. 109. Ibid., p. 53. 110. G.P. Rouffaer, ‘De Hindoestansche oorsprong van het “negenvoudig” Sultan-zegel van Atjeh, aangetoond o.a. dooe een merkwaardig Hindoestansch schilderijtje van ca. 1700, tevens onder herkenning eener teekening van Rembrandt’, in Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde, vol. 59, 1906, pp. 349-84. 111. B. Schrieke, Indonesian Sociological Studies, 2 vols., The Hague: Van Hoeve, 1955-7, pt. II, pp. 251-3. 112. Sher Banu Khan, ‘The Jewel Affair: The Sultana, Her Orangkaya and the Dutch Foreign Envoys’, in M. Feener, Patrick Daly and A.Reid (eds.), Mapping the Acehnese Past, pp.141-62. 113. T. Bowrey, Geographical Account of Countries ‘round the Bay of Bengal, 1669-79, ed. Sir Richard Carnac Temple, London: Hakluyt Society, 1905, pp. 310, 325-6. 114. L. Andaya, ‘Aceh’s Contribution to Standards of Malayness’, p. 59. 115. Ibid., p. 60. 116. Ibid., p. 43.

REFERENCES PRIMARY SOURCES, UNPUBLISHED Nationaal Archief, The Hague NA, VOC 1166, ff. 733-35. Memorije voor den E.Jochum Roeloffs van Deutecum Raat van Indie gaende de legatie aende Coninghinne van Atchin met de jachten Zeerob, ijrslingen ende de fluijt den Engel over Malacca waer naer sijn E. Sich sal hebben te reguleren.

Aceh-India Commercial and Literary Relations


NA, VOC 1171, ff.180-91. Rapport substanteel aen d’ Ed Heer Cornelis van der Lijn Gouverneur Generale ende Heeren Raad van India, over d’expeditie in Aetchijn en de Coninglijk Majestijt aldaer, gevolchlijk ende repective onderhorige plaetsen van Ticu,Priaman en Indrapoura, bij heur subalte Gouveneurs ende subjecten alle op de Sumatra Westcust door den oppercoopman Johan Truijtman op 13en Augustij Anno 1649 van Batavia naer derwaerts gecommitteert. NA, VOC 1175, ff.305-20. Origineel rapport van den oppercoopman Johan Truijtman in dato 13 January 1651. NA, VOC 1175, ff.321-8. Bijlagen tot vorenstaend rapport, 1651. British Library, London MSS Eur/Mack (1822)/5 De Roy, Jacob, Voyage Made by Jacob Janssen de Roy to Borneo and Atcheen, 1691. Completed in 1698 in Batavia at the order of William van Oudtschoorn, Gov. General of Netherlands East Indies. Translated from the Dutch into English in 1816 BL, India Office PRIMARY SOURCES, PUBLISHED Bort, Balthazar, Report of Governor Balthasar Bort on Malacca, tr. M.J. Brenner. Introduction and Notes by C.O. Blagden, Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 5, 1927, pt. 2. Coolhaas, Ph. (ed.), Generale Missieven, 1653, vols. 1-4, The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1960-74. Foster, William (ed.), The English Factories in India 1618-69, 13 vols., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906-27. SECONDARY SOURCES Alam, Muzaffar and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Southeast Asia as Seen from Mughal India: Tahir Muhammad’s Immaculate Garden (ca.1600)’, Archipel, 70, 2005, pp. 209-37. Andaya, B., Perak, the Abode of Grace: A Study of an Eighteenth-Century Malay State, Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. Andaya, L., ‘Aceh’s Contribution to Standards of Malayness’, Archipel, 61, 2001, pp. 29-68. Arasaratnam, Sinnappah, ‘Some Notes on the Dutch in Malacca and the IndoMalayan Trade 1641-1670’, Journal of Southeast Asian History, 10.3, 1962, 480-90.


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–––, ‘The Eastward Trade of India in the Eighteenth Century’, in R. Mukherjee and L. Subramaniam (eds.), Politics and Trade in the Indian Ocean World: Essays in Honour of Ashin Das Gupta, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 210-26. –––, Maritime India in the Seventeenth Century, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994. Arasaratnam, S. and A. Ray, Masulipatnam and Cambay: A History of Two Porttowns 1500-1800, Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1994. Barendse, Rene J., The Arabian Seas: The Indian Ocean World of the Seventeenth Century, Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2001. Boxer, Charles, ‘A Note on Portuguese Reactions to the Revival of the Red Sea Spice Trade and the Rise of Atjeh, 1540-1600’, Journal of Southeast Asian History, December 1969, pp. 415-28. Bowrey, Thomas, Geographical Account of Countries ‘round the Bay of Bengal, 1669-1679, ed. Sir Richard Carnac Temple, London: Hakluyt Society, 1905. Braginsky, Vladimir, ‘Structure, Date and Sources of Hikayat Aceh Revisited’, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde, vol. 162, no. 4, 2006, pp. 441-67. Casale, Giancarlo, ‘ “His Majesty’s Servant Lutfi”: The Career of a Previously Unknown Sixteenth Century Ottoman Envoy to Sumatra Based on an Account of his Travels from the Topkapi Palace Archives’, Turcica, vol. 37, 2005, pp. 43-81. Das Gupta, A.K., ‘Achin in Indonesian Trade and Politics, 1600-1641’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Ithaca: Cornell University, 1962. Das Gupta, Ashin, Merchants of Maritime India 1500-1800, Aldershot: Variorum Ashgate, 1994. Guillot, Claude, ‘La Perse et al Monde malais; Echanges commerciaux et intellectuels’, Archipel, vol. 68, 2004, pp.159-92. Goksoy, Ismail Hakki, ‘Ottoman-Aceh Relations as Documented in Turkish Sources’, in M.Feener, Patrick Daly and A.Reid (eds.), Mapping the Acehnese Past, Leiden: KITLV, 2011, pp. 65-96. Heeres, J.E. and P.A. Tiele (eds.), Bouwstoffen voor de Geschiedenis der Nederlanders in den Maleischen Archipel, The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1890-5. Irwin, G.W., ‘The Dutch and the Tin Trade of Malaya in the Seventeenth Century’, in Nicholas Tarling and Jerome Ch’en (eds.), Studies in the Social History of China and Southeast Asia, London: Cambridge University Press, 1970, pp. 267-87. Iskandar, Teuku (ed.), De Hikayat Atjehs, s’.Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1958.

Aceh-India Commercial and Literary Relations


–––, Bustan Us-Salatin, Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka, 1966. Iskandar, T. ‘Aceh as a Crucible of Muslim-Malay Literature’, in M. Feener, Patrick Daly and A. Reid (eds.), Mapping the Acehnese Past, Leiden: KITLV Press, 2011, pp. 39-64. Kathirithamby-Wells, J., ‘Acehnese Control over West Sumatra up to the Treaty of Painan 1661’, Journal of Southeast Asian History, December 1969, pp. 453-79. Lombard, Denys, Le Sultanate d’Atjeh au temps d’Iskandar Muda 1607-1636, Paris: Ecole Francaise d’ Extreme-Orient, 1967. Marrison, G.E., ‘Persian Influence in Malay Life (1280-1650)’, Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 28, no. 1, 1955, pp. 52-69. Pires, Tomé,The Suma Oriental of Tome Pires, London: Hakluyt Society, 1944. Raychaudhuri, Tapankumar, Jan Company in Coromandel, 1605-90, A study in the interrelation of European commerce and traditional economies, s’.Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1962. Rouffaer, G.P., ‘De Hindoestansche oorsprong van het “negenvoudig” Sultanzegel van Atjeh, aangetoond o.a. dooe een merkwaardig Hindoestansch schilderijtje van ca. 1700, tevens onder herkenning eener teekening van Rembrandt’, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde, vol. 59, 1906, pp. 349-84. Reid, A., ‘Sixteenth Century Turkish Influence in Western Indonesia’, in Journal of Southeast Asian History, 10-3, pp. 395-414. Schrieke, B., Indonesian Sociological Studies, 2 vols., The Hague: Van Hoeve, 1955-7. Khan, Sher Banu, ‘Rule Behind the Silk Curtain: The Four Sultanahs of Aceh 1641-99’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Queen Mary University of London, 2009. –––, ‘The Sultanahs of Aceh 1641-99’, in Arndt Graf, Susanne Schroter and Edwin Wieringa (eds.), Aceh: History, Politics and Culture, Singapore: ISEAS, 2010, pp. 3-25. –––, ‘The Jewel Affair: The Sultana, her Orangkaya and the Dutch Foreign Envoys’, in M. Feener, Patrick Daly and A. Reid (eds.), Mapping the Acehnese Past, Leiden: KITLV, 2011, pp. 141-62. Subrahmanyam, Sanjay, ‘Trade and the Regional Economy of South India, c. 1550-1650’, unpublished dissertation, Delhi: Delhi School of Economics, 1986. –––, Explorations in Connected History: Mughals and Franks, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005. Takeshi, Ito, ‘The World of the Adat Aceh: A Historical Study of the Sultanate of Aceh’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Australian National University, 1984.


Warfare in Early Modern South Asia, c.1520-c.1740 PRATYAY NATH

In the history of warfare, early modernity has, for a long time, been synonymous with the Military Revolution Debate. Indeed, for Western Europe, the series of changes in warfare set into motion by the large scale use of gunpowder weaponry by the mid-fifteenth century has been seen to characterize the military scene of the period. Over the last half a century, historians have laboured to understand the dynamics of this complex and multi-layered phenomenon. Once the ball was set rolling in 1955 by Michael Roberts, it has increasingly gathered momentum and in a great snowball effect, has compelled scholars and military historians around the globe to engage with the debate at one level or another.1 During the 1970s and 1980s, this thesis was considerably modified and elaborated by Geoffrey Parker.2 The provocative works of Roberts and Parker— which were principally based on their original research on the Low Countries, Sweden and Spain—triggered off a range of other works in the following decades, directed towards testing whether other parts of Eurasia also experienced similar revolutions. Marshall Poe and Michael Paul now suggest that Russia also experienced a similar Military Revolution, in terms of adopting gunpowder weaponry, new military organization centred on a rising infantry, and changes in fort architecture.3 Christopher Duffy shows how, under the impact of artillery bombardment, fortress warfare was revolutionized in different parts of the world, particularly in Western Europe, where fort engineers came up with


Pratyay Nath

new innovative architectural plans aimed at minimizing the impact of firearms on fortifications.4 On the other hand, studying the French military, John Lynn concludes that the changes in its various fields—like weaponry, organization, strategy, and tactics—during this period can, at best, be called evolutionary.5 Based on his analysis of Danish warfare, Knud Jespersen also argues against the revolution model and opts for a more gradual and evolutionary framework.6 Clifford Rogers opines that the changes that the Military Revolution debate was concerned with were not just ‘a near infinite number of infinitesimal changes’ that he understood the evolutionary model to represent. Instead he proposes a new concept for these changes—punctuated equilibrium evolution, which constituted of short spans of rapid change interjected with long periods of near stagnancy.7 This rich ongoing debate is crucial to our understanding of how Western Europe came to dominate larger parts of the Old and New Worlds by the eighteenth century, and how Western European ways of war-making shaped the modern world in more ways than one. At the same time, the past two decades have seen several historians moving beyond the Military Revolution framework in the analysis of early modern warfare. Instead, this relatively new scholarship focuses more on the importance of appreciating the heterogeneity of the military experiences of diverse non-European socio-political formations. Two collections of essays that have come out in the past decade and a half—edited respectively by Jeremy Black and Geoff Mortimer—have brought together a rich variety of essays on early modern warfare in different parts of the Old and New Worlds. While on the one hand these essays show how these diverse regions shared—though to grossly varying extents—certain broad phenomena, like the use of gunpowder, rise of fortified locations, growth of army size, etc., on the other hand, they also make us realize how their experiences were also quite divergent from each other. The path that warfare took in different regions depended on a whole range of specific factors, including physical geography, geopolitical considerations, societal forces, cultural practices, and financial constraints.8

Warfare in Early Modern South Asia



In the present essay, I try to look at the nature of warfare in early modern South Asia, or rather what early modernity signified in the case of South Asian warfare. It is understood that, in order to deserve a separate temporal label, any particular time period would have to be different, in some way or the other, from the preceding and following times. Obviously, no time period in history is watertight; changes visible in one period have their roots in the preceding one and processes beginning in one period extend palpably into the next. Moreover, features characterizing a time period in one place may not be present in another place. But even so, in order to make cross-cultural comparisons through historical generalizations, it is imperative that certain broad features be identified, which may characterize a specific time period more than the periods preceding or following it, for at least a specific region. Traditionally, the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are held to be the early modern period in world history. In case of South Asia, Sanjay Subrahmanyam argues for the early modern period stretching from ‘the middle of the fourteenth to the middle of the eighteenth century, with a relatively great emphasis on the period after 1450’.9 John F. Richards identifies a smaller span, and drawing on Fernand Braudel, sees the period as having extended from the late fifteenth to the early nineteenth century.10 While the concerns of both of them have ranged widely—from statecraft, commerce, economy, demography, and technology to religion, culture and intellectual developments, my interests are more narrow—to identify an early modern period in terms of South Asian warfare only. Jos Gommans divides the early modern period in South Asian military history into two phases. The first phase, between 1400 and 1750, was characterized by what he calls the ‘false dawn of gunpowder’. He argues that although artillery and handguns made their way into almost all South Asian armies, yet their full potential was not realized during this time, and cavalry and other traditional means of war-making continued to dominate the military scene. According to him, this period was followed by a second phase, extending from 1750 to 1850, which saw the actual ‘gunpowder


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revolution’, when different polities adopted gunpowder weaponry on a massive scale and modeled their armies on those of Western Europe. It was only at this time that the tactical centrality of cavalry in battles was finally eclipsed by handgun-equipped disciplined infantry.11 During this time, warfare underwent several rapid changes in the Indian subcontinent at organizational, tactical, and technological levels. Kaushik Roy shows how in the second half of the eighteenth century, different polities employed European military professionals and tried to model their armies after European armies by the introduction of the disciplined infantry and mobile gunpowder weapons with a simultaneous reduction of thrust on the cavalry.12 I would like to define early modernity in South Asian warfare in terms of two sets of events. The first took place approximately in the third decade of the sixteenth century. Three landmark pitched battles took place around this time—the battles of Raichur (1520), Panipat (1526) and Khanua (1527). As Richard Eaton shows, while different polities of peninsular India had already been using gunpowder weaponry since the second half of the fifteenth century, the battle of Raichur, for the first time in South Asian history, saw a systematic deployment of gunpowder artillery as well as handguns on a large scale.13 In this respect, the battles at Panipat and Khanua may be seen to have been the north Indian counterparts of Raichur, wherein Babur deployed firearms in a grand scale and to similar effect. However, these two latter battles were significant in one more aspect. As we shall see eventually, in these two battles, Babur deployed a battle tactic that other (post-)nomadic powers—the Ottomans, the Safavids, and the Uzbegs—were also using in their own territories around the same time. This tactic was a classic early modern solution to the question of gunpowder weaponry being adapted within the existing tactical structure of armies hailing from the Eurasian Arid Zone. Hence Panipat and Khanua not only saw the first large scale deployment of gunpowder weapons in a pitched engagement in north India, but it also connected north India with the military world of the early modern Arid Zone by the use of a state-of-the-art tactic. This decade thus marked a break from the medieval means of war-making and signalled the advent of a new time. On the other hand, events around the 1740s were of a definitive

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nature for the military history of South Asia. In 1739, Nadir Shah virtually destroyed the Mughal-Maratha coalition at Panipat. This brought an official end to Mughal military hegemony in north India and ushered in an era where various smaller polities wrested political authority of different regions. This was also the time when European powers started interfering in local politics and trying to expand inland. Over a period of time, South Asian states started losing to European powers. By the end of the next decade, the English East India Company outran their French counterpart in this race of power. Over the following century, the British wrested the military hegemony of larger parts of the subcontinent from the three chief powers of the mid-eighteenth century—the Marathas, the Sikhs, and the Mysore state. The 1740s stands out as the definitive decade that saw the beginning of this process. It stands out as a break in the military history of South Asia. The story hereafter is that of a complicated period of flux through which Western modernity forced itself onto the region. I would argue that between these two sets of events, we can find a time period with a certain amount of internal similarity and some very broad similar patterns in terms of the military experiences of different polities of South Asia. While these experiences were by no means all alike, yet, for the sake of historical scholarship and comparisons, we may be tempted to argue that the changes happening during this period resembled each other more than those before and after this period. As such, I take this period, c. 1520c. 1740, to signify the early modern period of South Asian warfare. In what follows, I shall draw an outline of the military scene of early modern India by focusing on certain selected fields, as it would be beyond the scope of the limited space of the present article to even try to cover all the possible dimensions. I will primarily talk about dissemination and deployment of gunpowder weaponry, tactical issues of pitched battles, innovations in the field of defensive architecture, and recruitment of military personnel. As my doctoral work focuses primarily on warfare, military culture, and state-formation of the Mughals—one of the prime military powers of the region during the period under study—my primary sources would principally pertain to them. As during the sixteenth and seventeenth


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centuries, the Mughals fought wars in almost every corner of the subcontinent, a study of their chronicles—which are replete with data on the military exploits of their rulers—provides one with a good understanding of the military scenario of a very large area. As for the other regions and polities, I shall primarily depend on secondary sources. These also offer a counter-perspective to the Mughal chronicles, which often, like all chronicles, overstate the exploits of their patrons. GUNPOWDER TECHNOLOGY: DISSEMINATION, DEPLOYMENT, AND INNOVATION

Gunpowder weaponry, more specifically gunpowder-using metalbarrelled guns, were the chief new technology setting early modern warfare away from its medieval counterpart. While the scale as well as the impact of its use varied from one polity to the other, in most cases, it brought certain changes, albeit to varying extents, to the existing structures of army organization, defensive architecture, and logistical arrangements. In South Asia, technological knowhow regarding gunpowder initially came from China via the Mongol invaders in the first half of fourteenth century. By the 1360s, different South Asian polities started using rockets propelled by gunpowder and also began to use gunpowder in mining during sieges. By the second half of the fifteenth century, the technology of metal-barrelled guns reached the coastal polities of peninsular India through maritime contacts with the Mamluk Empire and China.14 In the beginning of the period under study, several other prominent channels for the import of technology were added to the already existing ones. The first among these was the Portuguese Estado da India. The Portuguese had reached the West coast of India in 1498, riding—as Richard Eaton puts it—‘on the heels of Iberia’s anti-Muslim reconquista’. Having reached peninsular India, they immediately identified the Islamic state of the Bahamanis as their enemy. In a bid to destroy it, the Portuguese tried to find an ally in the most prominent non-Muslim polity of the Deccan— Vijayanagara—and exploit the latter’s antagonism towards the

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Bahamanis to their own benefit. Hence, right from the time of their arrival, many Portuguese officers and military professionals of the Estado da India sought refuge in the Vijayanagara court. Eaton points to the presence of a group of Portuguese matchlockmen in the Vijayanagara army in the battle and the subsequent siege of Raichur (1520).15 The second were Ottoman military professionals. Owing to the increasing competition that the Portuguese were coming to offer on the Arabian Sea, the Ottomans and the Mamluks prepared to confront them militarily. However, in the naval engagements that took place between the Portuguese and the Mamluk-OttomanGujarat combine at Chaul (1508) and Diu (1509), the European power held the sway. After this defeat, many Ottoman military professionals settled down on the Gujarat and Konkan coast, probably in a bid to continue their anti-Portuguese struggle by aiding polities like the Bahamani and Gujarat sultanates. They brought with them knowhow regarding Ottoman gunnery, which was at par with the latest European technology of the time. The Bahamani Sultanate, and eventually the Bijapur Sultanate, benefitted heavily from them.16 The third were the Mughals. Gunpowder technology entered inland north India holding their hands in the 1520s. They were the first power to use field artillery and matchlocks at a large scale in pitched battles in this land-locked region.17 However, as far as the quality of technology was concerned, Mughal artillery technology probably lagged behind the latest European technology of this time. By the first decades of the sixteenth century, European gunners had started making single-piece brass/bronze cannons. However, in the larger parts of the Islamic world, the powder-chamber and the stone-chamber of heavy mortars continued to be cast separately.18 The two master gunners in employment in Babur’s army— Mustafa Rumi and Ustad Ali Quli—came from Ottoman Turkey and Safavid Persia respectively. 19 Hence it can be assumed that Babur’s cannons were also cast in two pieces. In recent years, yet another channel for the percolation of gunpowder technology in South Asia has been suggested. Representing this strain of scholarship, Peter Lorge suggests that ‘[I]n the


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south and Bengal, gunpowder and gunpowder weapons were probably brought in from China by sea, and to Assam by land via Burma’.20 Ranabir Chakravarti has shown how during the early medieval period, horses used to be imported from Tibet and Yunnan via mountainous trade routes to Bengal and other eastern parts of the Indian subcontinent.21 In view of this, it is not difficult to imagine how technological knowhow about gunpowder weaponry could also have disseminated into the north-eastern fringes of the Indian subconti-nent from China via Tibet and Burma in the early modern period. Recent research has shown how during the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries gunpowder technology made its way from China to mainland as well as maritime Southeast Asia via overland routes of trade and communication. Sun Laichen argues that it was principally through this channel that the gunpowder technology of metal-barrelled guns as well as rockets entered the Assam Valley, and from here passed to the Deccan via Bengal, before reaching north India by the mid-fifteenth century.22 The fact that gunpowder technology reached north-eastern India from China is probably also indicated by the fact that when the Mughals encountered the Ahoms and the Arakanese in the first half of the seventeenth century, they were greeted with copious deployment of both handguns and artillery. The gunpowder used by the Ahoms was also of high quality. Contemporary Mughal chronicles from the region, Baharistan-i Ghaybi and Fathiyyah-i Ibriyyah tells us how both Ahoms and Arakanese deployed heavy firepower.23 The armies of both these powers relied heavily on handgun-equipped infantry as well as flotilla fitted with artillery pieces and carrying matchlockmen. While the Arakanese must have come to rely on their European allies—Portuguese military professionals, renegades and traders on the one hand and the Dutch VOC on the other—during the seventeenth century, the Ahoms probably continued to rely on knowhow that trickled in from China via Yunnan. By mid-sixteenth century, gunpowder weaponry was majorly popular almost everywhere in South Asia, though the nature and scale of their use varied quite a lot from one region to the other. At the time when the Mughals arrived on the north Indian plains, they were hardly the leaders in terms of gunpowder technology.

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Their initial military success owed a lot to the coordinated deployment of firearms and mounted archery. However, during the 1520s and 1530s, other polities of north India—like the Sultanates of Gujarat and Bengal—were at par with, if not ahead of, the Mughals in terms of firepower.24 The occasional reference to master gunners like Rumi Khan—who was in-charge of the artillery of the Gujarat Sultanate in the early-1530s—also points out to the fact that the polities of the western seaboard employed Ottoman military professionals as master gunners. Akbar’s reign, covering the second half of the sixteenth century, saw a huge number of sieges in different parts of north India as well as northern parts of the Deccan. The kind of armed opposition that besieging Mughal armies faced in these places gives us an idea of what kind of gunpowder weaponry was present in different states of the region during this period. The use of muskets by the garrison has been reported specifically by contemporary Persian chronicles in the case of the following forts—Mankot (1557) in the Siwalik Hills,25 Awadh (1567) in the Middle Ganga Basin,26 Chittor (15678) in south Rajasthan,27 Surat (1572-3) on the Gujarat coast,28 Kutila (1573) in the Kangra Valley, 29 Lakhi (1592) near Qandahar,30 Junagarh (1592) in Gujarat,31 Ahmadnagar (1595-6) in the Deccan32 and Asirgarh (1600-1) near Ahmadnagar.33 In addition to muskets, we find the evidence of the garrison using artillery from inside the fort in the case of almost all the above-mentioned forts. Keeping in mind the wide geographical distribution of these forts, we may conclude safely that at least by the mid-sixteenth century onwards, we find evidence of the presence of muskets, and in most cases also cannons, in almost every corner of the Indian subcontinent. However, as Iqtidar Alam Khan points out, there was little innovation in gunpowder technology during the entirety of the seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth. Notwithstanding the widespread use of light cannons and swivel-guns, a slow shift towards using metal cannon balls instead of the stone shots of the sixteenth century and certain relatively small innovations in cannonmanufacturing, gunpowder technology failed to keep up with the developments in western Europe and even the Ottoman Empire. South Asian gunners failed to adopt the lighter and more effective


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cast-iron and wrought-iron cannons developed in Europe during this period.34 Similarly, in the field of handguns, after the quick spread of matchlocks during the first half of the sixteenth century, South Asian polities took a long time to take the next step—shift from the matchlock to the more efficient and quick-firing flintlock. While the flintlock reached the subcontinent by the third decade of the seventeenth century, they did not come to replace the more cumbersome matchlock used in the South Asian armies before the mideighteenth century. By the mid-seventeenth century, Europeans as well as Ottomans deployed more and more handgun-equipped horsemen. In India, there is evidence of some Ottoman soldiers being used as mounted musketeers in various Indian armies during the second half of the seventeenth century. However, till the mideighteenth century, cavalries of most Indian polities continued to rely on close combat or the matchlock, the latter requiring them to dismount while firing.35 SIEGE WARFARE: STONE FORTS, MUD FORTS, AND THE TRACE ITALIANNE

In western Europe, the advent of gunpowder artillery spelled doom for the lofty towers and high walls of medieval fortifications.36 To counter this, European military engineers came up with the novel design of star-shaped forts, famous in history as the trace italienne. These had low walls, angular bastions shaped like arrow-heads, and a star-shaped plan.37 In the Indian subcontinent, however, medieval forts did not face any such grave threat in the wake of gunpowder artillery. The comprehensive study of the forts of peninsular India by Jean Deloche strongly points to this direction. Unlike western Europe, changes occurring in the field of fort architecture in this region were less dramatic and were more about adjusting and accommodating the changes in the field of artillery technology into the existing design of forts by making relatively small alterations and additions. The innovations introduced in fort architecture during the period under study were mostly towards accommodating gunpowder artillery for defensive purposes inside

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the existing fort area by erecting elevated platforms, widening the floor on the inside of the ramparts to facilitate easier troop movement, strengthening of existing walls, some additions to the existing parapets, towers and gateways, and so on. Deloche asserts that the most conspicuous innovation by fort architects in South Asia was probably raising cavaliers or artillery platforms on towers and/or at certain points behind or above the ramparts with maximum flanking fire. Mounted atop these platforms, artillery pieces would have a great sweep of the surrounding area, making the task of any besieging army extremely difficult.38 The chief reason behind drastic changes not happening in fort architecture in South Asia was primarily the location of the forts in India. Unlike western Europe, where most forts stood on vast plains, in the subcontinent, forts would traditionally be built on hill tops, amidst jungles and other naturally defensible spots, which were in abundance. I have visited a number of forts of western and central India, including those at Bundi, Chittor, Jodhpur, Amber, Ajmer, Nahargarh, Gwalior, Jaigarh and Orchha during my fieldwork in the region in the past five years. The steep and difficult climbs to almost all of these forts drive home the point their strategic locations. Most of these forts are located on natural elevations and are surrounded by jungles. Many had thorny bushes and shrubs around them, often planted deliberately by the garrison to make the task of the besieger even more difficult. Such a location, with a commanding view of the surrounding low lying plains, gave the garrison great tactical leverage and made the task of approaching the fort extremely difficult for any besieging army. Hence the drastic changes in military architecture that were necessary to be brought about in Western Europe to preserve the defensive value of forts were not required in South Asia. Another reason lay in the nature of gunpowder artillery and the scale of its use in early modern South Asia. As both Iqtidar Alam Khan and Jean Deloche point out, stone shots were in vogue throughout the sixteenth and better part of the seventeenth century in all of South Asia. Given the difficult location of most forts and the quality of stones used to build their ramparts, these shots were almost entirely incapable of breaching the defence of these forts.


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Even after metal shots came to be used at a large scale in the later decades of the seventeenth century, they could not breach these stone ramparts, as is evident from the Mughal sieges of Bijapur and Golconda. The scale of use of any military technology is dependent on logistical considerations, which is conditioned by the physical geography of any region, especially in the pre-modern period. The Ottomans and Europeans owed much of the large scale to which they were able to deploy heavy field and siege artillery to the strategic advantage given to them by conveniently located navigable rivers and waterways. However, the central and peninsular parts of India did not have any such riverine network. It is probably for this reason that we see a conspicuously low presence of siege artillery in siege warfare in these parts of South Asia, at least in the sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth century.39 Unlike Europe, early modern warfare in South Asia was not typified by the victory of the siege artillery over medieval forts, although there is no scarcity of sieges. In fact, outside the vast plains of the Indo-Gangetic Basin and the riverine tracts of Bengal and Assam, warfare mostly took the form of fortress warfare. The Mughals, who were quick to dominate the north Indian plains with their cavalry-oriented army, gradually expanded towards the Deccan during the second half of the sixteenth century. During this time, Akbar’s fame as a military genius notwithstanding, the major forts that the Mughals occupied were won, just like in the days of Babur and Humayun, more by virtue of traditional means of siege warfare than gunpowder artillery.40 In spite of their phenomenal rate of success, in hardly any case did Mughal siege artillery breach the walls of forts. During the siege of Ranthambhor (1569), Mughal mortars were dragged up a hill opposite to the fort. From this elevated position, they were able to launch an attack on the residential quarters inside the fort, which scared the commander of the fort to submission.41 The walls of Chittor (1567-8) were battered down, while at Ahmadnagar (1600) and Asirgarh (1600-1), the ramparts were breached by gun-powder mining.42 As against these, majority of the forts under Akbar were won either by blockade and other passive means of pressuring the garrison or by voluntary submissions of the fort commander, induced by fear of defeat or

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the hope of reward, as the case might be. Even at the apogee of Mughal siege warfare in the Deccan under the leadership of Aurangzeb in the last two decades of the seventeenth century, sieges were more about pressurizing the garrison by enforcing a blockade and then opening the channel of negotiation for reaching a peaceful acquisition of the fort, than cannons blasting away the ramparts of the enemy fortifications. From the very beginning, the Marathas controlled the northern parts of the Western Ghats—a hilly territory that offered plenty of easily defensible sites. The Maratha political and military elite were quick to learn the advantages of holding on to forts erected at these places. These series of forts across the Western Ghats and the Deccan Plateau, many of which survive till date, formed the defensive backbone of the Maratha polity, especially against the invading Mughal army in the second half of the seventeenth century. Most of the new forts built by Shivaji and other Maratha leaders enjoyed strategically sound locations and had one or more water tanks carved into the rocky surface of the earth inside the forts, thus making the forts self-sufficient in terms of water supply. At the time when Shivaji died, the Marathas held two hundred and forty well-defended and garrisoned forts.43 It would, however, be incorrect to state that examples of trace italienné were completely absent in the Indian subcontinent. The European trading companies that started arriving in this part of the world since the last decade of the fifteenth century, mostly settled along the coastline since their prime goal was to control sea-borne trade. They would regularly defend their settlements by erecting fortifications around them. These were mostly built after the trace italienne design, prevalent in early modern Europe.44 While the earliest instances of such forts are the ones built by the Portuguese, other European powers treaded the same path eventually. To take just one example, the English fort at Calcutta, called Fort William, had a star-shaped layout, complete with a circle of starshaped bastions, very much like the forts of the European mainland at the time.45 Mud forts represented another important dimension of South Asian fortress warfare during this time. This form of defensive


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military architecture was unique to the Ganga-Brahmaputra Delta. Built within a very short time, mostly by the unskilled cheap labour of local boatmen, the inexpensive mud fort was proverbial in its strength. Constructed out of riverside mud, their walls would not break when hit by cannon shots; instead, the force would be absorbed and the shot rendered quite harmless. Given the unavailability of stones nearby to construct forts, the people of the delta had devised these forts as the principal mode of defending themselves. Installed with firearms, these mud forts could be defended well even by a small garrison and could be occupied by the besieger only after great amount of exertion. In the opening decades of the seventeenth century, the eastward drive of the Mughals was impeded by a large number of these forts that the Afghan and Bengali armies erected in front of them. The way the Mughals had to subdue one mud fort after another while covering short spans of distances consumed a great amount of their military enterprise. These mud forts were in a way similar to the ‘earth bastions’ that the Dutch military architects resorted to in the 1570s against the advancing Spanish forces during the Eighty Years’ War in The Netherlands. With a persistent fund crunch, the Dutch architects often would build their forts on the trace italienne model, not in stone but clay, which was plentiful in the Low Countries. Like the Mughals in Bengal, the Spanish also discovered that these earth fortifications were difficult to be breached with artillery fire, simply because they tended to absorb the shot instead of breaking down.46 To take an example, when a Mughal army under Ghiyas Khan advanced against Pratapaditya, the chieftain of Jessore in eastern Bengal, the latter sent his son, Udayaditya, to oppose the enemy. Udayaditya accordingly proceeded to Salka with five hundred war boats under Khwaja Kamal, one thousand horsemen and forty mast elephants under Jamal Khan. He then constructed a lofty fort out of clay and mud. The position of the fort was such that while one side of the fort was protected by a river, two other sides were protected by a massive jala (marsh) and the fourth side was guarded by a deep ditch. The ditch was very wide and being connected to both the river and the marsh, it was also filled with water. His warfleet was kept ready on the river and his land force in the fort. The

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Mughals were able to reduce this fort only after great difficulty and after having defeated a part of the garrison under Udayaditya himself in a naval engagement.47 The Mughals in turn were quick to appreciate the strategic value of the mud fort and we find them constructing it quite regularly, especially during their campaigns in hostile regions. For instance, the Mughal army, on their cautious march towards Bokainagar around 1611 build mud forts to secure their position at every stage.48 Most of the Ganga-Brahmaputra Delta was a region that neither had natural elevations nor stones for building massive forts on the model of those in western and central parts of the subcontinent. The terrain was dominated by a meshwork of rivers and water bodies of different sizes, especially in the eastern parts of the Delta. Territorial control hence emanated from maintenance of well-armed riverine fleets and strategically located defensible sites from where riverine traffic could be controlled. The need for the latter on the one hand and the realization of the effectiveness of the mud fort to fulfil this function on the other probably climaxed in the Mughals building a network of river forts built of masonry and mud. It was through this network of inexpensive, but easily defensible, forts that the Mughals tried to ward off Arakanese-Portuguese naval raids during the midseventeenth century and subsequently came to wield territorial authority in the region in a later part of the century.49 Another important development during this period was the rise of palace forts.50 Akbar built several of these in the sixteenth century, at Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, and Lahore. Shah Jahan built yet another in Delhi in 1639. Apart from their defensive arrangements, these palace forts had elaborate residential and administrative quarters. Let’s take the case of Shahjahanabad in Delhi for example. Compared to earlier fortifications in Delhi—like Tughlaqabad, Kotla Firuz Shah and Purana Qila, which were principally military establishments—the fort erected by Shah Jahan was rather huge and elaborate, complete with administrative and residential buildings.51 While the Emperor continued to be mobile, these palace forts served as centres of imperial administration. This kind of architecture is also present in areas outside the imperial heartland. Lalbagh fort in Dhaka, which was used as the residence of the subadar of Bengal for a long


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time, is a similar kind of palace fort, complete with a mosque, a hammam, an administrative building housing the subahdar’s court and a lavish garden, adorned with channels of flowing water. Regional powers also came to replicate such palace-forts in course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Amber Fort of the Rajputs and the Deeg Palace of the Jats illustrate this point. AMPHIBIOUS WARFARE: RIVERS, BOATS, AND GUNS

The Indian subcontinent has three large river systems—the Indus Basin, the Gangetic Basin and the Brahmaputra Basin. All of these rivers, along with their network of tributaries and distributaries, are pliable for great lengths of their stretches and have served the vast plains of north India as highways of communication over centuries. The early modern period saw these river systems turn into theatres of war. While this may not have been the first time when contending armies came to clash in the riverine space, what was characteristic to riverine and amphibious wars of the early modern period was the prime vehicle for these wars—war-boats and fleets equipped with gunpowder artillery. The single most important seat of amphibious wars was the Ganga-Brahmaputra Delta in Bengal and the Brahmaputra Basin in Assam. These amphibious wars during the late-sixteenth and seventeenth centuries among the Ahoms, the Mughals, the Portuguese, and the Arakanese comprise an area of early modern warfare in South Asia that has received very little scholarly attention. From the time the Mughals occupied Tanda—the erstwhile Afghan power centre in Bengal—in 1574, they got involved in a series of ceaseless wars. At first they had to grapple with recalcitrant Afghan war lords, who had entrenched themselves in the eastern, and more riverine, parts of the Delta during the later decades of the sixteenth century. After four long decades of constant war, much of which was fought on and around rivers, the Mughals finally subjugated them in 1612. Once this was done, the Mughals ventured into the Brahmaputra Basin in Assam to try their luck against the Ahom kingdom there.

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The Ahom kingdom had been set up by the Tai people from present day northern Myanmar in the thirteenth century. Starting with their first foray into the Brahmaputra Basin in 1613, the Mughals fought a losing war with the Ahoms till 1682. Much of the wars here were fought on and around the river Brahmaputra. As such, the Brahmaputra was the main theatre as well as the main object of control of these wars. Also, during the same period of time, Mughal authority in Bengal was under constant challenge from the fleet of the ArakanesePortuguese raiders and free-booters, who, on occasions, even reached up to the Mughal regional headquarters in Dhaka. The entire region of the Delta between Jessore in the east, Dhaka in the north and Chittagong in the west was practically the hunting ground of the Arakanese-Portuguese raiders and pirates. Between 1612 and 1645, this region was continually raided, first by Arakanese naval fleets and then by Portuguese pirates and free-booters. Onwards 1620, the Arakanese-Portuguese fleets carried away great quantities of booty, especially rice, and massive numbers of slaves from this region, and sold a considerable amount of this to the Dutch VOC in Batavia. The Arakanese controlled the port-city of Chittagong and the salt-producing island of Sandwip, both located at the south-eastern corner of the Ganga-Brahmaputra Delta, thus giving themselves tremendous strategic leverage in the region. Finally in 1666, during the subadari of Shaista Khan, the Mughals conquered and annexed Sandwip and Chittagong, putting an end to the ‘Arakan menace’. Compared to pitched battles and fortress warfare in other parts of the Indian subcontinent, the amphibious wars among the Mughals, the Ahoms, the Portuguese and the Arakanese in the Ganga-Brahmaputra Delta and the Assam Valley probably saw the use of firearms—especially artillery—at a far higher scale. The principal reason behind this was the ease with which the artillery pieces could be carried along the waterways in boats. Coupled with this was the fact that since pitched battles or protracted sieges rarely happened in these riverine tracts, armies came to depend on projectile weapons much more than on frontal combat. Hence, not only artillery, but all types of projectile-throwing wings of the army—musketeers, rocketeers and archers—were deployed in large numbers in this mode of warfare.


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The principal vehicles of these amphibious wars were boats. The two Mughal chronicles that document Mughal campaigns against the Ahoms and the Arakanese—Baharistan-i Ghaybi and Fathiyyahi Ibriyyah—mention the names of a large variety of boats that were in use in this region around this time. These include kusa, khelna, katari, maniki, bachila, jaliya, dhura, sundara, bajra, piara, balia, pal, ghurab, machua, and pashta. Some of these, like ghurab, maniki and katari were fitted with artillery pieces of different range and weights by the later decades of the sixteenth century. Some others, like the fast-rowing slender kusas would carry archers or musketeers. Others were used for transporting men, animals and supplies. For example, during their invasion of Chittagong in 1666, the Mughals had a fleet of two hundred eighty-eight vessels, including twentyone ghurabs, one hundred and fifty-seven kusas, and ninety-six jalbas. It also had three salbs, which were much bigger ships, probably wielding greater firepower. Their Arakanese opponents also commanded a host of ghurabs and jalbas, apart from bigger, probably sea-faring, war-ships which the Mughals identified as khalu and dhum.52 The Ahoms also had massive resources in terms of warboats—the most important vehicle of war in Assam. The description of a well-prepared Ahom army, furnished by the Baharistan is very illuminating in this respect: The Rajkhawa, and the Kharghuka (Khargharia Phukan) were to take the command of the fleet consisting of four thousand war-boats of the class of mand, bachari, kusa and kus, in order to attack the fleet of the Twelve Bhuyans who were loyally supporting the imperialists [Mughals],—to seize them and not to allow any of them to escape by the river with his fleet. . . . One thousand war-boats were sent to the mouth of the river Rawrowa to the rear of the imperial army in order to block the passage of ration and communication from Jahangirnagar alias Dhaka during the days of the siege. In short, the imperial army was brought to bay like games in a hunt.53

While the numbers of the enemy forces might well have been inflated in order to prove the prowess of the Mughal forces, the above figures are still an indication of the kind of naval power that the Ahoms possessed. It was principally owing to the superiority of this wing of the army that the repeated Mughals expeditions into the Assam Valley failed to fetch any long-lasting acquisition.

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In almost all cases, riverine fleets of all the powers would be accompanied by land armies, comprising cavalry, infantry, and elephants. During battles, the land and water-borne forces would assist and defend each other. Without the fleet, the land-army’s mobility would be restricted in the riverine terrain; without the land force, the fleet would often fail to make a decisive stand through a frontal engagement. PITCHED BATTLES: MOUNTED WARFARE, INFANTRY, AND WAR-ELEPHANTS

The South Asian climate is not very conducive for the breeding of war-horses. Hence horses to be used for military purposes would preferably be imported either via overland routes from Central Asia, or across the Arabian Sea from Arabia and Persia. As these supply lines were often precarious and, at times, monopolized by particular polities, South Asian armies had to be majorly dependant on war-elephants and infantry, both of which were easy to find in the subcontinent. This made armies of the subcontinent essentially slow and dependant on close combat. This worked fine as long as the opponent had a similar army composition and fought using similar battle tactics. However, the balance would usually tilt adversely away from north Indian armies fighting the invaders coming across the north-west Afghan frontier of the Indian subcontinent from the Central Asian Arid Zone. The latter would have a good crop of war-horses, and hence their strength would essentially lie in heavy and light cavalries, and thereby fast mounted manoeuvres. In front of such fast cavalry tactics, the sluggish sedentary armies of South Asia have historically lost more often than not. In the beginning of the period under study, the sedentarized armies of the Lodi sultans of Delhi and the Rajputs were consecutively defeated by the army of the Mughals, under Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur. While the slower armies of the Afghans and the Rajputs depended heavily on shock charge of elephantry and heavy cavalry, Babur deployed against them the deadly combination of evasive cavalry tactics and shock attack in form of the wagon laager tactic. This tactic involved the shock impact of musket-


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bearing infantry and some amount of field artillery, shielded behind wagons in the centre. Heavy cavalry, ready to execute a charge at the opportune moment, was stationed further behind. The wagons were chained with each other to negate the possibility of a probable enemy charge. This would be coupled with the use of mounted archers as light cavalry, using evasive manoeuvres on either flank. In the beginning of the battle, the artillery and musketeers would open fire. Simultaneously, the mounted archers on the flanks would harass the enemy formation from a distance while deploying evasive manoeuvres. When, under the joint impact of this, the enemy formation would be jeopardized, they would be dealt the decisive blow by a shock charge of the heavy cavalry which would have been waiting behind the wagons all this while. This was a combination typical of armies of the Central Eurasian Arid Zone in the early modern period. In fact, as I have argued elsewhere, the combined deployment of shock attack at the centre and evasive tactics on the flanks, called taulqama, had been practised by armies of the Arid Zone from the middle of the first millennium BC onwards. With the advent of gunpowder weaponry, their shock impact was simply integrated within this existing tactical framework. The specific combination of the wagon laager was an early modern amalgamation of cavalry warfare of the Arid Zone with gunpowder weaponry. The combination was worked out for the first time by the Ottomans at the beginning of the sixteenth century. During the first half of the sixteenth century, we see all of the three great powers of the Eurasian Arid Zone during this time—the Ottomans, the Safavids and the Uzbegs—using the wagon laager tactics. In the two battles of Panipat (1526) and Khanua (1527), the Mughals used this battle tactic of the Arid Zone for the first time in the Indian subcontinent. In that sense, these two battles stand out as two landmarks in the history of early modern warfare in this region. 54 In due course of the sixteenth century, however, the Mughal army shed most of its post-nomadic legacies, and became more and more sedentarized. The Mughals stumbled upon massive reserves of elephants in Orissa by the later decades of the sixteenth century and in Assam by the second decade of the seventeenth.

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Their military culture also came under the influence of that of their indigenous allies, especially the Rajputs, who foregrounded the tradition of close combat. At the same time, owing to a decay in personnel to man the corps of mounted archers for the light cavalry wing of the army, this wing was hardly seen in operation after the 1570s. Owing to all these factors, the Mughal army became increasingly dependent on elephants and infantry by the close of the sixteenth century. However, the sustained control of the KabulQandahar region ensured for them the supply of horses for their heavy cavalry corps. On the plains of north India, heavy cavalry continued to be the dominant wing of the army right through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with a steady simultaneous increase in the proportion of elephants and infantry. The Mughals started deploying war-elephants in large numbers by the late-1560s. In the Battle of Mankarwal (1567), we see them deploying around five hundred of these beasts alongside five hundred heavy cavalry against the Uzbeg rebels.55 Even if the number of elephants might have been inflated in the sources, it still gives us an indication of the kinds of shifts that were taking place in the Mughal army and battle tactics. In the battle of Tukaroi (1574), Mughal mounted archery was a mere shadow of what it had been under Babur. Their numbers were smaller, thus preventing the Mughals from executing the taulqama tactic and using them only in the vanguard and advance reserve of the army.56 By the seventeenth century, deploying elephants had become normal in Mughal armies, as evidenced by the Battle of Uhar (1612) near Sylhet, where the Mughals eliminated Khwaja Usman, their last Afghan rival in Bengal. This battle was primarily a clash between the heavy cavalry and war-elephants of both sides.57 As far as the army of the great south Indian empire of Vijayanagara is concerned, observations of the traveller Dominigos Paes, writing in 1520-2, deserve to be quoted at length: The cavalry were mounted on horses fully caparisoned, and on their foreheads plates, some of silver but most of them gilded. . . . The horsemen were dressed in quilted tunics, also of brocade and velvet and every kind of silk. These tunics are made of layers of very strong raw leather, and furnished with other iron (plates) that make them strong. . . . Their headpieces are in the manner


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of helmets with borders covering the neck, and each has its piece to cover the face. . . . At the waists they have swords and small battle-axes, and in their hands javelins with the shafts covered with gold and silver. . . . The elephants in the same way are covered with caparison. . . . On the back of each of them are three or four men, dressed in their quilted tunics, and armed with shields and javelins, and they are arrayed as if for a foray. Then, turning to the troops on foot, there are so many that they surround all the valleys and hills in a way with which nothing in the world can compare. . . . Of the archers, I must tell you that they have bows plated with gold and silver . . . then you must see the musqueteers with their musquets and blunder-busses and their thick tunics. . . . Then the Moors—one must not forget them—for they were also in the review with their shields, javelins, and Turkish bows, with many bombs and spears and fire-missiles. . . .58

From the above description, it is clear that at the outset of the early modern period, the Vijayanagara army consisted primarily of armoured heavy cavalry, a huge infantry, and armoured warelephants. There was also a body of foot-archers in the infantry corps. We also find a body of musketeers, who definitely fought in the Battle of Raichur (1520), which happened around the same time of the composition of the above text. Apart from these, there was also a corps of ‘the Moors’, whose identity is for us to guess. As they are mentioned with other infantry, one assumes that they too must have been foot-soldiers. Clearly they were adept at fighting at close quarters as well as proficient at shooting with their ‘Turkish’ composite bows. However, their real strength lay in their ability to discharge ‘bombs’ and ‘fire-missiles’. The latter weapons may be the gunpowder rockets that we find being used in Bengal around this time. Probably these Moors were immigrant Muslim military professionals who brought this new technology to south India. According to the elaborate figures furnished by another contemporary traveler Nuniz, the Vijayanagara army that went out for conquering Raichur consisted of five hundred thousand infantry, nearly thirty thousand cavalry and around five hundred fifty elephants, the ratio of the three wings being 1000:60:1. Even if the figures are inflated, we at least get a rough idea about the general composition of the army and the relative proportion of its different wings. Clearly, the bulk of the army comprised of the infantry.

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The warhorse being an expensive imported item, were present only in small numbers as compared to the infantry. War-elephants, on the other hand, used in close combat and frontal charge, were abundant.59 Given such an army composition, it can easily be guessed that the main strength of the sixteenth-century Vijayanagara army, much like the seventeenth-century Mughal army, lay in frontal attack and close combat by the heavy cavalry, infantry, and the war-elephants. This was assisted and augmented by the use of projectile weapons, which for the Vijayanagara army were provided by the foot-archers and the musketeers. The Maratha army was very different from both the Mughal and the Vijayanagara armies. They refrained from deploying warelephants for frontal charge—at least in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries—as they were wary of the possibility of elephants getting scared by the sound of gunfire and turning against their own troops, thus causing much friendly casualty. In addition to this, elephants were also incompatible with the fast-paced campaigns that the Marathas used to conduct. In contrast to the Mughal cavalry, the Maratha cavalry was essentially light cavalry, with both the rider and his horse wearing relatively little armours, thus facilitating fast movements and quick attacks. The Maratha cavalry usually fought at close quarters with swords, lances and daggers. They also carried matchlocks, which they discharged from a stationary position during hit-and-run attacks.60 MILITARY PERSONNEL: IMMIGRANT ELITE, MILITARY SLAVES, AND ARMED PEASANTS

In this section, I shall briefly discuss a few issues regarding the world of military personnel of different polities of early modern South Asia by referring to two aspects of this world—the military labour market of north India on the one hand and immigrant politico-military elite and military slaves on the other. Dirk Kolff made a breakthrough in the historiography of early modern warfare by throwing light on the sector of military labour in the Indian subcontinent. For the first time, he argued that a great portion of the north Indian peasantry was in fact perpetually


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armed, and elaborated how this complicated the relationship between this peasantry and the empires of north India. During the off season of cultivation, these armed peasants would also hire out their services to different polities and serve in the infantry as foot-archers. In the late sixteenth century, several communities arose, mainly from the Middle Gangetic Basin, like Baksariyas and Purbiyas, who specialized in musketry and thus became much valued in the military labour market. By virtue of this community-based martial specialization, they were able to find employment in the armies of several polities of north India, including several Rajput states and the Sultanates of Gujarat and Malwa by the mid-sixteenth century. Once the Mughal Empire extended to Gujarat and Malwa, these groups were inducted into the Mughal army. The complex relationship between the armed peasantry and the revenue-collecting state has also been addressed by Iqtidar Alam Khan. By the late seventeenth century, there were several social communities in north India who specialized in foot-musketry, like the Bahelias and Bhadurias, among others. He also points out that during the reign of Aurangzeb, the Baksariyas were the largest social group serving in the Mughal army as foot-musketeers as well as foot-archers.61 Interestingly, the way these communities emerged did not involve any centralized state machinery distributing matchlocks and training them to use them. On the contrary, matchlocks had to be procured by these communities themselves, or at most provided to them by the rural elite immediately above them. And only once these communities became proficient in firing the new weapon did they find employment with any supra-local or supra-regional power. While the demand for specialized matchlockmen was always on an ascent, it is difficult to see how such groups could have emerged in the first place without an easy availability of the weapon in question—the matchlock, to be precise. Many of the social groups practising foot-musketry in the early modern period may have previously practised foot-archery and their transition to using another projectile-shooting weapon might not have been difficult. But then again, had the weapon not been easily available to begin with, it is difficult to see how this transition could ever take place. All this

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makes us curious about how the matchlock was so easily available to different peasant communities in early modern South Asia. Saltpetre, the chief ingredient of gunpowder in pre-modern times, was a chief export from India during the initial years of British colonialism. Much of this saltpetre came from the Middle Ganga Basin. Brenda Buchanan shows how this easy availability of saltpetre in this region emanated from the combination of several geographical and ecological factors. This fertile region has always housed a massive peasant population. This peasantry, in its turn, always maintained a large population of cattle for cultivation. The enormous amount of excreta that this latter population produced went into the soil. Under the influence of the hot and humid climate of the region, these excreta produced potassium nitrate, the chief component of saltpetre naturally on the fields. While other contemporary polities like the Ottomans and the Europeans laboured to produce and import saltpetre, it was produced in abundance naturally in these parts of South Asia.62 On the other hand, as Asha Shukla Choubey shows, iron ores were abundant in the hills of the Chhotanagpur Plateau, which also lay nearby. Throughout the early modern period, right into the eighteenth century, iron was mined in these regions, especially in the Singhbhum area, and then exported all over Bengal and Bihar. Choubey’s work shows us how, centering this iron mining industry, there was a thriving network of blacksmiths and other tradesmen would process and manufacture with this iron ore. In the seventeenth and eighteenth century, the town Monghyr, located in Bihar, was a renowned centre of metal-working and manufacture of weapons.63 Given the easy availability of both saltpetre and iron, the main requirements to make a functioning matchlock, it is hardly difficult to see how the village blacksmith became the site of smallscale production of matchlocks at the local level in the Bihar region. Alongside these social groups who served in imperial armies, Iqtidar Alam Khan points out that there also arose during the seventeenth century various social groups who served different regional polities and had to get accustomed to fighting with muskets as they were often up challenging the authority of the Mughal empire.


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The cases of the Baluchis and the Sikhs are good illustrations in this regard. Khan also shows, how, by the initial decades of the seventeenth-century, members of the upper echelons of the peasant society of different parts of north India began to carry and use matchlocks and how, by the turn of the century, the weapon had percolated to the lower strata as well in vast regions.64 The works of Orr, Lorenzen and Pinch have further thrown light on another world of mercenaries of early modern north India— that of armed religious ascetics. The armed religious mercenaries— yogis, sannyasis and bairagis—formed a great chunk of the fluid military labour market during this period in north India. By the seventeenth century, these groups of armed religious ascetics started hiring their services out to different polities. In the eighteenth century, with the collapse of the centralized authority of the Mughals and increase of demand of military mercenaries following the rise of different competing regional states, these ascetics start being visible in a more conspicuous way. Thus we find a group of Ramanandi saints in military service of Sawai Jai Singh of Amber in early eighteenth century. Similarly, a group of sannyasis of the Giri order were in employment of the Marathas. All these evidences point towards the diverse and heterogeneous nature of the military labour market of early modern north India.65 As far as the military elite of various states was concerned, a huge chunk of this comprised of foreign immigrants. In case of the Mughal empire based in north India, we find two prominent groups of immigrants—Iranis and Turanis, immigrants from Persia and Turan (Transoxiana)—as opposed to Hindustanis, who were sons of the soil. The Mughal state started its career with a high percentage of Turani amirs under Babur. During the reigns of Akbar and Jahangir, the proportion of Iranis increased considerably and overshadowed the Turanis. However, taken together, these foreign immigrant amirs still massively outnumbered the indigenous elite who made it to the Mughal mansabdari corps. It was only after Aurangzeb moved to the Deccan and Mughal expansion on the southern front gathered pace, that the rate of the admission of indigenous elite rose sharply and gradually outstripped the number of foreign immigrants. The number of foreign elites was also very large in case of the

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Deccan sultanates. After the breakaway from Tughlaq authority based in Delhi in the mid-fourteenth century, the new Bahamani Sultanate needed a new group of politico-military elite. By the end of the fourteenth century, they could no longer rely on the dwindling numbers of their original elite consisting of breakaway Muslim colonists and indigenous intermediaries. Hence the Bahamani court started importing increasingly large number of political personnel across the Arabian Sea from Persia. The most prominent case at point was Mahmud Gawan (1411-81), an Iranian merchant who settled down in the Deccan and eventually became the wazir of the Bahamani Sultanate. These immigrants were called by the generic names of afaqi (distant) or ghair mulki (foreigner).66 During the heyday of Persian influence in the courts of Bijapur and Ahmadnagar during the first three quarters of the sixteenth century, both of these states employed Persians in high political and military capacities. The third major Deccani state, Golconda, on the other hand, continued to employ Persians throughout the seventeenth century, till its fall at the hands of the Mughals.67 One the most prominent immigrants from Persia, who had an enviable political and military career in early modern South Asia, was Mir Muhammad Sayyid Ardistani, better known in the Mughal world as Mir Jumla.68 While the rise of other noblemen and military commanders might not have been as meteoric, his case points to a general trend of advent of Persians to early modern peninsular India due to the twin attraction of politico-military power in the regional polities and financial fortune through an entry into flourishing trade networks. The other form of immigrant elite consisted of African military slaves. Turkish military slaves, called malik (pl. mamluk), were used in all the Islamicate polities across medieval Eurasia. Turkish slaves from Central Asia were also widely employed in almost all Islamic polities of north India throughout the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. The first ruling house of Delhi after the Turkish occupation was in fact that of the Turkish mamluk of Muizuddin Muhammad of Ghur.69 In contrast to them, African military slavery was something characteristic of the late medieval-early modern period. They were imported from Zanzibar and Abyssinia in East


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Africa and known in the Perso-Arabic world as Zangi and Habshi respectively. Unlike Turkish slaves, the African slaves were not as prominent in north India and contemporary literature mentions them only occasionally. Thus, we see how during the reign of Raziya (1236-40), the Sultan’s shower of favours towards an Abyssinian slave, Malik Yakut, precipitated tremendous opposition from the Turkish nobility. In contrast to this, as Irfan Habib points out, since the fifteenth century, African military slaves were regularly employed in large numbers by the sultanates of Bengal, Gujarat and the Deccan. The Bengal Sultanate regularly imported Habshi slaves in large numbers to maintain an elite military corps. In Bengal, a group of Habshi slaves even seized power from the ruling house of Bengal in the late-fifteenth century and ruled over the region for a brief period.70 In the Deccan, this tradition of employing African slaves continued well into the early modern period as well. Richard Eaton shows how the import of Abyssinian slaves to South Asia increased drastically around the mid-fifteenth century due to the rise of both their supply and demand. An Abyssinian slave, Dilawar Khan Habshi, acted as the regent to the minor Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah of Bijapur in late-sixteenth century. After coming of age Ibrahim Adil Shah replaced many Persians in the corps of royal bodyguards by Habshi slaves.71 The most famous of this group of immigrant elite, Malik Ambar (1548-1626), an Abyssinian military slave, eventually became the wazir of the Deccani state of Ahmadnagar and led a valiant struggle against the Mughal expansionist drive towards the south.72 However, with the fall of one of the main employers of military slaves—the Sultanate of Ahmadnagar—by 1636 in the hands of the Mughals, rise of a new service and military group in the form of the Marathas, and the gradual assimilation of the African slaves into Deccani society, Habshi slavery died out around the mid-seventeenth century.73 Apart from politico-military elite and military slaves, south India and the Deccan also saw the immigration of a large number of military professionals and engineers from West Asia and thereby the diffusion of technological knowhow regarding gunpowder weaponry. Jean Deloche cites G. Yazdani to point out that throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, different polities of

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the region—including the Sultanates of Bijapur, Golconda, and Ahmadnagar—employed these foreigners as gunners and cannonmanufacturers.74 Alongside this, the increasing involvement of the Dutch VOC in the diamond trade around Golconda in the seventeenth century must have brought Dutch technological knowhow to these parts of South Asia as well. CONCLUSION

From the observations and arguments posed above, it is clear that warfare in early modern South Asia went through a series of changes, many of which were directly or indirectly induced by the introduction of gunpowder weaponry in the region. The features that characterized this period, and thereby set it apart from its medieval and modern counterparts, included the use of the wagon laager tactic in a couple of battles in north India, the rise of African military slavery, the increased prominence and use of the mud fort, and modifications in the traditional fort architecture in favour of gunpowder artillery throughout western, central, and peninsular India. In siege as well as defence of forts, gunpowder artillery and mining did become very important in the course of the seventeenth century. Gunpowder artillery also saw large scale use on the flotillas deployed in the wars waged on the Lower Indus Basin in late sixteenth century and in the Lower Ganga Basin, the Ganga-Brahmaputra Delta, and the Brahmaputra Basin in Assam during the seventeenth century. But in pitched battles, while matchlock-wielding infantry and field artillery were certainly used in large numbers, shock charge tactics of heavy cavalry and elephants continued to be popular with the Mughal and Vijayanagara Empires. At the same time, in the Deccan, the Marathas adapted their light cavalry to hit-and-run tactics against the frontal-combat-oriented Mughal heavy cavalry of the late seventeenth century. The period also saw the emergence of a thriving labour market of firearm-equipped mercenaries, especially in north India. Western Europe was witness to very rapid changes in almost all fields of war-making during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The investigation as to whether these changes amounted to a


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revolution or not is beyond the scope of the present paper. However, it has to be acknowledged that the changes in warfare that the term Military Revolution, as coined by Michael Roberts and as developed by Geoffrey Parker, signifies were something particular to Western Europe. While the introduction of gunpowder weaponry did bring different sorts of changes in army structure, battle tactic, military strategy, and military architecture among different polities across the globe, to try to trace the signs of Military Revolutions everywhere would be as problematic as searching for specific European historical experiences like the Industrial Revolution, Feudalism or Renaissance in non-European spaces. As the present essay has argued using the example of the Indian subcontinent, different polities reacted and adapted to the new military technologies of the early modern period differently, depending—among various other factors—on physical geography, culture, indigenous military traditions, geopolitics, and military exigency. The specificities of these factors ensured that while warfare in this part of the world indeed went through a lot of churning—and might even have experienced certain revolutionary shifts in certain areas—these did not resemble the Western European experience that has so controversially been termed as the Military Revolution.

NOTES 1. In 1955, Michael Roberts formulated the hypothesis of a Military Revolution, which he saw taking place in Western Europe between 1560 and 1660 due to rapid changes in tactical and strategic aspects of warfare brought about by Maurice of Nassau in the Low Countries and Gustavus Adolphus in Sweden. Four basic developments worked their way together towards the broader phenomenon of this Military Revolution: rise of the disciplined infantry at the cost of the feudal heavy cavalry, marked an increase in the size of armies and the scale of warfare, rise of a new strategic consciousness, and finally, manifold increase in the overall impact of warfare on European society. Michael Roberts, The Military Revolution, 1560-1660, Belfast: Marjory Boyd, 1956. Also see Mahindar S. Kingra, ‘The Trace Italienne and the Military Revolution during the Eighty Years’ War, 1567-1648’, The Journal of Modern History, 57, 3, 1993, pp. 431-46.

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2. Parker broadens the base of the Military Revolution envisaged by Roberts and points out three factors as the driving force behind this ‘revolution’— ‘a new use of firepower, a new type of fortification, and, in many ways emanating from the second factor, an increase in army size’. Geoffrey Parker, ‘The “Military Revolution”, 1560-1660: A Myth?’, The Journal of Modern History, 48, 2, 1976, pp. 195-214; Geoffrey Parker, The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500-1800, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. 3. Marshall Poe, ‘The Consequences of the Military Revolution in Muscovy: A Comparative Perspective’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 38, no. 4, 1996, pp. 603-18; Michael C. Paul, ‘The Military Revolution in Russia, 1550-1682’, The Journal of Military History, vol. 68, no. 1, 2004, pp. 9-45. 4. Christopher Duffy, Siege Warfare: The Fortress in the Early Modern World, 1494-1660, London and New York: Routledge, 1997. 5. John A. Lynn, ‘Tactical Evolution in the French Army, 1560-1660’, French Historical Studies, vol. 14, no. 2, 1985, pp. 176-91. 6. Knud J.V. Jespersen, ‘Social Change and Military Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Some Danish Evidence’, The Historical Journal, vol. 26, no. 1, 1983, pp. 1-13. 7. Clifford J. Rogers, ‘The Military Revolutions of the Hundred Years’ War’, Journal of Military History, vol. 57, no. 2, 1993, pp. 241-78, see p. 277. 8. Jeremy Black (ed.), War in the Early Modern World, 1450-1815, London and New York: Routledge, 1999; Geoff Mortimer, Early Modern Military History, 1450-1815, Hampshire and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Also see Rudi Matthee, ‘Unwalled Cities and Restless Nomads: Firearms and Artillery in Safavid Iran’, in Pembroke Papers, vol. 4, 1996, pp. 389-416. 9. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Connected Histories: Notes towards a Reconfiguration of Early Modern Eurasia’, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 31, no. 3, 1997, Special Issue: The Eurasian Context of the Early Modern History of Mainland South East Asia, 1400-1800, pp. 735-62. 10. John F. Richards, ‘Early Modern India and World History’, Journal of World History, vol. 8, no. 2, 1997, pp. 197-209. 11. Jos Gommans, ‘Warhorse and Gunpowder in India, c. 1000-1850’, in Jeremy Black (ed.), War in the Early Modern World, pp. 105-27; Jos Gommans, ‘Warhorse and Post-Nomadic Empire in Asia, c. 1000-1800’ Journal of Global History, vol. 2, 2007, pp. 1-21. 12. Kaushik Roy, ‘Military Synthesis in South Asia: Armies, Warfare and Indian Society, c. 1740-1849’, The Journal of Military History, vol. 69, no. 3, 2005, pp. 651-90; Kaushik Roy, ‘Firepower-Centric Warfare in



14. 15. 16.

17. 18. 19. 20. 21.




Pratyay Nath India and the Military Modernisation of the Marathas: 1740-1818’, Indian Journal of History of Science, vol. 40, no. 4, 2005; Kaushik Roy, ‘Rockets under Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan’, in Indian Journal of History of Science, vol. 40, no. 4, 2005, pp. 635-55; Kaushik Roy, ‘Technology and Transformation of Sikh Warfare: Dal Khalsa against the Lal Paltans, 180049’, Indian Journal of History of Science, vol. 41, no. 4, 2006, pp. 383-410. In fact, Eaton indicates that in a large way this battle signaled the beginning of a military revolution in South Asia. Richard Eaton, ‘ “Kiss My Foot” Said the King: Firearms, Diplomacy, and the Battle for Raichur, 1520’, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 43, no. 1, 2009, pp. 289-313; Richard M. Eaton, ‘India’s Military Revolution: The View from Early Sixteenth Century Deccan’, in Raziuddin Aquil and Kaushik Roy (eds.), Warfare, Religion and Society in Indian Society, Delhi: Manohar, 2012, pp. 85-108. Iqtidar Alam Khan, Gunpowder and Firearms: Warfare in Medieval India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004, pp. 17-40 Richard M. Eaton, ‘India’s Military Revolution’, pp. 89-90. Richard Eaton, ‘ “Kiss My Foot” Said the King’, pp. 289-313; Richard M. Eaton, ‘India’s Military Revolution’, pp. 93-9. Also see Richard Eaton, ‘From Kalyana to Talikota: Culture, Politics, and War in the Deccan, 1542-65’, in Rajat Datta (ed.), Rethinking a Millenium: Perspectives on Indian History from the Eighth to the Eighteenth Century, Essays for Harbans Mukhia, Delhi: Aakar Books, 2008, pp. 95-105. Iqtidar Alam Khan, Gunpowder and Firearms, pp. 59-90. Ibid., pp. 60-2. Ibid., p. 69. Peter Lorge, The Asian Military Revolution: From Gunpowder to the Bomb, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008, p. 118. Ranabir Chakravarti, ‘Early Medieval Bengal and the Trade in Horses: A Note’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 42, no. 2, 1999, pp. 194-211. Sun Laichen, ‘Military Technology Transfers from Ming China and the Emergence of Northern Mainland Southeast Asia (c. 1390-1527)’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, vol. 34, no. 3, 2003, pp. 495-517. Mirza Nathan, Baharistan-i Ghaybi: A History of the Mughal Wars in Assam, Cooch Behar, Bengal, Bihar and Orissa during the Reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan, English translation by M.I. Borah, 2 vols., Government of Assam: Guwahati, 1992; Shihabuddin Talish, Fathiyyah-i Ibriyyah, partial English translation by Jadunath Sarkar, in Jadunath Sarkar, Studies in Aurangzeb’s Reign, Calcutta: Orient Longman, 1989, pp. 114-48. In 1535, the Mughals and the Afghan army of Gujarat were encamped

Warfare in Early Modern South Asia


opposite to each other at Mandasor. Humayun, who was commanding the Mughal army himself, refrained from attacking the position of the Gujarati Afghans as the latter’s well-entrenched camp was heavily guarded by artillery pieces and matchlockmen. On one occasion, the Afghan cavalry lured five to six hundred of Humayun’s horsemen under Muhammad Zaman Mirza within the range of the Gujarati artillery and then retreated. The Gujarati artillery opened fire, causing considerable Mughal casualties. Akbarnama, tr. H. Beveridge, pp. 301-3. The Gujaratis also had a good collection of siege artillery, as indicated by a contemporary Persian chronicle of Gujarat, the Mirat-i Ahmadi: ‘He [Bahadur Shah] then occupied Bhilsa and encamped, by continual marches, on a river-bank near the fort of Raisin which was held by Lakhmi Sen Silhadi. He appointed Amirs to entrenchments for conquest of the fort. Rumi Khan, who was matchless of the age, in pyrotechnics, demolished one turret within twinkling of an eye, by a cannon-ball. Twelve thousand Dekhani soldiers who were attendants of the Sultan mined a fort wall and flew one turret of it to a distance of the remotest arrow. . . . The Sultan went to the port of Div [Diu], he sent two very big cannons along with one hundred [smaller] others to Mahmudabad with an intension to conquer Chitor.’Ali Muhammad Khan, Mirat-i Ahmadi: A Persian History of Gujarat, tr. M.F. Lokhandwala, Baroda: Maharaja Sayajirao University, 1965, pp. 60-1. As for the Bengal Sultanate, B.P. Ambhashthya points out how in the Battle of Surajgarha, Sher Shah’s cavalry-centric was faced by a very strong artillery park of the Bengal army. It was owing to this that he modified his tactic and decided to draw the Bengali cavalry away from the support of the latter’s artillery before engaging them. This tactic paid off. Without the cover of their artillery, the Bengali cavalry lost to the superior fighting skills of the Afghan horsemen. Sher Shah captured the artillery of the Bengal Sultan, thus adding a vital wing to his growing army. B.P. Ambashthya, Decisive Battles of ®Ser ®Sah, Patna: Janaki Prakashan, 1977, pp. 18-24. 25. Abul Fazl Alami, Akbarnama, English translation by H. Beveridge, 3 vols, Delhi: Low Price Publication, 1989, vol. II, p. 80. 26. Abdul Qadir Badaoni, Muntakhabu-t-Tawarikh, English translation by W.H. Lowe and revised by B.P. Ambashthya, 3 vols., Delhi: Renaissance Publishing House, 1986, vol. II, pp. 104-5; Akbarnama, tr. H. Beveridge, vol. II, pp. 437-8. 27. Khwaja Nizamuddin Ahmad, Tabaqat-i-Akbari, English translation by Brajendranath De and edited by Baini Prasad, 3 vols., Delhi: Low Price Publications, 1992, vol. II, pp. 342-8; Muntakhab ut-Tawarikh, tr. W.H. Lowe, vol. II, pp. 105-7; Akbarnama, tr. H. Beveridge, vol. II,


28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36.

37. 38. 39.



Pratyay Nath pp. 443-76; Muhammad Qasim Firishta, History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India till the Year AD 1612 or Tarikh-i Firishta, English translation by John Briggs, Delhi: Low Price Publications, 1990, vol. II, pp. 140-2. Akbarnama, tr. Beveridge, vol. III, pp. 24-6, 39-40; Tarikh-i Firishta, trans. John Briggs, vol. II, p. 146. Tabaqat-i Akbari, tr. B. De, vol. II, p. 400. Akbarnama, tr. Beveridge, vol. III, p. 918. Akbarnama, tr. Beveridge, vol. III, pp. 948-9; Muntakhab, tr. and ed. W.H. Lowe, vol. II, p. 392. Akbarnama, tr. H. Beveridge, vol. III, pp. 1047-8; Tarikh-i Firishta, tr. John Briggs, vol. II, pp. 167-9. Akbarnama, tr. Beveridge, vol. III, pp. 1147, 1163-70; Tarikh-i Firishta, tr. John Briggs, vol. II, p. 172. Iqtidar Alam Khan, Gunpowder and Firearms, pp. 91-127. Ibid., pp. 128-63. Weston Cook shows how the deployment of gunpowder artillery decimated the forts of the Muslim chieftains in the Iberian peninsula in the later years of the fifteenth century. Weston F. Cook, Jr., ‘The Cannon Conquest of Nasrid Spain and the End of the Reconquista’, The Journal of Military History, vol. 57, no. 1, 1993, pp. 43-70. David Eltis, The Military Revolution in Sixteenth Century Europe, New York: I.B. Tauris, 1995, pp. 76-98; Christopher Duffy, Siege Warfare. Jean Deloche, Studies in Fortification in India, Pondicherry: Institut Français de Pondichéry, 2007. Battles were rare in Central India during the Mughal expansion in this region during the second half of the sixteenth century. The rugged hilly and forested terrain offered the local polities the perfect physical geography for building and fighting from forts. In the face of an invading army, they would simply withdraw to their forts and continue to fight from there. For this reason, Mughal expansion in this region was punctuated—instead of battles—with a great number of sieges. This reduced the probability of seeing field artillery in action anyway. For an elaboration of this point and a survey Mughal siege warfare under Babur and Humayun, see the author’s ‘Siege Warfare in Mughal India, 1519-38’, in Kaushik Roy (ed.), Warfare and Politics in South Asia from Ancient to Modern Times, Delhi: Manohar, 2011, pp. 121-44. Akbarnama, tr. H. Beveridge, vol. II, pp. 489-97; Tabaqat-i Akbari, tr. Brajendranath De, vol. II, pp. 352-5; Muntakhab, tr. W.H. Lowe, vol. II, p. 110-11; Tarikh-i Firishta, tr. John Briggs, vol. II, p. 143.

Warfare in Early Modern South Asia


42. Tabaqat-i-Akbari, tr. Brajendranath De, vol. II, pp. 342-8; Muntakhab ut-Tawarikh, tr. W.H. Lowe, vol. II, pp. 105-7; Akbarnama, tr. H. Beveridge, vol. II, pp. 443-76, vol. III, pp. 1147, 1157-9, 1163-70; Tarikh-i Firishta, tr. John Briggs, vol. II, pp. 140-2, 172. 43. For a survey of Maratha forts, see S.N. Sen, Military Systems of the Marathas with a Brief Account of Their Maritime Activities, Calcutta: The Book Company, 1928, pp. 93-110. For a discussion on how the Marathas conceptualized the roles of forts, see Stewart Gordon, ‘Forts and Social Control in the Maratha State’, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 13, no. 1, 1979, pp. 1-17. 44. These forts have just started to receive serious historiographical attention. Recently, quite a few pieces have been published. For a general survey of Portuguese forts in India and an analysis of the architectural evolution of these forts, see Francisco Sousa Lobo, ‘Indo-Portuguese Fortification’, in Lotika Varadarajan (ed.), Indo-Portuguese Encounters: Journeys in Science, Technology and Culture, Delhi: Indian National Science Academy and Aryan Books, 2006, pp. 764-95. For detailed studies on a particular Portuguese fort, that of Cannanore, see Artur Teodoro do Matos, ‘Daily Life at the Cànnanore Fortress between 1516 and 1520’, André Pinto de Sousa Dias Teixeira, ‘The Fortress of Cannanore and Military Architecture during the Reign of King Manuel I’, in K.S. Mathew and Joy Varkey (eds.), Winds of Spices: Essays of Portuguese Establishments in Medieval India with Special Reference to Cannanore, Tellicherry: Irish, 2006, pp. 87-101 and 139-61. Zoltán Biedermann, ‘Colombo and Cannanore: Two Portuguese Port-Cities in the Sixteenth Century’, in K.S. Mathew and Joy Varkey (eds.), Winds of Spices, pp. 231-51 puts the fort of Cannanore into perspective by comparing it with a non-Indian Portuguese fort, that of Colombo. 45. The earliest maps of the Fort William show it as a square or a rectangular structure with angle-bastions at the four corners. See the design of the Fort William on the maps printed on Keya Dasgupta, Mapping Calcutta: The Collection of Maps at the Visual Archives of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, Archive Series 2, Calcutta: Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, 2009, pp. 3, 4. This structure was demolished by Sirajuddaullah, Nawab of Bengal, when he occupied the city of Calcutta and renamed it Alinagar in 1757. The new fort that was built when the English EIC regained the possession of the city eventually seems to have been constructed after the trace italienne model. See Keya Dasgupta, Mapping Calcutta, pp. 5, 7, 12, 16 and 18. 46. Mahinder Kingra, ‘The Trace Italienne’, p. 439. 47. Baharistan-i Ghaybi, tr. M.I. Borah, vol. I, pp. 126-30. For some other Mughal sieges of mud forts, see Baharistan-i Ghaybi, tr. M.I. Borah, vol. I, pp. 18-19, 97-8, 134-6, 171-2.


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48. For some instances of Mughals constructing mud forts, refer to Baharistani Ghaybi, tr. M.I. Borah, vol. I, pp. 109, 117-18, 242. 49. Ayesha Begum, ‘Mughal Fort Architecture in Bengal with an Introduction to Some Important River Forts’, Journal of Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, vol. 47, no. 1, 2002, pp. 1-24. 50. I am indebted for this point to Pius Malekandathil, my teacher at the Centre of Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. 51. For a fascinating exposition of the complicated planning of this Mughal fort-city, see Stephen Blake, Shahjahanabad: The Sovereign City of Mughal India, 1639-1739, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 52. Fathiyyah-i Ibriyyah, tr. Jadunath Sarkar in Sarkar, Studies in Aurangzib’s Reign, p. 139-44. 53. Baharistan-i Ghaybi, tr. M.I. Borah, vol. I, p. 488. 54. For a detailed analysis of these two battles, see the present author’s ‘Rethinking Early Mughal Warfare: Babur’s Pitched Battles, 1499-1529’, in Aquil and Roy (eds.), Warfare, Religion and Society, pp. 109-46. 55. Muntakhab ut-Tawarikh, tr. W.H. Lowe, vol. II, pp. 98-9; Tarikh-i Akbari, tr. Tasneem Ahmad, pp. 140-1; Tabaqat-i Akbari, tr. B. De, vol. II, pp. 333-6; Akbarnama, tr. H. Beveridge, vol. II, pp. 430-4. 56. Muntakhab ut-Tawarikh, tr. W.H. Lowe, vol. II, pp. 196-7; Tarikh-i Akbari, tr. Tasneem Ahmad, pp. 236-7; Tabaqat-i Akbari, tr. B. De, vol. II, pp. 462-5; Akbarnama, tr. H. Beveridge, vol. III, pp. 174-9. 57. Baharistan-i Ghaybi, tr. M.I. Borah, vol. I, pp. 173-92; Nuruddin Jahangir, Tuzuk-i Jahangiri, 2 vols., English translation by Alexander Rogers and edited by Henry Beveridge, vol. I, Delhi: Low Price Publications, 2006, pp. 209-12. 58. Dominigos Paes, Narrative of Dominigos Paes, English translation by Robert Sewell in Sewell, A Forgotten Empire: Vijayanagar, Delhi: Publications Division, 1962, pp. 265-7. 59. Fernão Nuniz, Chronicle of Fernão Nuniz, English translation by Robert Sewell in Sewell, A Forgotten Empire pp. 311-12. 60. S.N. Sen, Military System of the Marathas, pp. 76-92. 61. Iqtidar Alam Khan, ‘Muskets in the Mawas: Instruments of Peasant Resistance’, in K.N. Panikkar, T.J. Byres and Utsa Patnaik (eds.), The Making of History: Essays Presented to Irfan Habib, London: Anthem South Asia Studies, 2002, pp. 81-103; Iqtidar Alam Khan, Gunpowder and Firearms, pp. 164-90, 218-26. 62. Brenda Buchanan, ‘Saltpetre: A Commodity of Empire’, in Brenda Buchanan (ed.), Gunpowder, Explosives and the State, London: Ashgate, 2006, pp. 78-81.

Warfare in Early Modern South Asia


63. Choubey points out that its reputation as a major weapon-producing centre even earned Monghyr the title ‘Birmingham of the East’, in English circles. Asha Shukla Choubey, ‘Technology and Culture among the IronWorkers of Bihar during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries’, The Medieval History Journal, vol. 6. no. 1, 2003, pp. 75-109. 64. Iqtidar Alam Khan, Gunpowder and Firearms, pp. 164-90. 65. W.G. Orr, ‘Armed Religious Ascetics in Northern India’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 24, no. 1, 1940, pp. 81-100, reprinted in Jos Gommans and Dirk H.A. Kolff, Warfare and Weaponry in South Asia, 1000-1800, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 185-201; David Lorenzen, ‘Warrior Ascetics in Indian History’, Journal of American Oriental Society, vol. 98, no. 1, 1978, pp. 61-75; William Pinch, Warrior Ascetics and Indian Empires, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 66. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Iranians Abroad: Intra-Asian Elite Migration and Early Modern State Formation’, The Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 51, no. 2, 1992, pp. 340-63; Richard M. Eaton, ‘Mahmud Gawan (1411-81): Deccanis and Westerners’, in Richard M. Eaton, A Social History of the Deccan, 1300-1761: Eight Indian Lives, The New Cambridge History of India, I.8, Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2008, pp. 59-77. 67. Subrahmanyam, ‘Iranians Abroad’, pp. 343-5. 68. Mir Muhammad Sayyid Ardistani arrived in the Deccan from Isfahan in the 1620s, made a fortune through the diamond trade, entered the realm of the Golconda administration through revenue-farming, got himself employed in the Sultanate, rose in ranks through the 1630s, became Mir Jumla by the early 1640s, broke away from Golconda service in the face of Mughal advance in the Deccan, fought in the war of succession for Aurangzeb, became the subadar of Bengal around 1660 and conducted massive military campaigns in Assam. For his best comprehensive biography, with a particular thrust on his military enterprises, see Jagadish Narayan Sarkar, The Life of Mir Jumla, Calcutta: Thacker Spink, 1951. 69. For more on Turkish slavery in the sultanate of Delhi, see Sunil Kumar, ‘When Slaves were Nobles: The Shamsi Bandagan in the Early Delhi Sultanate’, Studies in History, vol. 10, no. 1, 1994, pp. 23-52; Peter Jackson, ‘Turkish Slaves on Islam’s Indian Frontier’ and Sunil Kumar, ‘Service, Status, and Military Slavery in the Delhi Sultanate: Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries’, in Indrani Chatterjee and Richard M. Eaton, Slavery and South Asian History, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2006, pp. 63-82 and 83-114. 70. Tapan Raychaudhuri and Irfan Habib (eds.), The Cambridge Economic History of India, vol. I: c. 1200-c. 1750, Cambridge: Cambridge University


71. 72. 73.


Pratyay Nath Press, 1987, pp. 149-50; A.B.M. Habibullah, ‘Later Ilyas Shahis and the Abyssinians (1442-98)’, in Jadunath Sarkar (ed.), The History of Bengal, vol. II: Muslim Period, 1200-1757, Dacca: University of Dacca, 2006, pp. 130-41. Subrahmanyam, ‘Iranians Abroad’, pp. 343-4. For a detailed biography of Malik Ambar see B.G. Tamaskar, The Life and Work of Malik Ambar, Delhi: Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Delli, 1978. For a treatment of Habshi military slavery in early modern Deccan, see Richard M. Eaton, ‘Malik Ambar’; Richard M. Eaton, ‘The Rise and Fall of Military Slavery in the Deccan, 1450-1650’, in Indrani Chatterjee and Richard M. Eaton, Slavery and South Asian History, pp. 115-35; Richard M. Eaton, ‘Malik Ambar (1548-1626): The Rise and Fall of Military Slavery’, in Eaton, Social History of the Deccan, pp. 105-28. Jean Deloche, Studies on Fortification, pp. 140-1.


What Does the Emperor of India Look Like? European Representations of Indian Rulers (1650-1740)* CORINNA FORBERG

The European imagination of the powerful realm of the Great Mughals had been manifested in the records of contemporary travellers or compilers. In 1667 Athanasius Kircher told his readers in his China Illustrata the following: ‘The most powerful monarch to arise from the family of Tamerlane, (. . .), resides in that vast Mughal Empire.’1 Olfert Dapper’s description from 1672 is more detailed. He knew enough to tell that the kingdom of the Great Mughal, which, because of its size and the power of its tributary kings, deserves the name of empire, is situated between the river Indus in the West and the Ganges in the East, is bordered partly by the Ocean and partly by the kingdom of ‘Kunkan’ or ‘Visiapour’ in the south, in the north by ‘Usbek’, the mountains of ‘Tibeth’, the kingdoms of ‘Srinagar, Kaparangue en Radok’, and finally in the East by the kingdom of ‘Nekbal’.2

Olfert Dapper became concrete with numbers when he tried to transmit an idea of the geographic spread of the realm. ‘. . . from North-West to South-West more than two thousand English miles, and from North to South about fourteen hundred. . . .’3 According to Dapper, the Mughal Empire represents one of two large parts of India, in fact, the part that is located between the big rivers Indus and Ganges.4 The second part is called ‘Mangi’ or India beyond the Ganges.5 *I am grateful to Gautam Chakrabarti for correcting the English text.


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Both the above-mentioned publications belong to a category of high-quality illustrated books written in the second half of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries by travellers, collectors or compilers who never left their homeland. These books were produced and published mainly in the Netherlands— then leading the European book market, and dedicated to a readership, which suspected all what was written and trusted mainly in eyewitness accounts and pictorial first hand sources. The illustrations of former travel books like those by the de Bry brothers6 or Linschoten7 did not persuade the critical reader any longer during the second half of the seventeenth century. It was up to the Indian miniatures, copied by European artists, to help construct a visual imagination of Indian sovereigns. Indian miniatures were imported into Europe due to the curiosity of collectors, especially the Dutch ones. With the assembly of a big encyclopaedic collection they intended nothing less than the construction of a microcosmic copy of the world. The collections were divided into naturalia and artificialia. The Indian miniatures were part of the artificialia whereas the artificialia served the naturalia, copying Nature with means found in Nature. Consequently the artificialia were the evidence of divine revelation in Nature.8 Indian miniatures came to the Netherlands as the other products —gold, silver, silk or spices—did, having been transported in the merchant vessels of the VOC (Vereenigte Oostindische Compagnie). Their significance is based on the fact of their constituting the first authentic ethnographic resource about India. In contrast, the first translations of literary sources, especially of texts in Sanskrit, were published only at the end of the eighteenth century. There are only few available details about the trade with Indian miniatures. Up to now, it is only Pauline Lunsingh Scheurleer who has succeeded in proving that European merchants and travellers purchased Indian miniatures at the royal court of Golconda between 1685 and 1687.9 However, it is completely unclear how and wherefrom albums of Indian miniatures, made in the time before or after, had been purchased. Today we only know that Indian miniatures were imported into Europe. Pauline Lunsingh Scheurleer mentions about forty collect-

What Does the Emperor of India Look Like?


ions of Indian miniatures that were traded in the Netherlands between 1655 and 1760.10 What was the image of the Indian emperors in European paintings and book-illustrations? This question will be answered by the demonstration of some examples by Rembrandt, Willem Schellinks, Philippus Baldaeus, Olfert Dapper, Athanasius Kircher, Nicolaas Witsen, Bernard Picart and Francois Valentyn. It has been supposed that all these artists or authors used different collections of Indian miniatures, but in fact Schellinks used the same collection as Rembrandt and Valentyn used the same collection as Picart. However, the handling of similar sources could be totally unequal. When in the 1650s Indian miniatures first attracted Rembrandt’s attention, there were already some published portraits of Indian rulers made after Indian models. Examples for these can be seen in English, French and Dutch publications.11 However, they are so rare during the first half of the seventeenth century and had such little influence on the later process of the reproduction of Indian miniatures—a process that was centered in the Netherlands—that one can neglect them in the following investigation. Both the terms ‘copy’ and ‘reproduction’ have been used in a similar sense. It is considered as a process of translation or transformation. It is not a mechanical, linear and unilateral process, but a creative process of interpretation and contextualization12 that shows the artist’s evident and hidden intentions. Its investigation demands an art historical analysis based on an analytical comparison between the Indian model and its European copy. The intercultural aspect of this demands methodological means that could be found in the contiguous disciplines of anthropology, literature or psychology. In the attempt to find a definition for the meaning of translation the trend is now to describe translation as a relationship of representations, as theorized by anthropologists and cultural scientists in the 1980s and 1990s. With regard to this premise, culture itself is a construction of codices and representations, translation has been considered as representation of representations, in which interactive processes of translation are taken into consideration, inclusively the complex interweaving of the familiar and the other. In his theory of the Location of Cultures13 Homi Bhabha holds


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cultural misunderstanding as a chance, not as an obstacle. According to him, ‘the mental trade’ occurs especially at the frontiers and frontier-crossings of cultures, even there where the meanings and the virtues are not settled in essential texts, but there where they are misunderstood, falsely represented and even falsely adopted.14 Within this above-mentioned border-zone between the familiar and the other Bhabha opens a ‘third space’ (a gap, an interspace) and promises to solve the question of cultural differences. Therefore, he resorts to Sigmund Freud’s figure of ‘the Uncanny’. The uncanny represents that psychic situation, in which a subject faces its own internal difference. What it means here is the return of the familiar after it has become strange in the process of repression. The thought of the unconscious, as a location of the stranger within the psychic system, is transmitted by Bhabha in his construction of the third space. Thus, the other is not located outside or beyond ourselves, but inside every cultural system. The differences do not mark a frontier between inside and outside, centre and border, but an inevitable space middle of the centre.15 Bhabha’s thesis provides a basis for the methodological orientation of the present paper. It is necessary to revisit the past factual framework in discussing Rembrandt’s studies of the portraits of Indian rulers. In 1656, in the inventory of Rembrandt’s encyclopaedic collection, ‘One [book] filled with curious drawings in miniature as well as woodcuts and engravings on copper of various [folk] costumes’, it seemed, as attested to by general opinion today, to have been an album with Indian miniatures.16 At least since 1652 it had served as a model for a series of Rembrandt’s drawings. In 1747, the collection of the Englishman Jonathan Richardson Jr. was sold. Therein was a ‘book of Indian Drawings, 25 in Number’ by Rembrandt.17 Twenty of these drawings may be found till this day. They contain portraits of Indian emperors or princes, relatives, servants and some Sufi personalities.18 In the beginning of the twentieth century Josef Strzygowski recognized the models of Rembrandt’s Indian drawings in some of the miniatures in the Millionenzimmer of Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.19, 20 Due to this fortunate situation it is possible to compare the original drawing and its copy, although with the caveat that the Indian drawing has not survived in its original state. In the eighteenth

What Does the Emperor of India Look Like?


century the sheets of the album were cut, fitted in baroque frames and partially retouched.21 For a close view of Rembrandt’s studies of Indian portraits it is necessary to imagine the manipulated models in their original form. The main motif of an Indian miniature is often not placed in the centre of the sheet and surrounded by a complex, arranged framework. The figure portrayed stands in front of a background usually composed as a flourishing meadow. He poses in a self-confident attitude, his head and feet in profile, his torso in a three-quarter view. In the case of the Mughal Emperors, the pearl earring had become a characteristic attribute since Jahangir’s reign, more precisely since 1615. Rembrandt drew his whole attention to the person and his attributes. In double or group-portraits, he investigated the relationship between the figures. In this way he portrayed Shah Jahan six times, Jahangir three times, Akbar twice and Timur once.22 An immediate comparison between the model and its copy is possible in the cases of every person in the group-portrait with Timur,23 of Jahangir in the double portrait with a servant,24 and of Shah Jahan in a double-portrait with Dara Shukoh carrying a falcon.25 The Indian models represent the emperor within a strict canon of attitudes and gestures, in which the heads of all rulers since the reign of Jahangir are shown in profile and that of the predecessors in a three-quarter view. Their heads are usually surrounded by a large, shining nimbus. The sharp profile of the faces allows a clear distinction of physiognomic characteristics. Considering the limitation that Rembrandt neglected detailed designs and ornaments of the clothes and some spatial arrangements, he transferred the above-mentioned characteristics of the Indian painting in his drawings. He sketched a single figure in his typical fast stroke and captured its specific attitude and the particularity of its clothes. He observed the clothes’ recognizable details: the form and length of the jama, the sidewise closing and, if existing, decorating ribbons, the right position of the scarves and sashes, the form of the sandals and the manner in which the turbans were correctly bound. Attributes and adornment are not depicted in detail, but in their precise number and material quality.26 The placement of the feet is the only thing that Rembrandt changed. Instead of


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depicting them parallel and close together, he let them step out of line with a decent indication of a supporting leg and a free leg. The furniture, if existing, was perspectivally corrected following European norms. People and objects in the space got hard shadows. Faces and gestures of the portrayed figure were observed with particular care. Although we have no problem in recognizing the modelled figure, Rembrandt gave them such an individual hand that the result, the copy itself, in its effect on the beholder clearly differs from the Indian model. The Indian portrait in general forces the expression of God-given sovereignty and hides human bias behind an emotionless mask. Rembrandt changed the immovable facade of the Mughal emperor into a human face without totally distancing from the godlike superiority though. Why did he do so? Limiting the emperor’s sovereignty and emphasizing human dispositions could be linked to an attitude of European arrogance. The following example gives the answer to this question. During the years 1652-63 Rembrandt had made three portraits in the commission of the Sicilian collector Antonio Ruffo. He had free choice of his portrait’s motifs. First, in 1653, Aristotle was created,27 then, in 1655 or 1659, Alexander the Great (Figure 6.1) and at last, in 1663, Homer.28 The Greek philosopher Aristotle was represented in the style of collector- and scholar-portraits. The picture was based on the portrait of Jacopo da Strada by Titian.29 As in Titian’s painting, some selected pieces of a collection are arranged also in Rembrandt’s portrait. Of special importance are a medal with the image of Alexander the Great and an antique bust of the poet Homer—both objects could be found in Rembrandt’s own collection.30 1652, the year when Rembrandt began to paint his Aristotle, also saw the beginning of his ‘Indian studies’. The following portrait of Alexander the Great does not only hark back to the antique models of Rembrandt’s collection, but also to models that could be found in the album of Indian miniatures (Figure 6.1). Rembrandt’s portrait of Alexander the Great stands out because of two peculiarities that distinguish it from the rest of European art: first, there is the posture with the head in profile and the torso in a three-quarter view, corresponding to the forms of Indian miniatures, not European norms. Second, there is the pearl earring. To

What Does the Emperor of India Look Like?


Figure 6.1: Rembrandt, Alexander the Great, 1655/9, Oil on Canvas (Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum)

make the earring visible, Rembrandt had modified the original form of the helmet leaving out a piece at the height of the ear. For these peculiarities two models may be traced:31 one is Rembrandt’s copy of an Indian miniature of Timur (Figure 6.2), the second is the copy of an Indian miniature of Shah Jahan (Figure 6.3). Looking carefully, one can see that the part of the mouth and chin is similar to that of Shah Jahan, just like the earring. In his Indian drawings, Rembrandt took special care for the profile-line. With the same concentration he treated the portrait of Alexander the Great. However, here, Rembrandt emphasized the contour of a classical Greek nose, there, in contrary, the slightly curved line of Shah Jahan’s bridge.


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Figure 6.2: Rembrandt, Emperor Timur Sitting on a Throne, Pen in Indian Ink on Indian Paper (Paris, Musée du Louvre)

Figure 6.3: Rembrandt, Shah Jahan with a Boy, Pen in brown, Brush in Indian Ink on Indian Paper (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum/Rijksprentenkabinet)

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Alexander’s posture with the proud, armoured breast and the lance in the right hand was taken over by Rembrandt from the portrayal of Timur. There is one detail that indicates Rembrandt was doing some changes in his drawing of Timur at the same time he was painting Alexander: in the first version of that drawing, Rembrandt copied the form of the helmet with a small peak as he watched it in his model. Afterwards he repainted it with a broad pen so that the length of the peak is now equivalent to that of Alexander’s.32 This observation leads to the assumption Rembrandt did not copy the Indian miniatures as an end in itself, but already with a view to his paintings, especially to Alexander the Great. The result of this painting is a decent mix of Western and Eastern, in this case Indian Mughal representational forms, which reflect, in a sensual way, the policy of Alexander the Great who strived for the blending of Western and Eastern culture after the conquest of Persia. Some diverse biographies about Alexander the Great and Timur existed in the middle of the seventeenth century, even in Dutch translation, so that they could be easily available for Rembrandt too.33 Jean du Bec, stylistically, based his biography of Timur on The Parallel Lives by Plutarch. In comparing both these heroes’ characters there are often surprising similarities, which then, during the seventeenth century, had been considered with an almost-unlimited positive connotation. However, what Rembrandt was particularly interested in appears to have been Plutarch’s idea of a psychological portrait. In this context, Rembrandt was interested in Plutarch’s references to Homer’s Iliad and its new interpretation by Artistotle.34 Aristotle had accompanied Alexander the Great as his teacher over a long period. Alexander always had a copy of the Iliad about him. Plutarch describes an incident in which Alexander was wounded by an arrow and was reminded of his human fate. At this moment, Alexander cites Homer’s Iliad: ‘This, my friends, that flows here, is blood, and not ‘Ichtor, such as flows from the veins of the blessed gods’.35 In the seventeenth century, Plutarch’s citations of the Iliad reflected the popular theme of the vanitas wherein the awareness dominated that all earthly being is transitory. Alexander’s proud portrait, although restrained-seeming due to


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the shadowed eyes, may have its place in Ruffo’s gallery between the portraits of Aristotle and Homer. In the portrait of Homer, Rembrandt captured the blind poet in the moment when he received God’s words and passed them immediately to one of his writing pupils. The dictation is attended with the rhythmic lifting of the poet’s hand. This portrait was essentially influenced by an Indian miniature with the portrayal of four shaikhs.36 Homer, in Aristotle’s interpretation, is one who reminds Alexander the Great about his earthly limitation. In his Aristotle, depicted as collector and scholar, Rembrandt gave a reference pointing to himself and, consequently, staked his claim to the same thing as an artist that Aristotle had done as a scholar: identification with the divine truth. This is neither hypertrophy nor hypocrisy, it is the epitome of naturalism. Rembrandt’s naturalism was closely connected with his religiosity. God manifested himself to him in the visible nature. ‘I admit nothing, but on the faith of the eyes’, said the most prominent representative of naturalism, Francis Bacon, and defined the eye as the most important tool of the naturalist.37 His nature studies were based on an accurate observation and an exact description. Rembrandt followed this dictum both as painter and collector, convinced, to impart and reveal the creation of God only by these means, untouched by the manipulations of human ideas and interpretations. The imparted immediateness was a theme in the portrayal of the blind poet Homer who directly dictated the received words of God to his pupil. The corrections in the copy of Timur, made in the analogy with the portrait of Alexander, confirm the suggestion that Rembrandt copied Indian miniatures to extend his aesthetic means and create a certain type of imperial figure who allows the integration of the eschatological topic of vanitas besides its common pose of sovereignty. According to that, Rembrandt’s deviation in his drawings from the Indian model cannot be interpreted as a sign of arrogance. In their individual intention they harmonize the claim of both the painter and collector in search of historical accuracy. Around the year 1672, the Amsterdam-based painter and poet Willem Schellinks made some paintings, in which he copied diverse

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figures from Indian miniatures—in a prominent place Shah Jahan and his four sons. Being comparable to Rembrandt, Schellinks’ work developed from a tradition of naturalistic painting, which can especially be comprehended in his c. 200 drawings that he had made during two extensive journeys through Europe and copied, under the commission of the Amsterdam-based collector Laurens van der Hem, to complete his atlas thereafter.38 It concerns topographic landscape-drawings and town-views, captured from a kind of bird’s-eye view perspective. In this respect, he made use of the traveller’s tools as had been demanded by Francis Bacon,39 Constantijn Huygens40 or Nicolaas Witsen,41 but almost exclusively used in the Netherlands or by the Dutch. The genre of topographic painting emerged originally from cartography.42 ‘How wonderful a good map is in which one views the world as from another world thanks to the art of drawing’, Samuel Hoogstraten—one of Rembrandt’s pupils—waxed eloquent.43 The Dutch were also leading practitioners of this art. The level of difficulty for topographic painting to be accepted in other European countries is shown by the insistent appeal made by Robert Burton directed to his English readership in the second half of the seventeenth century: ‘. . . it would well please any man (. . .) to behold as it were, all the remote Provinces, Towns, Cities of the world, and never go forth of the limits of his study.’44 Akin to the maps, Schellinks’ topographic drawings fulfilled, besides their descriptive qualities, a documentary function. Schellinks’ social network ranged from Rembrandt’s pupils,45 the cartographer Joan Blaeu to the above-mentioned collectors Laurens van der Hem and Nicolaas Witsen.46 His private environment was round off by booksellers and illustrators who published artistic prints, travel literature, etc.47 It was within this milieu that Schellinks’ paintings with the portraits of Indian sovereigns were created. In two paintings, today preserved in Paris (Figure 6.4) and London,48 Schellinks depicted the power struggle of Shah Jahan’s four sons in the manner of a theatrical play on a European stage. Therein two parties confront each other: Aurangzeb (1618-1707) and Murad Bakhsh (1624-61) on one side, Dara Shukoh (1615-59) and Shah Shuja (1616-61) on the other.49 The princes ride on


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Figure 6.4: Willem Schellinks, Parade of the Sons of Shah Jahan on Composite Animals, c. 1672, Oil on Canvas (Paris, Musée Guimet)

composite animals or are carried in a palanquin, made up of different girls’ bodies.50 In the picture in Paris, Shah Jahan is shown as a viewer accompanied by his eldest daughter Jahanara. In the left lower corner of the picture a panel is situated which contains the correct list of the protagonists’ names. In the London version of the painting, Shah Jahan sits on the stage, but, also here, as a viewer who is unable to interfere. Above the stage the ancestors Akbar and Jahangir hover in the clouds—a motif that is identical with one of Rembrandt’s Indian copies. The conflict between the Mughal princes was described in detail by the French traveller Francois Bernier. His account was published in 1670 first and translated into several languages in the following years so that it gained great popularity.51 Schellinks’ depiction of the fratricidal contest do not contradict the historical facts. Shah Jahan was imprisoned in 1658, through the machinations of his son Aurangzeb and, in the last eight years of his life, which were

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spent as a prisoner, Jahanara was by his side. Schellinks translated Shah Jahan’s powerlessness into the inactivity of a viewer.52 However, of special interest is how Schellinks dealt with his models of the Indian miniature painting. Some of Schellinks’ models could also be found in Vienna, at the Millionenzimmer of Schönbrunn palace. At first it has to be stated that the only doubtlesslyrecognizable physiognomy is that of Shah Jahan. But it is even the figure of Shah Jahan that differs from his model due to a perspective turn. By the front view to the stage however, Schellinks was allowed to depict the princes and their horses according to the attitude they had in the Indian models—the heads are shown in profile, the torso in a three-quarter view. Even the kneeling position is equivalent to Indian portraits. In contrast, the faces or physiognomies of the brothers seem to be exchangeable due to their resemblance. Since only Krishna, Kama, peri 53 or demons were depicted on Indian composite animals, Schellinks, in his quest for a better model for Shah Jahan’s sons, had to look for alternative examples among his Indian miniatures. Obviously, he could hardly find concrete models for each of the princes and, hence, decided to take one face with a dark beard for all; however, he did vary the clothes. In comparison to Rembrandt it has to be noticed that Schellinks did not add anything to the expression of aloofness and indifference in the portrait of the Indian miniature. Thus, the general impression about every single figure is that Schellinks was more closely-oriented to his Indian model than Rembrandt. But while Rembrandt looked for means to demonstrate a correct picture of power and humaneness following historical norms, Schellinks used the picture of a European stage to satirize the conflict of power in Mughal India as a grotesque development and the Indian emperor and his sons as a company of amateur actors. Furthermore, in the painting in Paris, a theatrical mask is prominently displayed on the top of a column on stage as a kind of capital adornment that is strikingly similar to the Idol of Calicut—the portrayal of a Hindu god in the devil’s shape. This picture coined the occidental imagination of heathen gods until the late seventeenth century and partly beyond that.54 The demonstration of the conflict between the struggling brothers in Schellinks’ painting met the European prejudice against what was construed to be sinful idol worship.


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In another painting, Schellinks reverted to a hunting scene with Shah Jahan and his four sons on horses, called A Hawking Party.55 The probable Indian model for it is preserved in the Millionenzimmer of Schönbrunn palace.56 Shah Jahan sitting on a white horse is placed in the centre of the composition. His sons surround him in a semicircle. Schellinks exchanged the young riders of the Indian miniature with the adult models from the theatre play in his Paris and London paintings. Even their sitting-positions were partially replicated. A recently discovered preparatory drawing57 concretizes the supposition that Schellinks used one single model to portray the princes—this is the one of the grey-bearded Shah Jahan. It is in the background of Schellinks’ composition that the most peculiar scene is depicted. It is the fight of an elephant and a rhinoceros—a motif not unknown to Mughal painting.58 However, it is impossible to confirm whether the Indian model, which is now partially-destroyed, in Vienna originally showed those animals duelling. Schellinks’ preparatory drawing does not provide an indication of it. The intrinsic motif of Schellinks’ painting is not hunting, which was a popular amusement and an aristocratic privilege also in Europe, as such but the connection between the supreme representatives of the Mughals with the abnormal struggle of two ‘monstrous’ animals which were almost unknown to the European public.59 Schellinks’ fourth painting, formerly called A Turkish Sultan and his Court, shows Shah Jahan having an opulent picnic and being entertained by young semi-nude women and dancers.60 In it a development becomes apparent that has to be called pre-orientalistic and was already prefigured in the above-described pictures.61 Shah Jahan is accompanied by one of his sons and an old man who is identical with one of four Sufi saints copied by Rembrandt and adopted in a preparatory drawing of Homer.62 In Schellinks’ composition he referred to his usual style in dependence on Jan Asselyn’s paintings. Therein, Schellinks invented spacious landscapes, forests or river valleys interspersed with Roman-antique ruins. In such a syncretic landscape, Schellinks placed some towering palms and animated it with elephants and a peacock opening

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its fan. A parasol and some negroid slaves complete the exotic ambience.63 Schellinks emphasized the exotic and the other in terms of the grotesque (composite animals, a struggle between elephant and rhinoceros) and the opulent (picnic, semi-nude and dancing women). Homi Bhabha locates the other in the midst of ourselves and identifies it with Freud’s figure of the ‘Uncanny’. Accordingly, Schellinks’ projections of lust and absurdism onto the Orient mean nothing else than the repressed wishes and yearnings of the European who located the forbidden, coinciding with the demonic (theatrical mask as in the Idol of Calicut), outside his own cultural system. In his Oriental Picnic Schellinks lived out his own projections. Two opposite artistic movements developed from the same naturalistic tradition of Dutch painting in which Rembrandt represents the search for historical truth, but Schellinks in a certain degree occidental, pre-orientalistic arrogance. Rembrandt’s and Schellinks’ paintings have been the only known examples of the seventeenth century in which influences of Indian miniatures are traceable. In this regard, the book market proved to be considerably more productive. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, both the publications by Athanasius Kircher and Olfert Dapper described the realm of the Mughals as a huge, wide land, its rulers as powerful emperors. But how were they portrayed in pictures? Athanasius Kircher, a German Jesuit, who lived and taught at the Jesuit academy in Rome, possessed a famous encyclopaedic collection mainly made up of objects that friends and fellow-missionaries brought back home from all parts of the world. It was an attraction for travellers like Willem Schellinks.64 In this collection, a portrait of a Mughal emperor was included, as noted in the museum’s catalogue by De Sepi from 1678: it was probably mentioned as Regum Tartariae under the category De variis Picturis & Effigiebus.65 Kircher returned in his book China Illustrata in 1667 to that portrait which was sent to Rome by the Jesuits from India as he himself reported.66 With the help of the picture he described the likeness of the Mughal emperor Akbar. While writing, he consulted Heinrich Roth,


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another German traveller who had lived in Agra for a long period and learned Hindustani, Persian and Sanskrit. An engraver translated Kircher’s description into a picture of an audience-scene at the Mughal court (Figure 6.5). The portrayal is a collage that is composed of a copy of an Indian portrait and of baroque figures and an opulent ambience. At the left side of the picture are four audience-like visitors in Oriental costumes commemorating the Mughal fashion only by the sidewise closings of the jama. The second man in front receives the most attention. He stands in a casual way with his right hand on his hip, his left on a stick. His sight meets the viewer directly. Towards his right, on a platform, the emperor sits on his throne under a baldachin. A dog cowers in front of the platform.

Figure 6.5: Anonymous, Akbar [Jahangir], Copper-plate Engraving, in A. Kircher, China Illustrata, Amsterdam 1667, sheet opposite p. 78 (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz)

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The Indian model of the illustration was actually found. It dates back to Jahangir’s era, the year being 1617, and was probably painted by Abu’l Hasan, a famous court painter (Figure 6.6).67 In fact, it shows Jahangir, not his father Akbar as Kircher claimed.68 It stands out due to the two peculiarities within the Mughal painting: On the one hand it is a life-size portrait of the emperor and on the other hand it was painted on thin cotton. During Jahangir’s reign, cotton-painting was very rare, the few known examples having been made in a small format. In the current portrait, Jahangir is represented as ‘a World-illuminating One’ with abundant use of gold leaf. A head-size globe, his waistcoat and sash, his turban and nimbus, his throne and the calligraphic inscription framing the

Figure 6.6: Abu’l Hasan, Jahangir, 1617, Opaque Watercolour on Cotton (Private Collection)


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portrayal let the emperor’s figure light up against a dark brown ground. The inscription records the Mughal’s victory over the Deccan in 1617 and celebrates Jahangir as a god-like, world-dominant monarch.69 In his description, Kircher adopted the encomium without reservation and described the emperor’s figure as unequal and ‘. . . shining like that of a divinity.’70 The globe in his hand demonstrates Jahangir, with respect to Akbar, ‘to be the lord of the world and the greatest power’.71, 72 As it has been shown, Kircher repeated the attributes of the emperor’s sovereignty with an indication to his god-like shape, but without any noteworthy defamatory reservation. The Dutch portrayal, to the contrary, crushes the typical Indian representation of a king by the pompous baroque decoration of the audience hall. In the books by Olfert Dapper and Philippus Baldaeus, both published in 1672, there are some engravings with portraits of the Mughal emperors. Although in the books there are a lot of references to Kircher’s China Illustrata, not Kircher’s Akbar made after an Indian miniature served as a model, but that baroque figure at the picture’s margin with one hand on the hip, the other on a stick. In Dapper’s book, this pose was repeated on three occasions: for the portrait of Nur Mahal, Jahangir’s wife who got involved with matters of state, that of Shah Jahan and, most evidently, that of Aurangzeb.73 The engraver obviously knew Indian miniatures as becomes apparent in the depiction of clothes, attributes and the attitude of Shah Jahan wherein head and legs were shown in profile, the torso in a three-quarter view. However, he did not accept them as direct models of his portraits. Instead, he used plenty of material showing stereotype figurative accessory parts, e.g. elephants and negroid slaves or orientalistic accessories, like parasols and baldachins. In the portrayal of Shah Jahan in the book by Baldaeus any hint to an Indian model is missed.74 But also here the engraver picked up the pose of Kircher’s audience-visitor with one arm in the hip, the other on the sceptre. The same posture reappears in contemporary portraits of European rulers. Famous examples are Charles I from England by Anthonis van Dyck75 and Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud.76 Accordingly, to illustrate the likeness of the Mughal emperor, the European engra-

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vers chose the common pattern for European portraits of absolutist rulers and fitted the Great Mughal with the same imperial insignia as the French or English king. They are connected with divine right as constituting the divine purpose of Christian-occidental rulers and orienting or configuring their monarchical legitimation. Athanasius Kircher—although a fervent Jesuit and a passionate defender of Christian missionary activities—did not challenge Akbar’s divine purpose in his portrait. In comparing Indian miniatures with portraitures of Mughal kings and European imperial portraits in general, the explicit difference becomes obvious in the fact that the Indian painters define godgiven power as a force or energy inherent to the potentate whereas the European painters attach the potentate’s power in the execution of god’s orders as an external attribute. In the following years, until 1692, no further portrait of an Indian emperor was published. In those years albums with Indian miniatures, mostly series of portraits of Mughal and other Indian kings, were imported into Europe in greater numbers and, with them, new information about the Mughal Empire and the surrounding kingdoms. In precisely these years the Amsterdam aristocrat Nicolaas Witsen established himself as a politician and influential personage. In his spare time he addressed himself to his collection with great passion. To build up an encyclopaedic collection in the seventeenth century one needed property, good relations, influence and, if possible, mercantile skill.77 Nicolaas Witsen possessed plenty of all these. His collection eventually contained shells and corals, dried plants, fossils, insects, stuffed and prepared animals, minerals and precious stones among the naturalia and paintings, drawings, antique sculptures, coins, lacquer ware, porcelain, ethnographic artefacts, weapons and mathematical instruments among the artificialia. Under the heading Beeldarchief (picture archive),78 there was an immense collection with more than 450 Indian miniatures. Witsen’s book Noord en Oost Tartarye, printed in 1692 and 1705, resulted from his work with his encyclopaedic collection and due to his international correspondence with scholars and travellers. It served as a fitting commentary to his map of Tartary that included big parts of Siberia, Mongolia and China and should have helped


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to find the northern trade route to India. The ‘comment’ became in fact a geographical and cultural guide through unknown countries in Northeast Asia. In his researches he tried to separate the trustworthy from the untrustworthy accounts by stressing the importance, especially, of eyewitness-accounts and their examination by respected scholars. An important cornerstone in his argumentation was graphical material.79 Witsen’s ambition, which verged on perfectionism, was so immense that he was inhibited about giving greater audience-access to both the editions of Noord en Oost Tartarye. The book was actually published only posthumously.80 In this book there is a portrait of Timur81 with an inscription that initially points to the authenticity of the picture: ‘Opregt Afbeeltsel van den Grooten Tamerlan gevolgt na een teekening, die in ‘t hof van den Persischen koning tot Ispahan berust . . .’ [True likeness of the Great Tamerlan, oriented to a drawing which is located at the court of the Persian king in Ispahan . . . ]. The engraving copied an Indian miniature from Witsen’s own collection.82 It is a part of an album with 49 portraits of Indian rulers and confidants, called the Witsenalbum. The series begins with Timur’s portrait as the ancestor of the Great Mughals and tracks the dynastic line to Aurangzeb’s sons. Subsequent to this, there are portraits of the princes of Golconda and Bijapur, diverse officials and military dignitaries. The portraits of King Shivaji and Shah Sulayman from Persia complete the series.83 This album was made at the court of Golconda between 1685 and 1687.84 What is peculiar here (and in a few further albums related to content and style) is that it was created in the commission of European traders or travellers.85 A comparison between the Indian miniature and its copy shows that a serious effort at exact transfer has been made. Posture, clothing and facial expression are practically identical. The only differences from the original can be seen in the oval frame, the pattern of the balustrade and the aura. This kind of adoption of an Indian miniature is coherent to Witsen’s understanding of an authentic transformation. A precondition for it was his conviction that a copy of a drawing or a miniature has the same quality than the original. Manual practice in drawing was always analogous to sight. Johannes Kepler who developed an optical model of the human

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eye in the beginning of the seventeenth century and found a lot of devotees to his theory in the Netherlands defined ‘. . . the human eye itself as a mechanical maker of pictures and (. . .) “to see” as “to picture”. . .’.86 Consequently, drawing is an act of translation that reproduces a received retinal picture as a true-to-life copy of the world onto a two-dimensional surface—a piece of paper or a canvas. This kind of copying was described by the Dutch (with Carel van Mander) as being made after life [‘naer het leven’], as Svetlana Alpers notes. They did not exclusively mean drawing after a live model, ‘but used it [naer het leven] to denote drawing after anything in the world presented to the eyes’.87 Copying foreign artwork— highly appreciated—also figured in this scheme. That is the reason why so many Dutch travel accounts repeated the remark that their printed maps and illustrations were drawn naer het leven. Witsen too emphasized, to his readers, that the illustrations of his book Noord en Oost Tartarye were made ‘naar het leven’. The portrayal of Timur—focusing on a lifelike and exact drawing—became touchstone during the following fifty years. Witsen’s scientific ambitions were shared by the French engraver Bernard Picart.88 After 1710, Picart settled in Amsterdam in an environment of French refugees. He was one of the most successful engravers then. In 1719, he made a series of engravings with the portraits of the Great Mughals, ranging from Timur to Farrukhsiyar, in the commission of the editors Zacharias Chatelain and Francois L’Honoré. They were published in the fifth volume of Atlas historique. The models came from an album of Indian miniatures of Count Gianantonio Baldini’s collection that was related to the Witsenalbum.89 In an engraving with a portrait of Shah Jahan (Figure 6.7), the emperor stands on a narrow strip of grass, head and legs in profile, torso in a three-quarter view. In his left hand he holds a sword. Picart consciously avoided any Europeanizing intervention or correction. Thus—in contrary to Witsen—he avoided using hard shadows and observed precisely the original image composition. The meticulousness of his engravings and his subtle manner of adapting the original artist’s style are comparable with scientific works. A comparison with the Indian model (Figure 6.8) shows just how little changes have been made from the original.


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Figure 6.7: Bernard Picart, Shah Jahan, Copper-plate Engraving, in H.A. Chatelain, Atlas historique, vol. V, Amsterdam, 1719, 4th sheet after p. 110 (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz)

Figure 6.8: Anonymous, Shah Jahan, Golconda, c. 1685-6,(Indian Miniature) Opaque Watercolour on Paper (Paris, National Library, Smith Lesouef OR 233, fol. 23v.)

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Some years later, Francois Valentyn’s work Oud en Nieuwe OostIndien was published in several volumes. Valentyn, a pastor, spent many years in the East Indies. A major part of his work concerns the structure and organization of the VOC in Asia.90 In volume IV, part II, he dedicated himself to the realm of the Mughals. In the space of about 150 pages, he described the genealogy of the Mughals in two parts. At first, he traced the Mongolian line far beyond Chingiz Khan and then Timur’s line. He followed the structure of Atlas historique in which the extent is clearly limited though. At first glance, Valentyn’s illustrations differ considerably from those by Picart. In front of the picture, the emperor, obviously made after an Indian model, stands or sits on a terrace. A buzz of activity happens in the background, which was composed by the engraver with a lot of motifs from the travel literature. In an illustration with the portrait of Aurangzeb (Figure 6.9), a thunderstorm causes the destruction of both the built environment and nature. Scared,

Figure 6.9: Anonymous, Aurangzeb, Copper-plate Engraving, in F. Valentyn, Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indien, Amsterdam, 1726, vol. IV, Part II (p. 275, Universiteit Leiden, Instituut Kern)


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gesticulating people are helplessly exposed to it. The architecture of house and tent is based on models from publications about China as by Joan Nieuhof 91 and Athanasius Kircher. The reader may recover the spectacular scene in the text where Valentyn described an anecdote in which it is said that, shortly before Aurangzeb died, a thunderstorm destroyed the country.92 Only upon a second view and direct comparison with Picart’s engravings, it becomes apparent that almost all portraits of the Mughals in Valentyn’s book correspond to Picart’s illustrations. Valentyn was not only based on the structure of Chatelain’s Atlas historique, but also on the selection of the graphical material. What distinguishes both publications from the rest is the fact that they add image-descriptions to text and illustrations.93 Due to these image-descriptions one can conclude that Valentyn did not behold the illustrations in his own book, but those by Picart. The conclusion is a bit confusing since, according to his own information, he used miniatures from Simon Schynfoet’s collection as sourcematerial.94 A comparison between several miniatures of both the publications on one hand and a comparison between Valentyn’s image-descriptions and the illustrations, plus the three known Indian models from Baldini’s collection, on the other hand, indicate Valentyn used the same miniatures as Picart from a similar series in Schynfoet’s possession. Concerning the selection of the miniatures, however, Valentyn must have oriented himself to Picart’s illustrations in Atlas historique.95 Picart and Valentyn’s depictions of diverse Mughal rulers have one feature in common: It is a serious effort to document the genealogy of the Mughal dynasty in a complete and exact way. In this context, Indian miniatures proved to be an important, if not the most important means.96 But, in an aspect that is comparable to Rembrandt and Schellinks, who also used partially the same miniatures, there is an enormous difference in the manner of handling the original miniature between Picart and Valentyn. Similar to Schellinks, Valentyn’s engraver neglected the physiognomic characteristics and controlled the figure of the Great Mughal, apart from that closely based on its Indian model, with the means of an exotic environment quoting stereotypical metaphors from the older European travel literature.

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Contrary to Valentyn, Picart consciously made a decision in favour of a scientific thoroughness when he copied the Indian model without noteworthy manipulations. However, there is one portrayal that calls his scientific ambitions into question. It concerns an engraving showing two ascetics in front of a row of houses, depicted for the extensive work Cérémonies et Coutumes.97 One of the athletic figures made in a European manner was demonstrably taken from Jean-Baptiste Tavernier’s Les six voyages.98 However, the row of houses resembles a typical card-house-like architecture in Indian miniatures. Picart tried to fit an oriental figure stylistically into the formal frame of an Indian miniature to endorse the supposed authenticity of his portrayal. Picart defended his approach in a polemical publication, the Impostures ,99 in which he claimed for himself and other artists the ability to understand the style of foreign artists in such a way that his results are basically equal to the original works. Thus he expressed the same way of thinking that appears again and again in travel literature, as mentioned above. There the copies modelled after Indian miniatures were described as works naer het leven (after life), and thus equable to the original. The phrase naer het leven is in a certain sense a synonym for Dutch naturalism. Its most important characteristics can be embraced with the following terms: observation, documentation and description. Naturalism in the Netherlands was created by society as a whole and, at the same time, it was influenced by it. In Mughal India one can observe the same phenomenon of naturalism.100 But here it depended only on one person—Emperor Jahangir. In the personality of Jahangir the connoisseur and the naturalist co-existed. His passion for painting made him tell his painters to copy a multitude of European, especially Dutch pictures. His passion as a naturalist was satisfied not only by detailed observation, but also by description and documentation, which was the task of the painters of his court, too. This naturalism in Mughal painting helped the Dutch artists to understand Indian miniatures, and it is one reason why these miniatures were collected primarily in Holland. This also explains why the miniatures garnered less interest in the rest of Europe.


Corinna Forberg

NOTES 1. Athanasius Kircher, China monumentis, qua sacris qua profanis, nec non variis Naturae et Artis spectaculis, aliarumque rerem memorabilium Argumentis illustrata, Amsterdam: Waesberge, Weyerstraet, 1667; here with an English translation by Charles D. van Tuyl, Muskogee/Oklahoma: Indian University Press, 1987, p. 71. 2. Olfert Dapper, Asia of naukeurige beschrijving van het Rijk des Grooten Mogols . . . , Amsterdam: Jakob van Meurs, 1672, p. 177. 3. Ibid. 4. Besides there are the kingdoms of ‘Vishnagar, Kannara, Orissa’, the coasts of Coromandel and Malabar, the kingdom of Golconda, etc. 5. Olfert Dapper, Asia, 1672, p. 9. 6. Theodor de Bry, India Orientalis, pt. II, Frankfurt: Wolfgang Rahter, Joannes Israel de Bry, 1598. 7. Jan Huygen van Linschoten, Itinerario, ofte Schipvaert naar Oost ofte Portugaels Indien, Amsterdam: Cornelis Claesz. op ‘t Water, 1596. 8. Most of the albums with Indian miniatures were actually located in Dutch collections. More detailed information about seventeenth century collections inter alia in: E. Bergvelt; R. Kistemaker (eds.), De wereld binnen handbereik. Nederlandse kunst- en rariteitenverzamelingen, 1585-1735, Amsterdam/Zwolle: Waanders, 1992. 9. P. Lunsingh Scheurleer, ‘Het Witsenalbum: Zeventiende-eeuwse Indiase portretten op bestelling’, Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum, vol. 44, no. 3 (1996), pp. 167-270. 10. Ibid., pp. 211-30. 11. P. Mitter, Much Maligned Monsters: History of European Reactions to Indian Art, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977, pp. 68-72; he mentions diverse examples. In addition what was not mentioned by him: an engraving of Jahangir and Prince Khurram in: William Foster, The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to India, Nendeln/Lichtenstein, 1967 [rpt. from the edition originally published by the Hakluyt Society, 1899, p. 115 (formerly in: Purchas, His Pilgrims)]; an engraving of an Indian Couple by W. Marshall, in: T. Herbert, A Relation of Some Years Travaile, London: Bloome, 1638; furthermore some diverse illustrations in: Sieur F. S. de la Boullaye-le-Gouz, Les Voyages et Observations du Sieur F.S. de la Boullaye-le-Gouz, Paris: Clousier, 1653. 12. Comp. D. Bachmann-Medick, Übersetzung als Repräsentation fremder Kulturen, Berlin: Schmidt, 1997. 13. Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture, London: Routledge, 1994. 14. Comp. D. Bachmann-Medick, Kultur als Text, Frankfurt: Fischer, 1996, p. 279.

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15. See the preface by Elisabeth Bronfen in the German copy of Homi K. Bhabha, Die Verortung der Kultur, Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2000, pp. IX-XIV. 16. W. L. Strauss; M. van der Meulen, The Rembrandt Documents, New York: Abaris Books, 1979, 1656/12-203. 17. Richardson’s Sale, 22 January 1747, Cat. no. 70. 18. Today, 19 of these drawings can be seen in public and private collections. One more drawing, unfortunately unpublished, has been known only by the remark by Carlos van Hasselts, s.: F. Stampfle (ed.), Rubens and Rembrandt in their Century: Flemish and Dutch Drawings in the Seventeenth Century from the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 107. Two other drawings with the collector’s mark of Richardson Sr., Shah Jahan with a Sword and a Flycatcher (O. Benesch, The Drawings of Rembrandt, London: Phaidon Press, 1973, Cat. no. 1193, hereinafter referred to as ‘Ben.’ + ‘No.’) and An Indian Warrior Supporting on a Stick (Ben. 1201), were attributed to Rembrandt until now, but they have to be considered as studio works because of some technical and stylistic deficiencies. Possibly, three Indian miniatures from the beginning of the eighteenth century belonged to the mentioned album of Indian drawings. They bear the collector’s mark of Jonathan Richardson Sr. and were attributed to Rembrandt himself even in the nineteenth century. Comp. with M. Royalton-Kisch (ed.), Drawings by Rembrandt and his Circle in the British Museum, London: British Museum Press, 1992, Cat. no. 62, p. 142 and footnote 10 and p. 11/fig. ii; in addition R. Skelton, ‘Indian Art and Artefacts in Early European Collecting’, in O. Impey and A. Mac Gregor (eds.), The Origins of Museum, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985, pp. 274-80, here p. 279/Fig. 107. Including these sheets the number of 25 drawings of the album was complete. Moreover there are some drawings which were included within the circle of Rembrandt’s Indian drawings by previous analyses. But due to the following causes they have to be excluded: Two drawings mentioned by C. Hofstede de Groot, Die Handzeichnungen Rembrandts, Haarlem: De Erven F. Bohn, 1906, Cat. nos. 541 and 542; they are actually not made after Indian miniatures, but based on small clay figures, comp. with W.L. Strauss and M. van der Meulen, 1979, p. 60, and another drawing, a portrait of A Woman with Flower (Ben. 450), that also has not any Indian model. In addition there are two drawings, although made after Indian miniatures, Shah Jahan with Buckler, Sword and Pearl (Ben. 1198) and An Indian Man with Bow and Arrow (Ben. 1202), are not identical with Rembrandt’s drawings because of the minor artistic and material quality and the absence of the collector’s mark of Richardson. They are either works by Rembrandt’s pupils or even






Corinna Forberg later imitations of Rembrandt’s Indian drawings. More detailed information in: C. Forberg, Die Rezeption indischer Miniaturen in der europäischen Kunst des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts, Petersberg: Michael Imhof, 2015, pp. 21-3. J. Strzygowski, Die indischen Miniaturen im Schloss Schönbrunn, Wien: Wiener Drucke, 1923. P. Lunsingh Scheurleer, Mogol-miniaturen door Rembrandt nagetekend, in De Kroniek van het Rembrandthuis, XXXII (1980), no. 1, pp. 1-40, here pp. 15f., doubts that the miniatures of Schönbrunn palace actually belonged to Rembrandt’s collection. It was customary in the studios of Indian painters to copy one original draft several times. However, after having studied in detail, there cannot remain any doubt that the Schönbrunn miniatures are identical with Rembrandt’s former collection. See in detail C. Forberg, 2015, pp. 22-3. Further detailed information about the Schönbrunn miniatures in the articles by D. Duda: Das Forschungsvorhaben ‘Schönbrunner Millionenzimmer’, in Österreichische Zeitschrift für Kunst- und Denkmalpflege, XLV (1991), pp. 30-7; ibid., ‘Das Millionenzimmer im Schloss Schönbrunn’, in Exhibition-Cat. Texte. Noten. Bilder. Neuerwerbungen, Restaurierungen, Konservierungen 1977-1983, Vienna: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, 1984, pp. 112-39; ibid., ‘Die Kaiserin und der Großmoghul. Untersuchungen zu den Miniaturen des Millionenzimmers im Schloss Schönbrunn’, in K.K. Troschke, Malerei auf Papier und Pergament in den Prunkräumen des Schlosses Schönbrunn, Vienna: Schloss Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges. mbH, 1997, pp. 33-5. Recent researches on Rembrandt’s Indian drawings: P. Lunsingh Scheurleer, 1980 and ibid., ‘De Moghul-Miniaturen van Rembrandt’, in H. van den Muyzenberg and T. de Bruijn (eds.), Waarom Sanskrit? Hondertvijfentwintig jaar Sanskrit in Nederland, Leiden: Kern Institute, 1991, pp. 95-115; N. Courtright, ‘Origins and Meanings of Rembrandt’s Late Drawing Style’, The Art Bulletin, vol. 78, no. 3 (September 1996), pp. 485-510; Z.Z. Filipczak, ‘Rembrandt and the Body Language of Mughal Miniatures’, in Netherlands Yearbook for History of Art 2007-2008, vol. 58 (2008), pp. 163-87. That this new baroque result is a profitable subject of investigation shows the article by E. Koch, The ‘Moghuleries’ of the Millionenzimmer, Schoenbrunn Palace, Vienna’, in R. Grill, S. Stronge and A. Topsfield (eds.), Arts of Mughal India: Studies in Honour of Robert Skelton, London, Ahmedabad: Mapin, 2004, pp. 152-66. In the group-portrait with Timur are some more portrayals of Mughal Emperors: Omar Shaikh (died 1494), Babur (1483-1530) and Humayun

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26. 27. 28. 29. 30.

31. 32. 33.


(1508-56). Among the portrayals there is the portrait of a prince that J.K. Bautze, Interaction of Cultures: Indian and Western Painting 17801910, Alexandria (Virginia): Art Services International, 1998, Cat. no. 10, correctly identifies with Muhammad Adil Shah (1627-56), the ruler of Bijapur. There is only the exception of Jahangir, whose former figure in the Indian miniature is only recognizable by some feathers in his turban, Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace/Millionenzimmer: Field 55F (all the motifs of the Indian miniatures at the Millionenzimmer are reproduced and classified by J. Strzygowski, 1923). Comp. Rembrandt, Jahangir Receives a Servant, pen and brown ink on Indian paper, London, British Museum (Ben. 1190) and Anonymous, Jahangir Receives a Servant, (Indian Miniature) opaque watercolour on paper, Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace/Millionenzimmer Field 5D. Comp. Rembrandt, Shah Jahan and Dara Shikoh with Falcon, pen and brown ink on Indian paper, Private Collection (Ben. 1194a) and Anonymous, Shah Jahan with Walking Stick, (Indian Miniature) opaque watercolour on paper, Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace/Millionenzimmer, Field 39D and Anonymous, Dara Shikoh with Falcon, (Indian Miniature) opaque watercolour on paper, Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace/Millionenzimmer Field 24E. It is signified whether it concerns pearls, big or small precious stones, a long sword, a dagger or katar. Rembrandt, Aristotle, 1653, Oil on Canvas, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Rembrandt, Homer, 1663, Oil on Canvas, The Hague, Mauritshuis. Titian, Jacopo da Strada, 1567-8, Oil on Canvas, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum. W. L. Strauss; M. van der Meulen, 1979, 1656/12-no. 163 (A Homer) and no. 185 (A Cabinet with Medals). The medals are not detailed described, but it is very probable that there was a medal with an image of Alexander the Great in it. That may be related to a Tetradrachme of Lysimachos of Thrakien (c. 297-281 BC), which helped to explain the iconography of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Europe. Comp. J. Kelch, Rembrandt, Der Meister und seine Werkstatt, Gemälde, Berlin: Schirmer-Mosel, 1991, pp. 258-61. See in detail C. Forberg, 2015, pp. 23-7. It is by the same pen the rear-view figure was included in addition. Comp. Rembrandt’s drawing Jakob and his Sons (Ben. 541). The biographies of Alexander the Great by Plutarch and Curtius were


34. 35. 36.




Corinna Forberg published in multiple copies, e. g. Plutarchus van Chaeronea, T’Leven der doorluchtige Griecken ende Romeynen, tegen elck anderen vergeleken, Delft: van Beyeren, van Sambrix, 1644 or Quintus Curtius Rufus, Hoogberoemde historie van t’leven ende de daden van Alexander de Groote, Delft: Adriaen Gerritsz., 1613. In 1647 the French biography of Timur from 1593 was translated into Dutch: Jean du Bec, Historie van het leven ende daden van den Groten Tamerlanes, Amsterdam: van Hilten, 1647. In addition there were diverse Dutch plays about Timur and Alexander in the seventeenth century: J. Serwouters, Den Grooten Tamerlan, met de doodt van Bayaset de I, Turks keizer, Amsterdam 1657; Th. Rodenburgh, Alexander, Amsterdam: Cloppenburch, 1618; J. Desmaret, Roxane-t Huwelyk van den grooten Alexander, 1659 (tr. B. v. Velzen); J. Racine, Alexander de Groote, 1693 (tr. A. Bogaert). Plutarch, VIII. Plutarch, XXVIII, with an English translation by B. Perrin, London, 1971. Citation from Homer, Iliad 5/340. Rembrandt, Four Shaikhs Sitting under a Tree, pen and brown ink on Indian paper, London, British Museum (Ben. 1187) and its Indian model, opaque watercolour on paper, Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace/Millionenzimmer Field 6E. A detailed analysis of the portrait can be found in C. Forberg, 2015, pp. 30-8. Francis Bacon, ‘Great Instauration’, in Works, vol. 4, p. 30, cit. after S. Alpers, The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century, Chicago: University Press, 1983, p. 105. Today, Atlas van der Hem is situated in the National Library in Vienna and contains 46 volumes (Signature: 389.030 FK). Schellinks kept a diary during each of his journeys. They were preserved in the Royal Library in Copenhagen. A copy of the second one is located in Oxford, Bodleian Library, Cat. of Western Ms., no. 17436/8. A recent study of some of his drawings including some biographical notes can be found in S. Alsteens; H. Buijs, Paysages de France. Dessinés par Lambert Doomer et les artistes hollandais et flamands de XVIe et XVIIe siècles, Paris: Fondation Custodia, 2008. The authors mention a remarkable poem by Schellinks on the superiority of Mughal painting over Western art, p. 42 and note 30. Without a serious analysis by an expert on Dutch literature, I distance myself from using it in the context of my current paper. A Dutch complete edition: Francisci Baconi Baronis de Verulamio, opera omnia, in seven vols., Amsterdam 1661-99. The essay on travelling in F. Bacon, Essays oder praktische und moralische Ratschläge (ed. L.L. Schücking; tr. E. Schücking), Stuttgart: Reclam, 2005.

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40. See S. Alpers, 1983, pp. 1-25. 41. Nicolaas Witsen sponsored some people who traveled to the East to make drawings of towns, lands, rare plants and animals, people, etc. See inter alia M. Peters, Nicolaes Witsen and Gijsbert Cuper: ‘Two SeventeenthCentury Dutch Burgomaster and their Gordian Knot’, in LIAS 16 (1989), no. 1, pp. 111-50, here p. 113 (here, especially, about Herbert de Jager). 42. Maps with figures, animal and plants looked more picturesque and fanciful than today’s maps. 43. Samuel Hoogstraeten, Inleyding tot de Hooge Schoole der Schilderkonst, Rotterdam: Hoogstraeten 1678, p. 7, cit. after S. Alpers, 1983, p. 141. 44. Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, 1676 (8th edn.), p. 176, cit. after P. H. Hulton, ‘Drawings of England in the 17th Century by Willem Schellinks, Jacob Esselens and Lambert Doomer’, in Walpole Society, vol. 35 (1959), nos. 1 + 2, pp. XI-XXIV, here p. XIII. 45. Some notable friends of him were Lambert Doomer, who accompanied him during his first journey, and Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, a painter and poet like him. 46. Laurens van der Hem had a close relationship to the Blaeu-family, a famous publishing dynasty. In the 1660s Joan Blaeu pursued a project that should have contained an atlas over the oriental hemisphere which, however, was never realized. A personal encounter with Schellinks and the famous cartographer in van der Hem’s house was almost unavoidable. Schellinks’ acquaintance with Nicolaas Witsen resulted from Witsen’s kinship to Jacques Thierry, whose son Schellinks accompanied during his second journey through Europe. The relationship between Nicolaas Witsen and Jacques Thierry can be traced back by two remarks in: M. Peters, ‘Nepotisme, Patronage en Boekopdrachten bij Nicolaes Witsen (1641-1717), Burgemester van Amsterdam’, in LIAS 25 (1998), no. 1, pp. 83-134, here p. 97; J.E. Elias, De vroedschap van Amsterdam, vol. II, Amsterdam 1905, pp. 571-2 (Nicolaes Opmeer is a cousin of Nicolaas Witsens). 47. . . . especially because of his marriage with Maria Neus, the widow of his friend Dancker Danckerts. A close friend of him was also Hieronymus Sweerts. 48. Willem Schellinks, Parade of the Sons of Shah Jahan on Composite Animals, c. 1672, Oil on Canvas, London, Victoria & Albert Museum. 49. See inter alia J. Auboyer, 1955, pp. 258-9. 50. A detailed description of the painting in Paris in J. Auboyer, 1955 and an interpretation of it in J. de Loewenstein, ‘A propos d’un tableau de W. Schellinks, s’inspirant des Miniatures Mogholes’, in Arts Asiatiques, V (1958), pp. 293-8. His interpretation seems to be exaggerated from a




53. 54.




58. 59.


Corinna Forberg today’s perspective. An alternative interpretation could be more convincing where the dwarf can be identified as the warning fool. Comp.: Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie, Allgemeine Ikonographie: ‘Narr, Tor’, ‘D: Der Narr als Warner’ [The fool as alerter]. Francois Bernier, Histoire de la dernière Révolution des Estats du Grand Mogol, Paris: Claude Barbin, 1670. The Dutch translation by S. de Vries was published in 1672: ‘Verhael van den laetsten oproer in den staet des grooten Mogols’. This travel account was also a model for John Dryden’s drama Auran-Zebe premiered in 1675 in London and published in 1676. To date the painting, J. Auboyer supposes a time before 1658: before Aurangzeb assumed power, since he is not in the centre of the portrayal. Thus, Schellinks’ confrontation of the enemy brothers has to be called visionary, but for that there is no reason. Schellinks’ theme was the brothers’ conflict in which the question of power was not decided yet and Aurangzeb was not the new ruler yet. According to Bernier’s published accounts, Schellinks’ paintings could have been made, at the earliest, in 1670. Peri in Persian mythology are winged supernatural beings or fairies. Details in P. Mitter, Much Maligned Monsters, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977, pp. 16-20; see also D.F. Lach, Asia in the Making of Europe: A Century of Wonder, vol. I (The Visual Arts), Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 1977, pp. 164-6. Willem Schellinks, A Hawking Party, after 1672, Oil on Canvas, Private Collection. See Sotheby’s, London, Old Master Paintings, 5 December 2007. Anonymous, A Hawking Party, (Indian Miniature) Opaque Watercolour on Paper, Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace, Millionenzimmer, Field 32D. The accessories at the horse’s decoration indicate in all probability that this portrayal of the seldom-used motif was the direct model of Schellinks’ A Hawking Party. Willem Schellinks, A Hawking Party, pen and brown ink on paper, London, British Museum, Reg. no. 1923, 0113.20, AN 193652. I am very grateful for the information about it to Ebba Koch in Vienna: she was so kind as to pass on a tip from Pauline Lunsingh Scheurleer to me. There are hunting scenes with the emperor riding an elephant and fighting a rhinoceros, however no battle scenes between two wild animals. The only known picture of a battling elephant with a rhinoceros is that by Antonio Tempesta from the print series Battling Animals, sixteenth century, which was copied by Hendrik Hondius I in 1610. Willem Schellinks, The Oriental Picnic [A Turkish Sultan and His Court],

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62. 63.


65. 66. 67.

68. 69.

70. 71. 72.


Oil on Canvas, Private Collection. See Sotheby’s, London, Old Master Paintings, 4 July 1984, no. 365. Last published in: S. Subrahmanyam, ‘A Roomful of Mirrors: The Artful Embrace of Mughals and Franks, 15501700’, in Ars Orientalis, vol. 39 (2010), pp. 39-83, Figure 3. Comp. ibid., here p. 67. He comments about Schellinks’ A Hawking Party and The Picnic: ‘These paintings in fact prefigure paintings by British artists in the later eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’. Rembrandt, Homer, pen and brown ink, Stockholm, National Museum (Ben. 1066). His obvious increasingly-free exposure to the figures and arrangement of his Indian models leads to the assumption that they were made in the following order: first, the painting preserved in Paris, second, the one preserved in London, and only then the so-called Hawking Party and The Oriental Picnic, formerly called A Turkish Sultan and His Court. See A. Houbraken, De Groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche Konsts-childers en Schilderessen, ‘s Gravenhage: Boucquet, 1753 (2nd edn.), Deel II, p. 269: ‘[in Rome] later he [W. Schellinks], accompanied by R. Anslo, was going to visit the famous cabinet of Father Kircherus at Chiesa Noro— full of marvelous and curious rarities’. Georgius de Sepibus (short: De Sepi), Romani Collegii Societatis Jesu . . . , Amsterdam: van Waesberge, 1678, pt. I, chapter IV. Athanasius Kircher, China Illustrata, 1987, p. 71. Before it was sold in a Bonhams auction, 5/4/2011, it was shown in the National Portrait Gallery, London, March-June 2010. See R. Crill and K. Jariwala (eds.), The Indian Portrait, 1560-1860, London: National Portrait Gallery, 2010, p. 76. That is indicated by the pearl earring worn by Jahangir since 1615 and the dark moustache. See Sotheby’s London: Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures, London, Wednesday 18 October 1995, pp. 74-83, with a translation of the inscription. Athanasius Kircher, 1987, p. 71. Ibid. A distinctive attribute in Jahangir’s portrait is the throne. It is not similar to the common takht, but to European models. In his examination of Kircher’s engraving, P. de Moura Carvalho, Goa’s pioneering role in transmitting European traditions to the Mughal and Safavid courts, in: (Exhibition Cat.) Exotica: The Portuguese discoveries and the Renaissance Kunstkammer, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lissabon: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2002, pp. 69-80, here pp. 73-4/fn. 25, discovered a minia-




75. 76. 77.


79. 80. 81.


Corinna Forberg ture that dates from the same year, 1617. In it a very similar model of the throne has been shown which Jahangir ascended after he was informed of the victory of his army in the Deccan. Consequently, the throne demonstrates not only a symbol of his royal dignity, but a trophy at the same time. There were brisk trade relations between the Deccan and the Portuguese of the west coast. The European throne and the atypical, life-size portrait of Jahangir could have been changed their owner on that trade route, possibly as direct exchange objects. Olfert Dapper, 1672, Copperplate Engravings, between pp. 198-9 (Nur Mahal), between pp. 202-3 (Shah Jahan) and between pp. 204-5 (Aurangzeb). The engraving is situated in the first part of the book, Philippus Baldaeus, Naauwkeurige beschrijvinge van Malabar en Choromandel . . . , Amsterdam: van Waesberge, van Someren, 1672, p. 20. Shah Jahan is portrayed as a testimony of a murder that happened on 4 August 1644 during an audience. Anthonis van Dyck, Charles I from England, c. 1635, Oil on Canvas, Paris, Musée du Louvre. Hyacinthe Rigaud, Louis XIV, 1701/1702, Oil on Canvas, Paris, Musée du Louvre. See J. van der Veen, ‘Met grote moeite en kosten. De totstandkoming van zeventiende-eeuwse verzamelingen’, in E. Bergvelt and R. Kistemaker (eds.), De wereld binnen handbereik. Nederlandse kunst-en rariteitenverzamelingen, 1585-1735, Amsterdam/Zwolle: Waanders 1992 (Essay-Volume), pp. 51-69, esp. pp. 51-2. M. Peters, De wijze koopman. Het wereldwijde onderzoek van Nicolaas Witsen (1641-1717), burgemeester en VOC-bewindhebber van Amsterdam, Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 2010, p. 407. Comp. M. Peters, 2010, p. 297. About the curious story of the printed, but unpublished works by Nicolaas Witsen, see in detail M. Peters, 2010, pp. 185-94. The position of the engraving within the book varies from copy to copy. See P. Lunsingh Scheurleer, ‘Het Witsenalbum: Zeventiende-eeuwse Indianse portretten op bestelling’, in Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum, 44 (1996), no. 3, pp. 167-270, esp. p. 205, fn. 23. In the later edition from 1785 (1705), between pp. 214-15. Anonymous, Timur, Golconda 1686, (Indian Miniature) Opaque Watercolour on Paper, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum/Rijksprentenkabinet, Witsenalbum no. 1A. A reproduction of both the miniature and the engraving in P. Lunsingh Scheurleer, 1996, Figs. 6 and 13.

What Does the Emperor of India Look Like?


83. The latter was also copied and integrated in the advanced edition from 1705. 84. Further details of the album in P. Lunsingh Scheurleer, 1996. 85. Comp. R. Weber, Porträts und historische Darstellungen in der Miniaturensammlung des Museums für indische Kunst Berlin, Berlin: Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz,1982, pp. 50-2. Therein he emphasizes the difference between portraits in oval frames in the Deccan and those developed during the Shah Jahan era. 86. S. Alpers, 1983, p. 33. 87. Ibid., p. 40. 88. A first detailed investigation of Bernard Picart and his work was published in: P. v. Wyss-Giacosa, Religionsbilder der frühen Aufklärung. Bernard Picarts Tafeln für die Cérémonies et Coutumes religieuses de tous les Peuples du Monde, Wabern/Bern 2006. Further details of it are to be found in two recently published books: L. Hunt, M.C. Jacob and W. Mijnhardt, The Book that Changed Europe: Picart and Bernard’s Religious Ceremonies of the World, Cambridge (Mass.)/London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2010 and idem. (eds.), Bernard Picart and the First Global Vision of Religion, Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2010. 89. Some models (exactly three) could be found in the National Library in Paris, Smith Lesouef or 233 (fols. 3; 23; fol. 23v). The album was first mentioned in P. Lunsingh Scheurleer, 1996. About Baldini’s collection see R.W. Lightbown, ‘Oriental Art and the “Orient in Late Renaissance and Baroque Italy” ’, in Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. 32 (1969), pp. 228-79. 90. More information about Valentyn and his work in R.R.F. Habiboe, Tot Verheffing van mijne natie. Het leven en werk van Francois Valentijn (16661727), Franeker: van Wijnen, 2004. 91. Joan Nieuhof, Het gezantschap der Neêrlandtsche Oost-Indische Compagnie, an den grooten tartarischen Cham, den tegenwoordigen keizer van China . . . , Amsterdam: van Meurs, 1665. About his Chinese drawings see L. Blussé; R. Falkenburg, Johan Nieuhofs Beelden van een Chinareis 1655-57, Middelburg: Stichting VOC Publications, 1987. 92. Francois Valentyn, Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indien, Dordrecht/Amsterdam: J. van Braam, G. onder de Linden, 1726, vol. IV, pt. II, p. 275. 93. Chatelain’s image descriptions in Atlas historique concern scenic pictures, e.g. Battle of Samugarh (H.A. Chatelain, 1719, vol. V, 6th sheet after p. 110) or Palace of Agra (ibid., 1st sheet after p. 111) or diverse portrayals of ascetics. Chatelain strove towards a critical comparison between the original miniatures and the engravings. Unfortunately, the author was silent on the emperor’s portraits.


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94. Francois Valentyn, Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indien, Dordrecht/Amsterdam: J. van Braam, G. onder de Linden, 1725, vol. III, pt. I, n.p. (preface). 95. The portrait of Murad Bakhsh makes the assumption evident. In Valentyn’s book it coincides with the Indian miniature from the Baldinialbum, but not with Picart’s engraving, since Picart exchanged the young face of Murad Bakhsh with the older one of Bahadur Shah (Murad Bakhsh: F. Valentyn, 1726, vol. IV, pt. II, p. 248/fig. D; Miniature of Murad Bakhsh: Paris, National Library, Smith Lesouef or 233, fol. 23; Bahadur Shah: H.A. Chatelain, Atlas historique, Amsterdam, 1719, vol. V, 4th sheet after p. 110). 96. The compelling connection of the reception of Indian miniatures and its use as historiographical means was examined by C. Forberg, ‘Imported Chronology: The Use of Indian Images of Kings and Gods in European Paintings and Book Art (1650-1740)’, in The Medieval History Journal, vol. 17, no. 1 (April 2014), pp. 107-44. 97. J.-F. Bernard; B. Picart, Cérémonies et Coutumes religieuses de tous les Peuples du Monde, Amsterdam: Bernard, 1723-41, here vol. VI (1723), sheet 43. 98. Published in Paris 1676-7, 2e Partie, fol. 376 and fol. 378. Comp. with P. von Wyss-Giacosa, 2006, pp. 175-6. 99. In an English translation: Bernard Picart, Impostures Innocentes; or, a Collection of Prints from the Most Celebrated Painters: Engraved in Imitation of Those Masters: With a Discourse on the Prejudices of Certain Critics, in Regard to Engraving: With a Short Account of his Life, London: J. Boydell, 1756. Recent researches on this essay in A. Jensen Adams, ‘Reproduction and Authenticity in Bernard Picart’s Impostures Innocentes’, in L. Hunt et al. (eds.), Los Angeles, 2010, pp. 75-104 and L. Marchesano, The Impostures Innocentes: Bernard Picart’s Defense of the Professional Engraver, both in L. Hunt et al. (eds.), Los Angeles, 2010, pp. 105-35. 100. On naturalism in Mughal India see inter alia E. Koch, ‘The Just Hunter: Renaissance Calendar Illustrations and the Representation of the Mughal Hunt’, in Ch. Burnett; A. Contadini, Islam and the Italian Renaissance, London: The Warburg Institute, 1999, pp. 167-82 and idem., ‘Netherlandish Naturalism in Imperial Mughal Painting’, in Apollo, vol. 152, no. 465 (November 2000), pp. 29-37; M.A. Alvi and A. Rahman, Jahangir: The Naturalist, Delhi: National Institute of Sciences of India, 1968 and S.P. Verma, Painting the Mughal Experience, Oxford/Delhi: Oxford University Press 2005.


‘Floating Political Rhetoric’ in the Indian Ocean: Situating the Portuguese in the Mughal Foreign Politics MANYA RATHORE

‘All the seas are one’ J.H Parry1 proclaimed, in his Eurocentric treatment of European mariners as the linking force in creating a global European lake. After sixteenth century with the opening of world waters and globalization of exchange, it became difficult to demarcate the ocean and sea basins. Certainly the early modern world was a complicated network or rather a web of global communication and not simply a collection of bounded ocean basins.2 The Indian Ocean networks since long served as conduits for exchange of culture, trade and knowledge and interestingly of ideas and influences. It brought together different arrays of cultures, histories, languages, religions together and therefore famously referred to as cradle of globalization.3 Henceforth, it attracts major interest of the connected histories4 and entangled histories5 of Indo-Western encounters. In this case we shall notice the role of Indian Ocean (focusing on Portuguese activities) in shaping the foreign politics of the Mughals while ruling over the early modern Indian subcontinent (1542-1605). Maritime networks are characterized by systems of exchanges and transfers. And these exchanges are marked not only in terms of economic or cultural dimensions but also underlying political leanings. The idea is to suggest that exchange of political ideas and dialogues on the matters of Portuguese (firangis) played a pivotal role in making of foreign policies and dynamics of the


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Mughal Empire under Akbar. The sixteenth century: an age when Europe was extending its domains through expansion in the seas, we notice that the imperial Mughals of the Indian subcontinent had begun to formulate political strategies and networks on a world stage and subsequently entered the maritime forum of the these world powers. Proclaiming the Mughals as a sea-borne empire would be an over estimation of their naval strength, but considering them passive and land oriented would be completely ignoring their maritime presence. The Mughals can therefore be termed as a ‘sea conscious empire’ keeping in view the diplomatic intrigues, political bargains and their efforts to maintain balance of power in the Indian Ocean region. Though the Mughals did not endeavour for any expansionist agendas outside the subcontinent but their orientation towards the seas is reflected in the effort to gain access to the sea lanes for the reasons of prestige and political control. The sea consciousness of the Mughals engulfed within larger political aims can be studied by throwing light on certain important issues or events highlighted in this paper: politics of Hajj and negotiations on accessing sea lanes and secondly political interplay of Muslim empires (Ottomans, Uzbeks, Mughals) on the Portuguese question in the Indian Ocean. On the one hand, we see the Mughals’ plans of collaborating with the Uzbeks against the Portuguese. Parallel to that we notice Mughals negotiating with the Portuguese against the Ottomans. Many of these dealings never fructified but they suggest ideas of political intrigues and diplomacy floated by the Mughals merely at a superficial level. In the effort to build my argument I have drawn on the ideas of Pocock, who viewed political speech as a combination of factual and evaluative statements and since it is intended to reconcile and coordinate different groups pursuing different values, its ‘inherent ambiguity and cryptic content is relatively high’.6 The multi-layered dialogue stretching across Indian Ocean is one such example of this ambiguity. The arrival of the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean did not completely metamorphose the patterns and methods of trading in the Western Indian Ocean.7 Ashin Das Gupta convincingly argued that the real alteration in the Indian Ocean was brought about not so

‘Floating Political Rhetoric’ in the Indian Ocean


much by the Portuguese intrusion as by three continental empires: Mughal, Safavid and the Ottoman empires. They deepened the penetration of interior and strengthened the Islamic forces in the Indian Ocean, mainly the Hajj pilgrimage. The Portuguese intruded violently but got ‘swallowed’ by this structure.8 Did the Portuguese then play a role in the changing political alignments in the Islamic empires of the sixteenth century? A vast variety of historical literature on Indo-Portuguese encounters illuminate the segments of trade9 and cultural exchanges10 but exchange of ideas and policy making still needs some attention. The constant insecurities, inhibition and interest in protecting one’s sea routes and politics involved in the bargaining for ‘sea territory’ involves the understanding of rhetoric in political dialogues and transmission of these ideas across the Ocean. This paper seeks to highlight the transmission of political ideas across the Ocean with a special focus on the Mughals. QUEST FOR GUJARAT

The capture of different regions in Gujarat and especially Surat, was of strategic importance to Akbar considering the maritime importance of Gujarat and it being the gateway to the sea lanes to Hajj. Surat was called Bab-ul-Macca or Bandar-i-Mubarak (Blessed port) as a pious embarking point for Mecca. It is believed that the fortress of Surat was built by Safar Aqa, who had the title of Khudawand Khan, on the shores of the Arabian Sea to evade the disturbances caused by the firangis. 11 Following the conquest of Surat, Akbar inspected the fort for its repairs and improvements. And during this inspection, some large mortars (called Sulaimani), and three great cannons (zarbazan) were found. The name Sulaimani is indicative of Sultan Sulaiman Khundkar of Rum, who had sent them accompanied by a large army, by the sea, when he envisioned overtaking the European ports on the borders of Hindustan.12 He marched upon Gujarat and even brought Diu under control.13 Akbarnama articulates that the Turkish expedition was unsuccessful because the rulers of Gujarat considered the Turks tougher opponents and evaded crossing swords with the Turks than the firangis. Hence they sided with the firangis against the Turks and deprived them


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(Turks) of the provisions.14 This gives an interesting prologue to the future attitude of the Mughals towards the foreign powers. The political pragmatism of choosing a lesser enemy over a formidable one can be rooted in this act of the Gujarati rulers. The importance of integration of Gujarat in the Mughal dominion is best reflected in the words of Portuguese Jesuit Duarte de Sande, who considered it as a ‘gem of India’.15 The assimilation of Gujarat in the Mughal dominion under Akbar, in 1573, opened the route to Mecca for the Mughal pilgrims. Drawing on the lines of Syria and Egypt, the Mughal royalty resolved that every year a Mir Haji (Superintendent of pilgrims to Hajj) be appointed and a caravan be dispatched from Gujarat for Hajj.16 It was in this context that Gulbadan Begum (paternal aunt to Akbar) and Salima Sultana Begum (former wife of Bairam Khan, Khan Khanan and after his death, got married to Emperor Akbar), asked for the Emperor’s permission to circumambulate the sacred places (Karbala, Kum, Mashhad and Mecca). In 1575, the royal ladies began their holy journey from Agra. And after a wait of one year for Portuguese cartaz in Surat, the royal caravan finally reached Jiddah in the next year.17 An interesting case where Mughal pragmatism and power struggle for regions in Gujarat is strongly visible is their approach towards the Portuguese in the case of Bulsar (Butzaris, as called by Monserrate). It became the first bone of contention between the Portuguese and the Mughals. Akbar’s aunt Gulbadan Begum, during her stay in Surat, gifted Bulsar to the Portuguese (1575) not as a friendly gesture but as a measure of security against the Portuguese attack during her journey to Mecca. Badauni mentions the dangers and insecurities of travelling for Hajj in those times. One route passed through Shia Iraq and the second passing through Gujarat across the Arabian Sea required a pass (Portuguese cartaz) ‘which bore the idolatrous stamp of the heads of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ (“on whom be peace”)’.18 Beveridge in one of his letters draws from Father Monserrate that Gulbadan must have had taken the authority from Akbar to hand over Bulsar to the Portuguese.19 The approval coming from the Mughal centre was hence a calculated and measured decision. But once Gulbadan Begum was back, she persuaded the people of Surat to demand Bulsar back

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and troops were sent to occupy the town but they were routed by the Portuguese. 20 This was a key point in Mughal-Portuguese dialogues where a territory was not only contested but fought for by the Mughals for politico-religious purpose of Hajj. THE POLITICS OF HAJJ

Akbar understood the crucial importance of Hajj in the face of political climate of the empire hence commanded that ‘the great amirs, the officers of every territory, the guardians of the passes, the watchmen of the borders, the river-police, and the harbour masters should ensure good services for the travellers’.21 Gulbadan’s Hajj pilgrimage in particular held great political importance for Akbar keeping in foreground the criticisms and resentment he received for his socio-religious experiment of instituting IbadatKhana for discussing different religions. The mechanism of Hajj as a state-sponsored activity helped him create a picture of a devout Islamic state. Hence the issue of permits or cartazes created friction in the Mughal-Portuguese relations to which Mughals were not passive or easy recipients. Contrary to the belief that Mughals calmly accepted Portuguese supremacy and surrendered to the power play of the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean, the attack on Daman suggests Mughal intrigues and politics in standing against Portuguese claim to dominance in the Indian Ocean through the mechanism of cartazes. Qilij (Caliche) Mohammed Khan, in order to display his strength and bravery claimed that he would send a ship to Mecca without permit and that ‘his Permit was here, pointing to the handle of the sword he bore at his waist’.22 This conversation happened in the presence of Akbar and the text mentions no intervention on the part of the Emperor to stop this act, which is suggestive of Akbar’s silent approval of Khan’s actions. Mohammad later wrote to Surat and ordered to prepare his ship for Mecca sufficiently provided to face the whole Portuguese fleet. It is almost impossible that Akbar was not informed about this act since Mohammad was extremely close to Akbar since childhood and he was ‘advanced beyond the very princes’.23 Qilij Khan was advised of stalemate but later in collabo-


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ration with ruler of Broach, Qutubuddin, launched an attack on Daman.24 The information about the attack was reported to Akbar by the Jesuit priests but he refrained from taking any action since the involved nobles, Qutubuddin and Shihab Khan were ‘men of age, experience and authority’ and any action against them would foster Akbar’s pro-Christian and anti-Islamic picture, which was not favourable for his rule. But the armed forces from Daman were instantly withdrawn on Akbar’s orders which made the Jesuits doubt Akbar’s clandestine role in the war. Monserrate reveals that Akbar had also ordered a quantity of arms to be hidden inbales of cotton to be transported to Diu under the pretence of friendship. 25 As already suggested, Akbar was much concerned with maintaining an Islamic image in his empire. But this concern also extended to the rest of the Islamic world. Abu’l Fazl indicates that Shaikh ‘Abdun-nab$û and Mull"a ‘Abdullah Sult" anp"u r$û, conservative ulama of Akbar’s court had been ‘made more comfortable by having the control of the body of pilgrims, and the veil remained suspended over their wretchedness’. This means that owing to their opposition to Akbar’s ‘jewels of knowledge’26, they were dispatched to Mecca. But they seemed to have used ‘defaming language’ in Hijaz and maligned the name of the Emperor considering him fallen from conservative Islam.27 Akbar was much concerned about his perception in the Islamic world and portrayal of his image as an Islamic ruler was important considering the broader political conditions. Akbar had also been sending alms, money and dresses of honour for the deserving people in Mecca and Madina.28 This seems to have been a political strategy of portraying himself as a patron of the Holy Cities and affirming his position on par with the Ottomans. This act gives a contradictory impression to Akbar’s eclectic beliefs and his apparent deviation from Islam during the 1580s. But the abrupt termination of gift giving to Mecca requires a probing. A letter written by Abu’l Fazl to the Sharifs of Mecca refers to this issue. He provides clarification for not sending gifts in the year 1582, the reason being rebellion and unrest in the regions of Punjab and Kabul.29 But further reading of the incidence brings out a contrary picture. The extended stay of the royal women30 in

‘Floating Political Rhetoric’ in the Indian Ocean


Mecca was a great source of tension for the Ottoman government keeping in mind the growing population and annual Hajj caravans and sadaqat (alms) sponsored by Akbar, which was seen as a challenge to Ottoman supremacy and monopoly over the affairs of Hajj.31 The translation of Ottoman documents by N.R. Farooqi shows that the sudden halt of sending Mughal caravans and sadaqat to Mecca in 1581 had a background of more than just Akbar’s disinterest in Islam or Akbar’s preoccupation with unrest in the empire. The documents 1-5 betray a constant speculation and scheming on the issue of Mughal caravans and pilgrims. In document no. 1 addressed to the ‘qadi of Makka’ and Qadi Husain, former ‘qadi of Madina’ and currently ‘Sheikh al-Haram’32 of Makka: Whosoever come for the circumambulation [tavaf] of the Ka’ba Sarif, be it the Mughal caravan or someone else, send them back, after the circumambulation, to their homes like other pilgrims [hujjaj] and make special efforts to prevent them from settling in the Haram Sarif as mujavir so that it may not become the source of hardship for the provisions and supplies of the denizens of Makka. Pay the utmost attention to this urgent matter.33

Abul Fazl refers to Khwaja Yahiya, being sent as an emissary by Akbar to initiate the return journey of the chaste ladies from Mecca.34 But the Ottoman document reveals that the ladies were forced to leave Mecca considering the economic and political motivations of the Ottomans. COLLABORATING WITH FRIEND AND FOE

Antagonized by the treatment given by the Ottomans to the royal caravan and chaste ladies, Akbar at different points of time in his conversation with Father Rudolf Aquaviva communicated his desire to forge a Mughal-Portuguese alliance against the Ottomans and he was even ready to give monetary support for this aim.35 After the Mughal success in the Kabul campaign of 1581, Father Aquaviva hastened to congratulate the Emperor and it was on this occasion that the latter privately put forward the proposal of forming an embassy36 to be dispatched to Lisbon for establishing a ‘peaceful bond’ with the Portuguese.37 Though this embassy was sent


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under the garb of requesting a fresh Christian mission to the Mughal court but the language of the letter is filled with heavy rhetoric and political intents. Sayid Muzaffar, who had to convey the ‘oral message’ of the Mughal Emperor to the King of Spain, Philip II,38 was supposedly forced into the embassy, fled to Deccan and never reached Spain. As Father Monserrate and Abdullah Khan were only supposed to travel till and stay at Goa, the purpose remains questioned. Du Jarric informs that the proposed embassy to Portugal was nothing more than Akbar’s excuse to send his agents to Goa.39 Most historians consider that this endeavour of sending an embassy to Portugal ended in a failure. But having gauged the political dynamics and diplomacy involved in the formation of the embassy, it is much clearer to say that aligning with the Portuguese in opposition to the Ottomans was more of a rhetoric than a political reality. This envisaged two purposes for Akbar: one it guaranteed Portuguese support and friendship towards the Mughals (and hence safe routes to Hajj). Second, Mughals evaded from taking a stand or initiating any military action against the powerful Ottomans. The reason for Akbar’s hostile attitude towards the Ottoman embassy of governor of Yemen, according to Monserrate, was the Ottoman proposal of conspiring against the Portuguese. This led to the banishment of the ambassadors to Lahore for a long time.40 All these instances reflect more anti-Ottoman rather than pro-Portuguese attitude. It portrays that it was for rhetorical and diplomatic reasons that pro-Portuguese attitude was adopted on the Mughal side. Akbar’s solely religious intentions towards the Portuguese can be doubted also because already in 1580, the Emperor had ordered Qutbuddin Khan to launch an attack against Portuguese infidels. However, in February 1580 itself, the Jesuit mission had reached Fatehpur Sikri. The diplomatically crafted motivations could be gauged from his farman, persuading the officials of Gujarat and Malwa to take up military action against the Portuguese infidels. Further, he motivated the rulers of Deccan to support the royal army with men and material, as a mark of their loyalty.41 We must note that Akbar’s outlook towards the Portuguese power center and his attitude towards the Jesuits as the representatives of the

‘Floating Political Rhetoric’ in the Indian Ocean


Portuguese in the Mughal court, were highly pragmatic and diluted with political interests in addition to religious motivations. One such example is Akbar’s letter to Aires de Saldanha (Viceroy of India) in 1601 where he emphasizes the importance of MughalPortuguese friendship, placing in background the issue of safety of traders and merchants on the sea routes, concern of the ports and informs about sending an embassy: It has always been in our royal heart and in our eyes that leading traders and merchants should be able to come and go with complete safety and confidence, and they continually pray to God for the constant increase in our prosperity, especially the inhabitants of the kingdoms of the Portuguese, who cannot go and come freely outside this kingdom and, who are accustomed to navigating the sea of Hindustan.42

An analogy can be drawn between various sorts of correspondences that Akbar had with the foreign rulers with regard to decision-making on the Portuguese. In response to Abdullah Khan Uzbeg’s accusation that he has deviated from the path of Islam, Akbar in a letter dated 1586; refers to his intentions of rooting out the ‘firangi infidels’ from the seas, considering them to be the principal trouble makers on the seas.43 He states: I have kept before my mind the idea that when I should be entirely at liberty from these tasks, I should, under the guidance of God’s favour, undertake the destruction of the farangi infidels who have come to the islands of the ocean, and have lifted up the head of turbulence, and stretched out the hand of oppression upon the pilgrims to the holy places. May God increase their glory! They (the Franks) have become a great number and are stumbling-blocks to the pilgrims and traders.44

Again, in the following year in a letter from Akbar to Hakim Humam, the Mughal envoy to Turan, the former mentions that sulhnama or treaty with Turan must soon be finalized since the Emperor is directing his attention towards conquest of Jaza’ir-Farang or stations of the Portuguese.45 Both these letters reflect an apparent anti-Portuguese element but they must be placed in the political climate of the Islamic world where Akbar had to justify himself an Islamic ruler and protector of faith. These correspondences with regard to the Portuguese are reminiscent of the position that the


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Portuguese held in the Mughal foreign approach. The continuous presence of the Jesuits (three missions under Akbar) in the Mughal court did not alter the Mughal perception of the Portuguese as enemies in the seas. It is important to consider that in most of these cases the rhetoric of Portuguese was used to portray oneself (Mughals) as a defender of Islam. CONCLUSION

K.N. Chaudhuri’s idea of civilizational complex and unity of Indian Ocean 46 is still a viable concept. This model continues to be redefined in the context of sixteenth century India by maritime historians. But beneath this economic and cultural unity, there existed political frictions which this paper has tried to highlight. Speaking about temporal boundaries of the seas, Lewis and Wingen argued for integration of ‘maritime regions and communities oriented around world’s major seas’.47 Though the maritime regions might have been economically and socially integrated, they were still politically diversified. The economic and social processes were not completely devoid of larger political predilections as we see in the case of the Empires meeting in the Indian Ocean. The socioreligious issue of Hajj and economic issue of the sea lanes and trading networks going to Hajj, was a thorny political problem between different Islamic empires and the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean. The arrival of the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean received a ‘not so passive response’48 by the Mughals. The Mughals were in no way dwarfed by the presence of mighty ‘Portuguese sea borne empire’, in the matters of politics in the Indian Ocean. Ocean was an arena not only for trade, cultural diffusion, religious dialogues but also a witness to major political ideas floating from end of the ocean to another. The paper tried to illuminate the changing balance of power in the political scenario of the Indian Ocean with the intrusion of the Portuguese. The article also attempts to reconsider the position that Mughals were indifferent to the matters of the sea. And argues that the Mughals, if not sea oriented were certainly ‘sea conscious’. This consciousness for the sea is reflected in the diplomatic endeavours and dialogues across the Indian Ocean, with

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the Central Asian rulers, the Portuguese power centre and with the regional rulers and Mughal officials, which further gives us an insight into intra-Mughal politics on the Portuguese. Lastly, it was an aim to suggest that in addition to trade, political control and prestige attached to control of the sea lanes and networks regulated the affairs in the Indian Ocean.

NOTES 1. J.H. Parry, The Discovery of the Sea , University of California Press: Berkeley, 1981, xi. 2. Jerry H. Bentley, ‘Sea and Ocean Basins as Frameworks of Historical Analysis’, Geographical Review, vol. 89, no. 2, April 1999, p. 221. 3. J. Deutsch and B. Reinwald, Space on the Move: Transformations of the Indian Ocean Seascapes in the Nineteenth and the Twentieth Century, Berlin: Schwarz, 2002. 4. See Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Connected Histories: Notes Towards a Reconfiguration of Early Modern Eurasia’, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 31, 3(1997): 735-62. 5. The concept was introduced by sociologist-ethnologist, Shalini Randeria. See Sebastian Conrad and Shalini Randeria (eds.), Jenseits des Eurozentrismus: Postkoloniale Perspektiven in den Geschichts- und Kulturwissenschaften, Frankfurt/Main: Campus Verlag, 2002. 6. J.G.A. Pocock, Politics, Language and Time, London: Methuen and Co. Ltd., 1972, p. 17. 7. For a contrary view see, Moreland, India at the Death of Akbar, London: MacMillan, 1920, 186-8, 192-210; K.M. Pannikar, Asia and Western Dominance, Michigan: George Allen & Unwin, 1953. 8. Ashin Dasgupta, India and the Indian Ocean, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, 37-8; ‘Indian Merchants and Trade in the Indian Ocean’, in Tapan Raychaudhary and Irfan Habib (eds.), The Cambridge Economic History of India, 1200-1750, vol. 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982, 409. 9. See, M.N. Pearson, Indian Ocean, London: Routledge, 2003; ‘The Portuguese in India’, The New Cambridge History of India, vol. 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 10. See, Pedro Moura Carvalho, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Luxury for Export: Artistic Exchange between India and Portugal around 1600, Michigan: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2008.


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11. Khwaja Nizamuddin Ahmad, Tabaqat-i-Akabri: A History of India from the Early Musalman Invasions to the Thirty-eighth Year of the Reign of Akbar, vol. II, tr. Brajendranath De, Bengal: The Asiatic Soceity, 1936, p. 381 12. Ibid., pp. 387-8. 13. Zainuddin Makhdoom, Tuhfat al-Mujahidin, Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Book Trust, 74. 14. Abul Fazl, Akbar Nama. English, H. Beveridge, vol. III, Delhi: Low Price Publications, 2013, p. 41. 15. Jorge Flores, ‘The Sea World of the Mutassadi: A Profile of Port Officials from Mughal Gujarat (1600-50)’, Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 21, no. 1, January 2011, p. 55 16. Ahmad, Tabaqat-i-Akabri, 472. 17. Abdul Qadir Badaoni, Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh, vol. II, tr. A.H. Lowe, Delhi: Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Delli, 1987, p. 216. 18. Ibid., p. 480. 19. H. Beveridge, ‘Notes on Father Monserrate’s Mongolicae Legationis Commentarius’, Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. 11, no. 7, July 1915, footnotes, p. 192. 20. Antonio Monserrate, The Commentary of Father Monserrate S.J., J.S. Hoyland (annotated) and tr. S.N. Banerjee, London: Milford, 1922, pp. 166-7. 21. Fazl, Akbarnama, p. 207. 22. R.G. Whiteway (trs.), ‘The Surat Incident, Translated from Diogo de Couto, Decada X, Liv. II’, Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. 11, no. 7, 1915, p. 193. 23. Ibid., 193-4. 24. A detailed information on attack of Daman is provided in M.N. Pearson, Merchants and Rulers of Gujarat, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976, pp. 57-8. 25. Monserrate, pp. 168-70. 26. Referring to their opposition to Akbar’s religious experiments and policies. 27. Fazl, Akbarnama, pp. 572-3. 28. Arif Qandhari, Tarikh-i-Akbari, ed. Haji Muinuddin Nadwi et al., Delhi: Pragati Publications, 1993, pp. 242, 395. 29. Mansura Haider (ed.), Mukatabati-Allami, Insha’i Abul Fazl, Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1998, p. 1. 30. The royal ladies and their companions performed Hajj four times, and returned only in 1582. 31. Naimur Rahman Farooqi, Mughal Ottoman Relations: A Study of Political

‘Floating Political Rhetoric’ in the Indian Ocean

32. 33.

34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39.

40. 41. 42.

43. 44. 45. 46.

47. 48.


and Diplomatic Relations between Mughal India and the Ottoman Empire, 1556-1748, Delhi: Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Dilli, 1989, 19. The title for civil governor of Mecca. N.R. Farooqi, ‘Six Ottoman Documents on Mughal-Ottoman Relations during the Reign of Akbar’, Journal of Islamic Studies, vol. 7, no. 1, 1996, pp. 37-8. Fazl, Akbarnama, pp. 568-9. Monserrate, p. 172. Sayid Muzaffar, Abdullah Khan and Father Monserrate formed the embassy. E. Rehatsek, ‘A Letter of the Emperor Akbar asking for Christian Scriptures’, The Indian Antiquary, vol. 16, April 1887, pp. 136-7. The embassy also meant to congratulate King Philip II on his accession to the throne of Portugal. Father Bento de Goes and Cogetqui Sultan Sama were sent as Mughal envoys to Goa in order to inquire about the gifts and the code of conduct matching the Portuguese grandees in Lisbon. See, Fr. Pierre Du Jarric, Akbar and the Jesuits, tr. C.H. Payne, Delhi: Low Price Publications, 1999, p. 260. Monserrate, p. 205. Fazl, Akbarnama, pp. 409-10. Jorge Flores, António Vasconcelos de Saldanha,The Firangis in the Mughal Chancellery: Portuguese Copies of Akbar’s Documents, 1572-1604, Delhi: Embassy of Portugal, 2003, pp. 78-9. Rizaul Islam, A Calendar of Documents on Indo-Persian Relations (15001750), vol. II, Tehran: Iranian Culture Foundation, 1982, pp. 210-11. Fazl, Akbarnama, p. 757. Haider (ed.), Mukatabat-i-Allami, p. 213. K.N. Chaudhuri, Trade and Civilization in the Indian Ocean: An Economic History from the Rise of Islam to 1750, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. M.W. Lewis and K.E. Wigen, The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997, p. 204. Some historical literature treats Mughals as least interested or passive in the matters of the seas. For more information on this topic refer Pearson, Merchants and Rulers of Gujarat.


Scourge of the Seas: Malabar Pirates and the European Expansion in the Indian Ocean (c.1600-1800) BINU JOHN MAILAPARAMBIL

In history the pirate has often been regarded as an antithesis of the merchant—a social outcaste who lives at the periphery of the society and a constant threat to the peaceful maritime trade. Consequently, he is a confirmed enemy of the state too. This ‘illegitimate’ position of pirates as the socio-political outsiders often shaped the contours of our understanding about the social world of pirates in pre-modern maritime societies. Research about the early-modern European piracy in the Atlantic to a great extent substantiates this socially and politically mutinous image of the pirate. In an in-depth study about the Anglo-American pirates, Marcus Rediker attempts to provide an ‘inside’ perspective about their social world in the first quarter of the eighteenth century.1 According to him, these pirates constructed their world in defiant contradistinction to the ways of the world they left behind.2 From this perspective this eighteenth-century Anglo-American piracy was not merely a plunder at sea with pure economic motives, but a violent protest against the existing socio-political power structure. Therefore he sees a close resemblance between Eric Hobsbawm’s concept of ‘social banditry’ and eighteenth-century maritime piracy.3 He comments that these pirates fit Hobsbawm’s formulation in every respect, especially their ‘cry for vengeance’.4 In a similar vein, in an attempt to analyse the cause behind the increasing maritime violence following the Portuguese arrival in


Binu John Mailaparambil

the Arabian Sea, O.K. Nambiar follows a similar pattern of argument. According to him, the rise of the Kunjali Marakkars—generally described as ‘corsairs’ in Portuguese sources—and the increasing piracy along the sixteenth-seventeenth-century Malabar Coast was an indigenous response to the introduction of violent politics in the Indian Ocean by the Portuguese.5 The difference between this Malabar piracy and the Anglo-American piracy described by Marcus Rediker was that here the ‘cry for vengeance’ was not in opposition to the existing regional socio-political order, but against the Portuguese Estado which destabilized the traditional maritime power relations in the Indian Ocean. Although it is doubtful whether such a ‘vengeance’ model can be used as a constructive analytical concept in studying the complex and dynamic character of piracy in the early-modern Indian Ocean in general and on the Malabar Coast in particular, Nambiar’s depiction of the Malabar pirates as an inherent part of the local socio-political system contradicts the general perception of them as social pariahs. His proposition goes well with the notion that Asian piracy in general and Malabar piracy in particular is the consequence of the European expansion in the early modern India Ocean. Apparently, Nambiar’s proposition did not differ significantly from the common erudition that legitimacy lies in state authority. For him Kunjalis and their maritime plunders attained socio-political legitimacy owing to their association with the local political leadership, the Zamorins of Calicut who sanctioned their operations as a defence against the Portuguese maritime intrusions along the Malabar Coast. Piracy is not merely an act of plunder at sea. It carries a strong political connotation that defines the ‘legality’ and ‘illegality’ of such an action.6 For this reason, piracy can be broadly defined as a politically incorrect act of plunder at sea. This political character of piracy makes it more of a blurred concept that cannot be understood in isolation from its geo-political and historical context. Recent studies have been critical of adopting a state-oriented approach in analysing piracy in the early-modern Indian Ocean. It has been pointed out that the failure to recognize piracy as a ‘systematic feature of the pre-modern Indian Ocean world’ and to identify

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pirates as political actors are rooted in false preconceptions that have been derived from the history of Europe and its legal traditions.7 Such a condition has been exacerbated by the character of historical sources that are available for studying Asian piracy. Due to the heavy dependence on European accounts, which are the main, if not the sole, source of our information about pre-modern Indian Ocean piracy, Asian pirates have often been imagined as the Oriental counterparts of their Western ‘colleagues’. It is not incidental that the political affiliations of the Indian Ocean pirates had often been the focal point of discussion in the contemporary European debates about Asian piracy. Unsurprisingly, this political legitimacy question defined the European interaction with the pirates of the Malabar Coast. The Portuguese attempts to control the spice trade of the Malabar Coast by the end of the fifteenth century had considerable sociopolitical ramifications.8 The rising tide of piracy along the western coast of India after the fifteenth century, especially along the MalabarCanara Coast, has often been perceived as a response of the local political elites who were the main beneficiaries of the trade carried out by the Western Islamic traders in the region to the European challenge. This politically-stimulated emergence of maritime violence and plunder along the Malabar Coast was crucial for the Portuguese in determining and understanding the status of the Malabar seamen who were keen on protecting their commercial advantages against aggressors. As pointed out by M.N. Pearson the Portuguese generally used the term ‘corsair’ to designate Malabar pirates—a term meant to denote their connection to the local political structure as opposed to those ‘pirates’ who were considered as non-political entities.9 However, perceiving the origin of Malabar piracy as an indigenous political response against ‘foreign intrusion’ would be historically erroneous as it downplays the existence of maritime violence in the Arabian Sea before the sixteenth century. Sebastian R. Prange has pointed out that maritime violence was in vogue in the Indian Ocean well before the sixteenth century. He argues that the general perception of a peaceful maritime scenario before the coming of the Portuguese stand in direct contrast to the historical accounts of rampant piracy in the Indian Ocean from


Binu John Mailaparambil

the beginning of the Christian era onwards.10 Besides these pirates, the political elites along the coast who were not able to extract enough revenue from the burgeoning maritime trade or partake directly in the Indian Ocean commerce successfully employed local customs and practices to prey upon the coastal trade when opportunities arose. Marco Polo, who visited the Malabar Coast in the thirteenth century, mentions about this politically-legitimized practice of coastal plunder that was prevalent in the region. ‘Should a vessel be accidentally driven within the mouth of its river, not having intended to make that port, they seize and confiscate all the goods she may have on board, saying: “It was your intentions to have gone elsewhere, but our gods have conducted you to us, in order that we may possess your property”’.11 The fifteenth-century traveller Abd-Er-Razzak also mentions that this practice was in prevalence along the Malabar Coast.12 Powerful kings who were able to float their own vessels did not deter from controlling and taxing the shipping along the coast.13 Calicut was an important exception to this general situation prevalent in the region. Many medieval travellers who visited the coast attributed the rise of Calicut as an important entrepôt in the Indian Ocean to the absence of the pervasiveness of this custom in the kingdom.14 Sanjay Subrahmanyam has argued that the increasing maritime commercial opportunities significantly increased the political clout of the mercantile elites in the Western Indian Ocean by the fifteenth century.15 In the case of Malabar where the kingship was inexorably linked to the fluctuations of maritime trade and commercial fortunes, the increasing political clout of maritime merchants was an inevitable consequence.16 This situation became critical with the arrival of the Portuguese in the Arabian Sea. The Lusitanian naval superiority considerably damaged the commercial supremacy of the West Asian Muslim traders in Malabar. The second decade of the sixteenth century witnessed the departure of the major section of these foreign Muslim traders from Calicut.17 The vacuum created by the exodus of the paradesi Muslim traders in the trans-oceanic trade was gradually filled by the emerging local Islamic commercial interest groups in Malabar. The port cities of Calicut and Cannanore

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emerged as the major centres of operations of these burgeoning Mappila Muslim trading groups. They invariably became the backbone of the local political resistance against the Portuguese attempt to control the regional pepper trade.18 Their role in sustaining the status of the established political elites, especially the Zamorins of Calicut, was tantamount to that of the Nair caste on land which constituted the main component of the military labour market in Malabar. This increasingly militarized character of the indigenous maritime trade substantially dissolved the already blurred boundary between a maritime merchant and pirate on the one hand and between a king and trader on the other. This development was obvious in the case of the port city of Calicut. Once an emporium of peaceful maritime trade on the West Coast of India, Calicut and its satellite ports became the epicentres of maritime raids carried out by local seamen.19 This eventually led to the rise of a group of mercantile elites, who, thanks to their control over maritime trade and the military labour market of seamen, assumed such political titles as ‘rajas’. As explicit in the case of the Kunjali Marakkars of Kottakkal, this led to an increasing tension between the traditional political elites and the emergent merchant-kings in the region. However, taking the particular geo-cultural situation in Malabar into consideration, the success of these merchant-kings, especially the Arackal Ali Rajas of Cannanore, to translate their commercial might into locally acceptable political idioms was not an accident.20 Contemporaneous to these developments, the land-based ‘little kings’ were increasingly pushing towards the coast in order to take advantage of the growing maritime trade in the region. Many of these ‘men of prowess’, with little resources to organize large-scale maritime trade, had to depend principally on the service of the Malabar seamen who combined maritime predation and trade.21 Many of these landlords who controlled little port bazaars along the coast not only prepared safe havens for the trade-cum-predatory activities of the local seamen, but also invested in their maritime operations.22 Although the Portuguese were keen on differentiating politically legitimized maritime raids (supported by those landlords who were


Binu John Mailaparambil

perceived as ‘legitimate’ kings of the region) from that of ‘illegal’ piracy, such an understanding of the politico-maritime scenario in Malabar was increasingly becoming irrelevant to other European nationals, especially to the Dutch and the English, who began to partake in the regional pepper trade by the beginning of the seventeenth century. Oceanic plunder became so widespread along the coast that it was almost impossible for the newcomers to distinguish between a local maritime trader and a pirate. In this situation it was not unusual among them to use the term ‘Malabari/Malabars’ to represent both the local pirates and the Mappila Muslim traders. They did not make any difference between the ‘Malabars’ who engaged in maritime trade without their consent and/or without respecting their commercial treaties with the local rajas and the pirates who engaged in seasonal maritime raids for booty. Although it has been argued by many scholars that South Asian political elites, especially the Mughals, entertained an aversion towards maritime trade and had almost no control over the Indian Ocean shipping, pre-modern European traders had never been in a position to completely ignore them owing to their dominant political position on land.23 Atrocities committed against the maritime interests of these empires at sea could have threatened the safely of their trade settlements in their territories, affecting the general commercial interests of the European companies.24 However, from the European point of view, the Malabar Coast was altogether a different political zone. Lying well beyond the pale of the Mughal Empire, Malabar was considered to be significantly under the European political influence. The Portuguese success in establishing a chain of settlements across the Indian Ocean in general and the Malabar Coast in particular and their relative success in defending them against local resistance with the help of their superior navy gave them considerable political prestige in Europe.25 Although the Portuguese managed to enjoy relatively better political sway in Malabar in comparing with other parts of South Asia, they had never been in a position to exert their power well beyond their coastal settlements. However, they were successful in creating an image of a Portuguese Oriental Empire in Europe in

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which the pepper-rich Malabar Coast and Goa constituted the core. Such a glorified view about the Lusitanian political position in the region was obviously anchored in the European misconception about their political clout in the region. This misapprehension is quite apparent in the treaties signed between the Dutch East India Company and the Portuguese after the conquests of their Malabar settlements in the second half of the seventeenth century. The treaty of surrender signed between the Portuguese and the Dutch at Cannanore typifies the latter’s misunderstanding of the actual position of the Portuguese in the local socio-political sphere. Considering itself the master not only of the fortress but also of the town, not to mention the entire kingdom, the VOC assumed the position of a conquering authority in the region.26 It was their political position as the legitimate successors who ‘conquered the whole Malabar Coast by the right of the Sword, from the Portuguese’ that gave the English and the Dutch exceptional ‘legal’ status in the region.27 Putting themselves on an equal footing with the local rajas, they now assumed to be in a position to decide the ‘legality’ and ‘illegality’ of the local merchants’ conduct. Consequently, ‘smuggling’ and ‘piracy’ became the two commonplace European terms to describe the activities of the local seamen who were operating beyond their control. Furthermore, the escalating competition for Malabar spices, intensified by the increasing European presence along the coast by the seventeenth century, was opening up new opportunities for the local political elites. The persuasive efforts of the European companies to win over the native kings by employing the carrot and stick method were producing explicit results. Many of them who were eager to gain European military support for political gain on land and to ensure passes for their maritime mercantile ventures were not ready to antagonize the European companies and officials. Many of these lords who organized or protected pirate outlets in their territories were keen to distance themselves from the responsibilities of their exploits at sea.28 This trend reaffirmed the notion about the ‘illegality’ of the local seamen’s maritime raids in the European eyes. Therefore the reasons behind the


Binu John Mailaparambil

continuing, if not the increasing, complains about the Malabar pirates in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Western narratives also need to be searched in this state-oriented European perspective about maritime violence. In this context it is notable that one of the main problems that had to be tackled by the European travellers and the trading company officials in Malabar was to identify ‘rightful’ kings from among the numerous ‘men of prowess’ in the region which could have helped them to determine the ‘legal’ status of their engagements in the region. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Tomé Pires commented; ‘there are great kaimals [lords] in this country, some of whom are greater than many of these kings, though they have not the title of king’.29 His concept of ‘greatness’ was concomitant with military power.30 Barbosa also mentioned the great lords of Malabar ‘who wish to be called kings, which they are not’.31 The subtle differences between a ‘king’ and a ‘lord’ emerge more explicitly in the narrative of Pyrard of Laval. He noticed the existence of ‘petty kings of petty territories’ enjoying sovereign power in their own lands, albeit vaguely subordinated to a greater king.32 Dilip M. Menon has argued that in pre-modern Malabar ‘monarchy was the story of an evershifting coalition of merchants, naval powers and the emergent court’ and attributes the emergence of kingship in the region to European impact.33 In such a volatile and flexible political situation the pivotal role played by pirate-cum-traders in the state-building process is not surprising. In the pre-modern Indian Ocean littoral societies, piracy and state formations were entangled very much together.34 Therefore it would be historically incorrect to conceptualize piracy as an anomalous development that can be differentiated from early modern socio-political formations in Asia. Referring to the piracy in the early modern Atlantic, Pomeranz and Topik suggest that statepirate/privateer relationship was very crucial in instigating political changes in Europe and the ensuing colonial expansion.35 From this point of view, ‘pirates as political actors’ could be inferred as a global phenomenon rather than a unique development in Asia. Nevertheless, it is apparent that the strengthening of ‘state’ in earlymodern Europe by claiming monopoly on the use of violence helped

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in defining ‘legal’ boundaries based on political affiliations.36 However, in Malabar where the idea of ‘state’ as a monopolistic ‘legal’ authority itself was absent, conceptualizing pirate as a nonstate actor has no historical relevance. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that dividing ocean space as legal spheres of political authority was a European introduction in the Indian Ocean. Against this historical background that one should understand the frequent references about the ‘illegitimate’ and ‘unruly’ Malabar pirates in the European narratives. Such information with obvious politicocultural bias prevents us from analysing the early-modern Malabar piracy from the vantage point of the subject—the Malabar pirates. All that we are left with are those European narratives about the horrendous exploits of the ‘Malabaris’ who never thought to be worthy of any deeper analysis. The onerous task of studying Malabar pirates by mitigating the political and cultural biases of these sources poses great challenge to scholars. The travelogue of Fraçois Pyrard of Laval who visited the Malabar Coast during the early years of the seventeenth century, throws a great deal of light on the organizational techniques and behavioural uniqueness of these merchant-cum-pirates of Malabar. His several years of acquaintance with the region as a hostage in the Maldives and his knowledge of the native-tongue of the Maldives helped him to observe and understand Malabar piracy from a better vantage point. According to Pyrard of Laval although these Malabar pirates lived and operated under the direct control of numerous ‘little lords’ along the coast, these pirates were ‘in someway under the Samory’, the king of Calicut.37 As evident from Pyrard of Laval’s description, they were neither ‘illegal marauders’ nor social revolutionaries from the perspective of the local society. They were operating within a structure of relationships that ensured socio-political legitimacy for their maritime ventures. Pyrard of Laval states: These robbers and pirates must take great booty, for besides the coast and expenses of their pados and galiots, they have to pay customs and passport duties to the Nair king of the land; then they are subjected to the giving of all sorts of gratifications and presents—as, for instance, to the king of Calecut and to their own king. They were wont thus to make gifts to the late king Cognialy;


Binu John Mailaparambil

they have to give to their allies; and finally to their priests and the poor, and in fulfilment of vows made at their Ziares.38

Evidently these sea raiders were bound by local customs and mores through which they were loosely connected to their coastal lords (sometimes only ritually) and also had to fulfil certain ritual obligations. As a consequence, rather than being an assemblage of socially ostracized vagabonds, they constituted an integral part of the regional ‘re-distributive system’ comprising of both ritual and material realms. By being a part of this socio-political network the Malabar pirates were able to legitimize their maritime plunders. Thus instead of analysing the Malabar corsair activities as a political reaction against the European aggression, we need to consider it as a constituent of the general maritime culture of the period. As pointed out by Anne Pérotin-Dumon maritime violence was no a trait of piracy, but more broadly of the commerce of that age.39 It is notable in this context that early-modern European trading enterprizes engaged in piratical activities in the Indian Ocean which was counted as a way to extract revenue from the sea. The English even followed an ‘official’ policy of piracy to draw income from it and to compensate for their loss caused by piracy.40 Although it is evident that long before the European inroads into the Indian Ocean, Asian merchants were familiar with the practice of arming their vessels as a precaution against maritime violence, the Portuguese with their superior navy and weaponry undoubtedly posed a formidable challenge to the traditional shipping in the Indian Ocean.41 The elaborate preparation made by the Malabar pirates in their settlements against the Portuguese naval raids did not escape the attention of Pyrard of Laval. He noted that the pirate settlements were well fortified with deep entrenchments to protect them from the Portuguese attacks. They also build up lofty buildings erected upon piles on the seashore where they keep sentinels to scan the movements of the ships including the Portuguese.42 Apparently, such a large-scale preparation with considerable capital investment was not merely a political propaganda, but was a maritime ‘commercial venture’. For them piracy was a part-time profession with the expectation of a substantial return. According to Pyrard of Laval, as pirates, ‘they let not off even their own fathers,

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saying that it is their trade and custom to be sea-rovers, and they must seize every opportunity when it presents itself ’.43 They never made any kind of distinction between ‘Muslims’ and ‘Christians’ during their exploits as ‘that should not be deemed strange to them, who were all robbers and pirates, a trade that was no dishonour to them, seeing they practiced it from father to son’.44 Pyrard of Laval also paid attention to the organizational structure of their expeditions. When they set out for war, and for a round of expeditions, they appoint a general of the whole fleet, whom they obey during that voyage only; when it is over he returns to his former position. If any prize is taken, they give him a present, as they may be minded, though he has no right thereto; the rest is equally divided.45

However, these ‘sea bandits’ easily transformed themselves into scrupulous merchants in winter ‘going hither and thither among the neighbouring places to sell their goods, both by land and by sea, using the merchant ships that also belong to them’,46 and were even ready to trade with the passes issued by the Portuguese ‘though in the previous summer they have been at war’.47 On land these corsairs are ‘the most gallant and honourable gentlemen in the world’ and ‘are not at all quarrelsome or treacherous without cause’.48 This behavioural hieroglyphics might be somewhat undecipherable and incomprehensible to a modern mind. Apparently, to those Malabar seafarers this dual identity was not a baffling issue. To put it briefly, as long as they were able to maintain a mutually beneficial rapport with the Malabar elites without violating the conventional behavioural patterns their activities gained legitimacy. Hence their activities were ‘ethical’ as long as they were ready to follow the mores of the land and to give due respect to the existing power structure. But whenever they attempted to overcome this existing socio-political milieu, the local rajas turned against them to putdown the ‘rebellion’ of these maritime adventurers. As noted by François Valentyn, the Malabar pirates were allowed by their lords to plague the sea, but not permitted to carry on such activities on land. Those who dared to do so met with the death penalty.49


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Being an integral part of the local social setup, it was not difficult for these sea folk to sell their goods in local markets through their agents.50 The appearance of the ‘stolen’ Portuguese goods in Calicut Bazaar, noticed by Della Valle, supports the view that their operations were partially or fully supported by the elites of Malabar.51 As mentioned above, the support rendered by the elites to conduct maritime raids heavily depended on the advantages that could be derived through their cooperation with the local pirates. These ‘little rajas’, who were not having any other source of revenue than their own private land holdings (cherical ) and some occasional customary presents and tithes from their subordinate chieftains considered the returns from piracy as a pretty good addition to their meagre income. The Zamorins even gave them ‘loans’ to organize their expensive expeditions, which they paid back with interests.52 These lords were also benefited from the tribute derived from their ‘trade’.53 The inability of the local rajas to maintain their own naval force had made them completely depend on the local Mappila Muslims along the coast for maritime operations. Among these Mappila ‘corsairs’ there were some rich people who could be able to build and equip their own ships for such expeditions.54 According to Peter Mundy ‘the Mallabarre Frigott had two teire of oures, one above an other of each side, and might have neere 180 men in all’.55 The enormous capital invested in such expeditions (in the form of ships, people, ammunitions, etc.) along with its complex organizational structure comprising coastal forts and trade agents imply that piracy along with trade was accepted as a way of socio-economic life rather than an aberration. The uninterrupted existence of corsair activities along the Malabar Coast until the end of the eighteenth century by successfully withstanding the European naval superiority also support the general European presumption that these ‘Malabaris’ were operating under the protection and with the consent of the Malabar elites without which it would have been impossible for them to sustain their operative ability for such a long period. However, it would be inaccurate to propose that the local rajas and little coastal lords maintained a tight control over the maritime operations along the coast. Considering the weak political structure

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in the region before the nineteenth century, a more plausible explanation would be that the Malabar pirates were operating within a loosely structured socio-political framework, maintaining considerable autonomy. This enabled them to achieve considerable political significance during the period of European expansion in the Indian Ocean. Simultaneously, a paradoxical situation was also emerging in the political culture of the region. The increasing European presence along the coast who successfully established a chain of fortified settlements along the coast with the help of their superior navy considerably threatened the free operations of the local merchantcum-pirates. The commercial and political treaties signed by various European powers with the local elites who were regarded as the ‘legitimate’ political authorities by them had the effect of strengthening the kingship in the region. This invariably strengthened the reliance of the local pirate-cum-traders upon the local elites not only for sea passes issued by European powers but also to widen their socio-political support basis to strengthen their stand against the formidable enemies. In this context that the claim of some scholars that the Portuguese maritime policies were mainly responsible for the flourishing of piratical activities along the western coast of India in general and the Malabar Coast in particular needs to be analysed. Even though the piracy along the Malabar Coast was not a new development during this period, the blooming of such an activity can be noticed only by the sixteenth century. Two factors can be taken as the main reasons for the development of such a situation. For the Mappila Muslims of Malabar—a community which took trade as its main occupation—the suddenly developed pandemonium in the regional maritime commercial scenario was a severe blow. The technical superiority of the Portuguese in the naval warfare, which they had acquired through their earlier experiences in their own waters, enabled them to score over the Islamic trading network in Malabar during the first half of the sixteenth century. The weakening of their commercial power compelled the Mappilas to engage in a life-or-death struggle against the aggressors. Their loss in maritime trade had to be compensated by alternative resource mobilization. Besides, arming of their vessels became an inevitable


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prerequisite to carry on their trade against Portuguese naval aggression. The only option for them was to mix the prospects of piracy and trade for which they got the support from the local elite. Obviously, as mentioned before, such an option did not disagree with the traditional maritime ethics in the region where commerce and piracy formed the two sides of the sea coin. This gave an additional legitimacy to their maritime exploitations. Another reason was the nature of the land relations in Malabar during this period. Malabar, a narrow strip of land squeezed in between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, did not provide sufficient space for the development of an extensive agricultural sector. The major chunk of the cultivable land in the region was under the control of the upper strata of the society. Brahmins controlled a large extent of the cultivable land—especially the paddy-cultivable mid-land of Kerala—either in the form of their own private estates (brahmasvam) or in the form of temple properties (devasvam).56 Other important land magnates were the Nair landlords. The majority, belonging to the lower strata of the society, got their lands from these lords in lease or they worked as agricultural labours under rich landlords. The absence of major agrarian Mappila Muslim settlements in the interior Malabar even in the second half of the sixteenth century is confirmed by the narrative of Sheikh Zain-ud-Din, in which he mentions only the coastal towns as their main settlements.57 The limited possibility to turn towards agriculture as an alternative resource base by altering the traditional agricultural relations all of a sudden contributed to the rise of corsair activities along the Malabar Coast. Though the sudden impetus to the booming of piracy in the sixteenth century was given by the religious and political policies of the Estado da India, it would be erroneous to exaggerate the politico-religious character of such a development.58 Sheikh Zainud-Din, the author of Tuhfat-ul-Mujahidin, and the main proponent of an Islamic jihad against the Christian Portuguese to avenge the losses suffered by the Muslim traders in the Arabian Sea, did not miss to note that Malabar pirates, although mostly Muslims, made no distinction between Muslim and non-Muslim ships.59 They were even ready to deal with the Portuguese in piracy-related slave trade.60

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The English and Dutch documents give extensive references about these ‘pirates’ and their problematic relationship with European traders during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but are many times baffled by the slender difference between Malabar ‘merchants’ and ‘pirates’. However, if the description of Pyrard of Laval can be taken into serious consideration, the Malabar seamen made an unambiguous distinction between these two categories. According to Pyrard of Laval the Malabar merchants and pirates followed distinctive dress codes.61 Pyrard of Laval describes the appearance of the Malabar pirates as follows: The Corsairs wear their hair long like women, and never cut it; they tie it in a bunch, like all the other Indians, and cover it with one of these pretty kerchiefs; they go quite naked, except that they are covered with a silk cloth as far as the knees, and have another handkerchief round the waist . . . carry knives with hafts and sheaths of silver—that is, such as can afford it. . . . The corsairs wear the beard shaved, but never shave over the mouth nor the moustache: these they were like the Turks, in such wise that some have moustaches so long that they tie them behind the head.62

If Pyrard of Laval’s statement is any indication, it is plausible that for the Malabaris this transformation from ‘merchant’ into ‘corsair’ was not a politico-legal issue or merely a change in profession, but had certain ritual connotations too. Unfortunately for us, we do not have enough evidence to support such a hypothesis. However, as indicated by Pyrard of Laval, Malabar pirates maintained an intimate connection with their priests and temples.63 This might indicate that piracy was inexorably linked to the realm of ritual life in Malabar which gave an added legitimacy to their actions. This opens up the possibility to look at Asian piracy not merely from a politico-economic perspective, but also from a ‘subaltern’ cultural point of view. However, this aspect of Malabar piracy lies well beyond the scope of this study. However, in pre-modern Malabar where material affluence formed an inseparable constituent of the ritual concept of sakti or cosmic power, conceptualizing ritual sphere as an antithesis of material realm does not make any sense.64 Indeed, material gain was the main propelling force of piracy. Ransom and slaves were the ‘profits’ of these maritime ‘enterprises’. Most of the Europeans


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captured by the Malabar pirates were given back for ransom, fixed according to the losses suffered by the winner and of course with a ‘decent’ profit. Malabar pirates, who captured few English men from the ship Comfort ,65 asked for a ransom that included the loss of the former amounted to 40,000 fanams. 66 The English were able to get back the master and the fourteen men after paying ‘2,200 reals of eight’.67 The Dutch ship Het Wapen, which was on its way from Batavia, also faced the same fate. It was attacked by eight Malabar ‘rovers’ near Goa and took five captives. Among them two were sold as slaves to the Portuguese.68 The Europeans, although keen to fend off and destroy these Malabari menace as much as possible, were well aware of the maritime skills of their foes. It is no wonder that European trading companies were very much interested in taking captured Malabaris in their service as slaves. Thus the English at Bantam desired that ‘if any “Malabars” be captured, thirty or forty “good lusty young fellowes” should be sent to Bantam as servants’.69 Europeans by and large used the term ‘Malabari’ as a synonym for local Muslims and therefore Malabar pirates were generally regarded as people exclusively belonging to the local Mappila Muslim community. In several occasions they simply employed the term ‘Moors’ to denote the pirates and thereby hinting at their religious affiliation. However, it is more plausible that the Malabari pirate crew included sailors from other caste groups, especially those who were from the lower strata of the society. According to Pyrard of Laval, the Mappila Muslims usually employed Mukkuvas (fishing people) and Tiyyas and other ‘villain folk’ in their ships and galleys.70 But occasionally these ‘Malabari pirates’ included not only the locals but also European fugitives. Reference about Henry Wygive, an English fugitive turned Moor, and a member of the Malabar pirate crew that captured the ship Comfort, substantiates this fact.71 It is interesting to note that European traders, although eloquent in despising piracy, were not hesitant to make deals with Malabar pirates if they found it beneficial. Peter Mundy mentions about transaction between the English and the ‘pirates of Calicut’ in pepper.72 This further substantiates the double role played by the Malabar pirates who acted as traders as

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well as pirates. Besides, if they found it advantageous European traders did not abhor the idea of collaborating with these ‘Malabaris’ to ward off their commercial competitors. Pyrard of Laval alludes to the cooperation between the Dutch and the Malabaris in capturing Portuguese ships.73 However, it seems that, by the late seventeenth century, the Malabar pirates who had been enjoying the patronage of the Malabar rajas for the past few centuries were gradually losing it. The Dutch were even prepared to work together with such local maritime lords as the Ali Rajas of Cannanore to fight piracy.74 It was those small coastal port towns between these two kingdoms that served as the safe havens for Malabar pirates. According to the Dutch Commander Hendrik Adriaan van Reede, the chief promoter of piracy in the region was one ‘Vazhunnavar of Vadakara’, a free lord who controlled the pirate nets between the Cottakkal River and Dharmapatanam River.75 According to him the main port towns infested by the pirates under the Vazhunnavar were Tjitrambirie(?), Berregare (Badagara), Moetingal (Muttungal), t‘Sjsjombaij (Chombal) and Majelle (Mayyazhi?).76 However, the ‘lord of the pirates’ status usually conferred upon the Vazhunnavar by the European visitors does not do complete justice to his position in the regional political economy. Alexander Hamilton, who visited the coast in the early eighteenth century, gives us a more sympathetic description about him. Although he bluntly told the lord that the main hindrance for developing Vadakara as an important commercial port town by attracting all the nationalities, including the Europeans, was his notorious reputation as a pirate lord, Hamilton was not hesitant to look at the situation from the other side.77 He certified that the Vazhunnavar ‘was no enemy to trade, but only vindicated his sovereignty of those seas [between Cape Comorin and Daman]’.78 And he attacked only those vessels without his passes.79 Moreover, he dared to make a comparison between the maritime sovereignty claims of the British Crown and the Vazhunnavar. According to Hamilton: . . . our own King was invested with the like sovereignty, not only on his own coasts, but on those of France, Holland and Denmark, and could have no greater right than he [the Vazhunnavar] had, only he was in a better condition


Binu John Mailaparambil

to oblige the transgressors of his laws to obedience than he was: However he [the Vazhunnavar] would maintain his claim and right the best way he could, and whoever lost their ships or vessels for contempt of his authority, might blame their own obstinacy or folly, and not him.80

It seems that the changing Indian Ocean trade scenario in the eighteenth century compelled such ‘pirate lords’ as the Vazhunnavar along the Malabar Coast to give up their old resource-gathering practice by supporting piracy and to attain a better reputation to attract more trade to their ports. The increasing European competition to control the spice trade along the Malabar Coast provided these local lords with new opportunities to attract them to settle in their ports which guaranteed better revenue in the form of tolls and taxes without risking their resources by investing in piratical operations with uncertain returns. This changing attitude of the local lords is clearly evident in the case of the Vazhunnavar of Vadakara. The Vazhunnavar did not hesitate, when possibilities opened up, to change his status from that of a ‘pirate lord’ into a more respectable status as the ‘lord of the sea’. In various communications with the Dutch, the Vazhunnavar expressed his willingness to provide the Company with a trade settlement in his land, which in turn would enable him in his efforts to gain control over all the merchandise produced in the area. He was aware that the presence of the dreaded Malabar pirates repelled merchants, especially foreigners and discouraged them from trading in his land.81 He expected that the establishment of a Dutch settlement would facilitate the ousting of the pirates from his land, which in turn would attract more traders to his domain and avert the diversion of merchandise to Cannanore and Calicut.82 In another letter to the Dutch the Vazhunnavar even promised to provide the VOC with a fort built at his own cost.83 In a letter to Heren XVII (8 April 1701), Commander Abraham Vink described the then Vazhunnavar as a respectable and capable young person, ‘a very different type from his ancestors who have been known so far as none other than the regents and patrons of a wild folk who lived by piracy about their coast’.84 Although this sudden change in the political attitude of the local VOC officials

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in Malabar towards the lord of Vadakara was obviously made with political and commercial advantages in their sights, it also alludes to the changing character of Malabar piracy. Alexander Hamilton mentions that the Vazhunnavar was keen on building a ship of Hamilton’s type to conduct trade with other Indian Ocean ports which he did after a few years.85 Grasping the opportunity provided by European merchants he started to send ships to different parts of the Indian Ocean.86 Despite the unfavourable attitude of the VOC towards giving passes to the Vazhunnavar to send his ships to such distant destinations as Bengal and thereby providing protection to his ships, he was able to secure alternative support from the English and the French to accomplish the task.87 In one of his letters to Commander Barent Ketel, the nearby ruler (Kolathiri) mentions about the shipping of the Vazhunnavar to such distant destinations as Bengal, Muscat, Surat, and Mocha without his consent.88 This is significant that within a short period of time the Vazhunnavar was able to transform himself as a prominent ‘mercantile lord’ in Malabar by obliterating his notorious past as the lord of a pirate nest on the coast. However, the transformation of the Vazhunnavar of Vadakara does not suggest that the pirate activities along the Malabar Coast abruptly ended by the beginning of the eighteenth century. The traumatic experience narrated by the Dutch sailor Jan Velsen, who was captured by the dreadful Malabar pirates while sailing along the Malabar Coast on the board of De Mercurius in 1705, provides us a clear account of how piracy continued to be a great threat to European sailors in the eighteenth-century Malabar Coast.89 Notwithstanding the continuous occurrence of piracy along the coast, it is visible that the emerging politico-commercial atmosphere in the Arabian Sea was not favourable for thriving piracy in Malabar waters when better alternatives were available for the erstwhile ‘pirate lords’ to accumulate more revenue by striking a compromise with the European companies. However, it was the last decades of the eighteenth century that witnessed the sudden collapse of the pirate hubs along the Malabar Coast. The ultimate blow to the escapade of the Malabar pirates in the Indian Ocean was caused not by the increasing European naval presence along the coast,


Binu John Mailaparambil

but by the Mysorean invasions in the second half of the eighteenth century. The invasions of Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan fundamentally altered and ultimately brought down the traditional socio-political setup in the region which supported the pirate operations in the region.90 The attempt to establish a centralized government in the region through military interventions and the resultant exodus of many of those little lords in the region to southern Malabar kingdoms, especially to Travancore, endangered the support base of the erstwhile pirate-cum-trading networks along the coast.91 In addition, the attempts of Tipu Sultan to setup state monopoly on trade in several commodities, including pepper, threatened the power and influence of the maritime trading communities in the region. Tipu Sultan established a chain of warehouses in different part of the country to receive the monopoly goods and the principal warehouse was in Vadakara, the headquarters of the Vazhunnavar of Vadakara—the erstwhile pirate lord.92 The consequence of this monopolistic drive was that the small vessels belonging to the coast were totally given up, affecting the flourishing ship-building industry in the region.93 Apparently, this had not only broken the backbone of the local trading class, but also of the Malabar pirates who absolutely depended on the local sociopolitical order for their survival. The establishment of the British territorial suzerainty in the northern part of Malabar by the end of the eighteenth century and the increasing presence of the British armed forces in the region to crush indigenous insurgencies against the Raj made it impossible for the pirate culture all over again to flourish along the coast.94 When Colonel John Biddulph wrote about the ‘Malabar pirates’ in the early twentieth century, it was mainly those European pirates like William Kidd and such naval ‘war lords’ as the Angrias of the Konkan Coast who stole his attention.95 He did not consider the history of the local Malabar pirates—once a menace to the European trade in the Arabian Sea—worthy to be described in any detail in such an erroneously titled book. Obviously, their history got erased from the memory of the now colonial masters who acquired an incontestable dominance over the once independent ‘little kingdoms’ along the Malabar Coast and their peoples.

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NOTES 1. Marcus Rediker, ‘Under the Banner of King Death: The Social World of Anglo-American Pirates, 1716 to 1726’, The William and Mary Quarterly, 38/2, April 1981, pp. 203-27. 2. Ibid., p. 214. 3. E.J. Hobsbawm, Bandits, New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1969. 4. Rediker, ‘Under the Banner of King Death’, pp. 214-15. 5. O.K. Nambiar, The Kunjalis: Admirals of Calicut, London: Asia Publishing House, 1963. For an analysis about the relationship between the early European maritime expansion and the politicization of maritime space, see Elizabeth Mancke, ‘Early Modern Expansion and the Politicization of Oceanic Space’, Geographical Review, 89/2, April 1989, pp. 225-36. 6. See Lauren Benton, ‘Legal Spaces of Empire: Piracy and the Origins of Ocean regionalism’, in Society for Comparative Studies in Society and History, 47/4, October 2005, pp. 700-24; Barbara Fuchs, ‘Faithless Empires: Pirates, Renegadoes, and the English Nation’, ELH, 67/1, 2000, pp. 45-69. 7. Sebastian R. Prange, ‘A Trade of No Dishonor: Piracy, Commerce and Community in the Western Indian Ocean, Twelfth to Sixteenth Century’, in American Historical Review, December 2011, pp. 1268-93. 8. For a standard description about the Portuguese political relations with Malabar, see K.M. Panikkar, Malabar and the Portuguese, rpt., Delhi: Voice of India, 1997. For details about the social impact on the Malabar Coast, see K.S. Mathew, ‘The Portuguese and the Malabar Society during the Sixteenth Century: A Study of Mutual Interaction’, STVDIA, 1989, pp. 39-67. Also see K. S. Mathew, Teotonio R. de Souza, and Pius Malekandathil (eds.), The Portuguese and the Socio-Cultural Changes in India:1500-1800, Lisbon: Fundação Oriente, 2001. 9. M.N. Pearson, Coastal Western India: Studies from the Portuguese Records, Delhi: Concept, 1981, p. 25. For example, see A. de S.S. Costa Lobo (ed.), Memórias de um soldado da India: Compilados de um Manuscrito Português do Museu Britânico, Lisboa: Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda, 1987, pp. 60-71. 10. Prange, ‘A Trade of No Dishonor’, pp. 1272-7. K.M. Panikkar and K.N. Chaudhuri hold the view that pre-Portuguese Indian Ocean merchants enjoyed a comparatively peaceful commercial atmosphere. K.M. Panikkar, India and the Indian Ocean: An Essay on the Influence of Sea Power on Indian History, London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1962, p. 145; K.N. Chaudhuri, Trade and Civilization in the Indian Ocean: An Economic History from the Rise of Islam to 1750, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.


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11. Marco Polo, Marco polo’s Travels, ed. Ernest Rhys, London: J.M. Dent Sons, 1927, p. 381. 12. R.H. Major (ed.), India in the Fifteenth Century, Delhi: Deep, 1974, p. 14. It is interesting to note that even in the eighteenth century the Cochin King tried to invoke this old custom to claim his right on the goods in a ship belonging to the Cannanore merchant-king Ali Raja which was stranded on the Cochin Coast. National Archives, The Hague, The Netherlands, The Archives of the Dutch East India Company, 1602-1795 [hereafter VOC] 1757, Letter from Commander Willem Moerman to the Ali Raja of Cannanore, 20 July 1708, fols. 487v-8v. 13. See the account of Ibn Battuta about the king of Barkur in, H.A.R. Gibb and C.F. Beckingham, trans., The Travels of Ibn Battuta, AD 1325-54, 5 vols., London: Hakluyt Society, 1956-2000, IV, p. 808. 14. Major, India in the Fifteenth Century, p. 14. 15. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Of Imarat and Tijarat: Asian Merchants and State Power in the Western Indian Ocean, 1400 to 1750’, in Comparative Studies in Society and History 37/4, 1995, pp. 750-80. Also see idem. and C.A. Bayly, ‘Portfolio Capitalists and the Political Economy of Early Modern India’, in The Indian Economic and Social History Review, 25/4, 1988, pp. 401-24. 16. Dilip M. Menon, ‘Houses by the Sea: State Experimentation on the Southwest Coast of India—1760-1800’, in Neera Chandhoke (ed.), Mapping Histories: Essays Presented to Ravinder Kumar, Delhi: Tulika, 2000, pp. 161-86. 17. Duarte Barbosa, The Book of Duarte Barbosa: An Account of the Countries Bordering on the Indian Ocean and Their Inhabitants, 2 vols., ed. M.L. Dames, rpt., London: Hakluyt Society, 1921, II, p. 76. 18. Geneviève Bouchon, Regent of the Sea: Cannanore’s Response to Portuguese Expansion, 1507-28 , Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1988; idem., ‘Sixteenth Century Malabar and the Indian Ocean’, in India and the Indian Ocean, 1500-1800, ed. M.N. Pearson and Ashin Das Gupta, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987. 19. Geneviève Bouchon, ‘Calicut at the Turn of the 16th Century: The Portuguese Catalyst’, Indica, 49, 1989, pp. 2-13. 20. For more details, see Binu John Mailaparambil, Lords of the Sea: The Ali Rajas of Cannanore and the Political Economy of Malabar, 1663-1723, Leiden: Brill, 2012. 21. The term ‘men of prowess’ is used by O.W. Wolters to denote ‘big men’ in South-East Asian polities whose legitimacy was not traced through lineages, but it ‘depended on their being attributed with an abnormal amount of

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24. 25.


27. 28.

29. 30.


personal and innate “soul stuff ”, which explained and distinguished their performance from that of others in their generation and especially among their own kinsmen’. O.W. Wolters, History, Culture and Region in Southeast Asian Perspective, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1982, pp. 5-7. François Pyrard de Laval, The Voyage of Francois Pyrard de Laval to the East Indies, The Maldives, The Moluccas and Brazil, ed. Albert Gray, London: Hakluyt Society, 1887, I, p. 357. The statement, ‘wars at sea are merchant’s affairs and of no concern to the prestige of kings’, made by the Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat is often quoted to exemplify this merchant-king dichotomy in South Asia. Quoted in Lakshmi Subramanian, ‘Of Pirates and Potentates: Maritime Jurisdiction and the Construction of Piracy in the Indian Ocean’, in Devleena Ghosh and Stephen Muecke (eds.), Cultures of Trade: Indian Ocean Exchanges, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007, p. 20. Benton, ‘Legal Spaces of Empire’, pp. 714-15. The King Dom Manuel adopted the pompous title ‘Senhor da navegacao, conquesta e comercio da Etiopia, Arabia, Persia e India’ just after the successful voyage of Vasco da Gama to India. He uses this title in his letter to the Cardianal Protector dated 28 August 1499. See E.G. Ravenstein (ed.), A Journal of the First Voyage of Vasco da Gama, 1497-9, Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1995, p. 115. ‘. . . dat de Portugesen der stadt, forteresse ende gebiedt van Cananoor deselve sullen overgeeven weegen de Majesteyt van Portugal, aen den Neederlandsen veldt heer Jacob Hustaert in naeme der Edele Oostindisse Company’ [that the Portuguese, in the name of His Majesty of Portugal, will deliver the town, fortress and territory of Cannanore to the Dutch general Jacob Hustaert in the name of the Honourable (Dutch) East India Company]. VOC 1239, Articles of the treaty signed between Jacob Hustaert and Anthony Cardoso, 15 February 1663, fol. 1647r. Quoted in, Benton, ‘Legal Spaces of Empire’, p. 715. For example, the Dutch observed that although the Zamorin of Calicut did not openly approve pirate activities, ‘there is not the slightest doubt that they obtain his full permission secretly by means of gifts and presents’. A. Galletti, J. van der Burg, and P. Groot (eds.), The Dutch in Malabar: Selection from the Records of the Madras Government, no. 13, Madras: Government Press, 1911, p. 66. Tomé Pires, The Suma Oriental of Tomé Pires and the Book of Francisco Rodrigues, Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1990, I, p. 74. Pires describes these kailmals as, ‘They are called Kaimals in the same way as


31. 32. 33. 34.



37. 38. 39.




Binu John Mailaparambil we say dukes, marquises, counts and other titles, because they are lords possessing much land and vassals; and there are some Kaimals in Malabar with ten thousand Nayar [vassals], and there are others with a hundred or two hundred Nayars’. Ibid. p. 82. Barbosa, Book of Duarte Barbosa, II, p. 6. Pyrard de Laval, The Voyage, p. 370. Dilip M. Menon, ‘Houses by the Sea’, pp. 161-86. For example, see L.E. Sweet, ‘Pirates or Polities? Arab Societies of the Persian or Arabian Gulf, Eighteenth Century’, Ethnohistory, 11/3, Summer, 1964, pp. 262-80. For example see, Kenneth Pomeranz and Steven Topik, The World that Trade Created: Society, Culture, and the World Economy, 1400 to the Present, New York: Armonk, 2006, pp. 141-74. Janice E. Thomson, Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State-building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996. Pyrard de Laval, The Voyage, p. 338. Ibid., pp. 345-6 Anne Pérotin-Dumon, ‘The Pirate and the Emperor: Power and the Law on the Seas, 1450-1850’, in James D. Tracy (ed.), The Political Economy of Merchant Empires, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991, pp. 196-227. Thus in 1648, the Surat Council designed the ship Blessing ‘. . . as well for war as trade, in hopes to recover some considerable part of the Companies losses from the “Mallavars”.’ ‘Instructions from the President and Council at Surat to George Oxender, 20 January 1648’, The English Factories in India: 1646-50, ed. William Foster, Oxford, 1914, p. 199, hereafter English Factories. Marco Polo, who visited Malabar Coast during the thirteenth century, says that because of the pirates along the coast the merchant ships goes ‘so well manned and armed and with such great ships that they don’t fear the corsairs’. See Marco Polo, The Book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian Concerning the Kingdoms and Marvels of the East, tr. and ed. Colonel Sir Henry Yule, Third Edition, Amsterdam: Philo Press, 1975, II, p. 389. For more details about the European military and organizational superiority during the time of expansion, see P. J. Marshall, ‘Western Arms in Maritime Asia in the Early Phases of Expansion’, Modern Asian Studies, 14/1, 1980, pp. 1-28; Jan Glete, Warfare at Sea, 1500-1650: Maritime Conflicts and the Transformation of Europe, London: Routledge, 2001. Pyrard de Laval, The Voyage, pp. 344-5.

Scourge of the Seas 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49.

50. 51.

52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58.

59. 60.


62. 63. 64. 65.


Marco Polo, The Book of Ser Marco Polo, p. 447. Pyrard de Laval, The Voyage, p. 347. Ibid., p. 346. Ibid., p. 447. Ibid. Ibid., pp. 340, 357. François Valentyn, Beschryving van ‘t Nederlandsch comptoir op de kust van Malabar, en van onzen handel in Japan, mitsgaders een beschryving van Kaap der Goede Hoope en ‘t eyland Mauritius, met de zaaken tot de voornoemde ryken en landen behoorende, vol. V, pt. II, Dortrecht: Joannes van Braam, 1726, p. 9. Pyrard de Laval, The Voyage, p. 341. Pietro Della Valle, The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India: From the Old English Translation of 1664, ed. Edward Grey, London: Hakluyt Society, 1818, II, p. 362. Pyrard de Laval, The Voyage, p. 357. Ibid., p. 447. Ibid., p. 448. Richard Carnac Temple (ed.), The Travels of Peter Mundy in Europe and Asia, 1608-67, Cambridge, 1914, II, p. 316. Kesavan Veluthat, ‘The Role of Temples in Kerala Society, AD 1100-1500’, Journal of Kerala Studies, 3 June 1976, pp. 181-94. Velayudhan Panikkassery (ed.), Keralam Pathinanchum Pathinarum Noottandukalil, Malayalam, Kottayam: Current Books, 1997. For a religio-centric approach towards such a development in Malabar see, Stephen F. Dale, Islamic Society on the South Asian Frontier: The Mappilas of Malabar, 1498-1922, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980. Panikkassery, Keralam Pathinanchum Pathinarum Noottandukalil, p. 18. J.A. van der Chrijs (ed.), Dag-Register gehouden int Casteel Batavia: Vant passerende daer ter plaetse als over geheel Nederlandts-India [1653], ’s-Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1888, p. 104, hereafter Dag-Register. Pyrard of Laval states; ‘the Malabar merchants are recognized by their dress, and not otherwise’. This comment is followed by a detailed description of the dress code of a Malabar Muslim merchant. Pyrard de Laval, The Voyage, p. 449. Ibid. Ibid., pp. 345-6. For more details about the concept of sakti and its relation to politicoeconomic spheres of life, see Mailaparambil, Lords of the Sea, pp. 30-51. W. Ph. Coolhaas (ed.), Generale Missiven van gouverneurs-generaal en raden



67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75.

76. 77.

78. 79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84.

Binu John Mailaparambil aan Heren XVII der Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie [1610-38], I, ’s-Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1960, p. 411, entry is dated 15 December 1633. ‘John Mountney, John Smart, and Jeremiah Hemingway at Bhatkal to President Methworld and Council at Surat, 27 November 1638’, English Factories, 1637-41, pp. 85-6. ‘William Bayley’s Account of the Homeward Voyage of the Mary’, English Factories, 1637-41, p. 120. Dag-Register, 1653, p. 104. ‘President Aaron Baker and Council at Bantam to the President and Council at Surat, 25 July 1642’, English Factories, 1642-45, p. 37. Pyrard de Laval, p. 444; Also see Tomé Pires, Suma Oriental of Tomé Pires, p. 81. ‘Walter Clark at Surat to the President and Council at Bantam, April I, 1639’, English Factories, 1637-41, p. 140. Richard Carnac Temple,The Travels of Peter Mundy, II, p. 316. Pyrard de Laval, The Voyage, p. 262. VOC 1963, ‘Instructions to three Dutch Ships going to Mocha and Barsaloor, 13 December 1720’, fols. 251-6. Hugo K. s’Jacob (ed.), De Nederlanders in Kerala, 1663-1701: de memories en instructies betreffende het commandement Malabar van de Verenigde OostIndische Compagnie, ’s-Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1976, p. 90. Ibid. Alexander Hamilton, A New Account of the East Indies: Giving an Exact and Copious Description of the Situation, Product, Manufactures, Laws, Customs, Religion, Trade etc. of All the Countries and Islands, which lie between the Cape of Good Hope, and the Island of Japan, London: C. Hitch and A. Miller, 1744, I, p. 304. Ibid., p. 302. Ibid., pp. 301-2. Ibid., p. 302. VOC 1619, Original missive from Commander Magnus Wichelman and the Cochin Council to Heren XVII, 18 November 1699, fo. 7v. Ibid. Translated letter from the Vazhunnavar of Vadakara to Cochin, 15 December 1698, fos. 69r-70r. Ibid., 7 February 1699, fos. 70v-73v. ‘. . . vry verschillende van den aart syner voorsaaten die tot nogh niet anders bekent hebben gestaan, dan voor regenten en patroonen van een worst, en wild volck, dat sigh van den roff ter zee en ontrent haare stranden erneert . . .’. VOC 1646, Missive from Commander Abraham Vink and the Cochin

Scourge of the Seas

85. 86. 87. 88. 89.



92. 93. 94.



Council to Heren XVII, 8 April 1701, fos. 103v-4r. However, in another report, he has been described as only the third in the succession hierarchy, but possessing the entire authority because of the advanced age of his uncles. VOC 1619, Malabar dagregister, Saturday, 7 February 1699, fos. 70v-73v. Hamilton, A New Account of the East Indies, pp. 301, 304. VOC 1852, translated letter from the Kolathiri to Commander Barent Ketel, Cochin, 9 January 1714, fols. 204r-205r. VOC 1807, letter from Commander Barent Ketel and the Cochin Council to Batavia, 24 May 1711, fo. 88r. VOC 1852, translated letter from the Kolathiri to Barent Ketel, Cochin, 9 January 1714, fos. 204v-205r. VOC 1731, extract from the letter written by the servants of Cannanore to the Commander Willem Moerman and the Cochin Council, 3 July 1705, fols. 124-33. For more details see, A.P. Ibrahim Kunju, Mysore-Kerala Relations in the Eighteenth Century, Trivandrum: Kerala Historical Society, 1975; C.K. Kareem, Kerala under Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan, Cochin: Kerala Historical Society, 1973. Francis Buchanan, A Journey from Madras through the Countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar, Performed under the Orders of the Most Noble the Marquis Wellesley, Governor General of India, Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1999, II, p. 350. Ibrahim Kunju, Mysore-Kerala Relations, p. 66. Buchanan, A Journey from Madras, p. 515. The northern part of the Malabar Coast, which later came to be known as ‘British Malabar’, was the main centre of piratical activities and came under the direct control of the British after the Anglo-Mysore War in 1792. For more details about the early anti-British struggles in the region, see K.K.N. Kurup, Pazhassi Samarangal , Malayalam, Trivandrum: State Institute of Languages, 1981; Margaret Frenz, From Contact to Conquest: Transition to British Rule in Malabar, 1790-1805, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003. John Biddulph, The Pirates of Malabar, and An Englishwoman in India Two Hundred Years Ago, London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1907.


Weavers in Early Modern South Asia (Sixteenth-Eighteenth Centuries) MURARI JHA

Weavers constituted the primary resource on which early modern South Asian textile production depended. Along with the weavers, other workers such as cotton spinners (primarily women), cleaners and cotton and silk growing peasants too formed significant groups of workers who contributed to the success of the early modern textile industry. South Asian textiles in all their exquisite varieties, colourfulness, artistic designs, techniques of painting and printing have attracted scholars’ attention in the last few decades. While works in art history focused on designs and patterns, researches in economic history devoted more attention to the organization of production and trade in textiles.1 The textile trade from Coromandel, Bengal and Gujarat to the overseas markets naturally became the subject matter for discussion in maritime economic history. In such discussions weavers mostly appear as mute figures no more than peasants who grew cotton, or transporters who brought bales of cotton to the marketplaces. The existing literature has not yet fully explored the social life of South Asian weaver communities. We know precious little about the weavers’ day-to-day life, cultural practices, social and economic mobility. About three decades ago Mattison Mines made such an effort when he discussed some of these aspects related to Kaikkoolar weavers in south India.2 However, the social history of weavers continues to get lopsided geographical attention. For example, there are a number of works on weavers in the Coromandel Coast or southern India in general, while Bengali


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and Gujarati weavers appear to remain peripheral in the existing historiography, let alone the weavers of Hindustan or Punjab.3 This paper makes a general attempt to discuss some aspects of the weavers’ life in Bengal and Gujarat. It pays attention to their social and economic world and examines their occupational mobility between agriculture, weaving and soldiering. While some of the north Indian weaving castes are taken into account, the chapter tries to go beyond a caste or community-centric approach to study the weavers. This is because they might have come from different social and economic backgrounds and would not have rigid social identity. Of course, there were more specialized hereditary weavers, specializing in techniques for producing a particular type of textiles, for example the fine Dhaka muslins in eastern India and silk brocades in Ahmedabad in western India. There were others too who worked as weavers of plain textiles. The weaving of plain textiles could be performed with relatively less specialized skill. After getting some rudimentary training and apprenticeship, the peasants or humble labourers could easily adapt to the work of weaving with a simple loom. These peasant-weavers were not averse to the idea of taking to soldiering if the military labour market had a demand for their labour. In semi-urbanized and rural areas, weavers remained connected to agricultural works and divided the labour between these two economic activities.4 While exploring these issues, we may ask if weaving as a part-time activity supplemented income to the weavers of peasant background and whether such incomes had any favourable effect on their social and economic positions. Conversely, in urbanized parts of Bengal and Gujarat weaving was a full-time activity and weavers largely depended on the market for food supply. Any problems with food supply and inflationary trend in grain prices therefore critically affected the weavers in those areas. Another related problem is to probe into the weavers’ migration and migratory pattern to the extent possible.5 In the cases where the migration was not cyclical but of more permanent nature, it is worthwhile to explore whether it was a result of the pull factor because of an increased economic opportunity available elsewhere, or the weavers were pushed out because of the unviable economic

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circumstances resulting from some environmental conditions such as draught or famine. Although the limited evidence consulted from the Dutch and English East India Companies’ records do not help answer all the questions raised above, yet we will attempt to approach these problems with the fragmentary data available. Overall, the paper will try to underline the changes occurring in the social and economic life of weavers when the Indian economy and textile manufacturing became increasingly connected with the wider world economy in the course of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. The first part of the paper discusses the environmental settings of Bengal (including Bihar) and Gujarat, the food producing areas, major weaving centres and route systems. The geographic description of the regions allows us to appreciate the spatial context in which the weavers operated. For example, the weavers in the hinterland, at urban centres along the routes or in the coastal cities had access to and availed themselves of varying range of opportunities. The second part discusses the growing integration of the textile-producing regions with the Indian Ocean trade and the demands for textiles by the European and Asian merchants. I will try to address the issues of the weavers’ adaptability to the new techniques, patterns or design if cloths were destined to the overseas markets where the consumers showed preference for a particular variety. In the third section, I shall attempt to reflect on the weavers’ economic and social life during an increasingly inter-connected early modern global economy. I. BENGAL AND GUJARAT: THE GEOGRAPHICAL SETTINGS OF THE WEAVING AND COTTON PRODUCING ZONES

Bengal and Gujarat, along with the Coromandel Coast, constituted the major hubs of textile production in early modern South Asia. Although these regions had a long tradition of textile production, during the early modern period their commercial importance followed different trajectories. While the Coromandel Coast and Gujarat had well established export markets by the sixteenth century, Bengal


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figured prominently from the seventeenth century. There were further ups and downs, for example by the last decades of the seventeenth century, the textile trade from the Coromandel Coast began to decline, while Bengal witnessed unprecedented peaks in its export during the eighteenth century.6 Gujarat on the other hand remained significant for most of the period. Geographically speaking Bengal and Gujarat form two different environmental zones and their general topography, river systems, crops and climate are very different. Bengal (including Bihar) constituted a vast region made up of plateaus, expansive river plains, and deltas. In the following paragraphs, I shall provide a description of the regions which hopefully will help to contextualize the discussion on craft productions and producers in these two distinct ecological zones. During the period under study, Bengal and Bihar were mostly separate provinces until 1733 when both were merged to form one administrative unit. The Ganga River and the overland routes connected these provinces between Shahabad-Patna in the west and Hugli and Dhaka in the east. Geographers consider this region to be part of the so-called middle and lower Ganga plains and the delta.7 However, this part of eastern India is highly diversified in terms of general topographical setting, drainage, soils, crop pattern, rainfall, and population density. A detailed geographical assessment of the region along the eastern tracks of the Ganga River is beyond the scope of this chapter. Here we will only discuss those aspects which had some bearings on urban development, craft specialization, concentration of weavers or weaving villages and trade in textiles. Bengal province may be broadly divided into two zones, the delta to the east and the river plain in the west. North-west Bengal comprises the northern paradelta (a vast plain gradually sloping from the altitude of 300 ft to 100 ft) or the doab between the Ganga and the Brahmaputra and the Barind tract. In the southwest the peninsular plateaus drained by the Ajay, the Damodar, the Rupnarayan and the Subarnarekha form the ‘largely lateritic piedmont plain’. The eastern parts beyond the Bhagirathi and the Jamuna are called the delta proper. The climate is humid with annual rainfall ranging between 50 and 95 inches. Historically paddy has been the most important crop in Bengal. In the western

Weavers in Early Modern South Asia


margins, in Birbhum and Midnapore cotton was a commercial crop. Rabi crops of oilseeds and pulses are important in the area west of the Ganga-Padma and in the Meghna depression. Population density per square mile as shown on a 1941 map is greater towards the delta and rather sparse in the western and northern margins of the province.8 From the data collected by Hameeda Hossain, it appears that while the western parts of Bengal produced medium to inferior variety of cotton crops, the areas to the east of Dhaka along the banks of the Brahmaputra and the Padma grew finer quality crops. The total quantity produced in the region was by no means sufficient and cotton was imported to the region via both the coastal and riverine routes.9 Bihar comprises two distinct geographical zones. The northern part is very fertile, irrigated with perennially flowing Himalayan streams, produce food crops and is densely populated. This zone is humid and receives higher rainfall compared with southern and western parts of the province. To the north of the Ganga, Saran district with relatively less propitious rainfall and unstable agriculture encouraged out migration and people took to alternative forms of earning such as weaving or working as boatmen. Except for the narrow fertile plain along the southern banks of the Ganga, southern region is relatively dry and during the early modern period agriculture was rather precarious.10 It was in this zone that we find most of the weaving villages. The area grew little cotton and mostly depended on raw cotton supplied from Gujarat and the Deccan. There were several routes that perennially serviced the southern parts of Bihar and connected the region with other parts of the subcontinent. 11 Eastern India or Bihar and Bengal was linked with other parts of South Asia through the overland, riverine and coastal routes. Apart from facilitating movements of mercenaries, mendicants, merchants and migrants of various kinds, in the early modern period these routes supplied raw materials for the local industry and facilitated export of merchandise produced in the region. While the river and coastal routes were more important for Bengal, the overland route was crucial for connecting Bihar with upper Hindustan, western India or Gujarat and the Deccan. The ancient northern


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route linked the Ganga plain and the delta with northern and western parts of India and beyond. The alignment of this route retained its basic character when the Afghan empire builder Sher Shah Suri built the Grand Trunk Road (or Sher Shah Road) linking Sonargaon in Bengal with Peshawar in north-west of the province. This route remained serviceable during the Mughal period and offered communication links with Bihar and Bengal. In eastern India this route followed the banks of the Ganga River to reach Hugli. In the eighteenth century, the New Military Road or Grand Trunk Road of the English East India Company passed keeping the northern fringe of the Chhota Nagpur Plateau in the south and the southern floodplains of the Ganga to its north. As many weaving villages were located in the northern parts of the Chhota Nagpur Plateau, the local roads linked this area with the regional towns along the Ganga and the provincial city such as Patna to the north.12 To the west of Patna the Sher Shah Road turned to south along the Son till Daudnagar and subsequently taking a westerly direction passed through Sasaram and reached Banaras (Varanasi). Another alignment of the road from Patna followed the southern banks of the Ganga, crossed the river at Buxar and reached Banaras. After Banaras, Mirzapur on the southern banks of the Ganga functioned as an important conduit between Gujarat and the Deccan on one hand and Bihar and Bengal on the other. From Mirzapur the secondary routes through Bundelkhand connected to the Mughal high road coming down from Agra (see Figure 9.1). Secondary routes connected to Ujjain, Ahmedabad, and Baroda while one could reach Surat via Burhanpur following the Mughal high road. These routes played an important role in textile trade, movement of traders and weavers and the exchange of goods, skills and expertise between the eastern and western parts of India.13 Gujarat was undoubtedly an important source of cotton production and much of the weaving activities concentrated in the towns and urban centres of the province. During the early modern period, overseas trade in textiles through ports such as Cambay and Surat and the overland access to the markets of Agra and Delhi and further to the north-western parts of India boosted the craft industry of Gujarat. The western part of Gujarat (Kutch and Kathiawar) is

Figure 9.1: Cotton growing areas, major textile production centres and the routes

Sources : Spate and Learmonth, 1967; Deloche, vol. I, 1993; Prakash, 2000; Hossain, 1988.

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generally arid with an annual rainfall between 15 and 25 inches. During the early modern period, horse breeding and semipastoralism was the dominant form of the local economy in Kutch, although the region also produced some wheat and cotton. Kathiawar had more cultivable land and agriculture required exploitation of all the available water resources. The regur soils in the Bhadar basin grew such crops as cotton, oilseeds, and jowar. To the north of the Gulf of Cambay, Gohilwad lowlands produced primarily cotton and some millet. Below Ahmedabad, to the west of the Sabarmati, cotton was an important crop (in the Wadhwan-Drangadhra Plateau zone). Beyond this coastal zone, the Gujarat plain (400 km long and 95 km wide) received the Sabarmati and the Mahi and formed the main agricultural zone. This was one of the most famous cotton tracts, although production was concentrated more in the Broach and Baroda districts.14 According to the historian Ashin Das Gupta, there were three distinct Gujarats. The first comprised the coastal zone, mostly marshy, irregular, often broken by estuaries of rivers and dotted with tidal flats. Here the maritime people eked out their living through fishing, foraging, growing a little food and finding employment on the sailing ships on which much of the trade carried out. The second Gujarat constituted the coastal towns that developed in the transitory zone, at the intersection of the coastal marshes and the fertile plain. The merchants, administrators, mercenaries and weavers lived in these towns located on the banks of the Tapti, the Narmada, the Mahi and the Sabarmati. Yet another Gujarat was made up of the river valleys with fertile black soil that produced a rich cotton crop.15 While passing through Broach, the German traveller Mandelslo noted that the lands round about the city were very fertile, yielding rice, wheat, barley, and cotton in great abundance. He says that the majority of the inhabitants of Broach were weavers and they wove bafta, which was a famous product of this city.16 Ali Muhammad Khan writes in Mirat-i-Ahmadi that some of the tanks in Gujarat were famous for their waters and the natural properties that they contained. If cotton clothes were washed in the water of some select wells on the Kankaria tank in the city (of Ahmedabad) the

Weavers in Early Modern South Asia


‘lustre and colour’ would greatly improve. Similarly, there was a pond called Kantoria near Bara Nainpur where Salu clothes were washed and their colour improved.17 These natural environmental factors gave the locality-specific fame to some varieties of textiles in the regional and export markets. In the early modern period when trade in textiles was expanding, the weavers needed unhindered supply of raw material and food in order to continue weaving on their looms. The problem of supply and logistics necessitated the weaving centres being located closer to the areas that produced the raw materials or at the places well connected with the internal trade networks. While discussing the interconnected effects of expanding trade and commercialization on the ‘relations of production, consumption and social reproduction’, David Washbrook has shown the logistical significance of textile-producing temple towns. These towns were located in the zones of ‘mixed’ (dry/wet) agricultural and close to supplies of both rice and cotton. Subsequently, after the relocation of weaving centres in the coastal areas of Coromandel, the lambadis serviced the weavers and raw material producers.18 While a number of important textile weaving centres in Bihar/Bengal and Gujarat were located closer to the source of raw material, once the demand for textiles grew, the weavers increasingly depended on supplies through the network of routes. We do not have sufficient information as to how these routes were serviced, but in western and eastern India, the banjaras and baladiyas as traders-cum-transporters would have played the role of lambadis.19 Apart from the coastal regions of Bengal and Gujarat, weaving was a well-established craft in the villages and the qasbas (small market towns) in the northern Ganga plain. In the inland areas traditionally, the weavers catered to the internal demands. However, after the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate there was an increased traffic between the Ganga plain and Central Asia as the long-distance trade picked up. This trend consolidated further once the large empires of the Mughals, Safavids and Ottomans provided security along the long-distance overland routes. Textiles constituted an important commodity that passed through the north-western routes offering greater opportunities to the merchants and weavers in the


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Indo-Ganga plain.20 In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the European Companies’ trade in textile created further opportunities and the markets and weaving centres increased their capacity to meet the demands. II. EXPANDING DEMAND AND GROWING TEXTILE PRODUCTION

In the course of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Bengal emerged as an important textile export zone. The demands generated by the European Companies, both for Southeast Asia and later for Europe, and by Asian merchants for Central and West Asia created big opportunities for the raw cotton traders, weavers and merchants. In Bengal, the Portuguese private merchants were functioning as traders from their base at Hugli before the European Companies, notably the English and the Dutch, opened their factories there by the middle of the seventeenth century. The scale of the Portuguese trade and their demands for merchandise of the region is less well known. This is partly because they operated privately with relative independence from the superior authority at Goa or Lisbon and partly because the overseas trade of the region was yet to assume a significant proportion in comparison with Gujarat or Coromandel. In order to contextualize the expansion of textile trade in Bengal and Gujarat, we will briefly sketch the political and economic developments as the Mughal empire pushed eastward towards the end of the sixteenth century. After the Mughals conquered Bihar and Bengal in the 1570s and integrated the eastern regions to the Mughal empire, rapid political and economic changes began to take place. The Mughal integration of eastern India put an effective mechanism of revenue collection, which in turn helped create and develop market infrastructure and growth of trade. As these positive developments helped consolidate the local market institutions by the middle of the seventeenth century, the European Companies also moved in to participate in the local exchange economy. The navigable rivers such as the Ganga allowed the easy transportation and communication between Dhaka and Hugli in the Delta and upstream Patna about

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500 miles from Hugli. The Mughal conquest of Gujarat in 15723 and the linking of this western coastal province with the IndoGanga plain and urban centres such as Agra and Delhi also played a pivotal role in the regional economy. TEXTILE TRADE FROM BENGAL As we noted above, the emergence of Bengal as a major textileproducing zone may be linked to two political and economic phenomena: the Mughal expansion and the opening of the regular factories of the European companies. The agricultural extension, demographic growth and establishment of financial and market institutions in the aftermath of the Mughal conquest certainly aided the economic growth of Bengal. Yet the commercial expansion and urbanization mostly concentrated along the navigable river routes, and sometimes in the drier areas perennially accessible by the over-land routes (for example, some weaving centres of southern Bihar). By the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Bengal emerged as one of the most important textile markets for the European companies. The organization of textile production and methods of procurement depended on the service of the primary producers and middlemen or smaller merchants. In Bengal, the textile procurement method of the VOC (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, Dutch East India Company) was very different from that of the Coromandel Coast. In Bengal the Company obtained its consignments of textiles through the contract system. The Dutch employed dalals or brokers and gave advance capital as well as samples of the goods required for the different markets in Asia and Europe. The dalals were the Company’s employees and they had first-hand knowledge of weavers, local markets and indigenous merchants. The Company’s dalals contacted the local merchants and brought them to a meeting with the Hugli Council of the VOC. In the factory or the trading house of the Company written agreements were signed with all the local merchants brought by the dalal. The agreement clearly stipulated the quantity, period of delivery, and price per piece. The risk of fluctuation in the price in the subsequent period was entirely borne out by the contracting


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merchants. Since merchants had to extend credits to the weavers, they asked for advance money from the Company at the time of contract. The money advanced to the merchants by the Company ranged on an average between 50 and 65 per cent of the total value of the textiles contracted for. These merchants were given the Company’s dastak or pass to transport goods without paying any transit duty to the local Mughal authorities.21 The VOC’s demands for particular varieties of textiles depended upon the markets where they were to be sold. Often the sizes of textiles as well as their texture, pattern, designs and colour combinations were adjusted to suit the demands for the consuming markets. In Bengal the weavers had to reset their looms to produce the larger sized textiles desired by the Company. The patterns and designs that were in demand in Europe were often quite different from those sold in the Asian markets. Initially weavers resisted adapting to such changes but when they were assured of increased prices and guaranteed sales, they supplied such textiles to the VOC. In the last quarter of the seventeenth century the VOC directors recruited the painter and textile trader Gerrit Clinck to go to Coromandel and Bengal and train the local weavers and painters in the styles and patterns required for the European markets. He instructed the Indian painters to paint flowers not too close to each other and in sweeping whirls and curves so that they would appear more attractive. The changes introduced by Clinck were successful and for many years to follow the VOC demanded ‘designs according to the drawings of the merchant Clinck’.22 Clinck’s innovations in pattern and design were sometimes followed by the change in the indigenous names of the textiles. There was a particular variety of chintz purchased by the English at Patna. This was called Lucoris or Lucorns (Lakhwar, see Figure 9.1) by the English and was particularly sought after by the VOC in the early years of the eighteenth century. In 1711 the VOC asked for 12,000 pieces of chintz from Patna including 5,000 pieces of Lucoris. In the same year the VOC also demanded 20,000 pieces of the so-called Guinea cloth from Bengal for ‘patria’ or the Netherlands.23 At times the VOC itself took the initiative in printing chintz. During the second half of the seventeenth century, a printing unit

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was established at Patna and in the early eighteenth century, a similar unit was founded in Kasimbazar as well. In the second decade of the eighteenth century the Patna unit reportedly employed 200 printers.24 These printers worked primarily on the designs ordered by the Company. Thus, it is evident that to cater to the different markets the Company procured different varieties of textiles and even introduced new patterns and designs. According to Om Prakash, towards the end of the seventeenth century, the English and Dutch Company’s trade may have given employment opportunities to about 11 per cent of the total workforce in Bengal. He suggests that between the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries the foreign trade may have accounted for about 40 per cent growth in the region’s commercial economy.25 The quantitative study of Prakash shows that the weavers and all those engaged in the textiles industry in Bengal would have played an important role. Although the available evidence does not allow us to clearly demonstrate the specific cases of economic and social mobility among the working population, yet the fact that weavers, peasants and other workers got employment and benefited from the growing demands is commonly accepted. This situation changed in the second half of the eighteenth century when weavers were made to comply under the coercive regime to meet the demands of the English Company and the private European merchants. In spite of the regime change textile production remained significant. (Table 9.1 shows the total export price of textiles from Dhaka in the last decade of the eighteenth century). COTTON TEXTILE FROM PATNA Some types of cotton textiles from Bihar had acquired popularity and fame among the merchants at least since the early seventeenth century. In the Patna Factory Records of the early seventeenth century, the English merchants minutely describe different types of cotton piece goods available in and around Patna. Further, it was not only the English who were interested in the textiles of the region; there were well established networks of Asian merchants who linked Patna with Lahore, Herat, Persia and the other central




Private trade as per statement annually transmitted by the Resident (in Sicca Rs.)

Company’s trade received from the Aurungs (in Sicca Rs.)

Total (in Sicca Rs.)

1790 1791 1792 1793 1794 1795 1796 1797 1798 1799

14,91,109:14:6 10,80,893:6:2 10,11,103:2:2 6,89,926:10:2 4,13,656:2:2 6,62,069:3:2 6,48,781:13:2 8,94,157:13:2 6,39,948:13:2 7,52,450:13:2

7,45,548:8:7 4,01,121:2:11 6,37,096:12:10 5,78,286:12:2 4,60,706:15:9 5,16,093:3:1 5,52,171:9:1 5,07,388:6:11 4,39,799:13:11 5,03,710:15:7

22,36,658:7:1 14,82,014:9:1 16,48,199:14:10 12,68,212:10:2 8,74,363:1:9 11,78,162:6:1 12,00,953:6:1 14,01,545:6:11 10,79,747:13:11 12,56,160:15:7





Figure 9.2: A sketch drawn by the Dutchman Jan de Waal in 1755, showing the commercial zones of Bihar and the routes connecting them.27

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Asian markets. Indeed, such large-scale demand was met by the weaving centres around Patna which specialized in weaving a diverse array of textiles such as amberty, baftas, kaim khani, dupattas, sirbandi, chintz and a variety of others.28 The raw material for weaving textiles was partly produced within the region, especially in the drier parts of Bihar. But the local crop production was insufficient and a large quantity of raw cotton was imported from the Deccan through a route, overland and riverine in its different segments, coming through Malwa, Mirzapur, Banaras and Patna. The caustic soda (the Dutch refered to it as zeep) required for bleaching textiles was locally available. For example, in the areas of Saran district, on usar and rehar soils a saline efflorescence annually comes to the surface.29 This substance was used in bleaching the coarse variety of cotton textile.30 The herbs, roots and chemicals needed for dying textiles were partly imported and partly sourced locally. Majeeth (Rubia cordifolia or madder root), an ingredient for dying red, was procured from the Himalayan hills and jungles to the north of the Ganga.31 Another vegetable dye for brown colour was catechu (Acacia catechu), found in many parts of Bengal and Bihar and locally known as khair tree. The availability of resources ranging from cheap labour, cotton, dyestuffs on one hand and the export market on the other encouraged the cotton weaving industry around Patna. It has been suggested that the technology of weaving diffused and got adapted in different ecological zones along the long-distance routes. For instance, when Indian weavers adopted the horizontal looms on a large scale, this was probably introduced by Muslims from Persia in the eleventh century. The technology was adapted to areas of drier climate by digging pits in which weavers could sit.32 Although it is hard to establish when exactly Bihar and the areas around Patna started producing cotton piece goods on a large scale, it is probable that the craft gradually developed in course of the first half of the second millennium CE. During the second decade of the seventeenth century, evidence of the cotton textiles trade around Patna is plentiful. Around this period Patna had certainly emerged as an important riverine entrepôt city where piece goods, raw silk and other merchandise of the Bengal delta were collected in order to be dispatched towards


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north-western India. For example, the English factory officials at Patna inform that the ‘Mogoles’ merchants bought different sorts of cotton and silk cloths at Patna and transported them to Lahore and thence to Persia.33 Referring to a report of 1639, Bruce Stanley suggests that from twenty to twenty-five thousand camels loaded with cotton textiles from India crossed Herat on their way to Persia.34 Indeed, a large share of this central Asian cargo would have consisted of textiles produced in Gujarat but the quantity of Bengal and Patna textiles would not have been inconsiderable. For example, the English factory at Patna in 1620 was contemplating investing a sum of 100,000 rupees worth of wares to be sent to Persia. The Asian merchants who were procuring unbleached textiles from the weavers for curing and bleaching them at Patna would not trouble to sell them there even at 25 per cent profit. Instead, they preferred to export their merchandise to Agra and Lahore in order to sell more profitably.35 Probably many hundred thousand rupees were transacted in the textile markets of Patna if we take into account the Asian merchants overland trade networks encompassing Agra, Lahore and Persia.36 If the textile manufacturing industry was of such a significant size, it would have employed scores of hands. Peaks in demands would bring in the peasants or simple labourers to weave plain or unbleached textiles. GUJARATI TEXTILE TRADE Gujarat was one of the first regions that attracted the European companies to establish their factories to purchase commodities such as indigo and textiles. While indigo emerged as an important commodity of export as a result of the demands of the Europeans, Gujarati textile had fairly substantial markets in different parts of Asia. The Gujarati and other Asian merchants held an upper hand in the Asian export markets as they could operate on a lower profit margin compared with the European companies. In the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the textile production centres of Gujarat successfully accommodated the demands generated by the Europeans. This would mean that more weavers were drawn into textile production and took up the new profession of

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weaving. The expansion of textile production was not immune to environmental shocks, the first came in the early 1630s when famine struck Gujarat and other parts of the Indian subcontinent. The early 1630s witnessed severe natural calamities like famine, pestilence and plague much to the detriment of trade and commerce throughout western India.37 The years 1631 and 1632 were marked with death and destruction of a great magnitude. An account written in December 1631 gives a gruesome picture of the misery that befell after the famine. The account goes like this: . . . And goinge ashore to a villadg called Swalley, wee sawe there manie people that perished of hunger; and whereas hertofore there were in that towne 260 famillyes, ther was not remaininge alive above 10 or 11 famillyes. And as wee travelled from thence to the cytty of Suratt, manie dead bodyes laye uppon the hye way; and where they dyed they must consume of themselves, beinge nobody that would buirey them. And when wee came into the cytty of Suratt, wee hardly could see anie livinge persons, where heretofore was thousands; and ther is so great a stanch of dead persons that the sound people that came into the towne were with smell infected, and att the corners of the streets the dead laye 20 together, one upon thother, nobody buir[y]ing them. The mortallyty in this towne is and hath bin so great that there dyed above 30,000 people.38

There was acute crisis and the weavers and peasants simply migrated to other parts of the subcontinent in hope of food and survival. Trade was naturally hard hit during such as a time of ‘want’ and ‘misery’. According to one author, in 1632, the Dutch merchants were hardly in a position to obtain 80 to 100 pieces of baftas (per day) at their Broach factory and even that meagre quantity was faulty and quite unworthy of fetching any profit in the export market. The prices of cotton yarn shot up to 25 per cent on the price of pre-famine period and fine quality piece goods were difficult to procure. On the other hand, the Mughal Governor at Surat was determined to buy whatever quantity of the coarser variety of textile was available in the market.39 However, towards the end of the 1630s the procurement of textiles began to return to the previous level and in the later decades it further expanded. Not only the European companies purchased textiles in increasing quantities for the Asian and European markets, the Indian merchants trading with Persia and the Red Sea zone successfully competed with the


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VOC.40 According to an estimate of the English Company’s servant, in the last decade of the seventeenth century the annual export of textiles from western India to Persia and Ottoman empire was five times bigger compared to what it exported to Europe.41 For the most of the eighteenth century, the Dutch Company’s combined export to Europe and other parts of Asia from Gujarat remained stable and averaged four to five hundred thousand florins.42 Ghulam Nadri has questioned the overall decline of the commercial economy of Gujarat in the eighteenth century and suggested rather a well-performing craft industry. Indeed, the problem of the socalled de-industrialization following the alleged decline of textile industry after colonial takeover of India in the second half of the eighteenth century has been revised. It is generally agreed that weavers in Gujarat and Bengal continued producing good quantities of textiles even when under the coercive regime of the English Company. 43 The expansion of textile trade in Bengal and Gujarat during the early modern period opened more opportunities to all those involved with textile production. At the lowest rung while cotton growing peasants, transporters, spinners, cleaners and weavers helped the production process, the brokers and merchants serviced the marketing and supply chains. While economic gains from the enterprise kept these producers and servicemen busy, it is less known if such economic benefits ensured caste or social mobility. In the following section we will explore the economic and social life of weavers to find out if the better market prospects for their merchandise offered greater chances to upward social mobility. III. THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL LIFE OF WEAVERS

The available source materials hardly help reconstruct a coherent history of the social and economic life of weavers in Bengal and Gujarat. Since the European companies conducted their textile trade through the brokers or middlemen, their documents contain little relevant information about the weavers. Yet with the help of fragmentary data we can somewhat peek into the weavers’ situation,

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their ways of securing advances and how they dispensed with their products. Scholars have studied the weavers’ changing conditions in the course of the eighteenth century, especially after the English Company assumed political control. While a large segment of weavers who worked for the external markets in urban areas of Bengal were affected by the tightening control of the English Company, it has been suggested that the Company was less successful in coercing the weavers and craftsmen in Gujarat. A number of factors such as the Maratha control over the raw-material-producing hinterlands, the presence of competitive buyers such as the local as well as private European merchants and the assertion of professional freedom by the producers constrained the coercive powers of the Company. The continued performance of the textile markets at Surat in the eighteenth century gave leverage to the traditional castes such as Khatris and Kunbis who continued to play an important role, while some new groups also joined in.44 In South Asian history, people with distinctive skills such as the weavers, blacksmiths, mercenary soldiers, mendicants and banjaras (grain traders-cum-transporters) are known to be mobile. They often gravitated towards the land of plenty and offered their services. Some of these migrations were of permanent nature while others being circular. Some examples of migration of the weavers with specialized skills show it to be of permanent nature but those peasants and workers who worked only part-time as weavers followed a cyclical migratory pattern. Example of this second category of migrants comes from Saran district of Bihar who ‘had a very long history of out-migration’ to the urban centres of Bengal.45 The earliest evidence of the specialized group of silk-weavers’ migration comes from a fifth-century inscription from Mandsor. The weavers and their kin members left Lata (Gujarat) and moved to Dasapura (in present-day Malwa) where they received patronage from the king Bandhuvarman. The inscription suggests occupational mobility among the weavers when many of them became archers, warriors, astrologers and religious teachers. In view of the consolidation of the Mughal empire, urban development, and growing economy at the turn of the sixteenth century, the new urban centres attracted weavers from far-flung areas. However, it seems the geo-


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graphical mobility may have created scope for occupational or caste mobility during the pre-colonial period.46 For the early modern period, Vijaya Ramaswamy identifies the cases of caste mobility in southern India, although in certain areas traditional castes continued.47 If the nineteenth-century northern Indian proverb carries any historical weight, it seems that there would have been some scope for social mobility of the weavers. The proverb says: ‘Last year I was a Jolaha; now I am a Shekh; next year if prices rise, I shall become a Saiyad’. In western Indian context, a Marathi proverb goes: ‘when a Kunbi prospers he becomes a Maratha’.48 Scholars link occupational mobility and the opportunity to earn more with the possibility to upward caste mobility. In early modern Bengal too, there would have been cases of such mobility. In 1733 a Dutch source while trying to give reasons for their inability to complete the orders for textiles, shows that one reason was that the ‘arbeijds volk’ or weavers were unavailable to work for normal wages because they had entered the military service of the Bengal Nawab Shuja-ud-Din Muhammad Khan (r. 172739).49 It would be certainly too much to attribute military traditions among the weavers of Bengal as was the case with Kaikkoolars of Tamil Nadu. Yet, those Bengal weavers who were migrants from the hill areas of the Chhota Nagpur or drier parts of Bihar, an association with military adventure would not have been unlikely.50 We know of the early modern migration of workers from these parts of Bihar to Bengal, but at present level of research it is difficult to make the bold assertion regarding any significant connection between weaving and soldiering. Bihar had sedentary weavers but a part of the weaving population tended to temporarily migrate when local conditions deteriorated or better opportunity awaited elsewhere. Although our sources do not give a clear idea about the numbers of weavers in Bihar, but qualitative evidence suggests their preponderance in the districts along the Ganga. While surveying Bihar in the early nineteenth century, Francis Buchanan reports that there were about 20,682 houses of cotton and silk weavers in the districts of Behar and Patna. Anand Yang shows that there were 170 villages of weavers in the Patna district alone at the turn of the nineteenth century.51

Weavers in Early Modern South Asia


To the north of Ganga, in Saran district, about 60,000 peoples’ livelihood depended on weaving and textile manufacturing in the early nineteenth century.52 Bhagalpur was yet another important textile weaving centre with a good number of weavers who specialized in weaving mixed piece goods made of silk and cotton.53 As we noted above, during the early modern period the booming textile industry would have employed a large number of people in Bihar and Bengal. If we include the cotton growers, petty merchants who traded in raw cotton, cotton-carders and thread-makers, then several more thousand—perhaps even some hundred thousand—people would have been involved in the textile manufacturing. As was the case in Gujarat, in eastern India too the weavers came from both the Muslim and Hindu community background, and at certain places such as Bhagalpur the term jolaha was generic name for the weavers of both community. According to H. Beverly, weavers in Bihar belonged to the lower social strata compared with Bengal.54 According to the census of 1901 in Bengal, while 626,508 Hindus were employed in different activities related to cotton textiles weaving, no less than 484,778 Muslims and 6,912 animists also got employment.55 By the late nineteenth century, the nature of handicraft industry had changed compared to the early modern period and the above figures may not represent the historical community ratio of weavers in Bengal and Bihar. In any case, it is obvious that people from different social background were involved in textile production. Weaving as an industry impinged on the economic life of those who were directly involved with the textile industry. As elsewhere in early modern South Asia, weavers in Bihar and Bengal enjoyed considerable professional freedom to enter into contract with a merchant or middleman, to receive advance normally in cash but also in kind and to take a decision about the sale of the final product. There is some debate as whether Indian weavers functioned within the framework of the cottage industry or followed putting out system. In the latter, the merchants lent the raw material to the artisan who supplied semi-finished or finished product and received wage from the merchant capitalist who owned the final product. In the cottage industry, a craftsman owned a little capital, purchased


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his own raw material, produced the commodity and sold the finished product into the market. Rather than following any set pattern of cottage or putting out scheme, the Indian weavers operated in complex ways. They bought raw materials themselves, owned their looms, and in principle retained the liberty to dispose of the final product in the market. However, the debt obligations from the merchants rendered this last option rather difficult.56 In the second half of the eighteenth century, weavers increasingly came under the pressure of colonial rule. The pressure was felt most acutely in Bengal during the 1760s and 1770s, while in Gujarat the weavers retained their operational freedom a little longer. CONCLUSION

As perhaps the most important textile manufacturing economy of the early modern world, South Asia created opportunities for the weavers who were drawn towards the urban centres since the late sixteenth century. This economic opportunity also enabled some weavers to acquire better social status. By contextualizing these economic and social changes within the global framework, we can appreciate the weavers changing circumstances between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The Mughal imperial consolidation coincided with the expanding global economy, and South Asia with its manufacturing of textiles became a crucial participant. The export of Indian textiles brought in significant quantities of precious metals. The increasing inflow of liquid cash primed the wheel of the Mughal economy. As there existed the scope for the productive utilization of money and resources, the Mughal economy continued expanding till the eighteenth century. Since the price of foodstuff and other essential commodities largely remained stable for an extended period, the weavers and craftsmen benefitted from their participation in the manufacturing economy. From a relatively old and almost forgotten work of Richard A. Frasca we know that the weavers of southern India witnessed their fluctuating fortunes. Their social and economic lot depended on the existing political economy of the different regimes, such as the Pallavas, the Cholas, and the Vijayanagar kingdom.57 In the case of

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the weavers of Bengal and Gujarat, the expanding textile export economy of the early modern period created opportunities for social and economic mobility. However, during the second half of the eighteenth century, the colonial regime closely integrated the weaving industry of Bengal with the global economy. In the 1760s and 1770s, weavers and intermediary merchants bore the full force of the British private merchants and the English Company. As coercion threatened to disrupt textile production, the President and Council at Calcutta adopted some resolutions to ameliorate weavers’ conditions. Measures were adopted to forbid any forced advances either by the Company agents or private merchants upon the weavers.58 Around the 1770s, when the Dutch complained about the forcible collection of textile which they had bought against cash at Malda, the English removed the troublesome gomashta (broker or agent).59 It is hard to judge if these measures helped the weavers to their full satisfaction yet if the improved production and export of textile can be some sort of guide then towards the last decades of the eighteenth century things appear to have moved on within the coercive regime.60 Based in Calcutta, the Company regime tried to streamline business dealings in order to facilitate greater flows of trade. New policies contrasted the pre-colonial methods under which contractors, middlemen, weavers and opium growers enjoyed some degree of freedom of operation. Under the new scheme producers were forced to conform to the contracts and rule of laws. This adjustment to the new regime, compounded with inflation and repeatedly occurring famine hard hit the economic life of weavers and those allied with textile manufacturing. In spite of these hardships, in Bengal and Gujarat textile production remained an important segment of manufacturing during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In order to remain competitive in the changed circumstances, the Company took more interest in aggrandizing the land revenue, invested that money in war and trade, actively promoted commercial agriculture and encouraged internal and external trade from Calcutta to collect more taxes. Whatever their constraints might have been, the Company did not feel obliged to extend full institutional support to ameliorate the condition of weavers. This was in


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stark contrast with the weavers’ lot in England. Indian weavers’ labour, hardships and subordination formed the basis for the textile manufacturing sector’s resilience and survival into the early nineteenth century.

NOTES 1. Ruth Barnes, Indian Block-printed Textiles in Egypt: The Newberry Collection in the Ashmolean Museum, 2 vols., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997; Ruth Barnes (ed.), Textiles in Indian Ocean Societies, London: Routledge Curzon, 2005; Ruth Barnes, Steven Cohen and Rosemary Crill, Trade, Temple and Court: Indian Textiles from the Tapi Collection, Mumbai: India Book House, 2002; K"oky"o Hatanaka, Textile Arts of India: Kokyo Hatanaka Collection, San Francisco, California: Chronicle Books, 1996; Giorgio Riello, ‘Asian Knowledge and the Development of Calico Printing in Europe in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries’, Journal of Global History, 5: 1 (2010): 1-28; see several contributions in Giorgio Riello and Prasannan Parthasarathi (eds.), The Spinning World: A Global History of Cotton Textiles, 1200-1850, 2009; rpt. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011; also see essays in Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy (eds.), How India Clothed the World: The World of South Asian Textiles, 1500-1850, Leiden: Brill, 2009. 2. Mattison Mines, The Warrior Merchants: Textiles, Trade, and Territory in South India, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984, see for the analysis of artisan-merchant caste’s social history, although his utilization of segmentary state theory borrowed from Burton Stein’s work, can be debatable. 3. While in the case of Bengal there are a couple of monographs, for Gujarat there is hardly any that focuses on the weavers. D.B. Mitra, The Cotton Weavers of Bengal 1757-1833, Calcutta: Firma KLM, 1978; Hameeda Hossain, The Company Weavers of Bengal: The East India Company and the Organization of Textile Production in Bengal, 1750-1813, 1988; rpt. Dhaka: The University Press, 2010. For southern India, Vijaya Ramaswamy, Textiles and Weavers in Medieval South India, 2006; rpt. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1985; Joseph J. Brennig, ‘Textile Producers and Production in Late Seventeenth Century Coromandel’, Indian Economic and Social History Review (IESHR) 23: 4 (1986): 333-53; Prasannan Parthasarathi, The Transition to a Colonial Economy: Weavers, Merchants and Kings in South India 1720-1800, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001; see also P. Swarnalatha, The World of the Weavers in Northern Coromandel, c.17501850, Delhi: Orient Longman, 2005, pp. 30-45.

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4. R.J. Barendse, The Arabian Seas: The Indian Ocean World of the Seventeenth Century, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2002, p. 243. 5. For an earlier work focusing on pre-colonial and colonial periods, see Douglas E. Haynes and Tirthankar Roy, ‘Conceiving Mobility: Weavers’ Migrations in Pre-colonial and Colonial India’, IESHR 36: 1 (1999): 35-67. 6. For a general discussion of decline of southern Indian textile industry, see Ian C. Wendt, ‘Four Centuries of Decline? Understanding the Changing Structure of the South Indian Textile Industry’, in Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy (eds.) How India Clothed the World: The World of South Asian Textiles, 1500-1850, Leiden: Brill, 2009, pp. 193-215, for Coromandel Wendt cites Joseph Jerome Brennig, ‘The Textile Trade of Seventeenth-century Northern Coromandel: A Study of a Pre-Modern Asian Export Industry’, Ph.D. dissertation, University of WisconsinMadison, 1975, p. 353. For a brief survey of the expansion of Bengal textiles trade in the second half of the seventeenth and in the eighteenth centuries, see Indrajit Ray, ‘Identifying the Woes of the Cotton Textiles Industry in Bengal: Tales of the Nineteenth Century’, Economic History Review 62: 4 (2009): 857-92. 7. On the problem of the geographical division of the Ganga plain and its historical implications, see Murari Kumar Jha, ‘Migration, Settlement and State Formation in the Ganga Plain: A Historical Geographic Perspective’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 57: 4 (2014): 587-627. 8. Geographical data is drawn primarily from O.H.K. Spate and A.T.A. Learmonth, India and Pakistan: A General and Regional Geography, London: Methuen, 1967, pp. 571-99. 9. Hossain, The Company Weavers of Bengal, pp. 20-32; also see, BL (British Library), APAC (Asia, Pacific and Africa Collection), IOR (India Office Records), Home Miscellaneous 456f, ‘Account of the Fine Cotton Thread and Fabrics Produced in the Dacca Province and the Ability of the Dacca Aurungs in Regard to the Amount of Goods which can be Annually Provided at Them’, by Resident, J. Taylor, Dacca Factory, 30 November 1800, pp. 56-110, for the production of fine Dhaka cotton, see esp. pp. 57-64. 10. On the geography of southern Bihar, and water resource management for agriculture, see Alok Sheel, ‘South Bihar Geography and the Agricultural Cycle: Gaya and Shahabad in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries’, IESHR 30: 1 (1993): 85-113. 11. For the geographical contrasts between north and south Bihar and their effect on the economy and occupational specialization, see Murari Kumar Jha, ‘The Political Economy of the Ganga River: Highway of State Formation




14. 15.

Murari Jha in Mughal India, c. 1600-1800’, Ph.D. dissertation, Leiden University, 2013, see esp. chaps. 2 and 4. C.E.A.W. Oldham, ‘Routes: Old and New, from Lower Bengal up the Country’, Part 1, ‘Old Highways and By-ways’, Bengal Past and Present (BPP) 28: 55-6 (1924): 21-36; C.E.A.W. Oldham, ‘Routes: Old and New, from Lower Bengal up the Country’, Part 2, ‘The New Military Road and Grand Trunk Road’, BPP 30: 59-60 (1925): 18-34. For the routes linking northern India and Central Asia and interesting discussion on merchandize and merchants active on these routes, see Arup Banerji, Old Routes: North Indian Nomads and Bankers in Afghan, Uzbek and Russian Lands, Gurgaon: Three Essays Collective, 2011; Scott Cameron Levi (ed.), India and Central Asia: Commerce and Culture, 1500-1800 (Debates in Indian History), Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007; also see, Amita Satyal, ‘The Mughal Empire, Overland Trade, and Merchants of Northern India, 1526-1707’, Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 2008. Jean Deloche, Transport and Communications in India Prior to Steam Locomotion, vol. I: Land Transport, tr. James Walker, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1993, pp. 60-1; W. Ph. Coolhaas (ed.), Generale Missiven van Gouverneurs-generaal en Raden aan Heren XVII der Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, vol. 3: 1655-1674, ’s-Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1968, p. 342 for Gujarati merchants’ use of overland route through Patna and Agra. An early nineteenth-century source, reflecting on the eighteenthand early nineteenth-century scenario, relates that, ‘A considerable quantity of filature silk is exported to the western parts of India: a large proportion of it is sold at Mirzapoor, and passes thence to the Mahratta dominions, and the central parts of Hindostan’, see The London Encyclopaedia, or Universal Dictionary of Science, Art, Literature, and Practical Mechanics . . . in 21 vols., London: 1829, vol. 4, p. 18; also see Stewart Gordon, ‘Burhanpur: Entrepôt and Hinterland, 1650-1750’, IESHR 25: 4 (1988): 425-42, for trade connections with Patna, see esp. p. 437. Spate and Learmonth, India and Pakistan, pp. 645-51. Ashin Das Gupta, Indian Merchants and the Decline of Surat c. 1700-50, Delhi: Manohar, 1994, p. 2; see also M.R. Majmudar, Cultural History of Gujarat , Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1965, p. 19; For an early nineteenthcentury account of the province’s geography, ethnography, towns and urban centres, see Walter Hamilton, A Geographical, Statistical, and Historical Description of Hindostan and the Adjacent Countries, vol. I, London: John Murray, 1820, pp. 604-725. About some-ecological aspects of the region during the early modern period, see, Shaukat Ullah Khan, ‘Status of

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Vegetation and Agricultural Productivity: Pargana Haveli Ahmadabad’, Studies in History 14: 2 n.s. (1998): 313-24. M.S. Commissariat, Mandelslo’s Travels in Western India (AD 1638-9), London: Oxford University Press, 1931, p. 15. The term bafta is derived from the Persian baftan meaning to weave. On Broach and its bafta, see also Surendranath Sen, Indian Travels of Thevenot and Careri: Being the Third Part of the Travels of M. de Thevenot into the Levant and the Third Part of a Voyage Round the World by Dr John Francis Gemelli Careri, Delhi: National Archives of India, 1949, p. 9. Saiyid Nawab Ali and Charles Norman Seddon (eds. and trs.), The Supplement of the Mirat-i-Ahmadi: Translated from the Persian of Ali Muhammad Khan, Baroda: Education Department, 1924, p. 210. Also see Majmudar, Cultural History of Gujarat, p. 23; V.K. Jain, Trade and Traders in Western India, Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1990, p. 23. David Washbrook, ‘The Textile Industry and the Economy of South India, 1500-1800’, in Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy (eds.), How India Clothed the World: The World of South Asian Textiles, 1500-1850 , Leiden: Brill, 2009, pp. 173-91, see esp. pp. 183-4. For an instance of the English Company trying to control and regulate the oxen transporting ‘cotton, coark balls of silk and jaggrey’ in Bihar, see BL, APAC, IOR, Patna Factory Records, vol. 2c, Letter by N. Bateman, Supervisor, Sircar Monghyr, 16 August 1771, p. 83. W.H. van Santen, ‘Trade between Mughal India and the Middle East, and Mughal Monetrary Policy, c. 1600-60’, in Karl Reinhold Haellquist (ed.) Asian Trade Routes: Continental and Maritime, London: Routledge, 1991, pp. 87-95, see for the overland transportation of goods by caravan trade linking Agra and Isfahan through Lahore and Kandahar, pp. 90-1; for cotton weaving villages along the Ganga in northern India, and the efforts to contract weavers by the Dutch merchants based at Agra, see Hiromu Nagashima, ‘Development of Periodic Markets in the Central Part of Northern India—Especially during the Mughal Period’, in Hiroshi Ishihara (ed.), Markets and Marketing in North India, Nagoya/Japan: Nagoya University, 1991, pp. 135-52. Om Prakash, The Dutch East India Company and the Economy of Bengal, 1630-720, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985, pp. 102-4; also see Christiaan Jörg, ‘De Handel van de VOC in India’, in Ebeltje HartkampJonxis (ed.), Sits: Oost-West relaties in textiel, Zwolle: Waanders, 1987, p. 15. Nationaal Archief (NA), VOC (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie), Inv. Nr. (inventaris nummer) 1432, ‘Memorie en cort dachregister gehouden



24. 25.

26. 27.


29. 30.


Murari Jha door den coopman Gerrit Klinck nopende desselfs verrichtinge ter dienst van d’ Edele Compagnie over ’t negotieeren en ontfangen der lijwaten en sijde stoffen in conformiteijdt van mijne commissie . . .’, December 1686 to January 1687, f. (folio) 697r-699r; also see Heleen B. van der Weel, ‘In die Kunst en wetenschap gebruyckt’: Gerrit Claeszoon Clinck (1646-1693), meester kunstschilder van Delft en koopman in dienst van de Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, Hilversum: Verloren, 2002, pp. 86-7, 92; also see Femme S. Gaastra, The Dutch East India Company: Expansion and Decline, Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 2003, p. 137; Prakash, The Dutch East India Company, p. 101. NA, VOC, Inv. Nr. 9544, ‘Extract uijt den eijsch van retouren uijt India voor den Jaar 1711’, and ‘Provisioneele beantwoordige op en nevenstaande Eijsch van Retour goederen door de Ed: Hoog Agtb: heeren XVII voor den loopende Jaare 1711 uijte dese directie gedaan’, Hugli, 31 October 1711, pp. 192-3. Prakash, The Dutch East India Company, p. 113. Om Prakash, Bullion for Goods: European and Indian Merchants in the Indian Ocean Trade, 1500-1800, Delhi: Manohar, 2004, pp. 261-2, see esp. pp. 264, 270; also see Om Prakash, ‘International Trade and the Economy of Early Eighteenth Century Bengal’, IESHR 13: 2 (1976): 159-86. BL, APAC, IOR, Home Miscellaneous 456f, J. Taylor, Resident, Dacca Factory, 30 November 1800, p. 54. J. J. L. Gommans, Jeroen Bos, Gijs Kruijtzer et al., Grote atlas van de Verenigde Oost-indische Compagnie, vol. 6: Voor-Indië, Perzië, Arabisch Schiereiland, Voorburg: Atlas Maior, 2010, sheet 408; also see Nationaal Archief, The Hague, 4VELH 121. BL, APAC, IOR, E/3/92, East India Company Correspondence with the East 1602 -1753, see, a list of goods to be provided at Patna, 1695; also BL, APAC, IOR, G/28/1, Patna Factory Records, 1620, vol. I, pp. 1-38. For the Asian merchants frequenting to Patna see, Hameeda Khatoon Naqvi, Urban Centres and Industries in Upper India, 1556-1803, Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1968, p. 45. L.S.S. O’Malley, Bihar and Orissa District Gazetteer, Saran, revd. edn. A.P. Middleton, Delhi: Logos Press, 2007 rpt.; 1st pub. 1930, p. 60. Abhay Kumar Singh, Modern World System and Indian Proto-Industrialization: Bengal 1650-1800, Delhi: Northern Book Centre, 2006, pp. 210-14, see for details of textiles bleaching and dying. Henry Thomas Colebrooke, Remarks on Husbandry and Internal Commerce of Bengal, London: The Author, 1806, pp. 198-9.

Weavers in Early Modern South Asia


32. Giorgio Riello and Prasannan Parthasarathi (eds.), The Spinning World: A Global History of Cotton Textiles, c.1200 -1850, 2009; rpt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 3. 33. BL, APAC, IOR, G/28/1, Patna Factory Records, 1620, vol. I, Robert Hughes to the Surat Factory, 12 July 1620, p. 3; also see, Sir R.C. Temple, Bart (ed.), ‘Documents Relating to the first English Commercial Mission to Patna’, The Indian Antiquary: A Journal of Oriental Research 43, May 1914, pp. 69-83, see esp. p. 71. 34. Michael R.T. Dumper and Bruce E. Stanley (eds.), Cities of the Middle East and North Africa: A Historical Encyclopedia, Santa Barbara, CA [etc.]: ABC-CLIO, 2007, p. 170. 35. BL, APAC, IOR, G/28/1, Patna Factory Records, 1620, vol. I, Robert Hughes to the Surat Factory, 11 November 1620, pp.13, 15. 36. For the large Indian merchants’ community in Herat and Isfahan and their role in providing liquidity for the caravan trade along the overland route linking Punjab and Herat, see, Dumper and Stanley (eds.), Cities of the Middle East, p. 170. 37. W. H. Moreland, ‘John van Twists Description of India’, Journal of Indian History 15: 2, August 1936, pp. 67-8. Van Twist has given a detailed account of famine and mortality in Gujarat during 1630-1. Thousands perished of hunger and many villages became depopulated. 38. William Foster (ed.), The English Factories in India, 1630-33, vol. 4. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910, pp. 180-1. 39. Shantha Hariharan, Cotton Textiles and Corporate Buyers in Cottonopolis: A Study of Purchases and Prices in Gujarat, 1600-1800, Delhi: Manak Publications, 2002, p. 60; Ruby Maloni, European Merchant Capital and the Indian Economy: A Historical Reconstruction Based on Surat Factory Records, 1630-1668, Delhi: Manohar, 1992, Outward Letter 6, pp. 131-3, due to the famine and mortality of cattle, the bullock-carts had become scarce, see especially p. 133; about the problems in procuring textiles see, Kristof Glamann, Dutch Asiatic Trade 1620-1740, Copenhagen: Danish Science Press, 1958, p. 139. 40. Van Santen, ‘Trade between Mughal India and the Middle East’, pp. 88-90. 41. K.N. Chaudhuri, The Trading World of Asia and the East India Company, 1660-1760, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978, pp. 246-7; also see Prasannan Parthasarathi, Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not: Global Economic Divergence, 1600-1850, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011, p. 117. 42. For the value of export and a discussion of textiles being exported from





46. 47. 48.



Murari Jha Gujarat, see Om Prakash, The New Cambridge History of India: European Commercial Enterprise in Pre-colonial India, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, pp. 185, 193-5. Ghulam A. Nadri, Eighteenth Century Gujarat: The Dynamics of its Political Economy, 1750-1800, Leiden: Brill, 2009, pp. 29-49; Om Prakash, ‘From Market-determined to Coercion-based: Textile Manufacturing in Eighteenth-century Bengal’, in Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy (eds.) How India Clothed the World: The World of South Asian Textiles, 1500-1800, Leiden: Brill, 2009, pp. 218-51; For a discussion on the problem of deindustrialization in the eighteenth century, see Jha, ‘The Political Economy of the Ganga River’, pp. 174-6. Lakshmi Subramanian, ‘Power and the Weave: Weavers, Merchants and Rulers in Eighteenth-century Surat’, in Rudrangshu Mukherjee and Lakshmi Subramanian (eds.), Politics and Trade in the Indian Ocean World: Essays in Honour of Ashin Das Gupta, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 52-79; Nadri, Eighteenth Century Gujarat, pp. 32-3, 48. Arjan de Haan, ‘Migration and Livelihoods in Historical Perspective: A Case Study of Bihar, India’, Journal of Development Studies 38: 5 (2002): 115-42, see esp. p. 116. Haynes and Roy, ‘Conceiving Mobility’, pp. 40-3. Ramaswamy, Textiles and Weavers, pp. 150-61; Haynes and Roy, ‘Conceiving Mobility’, pp. 43-4. Quoted in Dirk H.A. Kolff, Naukar, Rajput and Sepoy: The Ethnohistory of the Military Labour Market in Hindustan, 1450–1850, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990, p. 18. NA, VOC, Inv. Nr. 2288, ‘Gemeene resolutien genomen in rade van Politie tot Houglij in Bengale, sedert den 21 November der verleden tot den 21 Februarij dese jaare [1733]’, pp. 195-6: ‘en ook spruijten moest een algemeene halssterrigheijt onder het arbeijds volk, die gelijk men segt met lantaarns overall gesogt wordende, voor het ordinaire loon niet werken wilde, off volgens haren luijen aart inder militairen dienst over en dus niet ledig gaan al was het schoon wat soberder egter de kost krijgen kunnen.’ Trans: Also there must [as a consequence of the lack of textile] raise a general obstinacy among the working people [weavers], who—as we say—have to be found with a lantern and for that reason are not willing to work for normal wages; or, according to their lazy nature leave the work [of weaving] and enter the military service, where they can earn what they need [for their maintenance]. Tirthankar Roy, ‘Where is Bengal? Situating an Indian Region in the Early

Weavers in Early Modern South Asia


52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58.




Modern World Economy’, Past and Present 213 (2011): 115-46, see esp. pp. 144-5. Francis Buchanan, An Account of the Districts of Bihar and Patna in 18112, vol. 2, Patna: Bihar and Orissa Research Society, n.d., Table 41, p. 772; see also Anand Yang, Bazaar India: Markets, Society, and the Colonial State in Gangetic Bihar, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998, p. 76. De Haan, ‘Migration and Livelihoods in Historical Perspective’, p. 118. Colebrooke, Remarks on Husbandry, p. 178. H. Beverley, Report of the Census of Bengal 1872, Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1872, p. 177. E.A. Gait, Census of India, Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1901, p. 453. Barendse, The Arabian Seas, pp. 241-2. Richard A. Frasca, ‘Weavers in Pre-Modern South India’, Economic and Political Weekly 10: 30 (1975): 1119-23. BL, APAC, IOR, P/2/3, Bengal Public Consultations, Fort William 12 April 1773, pp. 311-22; Om Prakash, ‘From Negotiation to Coercion: Textile Manufacturing in India in the Eighteenth Century’, Modern Asian Studies 41: 6 (2007): 1331-68. BL, APAC, IOR, Home Miscellaneous Series, H/117, pp. 21-2, although it was alleged that the Dutch complaints ‘to be ill founded or at least greatly exaggerated’. Ray, ‘Identifying the Woes’. Also see, Parthasarathi, Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not, pp. 125-31.

BIBLIOGRAPHY ARCHIVAL SOURCES BL (British Library), APAC (Asia, Pacific and Africa Collection), IOR (India Office Records), Home Miscellaneous 456f. BL, APAC, IOR, E/3/92, East India Company Correspondence with the East 1602-1753. BL, APAC, IOR, G/28/1, Patna Factory Records, 1620, vol. I. BL, APAC, IOR, Home Miscellaneous 456f, J. Taylor, Resident, Dacca Factory, 30 November 1800. BL, APAC, IOR, Home Miscellaneous Series, H/117, 1774-5. BL, APAC, IOR, P/2/3, Bengal Public Consultations, Fort William, 12 April 1773.


Murari Jha

BL, APAC, IOR, Patna Factory Records, vol. 2c, Letter by N. Bateman, Supervisor, Sircar Monghyr, 16 August 1771. Nationaal Archief (NA), The Hague, 4VELH 121. NA, VOC (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie), Inv. Nr. (inventaris nummer) 1432, ‘Memorie en cort dachregister gehouden door den coopman Gerrit Klinck nopende desselfs verrichtinge ter dienst van d’ Edele Compagnie over ’t negotieeren en ontfangen der lijwaten en sijde stoffen in conformiteijdt van mijne commissie . . ,’ December 1686-January 1687. NA, VOC, Inv. Nr. 2288, ‘Gemeene resolutien genomen in rade van Politie tot Houglij in Bengale, sedert den 21 November der verleden tot den 21 Februarij dese jaare [1733]’. NA, VOC, Inv. Nr. 9544, ‘Extract uijt den eijsch van retouren uijt India voor den Jaar 1711’, and ‘Provisioneele beantwoordige op en nevenstaande Eijsch van Retour goederen door de Ed: Hoog Agtb: heeren XVII voor den loopende Jaare 1711 uijte dese derectie gedaan’, Hugli, 31 October 1711. OTHER SOURCES Ali, Syed Nawab and Charles Norman Seddon, eds. and trans., The Supplement of the Mirat-i-Ahmadi: Translated from the Persian of Ali Muhammad Khan, Baroda: Education Department, 1924. Banerji, Arup, Old Routes: North Indian Nomads and Bankers in Afghan, Uzbek and Russian lands, Gurgaon: Three Essays Collective, 2011. Barendse, R.J., The Arabian Seas: The Indian Ocean World of the Seventeenth Century, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2002. Barnes, Ruth, Indian Block-printed Textiles in Egypt:The Newberry Collection in the Ashmolean Museum, 2 vols., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997. Barnes, Ruth, Steven Cohen and Rosemary Crill, Trade, Temple and Court: Indian Textiles from the Tapi Collection, Mumbai: India Book House, 2002. Barnes, Ruth (ed.), Textiles in Indian Ocean Societies, London: Routledge Curzon, 2005. Beverley, H., Report of the Census of Bengal 1872, Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1872. Brenning, Joseph J., ‘Textile Producers and Production in Late Seventeenth Century Coromandel’, Indian Economic and Social History Review 23: 4 (1986), pp. 333-53. —— , ‘The Textile Trade of Seventeenth-Century Northern Coromandel: A Study of a Pre-Modern Asian Export Industry’, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1975. Buchanan, Francis, An Account of the Districts of Bihar and Patna in 1811-12, vol. 2, Patna: Bihar and Orissa Research Society, n.d.

Weavers in Early Modern South Asia


Chaudhuri, K.N., The Trading World of Asia and the East India Company, 16601760, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978. Colebrooke, Henry Thomas, Remarks on Husbandry and Internal Commerce of Bengal, London: The Author, 1806. Commissariat, M.S., Mandelslo’s Travels in Western India, AD 1638-9, London: Oxford University Press, 1931. De Haan, Arjan, ‘Migration and Livelihoods in Historical Perspective: A Case Study of Bihar, India’, Journal of Development Studies 38: 5, 2002, pp.115-42. Deloche, Jean, Transport and Communications in India Prior to Steam Locomotion, vol. I: Land Transport, tr. James Walker, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1993. Dumper, Michael R.T. and Bruce E. Stanley (eds.),Cities of the Middle East and North Africa: A Historical Encyclopedia, Santa Barbara, CA [etc]: ABC- CLIO, 2007. Frasca, Richard A., ‘Weavers in Pre-Modern South India’, Economic and Political Weekly 10: 30, 1975, pp. 1119-23. Gaastra, Femme S., The Dutch East India Company: Expansion and Decline, Zutphen: WalburgPers, 2003. Gait, E.A., Census of India , Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1901. Generale Missiven van Gouverneurs-Generaal en Raden aan Heren XVII der Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie. vol. 3, 1655-74, ed. W. Ph. Coolhaas, ’s-Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1968. Glamann, Kristof, Dutch Asiatic Trade 1620-1740, Copenhagen: Danish Science Press, 1958. Gommans,J.J.L., Jeroen Bos, Gijs Kruijtzer et al., Grote atlas van de Verenigde Oost-indische Compagnie, vol. 6, Voor-Indië, Perzië, Arabisch Schiereiland, Voorburg: Atlas Maior, 2010. Gordon, Stewart, ‘Burhanpur: Entrepôt and Hinterland, 1650-1750’, Indian Economic and Social History Review 25: 4, 1988, pp. 425-42. Gupta, Ashin Das, Indian Merchants and the Decline of Surat c. 1700-50, Delhi: Manohar, 1994. Hamilton, Walter, A Geographical, Statistical, and Historical Description of Hindostan and the Adjacent Countries, vol. I, London: John Murray, 1820. Hariharan, Shantha,Cotton Textiles and Corporate Buyers in Cottonopolis: A Study of Purchases and Prices in Gujarat, 1600-1800, Delhi: Manak Publications, 2002. Haynes, Douglas E. and Tirthankar Roy, ‘Conceiving Mobility: Weavers’ Migrations in Pre-colonial and Colonial India’, Indian Economic and Social History Review 36: 1, 1999, pp. 35-67.


Murari Jha

Hossain, Hameeda,The Company Weavers of Bengal: The East India Company and the Organization of Textile Production in Bengal, 1750-1813, 1988; rpt. Dhaka: The University Press, 2010. Jain, V.K., Trade and Traders in Western India, Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1990. Jha, Murari Kumar, ‘Migration, Settlement and State Formation in the Ganga Plain: A Historical Geographic Perspective’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 57: 4, 2014, pp. 587-627. ——, ‘The Political Economy of the Ganga River: Highway of State Formation in Mughal India, c. 1600-1800’, Ph.D. dissertation, Leiden University, 2013. Jörg, Christiaan, ‘De Handel van de VOC in India’, in Sits: Oost-West relaties in textiel, ed. Ebeltje Hartkamp-Jonxis, Zwolle: Waanders, 1987. Khan, Shaukat Ullah, ‘Status of Vegetation and Agricultural Productivity: Parganahaveli Ahmadabad’, Studies in History 14: 2, n.s., 1998, pp. 313-24. K"oky"o, Hatanaka, Textile Arts of India: KokyoHatanaka Collection, San Francisco, California: Chronicle Books, 1996. Kolff, Dirk H.A., Naukar, Rajput and Sepoy: The Enthohistory of the Military Labour Market in Hindustan, 1450-1850, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Levi, Scott Cameron (ed.), India and Central Asia: Commerce and Culture, 15001800, Debates in Indian History, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007. Majmudar, M.R., Cultural History of Gujarat , Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1965. Maloni, Ruby, European Merchant Capital and the Indian Economy: A Historical Reconstruction Based on Surat Factory Records, 1630-1668, Delhi: Manohar, 1992. Mines, Mattison,The Warrior Merchants: Textiles, Trade, and Territory in South India, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984. Mitra, D.B., The Cotton Weavers of Bengal 1757-1833, Calcutta: Firma KLM, 1978. Moreland, W.H., ‘John van Twists Description of India’, Journal of Indian History 15: 2, August 1936. Nadri, Ghulam A., Eighteenth Century Gujarat: The Dynamics of Its Political Economy, 1750-1800, Leiden: Brill, 2009. Nagashima, Hiromu, ‘Development of Periodic Markets in the Central Part of Northern India—Especially During the Mughal Period’, in Markets and Marketing in North India, ed. Hiroshi Ishihara, Nagoya/Japan: Nagoya University, 1991, pp. 135-52. Naqvi, Hameeda Khatoon Urban Centres and Industries in Upper India, 15561803, Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1968.

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O’Malley, L.S.S., Bihar and Orissa District Gazetteer, Saran, revd. edn. A.P. Middleton, Delhi: Logos Press, 2007 rpt.; 1st pub. 1930. Oldham, C.E.A.W., ‘Routes: Old and New, from Lower Bengal up the Country’, Part 1, ‘Old Highways and By-ways’, Bengal Past and Present (BPP), 28: 55-6, 1924, pp. 21-36. ——, ‘Routes: Old and New, from Lower Bengal up the Country’, Part 2, ‘The New Military Road and Grand Trunk Road’, BPP, 30: 59-60, 1925, pp. 18-34. Parthasarathi, Prasannan,Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not: Global Economic Divergence, 1600-1850, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. ——,The Transition to a Colonial Economy: Weavers, Merchants and Kings in South India 1720-1800, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Prakash, Om, ‘From Market-determined to Coercion-based: Textile Manufacturing in Eighteenth-century Bengal’, in How India Clothed the World: The World of South Asian Textiles, 1500-1800, ed. Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy, Leiden: Brill, 2009, pp. 218-51. ——, ‘From Negotiation to Coercion: Textile Manufacturing in India in the Eighteenth Century’, Modern Asian Studies 41: 6, 2007, pp. 1331-68. ——,‘International Trade and the Economy of Early Eighteenth Century Bengal’, IESHR 13: 2, 1976, pp. 159-86. ——, Bullion for Goods: European and Indian Merchants in the Indian Ocean Trade, 1500-1800, Delhi: Manohar, 2004. ——,The Dutch East India Company and the Economy of Bengal, 1630-1720, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985. ——,The New Cambridge History of India: European Commercial Enterprise in Pre-colonial India, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Ramaswamy,Vijaya,Textiles and Weavers in Medieval South India, 2006 rpt.; Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1985. Ray, Indrajit, ‘Identifying the Woes of the Cotton Textiles Industry in Bengal: Tales of the Nineteenth Century’, Economic History Review 62: 4, 2009, pp. 857-92. Riello, Giorgio, ‘Asian Knowledge and the Development of Calico Printing in Europe in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries’, Journal of Global History, 5: 1, 2010, pp. 1-28. Riello, Giorgio and Prasannan Parthasarathi (eds.),The Spinning World: A Global History of Cotton Textiles, 1200-1850, 2009; rpt. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Riello, Giorgio and Tirthankar Roy (eds.), How India Clothed the World: The World of South Asian Textiles, 1500-1850, Leiden: Brill, 2009.


Murari Jha

Roy, Tirthankar, ‘Where is Bengal? Situating an Indian Region in the Early Modern World Economy’, Past and Present, 213, 2011, pp. 115-46. Satyal, Amita, ‘The Mughal Empire, Overland Trade, and Merchants of Northern India, 1526-1707’, Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 2008. Sen, Surendranath, Indian Travels of Thevenot and Careri: Being the Third Part of the Travels of M. de Thevenot into the Levant and the Third Part of a Voyage Round the World by Dr John Francis Gemelli Careri, Delhi: National Archives of India, 1949. Sheel, Alok, ‘South Bihar Geography and the Agricultural Cycle: Gaya and Shahabad in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries’, Indian Economic and Social History Review 30: 1, 1993, pp. 85-113. Singh, Abhay Kumar, Modern World System and Indian Proto-Industrialization: Bengal 1650-1800, Delhi: Northern Book Centre, 2006. Spate, O.H.K. and A.T.A. Learmonth, India and Pakistan: A General and Regional Geography, London: Methuen, 1967. Subramanian, Lakshmi, ‘Power and the Weave: Weavers, Merchants and Rulers in Eighteenth-century Surat’, in Politics and Trade in the Indian Ocean World: Essays in Honour of Ashin Das Gupta, eds. Rudrangshu Mukherjee and Lakshmi Subramanian, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 52-79. Swarnalatha, P., The World of the Weavers in Northern Coromandel, c.1750-1850, Delhi: Orient Longman, 2005, pp. 30-45. Temple, Bart, Sir R.C. (ed.), ‘Documents Relating to the first English Commercial Mission to Patna’, The Indian Antiquary: A Journal of Oriental Research 43, 1914, pp. 69-83. The English Factories in India, 1630-33, ed. William Foster, vol. 4, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910. The London Encyclopaedia, or Universal Dictionary of Science, Art, Literature, and Practical Mechanics . . . in 21 vols, vol. 4, London, 1829. Van der Weel, Heleen B., ‘In die Kunst en wetenscha p gebruyckt’: Gerrit Claeszoon Clinck, 1646-93, meester kunstschilder van Delft en koopman in dienst van de Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, Hilversum: Verloren, 2002. Van Santen, W.H., ‘Trade Between Mughal India and the Middle East, and Mughal Monetary Policy, c. 1600-60’, in Asian Trade Routes: Continental and Maritime, ed. Karl Reinhold Haellquist, London: Routledge, 1991, pp. 87-95. Washbrook, David, ‘The Textile Industry and the Economy of South India, 1500-1800’, in How India Clothed the World: The World of South Asian

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Textiles, 1500-1850, ed. Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy, Leiden: Brill, 2009, pp. 173-91. Wendt, Ian C., ‘Four Centuries of Decline? Understanding the Changing Structure of the South Indian Textile Industry’, in How India Clothed the World: The World of South Asian Textiles, 1500-1850, ed. Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy, Leiden: Brill, 2009, pp. 193-215. Yang, Anand Bazaar India: Markets, Society, and the Colonial State in Gangetic Bihar, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

C H A P T E R 10

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire: The Example of Damascus Around 1700 COLETTE ESTABLET-VERNIN


It is profound astonishment that has guided this work. Accustomed to over ten years of reading and analysing inventories after death, translating the words describing the belongings of more than 600 deceased inhabitants of Damascus, J.P. Pascual and I had repeatedly stumbled upon the mysterious effects transported by 135 pilgrims whom death had, by the hazards of fate, seized in this city upon their return from pilgrimage. These deeds, our sources, drawn up by a judge and recorded in registers, are reliable because they list belongings to pass on: they assess the various pieces of an estate. In the inventories, commonly used to study the economic and social history of the Ottoman Empire, the judge (the cadi ) and his scribes detail with precision, in Arabic, sometimes in Turkish, all the belongings of the departed. The inventory is comprehensive when it concerns all the Damascenes who died in the city; when it comes to the pilgrims, it is limited to only establishing the contents of the departed’s luggage. These documents are sometimes long and difficult to read: thanks to J.P. Pascual’s excellent knowledge of Arabic and our practice conferred by habit, we were able to note down the lists of citizens’ belongings with no particular problem. To our surprise, when we took an interest in the pilgrims’ deeds, the notes from our lists


Colette Establet-Vernin

included multiple gaps and question marks, mysterious words for which the translation could not be found in any Turkish or Arabic dictionaries. The only things guiding us on the path to understanding were the terms expressing measures of quantity, in this case the amount of fabric pieces carried in the pouches. In the inventories concerning the Arabic inhabitants of the eastern part of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish inhabitants of the centre, these pieces are called t#ub, a whole piece of fabric from the loom. In some of the pilgrims’ inventories, the amount of fabric pieces were designated as t"aqa, or k#urja. The courge is a measure frequently appearing in Blancard’s dictionary;1 it is an Indian measure, the meaning of which is also included in Dozy’s dictionary.2 This measure is defined in HobsonJobson’s glossary of Anglo-Indian expressions:3 the use of the term can be seen as early as 1510, ‘used by Arabic merchants as well as in India’ and applies above all to textiles. The t"aqa is defined as follows by Barthélémy in his dictionary:4 ‘fabric piece of indigenous weave’ and by Redhouse:5 ‘a piece of certain fabrics’. The t"aqa is a twentieth of a courge. The illegible words in our inventories thus appeared to be Indian terms, describing textiles which certain pilgrims were bringing back home in their baggage; their meaning had to be sought elsewhere than in Turkish and Arabic dictionaries. Indian fabrics in the Ottoman Empire were a well-established ancient presence. Let us put our doubts on interpretation on account of the surprise sparked by the existence of these few and rare isolated Indian phonemes in an Arab-Turkish Ottoman vocabulary: several Ottomanizing authors had actually devoted pages to the penetration of Indian textile craft in the Empire.6 Let us thus start by simply taking stock of their discoveries by basing ourselves on H. Inalcik’s7 and G. Veinstein’s two essential articles.8 The verified relations are ancient, preceding the establishment of the Moghul Empire and the Ottomans’ domination of the Middle East. The references on the significance of the textile trade between India and the Empire are numerous: we will quote the most illuminating of these testimonies, referring the reader to the articles themselves.

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire


On the Indian side, the vizier Hoca Mahmûd G"av"an (1405-81) had established direct trade relations with the Ottoman Empire: he sent two agents there in 1476, one leaving the other one 877 pieces of fabric the vizier had given him to sell in Bursa. A short while later, in 1479, the vizier names four people to represent him; he entrusts them with ‘large varieties of fabric’ to be sold in the lands of Rûm (the Empire). Finally, in 1481, the vizier sends a trade mission to Bursa. The traveller Ludovico di Varthema,9 in India and the Near East during the years 1503-8, highlights throughout his account the significant amount of Moorish merchants he met in India: ‘on the Malabar Coast there are several Moorish merchants’; in Calicut, there were ‘several Moorish merchants a part of Mecca, [. . .] Pego, Coromandel, Ceylon, Sumatra, [. . .], Persia, Arabia Felix, Syria, Turkey, Ethiopia. . . . There are in . . . Calicut at least 15,000 Moor natives of the place or for the most part’; in Diu, he met 400 Turkish merchants established in the city. In the years that follow, the contacts with the Indian world develop in accordance with the growing role of the Empire in the Middle East. Selim I seizes Egypt and Syria and obtains the support of the Sharif of Mecca; Soliman takes Baghdad in 1534 (recaptured by the Safavids between 1624 and 1638), Aden in 1538, Bassora in 1546. After these conquests and in spite of Portuguese domination in Ormuz (up till 1622, at which point the city is recaptured by the Safavids) and in north-western India, the Ottomans secure their presence on the Red Sea and on a part of the Arab-Persian gulf. A few documents testify to the magnitude of the trade linking these groups. Even before the capture of Baghdad, a tax settlement from ‘Ana and from Hit establishes that a caravan linking Baghdad to Aleppo was carrying, among other goods, bürüncük and qas"ab, translated by H. Inalcik and G. Veinstein as crepe and muslin. Two customs settlements from Bassora in 1551 and 1575 mention several types of Indian textiles among the imports, namely muslins (kh"assa and bayram). In 1610, a caravan going from Baghdad to Aleppo through Bassora was laden with Indian fabrics and indigo. A register from


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1640 (narh defteri10), setting the maximum prices for different qualities of cotton in Istanbul, lists some of the fabrics imported from India into the Ottoman Empire later. Bassora’s customs settlement from 1689-90 is particularly rich in detail: it lists eleven types of muslins, five types of qutn∂ and eleven of al"aja, both cotton and silk blends, four types of satin (atlas), and some printed calicoes (ch∂t-i peng reng, five-coloured). Safavid Persia seems to have played a large role in the Ottoman Empire’s supply of Indian fabrics. W. Floor11 demonstrates that Persia saw an arrival of large quantities of cotton textiles [. . .] due to their cheapness and better quality [. . .]. Available evidence suggests that a large quantity of the Indian textiles was only in transit in Persia and was in fact destined for the Ottoman Turkish markets. One Dutch report from 1634 suggests that the textile trade was essentially a transit trade . . . and this is confirmed by English East India which notes that large quantities were imported from India by Persians and Armenians who sold them in Bandar ‘Abbas. The buyers would distribute these goods by selling them to other merchants in Isfahan and Bagdad who would transport them as far as Istanbul and other places, despite high transportation costs, customs and other costs that had to be incurred.

W. Floor, in the following pages, lists the Indian textiles from different geographical origins penetrating into Persia: a lot of these textiles appear in our inventories. Finally, the role of the Mecca pilgrimage in these exchanges has been identified as fundamental. Travellers recognized this. ‘When the pilgrims reach Mecca, Thévenot remarks, there is a big fair where all kinds of merchandise are brought from India and sold in caves dug into the mountainside.’12 And De Maillet, observer from the beginning of the eighteenth century, writes: ‘Mecca is the richest fair in the world because during this short space of time, Indian merchandise is sold for several million’.13 Historians, like G. Veinstein, have confirmed these observations: The Red Sea was of course the other major entry point for Indian articles coming by sea into the Ottoman Empire [. . .]. This itinerary [. . .] had the advantage of the presence of the huge flood of Ottoman pilgrims to Mecca: for these were all

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potential commercial agents. We know that the great merchants were particularly keen to fulfil this conditional obligation of Islam [. . .]. So during the annual pilgrimage these places were transformed into a gigantic fair in which Indian merchandise played a large role.14

In an article about ‘The pilgrims to Mecca through a few Ottoman inventories after death (seventeenth-eighteenth centuries)’,15 this historian explored as a source nine pilgrims’ inventories after death, men who had died on the way back from the pilgrimage between 1651 and 1775, ‘all owners of an average or large fortune; two were published by Barkan and concern asker (soldiers) from Edirne, the others are drawn from the cadi of Crete’s records’. Apart from the objects of piety found in the departed’s luggage (rosaries, Zemzem water), another significant category of merchandise carried is represented by turbans and shawls [. . .]. They could have been bought on the pilgrimage site itself and [. . .] pass for bringing baraka. One of them was thus carrying three shawls (al"aja s"al ) and 32 pieces of various types of muslins intended to be made into turbans (dülbend ); another [. . .] also two shawls . . . ; the fabric to make turbans (khassa dest"ar), primarily, is in most loads: there are thus [. . .] an expensive set of 20 new dest"ar, 14154 paras (at a rate of 40 paras to a piastre, 353 piastres, more than 140 Venetian gold coins), another 10 dest"ar, three of them green [. . .] and other fabrics from other places than India.

These observations should not, however, overshadow the essentially religious role of the pilgrimage. Some historians, like Jomier, have bemoaned the fact that ‘due to a lack of sufficient sources, they could only begin to touch upon the economic aspect of a great social and religious reality [. . .]’ and wished that ‘one day, the discovery of new documents could allow the commercial history of the mahmal caravan to be traced satisfactorily’.16 He adds: ‘The proportion of pilgrims engaging in trade is very poorly known’. This lack of knowledge has not, however, prevented some of the Western travellers from maximizing this commercial role. Hasselquist, for example, for the Cairo caravan in the middle of the eighteenth century, states: ‘Not all go to Mecca by devotion and there are many who set out on this pilgrimage solely for the lure of


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profit’.17 The position of Burckhardt in the second decade of the nineteenth century is more nuanced: ‘few pilgrims, excluding beggars, arrive without a few products to sell from their respective countries, and this applies as much to the merchants . . . as to those brought by their religious zeal, as the latter make at Mecca a profit sufficient to reduce in part the considerable costs of the trip.’18 The quantity of these pilgrims remains to be seen: the proportion of people setting out on the pilgrimage for purposes more commercial than religious. By whatever route, adapting to the vagaries of history, these textiles travel west. Legoux de Flaix19 attests of this movement: The Red Sea provides coffee corals and incense; all of this is paid for with white merchandise from the Coast, muslins from Bengal and pepper from Malabar; this is an object of 3 million four hundred thousand pounds, the surplus evaluated at around sixteen hundred thousand francs is paid in sequins from Venice which the Arabs bring from Alexandria and Cairo [. . .] Bassora pulls in muslins, amams, casses, opium, saltpetre and silks from Bengal, [. . .] white cloth from the Coromandel Coast and blue merchandise, chites and ginghams as well as pepper and cardamom sent from the Malabar Coast; cottons and silks from Surate and sends in return dates and raisins [. . .]. These various articles can be sold for up to fifteen hundred thousand francs and the surplus evaluated at two hundred and eighty thousand pounds is paid by Arabic merchants from Baghdad and Bassora with gold coins from Venice and Holland [. . .] Hindustan sends all types of silks from Cossimbazar and light and strong fabrics, candy sugar [. . .] kimbabes from Surate, shawls from Kashmir arriving in Surate by the Indus River and cotton, pepper, [. . .] sandalwood and bith wood; finally from the Coromandel Coast all articles produced in its regions as well as in the territories on the Orissa coast.

On the Ottoman side, D’Ohsson, in the middle of the eighteenth century, notes that Indian textiles were very popular in Ottoman society: ‘[Indian fabrics] are the most sought after. Their diversity is infinite for the price as well as the quality. Some are plain, some striped, some with flowers of all species, in silk, in gold and in silver.’20 The historian H. Inalcik21 has definitively established the significance of these imports:

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In the 1600s, imported cottons became a trade item as important as spices, colonial products and metals, and perhaps more important than any of them [. . .]. Imports of cotton cloth, from India beginning in the seventeenth century and from Europe to the nineteenth century appear to be the development most influencing the empire’s economy’ [. . .].

In The Invasion of the Ottoman Market by Indian Cotton Cloth, 1500-1800, Inalcik says, ‘The Ottoman market evidently before Europe became the basic market for Indian exports of cotton textiles. Around 1690, agents of the British East Indian Company reported that quantities of cottons being sent to the Near East were four times those going to Europe.’ He quotes Sir Josiah Child,22 who writes in 1690: ‘It was in the Company’s (the East India Company) power to interrupt the Mughal emperor’s trade to the Red Sea [. . .] which usually carried off five times as many callicoes as we and the Dutch’. Let us complete these analyses with a precise example: the study of Indian textiles in Damascus, or going through Damascus, around 1700. II. THE SOURCES

Along with J.P. Pascual, we used the same sources as G. Veinstein, Damascene inventories after death from around 1700. These inventories are part of a corpus of 661 cases, drawn from three Damascene registers kept by two religious judges, the qass"am ‘arab∂ and the qassâm ‘askar∂, whose role consisted in carrying out the legal division of male and female succession between the various heirs, or in attributing the whole of the estate to the State—to its Treasury in a certain number of cases. The registers no. 9 and 15 covering the years 1686-1717 are dedicated to the city’s civilian population, the subjects, the ra’"ay"a; register 10 concerns the successions of the ‘askar, ‘state personnel’ at similar dates (1680, 1681, 1682 and 1690). 23 This study, designed to establish the identification of the most frequently mentioned Indian textiles, will be based on two types of deeds:


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– on one hand the successions of foreigners, pilgrims on the most part, who died in Damascus, or in the region under its jurisdiction, leaving at this point of their voyage a certain number of belongings which are the sole object of the cadi’s description.24 – on the other hand, successions of wealthy Damascene textile merchants (‘subjects’) who kept Indian fabrics in their shops. – finally, in inventories devoted to Damascene subjects and ‘askar, the scribes carefully noted the names of the textiles (including Indian fabrics) that the deceased’s (subjects and soldiers) clothes and furnishings are made of, valuable indications of the Indian penetration into the domestic textile world. The least we can say is that the identification of these fabrics was not easy. The Indian products’ names, some of which arrive in the West through the intermediary of large Companies, are in fact written by scripters speaking Arabic, sometimes Turkish; they thus rely on what they hear of a language with a different phonatory system, and transcribe into Arabic alphabet sounds which are foreign to this language. Add the fact that Western travellers and historians have since made a new transcription, writing Arabic vowels and consonants into the Latin alphabet with the utmost fancy. The glossary at the end of the work by D. Wellington, The French India Company, gives an excellent example of these multiple variations: thus, the al"aja textile, so common in the inventories, appears under several forms: allegeas, aillegais, allejaes, allejars, alagia, elastches, layches; the white cotton cloth hamans, hamas, humhums, hammons, hamoenes, hamae, etc. We thus had to ‘pick’ at all the works recalling the names of fabrics, which are particularly significant in these cargoes.25 We also had to limit ourselves. Amongst the travellers, we mostly used Roques26 and Legoux de Flaix.27 Amongst the ancient dictionaries and glossaries, the Dictionnaire universel de commerce (1723) by Savary des Brulons28 and a more recent French document from 1766, Observations sur le commerce et sur les arts d’une partie de l’Europe, de l’Asie, de l’Afrique, et m"eme des Inde Orientales, by Jean-Claude Flachat, former director of the Etablissements levantins;29 The Manuel du commerce des Indes

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Orientales et de la Chine, by P. Blancard, published in Paris, in 1806, describes the merchandize which can be bought in various regions of India between 1784 and 1792; the accounts of Birdwood (1880) on the Industrial Arts of India; 30 the 1867 edition with 18 volumes by Forbes Watson,31 viewed at the Victoria and Albert Museum, with R. Crill’s guidance, whom we thank. Amongst the more recent and indispensable works: – the Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases,32 which lists, in the ‘piece goods’ article, the names of imported textiles and notes in which works and at what dates these names were mentioned, thereby proving that the export of these Indian fabrics is very ancient and largely precedes, specifically, the birth of the Ottoman world. – all of the articles by J. Irwin,33 textile specialist in close contact with numerous Indian languages spoken in the subcontinent’s different regions. – K.N. Chaudhuri’s work The Trading World of India.34 – D. Wellington, The French India Company, 35 the work, and specifically the Glossary. It has the advantage of presenting the utilized names’ different spellings and of indicating the various references he bases himself on. – Le goût de l’Inde by B. Nicolas,36 curator for the Musée de la Compagnie des Indes in Lorient, who has endeavoured to present images of this lost world. The two previously mentioned articles, written by H. Inalcik and by G. Veinstein, are based on data almost contemporary to our own sources: a register from 1640 in Istanbul sets the maximum prices for different cotton qualities, and a customs record from Bassora (1689-90) also lists a great number of Indian textiles. They have greatly helped the interpretation of these ‘Indian cargoes’37 going through or staying in Damascus around 1700: in their sources and ours, the same fabric names often appear, not found in the glossaries but the existence of which is certified by the fact that they are mentioned at the same dates in reliable documents, price register, customs record, inventories.


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These names often remain an imageless reality: the travellers Roques,38 travelling in the years 1676-91, and Legoux de Flaix, 1702-70, leave detailed descriptions of these textiles, some of which reached the Ottoman Empire at the same time. We will add a few recent amateur photographs taken of the fabric samples in the monumental work by Forbes Watson, 1866 edition, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, guided by R. Crill. III. INDIAN FABRICS IN DAMASCUS

The study of Indian textiles in Damascus will rest on the study of seven pilgrim records, only two of which can be considered real traders (called h"ajj, but we do not know if this title was acquired during this first pilgrimage or for a previous one) and of four records from textile merchants settled in the city. Their luggage or shops contain 3,468 pieces, for a total value of 9,653 piastres. The analysis is based on a gamble, which obviously needs confirmation through additional studies. The textiles mentioned in the records are in transit towards all corners of the Empire when found in the pilgrims’ luggage. Those sold in the merchants’ shops are only intended to supply the city or the country of Syria. After studying these two types of sources, we formulate a hypothesis: the textiles in transit in Damascus and those staying are part of an ensemble which attracts not only the population of Sh"am but also the Ottoman population as a whole at that time. Actually, the names of the fabrics mentioned in the two articles by H. Inalcik and G. Veinstein, which concern the centre of the Ottoman empire, are, as we already saw, almost identical to those mentioned in our own data. TWO CONCLUSIONS OUTSIDE THE FABRIC WORLD The first concerns the role played by the caravan in the introduction of Indian fabrics into the Empire. As in the cases studied by G. Veinstein, on their return, many pilgrims among the 135 deceased are carrying textiles bought or exchanged at Mecca, small pieces of no value, gifts, souvenirs, loaded with exoticism and baraka.

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire


Among these, around five of the deceased had loaded themselves with turbans or even pieces slightly surpassing the quantitative limit of a simple souvenir, maybe intended for sale or souvenirs brought back for large families! But there were only two real merchants, less than 3 per cent of all the travellers, who exercised their devotion while securing a trade of international dimension. Trade is a specialist affair. These two merchants, H"ajj Mustaf"a b. Sha’b"an al-Bursaw$û and H"ajj M"us"ab. ‘Abdall"ah,39 were carrying goods constituting more than 63 per cent of the total value of all the pilgrims’ luggage upon their return from Mecca. They carried textiles, but also a few spices, a little ginger, a little opium, some incense (‘#ud ), pearls (of which ten were Dacca pearls) and mostly, Chinese cups. The fabrics, imported from India, were however the main part of their loads: their value has been estimated by the judge to 94.6 per cent of the total value of the two men’s luggage. This small-time ‘traffic’ which most of the pilgrims took part in, according to their wealth, cannot be described as commerce. Pilgrimage was one of the obligations of Islam, and its religious role is undeniable. The second conclusion concerns the merchants’ level of ‘specialization’. Traders in Indian fabrics settled in Damascus are not specialized in the sale of Indian textiles, which represent only part of their sales or even of their activity in general. The very wealthy al-H"ajj Mur"adb al-H"ajj Zayn ‘Abid$ûnb al-Rif"a’$û sold oil, soap, coffee, silk and numerous fabrics which were not from India. He was also an entrepreneur and did not neglect financial trade. The almost as wealthy al-H"ajj Khal$ûl b. al-H"a jj ‘Abdalhayy b. Mughayzal was also a trader in soap, a manufacturer and sold all types of textiles, most of which were Indian.40 Furthermore, this merchant also traded in other Indian products. Thus, H"ajj Mur"ad carried in his bags a valuable Indian product, 50 ratl of indigo (n∂l ),41 for 300 piastres at a rate of 6 piastres per ratl (a ratl has been estimated to weigh around 4 lb). Several authors refer to Indian indigo as being of excellent quality. Marco Polo (thirteenth century) highlights in his memoirs, The Travels of Marco Polo, the existence of indigo plantations in the city of Quilon on the western coast of India, as well as in Cambay [. . .]. In the fifteenth century, the Arabs had market exclusivity for all the indigo made in Gujarat [. . .] Tavernier, who


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travelled in India around 1676, notes in his accounts that in the time of the great Moghul, although there were other indigo production centres, Gujarat’s was of the best quality.42

THE VARIETY OF INDIAN TEXTILES The Difficulties of Classification An imperfect categorization must be settled for: the definitions given by specialists are sometimes contradictory. Thus the cloth Doreas doria is defined as follows by Hobson-Jobson: ‘The doriya was originally of cotton fabric, but it is now manufactured in silk, silk and cotton’; in Wellington’s glossary it is: (1) Muslin or white cotton cloth from Bengal, according to Savary. (2) Striped or chequered fabric of mixed silk and cotton. (3) Mixed cotton and silk. Fine to superfine quality, Bengal, according to Chaudhuri. (4) Doriah: British made plain weave, bleached cotton fabric. For Irwin: ‘A striped or chequered fabric of mixed silk and cotton woven in the Malda Kasimbazar area’. There are multiple examples of this and numerous causes, particularly linked to the transformations imposed on the fabrics by the passing of time: the textile can change but the name remains. Birdwood thus43 points out: ‘Textile fabric frequently take their names from the place where they first acquired excellence and retain them long after the local manufactures has been transferred elsewhere, and sometimes the name itself is transferred to an altogether different style of manufacture.’ The adopted classification is, like all classification, arbitrary. However it seemed possible to us to adopt and adapt the one by J. Irwin: calicoes, of higher or lesser quality, muslins, cotton and silk fabrics, painted or printed calicoes (known as ‘indiennes’ in France) and shawls. The Various Textiles of Indian Origin The pilgrim merchants and the merchants accumulated in their bags and shops 3,400 pieces of Indian origin, carrying around fifty different names, each of them susceptible to nuances generally

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linked to their different geographical origins. It was impossible to locate the exact source of this calico, that muslin, this silk cotton fabric, unless the scribe had indicated its exact origin. The whole of India produces fabrics; but a regional specialization still exists.44 In Western India, it is more calicoes: ‘painted and printed calicoes, ranging from the finest and most expensive muslins to the cheapest sackcloth, constituted the most important class fabric exported from Surat [. . .]. The silks exported from Western India were mostly fabrics of mixed cotton-and-silk.’45 On the Coromandel Coast: ‘On the Coast, as in Western India, plain and dyed cotton piece-goods made up the bulk of textiles exports [. . .] Plain white cloth, dyed cloth and cloth patterned in the loom.’46 And in Bengal: ‘Both raw and silk and finished silk piece-goods composed an important part of Bengal’s export trade in the seventeenth century’.47 However, specialized glossaries and works often attribute to different regions the manufacture of fabrics with the same name. The data available cannot help settle this issue. THREADS

Initially, there is no fabric, but a raw material essential to it: thread. Courges of iplik/aslak, thread in Turkish and Arabic, appear in the luggage of a pilgrim merchant. The thread is white or muqassab, striped, is it intended for ikate textiles? Inalcik had shown the ancient significance of this type of export: ‘Indian Thread or Yarn’ appears in the glossary ending his article:48 Indian cotton thread was an important commodity until 1800. The Syrian cotton manufacturing industry used cotton yarn before switching to English yarn. [. . .] Fine cotton yarn made in these countries was needed for weaving fine muslins in Turkey. Import of yarn, cotton yarn, must go back to very early times.

CALICOES, COTTON PIECES, UNPAINTED AND NOT PRINTED49 – Bafta: ‘a kind of calico made especially in Baroch, from the Persia b"afta, woven’ (Hobson, p. 47). The term bafta, ‘a generic term for plain calico of Gujarat (especially Broach and Nosari), varying


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in quality from coarse to fine. . . . After the Gujarat famine of 1630, they became scarce and were imitated in many other parts of India’ (Irwin, I, p. 25). The bafta mentioned here is described as ‘Bariali’, city of Gujarat, south of Ahmedabad, a few miles north of Broach. ‘The quality of the bafetas is the best of all the fabrics made in India and of good service. Thus, Indians hardly wear other fabrics [. . .] Bafetas are often intended, at least in this region, to be painted (or printed) in chit.’50 – J#ur∂ (joories): ‘plain white calico of Sind, corresponding to Gujarat bafta, woven chiefly at Narsapur, Darbelo Kandiaro. They were shipped to London after Gujarat baftas became scarce’ (Irwin, I, p. 28). – Khar"as (garras, gurras): ‘plain white calico cotton cloth of varying quality, woven especially in Orissa’ (Irwin III, p. 69). – Ch#ut"ar (chautars, chowters or chauderas): ‘a plain white calico, usually of superior quality’ (Irwin, I, p. 27). – Deriabads: ‘a good quality plain white calico, often brought to Broach [. . .] for bleaching. Exported to Near East’ (Irwin, I, p. 27). Roques sees little difference between chianters and mamoudis: ‘I find this type of fabric no different than the one we call chianters deriabadis’ (Roques, p. 117). – Mamoud∂ : ‘general term for Indian calico’ (Wellington, p. 223). ‘Fine fabrics [. . .]. They are fine enough and have enough body to support paint [. . .]. The more expensive ones can be put ‘in white that will resist washing very well [. . .]. They are made in Chamely, two days from Seronge, and three or four wefts of gold thread are added to the end of the piece to indicate their make’ (Roques, p. 119). – Eckbarie, which seemed to us to be the only interpretation for the term iskanbar, found in the inventories: ‘they were plain white cloth, larger and longer than other cloths . . . often bought for making into chintz and quilts’, (Irwin, I, p. 28). – M#ur∂, morees: ‘Staple cotton cloth woven on the Coromandel Coast, usually of superior quality [. . .]. It was also used for chintz making’ (Irwin, II, p. 42). – Bark"ala, percale: ‘a high grade plain cotton cloth [. . .] woven in the Madras area as well as in Golconda and were the kind of calico best suited for chintz’ (Irwin, II, p. 42).

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– M"adri"ak, madrepac, maderpork, described by Floor, in the marmar article, ‘a very fine white cotton cloth’, mentioned by an observer in 1773. V. Klein and P. Ackerman also mention ‘another type of fine cotton [. . .] named maderb"af [. . .]. Sometimes, customs documents write it as materpark, an additional indication of the distortions complicating the Eastern textiles vocabulary [. . .]. Some hundred years later, these authors report, this cloth was used to make turbans for the olama’. – Lakap"ur∂, a textile named only by its place of origin: this simple cotton cloth appears in Istanbul as well as in Basra: Lakap"u r$û describes a type of bafta, ‘often named after region of origin’ reports Wellington. In the Istanbul documents (1640), it is white or seven-coloured. Lakapuri cloth is repeatedly evidenced in the documents from 1640 and 1690. It probably refers to Lockipur, city of Bengal, mentioned in Blanchard’s manual. – Qadaq, ‘a finely woven cotton cloth, of Persian origin’, for W. Floor, 1999; ‘a narrow, calico cloth, of all colors and of size suitable to make one qab"a’ (C. Bier,51 1987). Here the cloth is of Indian origin and dyed (qadaq hind∂ masb#ugh). – Ham"am∂: ‘white cotton fabric very fine’ for Wellington; ‘plain cotton of varying quality, woven in many parts of Bengal’ (Irwin, III, p. 69). – Salamp#ur∂: ‘one of the categories of staple cotton cloth, woven on the Coast, (Coromandel) varying in quality and price’ (Irwin III, p. 42). – Lahûr∂, a textile solely referred to by its origin, Lahore, appended to the term f#uta. Interpretations diverge: ‘persian fautah, a kind of loin-band. These were coloured calicoes exported both to the East and West Indies’ (Irwin, I, p. 29). Loin-band is not very far from the usual meaning given to f#uta, a towel used to cover the middle of the body, a loin cloth, in a hammam. – Sevai, saway, the interpretation of which remains hesitant: the term describes a dest"ar, a turban, and belongs to the category of ‘very fine expensive cotton cloth’, imported from India and mentioned by Inalcik; namely a saway khank" ar in the Basra register in 1690, intended for a turban. Gürsü, Nevber52 makes it a silk cloth instead: ‘an ancient make, very popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in silk and silver thread’.


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Actually, the price of this textile, mentioned twice, is extremely variable: a sevai turban brought back by a pilgrim merchant is estimated at two piastres, while a violet sevai from a merchant’s shop is at more than 40. The high value of this sevai would be linked to the high price of the silk and gold and silver threads it is decorated with, and to its colour, violet, a mix of blue and crimson, an expensive colour (‘crimson colours are more expensive, like everywhere else’).53 – Yaman∂ was a source of many doubts. This cloth, one of the most mentioned by the scribes in the inventories, appears less as pieces than as a base fabric for different ‘finished products’, covers, cushions, etc. The term is obviously reminiscent of Yemen. But Barthélémy makes it ‘a supple calico’ and Dozy a ‘coloured cotton’. Gilles Veinstein considers it not as a painted or printed calico, but as a common cloth. In actuality, yaman∂ fabric appears not under the form of whole pieces, but as picks or cubits, as if the cloth was bought in small quantities to make specific objects, mattress and cushion covers [. . .]. Or as printed or painted calicoes: one of the yaman∂s was described as panch-eranguis, that is a five-coloured printed calico; this piece of yaman∂ was classified with the ‘indiennes’. Yaman∂, an inexpensive fabric, was considered here as part of the cotton textiles. MUSLINS

Let us stay in the cotton world. Roques, about the b"etille cloth, ‘the queen of all fabrics’ and its price, writes: ‘at this price some are made transparent or semi-transparent and are called muslins’.54 Fukusawa also writes: ‘Muslin is the generic name given to all loosely woven cotton fabrics, thin and light, exclusive speciality of India before they were successfully manufactured in the West. They mostly come from Bengal, but also from the Coromandel and from Burhanpur in northwestern India.’55 These definitions probably explain why the same fabric could be called muslin or considered a very fine cotton cloth. There is a shortage of information concerning certain textiles: often assigned to a very specific ‘piece of clothing’ —the sh"ash, the name of the cloth, mentioned in the Turkish documents from 1640 and 1690, has not found its exact definition.

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire


Let us classify as muslins these fabrics we know nothing of, except for the fact that the 1640 and 1690 documents intended them for turbans (sarik or dast"ar) and sh"ash (‘long piece of muslin or silk which is wrapped around the crown of the turban’, Barthélémy, 1969). These muslins will be presented according to a personal order: from the most well-known muslins, to the problematic or even unknown muslins. MUSLINS LISTED IN THE DIFFERENT GLOSSARIES – Agh"ab"an∂: ‘a muslin of fine texture’ (Hobson-Jobson, p. 706) or atchibannies, ‘muslin of Bengal’, (Roques, p. 204). Or ‘cotton fabric embroidered with silk, made in Aleppo’ (Wellington quoting Wingate): the existence of Syrian agh" ab"an∂ is clear, but other agh"ab"an∂ were of Indian origin, as shown by the scribes’ quantification in courges and t"aqa. – Bayr"am p"ur∂, Burhanp"ur : ‘the blue striped muslin “turbans” often finished off by a large gold stripe—made in Burhanpur and exported by Surate [. . .] to Persia and Turkey—are muslins’, (Fukasawa, pp. 41-2). – Betilles and dar"aya (doreas) – Betille: ‘A Deccan name for muslin. They were sometimes dyed red and sometimes striped [. . .]’ (Irwin, III, p. 40). ‘The betille, queen of all fabrics’ (Roques, p. 120). One of Legoux de Flaix’s sub-chapters is entitled: ‘doreas OR betilles’: ‘this name is given to a type of striped muslin made on the Coromandel Coast [. . .]. Their real name is betilles in the Tamil idiom; as the dorea, resembling the betille is made in Bengal [. . .]. This type of muslin [. . .] is reasonably beautiful and of fairly good use. . . . This type of muslin is mostly used in the Levant, in Syria, Persia and Arabia and their neighbouring countries; it is brought by caravans going through these countries to reach Aleppo and the surrounding echelles’ (Legoux de Flaix, p. 105 sq). – Haz"ari, izaree has been described in different, sometimes contradictory, ways: ‘trouser’ (Hobson-Jobson), ‘a sub category of gingham’ (Irwin, II, p. 41); ‘plain white; south India, medium quality’ (Chaudhuri, p. 502). We favour the latter’s interpreta-


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tion: in the deeds, the name of this cloth is used to define sh"ash— so a fine fabric, or muslin, it is difficult to make a distinction. The term haz"ari, present in the two travelling merchants’ effects, is preceded by (written in Turkish) numbers sekiz (nine) and on (ten): can we advance the hypothesis that the name of this cloth refers to a quantity of threads making up the muslin? Of size? Anyway, the ten haz"ar∂ is more expensive than the nine. – Kh"assa (casses): ‘simple muslin, usually of good quality, mostly woven in the district of Dacca; the best of them are reserved for the Middle Eastern market’ (Irwin, III, p. 68). ‘Plain white muslin. Fine quality fashion wear to reexport-trade, Bengal’ (Chaudhuri, p. 504). – Nans"ukh, nansooks, only ‘plain cotton of good quality’ (Irwin, III, p. 70); but for Legoux: ‘the nansook . . . is a cotton fabric woven with an extremely fine thread [. . .]. We know of three types of this muslin’ (Legoux de Flaix, p. 329). – Q"a’im kh"ane (camcanys, caymeconyes): ‘a plain muslin woven near Patna [. . .]. They were particularly in demand for Persia’ (Irwin, III, p. 67). – Sarbat∂, sharbat∂, serbettees: ‘Hindi “turban” . . . Fine muslin, woven in Dacca’, (Irwin, III, p. 71); ‘plain white muslin, fine to superfine quality, Bengal’, (Chaudhuri, p. 505); ‘fine muslin with texture between nansook and mull ’ (Wellington quoting Wingate). – S∂l"anh"ar: Probably from the city of Silon,56 ‘capital of the Makealame province, located between the mountains of the Eastern Ghats, along the Caveri-Koleram [. . .]. This type of cloth [. . .] appears close to the casses of Bengal [. . .]. They (Indian women) also use them in white or coloured as toupouta, a very long sort of veil’; toupouta could be translated as the current dopata, the length and shape of which are close to the sh"ash. MORE PROBLEMATIC MUSLINS OR FINE COTTON FABRICS We could not find reliable references on these other fine fabrics listed and presented as intended for turbans and sh" a sh in the Istanbul price register, the Basra customs document and the Damascene inventories after death.

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire


– Fara-kh"ana: the exact meaning of the term remains unknown; but the fabric, associated with turbans and appearing in the deeds and the Basra settlement, in 1640, under the spelling farhadhani, is most probably a muslin. In 1640, the term farhadhani is associated with s"us∂ cloth, considered a muslin by Inalcik. – Kamp"ur∂: muslin of a turban called dest"ar kamp"ur∂; the name ending in p"ur∂ evokes a city in which the textile would be, or would have been made. – Kamr"uil ∂: In his travel accounts, Roques mentions light Comeruli fabrics, a term which Valérie Bérinstain did not manage to identify. – K"usa or k"use, k"usha or k"ushe: unknown, but often listed as turban material in the documents. This textile, repeatedly listed in the Bassora Settlement, ‘plain köse dest"ar’, is, according to Inalcik, ‘a very fine and very expensive cotton cloth’. Irwin mentions ‘catches, probably from Hindi, kach, loincloth; cotton cloth of unknown description exported to the Malay archipelago and to Persia’ (Irwin, II, 41). The loincloth is not a turban, but it is also an unstitched piece of clothing used to wrap around oneself. – Karmarsh"ah∂ could be read as mermersh"ah∂, an expensive muslin listed in the Istanbul settlement from 1640. MUSLINS ONLY MENTIONED IN THE INVENTORIES The following fabrics are not mentioned either in the different customs settlements studied by H. Inalcik and G. Veinstein, in the different dictionaries used, or in the accounts from travellers or counsellors for the East India Company (or we have not found them). We mention them anyway: they existed, but we can only formulate hypotheses about them. – Altunb"ash: altun means gold in Turkish and b"ash head; Legoux de Flaix and Roques often make references to muslins (or fine cotton fabrics) with one or both edges made of gold threads (Legoux, pp. 112 and 338). – Aqransh"ah∂ or Urangshah∂: an irritating absence of references for these particularly expensive fabrics! Aurang means ‘ware-house’ for the Indian companies: could there be the trace of an explanation in this coincidence? My last hypothesis, but I think, the


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good one: a kind of very fine and expensive organdi, whose name is organza. Legoux describes ‘organdi’ (pp. 112-13) without using the word ‘organza’. But organdi and organza are two similar materials. Baksawa, sh"ash cloth, not well written, could be iaksawa, evokes a town. Or is it the boxwhaves mentioned by Irwin (II, p. 40): ‘piece goods of uncertain description’? – J"ut∂: the term, absent from the Istanbul and Basra documents, appears several times in the inventories, describing a sh"ash cloth. J"ut∂ could be a muslin woven in a city of Bengal, Jougdia, which Blanchard mentions several times;57 Legoux as well, who presents the town as one of the leading places for the manufacture of muslins (Legoux, pp. 346, 356, 364). – Mansal∂, masseli, sh"ash cloth, could be the masseri mentioned by Legoux: ‘The casse is classified with the fabrics called strong, while the nansook is included in the type called masseri, Hindu name we could not translate . . . and from which we probably made the term muslin’ (Legoux, p. 345). SILK AND COTTON AND SILK FABRICS Pure silk is rarely mentioned: – A few ratl of silk of q"aim’kh"ane, name already mentioned about the muslins named caimacanis. The origin of the term q"a’im kh"ane is unknown, it could be the name of a place. – Some mûnî, meanae: ‘silk cloth woven in Sind and exported mainly to Persia’ (Irwin, I, p. 29). The cotton silk fabrics, however, are well represented: Al"aja first. Well known, often mentioned. All the authors agree when describing its composition, silk and cotton, striped cloth, ikat cloth. The cloth does not only come from India: weaving centres existed in the Ottoman Empire. We have only noted here al"aja for which quantities are expressed in courges and t"aqa, or al"aja for which the Indian origin is plainly indicated by the scribe.

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire


‘Turki alcha, alacha, “stripes”, an important Gujarat cloth of blended cotton and silk, usually striped red and white or blue and white, sometimes flowered or embellished with gold and silver thread. A similar cloth was woven under the same name in Bengal; but Gujarat alachas usually contained a higher proportion of cotton’ (Irwin, I, p. 25). Roques, who started his travels in Gujarat, has the most complete and detailed description of it: Of allegas. More allegas are made in Ahmedabad than any other silk or silk cotton fabric [. . .]. They have a large output in all of India as they use it for clothing. They are greatly worn in Bantam or in Persia and in all the Great Moghul kingdom [. . .]. None equal those from Ahmeda-bat [. . .]. There are different types. . . . This fabric is a type of taby on silk warp and cotton weft. Care must be taken so that the warp is not larger than the weft. . . . Those with equally large warp and weft are better [. . .]. But whomever wants them to the utmost perfection for a very long use must ensure that the weft is of extremely loose and well twisted fine cotton and that the warp is flush, that is [. . .] it must cover the weft fully’ (pp. 86-8).

Several varieties appear in the inventories, their particularities remain unknown. In Gujarat: Bairoch al"aja—often listed in the documents, to the point of being sometimes named bur"uj∂ or burujiyya—and Surat al"aja. These textiles are also often mentioned in the Basra settlement. Sahibi al"aja and Divil al"aja: also mentioned. Divil is a town also called Dabhol, or Dapul, ‘a very good port where many Moor ships arrived from Mecca, Aden and Ormuz, Cambay and Diu’.58 Lahore al"aja, from Punjab, probably with the highest valued quality, was not mentioned in the Basra settlement. An al"a ja from Mav, written as fabric pieces from Mav and Ahmedabad is reminiscent of the Indian mavdihi alaca in the Basra settlement. Inalcik, who mentions this type of al"aja, writes: ‘Mahw, a city’, and also mentions an al"aja from Ahmedabad. – Atlas or satin: Roques makes it a pure silk fabric: ‘the difference we make between allas and cottonis which are satiny fabrics, is that allas is of pure silk and cottonis is of cotton weft’ (Roques, p. 93). A century later, Flachat describes it as a ‘silk warp with


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cotton weft, either brocaded (Chinese satin) in repeated motifs, or flowered’. 59 W. Floor considers atlas equivalent to qutn∂: ‘Atlas or qotni is a mixed silken-cotton fabric, often also referred to as satin. The difference is that atlas is unstriped.’60 – Chukla: ‘striped cloth of mixed silk and cotton’ (Irwin, III, p. 68). – Karmas"ut: this name does not appear in glossaries dedicated to Indian fabrics. However, J.-C. Flachat, in 1766, describes karmas"ut as an ‘Indian fabric, taffeta, silk warp with cotton weft and brocaded in silk’; and R. Dozy, in 1968, as ‘moire’; he links the term’s origin to Persia and India. In our sources, the adjectives used to describe karmas"ut help define the look of the fabric: karmas"ut is described as ja’far kh"ane (jafarcani) or muqallam, two adjectives referring more to a painted fabric, an ‘indienne’. Another karmas"ut is muqassab, woven with metallic threads, another çiçekli, flowered. – Qutn∂, cuttanee, cotonis: another type of very often quoted cotton silk blend. The scribes differentiate between al"aja and qutn∂: this difference thus exists, but it is difficult to spot. Wellington quoting Wingate: ‘Indian fabric woven with silk warp and fine cotton filling in fancy patterns’. Irwin gives the following description: ‘An important Gujarat export cloth of mixed silk-and-cotton with satin weave, usually striped and sometimes interspersed with flowers’ (Irwin, I, p. 27). Let us make the hypothesis that qutn∂ contains more silk than al"aja, that the cotton used for weaving is of better quality and that if al"aja is often an ikat cloth, qutn∂ is woven with stripes and floral motifs. Oddly, in Forbes-Watson’s encyclopaedic work dedicated to Indian fabrics—and which presents some samples—qutn∂ is not present; only a kootnee described as a chintz from Central Asia: ‘glazed cotton chintz called kootnee manufactured in Bokhara’, Forbes Watson, vol. XV, pp. 568-9). And yet, there is no doubt on the origin—Indian amongst others—of this cloth: Roques reports that the ‘manufacture of this place (Ahmedabad) consists in all types of silk and silk cotton fabrics, allegas, taffetas, soussy on silk, cottonis, allas at various prices . . .’ (Roques, p. 85); he mentions this textile several times: ‘Cottonis or small filled satins, gold and silver flowered cottonis striped and shaped cottonis’ (pp. 89-93). While there are

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire


no qutnî samples in the Forbes Watson book, it presents several samples of the mashru cloth, in silk and cotton, striped, embellished with flowers, which largely evokes qutn∂, a name which might have been solely reserved for the Gujarat production, in the seventeenth and eigthteenth centuries. After this date, the word qutn∂ could be only used in a part of central Asia where Turkish language is spoken: that is an hypothesis. These fabrics (al" a ja, qutn∂, atlas) are comparable: J. Irwin compares al"aja to qutn∂: ‘Another kind of mixed cotton and silk fabric was cuttanee (persian qutni ). In pattern somewhat similar to alachas, technically they were a satin weave.’61 Irwin remarks that it is the cloth’s weave that differentiates fabrics: alacha probably being a plain or taffeta weave, the simplest fabric weave, while qutnî would be made with the ‘satin’ weave, leaving more space for the fabric’s silky ‘gloss’. E. Hardouin-Fugier also stresses the importance of weave more than composition: ‘The third classically mentioned weave, the satin weave, is actually derived from the twill, an exaggeration of sorts, giving an extreme development to the float. The threads can thus display their shine in the most continuous way possible.’62 – S"us∂, sousaes, soosies ‘striped or chequered fabric of silk or mixed cotton and silk woven chiefly in the Malda Kasimbazar area, also available in other parts of India’ (Roques, p. 85); Irwin, III, p. 71; Chaudhuri gives the same definition: ‘mixed cotton and silk, Bengal, fine quality’ (Chaudhuri, p. 505). Savary des Bruslons (1723, II, col. 1566) presents a more specific description of it, as silk rather than a silk cotton blend: silk striped muslins in various colours, from India. They are called muslins, even though there is no cotton in their make, like in real muslins. They were named as such because of a slight flock appearing on the surface of the cloth like with muslins. These are real silk fabrics. Indians are the only ones with a way to work these types of fabrics. Soosies are of different length and width; some pieces are only eight ells long by three quarters wide and others are twenty ells by two thirds.

Finally, and probably, we find the best explanation in Forbes Watson (vol. IV, pp. 131-41), ‘material called soosee, used in making


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trousers for both men and women’, made of cotton-silk, or of pure cotton material. – Sh"akr∂, could be compared to seersucker, ‘Indian cloth of silk and cotton striped in silk made like a muslin’ (Wellington, quoting Savary); Chaudhuri: ‘silk and cotton’. – Tepay, tepoy: rarely listed, presented as a cotton-silk blend, ‘cotton and silk, Bengal, fine quality ’ (Wellington, quoting Savary, and Chaudhuri, p. 505). PRINTED OR PAINTED CALICOES, THE ‘INDIENNES’ Fukasawa63 devotes a long paragraph to them: ‘Indian is a name given to all cotton fabrics which are partially coloured, flowered or patterned in other ways [. . .]. These are strictly French designations, a more commonly universal designation is chitte, chintz [. . .].’ He emphasizes two techniques: paint and print. In India, it is the Coromandel Coast which specialises in the making of good quality painted fabrics, known as qalamk"ari which means [. . .] made with a quill [. . .]; however, the northwestern provinces of India [. . .] produce not only painted fabrics but also printed ones [. . .]. The quality of printed fabrics varies greatly according to the fineness of the fabric and that of the plates’ engraving [. . .]. For printed calicoes with multicoloured patterns called pancheranguis [. . .] five to ten plates are needed. . . . (Fukasawa, pp. 42-4).

Yaman∂ (cotton fabric with a mysterious and varying definition) is listed in the documents as printed in five colours in the same way as the pancherangis. The qalamk"ar must have been painted; the chit designation remains vague, as well as the adjective applied, kamrul∂—probably a geographical origin as yet unknown. SHAWLS

There is also a small quantity of shawls: one from Lahore, two from Kashmir, one from D"unl"aq (Dolkha?) is located at the south of Ahmedabad), a shawl defined as zert"ar. Legoux describes the shawls from Kashmir:64 ‘Hindustan feeds many species of sheep, their fleeces are used in the making of

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire


different types of fabrics; but not all wools are equally beautiful, and none come near the quality of wool obtained from the sheep of Kashmir.’ The zert"ar shawls, worked with gold thread, are mentioned several times in H. Inalcik (The Ottoman Cotton Market, pp. 264-308). The Lahore shawls are less known: are they woollen? This is not certain. ‘Lahore provides printed fabrics of the highest quality’ highlights Fukasawa,65 many of which are exported by ‘Turkish, “Moor” and Armenian merchants to Persia, Turkey [. . .].’ The Lahore shawls appear several times in a Turkish document,66 as ‘Lahûri shal hindistan’, probably made from painted or printed calicoes. III. IMPORTED FABRICS, POPULAR FABRICS, AND PREFERRED FABRICS

PROPORTION OF DIFFERENT QUALITIES OF IMPORTED INDIAN FABRICS ACCORDING TO THE INVENTORIES USED HERE The scribes carefully noted the names, quantities and values of the fabrics in the inventories. The following table, constructed from their meticulous notes, presents the amount, in quantity and value, and the proportion of these imported fabrics: Type of fabric

Amount of the pieces

Calicoes Muslins Silk Silk cotton Shawls ‘Indiennes’

659 1,742 926 3,638 48 (not 457 weighed) 1,557 3,277 7 47 58 191



Unknown or impossible to read





Average value per piece

18.6 38.9 4.9

2.6 3.9

35.0 0.5 2.0

2.1 6.7 3.3




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Silk, ‘indiennes’ and shawls only occupy a small share. Calicoes and above all, muslins and silk cotton fabric blends form the bulk of the cargoes. PROPORTION OF INDIAN TEXTILES IN ALL DAMASCENE FABRIC MERCHANTS’ SHOPS G. Veinstein, in his article, laments a number of gaps in the knowledge of this commercial movement: In the area of textile imports, what we are least ignorant about at the present moment is the qualitative aspect: the customs regulations, the registers of fixed prices (narh;) and the probate inventories [. . .]. We shall nonetheless learn a lot more in this domain when there is a greater availability of published material—and in particular more editions of the probate inventories from every place and period with which central and local Turkish archives are packed. We have followed this advice, by analysing Damascene inventories [. . .] A comparison of the 1551-75 and 1690 versions of the Basra customs regulations (the second version being so much more extensive and detailed in terms of the types of fabric involved) suggests that the imports in question increased in the course of the seventeenth century.67

Let us abandon the idea of a chronological study of the movement of these imports, which would require later or earlier data. On the other hand, the study of these almost identified 3,200 pieces lets us see which textiles were attractive enough, sought after enough, in Damascus or even throughout the Empire (as the textiles listed in the acts are often those mentioned in the Istanbul price register and the Basra customs settlement) to brave the difficulties and costs of importation. Defining the proportion of Indian textiles in Damascus from the sources presented here is impossible: part of these fabrics were not intended to stay in the city, and were only in transit. But an evaluation concerning the fabrics logged in the Damascene merchants’ shops was presented in Des tissus et des hommes ,68 it is interesting to reproduce here the conclusion.

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire


In the Damascene traders’ shops, the share of Damascene products was by far the most significant; the Ottoman Empire (primarily the Arab regions, Egypt and Baghdad more than Turkey) was the second supplier for the city’s shops. Persia and Europe were little involved: the fabrics admittedly passed through part of Persia, which had a keen interest, it seems, in the same groups of fabrics. India played a considerable role in Damascene importation, without being essential, less than 10 per cent of the value of all textiles. H. Inalcik reached the same conclusion in his study on the Ottoman cotton market and India: It must be emphasized that both in market stocks and among household goods, quantities of fabrics of Indian origin were insignificant compared to the use of fabrics and cloth from Anatolia, Baghdad, Bursa, Aleppo and Damascus [. . .]. Indian muslin held an important place on the market, especially for turbans. It might be considered that the market for consumption of imported Indian goods was situated in the capital of the empire and other large cities, and that was a much more limited demand for these goods in the province.69

Let us nuance his stand: even in the Arab and eastern parts of the empire, these fabrics were not entirely missing from shops. PROPORTION OF INDIAN TEXTILES IN ALL DAMASCENE HOUSEHOLDS In an as yet unpublished article,70 we tried to establish the share of ‘exotic’ consumption in Damascus during the same time period. This article is not based on the analysis of trade movements, but on the study of consumption, as it appears through acts detailing the domestic assets of the deceased, their crockery, furnishings, clothing, jewellery, slaves, reserves and so on. Around 10 per cent of consumer goods come from abroad: pearls from the Persian Gulf, slaves, coffee from Arabia, furs from the North, Chinese crockery and fabrics. If China dominates the exoticism of crockery, India supplies the bulk of foreign fabrics consumed in Damascus, more than a third of the imports in quantity, less than a fifth in value.


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Persia Europe India

30 62 558

Total value

Value per piece

65 390 1,344

2 6 2

THE ORIGIN OF ‘EXOTIC’ FABRICS IN DAMASCENE HOUSEHOLDS AROUND 1700 Amongst the Indian textiles ‘consumed’ by the Damascene deceased, there were only a few inexpensive white textiles imported to Europe by the Companies; few silks, a few woollens, some shawls, a few printed calicoes. The greatest share by far were of the cotton silk fabrics and the muslins. These two analyses (purchase and consumption) thus reach the same results: on one hand, the Ottoman Empire, in general, and Damascus particularly, were consumers of textiles from abroad; the calicoes, the ‘indiennes’ had infiltrated the market, but the Damascenes’ preferences went towards muslins and silk cotton fabrics. Why was that? IV. THE CAUSES OF A CRAZE

THE EMPIRE: A MAJOR CONSUMER AND PRODUCER OF FABRICS We note that the Ottoman Empire was a major consumer and producer (as seen above) of fabrics. Fabrics occupy a significant place in the household. Out of approximately 17,000 objects listed in the houses of 121 deceased, more than 6,500, 38.4 per cent, are fabrics: clothing of course, pieces of fabric probably kept in reserve in the houses, but also belongings essential to bedtime, meals, receptions, ground level ‘furniture’, mostly made up of types of divans and cushions. The share of textile furnishings represents a little more than half the fabric objects listed in the houses’ inventories.71 ISLAM AND FABRIC The Ottoman Empire belongs, at this period of time, to a large Muslim ensemble, including India and Persia.

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire


H. Inalcik insists on the ‘international’ nature of at least two fabrics: ‘kutn∂ and alaca are said to belong to a group of silk-cotton blend fabrics which had a large consumption in India, Persia, and Turkey after the Moghul period, since the thirteenth century. We find a number of varieties of fabrics under the rubric alaca after the fifteenth century in Ottoman tereke and custom registers’.72 This ‘internationality’ is linked to a religious imperative. In these Muslim lands, silk must not or should not be in contact with the body, thus the preference given to textiles composed of cotton and silk. There are a few references to silk in the Koran:73 ‘Allah will admit [to paradise?] those who believe and do righteous good deeds, to Gardens under which rivers flow, wherein they will be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls and their garments therein will be of silk’ (Sura XXII, 23), or in Sura XXXV, 30/33: ‘Gardens of Eternity will they enter: therein will they be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls; and their garments there will be of silk’. These surats have been repeatedly interpreted by various authors of fiqh, in different religious schools. The Encyclopédie de l’Islam, under the section harîr (silk) devotes a long article to silk and the practices recommended by several schools of religious law. Some schools ‘authorise the wearing of clothing containing it but in a proportion inferior to that of other materials’. The author of the article in the Encyclopédie de l’Islam emphasizes, however, the diversity of interpretations and customs. A group of traditions which, amongst others, express an ascetic tendency from the early times of Islam, forbid the use of silk to men but authorise it for women [. . .]. Another version forbids it to men only if they wear it for show; on the other hand, it is sometimes recommended that women do not use it [. . .]. All the schools of religious law forbid men from wearing, in direct contact with their skin, any clothing made exclusively of silk, but they diverge on many details [. . .]. Hanafites allow resting and sleeping on silk and using it for cushions and prayer mats [. . .]. Wearing outer clothing in silk is allowed, provided it does not touch the body. All these prohibitions only apply to men.74

Mouradja d’Ohsson, writes the following when interpreting the suras: ‘This is founded on the words of the Prophet, do not wear silk garments; because him who wears it in this world will not wear it in eternity.’75


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For contemporary times, R. Crill, in his article ‘Textiles in Kutch’,76 remarks: Today mashru, locally called alacha [she does not us the name qutn∂], is only made in Mandvi in Kutch, as well as Patan in northeast Gujarat, mashru which means permitted that is, permitted to Muslim males, who traditionally are forbidden to wear pure silk next to the skin. As it is satin weave, in which the warp threads lie on the surface of the fabric to create a smooth effect, the cotton wefts lie on the back of the fabric, next to the wearer’s skin.

Rosemary Crill has even noted that this mashru fabric could also, in certain regions of Gujarat, be called al"aja. CLOTHING IN THE OTTOMAN MUSLIM WORLD IS NOT ALWAYS SO DIFFERENT FROM INDIAN GARMENTS There is nothing in common between most of the Indian garments made from uncut and unstitched pieces and Ottoman clothing. But as Elizabeth Hardouin-Fugier highlights:77 The limit between fabric and clothing is very fragile. Does an unsewn garment, a shawl, a scarf, a toga, an oriental veil, a strip for nomad tents still remain simple fabric? [. . .]. Thus, the Ottomans, and the Persians, also use unstitched pieces of fabric, belts, sh"ash mostly, shawls to a lesser extent, which readily favour Indian fabrics.

Savary des Bruslons notes: ‘we also count as Indian fabrics [. . .] the head-scarves (“fichus”, new word invented in France) which are embroidered or plain; the blankets or quilts; the scarves; the outfits; the silk coffee towels; the muslins in different types of silk.’78 An essential part of the ‘Muslim’ costume is the turban, shâsh, sarik destâr, which is not sewn. Mouradja d’Ohsson79 devoted thirteen pages to the different hairstyles and turbans distinguishing Muslims from other peoples: ‘whatever the condition and attire of a Muslim, he is always distinguishable from other peoples by his hairstyle. . . .’ He highlights the significance of muslin: ‘Turbans lined with white muslin were little known in the first reigns, but their use becomes almost general under Mohammed II’. This is Mohammed Fatih, Sultan from the fifteenth century. Other pieces of textile,

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire


unstitched, sh"add, shawls, belts, received as such in the Empire, were used in great quantity by the Ottomans. THE DAY-TO-DAY REALITY: WHICH INDIAN FABRIC FOR WHICH FURNISHING? FOR WHICH GARMENT? The database will rest here on the census of all the fabrics, garments and furnishings belonging to 121 subjects and 78 soldiers, altogether more than 10,000 pieces.80 FURNITURE AND FURNISHINGS

There is little exoticism in the day-to-day furnishings: out of one hundred objects less than two are made of Indian cloth. Often these are the small pieces translated as handkerchiefs, towels (mand∂l, mahrama), pieces of fabric which the traveller even today carries on his shoulder, in Turkey in the countryside and in India; or even the small sheath-purses, or bundles, used to pack effects (bogca). These humble items, made of muslin, very fine cotton (dorea), silk cotton blend (qutn∂) or qalamk"ar are not more valuable than if they were made of Syrian or Ottoman fabric. However, the value of a mattress rises when it is covered in qutn∂; a qutnî mattress reaches the price of approximately two gold coins, five piastres, while the same objects covered in local fabric are worth only two piastres. Some cushions are also made from qutn∂, two piastres, a higher value than the whole but lower than the cushions made from velvet or embroidered silk which adorn a few rare interiors. A few quilted bed covers (lih"af ), the back of which is, instead of the usual white sheet, a painted silk called hind∂, an atlas or a cotton ‘Indian’ (qalamk"ar) also reach five piastres, a value higher than the average price of lih"af, two and a half piastres. CLOTHING

Damascenes have used Indian fabric more for their clothing (in a proportion that is however quite small, close to 7 per cent); overall, the use of these fabrics increases their value: 1.9 piastres for a


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garment made from Ottoman cloth (Syrian or from outside Syria), 2.4 for the same garments as ‘Indian’. WHICH FABRICS FOR WHICH GARMENTS? All used by men, the shawls, sh"add and sh"ash were small pieces of fabric, imported as finished products. The shawls were made from Lahore cloth or Kashm$ûr$û wool; Kashmîrî wool reached high values, from eight to ten piastres, three or four gold pieces. The sh"add have a more indefinite translation: ‘turban cloth, but also fabric, cotton, muslin, and belt’ (Barthélémy); or ‘piece of muslin, silk or other fabric which is wrapped around the crown of a turban’ and, as a second meaning, ‘belt’ (R. Dozy, 1968)—one of the pieces was actually called belt, zunnar sh" add )—a meaning we prefer, since turbans already have other names. The sh"ash were turbans also named dest"ar and sarik, ‘long pieces of muslin or silk wrapped around the crown of the turban’, specifies Barthélémy. Turbans were mostly made from muslins (altunb"ash, four to five piastres, j"ut∂, four and a half piastres, kûsha, ten piastres, s"us∂, four p., haz"ar∂, four p.); their value was four times as high as the value of turbans made from ordinary cloth. Muslins were also used for shirts and trousers. Betilles, which double their value, from one to more than two piastres, seem to be reserved for women’s shirts. The doreas were used for different types of trousers, male and female, janty"an, lib"as, raf∂q, (2.5 p. in average compared to 1.4). The s"us∂ were clearly intended for garments in high amounts, the s"a ya. This word’s translation remains vague: simple ‘swatch’ (for Barthélémy), or ‘buttonless jersey, or women’s skirt’ (for Dozy81); the inventory’s context often evokes a male or female garment, often associated with a ‘top’, shirt and antar. We would thus be in favour of Forbes Watson’s hypothesis, evoking s"us∂ as a material for trousers. Bottom garment, maybe trousers, or large loincloth. In any case, a s"aya in s"us∂ has an average value of almost two piastres, compared to a little more than one for s"aya made from other materials. The cotton silk fabrics, mostly qutn∂, dabul∂, a type of alâja, are used for top garments, qaft"an above all but also qunb" az, antar, zebun. On average a qutn∂ qaft"an costs 3.4 piastres. Moire qaft"an,

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire


adorned with gold buttons or made from Damascene ikat cloth (t"as) are more expensive; but a simple cloth qaft"an, described by the scribe by a colour name, is only worth a little more than two piastres. The printed calico qalamk"ar is almost exclusively reserved for qunbâz, barely increasing their value. Certain pieces, as s"us∂yya, qutniyya, bur"ujiyya have an unknown destination. These names we know nothing of, items probably made from s"us∂, qutn∂, or bur"uj∂ (al"aja), are always followed by a colour, white, green, red, yellow: were they plain, and not striped? One thing is for certain: their use is almost exclusively reserved for men. Both men and women, in almost identical proportions, chose Indian fabrics for their furnishings and their clothing. But only State personnel (soldiers, law men) and the wealthiest subjects could afford them. This is explained by the limited price data presented here. In a broader sense, what is the value of these Indian fabrics? V. THE PRICE OF A CRAZE

To expand our sample and ascertain the value of these fabrics from a large amount of data, we used, along with the information in our current sample, the lists of textiles kept in all fabric merchants’ shops in Damascus. AVERAGE VALUE OF DAMASCENE, OTTOMAN AND INDIAN FABRICS In the stalls, around 4,220 pieces of local origin represent a value of 6,246 piastres: the average value of a fabric made in Damascus is thus less than 1.5 piastre, a little more than half a gold piece. Add to that 1908 pieces of Egyptian fabric, with a lower value per piece, a little more than one silver piastre. Finally the scribe recorded 260 pieces of Indian fabric: the value of these textiles is 860 piastres, not including the headdresses and other finished products. On an average, a fabric piece from India is worth 3.3 piastres, more than three silver pieces, much higher than a gold piece.


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As H. Inalckik and G.Veinstein had suggested, the very fine cottons and muslins for unstitched pieces were the most common and the most expensive. SH"ASH They were amongst the main Indian imports into Damascus. The value of sh"ash, alone, represents a third of the total value of all the Indian fabrics. We will restrict ourselves to a comparison of the value of local sh"ash and sh"ash made from Indian fabric, of local or Indian al"aja, of qutn∂, of printed calicoes, while presenting a few extraordinary values. The average price of all sh"ash of local or foreign origin stored in the merchant’s shops was evaluated at 1.4 p. In the more modest shops, the value of these goods seems to be well under the average: 0.8 for sh"ash, only 0.1 for shadd, barely more for sh"ala—0.2. The quality of the fabric used explains this difference, a cloth so common the scribe did not consider it necessary to describe, limiting himself sometimes to a brief sh"ash sh"am∂, of local origin. The numerous sh"al"at were not described any more precisely: sh"al"at writes the scribe, or sh"al"at sh"am∂. The following tables reveal the often high value of sh"ash of Indian origin. Here are two examples: THE SHÅSH STOCKED BY AL-HÅJJ MURÅD Amount Sh"ash haz"ar∂ Sh"ash altunb"ash Sh"ash köshe Sh"ash sh"akir Sh"ash bindal∂ Sh"ash j"ut∂ Sh"ash kh"assa Sh"ash Total

Total value

Average value

4 3 10 27 25 25 33 3

20 13.5 30 74.5 62.5 50 82.5 7.5

5 4.5 3 2.8 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5




Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire



Total Value

Sh"ash from Seilon Sh"ash altun b"ash Sh"ash baksawa Sh"ash baksawa Sh"ash q"a’im kh"ane Sh"ash j"ut∂

18 pieces (t"aqa) 22 pieces 2.5 pieces 9 pieces 1.75 pieces 3 pieces



Price per piece 25 99 7.5 27 4.25 6

1.4 4.5 3 3 2.4 2



The average value of sh"ash made from Indian cloth reaches 2.6 piastres, double the average value (1.4). The sh"ash and shawls of al-H"ajj Khal$ûl b. al-H"ajj ‘Abdalhayy b. Mughayzal: two small Kashmir shawls with two gold embroidered shawls, 10 piastres a piece (4 gold pieces), a Lahore shawl at 4 p.; 56 sh"ash for a global value of 169 p., an average price of 3 piastres, The conclusion is clear: sh"ash of Indian origin are worth two to three times the price of local origin sh"ash. MUSLINS This high value is related to the price of imported muslins. Inalcik notes: Indian cotton cloth especially the muslins and the attractive design of the dyed and printed cotton fabrics fascinated first their Near Eastern consumers[. . .]. The Indian cottons coming to the Ottoman Empire were generally of the very fine and expensive varieties. Indian muslins and prints achieved their unparalleled high level of quality because demand for them among Indian royal houses and the upper middle classes was strong.82

Here are a few examples of the values listed in the following table. Only average values are taken into account here. Some pieces exceed these values by far: a piece of dar"aya was priced at 12 piastres, one of baksawa at 13.75 (in both these cases, the fabric is dyed red with cochineal, giving it an additional value). A piece of dar"aya muqassab, with metallic threads, is worth 8 piastres.

364 Textile Dar"aya S"us∂ Kh"assa J"ut∂ Aurangsh"ah∂

Colette Establet-Vernin Average value of the piece 2.8 4.4 3.0 3.0 6.2 (from 3.7 to 10)

SILK COTTON FABRICS Calculating an average value is more difficult when it comes to ‘international textiles’, like al"aja, qutn∂, qadaq and the ‘indiennes’, made in India of course but also in Persia and Turkey. Let us give the example of one of these pilgrim merchants bringing, in his luggage, several of these ‘international’ fabrics: two types of qadaq (at 0.9 piastres if from Aleppo, at 2 piastres if Indian); three qualities of al"aja: of bad quality (sharta) at 1.3 piastre, in silk at 3 piastres, and at 4.5 when it comes from Bairoch; he also brings three qualities of atlas: Persian at 4 p., from Aleppo at 3 p., Indian (the value is unfortunately not indicated), European (ifranj∂, probably Italian) at 12.5 piastres. Al"aja: its average value is 2.4 piastres. But Indian al"aja is much more expensive: al"aja from Ahmedabad is at 4.3 piastres; from Surat at 4.5; al"aja from Lahore at 7; al"aja from Bairoch at 4.5 also and at 4.8 if embellished with metallic threads. Qutn∂, from a calculation made on 168 pieces, is preferred to al"aja, a piece being evaluated at 4.3 piastres on average; but is difficult to spot an Indian qutn∂ from a qutn∂ made elsewhere; a Persian qutn∂ (aj"am∂) is only worth 2.5 piastres. Karmas"ut, presented as an Indian or Persian cloth, has been estimated at 4.7 a piece on average. Variations according to the presence of metallic threads (muqassab) or paint (muqallam) increases its price to 10 piastres. PLAIN CALICOES Cotton fabrics or calicoes reach lesser values, but often higher than those of Syrian or Ottoman cottons: percale, 2.5, mamoudis, 2.3; salampore 2.5; m"adery"ak 3.7; deryabad or deriband 2; m"ur∂ between

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire


2 and 3 piastres, lakapûrî 2.8, yamanî (particularly international fabric), 1.3. A lot of these imported cottons are to be printed or painted as ‘indiennes’: m"ur∂, ‘simple cotton, of good quality, suitable for painting on chintz and coming from the Coromandel Coast’,83 percale, ‘the kind of calico best suited for chintz’,84 bafetas are often made, in this region at least, to be painted, or printed, in chitte 85 or yamanî. PRINTED OR PAINTED CALICOES Finally, the printed calicoes are not all ‘Indian’, as they are made at the same time in Persia, in the Ottoman Empire, in Aleppo, in Diyarbekir particularly, and imitated in France before their import is prohibited. Different designations: sh∂t, pencheranguis, jafarcani, or even yaman∂ when muqallam (painted), qalamk"ar. Different prices: the average value of a piece of shît, out of 47 pieces, is 2.6 piastres, with large disparities in value: from less than one to 6.3 piastres. Qalamk"ar, four piastres, quite a high value. A fabric only called diy"arbakr∂ reminiscent of course of the chafarcanis from Diyarbekir, not much more than a piastre per t"ub. G. Veinstein proposed the following hypothesis for these price variations:86 ‘in fact, our hypothesis would be rather that lndian imports persisted, but became more and more exclusively luxury articles, while dayto-day needs were increasingly well covered by a domestic production that was more and more diversified’. He suggests that ‘indiennes’ of local make became local ersatz, less expensive than their Indian antecedents. We rather suppose (and the two hypotheses are not contradictory) that these price variations were also due to the manufacturing technique. Some of the ‘indiennes’, the most expensive, are painted, like the most renowned ‘indiennes’ from India, those from the Coromandel Coast (in general they are named qalamk"ar or muqallam, painted on different types of cloth like yemen∂). The cheapest ‘indiennes’ (pancheranguis, jafarcanis), were printed instead, made in the region closest to the Ottoman Empire, and with the sturdiest relations to the empire, Gujarat. Overall, this conclusion is clear: Indian fabric was more expensive


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than Egyptian cloth or locally produced textile. We thus understand why this textile environment is only accessible to state agents, who wish to distinguish themselves by their appearance and behaviour, and the wealthiest subjects. CONCLUSION

Indian textile imports into the Ottoman Empire are ancient. The data obtained from an analysis of a corpus of Damascene inventories after death allows us to conclude that between 5 and 10 per cent of the fabrics stored in the Damascene merchant’s shops, to be made into clothing mostly, and furnishings, is of Indian origin. As noted by H. Inalcik, all types of textiles are represented, but muslins are the largest share by far; they are followed closely by silk-cotton pieces. The muslins are to be made above all into turbans. The silk-cotton fabrics allow Muslims to escape the condemnation of wearing silk from the shar∂’a, even if the day-today practice allows for a few compromises with the Law.87 The study of textiles brought back from merchants on their way home from pilgrimage, in transit to other regions of the Empire, and the data collected by H. Inalcik and G. Veinstein by analysing the Istanbul price register and the Basra customs document from the seventeenth century, reach the same conclusion: the fabrics favoured throughout the Empire are those found in Damascus. However, additional data would be necessary to establish the identification and proportion of imported textiles with certainty. Finally, the Indian fabrics, the importation of which did not make the cotton industry in the Ottoman Empire disappear, were expensive textiles. A brief comparison with the Western world is necessary: in the European world, the cotton industry in the seventeenth century was in its infancy88 and the Indian cottons, including common fabrics intended for an everyday domestic consumption, conquered the market because of their quality and low price. Chaudhuri, amongst others, quotes an anonymous leaflet from 1701: the cheapest things are ever bought in India as much Labour or Manufacture may be had there for to pence, as in England for one shilling [. . .]. The Indian

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire


are a great deal cheaper than equal English Manufactures [. . .]. Measured in money terms the labour inputs also affected substantial savings when compared to the cost of production in an equivalent industry in Europe [. . .]. It was this price differential which enabled the East India Company to maintain a mark-up on the unit cost of its textile ratio of two to one.

He explains this price differential by the low cost of labour and the skill of the spinners and weavers.89 ‘The great masses of unemployed assured the industry a neverending supply of cheap labor’, observed Inalcik.90 Travellers took great interest in these artisans’ technical work, which they described and illustrated, to the quality of raw materials (water in particular) but they rarely looked, rarely described these men’s living conditions. Quoting Roques: ‘the weaver is the most destitute of all artisans [. . .]. The maxim the banians hold over these poor souls is inhuman in always keeping them crawling and draining their strength to work.’91 As to the banias themselves, ‘the wealthy do not spend more than the poor and will be even more poorly furnished, if we can call furniture a pitiful bed cover with no mattress or blanket, with as sole adornment a wicked sheet of coarse cloth and a pillow of three sers of cotton, a few plots of land, a wooden spoon and a three-legged stool, several jugs to carry water to drink and others used to wash the body’. And the children ‘often going to bed without having eaten anything; even though with a sol of rice or vegetables they could sustain their life’.92 A doubt has, however, been recently raised on the low cost of Indian labour, when compared to that of English labour: thus, Prasannan Parthasarathi compares the wages of a weaver, a spinner in England, in south India and in Bengal. The cost of labour is somewhat lower in England than in India.93 This brief reference to Europe allows us to see that the situation was entirely different in the Ottoman Empire. First: the textile industry was flourishing,94 especially with regard to the cotton. S. Faroqhi, in his works and articles, insisted on the Empire’s textiles industries. Let us mention the most recent of his articles on the subject: even though she asks herself ‘why these active producers did not initiate an “industrial revolution of their own”’, she notes:95 ‘Growing, spinning, weaving and dyeing of cotton were major agricultural and industrial activities’. Several kinds of cottons, among others, were produced, of all qualities.


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Second: Indian textiles penetrated Europe by sea on the Companies’ ships. The routes allowing for the exportation of Indian fabrics to the Ottoman Empire are entirely different: roads by caravan, or ships and caravans, and, moreover, numerous customs duties to pay. The fixed costs of transport were such that only fabrics which were expensive at the start could withstand them. Legoux de Flaix96 remarked the following about the caravan leaving for Aleppo: ‘This route being very expensive, the Hindustan merchandise loaded on these caravans is extremely expensive: they could not uphold the competition with the merchandise exported by the European trade ships.’97 And more recently, Irwin: ‘For centuries [. . .] Indian cotton goods had reached North Africa, Turkey and the Levant via the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf and then overland by caravan, paying enormous tolls on the way.’98 These two observations must explain why only the most beautiful and expensive fabrics infiltrated the Damascene and probably Ottoman markets.

NOTES 1. P. Blanchard, 1806, Manuel du Commerce des Indes orientales et de la Chine, Paris: Bordeaux, Marseille. 2. R. Dozy, 1968, Supplément aux dictionnaires arabes, 2 vols., reproduction from the original edition from 1881, Beirut: Librairie du Liban. Dozy verifies the use of this term in the expression bil-k"urga, ‘in bulk’. 3. Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, Delhi: Munshiran Manoharlal, 1994, p. 255. 4. A. Barthélémy, 1969, Dictionnaire Arabe-Français, Dialectes de Syrie: Alep, Damas, Liban, Jérusalem, 2 vols., Paris: Librairie orientaliste Paul Geuthner. 5. Sir J.W. Redhouse, 1974, A Turkish and English Lexicon, Beirut: Librairie du Liban. 6. Among them, upon the relations between India, Persia and the Ottoman Empire, see K. Fukasawa, 1987, Toilerie et commerce du Levant, Paris: Editions du CNRS, pp. 39-45. 7. H. Inalcik, 1993, ‘The Ottoman Cotton Market and India: The Role of Labor in Market Competition’, in The Middle East and the Balkans under the Ottoman Empire, Bloomington: Indiana University, Turkish Studies and Turkish Ministry of Culture Joint Series, vol. 9, pp. 264-309.

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8. G. Veinstein, 1999, ‘Commercial Relations between India and the Ottoman Empire (Late Fifteenth to Late Eighteenth Centuries): A Few Notes and Hypotheses’, in Sushil Chaudhury and Michel Morineau (eds.), Merchants, Companies and Trade: Europe and Asia in the Early Modern Era, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Cambridge University Press, pp. 95-115. 9. Ludovico di Varthema (Les voyages de), 1888, published and annotated by M. CH. Schefer Paris, British Library Historical Collection, pp. 151, 171. 10. Mübahat S. Kütükoªlu, 1983, Osmanlilarda narh müessesi ve 1640 tarihli narh defteri, Istanbul: Kütükoglu. 11. W. Floor, 2010, Carpets and Textiles in the Iranian World 1400-1700: The Import of Indian Textiles into Safavid Persia, p. 189. 12. J. Thévenot, 1664, Relation d’un voyage fait au Levant, Paris: L. Billaine, p. 251. 13. Quoted by J. Jomier, 1953, Le mahmal et la caravane des pèlerins de la Mecque, Publications from L’Institut Français d’Archéologie orientale du Caire, pp. 218-19. 14. Veinstein, op. cit., ‘Commercial Relations’. 15. G. Veinstein, 1981, ‘Les pèlerins de la Mecque à travers quelques inventaires après décès ottomans (XVIIè-XVIIIè siècle)’, Revue de l’Occident musulman et de la Méditerranée, 31, pp. 63 to 71. 16. Jomier, op. cit., Le mahmal, p. 224. 17. F. Hasselquist, 1749, Voyages dans le Levant, 1749-52, Paris, pp. 124-5. 18. Burckhardt,1835, Voyages en Arabie, I, p. 353. 19. Legoux de Flaix Essai historique, géographique et politique sur l’Indoustan, avec le Tableau de son commerce, Paris: Pougin, 3 vols., reprints from the collection of the University of Michigan Library from the edition of 1807, without date, vol. I, pp. 212-14. 20. Ignace Mouradja (d’), Ohsson, 1761, Tableau général de l’Empire ottoman, fourth tome, Paris, IV, p. 133. 21. Inalcik, op. cit., ‘The Ottoman Cotton Market’. 22. See K.N. Chaudhuri, The Trading World of India and the English East India Company, 1660-1760, London: Cambridge University Press, 2006 digital version of the printed work from 1978, p. 246. 23. The Ottoman society rests on the distinction made between ‘subjects’ or ra‘"ay"a, and soldiers and State agents, ‘askar. 24. See article from C. Establet and J.P. Pascual ‘Pèlerinage et commerce dans l’Empire ottoman’, Turcica, 28, pp. 117-61; and the work by the same authors, 1998, Ultime voyage pour la Mecque, les inventaires après décès de pèlerins morts à Damas vers 1700, Institut français de Damas, Damascus. 25. L. Dermigny, 1959-60, Cargaisons indiennes. Solier et Cie 1781-93,



27. 28.

29. 30.

31. 32. 33.

34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44.

Colette Establet-Vernin 2 vols., Paris: SEVPEN. Khachikian, ‘Le registre d’un marchand arménien en Perse, en Inde et au Tibet (1682-93)’, Annales ESC, t. XXII (2), 1967, pp. 231-78. G. Roques, 1996, La manière de négocier aux Indes 1676-91, presented and annotated by V. Bérinstain, Ecole Française d’Extréme-Orient, Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose. Legoux de Flaix, op. cit., Essai historique, rpt. J. Savary des Brulons, 1723, Dictionnaire universel de commerce: contenant tout ce qui concerne le commerce qui se fait dans les quatre parties du monde , 2 vols., Paris: Jacques Estienne. J.-C. Flachat, 1766, Observations sur le Commerce et sur les Arts d’une partie de l’Europe, de l’Asie, de l’Afrique et même des Indes Orientales, Lyon: Jacquenot. G. Birdwood,1880, The Industrial Arts of India with Map and Woodcuts, 2 vols., South Kensington Museum Art Handbooks, London: Chapman and Hall. Watson Forbes, 1867, The Textile Manufactures and the Costumes of the People of India, London: India Office. Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, Delhi: Munshiran Manoharlal, 1994. J. Irwin, 1996, ‘Indian Textile Trade in the Seventeenth Century’, Journal of Indian Textile History, Ahmedabad: Calico Museum of Textiles, 2nd edn. Chaudhuri, The Trading World, op. cit., 2006 digital version of the printed work from 1978, p. 246. D. Wellington, 2006, The French India Company, Oxford: Hamilton Books. G. Le Bouëdec and B. Nicolas, 2008, Le goût de l’Inde, Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes. Dermigny, op. cit., Cargaisons indiennes. We are thankful to Valérie Berinstain, now deceased, who kindly allowed us to read this manuscript while it was still being edited. Act 93 from register 15 and Act 248 from register 19. C. Establet and J.P. Pascual, 2005, Des tissus et des hommes, Damas vers 1700, Damascus, IFPO/ IREMAM, pp. 119-46 and 178-84. The significance of Indian indigo is well known. We refer the reader to Des tissus et des hommes, in which this topic has been covered. Sublime indigo, 1987, Musées de Marseille, Paris, Edition Vilo, pp. 166-7. Birdwood, op. cit., p. 72. Chaudhuri, op. cit.,The Trading World, pp. 500-5 proposes a glossary of fabric names classified according to region of origin. J. Irwin follows a regional order in ‘Indian Textile Trade in the Seventeenth Century’, Journal

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire

45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51.

52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66.

67. 68. 69. 70.

71. 72. 73. 74. 75.


of Indian textile History: Western India (I), Coromandel Coast (II), Bengal (III). Irwin, op. cit, I, pp. 21-2. Ibid., II, p. 35. Ibid., III, p. 61. Inalcik, op. cit., ‘The Ottoman Cotton Market’. I prefered to put all these references inside the text, and not in notes. Roques, op. cit., ‘La manière de négocier’, pp. 78-9. Carol Bier, 1987, Woven from the Soul, Spun for the Heart: Textiles Arts of Safavid and Qajar Iran, 16th-19th Centuries, Washington, D.C.: Textile Museum. Gürsü Nevber, 1988, The Arts of Turkish Weaving, Istanbul. Roques, op. cit. La manière de négocier, p. 99. Ibid., p. 120. Fukasawa, op. cit. Toilerie et commerce, p. 41. Legoux de Flaix, op. cit., Essai historique, pp. 32-3. Blanchard, op. cit., Manuel du commerce, p. 305. Hobson-Jobson, op. cit., p. 290. Flachat, op. cit., Observations sur le commerce, p. 294. Floor, op. cit.,Carpets and Textiles, p. 134. Irwin, op. cit., I, pp. 22 and 27. E. Hardouin-Fugier, 1994, Les étoffes: dictionnaire historique, Paris, les ed. de l’Amateur, p. 26. Fukasawa, op. cit., ‘Toileries et commerce’. Legoux de Flaix, op. cit., p. 294 and sq. Fukasawa, op. cit., p. 44. Names of Turkish fabrics in Tarih Dergisi, Fâtih Sultan Mehmed’e Hatira Sayisi, 1982, ord. Prof. M. Cavid Baysun, Istanbul: Edebiyat Fakültesi Matbaasi. Veinstein, op.cit., ‘Commercial Relations’. Establet and Pascual, op. cit., Des tissus et des hommes, p. 218. Inalcik, op. cit. ‘The Ottoman Cotton Market’, p. 296. C. Establet, ‘La part de l’exotisme dans la consommation des Damascènes aux alentours de 1700’, Université of Bilgi (Istanbul), University of Warwick (UK). Establet and Pascual, op. cit., Des tissus et des hommes, pp. 239-40. Inalcik, op. cit., ‘The Ottoman Cotton Market’, tr. Blachère, p. 294. Le Coran, trad. by Blachère, 1966, pp. 360, 466. Encyclopédie de l’islam, 1993, III, p. 215. Mouradja d’Ohsson, 1761, IV, p. 101.


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76. Rosemary, Crill, 2000, ‘Textiles in Kutch’, in Chistopher W. London ed., The Arts of Kutch, Bombay: Marg Publications, pp. 118-26. 77. Hardouin-Fugier, op. cit., ‘Les étoffes’, p. 45. 78. Savary des Bruslons, 1723, I, col. 1152. 79. Mouradja d’Ohsson, 1761, IV, pp. 112-25. 80. C. Establet and J.P. Pascual, La gent d’État dans la société ottomane damascène. Les ‘askar à la fin du XVIIème siècle, Damas: Presses de l’IFPO et Iremam, 2011. 81. R. Dozy, 1845, Dictionnaire détaillé des noms de vêtements chez les Arabes, réd. Librairie du Liban, Beyrouth. 82. Inalcik, op.cit., ‘The Ottoman Cotton Market’. 83. John Guy, 1998, Woven Cargoes: Indian Textiles in the East, London: Thames and Hudson, p. 187. 84. Irwin, op. cit., II, 42. 85. Roques, op.cit., pp. 78-9. 86. Veinstein, op.cit., p. 19. A piastre being worth around 120 aspers in 1700, the quoted prices were located between less than a qursh and two qursh, Establet and Pascual, op. cit., 1994, p. 62 n. 12. 87. This condemnation allows for certain dispensations. The study of Damascene clothing and furnishings reveals that generally, silk, as a raw material for clothing and furnishings, is rarely used; wealthy women have a quasi monopoly on it, a tolerated usage; silk is used for outer garments, or for unstitched pieces of fabric primarily used to be put on the head and shoulders; as furnishings, the main destination of this fabric is the lih"af —the front side of a blanket while the cotton malhafa is the reverse. The doctrinal position of the Chafeite school, to which a great part of the Damascene population belongs and the Hanbalite school, which forbids people from sitting and leaning on silk (cushions, etc.) is pretty much respected, even if a few very human compromises exist.’ See C. Establet and J.P. Pascual, Des tissus et des hommes, pp. 266-74. 88. B. Lemire and G. Riello, 2008, Journal of Social History, University of Alberta, University of Warwick, ‘East and West: Textiles and Fashion’, Eurasia in the Early Modern Period, pp. 887-916. ‘Cotton textiles were virtually unknown in most of Europe in the date of the fifteenth Century’. 89. Chaudhuri, op. cit.,The Trading World, p. 238: ‘The success of the Indian cotton industry owed as much to the possession of highly specialised technical skills in manufacturing as to lower costs of production. The weaving of cotton was not a question of assembling the necessary raw materials and setting the unemployed poor to work, as many of the early projectors in Europe imagined. The cotton industry in addition called for

Indian Textiles in the Ottoman Empire

90. 91. 92. 93.



97. 98.


empirical knowledge of the preparation and treatment of the natural fibre. The production and treatment of thread was the key element.’ See also B.G. Gokhale, ‘Capital Accumulation in XVIIth Century Western India’, in Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bombay, Bombay, 1976, vols. 39-40. Inalcik, op. cit., ‘The Ottoman Cotton Market’. Roques, op. cit., ‘La manière de négocier’, p. 33. Ibid., pp. 27-9. G. Riello and Prasannan Parthasarathi, eds., 2009, The Spinning World: A Global History of Cotton Textiles, 1200-1850, Oxford: Pasold Research Fund, p. 31. The first volume of the Global History series is entitled How India Clothed the World: The World of South Asian Textiles, ed. Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy and published by Brill, Leiden, in 2009. These two works have a lot to contribute; and were only rarely mentioned due to a lack of time. A. Raymond, 1973-4, Artisans et commerçants au Caire au XVIIIème siècle, 2 vols., Damascus, Institut français de Damas; C. Establet and J.P. Pascual, Des tissus et des hommes. The significance of the textile industry was highlighted in these two books. S. Faroqhi, 2009, ‘Ottoman Cotton Textiles: The Story of a Success that Did Not Last, 1500-1800’, in Riello and Parthasarathi, eds., The Spinning World, pp. 89-105. Legoux de Flaix, op. cit., ‘Essai historique’, p. 107. Irwin, op. cit., I, p. 8.

C H A P T E R 11

The Maratha Court and the Embassies of Saint-Lubin and M. Montigny: A Truce towards Cordial Relations UMESH ASHOK KADAM

The transformation in the structure of power granted more administrative power to the Peshwa reducing the Maratha Chhatrapati to a nominal head immediately after the death of Chhatrapati Shahu in 1749, i.e. from 1749 to 1773 (24 years), which was represented by six Peshwas. The second transformation of power took place in 1773, this time the power was taken over by the Karbhari, i.e. servant of the Peshwa. The rule of the Karbhari lasted from 1773 to 1818, i.e. for 45 years, till the end of the Maratha State. The Maratha rule under Chhatrapati Shivaji which initially started with a strong central sovereign authority gradually got transformed into a confederacy during the times of the Peshwas with a weak central authority and remained so till 1818. The assassination of the Peshwa Narayanrao divided the Marathas into two factions, one party supporting Raghunathrao and the other rallying around the infant son of Gangabai, widow of the late Peshwa Narayanrao. Raghunathrao now realizing his hopes of becoming Peshwa would not be achieved due to the successful intrigues of the Barbhais opted to negotiate with the English at Bombay for help. The overtures of Raghoba gave a golden opportunity to the English to fulfil their cherished dream of becoming the supreme masters of western India.


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The Poona Durbar under rule of the Barbhais thought of securing French assistance, the inveterate enemies of the English. Haripant Phadke, the Maratha general in his letter written in 1775 to Nana Fadnavis, the top brass leader among the Barbhais advised to seek French aid to curb the ambitions of the English. Phadke also felt that the French would surely accept such an invitation.1 THE BARBHAIS (COUNCIL OF TWELVE MINISTERS) PROPOSE TO THE FRENCH

The Barbhai Council had sent a Maratha agent, Govind Raghunath, to the French Consul at Surat, M. Anquetil de Braincourt in 1775.2 According to the proposal made by the council, the Marathas were ready to cede to the French a port of their choice on the Malabar coast. The condition mentioned for this proposal was that the French should supply 200 soldiers from Pondicherry to subjugate Raghoba and also check the English activities on the coast. The French consul did not react instantly to the proposal and promised the Maratha agent that he would communicate their regret to the minister in France and also to the Governor of Pondicherry. The French were interested either in Gheria (Vijaydurg) of Bassein. The Poona Durbar also promised to extend total cooperation and assistance to the French troops landing on the Maratha shores. However these assurances did not completely satisfy the French consul and he had to suspend his negotiations in wake of the growing suspicions of the English.3 The Council after realizing that their proposals did not materialize with the French consul at Surat, took recourse to the Chief of the French settlement of Mahe. The record of Janrao Dhulap, a Maratha naval officer in the Diary of the Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao, dated 13 April 1775, mentions that a secret mission was sent to Mahe. The letters of the proposal were entrusted to Janrao Dhulap and instructions were sent to Balaji Ganesh of Devgad and Anandrao Shinde of Revadanda (Chaoul ) to assist him with a swift passage.4 According to the proposal:

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny


1. The Marathas were eager to form an alliance with the French against the English. 2. They offered to the French all the establishments occupied by the English on the Malabar coast. 3. They were ready to pay 30 to 40 lakh as expenses for the French troops. The Chief of Mahe, Colonel Repentigny was greatly thrilled by the proposal of alliance made by the Marathas. But since he was not entrusted with powers to conclude alliances he directed them to Pondicherry.5 Law forwarded the Maratha proposals to France through a French officer M. Beylie leaving for France in June 1775.6 The treaty of Purandhar signed on 1 March 1776 had again shattered the ambitions of Raghunathrao of becoming the Peshwa. He by now realized the English help to be futile, hence he too approached M. Briancourt. In his secret letters dispatched to Pondicherry he promised the French Governor that he would reward the French services offered to him in equal proportion. M. Briancourt realizing the seriousness of the matter and the events taking place at the Maratha Court did not encourage the proposals of Raghunathrao. M. Briancourt promised Raghunathrao that he would not let the English know about his correspondences with them until he remained in their custody.7 The relations between the Poona Court and the French consul at Pondicherry again resumed in March 1777. Le Brillant, a French vessel arrived at the port of Surat in March 1777. The Marathas who thought that the vessel had arrived with French troops, sent a message of joy to M. Briancourt at the safe landing. The French now demanded that the Marathas should hand over the cession of Gheria and Baroda (235 miles north of Bombay) to them in return for French troops. The Marathas offered Gheria, Baroda, Bassein or Ghoga (190 mile north of Bombay) to the French at their choice, if they could send 400 troops to Poona.8 It was at this juncture that M. de Saint Lubin, landed at Chaoul as French envoy with a mission of negotiating a treaty with the Poona Darbar on behalf of the Government of France.9



The embassies of Saint-Lubin and Montigny were the two most important ones among the many projected by the French Crown in India after 1761. The efforts of both the agents, St.-Lubin and Montigny, were concentrated principally on forming an alliance with the Maratha Confederacy, and although they did not bear fruit, they are of great importance towards the study of FrenchMaratha relations of the eighteenth century. The alliances formed during this period clearly show the trend of the French policy in India during the ‘War of American Independence’ and the reactions it produced on the southern powers and the English. Pallebot de Saint-Lubin, was the French diplomatic agent who had gained the greatest notoriety in the eyes of the English even more than Chevalier. His mission to Poona was viewed with great alarm by the governments of Bombay and Calcutta. The extent of their panic is best illustrated by the large mass of documents relating to St. Lubin’s activities preserved in the Bombay Archives and published by G.W. Forrest in his Selections from Letters, Dispatches, etc., Bombay Secretariat, Maratha Series, 1899. It is rather surprising that the English, who were so much alarmed at Saint-Lubin’s activities felt little concern about Montigny, who remained at Poona for a longer period and whose diplomatic net was cast wider. Saint-Lubin was actually an imposter and could not have done any material damage to the English interests in India. Among all the Frenchmen in India it is only Comte de Modave, who has expressed a high opinion about Saint-Lubin. Bellecombe, Governor of Pondicherry considered him as a mere unprincipled adventurer, who had for a time successfully imposed on the credulity of the Minister of Marine and Colonies, M. de Sartine. Bellecombe made a virulent and sarcastic attack on him in his Memoire dated 24 January 1778, noticed already, even though he knew that Saint-Lubin enjoyed the favour of the Minister and had been sent out to India by him. The contemporary estimate of Saint-Lubin’s character is fully borne out by his own letters and narratives, presented in the Archives Nationale under the French Colonial Ministry, dealing with his

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny


exploits in India at different times, which throw a great deal of light on his activities. There is no doubt that most of the French adventurers in India in the second half of the eighteenth century were not remarkable for their integrity and moderation. Most of them were prone to exaggerate things, either out of self-interest or prompted by an undue zeal for the national cause. But none of them distorted facts and gave false predictions as was done by SaintLubin. The embassy of Saint-Lubin forms a very important episode in the history of the relations between the French and the Marathas in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Saint-Lubin has been considered to be an imposter by certain historians viz.: 1. Grant Duff writes about him ‘A cheat in the character of a European gentleman was new to the Marathas, but the discernment of Nana Phadnavis could not have been even temporarily obscured by such superficial artifice’.10 2. P.R. Roberts says, ‘This man (Saint-Lubin), however, proved to be an imposter unauthorized by the French government’.11 3. G.S. Sardesai observes, ‘Nana well knew that Lubin was not an accredited ambassador but used him as an instrument to intimidate the English’.12 4. Martineau too does not believe in the role of Saint-Lubin as French plenipotentiary, as he observes: ‘Nana and Haripant Phadke listened to the proposals of the French adventurer, Saint-Lubin, who claimed to have been interested by the French government with powers to conclude a treaty with them against the common enemy’. 13 Saint-Lubin was not a stranger to India. He had served as third surgeon on the vessels of the French East India Company before 1761. He had also been in the service of Haider Ali. When war broke out between Haider Ali and the English, Saint-Lubin had found means to win the favour of Mister Call, an influential member of the Council of Madras and had played not an insignificant part in causing the debacle of that Presidency. During his stay in India, i.e. after 1769, if we are to believe his statement, he had entered into negotiations with the Maratha chiefs and with the Peshwa


Umesh Ashok Kadam

Madhavrao himself to form a Franco-Maratha alliance.14 On his return to France, he had briefed to the Minister of Navy, of the political situation in India and the different means to oust the English. He had also on 10 January 1775, submitted a plan for concluding a treaty of alliance with the Marathas. These plans and memoirs of Saint-Lubin are not traceable. The contents of his memoirs are recorded in a document entitled Criticism of the Memoires of Saint-Lubin, it consists of a treaty with the king of the Marathas. Its contents are as follows: 1. The French would furnish a 2,400 corps of artillery troops. 2. These troops were to be divided into two regiments, one of them composed of 1,200 men and called as ‘The Regiment of Alliance’, would serve the Marathas and would always maintain its full strength. 3. The other would be stationed at Pondicherry and would be utilized for recruiting the regiment of alliance. 4. The Marathas would meet all the expenses of these corps, incurred from its leaving in Europe, transport to India, maintenance, pay, etc. Due to the fear of hostility with the English, circumspection was required, so it was suggested by Saint-Lubin that the troops could be dispatched to the Marathas secretly, or under the pretext of desertion.15 Saint-Lubin’s letter dated 7 April 1775 urged upon the minister to execute his plan as it did not incur great expenditure or need much preparation. He was also ready to take the responsibility of ‘concluding an alliance with the Marathas under the pretext of signing with them a treaty of commerce and securing admission into their ports’. He also appealed to the minister to relay on his skills in negotiating with the locals, with whose interests, language and customs he was well conversant.16 By the time the Maratha proposals reached France in 1776 war had broken out between England and her American colonies. The American War of Independence broke out on 4 July 1776. France had now got an opportunity to avenge the humiliations of the Treaty of Paris (1763). The Court of Versailles had not declared war against England. Vergennes, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, advised

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny


Sartine, the Minister for the Navy, to establish contact with the Government of Poona.17 Sartine after carefully scrutinizing the proposals of Saint-Lubin decided to entrust him with the important mission. Sartine, the Minister for the Navy communicated to Saint-Lubin on 26 March 1776, that the King of France was pleased to employ him as an envoy of France to negotiate a treaty of commerce with the king of the Marathas. Accordingly Saint-Lubin was to be entrusted with two letters. In his letter to the king of the Marathas the King of France had announced his intentions of only establishing commercial relations between the two and that he was not interested in making any territorial gain in Hindustan. The second letter was addressed by Sartine to Nana Fadnavis, the first minister of the Marathas. Saint-Lubin was briefed with instructions about his mission on 22 April. The treaty of commerce contained four articles viz.: 1. There should exist between the two nations a perpetual friendship whereby the French would render all possible service to the Marathas who, in their turn, would guarantee protection of French possessions in Hindustan against any enemy whosoever. 2. Maratha traders would be exempted from custom duties in all the French dominions, present and future, and vice versa. 3. Maratha vessels would have free access into all French ports, and vice versa. 4. Finally, Maratha vessels would be under French protection at all times in all the ports under the rule of that government, and vice versa. He was also instructed that while framing the treaty he should take care that he should not depart from any motive of the four articles and that verbally he may give any connotation which would be favourable to the interests of the two nations. He was to explain Article I in particular that as the King of France was at present on peaceful terms with all nations he would not enter into any alliance with the Marathas; but if any power, by infraction of existing peace forced him to obtain justice by force of arms, he would then unite his troops with the Marathas in order to punish the common enemy. 18


Umesh Ashok Kadam

Saint-Lubin was to negotiate a conditional treaty of offensive and defensive alliance between the two Crowns against any nation which would start hostilities against France. He was to negotiate proposals from the Maratha Court and forward them to the Minister of Navy. Likewise he had the additional responsibility to impress upon the King of Marathas the liability and necessity for protection of French possessions in India. In return for this favour the King of France would grant permission to his shipowners to deal in arms and ammunition with the Marathas, also trade could be envisaged between the two under the bond of friendship and by common interest. 19 He was also to demand the grant or use of suitable sites in the Maratha ports not only for the establishment of commercial purpose, but also for construction of vessels. He was to collect detailed information of all sorts, viz., price of wood, labour, cost required for all types of vessels constructed at Maratha ports, statement of Naval stock, number of workers to be sent to Europe for construction of vessels, timespan required for construction, exact location of the port, connecting roads, warehouses, navigation charts, etc. Plans with his observations, particularly on the conditions favourable to navigation therein.20 The treaty of commerce was to be executed immediately. SaintLubin was to land at the port of Chaul and install a consul, a secretary and an interpreter either at Chaoul, Gheria or Rajapur and seek recognition from the Maratha government.21 Saint-Lubin left Paris on 5 June 1776, to board the steamer at Bordeaux. On 10 August, the minister sent him final orders for departure wherein he enjoined upon him prudence and secrecy. It said, ‘Let not the thought and love of glory which I see seething in you, prompt you to take steps which I can neither avow nor support and which will overthrow the whole edifice the foundation of which I have entrusted to your hands.’22 Chevalier de Mouhy, writing about the character of Saint-Lubin, says: ‘An enterprising man, whose intelligence and experience qualify him for some delicate mission, but whose character and conduct perhaps render him more dangerous than useful’.23 Saint-Lubin set sail on 19 September 1776, in the vessel Le Sartine

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny


and reached Mahe on 12 February 1777. After a week’s halt at this port, the vessel preceded to the Konkan coast and arrived at Chaul on 16 March. Saint-Lubin did not land on the port immediately as the Commandant of the port awaited instructions from Poona to receive him. The Commandant personally received Saint-Lubin on 25 March and conducted him to the residence specially furnished for him, with all the honours befitting the dignity of the envoy of the ‘King of France’. As soon as he landed at Chaul, SaintLubin sent a letter with M. de Santy to Poona for Nana Fadnavis and expressed his wish to meet him in person as to deliver him the letters of the King of France. He had brought with him a heavy stock of ammunition which he had stored at the fort of Revadanda. He left for Poona on 11 April and arrived there on 22 April.24 After a stay of two days at Poona he set out for Purandhar on 24 April as the infant Peshwa and his ministers were at Purandhar (90 miles south-east of Bombay and 16 miles south of Poona). On his way he met Bhimrao Phanse, Commandant of the Maratha artillery. On 4 May he had an interview with Minister Sakharambapu and Nana Fadnavis. At this occasion he handed to Nana Fadnavis the letter by Sartine. He also informed that, he had a letter from the King of France for the infant Peshwa. The initial meeting was formal and nothing political was discussed.25 Saint-Lubin was given a audience with the Peshwa on 8 May. At this time he was received with great honour and ceremony. Sakharambapu and Nana Fadnavis personally received Saint-Lubin as he dismounted the elephant and introduced him to the Durbar. Saint-Lubin then delivered the letter of the King of France into the little hands of the Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao along with the presents.26 On the other hand, the English resident, Mr. Mostyn, was received by two subordinate officers and with much less ceremony. This difference in treatment to the two representatives of the two European nations naturally evoked a protest from the Government of Bombay to the Poona Durbar. Krishnarao Ballal Kale was appointed as officer-in-charge of French affairs. Kale met Saint-Lubin and requested him to translate the letters himself to avoid any unforward incident. Saint-Lubin complied, he also added the translations of the four articles of the permanent treaty. The Maratha


Umesh Ashok Kadam

Council then unanimously accepted the treaty and its contents. Liberty of trade was granted to all Frenchmen in accordance with the proposed terms and conditions. It was also resolved to demand French officers and soldiers to train Maratha troops who would then fight side-by-side with the French troops when such an occasion would arise.27 The treaty of the four articles was signed on 18 June 1777 and the alliance was solemnized on the 23 June. Saint-Lubin in order to give publicity to this act called all the Frenchmen residing in Poona at the Maratha Court and swore by the Holy Evangel on behalf of the King of France, a perpetual alliance between His Very Christian Majesty and the King of the Marathas in accordance with the terms of the treaty concluded between the two Crowns. Nana Fadnavis too handed him the oath of the Peshwa, pronounced at the altar of God and wrote on a paper sanctified by the sacred powder.28 The publicity given to this act was against the instructions of the French minister who had enjoined upon Saint-Lubin prudence and secrecy. This may be one of the reasons why Saint-Lubin was received in disgrace on his return to France. The Peshwa’s reply to the King of France was handed over by Nana Fadanvis on 27 June to Saint-Lubin. The Peshwa had expressed his great pleasure in accepting the king’s friendship and gave him an assurance about his own. The Maratha government assistance in all matters was also reaffirmed and assured by the Peshwa. The Peshwa at the same time made it clear that he too expected the same kind of help and cooperation from the French government whenever it was required. Finally, the Peshwa also informed him his decision to retain Saint-Lubin at his Court as a minister on behalf of His Majesty. Nana Fadnavis also wrote a reply to Sartine’s letter. 29 M. Pascal de Santy, Captain of Saint-Lubin’s guards was furnished with the necessary passport and conveyance to proceed to Surat (7 July 1777). He was entrusted with packets containing replies from the Maratha government to the King of France and his ministers and also Saint-Lubin’s reports of his activities at the Maratha Court. He could not leave Poona immediately due to rains and arrived at Surat on 1 September 1777. As there was a

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny


caravan at the moment proceeding to the Persian Gulf his journey was delayed.30 Pascal wanted to proceed to Europe via Suez. At Surat, he obtained a passage in a dingy bound for Muscat where he arrived towards the end of January 1778. Instead of waiting for a caravan which was just then preparing to set out for Aleppo, Pascal, accompanied by another Frenchman, went to Basra, thence to Haifa and Seuz.31 According to the conditional treaty, the Marathas promised to place 25,000 men of their cavalry at the disposal of Saint-Lubin in case of hostilities against the French establishments in India. It appears that the French, in their turn, were to dispatch a strong force of 2,500 men, to assist the Marathas, as soon as war was declared between France and England in Europe. Saint-Lubin had made arrangements for the landing of these troops at a Portuguese harbour. In his letter to the Captian General of Goa, dated 26 April, he wrote: I lay before you the true motives which induced me to request of Your Excellency and your Supreme Council leave to bring thorough your dominions two regiments which were sent by His Christian Majesty to the Most High Brahmin Ministers of this Darbar of Poona to put a stop to the disorders resulting from the death of their sovereign, and as the granting of these succor redounds to the credit of my King in giving his protection to those who solicit it.32

This correspondence was intercepted and the Bombay government made representations to the Government of Goa, requesting them ‘Not in any shape to interfere or take any measures that may tend to promote the success of the French schemes’.33 Saint-Lubin obtained the approval of the Maratha government for the establishment of Consulates at Chaoul as well as in other important places, but for want of suitable persons to fill the posts, this clause could not take effect. He terminated his report to the minister with a request to dispatch his reply by a frigate directly to Chaul with presents from the King of France to the Peshwa and his ministers.34 Regarding the workmanship of the Maratha shipbuilders SaintLubin has written: ‘Maratha ship builders are much better workman than their French counterpart; there are slower no doubt, but their planking is so perfect that a vessel can last thirty to forty years without maintenance.’35


Umesh Ashok Kadam

Saint-Lubin had thus fulfilled his mission; contact had been established with the Marathas in accordance with the instructions of Vergennes. Saint-Lubin also dispatched a letter to Bellecombe, the Governor of Pondicherry (10 August), furnishing him with all the details of the transactions.36 The French Governor, however, did not find any advantage in the treaty signed between SaintLubin and the Maratha government, for he was one of those who subscribed to the view that the French would desire greater advantage from an alliance with Haider Ali.37 Bellecombe also betrayed jealousy for Saint-Lubin. He felt that as Governor-General, he was the plenipotentiary of the King of France with powers to enter into negotiations with the Indian princes. Thus Saint-Lubin’s arrival at Poona to conclude, independently of him, a treaty with the Marathas compromised his position and dignity.38 The French Governor was perfectly right when he said that if the French hoped to succeed in their goal of expelling the English from India, they must have both Marathas and Haider Ali on their side.39 The French Minister for the Navy was quite aware of this fact and encouraged Bellecombe to pursue his efforts in this direction.40 As many new developments took place between the Poona Durbar and the French government, the English, especially the Bombay government became more restless and now registered their protest with Nana Fadnavis. Nana Fadnavis being totally aware of the new diplomatic alliances declared to the English that theirs being a sovereign state, every power desirous of sending ambassadors to cultivate its friendship and seek its connection; to refuse admission to the ambassadors of the French Monarch or other powers charged with proposition of friendship from their masters would be highly improper, and not to hear their representations would be inconsistent with the credit and dignity of the State. It was the duty of the rulers of the State to make themselves acquainted with the affairs of every stranger, for it was necessary to admit the French Vakeel to an audience, and he was treated in becoming manner.41

In addition, Nana Fadnavis also informed Warren Hastings that the French agent had already arrived at the Poona Durbar. The Maratha alliance with the French was strongly protested by the Governor-General and by the Bombay government. They were also

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny


surprised to know that the Marathas had ceded them with a port close to Bombay. The government went to the extent of saying that the conduct of the Marathas was not in keeping with the mutual agreements concluded between the English and the Maratha government.42 Hastings complained to the Maratha Vakeel in Calcutta, Lala Sevakram, that the Poona Durbar was entertaining both parties, viz., the English and the French. ‘They write to us to observe the terms of the treaty and warn the Bombay Government, but at the same time, enter into agreement with the French and give them an establishment near Bombay.’43 The Bombay government instructed Mr Mostyn ‘to expostulate with the Ministers on the impropriety of their giving encouragement to the natural enemies of the English, after the peace so latently concluded by Colonel Upton’. To counter the combined activities of the French and the Marathas, the Bombay government requested the government at Calcutta to send in immediate reinforcements so as to deter the two from any designs on the English at Bombay. Mostyn lodged a complaint with the Maratha state saying that the friendship with the French would certainly cause a breach of trust between the English and the Marathas and that the behaviour of the Maratha Court had injured the honourable Company. This protest was lodged by him with Sakharam Bapu in person.44 There was a strong rumour at this time in Maharashtra that the port of Chaul and the fort of Revadanda had been ceded to the French by the Poona Durbar. A letter from Bhiwandi near Purandhar, dated 3 August 1777, mentions that the French agent had proposed to open a factory Revadanda, but that no agreement had as yet been reached on this point.45 The Bombay government after much protest found that their concerns were not registered, hence they now took a different course. Fortunately they found in Moroba Fadnavis, the uncle of Nana Fadnavis, an instrument to achieve their goal, as Moroba was quite ambitious of becoming the chief minister of the Maratha Government. Moroba conspired with Tukoji Holkar and finding an appropriate opportunity with the help of 40,000 men of Tukoji Holkar took over Poona all of a sudden on 25 March 1778. Raghunathrao was proclaimed as Peshwa and Nana Fadnavis had


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to run for his life and take shelter at the fort of Purandhar with his guards. According to the report of the gentleman, who Bellecombe had sent to Poona to collect information about the activities of SaintLubin at the Maratha Court, the people knew about Moroba’s conspiracy.46 The gentleman informed Bellecombe that a part of the guard, which the Maratha government had given to SaintLubin, had been withdrawn and that even the latter’s movements were restricted; further that Saint-Lubin had not much credit at the Maratha Court, from where he had withdrawn himself. This is true, but it must be remembered that it was the period when Moroba’s stars were in the ascendance and Nana himself had retired, though temporarily, from the administration. On the other hand, Mostyn’s assistant Lewis, wrote from Poona on 29 November 1777: ‘M. de Saint-Lubin still resides in Poona, and from the behaviour of Nana Furnese, on a late occasion, seems to have greater influence than ever’.47 Sakharam Bapu had a meeting with Moroba Fadnavis and Tukoji Holkar, and accordingly the matter was reconciled and the two rebels went to Purandhar to pay their respects to the infant Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao. Moroba was allowed to take charge as the chief minister; Raghunathrao was not entrusted with the Peshwa office but was offered the Regency. Thus Nana Fadanvis gained time to reconsolidate his power and position. It was at this time that Saint-Lubin appealed to the Peshwa and the Maratha Council that the English were making designs to attack the Marathas by creating divisions among them, trying to infuse jealousy and discord and were also trying to foment the trouble between the Marathas and Haider Ali. He hence expressed concern and pleaded to the Maratha ministers to cease war with Haider Ali temporarily and combine their forces to attack the common enemy, i.e. the English. The Peshwa replied to Saint-Lubin that he had now ceased war with Haider Ali to make peace and was going to declare war against the English. He also added that in such a position he needed the total assistance of the King of France so as to jointly reduce Bombay, Salsette, Surat and Baroach (190 miles north of Bombay). The Peshwa would cede to the

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny


French, Bombay and Surat in return for their services, while Salsette and Baroach would remain with the Marathas. Saint-Lubin was invited to Purandhar to finalize the agreement.48 Saint-Lubin had received an important piece of communication from a Portuguese copyist working in the office of the secretary of the secret committee of the Government of Bombay, whom he had bribed for supplying him with secret information. This person used to furnish Saint-Lubin with copies of the deliberations of the committee and of the correspondence of the Council of Bombay with that of Calcutta. Saint-Lubin had always forwarded such secret information to the Maratha Court through memoirs addressed to the Peshwa in his Council. As Moroba had become the chief minister it had become impossible for Saint-Lubin to forward information to the Peshwa. Hence he requested the Peshwa to send Krishnarao Kale to Poona, as he had to disclose important news. Saint-Lubin showed to Krishnarao Kale the copy of the letter which Moroba had written to the Governor of Bombay and in which he had regretted his inability to arrest Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao, Sakharam Bapu, Nana Fadnavis and Krishnarao Kale at the meeting with the Peshwa at Purandhar on 27 March. Moroba had also stated that he was suspicious of Holkars’ support and was waiting for Haripant Phadke and Mahadji Shinde to arrive. He had also asked for English troops to annhilate Visajipant Biniwale, a trusted ally of Nana Fadnavis who was in-charge to guard the road to the Maratha capital.49 Krishnarao revealed to the French envoy that there was nothing to worry about the activities of Moroba as the Peshwa had secretly won over Holkar, Shinde and Phadke over to his side and that they too were just following the instructions of the Peshwa to trap Raghunathrao and Moraba. Thereupon, Saint-Lubin suggested to the Peshwa that since Holkar was favourable to Nana Fadnavis, Moroba should be immediately arrested for his treachery. But the Peshwa at this time did not want a civil war among the Marathas and hence gave a little more time to Moroba. The Peshwa also expected SaintLubin to imitate the same conduct during his visit to Purandhar as a mark of courtesy towards him.50 Saint-Lubin arrived at Purandhar at the appointed day. As advised


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before, he paid a visit to Moroba and made him suitable presents. Moroba assured the French envoy that the treaty of alliance concluded between the King of France and the Peshwa in June 1777 would be adhered to faithfully. The negotiations for the supply of French troops to expel the English from India were concluded after a protracted conference between the French envoy, on one hand, and Sakharam Bapu, Nana Fadnavis and Krishnarao Kale, on the other. The war against the English was to commence as soon as France furnished her contingent of 2,500 infantry men. The Marathas were to pay all the expenses of the French troops —their levy, arrangement, equipment, maintenance, transport and salary. They were also to furnish wood graciously for the construction of the French fleet composing of one vessel of 64 guns, four frigates of 32, 16 corvettes of 16 guns, with all the launches, cutters and other boats necessary for its service. This fleet armed, equipped and maintained by the King of France and attached to the French contingent of 2,500 men would be stationed at the Isle of France (Mauritius) under the orders of the envoy, plenipotentiary of the King of France to the Maratha Court who was to assume the command of all these troops (land as well as naval) which would be called ‘Troops of Alliance’. It was decided that Saint-Lubin should proceed to France to explain personally all the terms of the treaty. He was entrusted with a letter from the Peshwa to the King of France and another from Sakharam Bapu to the Minister of Navy. The Peshwa stated that after a year’s counsel with Saint-Lubin, he was sending him back to brief all that was discussed and agreed by the two and that the King should reply as early as possible. He also stated that Saint-Lubin be sent back again to his Court, so as the latter should serve as a link of friendship between the two Crowns (13 May).51 The copy of this letter was obtained by Mostyn, the English Resident at Poona on 13 May itself.52 Saint-Lubin left Poona on 12 July for Daman (101 miles north of Bombay) where he arrived in the beginning of August.53 On his arrival he immediately arranged with the Portuguese commandant of the port for the hire of a corvette of 16 guns which was then undergoing repairs but which would be ready for a voyage in about four months’ time.54

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny


On 2 June 1778, the Peshwa gave an undertaking in writing to the Bombay government: Hitherto no agreement had been concluded between him (Saint-Lubin) and this Darbar, neither shall any be made here after, and I never will hold with him or his nation, any sort of friendship, or permit the friendship to come into any of my ports, either for trade or otherwise. This will continue so long as the Honourable Company and I remain in friendship.55

Mahadji Shinde wrote to Hastings that he had obtained from Sakharam Bapu and Nana Fadnavis the dismissal of the French agent and persuaded them to break all connections with the French nation.56 Saint-Lubin maintained a regular correspondence with the Poona Durbar on one hand and with Briancourt, the French Consul at Surat on the other. It was from Briancourt that Saint-Lubin came to know about the English designs on Bassein.57 He sent to Briancourt an important document written in cipher with M. Lavary le Roy. The Bombay government in a select committee meeting held on 12 October had decided to send directions to the Chief at Surat ‘to do everything in his power to prevent any correspondence being carried on between M. de Braincourt and the Poona government, and to endeavour to intercept their letters’.58 It is a known fact that the English were anxious to capture Bassien, but they could not attack the place before November 1780. The information in cipher contained information related to the military plans of the Marathas against the English. Surat was to be attacked as soon as the French squadron arrived on the Maratha coast. On receiving the message, Briancourt immediately began to consider means to help the Marathas at Surat.59 The English could not tolerate such activities in a place under their control and now took to measures to prevent the French Consul from creating trouble. The English restricted the French Consul’s activities to his Consulate garden and the rest were made prisoners and dispatched to Bombay.60 The English seized the papers in cipher addressed to Montigny from the French Consulate. Briancourt was arrested and sent with his family to the fort of Thana (20 miles north-east of Bombay).61 Briancourt had managed to obtain a copy of the plan of the city and Castle of Surat, made from the English original,


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and wanted to send it to Saint-Lubin who, in his turn, would dispatch it to the Marathas. The plan would help the latter to study the vulnerable points and direct the assault on the place accordingly. Briancourt was happy that, though under arrest, he was able to serve his country by dealing the English a blow which might prove extremely fatal to them.62 The English tried their best to find the key to the cipher, to find out the secret between the Marathas and the French. They were sure that Briancourt was in possession of the secret. Briancourt was himself worried about the secret information. Fortunately, the English did not succeed in their attempt to understand the secret.63 Saint-Lubin reached Malta in 1 July 1780 and by this time had lost all his belongings. Even the Minister of Navy was replaced by M. de Castries and Saint-Lubin was not given a interview with the minister for three months, since his arrival at Versailles in the end of October. He was finally arrested and made a prisoner by the minister.64 Even in prison, Saint-Lubin kept himself regularly informed about the situation in India, and persistently pointed out to the minister the advantages of an alliance with the Marathas and disadvantages of a union with Haider Ali.65 The minister by this time was contemplating an expedition on the Coromandel coast to cooperate with Haider Ali. Saint-Lubin was released from prison in about the middle of 1783. MONTIGNY AS THE FRENCH RESIDENT AT THE POONA DURBAR

Colonel Montigny was dispatched to Delhi by the French government to enter into negotiations with the Indian princes in the north and persuade them to espouse the cause of the French in India in case of a war between France and England. He left Paris on 3 October 1776 and reached Agra on 1 August 1778.66 The English colonies in America had revolted against its parent country England, due to which England had got embroiled in the American War of Independence. The French thought it to be a right opportunity to avenge the humiliation of the Treaty of Paris, hence to divert the attention of England from America they chose to open a conflict

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny


with them on the Indian soil. Taking into consideration the heroic and gallant exploits of M. de Bussy, the French government appointed him and entrusted with him an armed mission to India.67 The mission of de Bussy to India primarily faced two major difficulties: 1. The political conditions were not the same as before, i.e. as they had been before 1761. 2. The general policy of the French in India had now altered considerably. They were no longer interested in making conquests in India, but were rather interested to help the Indian princes to recover their territories conquered or usurped by the English. De Bussy in his Memorandum has strongly advocated this reorientation of the French policy in India.68 Even the King of France, in his instructions to de Bussy, two days prior to his departure said: ‘Our intention is not to make conquests in India, of the territories which our armies would capture in that country. His Majesty would keep the old French possessions in addition to those of the English on the Indian coasts. The rest would be returned to their legitimate masters.’69 De Bussy in his Memorandum had declared that the Marathas were the only power in India by whose alliance the French could obtain success against the English. He writes: The Maratha nation is today paramount in the whole of the Mughal Empire. I had predicted this preponderance of the Marathas in 1753 and had then counseled an alliance with them in preference to that with the Mughals. Indeed, an alliance with the Marathas at this juncture deserves our special attention, not only because they have sought our assistance, but also because their interests at the present moment coincide with ours.

De Bussy was not very keen on framing a commercial treaty with the Marathas, as he said that they (Marathas) were mainly warriors and agriculturists. The Marathas by this time had become anxious about the release of the Raja of Tanjore from the English captivity. The English had stormed Tanjore on 17 September 1773. Since then the Raja of Tanjore was under their bondage. The French assured total support


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to the Marathas in the cause of the release of the Raja of Tanjore, as they found an opportunity to humble the English. But de Bussy, also urged upon the French government, that if they had to gain the confidence of the Marathas then they must land a sufficient large troop on the Maratha coast line and after the operations against the English are fulfilled, the Maratha right to Chautai would be safeguarded.70 The war between England and France began in March 1778. As its news reached India the English at Madras made all preparations to attack Pondicherry. Pondicherry at this time was not in a condition as to resist the English attack. Hence the French Governor Bellecombe dispatched letters to the Marathas and Haider Ali for immediate assistance. The Marathas did not reply to the urgent call. M. de Bellecombe in his letter to M. de Sartine dated 5 October 1778 has clearly mentioned: ‘As for the Marathas, they have not even replied to the very urgent letters which I wrote to them and I judged that their situation hardly permits them to get involved in the affairs of other nations’.71 M. de Bellecombe had also written to Montigny to proceed to Poona from Delhi immediately and persuade the Maratha government to help the French by blocking the English at Bombay. Montigny was ready to carry out the instructions of the French Governor but unfortunately, Pondicherry, surrendered to the English on 18 October 1778. The Embassy of Saint-Lubin at the Maratha Court and the close affinity of Nana Fadnavis towards the French nation had by this time alarmed the English. They had become more concerned about their possessions on the west coast in case of a war with the Marathas as they had signed an offensive and defensive treaty with the French. To prevent any harm to be caused, the English decided to take advantage of the internal dissensions among the Maratha ministers, actually to exclude Nana’s influence from the Peshwa government and install Raghunathrao as the chief of the administration of the Maratha State so as to favour their cause. Some scholars have arributed Nana Fadnavis’s closeness towards the French to consolidate his position in the Maratha state admin-

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny


istration and not expel the English from India and rely on two contemporary evidences, viz. 1. William Farmer, a Member of the Bombay Civil Service, who had visited Poona at this time due to reasons of health wrote: ‘There is every reason to suspect, that Nana seeks to fortify himself in this government against his competitors and against us by means of his connections with the French.’72 2. The Select Committee of the Bombay Council in its proceedings of 26 October 1778 writes: ‘It is certain that very dangerous offers have been made by Nana to the French nation, in order to engage their assistance in support of his usurped authority.’73 The English were defeated by the Marathas at Wadgaon on 13 January 1779. A treaty between the two was signed. But very soon the English rejected the articles of the treaty to be disgraceful and henceforth made every effort to equip and improve its army to destroy the Marathas. The French Governor was delighted at the news of the defeat of the English at Wadgaon (Wadgaon is 55 miles east-south-east of Bombay). He immediately urged upon the French minister to send prompt succor to the Marathas, who he thought were the only one who could easily overpower the English. 74 Montigny had two reasons to visit the Maratha Court: 1. To espouse the cause of the French in India. 2. He wanted to secure employment for M. de Lalee at the Poona Durbar. Lalee arrived in India with Lally and soon rose to the post of Quarter-Master of the cavalry. After the fall of Pondicherry, he returned to Europe. On his way, he was captured by the English and deprived of all his possessions. He was given a harsh treatment. He soon returned to India and joined the service of Basalat Jang. In a very short time he distinguished himself and became the leader of the French Corps in August 1774. His services were recognized by the King of France and he was awarded with the brevet of Major in July 1775. Basalat Jang dismissed him under English pressure


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in April 1779. He later approached Parshurambhau Patwardhan with the intention to serve him, but as his services were too costly he was denied employment.75 Lalee had under him at this time more than 5,000 men (including 500 Europeans), well armed, well kept and well equipped with artillery.76 The Marathas would have readily accepted the offer of Lalee and his service if they had been approached by him prior to the defeat of the English at Wadgaon. Nana Fadnavis took a long time to decide over the issue and finally in November 1779, Lalee was informed about their inability to accept his services at the present.77 The English humiliated with their defeat at Wadgaon now took recourse to a fresh campaign against the Marathas, especially in Gujarat and north Konkan. They steadily captured Ahmedabad in February 1780 (Ahmedabad is 290 miles north of Bombay), Kalyan in May 1780 (Kalyan was an important trade centre) and Bassein in December 1780. They were now planning to attack the Maratha capital and take it by sudden attack. To counterbalance the English and put an effective check on them, Nana Fadnavis once again thought of getting French assistance. The English by this time had captured most of the French settlements in India. Hence, the Marathas now thought of sending a proposal to Souillac, the French Governor of Isle of France (Mauritius). According to the proposal: 1. The Marathas demanded 2,000 French troops with officers to command them. 2. The Marathas would pay Rs. 50,000 per month as salary to the soldiers and the officers would be paid separately. 3. At the arrival of the French vessels and troops on the Konkan Coast, they would be placed on a suitable port and the port would be then ceded to them. 4. The French would get Bombay and the rest shall remain with the Marathas after the defeat of the English. 5. The French would be given liberty to establish factories in all the places. 6. The French troops would fight side by side with the Marathas against the English and would remain under the direct command of the French general.

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny


7 . Souillac was to select a general of repute to command the combined forces and who would act in close cooperation with the Poona Durbar. 8 . On landing at the Maratha port, they would be paid six weeks’ additional salary to enable them to buy food and other things necessary for their journey to the Maratha camp. 9 . The Marathas were ready to pay for all the ammunition required for conducting the various operations. 10. The French were not to have any representative at the courts of other Indian princes without the permission of the Poona Durbar. 11. The troops were to be dispatched immediately and delay on the French side was to be reported to the Poona Durbar. 12. After the capture of the English settlements on the west coast, the combined forces were to reduce all other possessions of the English in Bengal. 13. The Marathas would help the French to recover their lost possessions in India. Sayyad Zain-ul Abedin Khan, who was deputed as the negotiator for this mission was entrusted with full powers by the Poona Durbar. He was to negotiate the terms with Souillac in February 1781.78 In the report submitted by Montigny on his arrival at Paris to Castries, the French Minister of Navy, points out the advantage of an alliance with the Marathas as well as of a French landing on the west coast of India.79 Castries immediately sent Montigny back to India with a mission to prepare the ground work for cooperation by the Indian princes with the French troops which he was planning to dispatch to India in the near future, the purpose of Montigny’s embassy was to establish himself at the Maratha Court in preference to other Indian powers. The news of an anti-English coalition between the Marathas and Haider Ali had reached France. Montigny was hence instructed to keep a regular correspondence with Puymorin and de Lalee, leaders of the French corps in the service of Haider Ali as to know the dayto-day events at the court.80 The French Minister for Navy, Castries, had dispatched two letters


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with Montigny, of which one was addressed to Nana Fadnavis and the other to Mahadji Shinde. The minister had replied in these letters that the earlier letters and presents of the Peshwa to the King of France and his ministers had been received safely but that the replies and presents of the King of France to the Peshwa perished on the coast of Madagascar due to a shipwreck in July 1777. Also it had become very difficult for him to keep regular correspondence with the Maratha Court due to the war with England. He at last also recommended Montigny to Nana Fadnavis and Mahadji Shinde and requested them to have full trust in him.81 The Maratha Court by this time had sent Zain-ul Abedin Khan with a proposal to set sail to the Isle of France (Mauritius) to meet Souillac for negotiating a fresh Franco-Maratha alliance. Zain-ul Abedin Khan was at Goa in September 1781 and was waiting for transport to go to the Isle of France, when he met Montigny. Montigny arrived at Goa on 9 September 1781 and immediately contacted the Poona Durbar. He also met Zain-ul Abedin Khan and dissuaded him from going to the Isle of France. Montigny sent copies of all the documents to Souillac for his information and awaited assistance from him. After receiving the same from Montigny, Souillac sent a reply to the French minister stating that it was highly impossible for him to send any succour to the Marathas and that it would be better according to his opinion to attack the English on the Coromandel coast rather than the Malabar coast. In his letter to Montigny, Souillac advised him to convince the Marathas to attack the English on the western coast.82 The French with the help of Haider Ali were equipping themselves to attack the English on the Coromandel coast. The relations between the Marathas and Haider Ali had never been good due to the jealousy between the two. The French were actually trying to form a league of the three (Marathas, French and Haider Ali) to counter the English but it seemed to be impossible for them at this moment. The appointment of Montigny at the Maratha Court and that of Piveron at the Court of Haider Ali were made with an aim to explain the two powers the need of the time to fight the common enemy and that they must co-operate for its fulfilment. As regards Haider, the French knew that he would not come to terms with

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny


the English but they were suspicious about the Marathas. Haider Ali too was of the opinion that to reduce him the Marathas would surely come to terms with the English. The French hence took every care to keep the Marathas on their side.83 The English taking into account the alarming situation abandoned their war with the Marathas and made a truce with them. Colonel Muir signed a non-aggression pact with Mahadji Shinde on 13 October 1781 and also wanted Mahadji to make Nana Fadnavis a party to it. The English by this move wanted to gain time and concentrate towards reducing Haider Ali. The Marathas also due to their jealousy towards Haider Ali felt that the English should defeat him. The English were trying to lure the Marathas with offers of restoration of the places captured from them. Montigny’s task was to dissuade the Poona Durbar from making peace with the English and rather form a Franco-Maratha alliance to oust the English. Montigny in his letter to Souillac informed that, after the offers of the English for peace, the Maratha government’s attitude towards the French was likely to stiffen. They were bound to take advantage of the rivalry between the two European nations who were both seeking their alliance, and put forth conditions which would be difficult to fulfil.84 The terms of the projected treaty between Montigny and the Marathas was completed at the end of June 1782 and the following was agreed upon: 1. The French should land 10,000 men at Chaul for a joint campaign against the English at Bombay and at other places on the western coast. 2. The Marathas would advance rupees two lakh per month for four months for the maintenance of the French army. They were to supply boats, bullocks and labourers for transport of the French artillery. 3. Bombay and Surat were to be ceded to the French after they were captured from the English. 4. The Marathas were to retain their right of Chautai in Surat and in addition one-third of the amount raised from other sources of revenue.


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5 . The French would be at liberty to open factories at Baroach and Cambay. 6 . The spoils of the war were to be shared equally. 7 . The operations were to commence by the end of monsoon. 8 . The French were to inform the Marathas three months in advance about the arrival of the French troops in India, so as to enable them to make preparations for the supply of food and other provisions for the French army. 9 . After the reduction of all the places on the western coast, including Danda-Rajapuri from the Siddi, the combined forces would proceed to Bengal to expel the English from that province, in return of these services the Marathas would cede some territory to the French. 10. It was stipulated that the French should not conclude peace with the English either in India or in Europe, without the consent of the Marathas.85 Montigny objected to the last condition but he accepted it as an alliance with the Marathas, more than any other power, was absolutely necessary for the success for the French enterprise in India.86 The proposal of the Marathas did not satisfy the French government, especially the clause that the French should not conclude peace with the English either in Europe or in India. Hence certain modifications were suggested. Montigny rightly pointed out to the French government that the Marathas would neither make any move against the English nor advance any money to the French, unless French troops landed on the Konkan coast. Montigny had also suggested that the salary of the French soldiers be paid by the King of France and the cost of the sipahis be borne by the Marathas. If this was not possible then they should await for Bussy and his force to land at the Konkan coast. Montigny further stated that Nana Fadnavis was losing hope in the French assurance and at any time come under growing English pressure and the Maratha chieftains, especially Mahadji Shinde.87 The delay in the arrival of the French troops to India under the command of Bussy made Montigny’s position very embarrassing. The English were pressing hard on the Marathas to conclude peace with them and join the alliance, viz., English, Nizam Ali and

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny


Marathas to destroy Haider Ali completely.88 Hastings through the Vakeel of Mudhoji Bhosale of Nagpur had put forth proposals of the Poona government to join an alliance against Haider Ali. The territory and the forts that would be captured from the ruler of Mysore were to be equally divided among the two parties in such a way that the Marathas would get the portion that was adjoining to their territory.89 While all the other Maratha chieftains were ready for the proposal as they wanted to destroy Haider Ali completely, Nana Fadnavis was more anxious to punish the English as they had interfered into the internal matters of the Poona Durbar by siding with Raghunathrao. Nana Fadnavis also feared that if the Marathas joined the English and Nizam Ali then Haider Ali and French will form a strong alliance and in such a situation it would be very difficult for the Marathas to control the growing aspirations of Haider Ali. The Treaty of Salbai was finally concluded between the Marathas and the English on 17 May 1782. Salbai is 200 miles south of Delhi and 25 miles east of Gwalior. On behalf of the Marathas, Mahadji Shinde signed the treaty, while Nana Fadnavis signed on it after six months. He was insisting on the Maratha chieftains and the English that Haider Ali too must be made a party to this treaty. But the English by this time were determined to destroy Haider Ali and hence rejected the plea of Nana Fadnavis.90 Montigny was not aware of the Treaty of Salbai and he continued to assure Nana Fadnavis that a large force led by Bussy was soon expected to arrive in India.91 Nana Fadnavis too did not disclose that the Marathas were thinking about signing the Treaty of Salbai as he wanted to gain time and at the appropriate moment join hands with the side which would be definitely superior. The cause of the delay of the arrival of the French forces in India cannot be blamed on Montigny. Montigny was trying his best to perform his duty at the Maratha Court. It was only due to his presence at the Maratha Court that, Nana Fadnavis could gain time to delay the signing of the Treaty of Salbai and by doing so Nana was also pressuring the English to restore Salsette to the Marathas. The Marathas were also planning to form an alliance with Haider Ali and the French. But due to a stalemate between Haider and


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the French, the negotiations were not carried forward. The English by this time had become restless and started suspecting the Maratha moves. Hastings accused Mahadji Shinde of playing a double game. News of the death of Haider Ali arrived on 7 December 1782 and there was still no hope of the French force landing in India. Mahadji Shinde finally gave up hope and ratified the Treaty of Salbai on 20 December. Nana Fadnavis had sought Mahadji’s advice whether, after the Treaty of Salbai, he should allow the French Resident to retire from the Maratha Court or continue to entertain him. Mahadji replied: ‘Although, in the past, the French have not rendered service to the Maratha nation, yet he would advise Nana to maintain relations with them’.92 Montigny tried to impress upon Nana Fadnavis the great necessity for all the Indian princes to compose their differences and act in concert to destroy the common enemy with the active assistance and support of the French. According to him it was the only way to punish a nation whose goal was to bring all the princes in India under its domination and then seize all the commerce of the country. Nana Fadnavis was not convinced with the idea of Montigny. He also explained him that such a confederation was of no use and as an example he informed him how the confederation formed in 1780 between the Marathas, Nizam Ali and Haider Ali was dissolved due to the defection of Nizam Ali and Haider Ali had gained Maratha territory worth 60 lakh as promised in the terms of the alliance. Tipu Sultan too was following the same tactics of his father Haider Ali and hence Nana Fadnavis, was not ready for an alliance with Mysore. According to Nana Fadnavis, only the alliance between the Marathas and Nizam Ali, had the capacity to operate a general revolution in India with the assistance of French troops. Finally, Nana Fadnavis dismissed Montigny by remarking that he eagerly looked forward to a union of Maratha-French troops to repulse the English from Bombay and Bengal.93 CONCLUSION

The second half of the eighteenth century witnessed a period of anarchy and interdependency. Nearly all the major powers in north

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny


India and the Deccan had to suffer losses due to constant warfare and the northern invasions of the Afghans. The Marathas received a severe blow at the Battle of Panipat in 1761 which paved the way for the rise of Haider Ali in the south and English intervention in the politics of north India. The State of Mysore rose to prominence under Haider Ali and later under his son Tipu Sultan especially on the territories conquered from the Marathas, brought in fresh conflict between the Maratha State and Mysore. The period after 1761 witnessed the third phase of the relations between the French and the Marathas. After 1763, the French ceased to be contestants for supremacy in India. The humiliations at the ‘Treaty of Paris’ after the Seven Years’ War had become a matter of shame for the French who tried to avenge this humiliation, which brought a complete change in the French Company affairs and its administrative setup in India after 1763. They tried to contain the growing influence of the English in India and to achieve this purpose the French sought to align themselves with one or the other Indian power. The French to achieve this purpose visualized three Indian powers, namely, the Marathas, the Nizam and Haider Ali. Finally they settled to have an alliance with the Marathas as they were the only ones who had the complete wherewithal to oust the English from India. The French on the other hand also tried to persuade Nizam Ali and Haider Ali (and later on his son Tipu Sultan) to form a friendly alliance with the Marathas to achieve the common purpose. The embassies of Saint-Lubin and Montigny tried their best to formulate the alliance between the French and the Marathas. But on all the five occasions the Maratha proposal made to the French for an alliance against the English were left unanswered by the French government, viz., in 1772, 1775, 1778, 1781 and 1782. The Marathas hence felt that the French approach towards the alliance was fake and finally they gave up the thought of having an alliance with the French. The French residents like Saint-Lubin, Bellecombe, M. Piveron and M. de Morat at the courts of the Marathas and Haider Ali undermined their purpose and gave way to personal jealousy and rivalry. This lost the French credentials at the Maratha court. The French intimacy towards Haider Ali too caused suspicion in the minds of important Maratha leaders like Nana Fadnavis and Mahadji Shinde. For France Indian politics always remained


Umesh Ashok Kadam

subservient to European politics. France could not and would not interfere in the Indian affairs unless and until she was forced to it by a war in Europe between herself and England. The French involvement in the American War of Independence and the French Revolution further hampered the French interests in India. The French warning that the destruction of Tipu would consequently bring the ruin of the Marathas came to be true. The French ceaselessly tried to bring the Marathas, Nizam Ali and Tipu together against the English. But due to petty rivalry amongst them the English could carve out an Empire in India. The French-Maratha relations although did not succeed in ousting the English from India, remained one of the most striking features of the eighteenth century in India.

NOTES 1. V.V. Khare, Life of Nana Fadnavis, Aitihasik Lekh Sangraha (Collection of Historical Documents) Poona: Bharat Itihas Samshodhak Mandal, p. 43, G.S. Sardesai, Marathi Riyasat, Uttar Vibhag, vol. I, Poona: Popular Prakashan, 1991. 2. Archives Nationalse (AN), C2 126, ff. 166v &168v. 3. AN, C2 126, ff. 364v-365v, C2 144, ff. 39-42v. 4. B.P. Joshi (ed.), Selections from the Satara Rajas and Peshwas Diaries (SSRPD), vol. V., Poona: Bharat Itihas Samshodhak Mandal, 1929, pp. 77-8. 5. AN, C2 139, ff. 322-322v. 6. AN, C2 142, ff. 13-14; C2 139, ff. 57v & 97. 7. AN, C2 126, f. 218. 8. AN, C2 126, ff. 365v-367. 9. V.G. Hatalkar, Relations between the French and the Marathas (1668-1818), Bombay: University of Bombay, 1958, p. 181. 10. James Grant Duff, History of the Marathas, ed. S.M. Edwards, London: Oxford Universxity Press, vol. II, 1921, pp. 70-1. 11. P.E. Roberts, History of British India, London: Oxford University Press, 1930, p. 193. 12. G.S. Sardesai, A New History of the Marathas, vol. III, Bombay: Phoenix Publications, 1946, p. 68. 13. A. Martineau, Bussy et l’Inde française, Paris: Société de l’histoire des colonies française, 1935, p. 349.

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny


14. Archives du Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres (AMAE), Fonds Angleterre, vol. 18, ff. 138; Fonds Asie, vol. 4, f. 173. 15. AN, C2 164, f. 3. Criticism of the Memoire. 16. AMAE, Fonds Asie, vol. 7, ff. 123-123v. 17. V.G. Hatalkar, Relations between the French and the Marathas (1668-1818), Bombay: University of Bombay, 1958, p.184. 18. Ibid., p. 185. 19. Ibid. 20. AMAE, Fonds Asie, vol. 7, ff. 165-67v. 21. Ibid., ff. 167v-168. 22. AN, C2 164, pages not numbered. 23. AMAE, vol. 4, ff. 169-169v. 24. K.B. Marathe (ed.), Selections from the Satara Rajas and Peshwas Diaries (SSRPD), vol. VI, p. 80. 25. AMAE, Fonds Asie, vol. 4, f. 174; The Secret and Political Department Diary (hereafter SPDD), 1777 (dup.), 18A, pp. 236 and 240; Maratha Series, pp. 289 and 293. 26. AMAE, Fonds Asie, vol. 4, ff. 177v-178. 27. Ibid., ff. 180-180v; SPDD, 1777 (dup.), 18A, pp. 240-1; Maratha Series, pp. 293-7. 28. V.G. Hatalkar, Relations between the French and the Marathas (1668-1818), 1958, p. 188. 29. AMAE, Fonds Asie, vol. 4, ff. 180-181v. 30. Hatalkar, op. cit., p. 189. 31. SPDD, 1778, 19, p. 279; Maratha Series, pp. 323-5. 32. SPDD, 1778, 19, p. 321. 33. AMAE, Fonds Asie, vol. 4, ff. 185-91. 34. Ibid., f. 186v. 35. AN, C2 148, ff. 170-2; Maratha Series, p. 297. 36. AN, C2 148, ff. 234v-235. 37. Ibid., ff. 41-41v. 38. Ibid., f. 164. 39. AN, B 147, year 1777, p. 229. 40. The Peshwa’s letter to Mudhoji Bhosale, The Calendar of the Persian Correspondence, V. Poona: Bharat Itihas Samshodhak Mandal, V.V. Khare (ed.), Aitihasik Lekhsangraha, vol. Poona: VI, Bharat Itihas Samshodhak Mandal, Maratha Series, Bombay: Government Central Press, 1899, p. 525. 41. Warren Hastings letter, Podar and Muzumdar, English East India Com-


42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54.

55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69.

Umesh Ashok Kadam paniecha Peshwe Darbarashi Pharshi Patra Vyavahar, Poona: Bharat Itihas Samshodhak Mandal, 1923, p. 15. D.B.Parasnis (ed.), Pararashtranchya Darabaratil Matrathyanche Vakil, Poona: Bharat Itihas Samshodhak Mandal, 1923, p. 62. SPPD, 1777 (dup.), 18A, pp. 105, 112-13; Maratha Series, Bombay: Government Central Press, 1899, pp. 288-9. V.V. Khare (ed.), Aitihasik Lekhsangraha, Poona: Bharat Itihas Samshodhak Mandal, vol. VI, p. 303. AN, C2 157, f. 73v. SPPD, 1777 (dup.), 18A, p. 271. Hatalkar, 1958, p. 194. Ibid., p. 194. AMAE, Fonds Asie, vol. 4, ff. 197-8. Ibid., ff. 198v-202. SPPD, 1777 (dup.), 19B, pp. 354-5. AN, C2 126, f. 263. AMAE, Fonds Asie, vol. 4, ff. 204-204v. SPPD, 1778 (dup.), 19B, p. 29; Grant Duff, History of the Marathas, vol. II, 1921 edn., p. 80; G.S. Sardesai, Marathi Riyasat, Uttar Vibhag, vol. I, Bombay, p. 125; D.B. Parasnis (ed.), Aitihasik Tipane, Poona: Bharat Itihas Samshodhak Mandal, p. 50. The Calendar of the Persian Correspondence, Imperial Record Department, vol. V, Calcutta, pp. 223-4. SPPD, 1778 (dup.), 19B, p. 423; Grant Duff, History of the Marathas, vol. II, 1921 edn., p. 125. SPPD, 1778 (dup.), 19B, p. 198; Maratha Series, p. 231. AN, C2 126, ff. 228v-229v. SPPD, 1778 (dup.), 19B, p. 204; 1779, 20, p. 71. Indian Office Records (IOR), The French in India, vol. 4, para 151. SPPD, 1779, 20, pp. 442-3. AN, C2 126, ff. 228v-229v. AMAE, Fonds Asie, vol. 4, ff. 206-8. AN, C2 164, pp. 1-3 of the Mémoire submitted by St. Lubin to the Minister, dated 15 May 1782, at Charenton. Hatalkar, op. cit., 1958, p. 199. Ibid., p. 200. A. Martineau (ed.), Le Journal de Bussy, Paris: Imprimerie Moderne, Pondichery, 1932, p. 5. AN, C2 155, ff. 147v-148. Hatalkar, op. cit., 1958, p. 201.

Maratha Court and Embassies of Saint-Lubin & M. Montigny 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84. 85. 86. 87. 88. 89.

90. 91. 92. 93.


AN, C2 152, f. 305. SPPD, 1777 (dup.), 18A, p. 258; Maratha Series, p. 298. SPPD, 1778 (dup.), p. 216; Maratha Series, p. 332. AN, C2 160, ff. 28-9. V.V. Khare (ed.), Aitihasik Lekhsangraha, vol. VI, pp. 3401 and 3445; G.S. Sardesai, Marathi Riyasat, Uttar Vibhag, vol. I, Bombay, p. 292. AN, C2 160, f. 28v. S.P. Sen, Indian Historical Records Commission Proceedings (hereafter IHRCP), vol. 22, p. 26. G.H. Khare, Indian Historical Records Commission Proceedings (hereafter IHRCP), vol. 26, pp. 14-15. AN, C2 162, f. 157. Hatalkar, op. cit., 1958, pp. 206-7. AN, C2 162, ff. 126-128v. AN, C2 163, f. 64. AN, C2 155, ff. 95-95v. AN, C2 163, ff. 86-86v. AN, C2 169, f. 149v. S.P. Sen, Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 1945, pp. 353-8. AN, C2 166, ff. 9v-10v. Ibid., f. 10v. Kavyetihasa Sangraha (KS), p. 318. Rev. G.R. Gleig, Memoirs of the Life of Warren Hastings, Richard Bentley, New Bulington Street, Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty, vol. II, London, 1841, p. 362. KS, p. 342. Ibid. Ibid., p. 323. AN, C2 163, ff. 142-3.

C H A P T E R 12

The Unquiet Religious Backdrop to European East Indies Trade: Christian Polemical Literature and the First Portuguese Translation of the Bible, 1642-1694 LUIS HENRIQUE MENEZES FERNANDES AND STEFAN HALIKOWSKI SMITH

A rabbi whose community does not disagree with him is not really a rabbi, and a rabbi who fears his community is not really a man. BETH HATEFUTSOTH, DIASPORA MUSEUM, TEL AVIV

While company doctrine sought in the famous words of Thomas Roe to pursue a ‘quiet trade’ in the East Indies, the religious history of the European settlements there proved quite the contrary. The constant internecine back-biting between the different regular orders and fundamental differences of opinion regarding the concessions the Christian dogma should make to native beliefs and customs fueled both the Malabar Rites and the Chinese Rites controversies, which saw the Pope forced to send out diplomatic legates who were in turn kidnapped, and held to ransom, while the differences in dogma continued to rumble on for the best part of 200 years and only jeopardized the overall missionary enterprise by failing to present Christianity as a unifying creed. Given this background, the fundamental political opposition between the north European Protestant powers and the southern European Catholic nations was not even the overriding difference, although here too the language adopted by both sides was a highly charged one of Dutch labelling


Luis Henrique Menezes Fernandes & S.H. Smith

Portuguese ‘crusaders’ (kruisvaarders) or ‘papists’ (papen), and the Portuguese reciprocating by referring to the Dutch as ‘heretics’ (hereges), ‘pirates, and rebels’, ‘enemies of the faith’, or men ‘without faith, without a king, who do not hold their word’. The Portuguese expelled ‘heretics’ from their territories on charges of ‘spying’ even if fulfilling useful commercial roles and assimilated into local brotherhoods, as the cases of the Augsburger Ferdinand Cron and the Flemish Coutre brothers demonstrate, and the following (along side their Spanish co-religionists) attempted to seize Dutch shipping when the situation presented itself (the Cleen Zeelandt incident in 1624, for example). They also sought to assassinate Dutch officials in third countries in the East Indies like Cambodia (the murder of Pieter van Regesmortes and his retinue in Cambodia, 1643; the murder of Isaac Moerdijck, opperhoof ’d of the Dutch factory at Ayutthaya, 1646). The Dutch reciprocally expelled Portuguese population in the wake of their wave of conquests inaugurated from the beginning of the seventeenth century, seized Portuguese shipping as prizes as the Nossa Senhora da Quietação and De Walvisch incidents reveal in 1641 and 1658 respectively, although at times coming to some sort of grudging agreement if only to retain some population in the settlements who would continue to perform daily tasks necessary for the settlement’s existence, like agriculture and retail commerce.1 While the provocative arguments of Leo Blussé contend that Batavia was essentially a ‘Chinese colonial town’, letters like that of Fr. Manuel Soares S.J. in 1661 inform us that as much as two-thirds of the population remained ‘hidden’ Roman Catholics who had to be ministered to secretly by the passing clergy, who themselves had to be careful not to be caught in flagrante delicto and suffer denunciation from Dutch pastors, or domines, and consequently fines, imprisonment and immediate deportation. In neighbouring Malacca, Friar Navarrete O.P. had to administer confessions every morning and evening for twelve consecutive days in 1670, such were the numbers and zeal of the suppressed Catholic population, while Gemelli Careri reports that Catholics were forced to practise their religion surreptitiously in the woods outside the city.2 While Hubert Jacobs insists that treatment of the Roman Catholic population depended very much on the will of the particular Gover-

Unquiet Religious Backdrop to European East Indies Trade


nor-General in Batavia, the hostile and suspicious governance of men like Jan Pieterszoon Coen (1619-23, 1627-9) counterbalanced perhaps by more sympathetic leadership on the part of Maetsuyker (1653-78) or Johannes Camphuys (1684-91), it is our belief that one cannot but observe how the relationship gradually shifted over the course of the second half of the seventeenth century to a less antagonistic one, primarily as it became obvious that there was a third rising power, the English, which by the end of the century was threatening to eclipse both the Dutch and the Portuguese. The costs of a hawkish policy and the never-ending military campaigns ensuing in the Westerkwartier also frightened the Heeren XVII, and, saw war-mongers like Rijklof van Goens Senior and Junior removed from power, and a general shift away from what the historian George Winius has described as a ‘merchant-warrior company ethos’.3 Studies of Dutch-Portuguese relations in ‘neutral’ colonial contexts, such as the settlement in Ayutthaya, would confirm the evolution of this general détente in Dutch-Portuguese relations, although denominational differences again became a flashpoint in South Asia during the Carnatic Wars of the mid-eighteenth century.4 But there were other reasons too for this change. As Henk Niemeijer has written in his acclaimed biography of Dutch Batavia, ‘segregatie werkete niet’, segregation was a policy that was increasingly proven not to work, and even the promotion of the Dutch language, a sine qua non of holding civil office, could not disguise the fact that as a language of interaction (omgangstaal ) it was a threadbare reality: ‘bastard Portuguese and Malay enjoyed preference’ (genoten de voorkeur).5 But the ruling Batavian City Council does not seem to have contemplated the example of Danish Tranquebar, which took the exceptional step in 1646 of allowing a Catholic church to be constructed, though the lot of the Catholics even here was no bed of roses: François Martin, the governor of Pondicherry reported after a personal visit how they felt the taxes they were asked to pay by the governor there were too high.6 Church services (kerkdiensten) were carried on in the Malay language as from 1633; then in 1673, a wooden church for the mixed-race population of Batavia was built; in 1695, a second one, a buitenkeerk (lit. ‘outside church’) was built for Portuguese and mardijker residents of the city of Batavia, outside the central area as in Tranquebar, and deliberately low-


Luis Henrique Menezes Fernandes & S.H. Smith

standing and drab in appearance, so as not to upstage the principal Calvinist centres of worship.7 A Dutch sexton, Johannes Hasenbosch (1672-1723), who had switched from the Roman Catholic religion to the Dutch Calvinist Church shortly after the death of his daughter Helena in 1694, was appointed to supervise its running. The incumbent governor Johannes Camphuys generously donated all kinds of sacral instruments of mass, and it became extremely popular amongst native burghers like Thomas Anthonits, who donated a large silver baptismal font twenty-five years later.8 The strict injunction that only the Reformed Church, as established at the National Synod of Dordt (1618-19), was to be permitted in Dutch overseas possessions was not, however, rescinded.9 As Dutch hostility with regards to the world their fellow imperialist Portuguese had built softened, a different problem now emerged to confront the Portuguese colonial authorities, an old bugbear akin to the renegadism which had afflicted the empire in the sixteenth century, where Portuguese who were offered higher salaries and better living standards amongst the principalities of southern and Southeast Asia than they were by their own countrymen, deserted to the enemy in exchange for their military know-how, particularly in the management of firearms.10 In the seventeenth century, the Portuguese presence in the East had taken on a religious justification, and victories there were now won in terms of the numbers of ‘souls harvested’. The renegadism here, then, was a religious defection to Protestantism, which became sufficiently widespread for a specific term—overloopers—to come into being in the Dutch language. The case of Ferreira d’Almeida was amongst the highest profile of these, as rather than doing so quietly, like many traders hoping to benefit from this move such as Francisco de Acha, who carried freight for British interlopers from Madras, Almeida turned to the print medium to produce a steady stream of religious invective which other Portuguese religious publicists sought hard to refute.11 We are in very different waters then from those scholars who see Lusophone Protestantisms emerging only in the nineteenth century, a result of ‘d’allers et de retours à travers l’Atlantique’ and with a ‘pôle essentiel’ in Madeira.12 From the second half of the eighteenth century assimilation saw increasing numbers of Portuguese in major British colonial cities like Calcutta turn to Protestant wor-

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ship, chiefly the Baptist movement, but a hundred years earlier this remained a much more controversial, and threatening challenge to one of the very foundations of Portuguese identity, outward Catholic religiosity.13 In this context, it is the subject of this article to provide a fleeting survey of the literature, and the efforts to produce the first ‘complete’ Bible in the Portuguese language, an already long-standing achievement in Protestant nations like Holland and Germany, where vernacular bibles were produced in 1526 and 1522 respectively, but one whose legitimacy the Council of Trent (1545-63) had questioned. Trent had insisted that the true doctrine of Christ was contained not only in the written holy texts (in libris scriptis), but also in church rituals (et sine scripto traditionibus), and that printers should be curbed via a licensing system administered by the governing ecclesiastical authorities. The idea that only vernacular languages should be used in Catholic nations was condemned, as it was thought that Bible readings in the vulgates were one of the principal reasons for the proliferation of Lutheran ‘heresies’, and Trent advocated the continued use of Latin and the official Latin translation of the scriptures (Second Decree), although shying away from an outright insistence on the exclusive use of Latin in the church.14 It is a striking fact that the first systematic and literal translation of the Bible into the Portuguese language was made during the seventeenth century in the Dutch domains of the East Indies.15 The intent was to provide access, both in Portugal and in conquered lands overseas, to Christian biblical literature written in the Portuguese vulgate rather than in Latin, with the exception of the deuterocanonical books in the Old Testament, which was not accepted by Protestants as divinely inspired. The idea was conceived within this context by the Portuguese convert to Calvinism João Ferreira A. d’Almeida (c. 1628-91), a minister preacher of the Dutch Reformed Church of the East Indies, whose name sometimes appears as Joan Fereijra in Dutch documents of the time. What was so striking was not only that the idea had come from the imperial sphere, rather than from within Portugal, but that this was a challenge to the directives set in the previous century by the Roman Church during the Council of Trent (1545-63), which although called for a better definition of Catholic orthodoxy, in response to


Luis Henrique Menezes Fernandes & S.H. Smith

the teachings of the Protestant Reformation, did not go so far as encouraging any new or colloquial translations of biblical scripture.16 Biblical translations had none the less been effected into most of the other European vernaculars—initially of the Protestant break-away nations as we have seen, but then into French (1530), into Spanish (albeit published at Protestant Basel in 1569), and even into minor languages like Slovene by 1584.17 There was of course the issue of the formidable machinery created for the enforcement of Catholic orthodoxy, the Inquisition, which via the printed Indexes first published in Toledo in 1551 forbade possession of Spanish bibles. But even accepting the numerous fragmentary translations circulating, of the Acts and Catholic Epistles printed in 1505, of the Liturgical Gospels and Epistles printed around 1510, and even some fuller ‘romanced’ versions, Portugal was nonetheless extremely slow in producing what the bibliographer and Portuguese érudit António Ribeiro dos Santos called the ‘first regular translation’ of the Bible in his pioneering work on the subject two hundred years ago.18 19


João Ferreira Annes d’Almeida was born around 1628 in Torre de Tavares (Mangualde), a village in the Beira Interior province of Portugal. No one knows the reason why he emigrated to the East Indies around 1641 and 1642, at the age of fourteen. He was probably a soldier caught up in the fight between the Dutch and Portuguese for Malacca, which, after several seasonal blockades, eventually fell to the Dutch on 14 January 1641 in as yet unclear circumstances.20 At least two sources suggest he became a Roman Catholic priest in Goa, and even a Jesuit, although these are almost certainly falsifications and confusions with the Jesuit António Ferreira S.J. (1606-12 April 1670), as Guy Tachard relates after his own personal enquiries.21 At any rate, he converted to the reformed Christian church while travelling from Batavia to Malacca, after having read an ‘anonymous’ pamphlet, the Differença d’a Cristandade written in Spanish, which disparaged the fundamentals of Tridentine Catholic orthodoxy. While in Malacca, which in 1641 had changed hands from Portuguese to Dutch in a somewhat

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acrimonious manner, and where he remained until 1651, Almeida started to make efforts to translate the New Testament into the Portuguese language, first from Spanish versions of the biblical text, and afterwards, based on the Latin translation by the French Calvinist Theodore Beza (1519-1605), whilst also consulting Spanish, French and Italian versions. He resided for the next five years in Batavia, the capital of the Netherlands Indies, and worked with the Portuguese-speaking Dutch Reformed Church as a krankbezoeker, visiting the sick.22 He tried to pass exams in Batavia to become a preacher in 1654, but failed, apparently because there were no Dutch examining authorities available. Almeida succeeded, however, in 1656 on his second attempt, though he had to preach in French and Portuguese not Dutch. Schutte provides some context here, explaining how the number of posts for preachers in the VOC was expanding more rapidly than for other occupations, although remaining modest overall (28 posts or staandplaatsen in 1647, 43 three decades later).23 Almeida was sent to Galle in Ceylon in that year, where it was important to convert the ‘swarming’ Roman Catholic population of the coastal area in order to defuse the potential for a fifth column left behind by the Portuguese amongst the new Dutch overlords.24 Almeida then spent a year amongst the Parava fishing community in southern India, which in 1658 also passed under Dutch control. Making converts was hard work here, Protestantism here having to challenge a successful long-standing Catholic mission that went right back to the ministry of Saint Francis Xavier. Despite dispatching some of the most famous preachers of the day like Philippus Baldaeus and Henricus Bongaerts to work actively on the ground, and despite Almeida’s zeal, for which he became known as the ‘perpetual predikant’, the Dutch found at best a limited audience. In August 1662, for example, the governor of Ceylon complained that Calvinist ministers only ‘preach for the Dutch chief, his few subordinates and the chairs, benches and walls of the church’.25 Early measures adopted during a period of open hostility, like the banning of the popular Our Lady of Snows festival, had to be replaced by a policy of economic and religious liberalization from around 1664, when it became obvious that violence and coercion


Luis Henrique Menezes Fernandes & S.H. Smith

would get them nowhere, and when edicts of toleration were signed across Europe in the spirit of the Peace of Westphalia. By this time Almeida was already recalled to Batavia, having proven to his employers that he would not rock the boat, and where he remained as a Minister (predikant) appointed by the Batavian Church Council until his death, probably in 1691.26 In 1681, he saw the first fruit born from his work as translator of the scriptures: the first complete version of the New Testament in Portuguese was published in Amsterdam.27 In the following year, he was awarded a prize for his ‘zeal (ijver) in translating’ from the Dutch authorities, and received 200 ducats.28 In the year he died, he had already translated almost the entire Old Testament up to the final verses of Ezekiel. The translation of the other canonical books from the Old Testament was finished in 1694 by another minister of the Reformed Church, Jacobus op den Akker. This Dutch priest, who studied at Utrecht, and was twenty-one years younger than Almeida, came to Batavia in 1688 from Ceylon a little before Almeida’s death, where he spent the rest of his life in ministry and translation work, including a book of psalms to be read at evening meal times (avondmaalpsalmen).29 However, it was not before 1748 and 1753 that the complete translation of the Old Testament was published for the first time, in two tomes, by the printing house of Batavia. However, before this first complete publication, Lutheran missionaries from the Danish Mission of Tranquebar in India had already published from 1738 a good portion of the same translated work of Almeida.30 Besides the translation of the Bible, João Ferreira de Almeida also produced several other works, most of them of an anti-Catholic polemic nature. In 1650, he translated the Spanish pamphlet, the Differença d’a Cristandade, into Portuguese, through which he himself had come to know the doctrinal foundations of the Protestant Reformation.31 In this same year, he translated the Heidelberg Catechism and the Liturgy of the Reformed Church, and in the same decade, he revised the Portuguese translation of the Aesop’s Fables, printed in 1672. Also in this year, he published a set of polemic writings, comprising two long epistles and 20 propositions against the Catholic Church, the latter being directed ‘to all the

Unquiet Religious Backdrop to European East Indies Trade


Figure 12.1: Frontispiece of the first edition of the New Testament in Portuguese (O Novo Testamento . . . Agora traduzido en Portugues Pelo Padre João Ferreira A d’Almeida, Ministro Pregador do Sancto Evangelho. Amsterdam: viuva de J.V. Someren, 1681)


Luis Henrique Menezes Fernandes & S.H. Smith

ecclesiastics and landlords of the kingdom of Portugal’.32 The following year, he published a Dutch translation of the treatise Differença d’a Christandade, along with a Portuguese appendix and ‘necessary considerations regarding the purported vehemence of the Appendix’.33 In all his writings, João Ferreira de Almeida tried to refute, based on his own translation of the Scriptures, the central dogmas of Tridentine Catholicism, frequently quoting the Roman Catechism itself, produced by the order of the Trent Council and first published in Italy in 1566, as well as other derivative catechetic texts, mainly the Christian Doctrine written by Jesuit Marcos Jorge, the Ample Declaration of the Christian Doctrine written by Italian Jesuit Roberto Bellarmino and the Catechism of Christian Doctrine and Spiritual Practices by Dominican friar Bartolomeu dos Mártires, all of them enjoying a great circulation in Portugal and in its colonies. In this manner, despite having spent most part of his life in the Dutch East Indies, he strove for the propagation of the Reformed doctrine in Portugal and in its overseas territories, either through the divulgation of the Scriptures in the vulgate, or through the publication of his apologetica for the Reformation. In the face of such strong attacks against the doctrinal orthodoxy of the Roman Church, Almeida became a wanted man. Philippus Baldaeus tells us that his effigy was brought to Goa where it was burned publicly by the Archbishop and the Inquisitional bench.34 At least three Catholic priests, missionaries in the East Indies from different orders, rebelled against the polemics and heterodox doctrines of the Portuguese Calvinist. First, the Augustinian friar Hieronimo de Siqueira wrote in 1670, in Bengali, the language of one of the most successful Christian mission fields where there were as many as 25,000 converts, the Carta Apologética em Defensão da Religião Católica Romana contra João Ferreira de Almeida. In this text, several attacks were made on the heretic ‘predicant of the Calvinist sect’, denouncing not only the errors in his doctrine but also of his character.35 However, this text, which remained in manuscript form, was both relatively short and badly written in the sense of not being very systematic. At the same time, theological disputes took place involving

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Almeida and another Catholic clergyman: Jean-Baptiste Maldonado S.J., a ‘Belgian’ missionary for the Company of Jesus who passed through Batavia in 1667 en route to an anticipated career in the China mission. The Governor General Joan Maetsuycker, a sympathizer who hailed from a Catholic family from Brussels and was denounced by later biographers like Valentijn as a ‘hidden Jesuit’, was forced to expel him and his colleagues from the city. Some years later, an extensive work was published at Batavia in the form of a dialogue, and entitled Dialogo Rustico e Pastoril, entre o Cura de hua ladea e hum Pasto de ovelhas, tocante o verdadeiro, puro e legitimo modo de como o Deus nosso Senhor havemos de server, e assi infalivelmente conseguir, e deançar a vida, Gloria e bemaventurança eternal. Authorship tends traditionally to be attributed to Maldonado.36 Maldonado was also responsible for a more straightforward hagiographical text, the Illustre Certamen R.P. Joannis de Britto e Societate Jesu Lusitani, In odium Fiedi à Regulo Maravâ trucidati,Quarta de Februarij 1693, which recounted the martyrdom of the second ‘Francis Xavier’ and was written in Macao in 1695 as an exercise in the affirmation of Maldonado’s faith at a time his own career was being rocked by constant wranglings over the authority of his mission in Siam.37 Finally, albeit somewhat later, Italian Giovan Battista Morelli, a Franciscan missionary, wrote the work Luzeiro Evangelico in São Tomé de Meliapur (a former Portuguese possession on the Coromandel coast of India) in 1708 in order to contradict the Portuguese apologetic publications for the Reformed Church, which circulated in the East Indies. In this text, also written in Portuguese, the language of everyday interaction across the Indies till the nineteenth century, Morelli repeatedly cited the Calvinist translator and some of his works, vehemently refuting them all, based on the Roman Catholic orthodoxy proclaimed in the Council of Trent.38 In the face of this, it would seem obvious that the production of the first biblical translation into the Portuguese language, in its historical uniqueness, will not be understood in a satisfactory way without a rigorous analysis of these several controversial writings, related to the context of its elaboration, which are—as we shall see below—have still barely been explored by scholars. In this sense,


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aiming at a deep historical understanding of the biblical translation made by João Ferreira de Almeida in the East Indies during the seventeenth century, it is essential that we analyse in depth the Catholic-Calvinist conflicts underlying its production, with special emphasis on the particularities related to the unique historical setting in which they were produced. The bibliography on the elaboration of the first Bible in the Portuguese language favours, in general, the individual trajectory of its main translator, emphasizing the difficulties he faced in carrying out this work. The few studies on this subject can be sorted into two main strands. First, we find the confessional literature that extols Almeida for his pioneering work in the translation and propagation of the biblical text into Portuguese.39 Besides these, there are also those authors who try to provide a systematic list of the numerous editions of the biblical translation of João Ferreira de Almeida, published over the past four centuries. In these cases, we generally find also a detailed collection of sources related to the context of elaboration of Almeida’s Bible, but lacking a critical and deep historical analysis.40 Away from the Lusophone world, a single author dedicated himself to the subject: the Dutch scholar Jan Ludwig Swellengrebel. Although a great scholar, this researcher did not provide a deep analysis of the primary sources at our disposal but devoted himself to the production of a detailed narrative biography of Calvinist translator João Ferreira de Almeida, with the primary purpose of disclosing the mysteries of his life that still remain.41 As this bibliography is essentially biographic and/or typographic, its exponents did not pay enough attention to primary sources concerning the religious confrontation correspondent to the translation process. Thus, this specific literature regarding the translation of the Sacred Scriptures into Portuguese lacks any deeper analysis of the historical issues. With this in mind, we present below three important documentary findings that may enrich our historical understanding—in the face of so many available rich primary sources—is due, firstly to the fact that no proper emphasis was given to the intrinsic relationship between the historical process of developing a Bible translation into Portuguese and the Catholic-Calvinist doctrinal conflicts that underlie such process. Besides this evident aspect—

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or better, resultant from it—historiography did not analyse as it should the diverse sources related to the theme, all of them required for a rounded historical understanding. Bearing this in mind, we present below three important documentary findings from our research that may enrich historical understanding. 1. DIFFERENÇA D’A CHRISTANDADE The purpose of the translation of this booklet into Portuguese was that of facilitating, according to João Ferreira de Almeida, the ‘conversion and salvation of those who do not know any other language than Portuguese’ given there was as yet no translation of the Sacred Scriptures for them.42 Thus, the efforts of Almeida for the propagation of the Reformed Christian doctrine in the Portuguese language—efforts that comprise all his translation works on the Holy Scriptures—were focused not on the Kingdom of Portugal itself, but rather on the Portuguese-speaking people who lived in the East Indies at that time, the large numbers of often uprooted, miscegenated and downtrodden Roman Catholic believers. In relation to the treaty Differença d’a Christandade, published numerous times in the East Indies during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, experts have been divided about its real authorship, as already mentioned. The principal researchers—from António Ribeiro dos Santos, to David Lopes and Jan. L. Swellengrebel, as well as more recently Manuel Cadafaz de Matos e Herculano Alves—could not identify whether or not there was an original version of the text in Spanish. João Ferreira de Almeida, in the prologue and in the dedication of the work, both written in 1668, claims to have found an anonymous Spanish version of it in 1642 and from this he made his Portuguese translation, with several notes and interesting annexes. There is also a thesis that Almeida was the one who wrote the treatise and who chose to keep it anonymous for some reason, as suggested by Ribeiro dos Santos and endorsed by Herculano Alves. According to this latter author, there is indeed a ‘myth’ about the existence of the original text in Spanish.43 For him, it seems credible that Almeida was the real author of this work. However, after reading some classic texts of the Protestant Refor-


Luis Henrique Menezes Fernandes & S.H. Smith

Figure 12.2: Frontispiece of J. Ferreira d’Almeida, Differença d’a Christandade em que claramente se manifesta a grande desconformidade entre a verdadeira e antiga doutrina de Deus, e a falsa e nova dos homens . . . Batávia: Henrique Brando & João Bruyningo, 1668

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mation in Spain, we found Cipriano de Valera (1532-1602) to be the author of this booklet, mainly known for his revision of the Spanish translation of the Bible made by Casiodoro de Reina (1520-94). In fact, the Differença d’a Christandade is nothing but a set of three annexes in the book of Cipriano de Valera entitled Dos tratados, about the Pope and the mass.44 This work was originally published in 1588, and its second edition came out in 1599 in England.45 This set of annexes can be found, in its totality, only in its second edition, expanded by its own author. We suppose, naturally, that the set of annexes of the work Dos tratados by Cipriano de Valera circulated independently in the East Indies, with no reference to the author, and this may be the reason why Almeida did not know who had written it. In confirmation to this thesis, we have found an independent version of the annexes, with no information about the author, published in France in 1601, with the text not only in Spanish, but also in French.46 Nevertheless, we suppose that there was a version of the annex only in Spanish, otherwise, João Ferreira de Almeida would have mentioned that the work was in French and Spanish. Besides, it is possible to see that the format of the work is very similar to the Breve tratado de la doctrina antigua de Dios, y de la nueva de los hombres, probably written by protestant Spanish Juan Pérez de Pineda, published first in 1560.47 This, on one hand, is the Spanish version of another work in Latin by German Urbanus Rhegius, entitled Novae doctrinae ad veterem collatioe and published in 1526. The Differença d’a Christandade by João Ferreira de Almeida is, therefore, part of a whole tradition of anti-Catholic controversialist writings, translated and published afterwards in Portuguese in the East Indies within the context of the struggle between Portuguese and the Dutch for the trade and maritime supremacy of that region. 2. DIALOGO RUSTICO E PASTORIL There is no doubt, however, that the most interesting document related to these theological conflicts is the Dialogo Rustico e Pastoril entre o cura de huã aldea e hum pastor de ovelhas.48 This is an extensive


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fictitious dialogue exposing the fundamental Catholic and Protestant controversies over its almost 600 pages. In it, the educated village priest upholds Catholic orthodoxy, whilst stumbling over understanding the simplicity of the evangelical message so important to the Reformed Church, while the shepherd, in his simplicity and rusticity, is able to see to the quick of the gospel in all appropriate humility. Rusticity, then, is not a defect but a blessing. Taken as a whole this conflict represents the old views of the Church, which run up against the new dogmas of Tridentine Catholicism on issues like the use of Latin in worship, papal infallibility, adoration before images, communion, the existence of purgatory, etc. As mentioned before, the consensus hitherto has been that the Jesuit Jean-Baptiste Maldonado is its author. The subtitle of the work seems to suggests, in fact, this authorship, wherein it is presented that the book contains ‘as razões do mui reverendo e douto padre João Bautisto Maldonado, religioso professo da Companhia de Jesus e missionário apostólico, contra as de João Ferreira A d’Almeida, ministro ou predicante calvinista’. Nevertheless, there still remains some uncertainty among specialists about this attribution. Herculano Alves, for example, although considering the Jesuit the author of Dialogo Rustico e Pastoril, wonders why no catalogue of Jesuit works refers to this substantial piece of written work.49 Manuel Cadafaz de Matos also considers Jean-Baptiste Maldonado its author, but admits not having analysed the text and not having found any reference to its authorship in any Jesuit bibliographic catalogues.50 David Lopes, in the same way, claims that Maldonado is the author of this religious dialogue, but notes that the biographer of the Jesuit, Henri Bosmans, never mentioned this work.51 Burnay sees Maldonado as the author, but his travel companion on the outward Indies voyage that stopped off at Batavia, Friar Manuel de Santa Teresa O.P., as the textual translator into Portuguese.52 However, just by reading the content of this work one can suppose that João Ferreira de Almeida is its real author, and there are clear indications to confirm this hypothesis. Contrary to what could be expected from its subtitle, post-Tridentine Catholic orthodoxy is vehemently attacked in each one of its sixty chapters. It is curious to note that its front page and table of contents were purposely

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Figure 12.3: Title page of J. Ferreira d’Almeida, Dialogo Rustico e Pastoril entre o cura de huã addea e hum pastor de ovelhas tocante o verdadeiro, puro e legitimo modo de como o Deus nosso Senhor havemos de server, e assi infalivelmente conseguir, e alcançar a vida, Gloria e bemaventurança eternas, Amsterdam, 1684?


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structured in a such a way so that those unwary readers may at first believe it is an apology to Roman Catholicism. For example, the chapter titles are entitled: ‘Of the authority of the Holy Scriptures and the Traditions of the Church’, ‘Of the authority of the Church regarding the Holy Scriptures’, ‘Of the infallibility of the Pope and other prelates of the Church’, etc. It seems that this ‘misleading’ feature of the writing is responsible for the everlasting doubts about its authorship. Besides, in the subtitle of the work, Almeida uses the expression ‘mui reverendo e douto padre’ in reference to the Belgian Jesuit Maldonado, and this may certainly be seen as ironic. Let us provide an example of Almeida’s subversion. At a certain point in the text, the priest presents the argument that what renders Catholic doctrine incontestable are the miracles which occur in front of the many believers. The author then compares Catholicism with the gentile religions, referring to holy men and yogis of India, but affirms that all are false. Catholic miracles (prodígios) are thus little more than lies, as with gentile religions, for ‘they too concoct and invent by Satan’s ruse, with malice and scams on the part of the yogis and holy men’ (também entre eles se fazem, engenham e inventam por engano de Satanás, e malícia e embustes de seus iogues e sacerdotes). Mass too is akin to a pagan ceremony, a horrendous, evil and abominable idolatry: since they worship in God’s name what is not God’s’ (uma horrenda, nefanda e abominável idolatria: pois nela por Deus se adora o que realmente não é ). He accuses the Roman Church of ‘saying and offering masses for the living and the dead, for the memory of men and even animals, in a bid to find things that (owners have) lost and other such spurious and invented concerns (. . .) which are shameful even to name’ (dizer e oferecer muitas missas por vivos e por defuntos, por homens e por animais, para achar coisas perdidas e por outras tais [. . .] farfalhadas, que é vergonha nomeá-las).53

He concludes: Really and in truth, mass is a real, true and refined negation of the unique, true and real expiatory and propiciatory sacrifice which is the death and passion of Jesus Christ, our Lord, undertaken for us only once on the cross, and offered to his eternal Father (. . .). As if Christ, Our Lord, died not only for humankind but died as if to satisfy brute animals, and serves to help us find lost things, and satisfy our bodily and temporal needs, in this life, as if to help sort these out!54

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Not all scholars have so easily attributed this text to Maldonado. Already in the seventeenth century, the German lexicographer Christian Gottlieb Jöcher (1694-1758) claimed that João Ferreira de Almeida ‘translated the New Testament into the Portuguese language [and] also wrote the [. . .] Dialogo Rustico e Pastoril entre o cura de uma aldeia e um pastor de ovelhas’.55 Also, in the minutes of the Batavian presbytery, there is a note concerning the publication in 1684 of a ‘booklet in Portuguese with the title of Diálogo Rustico, printed in the homeland under the authority of Reverend João Ferreira, who kept himself some copies’.56 Conscious of such information, Herculano Alves admits that ‘Jöcher refers to Almeida’s Dialogo Rustico’. But he explains that ‘we did not find it in any library. We know, however, that another work, with the same title, was written against him’, in clear reference to Jean-Baptiste Maldonado.57 Swellengrebel also states that he is aware of Almeida having written a treaty under the title Diálogo Rustico e Pastoril, but he concluded that it could just have been a lost piece of work with the same title as the one supposedly written by the Jesuit Maldonado. However, along with these references that clearly indicate João Ferreira de Almeida as the author of Dialogo Rustico, there are other hints that jointly confirm that authorship. First of all, the New Testament quotations in the text are identical to those published by the Portuguese Calvinist in 1681. Also, the typographical format (type of font, headlines, pages, division of chapters, and so on) are very similar to the version of the New Testament printed in Amsterdam, thus confirming the data in the minutes of the Batavian presbytery which stated that the booklet had been ‘printed in the homeland’. Moreover, the dialogue was written and published in the Portuguese language (even the name of Jean-Baptiste Maldonado has been lusitanized in the subtitle—João Bautisto Maldonado— while Almeida’s name is written exactly as in his other works: João Ferreira A. d’Almeida). Finally, and most importantly, the Catholic tridentine orthodoxy is vehemently opposed throughout the dialogue in a language identical to that used in the other polemical works of João Ferreira de Almeida. As for its content, the Dialogo Rustico seems to be addressed—


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just like the other writings of Ferreira de Almeida—to Portuguesespeaking Roman Catholics residing in the East Indies, and not to the native people (‘gentiles’) of the region, as was the case with another famous dialogue An Argument and Dispute upon the Law between a Roman Catholic and a Brahman written by the Apostle of East Bengal, Dom António da Rozario, in the late 1660s.58 3. LUZEIRO EVANGELICO The controversial content of Dialogo Rustico e Pastoril, full of attacks against the Roman Catholic Church, provoked the response of an Italian Catholic friar active in the East Indies. This was the work Luzeiro Evangelico (The Evangelic Light), written in Saint Thomas of Mylapore, India, by the Franciscan Giovan Battista Morelli, a missionary of the congregation of Propaganda Fide.59 Although written in the East Indies in 1708, it was dedicated to a Portuguese military officer at Manila in 1709, but only published in Mexico City in 1710 at the Convento Grande de San Francisco.60 Even though it was written almost two decades after the death of João Ferreira de Almeida, in 1691, this is probably the most important Catholic writing produced in opposition to the polemical texts of Almeida. The book was dedicated on the first page ‘to the beloved Catholic brothers of Sion [means Siam] and Cambodja, Batavia and Malaca, Bengal and Coast of Coromandel, Ceylon and Coast of Malabar, and all the other Christians in the East Indies’, and was apparently written to fortify the faith of these Roman Catholic Eurasian communities at a time it was being called into question by pastors like Almeida, who pushed for the creolized masses to renounce their Roman Church. It is a generalized defence of Tridentine Roman Catholicism reaffirming the ‘catholicity’ of the Church of Rome, papal infallibility, the existence of purgatory, etc. Morelli also tried hard here to defend the cult of saints and images from Protestant attacks, arguing that they were merely vehicles for the contemplation of a greater entity, God.61 He also went on the attack, pointing out the church’s lack of internal unity other than in the face of attacks on Roman Catholicism. He writes:

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And, there is so much discord amongst them that there is only one point on which they are united and together, namely in persecuting, vexing and contradicting Roman Catholics, the destruction of their churches and blocking the practice of their religion. This is something they do not practice against the Moors and Gentiles, and their mesquitas and pagodas, publicly allowing them to worship Mohammed (Mafoma) and their devilish idols, and not Jesus Christ and his saints in their Catholic churches, as can be seen from experience in Batavia, Malacca and Ceylon amongst other places.62

In this way, tolerance for pagan religions appears as proof of the diabolical nature of the Reformed Christian churches. Indeed, they are not concerned with the conversion of the gentiles but ‘only seek, as ministers of darkness (trevas), to overturn what is standing, not to raise the fallen; to pervert Christians and not to convert the gentiles’.63 Morelli concludes by drawing attention to the absence, or failure of the missionizing conducted by the Reformed Church amongst Asian populations: No gentile king up till now has converted to Lutheranism or Calvinism [. . .] Their goal and zeal is not to convert the gentiles but to pervert the Christians. We have a woeful example of this before our very eyes. In Batavia, which gentiles or Mohammedans have converted to Calvinism over the course of so many years? They only know how to pervert those miserable and ignorant Roman Catholics they find there (na terra). In Malacca, Ceylon and other places what else are they doing? And with the continuous persecutions against them, what else will they embark on? Leaving the Moors and gentiles in full peace with their mesquitas and pagodas.64

Morelli’s book has been little understood or, perhaps more truthfully, simply misunderstood by Latin American scholars keen to establish the first Portuguese language book printed in HispanoAmerican and who consequently make misguided speculation as to the author’s identity. Laurence Hallewell thinks it issued from ‘a (church)father in Spanish Mexico’, with José Barboza Mello quick to claim it as ‘the second Brazilian book ever’.65 Morelli was not aware of the fact that Almeida was the author of Dialogo Rustico e Pastoril. In any event, it is important to mention the way the Catholic author refers to that work, which confirms its ‘misleading’ nature, as pointed out earlier. In his own words:


Luis Henrique Menezes Fernandes & S.H. Smith

Figure 12.4: Title page of Giovan Battista Morelli, Luzeiro Evangelico, Que mostra à todos os Christãos das Indias orientais o caminho vnico, seguro, & certo da recta Fè, para chegarem ao porto da salvação eterna, ou instrvcção dos principais artigos da religiao christão controvertidos, Mexico, Cidade da India Occidental, 1710. The initial abbreviation in Latin signifies Deo Optimo Maximo (God, the Best and Greatest).

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There is a book written in Portuguese, that circulates in the East Indies, under the title Dialogo Rustico e Pastoril, whose author (hiding his name out of shame) presents the conversation of a village priest with a pastor. [. . .] The naive and unlearned, mainly those of weak faith, who follow the easy way, may be easily influenced by it. And, for this purpose, the author gave the book, maliciously, a title in the form of a Roman Catholic book, in order to delude the Christians of the Indies as they read and intake the venom it contains; and, this is done in such a way that I myself was fooled, until I read it and came to perceive the evil and slaughtering of the wolf in the lamb’s skin.66

The Franciscan quotes in his Luzeiro Evangelico other works by the Portuguese Calvinist, including his translation of the New Testament (not, however, knowing its authorship) and a ‘book against the mass written by unfaithful João Ferreira’, which we believe to be the Differença d’a Christandade. It has been argued here that the polemic writings produced in the context of the production of the Biblia Almeida, the first version of the Bible in Portuguese and hitherto the most widely published book over time in the Portuguese language, provides evidence that this work of translation, undertaken by João Ferreira de Almeida in the Dutch East Indies during the seventeenth century, was not only a literary effort to propagate knowledge of and access to the Christian Scriptures in a vulgate, but was also part of his religious and polemical attacks on the Catholic Portuguese society of that period. In this way, a historical understanding of this biblical translation must go far beyond its biographical and typographical content. The central question must not be ignored, which is the religious conflict related to its context of production. It proved an irony that the religious antagonism on which this textual production was based started so soon after to dissolve, though it took at least another two centuries before the ‘Reformed Religion’ made any headways into Portuguese metropolitan heartlands.


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NOTES 1. Joost Schouten, ‘A Report by Commissary Justus Schouten of his visit to Malacca, including an account of the past and present of that city, together with some suggestions as to its future welfare and how its trade could be utilized for the General East India Company—presented to His Excellency the Governor-General Antonio van Diemen and members of the Council of India’ (1641), rpt. in P.A. Leupe, Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. XIV, Part I, 1936. 2. Leonhard Blussé, ‘Batavia 1619-1740: The Rise and Fall of a Chinese Colonial Town’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, vol. 12, 1981, pp. 15978. Hubert Jacobs, ‘Fr. Manuel Soares at Batavia, Netherlands East Indies, 1601’, in Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu, vol. 58, 1989, pp. 279-314; Friar Domingo Navarrete, The Travels and Controversies of Friar Domingo Navarrete, 1618-86, ed. J.S. Cummins, Cambridge: Hakluyt Society, 1962, 2 vols. J. Wijnhoven has published a ‘List of Roman Catholic Priests in Batavia at the Time of the V.O.C.’, in Neue Zeitschrift für Mission-swissenschaft, vol. 30, 1974, pp. 13-38, 127-38. H.E. Niemeijer reports that 12 per cent of the Batavian population, amounting to 2,300 people, were members of the Dutch Reformed Church in 1674, H.E. Niemeijer, Calvinisme en Koloniale Stadscultuur, Batavia 1619-1725, Amsterdam: Vrije Universiteit, 1996, pp. 212-19. André Murteira’s work has re-assessed the effects of Dutch privateering (corso) on Portuguese shipping, downplayed by earlier historians like Vitorino Magalhães Godinho and Bentley Duncan, albeit for an earlier period, specifically 1598-1625. ‘O corso neerlandês contra a Carreira da Índia no primeiro quartel do século XVII’, in Anaís de História de Além-Mar, IX, 2008, pp. 227-65. 3. George Winius, ‘Luso-Dutch Rivalry in Asia’, in Indo-Portuguese History: Global Trends: Proceedings of the XIth International Seminar, Goa, 2005, pp. 145-69. 4. For Ayutthaya, see Rita Bernardes de Carvalho, ‘Bitter Enemies or Machiavellian Friends?’, Anais de História de Além Mar, vol. X, 2009, pp. 363-87. For the mid-eighteenth century rupture in détente, see S. Halikowski Smith, ‘Languages of Subalternity and Collaboration: Portuguese in English Settlements Across the Bay of Bengal, 1620-1800’, in Kingsley Bolton (ed.), Languages of the East India Company, Cambridge University Press, 2015 (forthcoming), §3 ‘The Religious Question’. 5. Neimeijer, Een Koloniale samenleving in de 17 eeuw, October 2005. 6. Stephan Diller. Die Dänen in Indien, Südostasien und China (1620-1845), Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1999; Mémoires de François Martin (. . .) 1665-

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11. 12. 13.


1696. Publiés par A. Martineau. Avec une introduction de Henri Froidevaux, etc Paris: 1931-4, vol. I, p. 566. Gerrit J. Schutte, ‘Christendom en Compagnie’, in Leonard Blussé and Ilonka Ooms (eds.), Kennis en compagnie: de Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie en de moderne wetenschap, Amsterdam: Balans, 2002, pp. 212-19. Included by F. de Haan in his Oud Batavia Gedenkboek Platenalbum, Batavia: 1923, D14 & D15 together with inscriptions in Dutch. There is a brush and ink drawing by Johannes Rach of the church circa 1775, published in Raben & Bosma, Being Dutch in the Indies, p. 48. There is also an engraving entitled ‘De Portugeesche Buyten-Kerk’, 1727 to be found in Alex Ritsema, A Dutch Castaway on Ascension Island in 1725, Deventer 2006, p. 32. Gerrit J. Schutte reproduces a black-and-white engraving and a photo of the church from the 1920s in ‘Christendom en Compagnie’, in Blussé and Ooms (eds.), p. 91. For more information, see Fonger (Frederik) de Haan, De Portugeesche Buitenkerk: uit Oud-Batavia, Batavia: Kolff, 1898. J.A. van der Chijs (ed.), Nederandsch-Indisch Plakaatboek 1602-1811, I: 474-5, s’ Gravenhage: 1885-90, 16 vols. This decree was binding on ‘Heathens and Moors’ too and anyone who openly worshipped differently was threatened with confiscation of property, chain gang, exile or death ‘according to circumstances’. The ecclesiastical structure of the new Dutch Reformed Church is summarized well in Frans Leonard Schalkwijk, Igreja e Estado no Brasil holandês, São Paulo: Cultura Cristã, 2004. Maria Augusta Lima Cruz, ‘Exiles and Renegades in Early Sixteenth Century Portuguese India’, in Indian Economic and Social History Review, September 1986, no. 23, pp. 249-62; Dejanirah Couto, ‘Quelques observations sur les renégats portugais en Asie au XVI siècle’, Mare Liberum, vol. 16, 1998, pp. 57-85. For Acha, see S. Halikowski Smith, Creolization and Diaspora in the Portuguese Indies, Leiden: Brill, 2010, p. 124. François Guichard, ‘Religion etdynamiquesspatiales: un marqueuridentitaire en lusophonie’, Lusotopie, 1998, pp. 235-44. Examples include Willoughby da Costa (1785/6-1841) and Michael Derozio (1742-1809), Stefan Halikowski Smith, ‘Languages of Subalternity and Collaboration: Portuguese in English Settlements Across the Bay of Bengal, 1620-1800’, in Kingsley Bolton (ed.), Languages of the East India Company, Cambridge University Press, 2015 (forthcoming). Protestantism within Portugal (and Brazil) was only a late nineteenth-century phenomenon, Luís Aguiar Santos, ‘O Protestantismo em Portugal (seculos XIX e XX): Linhas de força da sua história e historiografia’, in Lusitania Sacra, vol. 12, 2000, pp. 37-64.


Luis Henrique Menezes Fernandes & S.H. Smith

14. The Index of 1559 and 1564 had gone much further than this in prohibiting the reading of the Bible in the vulgate, see Jean Delumeau, Le catholicisme entre Luther et Voltaire, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1971, p. 44. For the relevant decrees of Trent, see ‘Decretum de editione, et usu sacrorum librorum’, in O sacrosanto, e ecumenico Concilio de Trento em latim e portuguez, t. I, Lisboa: na Off. De Francisco Luiz Ameno, 1781, p. 61. Otherwise, more generally, see Adriano Prosperi, El Concilio de Trento: uma introduccíon histórica, Junta de Castilla y León: Consejería de Cultura y Turismo, 2008, 56; John W. O’Malley, Trent: What Happened at the Council, Cambridge (Massachusetts): The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2013. 15. See the pioneering work of António Ribeiro dos Santos, ‘Memoria sobre algumas Traducções, e Edições Bíblicas menos vulgares; em Língua Portugueza, especialmente sobre as Obras de João Ferreira de Almeida’, in Memorias de Literatura Portugueza, Tomo VII. Lisboa: Academia Real das Ciências, 1806, pp. 17-59. 16. Adriano Prosperi, El Concilio de Trento: una introducción histórica, Valladolid: Junta de Castilla y León, 2008; Ronnie Po-chia Hsia, The World of Catholic Renewal, 1540-1770, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. 17. S.L. Greenslade, The Cambridge History of the Bible, 1995, especially vol. 3, pp. 125-8. 18. Antonio Ribeiro dos Santos, ‘Memoria sobre algumas Traducções, e Edições Bíblicas menos vulgares . . .’, in Memorias de Literattura Portugueza, Tomo VII, Lisboa: Academia Real das Ciências, 1806. With respect to biblical versions prior to the seventeenth century, please consult Guilherme Luís Santos Ferreira, A Bíblia em Portugal: apontamentos para uma monografia, 1495-1850, Lisboa: Tipografia de Ferreira de Medeiros, 1906; Mário Martins, A Bíblia na Literatura Medieval Portuguesa, Lisboa: Instituto de Cultura Portuguesa, 1979. Eduardo Moreira, Versões Bíblicas (Separata da Grande Enciclopédia Portuguesa e Brasileira), Lisboa: Editorial Enciclopédia Limitada, 1957. 19. For a critical and detailed biographic analysis of João Ferreira de Almeida, see the excellent contribution made by Herculano Alves, ‘Notas para uma biografia de João Ferreira d’Almeida’, in A Bíblia de João Ferreira Annes d’Almeida, Lisboa: Sociedade Bíblica, 2007, pp. 75-170. 20. S. Halikowski Smith, ‘Insolence and Pride: Problems with the Representation of the South-East Asian Portuguese Communities in Alexander Hamilton’s ‘A New Account of the East Indies’ (1727), Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Third Series), vol. 19, issue 2, April 2009, especially pp. 225-9, § ‘Circumstances Aurrounding the Fall of Melaka in 1641’. 21. For the idea that Almeida was previously a priest working in Goa, see Der

Unquiet Religious Backdrop to European East Indies Trade


23. 24.

25. 26.


Königl. Dänischen Missionarien aus Ost-Indien eingesandter Ausführlichen Berichten, Von dem Werck ihres Amts unter den Heyden, Teil 1-9 (Continuation 1-108), Halle: Waisenhaus, 1710-72. Teil 2, 1729, Berichtszeit: 171226, Continuation 13, 1719, Berichtszeit: 1712-18 (27) Bl., S. (1)-148, p. 112; Abbé Prevost, Histoire générale des voyages, ou, Nouvelle collection de toutes les relations de voyages par mer et par terre qui ont été publiées jusqu’à présent dans les différentes langues de toutes les nations connues : contenant ce qu’il y a de plus remarquable, de plus utile, et de mieux avéré dans les pays où les voyageurs ont pénetré, touchant leur situation, leur entendue, leurs limites, leurs divisions, leur climat, leur terroir, leurs productions, leurs lacs, leurs riviers, leurs montagnes, leurs mines, leurs cités & leurs principales villes, leurs ports, leurs rades, leurs edifices, &c.: avec les moeurs et les usages des habitans, leur religion, leur gouvernement, leurs arts et leurs sciences, leur commerce et leurs maufactures; pour former un systême complet d’histoire et de géographie moderne, qui représentera l’état actuel de toutes les nations: enrichi de cartes géographiques nouvellement composées sur les observations les plus autentiques, de plans et de perspectives; de figures d’animaux, de végétaux, habits, antiquités, &c., Paris: chez Didot, 16 vols, 1746-61, vol. XII, p. 39 (note). For António Ferreira, see Charles E. O’Neill, Joaquín María Domínguez, Diccionario histórico de la Compañía de Jesús, Univ Pontifica Comillas, 2001, p. 1406; Guy Tachard, Voyage de Siam, des Peres jesuites, envoyez par le Roy aux Indes, Paris, 1686, p. 346. Regarding the importance of the Portuguese language in this location, see G. Huet, ‘La communauté portugaise de Batavia’, in Revista Lusitana, vol. XII, nos. 3-4, Lisboa: Imprensa Nacional, 1909, and David Lopes, Expansão da Língua Portuguesa no Oriente, Lisboa: Aliança Nacional das A.C.M.s de Portugal, 1979. G.J. Schutte, ‘Christendom en Compagnie’, section entitled ‘De Predikanten’, p. 93. The quote is from Governor Rijckloff van Goens in 1663, see Paulus Edward Pieris (ed.), Some Documents Relating to the Rise of the Dutch Power in Ceylon, 1602-70 from the translation at the India Office, Colombo, 1929, p. 280. VOC 1239, OPB 1663, fl. 1654 r. Gouvr. Van der Meijden van Clijton aan Batavia, letter dated 16 June 1662. For the challenges of the period for a preacher in Galle, see Jurrien Van Goor, ‘Dutch Calvinists on the Coromandel Coast and in Sri Lanka, South Asia, vol. XIX, 1996, pp. 133-42. For the Parava Fishery coast, see Markus Vink, ‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: The Christian Paravas, a “Portuguese” Client-community in Seventeenth Century Southeast India’, Itinerario vol. 26 no. 2, 2002, pp. 64-98, ‘The Temporal and Spiritual




29. 30.

Luis Henrique Menezes Fernandes & S.H. Smith Conquest of the Fishery Coast: The Portuguese-Dutch Struggle over the Parava Community of Southeast India, c. 1640-1700’, Portuguese Studies Review 9: 1/2, 2001, pp. 372-97, and ‘Church and State in Seventeenth Century Colonial Asia: Dutch-Parava Relations in southeast India in a Comparative Perspective’, Journal of Early Modern History, 4: 1, 2000, pp. 1-44. Anthropological work likes to assert the development of a curious phenomenon whereby Paravas had become an entrenched Christian caste in Hindu society, see here Susan Kaufmann, ‘A Christian Caste in Hindu Society: Religious Leadership and Social Conflict Among the Paravas of Southern Tamilnadu’, Modern Asian Studies 15, 2, 1981, pp. 203-34, though her coverage of the Dutch take-over is poor. O Novo Testamento . . . Agora traduzido en Portugues Pelo Padre João Ferreira A d’Almeida, Ministro Pregador do Sancto Evangelho, Em Amsterdam: Por viuva de J. V. Someren, Anno, 1681. Copy in Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, Lisbon. Other editions came out in Batavia in 1693, at Amsterdam in 1712, apparently at the cost of the English missions in eastern India, in 8vo format, at Tranquebar, 1760 e 1765 and in Batavia, 1773. For this information, see Herculano Alves, Herculano Alves, ‘Catálogo das obras bíblicas de J.F. d’Almeida’, in A Bíblia de João Ferreira Annes d’Almeida, Lisboa: Sociedade Bíblica, 2007, pp. 673-889 and Der Königl. Dänischen Missionarien aus Ost-Indien eingesandter Ausführlichen Berichten, p. 113. We have relied on Caspar Adam Laurens Van Troostenburg de Bruijn, Biographisch Woordeboek van Oost-Indische predikanten, P. J. Milborn, 1893, pp. 132-4 for much of Ferreira’s biography. Van Troostenburg de Bruijn, Biographisch Woordeboek van Oost-Indische predikanten, pp. 9-10. Editions of the Old Testament were produced at Batavia, vol. 1 in 1748 and vol. 2 in 1753 and at Tranquebar, Historical Books in 1738, Psalms in 1740, Dogmatic Books in 1744, The Major Prophets in 1751 and the Pentateuch in 1757. The missionaries at Tranquebar also published the Pentateuch in 1719 and the Lesser Prophets in 1732, but these translations were not Almeida’s, but translated by the Danish missionaries of Tranquebar. Actually, they were written down from books kept in the church at Negapatnam, or brought by a ‘Dutch Merchant of Pulicat’, probably produced in Batavia, see Der Königl. Dänischen Missionarien aus Ost-Indien eingesandter Ausführlichen Berichten, Von dem Werck ihres Amts unter den Heyden, Teil 1-9, (Continuation 1-108). Halle: Waisenhaus, 1710-72, Teil 2, 1729 (Berichtszeit: 1712-26) Continuation 13, 1719 (Berichtszeit: 1712-18) [27] Bl., S. [1]-148, pp. 112-13. Danish missionaries like Johann Ernest Gründler (1677-20) started to revise the versions

Unquiet Religious Backdrop to European East Indies Trade


32. 33. 34. 35.






discovered alongside de Valera’s Spanish version, but gave up amidst overwork. There is a list of 21 Portuguese works kept at Tranquebar. See Ziegenbalg, ‘A Letter to the Reverend Mr. Geo. Lewis, Chaplain to the Honourable East-India Company, at Fort St. George’, London: J. Downing, 1715, pp. 28-9 but does not unfortunately distinguish between works sent from Batavia and works produced in situ. Differença d’a Christandade . . . A facsimilar version of the 1684 edition of this work was published by Manuel Cadafaz de Matos (ed.), Uma edição de Batávia em português do ultimo quartel do século XVII, Lisboa: Edições Távola Redonda, 2002. Its first printed version in Portuguese, however, dates from 1668. There is also a manuscript version dated 1650, signed in Malacca, whose single copy can be seen in the Amsterdam City Archives. Duas Epistolas e Vinte Propostas. . . . Em Batavia, Por Abrahão Gerardo Kaisero, Anno 1672. British Library of London. Onderscheydt der Christenheydt (The Distinction of Christendom), Amsterdam: Paulus Matthysz, 1673. Bodleian Library, Oxford. Philippus Baldaeus, A True and Exact Description of the Most Celebrated East-India Coasts . . . Delhi: AES, 2000, p. 648. Carta Apologetica em defenção da Religião Catholica Romana contra João Ferreira de Almeida . . . Anno? 1670. The manuscript can be found in the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Lisbon. Dialogo Rustico e Pastoril entre o cura de huã aldea e hum pastor de ovelhas . . . [s. d.]. Available in the National Library of Holland at Den Haag. Available in microfilm in the Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal. This text, unlike the others, was published back in Europe in Antwerp in 1697. There is a copy in the Biblioteca Nacional Digital de Portugal, and a physical copy in the Jesuit collection at Maastricht University Library. João Bauptista Morelli de Castelnuovo, Luzeiro Evangelico, Que mostra à todos os Christãos das Indias orientais o caminho vnico, seguro, & certo da recta Fè . . . Anno de 1708 & impressa em Mexico, Cidade da India occidental, Anno de 1710. Available at the Mário de Andrade Library, São Paulo. One can highlight the works by Guilherme Luís Santos Ferreira, A Bíblia em Portugal: apontamentos para uma monografia,1495-1850, Lisboa: Tipografia de Ferreira de Medeiros, 1906; Eduardo Moreira, O Defensor da Verdade: João Ferreira de Almeida, o primeiro tradutor da Bíblia em língua portuguesa, Lisboa: Sociedade Bíblica Britânica e Estrangeira, 1928; Augusto A. Esperança (ed.), Deus, o homem e a Bíblia: João Ferreira de Almeida 162891, Lisboa: Sociedade Bíblica de Portugal, 1993. António da Costa Barata. ‘João Ferreira de Almeida: o homem e a sua obra’. Imago Dei, n. 7, 1.º semestre, 2003-4.


Luis Henrique Menezes Fernandes & S.H. Smith

40. The main works following this trend are Antônio Ribeiro dos Santos. op. cit.; Inocêncio Francisco da Silva. Dicionário bibliográfico português, III, Lisboa, 1859, pp. 368-72; Joaquim Heliodoro da Cunha Rivara. ‘João Ferreira de Almeida e a sua Traducção Portugueza da Bíblia’, in O Chronista de Tissuary, periódico mensal, vol. I, no. 3, Março, Nova Goa: Imprensa Nacional, 1866; Pedro de Azevedo, ‘O calvinista português, Ferreira de Almeida’, Boletim de Segunda Classe da Academia de Ciências de Lisboa, vol. XII, fasc. 2, Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade, 1919; Manuel Cadafaz de Matos, op. cit.; David Lopes, op. cit.; Herculano Alves, op. cit. 41. Cf. Jan Lodewig Swellengrebel and Edgar F. Hallock (eds.), A maior dádiva e o mais precioso tesouro: a biografia de João Ferreira de Almeida e a história da primeira Bíblia em português, Rio de Janeiro: JUERP, 2000. 42. Ibid., p. 10. 43. Alves, op. cit., pp. 165-6. 44. Dos Tratados, el primero es del Papa y de su autoridad, colegiado de su vida e doctrina, y de lo que los Doctores y Concilios antiguos y la misma Sagrada Escritura enseñan; el segundo es de la Misa, recopilado de los Doctores y Concilios y de la Sagrada Escritura, En casa de Arnoldo Hatfildo, Año de 1588. 45. Dos Tratados . . . Segunda edición, aumentada por el mismo autor, En casa de Ricardo del Campo, Año de 1599. 46. Trois Tables Espagnol-Françoises, La I, De l’ancienne doctrine de Dieu, e de la nouvelle des hommes. La II, De la S. Cene e de la Messe. La III, De l’Antichrist e de ses marques, A Saumur, par Thomas Portau, 1601. 47. Breve tratado de la doctrina antigua de Dios, y de la nueva de los hombres, útil e necesario para todo fiel cristiano . . . Año de 1560. 48. Dialogo Rustico e Pastoril entre o cura de huã aldea e hum pastor de ovelhas, tocante o verdadeiro, puro, e legitimo modo de como a Deus nosso Senhor havemos de servir, e assi infalivelmente conseguir, e alcançar a vida, gloria, e bemaventurança eterna. Comprehendendo as razoens do muy Reverendo e Docto Padre João Bautisto Maldonado, Religioso professo da Companhia de Jesus, e missionário Apostolico, Contra as de João Ferreira A d’Almeida, Ministro, ou Predicante Calvinista. Amsterdam, 1684? 49. Alves. op. cit., p. 142, fn. 249. 50. Matos. op. cit., p. LXII, fn. 33. 51. Lopes, op. cit., p. 126; Henri Bosmans, Correspondance de Jean-Baptiste Maldonado de Mons, Missionaire belge au Siam et en Chine au XVII siècle, in the series Analectes pour servir à l’histoire ecclésiastique de la Belgique, n. 36, Louvain: Van Linthout, 1911. There is a copy of this rare work in the University Library of Louvain-la-Neuve.

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52. Jean Burnay, ‘Notes chronologiques sur les missions Jésuites du Siam au XVIIe siècle’, in Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu, 43: 22, 1953, 170-202. 53. Diálogo Rústico, pp. 411, 163, 164-5. 54. Ibid., pp. 164-5. 55. Jöcher. Allgemeines Gelehrten-Lexicon, in Alves, op. cit., p. 27. 56. Mooij. Bouwstoffen voor de geschiedenis . . . , in Alves, op. cit., p. 601. 57. Alves, op. cit., p. 28, fn. 31. For Maldonado’s general life trajectory, see Stefan Halikowski Smith, ‘Jean-Baptiste Maldonado. A Missionary caught between loyalties to the Portuguese Padroado and the political ascendancy of the Missions Étrangères de Paris in the Siam Mission’, Revista de Cultura, Number 34 (International Edition), 34-51. 58. Published in Bengali in Calcutta 1937. There is a bilingual PortugueseBengali copy in the Évora Public Library. 59. Luzeiro Evangelico, Que mostra à todos os Christãos das Indias orientais o caminho vnico, seguro, & certo da recta Fè, para chegarem ao porto da salvação eterna, ou instrvcção dos principais artigos da religiao christao controvertidos. Escrita em S. Thome da India Orientais. Anno de 1708 & impressa em Mexico, Cidade da India occidental. Anno de 1710. There are only three known copies of this first Portuguese book ever printed in the Americas in existence. For more on Morelli, see Stefan Halikowski Smith, ‘Floating’ European Clergy in Siam during the Years Immediately Prior to the National Revolution of 1688: The Letters of Giovan Battista Morelli, O.F.M’, in S. Halikowski Smith ed., Reinterpreting Indian Ocean Worlds, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011, ch. 13. 60. This latter was the first and at one point most important of the religious complexes of New Spain, although suffering the greatest setbacks both in terms of lack of recruits, a political shift towards the non-monastic orders, and strain between its eclectic Spanish, castizo and mestizo constituents during the first decades of the 1700s. 61. Elsa Malvido, ‘Los Novicios de San Francisco en la Ciudad de Mexico: la Edad de Hierro’, in Historia Mexicana, vol 37, 4 (1987), 699-738; Carmen de Luna Moreno, ‘Alternativa en el siglo XVIII: Franciscanos de la Provincia del Santo Evangelio de Mexico’, in Archivo Ibero-Americano, vol. 52, issue 205/208, Feb. 1992, 343-371; Jim Norris, After ‘The Year Eighty’: The Demise of Franciscan Power in Spanish New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, c2000. 62. Luzeiro Evangelico, p. 22. 63. Ibid., pp. 27-9.


Luis Henrique Menezes Fernandes & S.H. Smith

64. Luzeiro Evangelico, pp. 131-2. 65. Laurence Hallewell, O Livro no Brasil: sua história, São Paulo: Edusp, 2005, 84; Barboza Mello is cited in Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro, issues 314-15 (1979), 52, cf. Nelson Werneck Sodré, Historia da imprensa no Brasil, Rio de Janeiro: Mauad Editora Ltda, 1998, 18. 66. Luzeiro Evangelico, pp. 485-6. Our translation.

C H A P T E R 13

The Techniques of Sword Making and Trade Practices: Taiid-e-Bisarat, a Treatise from Eighteenth Century Mughal Court CHANDER SHEKHAR

Mirza Lutfullah, entitled Nusratullah Khan, who died in AH 11591/ AD 1746-7 was a man of letters, described as being ‘of the people of the pen and the sword’ (Ahl-e-qalam-o-saif ). His ancestors had come from Iran during the time of Shah Jahan and settled in Delhi where they were court officials. Lutfullah was born in Delhi and for this reason he has been called Nisar Dehlavi. Lutfullah joined the court of Rafiush-Shah, son of Bahadur Shah I after whose death in 1712 he served at the court of the Emperor Farrukhsiyar (r. 1713-19). He held the important position of Qurchi Beg (Keeper of the Arsenal) under Muhammad Shah (r. 1719-48) where his patron was Motman-ud-Daula Mohammad Ishaq Khan Bahadur.2 In 1739, he was an eyewitness to the massacre in Delhi carried out by Nadir Shah’s Persian troops. As a poet he was a pupil of Abdul Latif ,3 nephew of Mirza Jalal Asir (1639), the renowned poet of Shah Jahan’s (1628-58) court. According to the author of Safina-e-Hindi, Bhagwan Das Hindi and Maulavi Muhammad Muzaffar Hussain Saba, the writer of Tazkirae-Roz-e-Roashan and other anthology writers of eighteenth-century India, Lutfullah left a large collection of poetry on his death. The renowned linguist and poet Khan Arzoo4 in an appreciation of Lutfullah’s poetic style acknowledged that he left behind about a lakh


Chander Shekhar

of verses, heavily influenced in style by Mirza Jalal Asir, though his verses are more turbid. Lutfullah also wrote a treatise on swords, entitled Taiid-e-Bisarat, also mentioned as Risala-e-Der Shamshir Shenasi (Asiatic Society Manuscript). In the preamble of this work, he explains the reason and basis of his work: It is imperative for warriors to carry a good sword so that they do not feel disempowered. Like men of every profession it is essential for everyone to know the quality of their equipment. Since this claimant (the writer) has devoted a part of his life to acquiring information on sword lore (shamshir schinasi) he wanted to write a treatise on swords. Most writers on military matters have compiled works on archery and have not paid any attention to this dear one (the sword). Therefore this text will not lack new facts. The writer acquired his information on this subject from his master, the late Mirza Fazalullah who he was privileged to have as his maternal uncle with the right of nourishing this humble one: and also from his mentor, the late Ustad Syed Mir Shah Wali. On the basis of the above a book was compiled that may be of use to military men: hopefully they will pray for me to the Almighty. When the task of writing this work was taken up, Mir Ahmad Naimatullahi al Husaini, known as Multafit Khan,5 a visionary person, a man of good fortune, pious and good natured, exalted characteristics, riser from the horizon of gentleness, the forehead light of the most knowledgeable, the illuminating lamp of the Mostafavi family (the Prophet’s family), the shining sun of the family of Murtaza (Ali Maula) and the auspicious sign from the time of beginning and ending, the beneficiary of the perpetual sovereign of the Almighty, provided all factors and instructions to be followed with all carefulness in compiling this work. Therefore, all the recommendations and wishes of the Khan which could be acted upon by this writer were followed in the preparation of this work which is named Taiid-e-Bisarat (Authentification of the Vision) because: On the eyes of wisdom spectacles are like a mirror A treasure of pearls can be found in this ocean Look with comprehension and not ignorance No doubts remaining due to any hindrances. This work though good may not equal the knowledge of an accomplished expert. Hurriedness and fallacious reasoning should not form part of your temperament [when reading this work though] your indulgence is always required. It should be known that to study swords is like observing a beautiful

The Techniques of Sword Making and Trade Practices


object through the ecstatic state of inner sight. It needs a full span of life to obtain the company of the greatest experts on this subject, to make constant enquiry into the rules of sword making and to study with full attention all kinds of swords in order to obtain some competence. Therefore, I put forth before my dear friends all the minute details which I acquired for this purpose, as it is certain that ‘pearl-sifting will ensue a wonderful result. The intelligent man will himself determine what he gains from reading this text. Moreover, if someone has already a document or other experience from his master or from himself on this subject, it is better if he sends it to me rather than, ‘under the sky of ignorance he scratches his head with the nails of critism to disturb the tapestry of this work as it will not yield any fruitful result.’ As my own lines puts the matter: The poltroons of this world are in agony The art of poetry is not an essential part of the profession of nobility The ignorant know neither the quality of poetry nor can fight! Verse: ‘I don’t possess fine jauhar (watered steel) in my chest otherwise it would have served as a sword (shamshir) to smite the enemy’. According to my knowledge from whatever information I could gather, Firangis (Foreigners) have no interest in acquiring information on swords. Hemistich: i.e. Intoxication and wine-loving are not the same. (Handling and knowing swords are two different things). He emphatically mentions that: the young men of Hindostan do not know about swords from their own country and not every Rajput knows about the Sirohi sword.6 It is very important comment by Lutfullah about Sirohi7 swords and its users. He emphatically mentions that a good quality of swords are manufactured both in Deccan and Hindostan:

Since the art of Shamshir shinasi has been more popular in Deccan than Hindostan. The terminology also emanates from the Deccani language though written in Persian. In the course of the dissimulation of the words lest the


Chander Shekhar

meaning disappears thus the technical words which are used by the experts are employed in this text.

This context reminds the similar quote from Khulasatussiyaq of Inder man (according to some anonymous writer of Muhammad Shahi Period) (fol. 11, NA MS) where he says, that though Persian language became the language of official works, after the declaration by Raja Todar Mal in all the offices of the court, however, in some cases the words of local or vernacular language continued. The same context, one may notice in the preamble of third Gulshan, pertaining to Deccan in the work Chahar Gulshan8 mentions about the equivalents like Pali for the monarch, Deshmukh for the Amir, Deshpande for Qanungo, Patel for Mutesaddi and Kulkarni for Patwari. This self-imposed discourse, in the linguistic terms, by native or nativized Indo-Persian writers on one hand enriched the Persian language and on other also preserved the native terms and words of vernacular languages. There after, Lutfullah continues to provide information on the distinct categories, respective qualities and characteristics, the techniques of the manufacture and the ornamentation work carried out in different motifs on swords as well as the makers and the ornamentors from Hindustan, Deccan and Iran and Turkey. As well as providing information about the sword makers of Iran and Hindustan he wrote about various centres of sword making in the early eighteenth century in the Near and Middle East, Europe and some parts of North Africa which he calls Maghrib zamin. According to him: The best sword blades of Magrib (North Africa) and Firang (Europe) are referred to as asil. About the variety of Asil of Maghribi swords and the variety of asils as well as the ways to test the authenticity of the product, he explains: Firstly, the swords known as ‘pure asil’ (asal-e-asil ) are of three kinds—Alamani, Janubi and Maghribi. There are three tests to apply to judge their quality [which are discussed under the following headings: sabiqa, past history or pedigree: talluqa, five blade patterns (khamir) indicating quality; and lahiqa, additional features.

The Techniques of Sword Making and Trade Practices


Amongst the signs indicating quality are, first, it’s khamir (patterns appear on the surface of the sword), second, it’s nishan (applied marks), third it’s dahniyat (oiliness) fourth it’s rang (colour) and fifth it’s kaifiat (state). In terms of form (haiyate surat), the Alamani blade is of two kinds, with a fuller (naab dar) and without a fuller (kol ). The sword which has one wide fuller is called Alamani and the one without the fuller is called kol-e Alamani by some experts who call the Alamani fullered sword Alamani-e-naabdar or rafte dar (the one with a continuous fuller). Double fuller Junubi swords and triple fuller Maghribi swords are also referred as Alamani and are attributed to the kings of Germany. Janubi is also a sword type from Firang, manufactured in the various (European) countries as first quality blades. Some experts refer to Janubi as Janubari while others attribute the name of the place of manufacture along with the word Janubi. Maghribi refers to the sword from the Maghrib and the makers of it are Muslims. The Maghribi has two forms. The first form, known as Maghribi, subdivides into two categories: one high quality (jins-e-"ala) and the other ordinary (jins-e-ausat). Lutfullah informs us about the various varieties of swords and the differences amongst each with a specific nomenclature too. He says: Double edged swords called saif are undeservedly popular (in India) despite the fact that these are not original Alamani or Maghribi. It has also been noticed that the Alamani saif with their blades of distinctive colour and khamir on which the names of the cities of manufacture are inscribed are referred to as Firang. (The author is making a distinction between Firang and Alamani). Saif from the Maghrib are also noted. The reason for the import of saif-e-Maghribi (Maghribi swords) into Hindostan in modest quantities is that the Arabs call the double edge saif the Arabian saif and like it very much though in other cities or areas it is not much liked. The best quality examples do not even arrive here (in India). In many collections of Arab poetry there are eulogies in praise of these double edged saif, their colour and their khamir. In the Deccan, fish shaped, sleek saif known as asbat are found but not in the Firang and British areas. Connoisseurs of blades describe Maghribi as having the highest quality and the first rate Junubi blades as Purtaghali (Portuguese) but these assertions are totally mistaken. The evidence drawn from research made by Firangis indicates that production of sword blades in Portugal is very low in fact it is gupti. The last word is an


Chander Shekhar

indigenous one for an invisible arm. It is like an iron stick like straight cane of small sleek size.

There are specific signs or marks to recognize the worthiness or quality of the swords. These are known in Persian as Par-e-Pashhe, abr, suf, suzan, sabus, etc. All these are the patterns which appears in the process of the making of a sword. Their appearance completely lies on the quality of the iron or non-iron material used for its manufacture. Likewise the ornamentation or embellishing a sword to presented as gifts for various ceremonies is also explained by Lutfullah in this treatise under the second Talluqa regarding Nishan. During the course of the word Teh wa Nishan, the present writer, lost much time in deciphering the scribe’s hand written word in the Cambridge University library as it appears as thassa instead of teh. However, when I got the copies from British Library and Panjab University Library, Lahore, the problem was solved. The term is well defined in this text as well as Mira’t-ul Istelah of Anand Ram Mukhlis. First from Taiid-e-Bisarat: Experts call it teh-o-nishan (literally ‘engraving and inlaying’) (but) the popular term is nishan. If there are two asil swords bearing similar kinds of khamir, colour, oiliness, moistness, weight and age, the longer of these two is the one which will have the better nishan. The nishan indicates the good quality of a sword and apart from weight is the first indicator of quality. Some swords due to the effects of becoming old, may have a very faint or less visible teh (engraved) mark. Some may even have lost this engraving. In cases where the quality is assessed on the basis of khamir these have been already described in the talluqa. There are a vast variety of teh and if all were to be described (individually) here, it would unnecessary lead to the extension of the present work, especially teh relating to Junubi swords. Sometime the workmanship of teh-nishan may reverse the quality assessment, though both are essentially interconnected. The best teh-nishan exists on Maghribi swords which are called hilal (crescent). The old Maghribi sword of first quality has a specific teh-nishan of hilal shape which is similar to the crescent of a new moon, one third of the of the full moon’s body. It is also like the shape of a strung bow with slight elasticity. The crescent has teeth, sometimes on the outside, sometimes inside (on the convex and concave faces). Marks with the outer (convex) teeth have greater authenticity as these are found on old first quality Maghribi sword blades.

The Techniques of Sword Making and Trade Practices


Maghribi sometimes have a double hilal in a form of addorsed bows (the crescent shape described above) and between them exists a nishan [makers mark] in the shape of a spider. The experts call it a makri (spider). Eighteen dots like the dots around the letter shin are found in groups of three on each corner of the crescent and above and below the makri. Further, three dot groups are found at greater distance from the teh which itself has the leg like shapes of a spider . . . (comparative description relating to this mark removed).

According to Mira’t-ul Istelah, a mid-eighteenth-century encyclopaedic dictionary, this engraving is usually on the hilt of the swords, etc. (In fact, he is wrong, the inscription being invariably on the blade at this date.) Mukhlis was a highly-placed official of Muhammad Shah (who died in 1748), when the writer of Taiid-e-Bisarat was also employed. According to Mukhlis: in this process, the design or the matter to be written according to the wish of the person concerned (the king, noble of high rank etc. or the master engraver himself, usually a jeweller) is engraved through the usage of an iron-pen on an iron surface and then gold or diamond is inlaid with a subtle technique for lighting up the inlaid gold or diamond for smoothing and shining is employed. Afterwards the surface is heated up again to be blackened. As the surface is extreme black the shining bright gold emerges from it in a combination that appears very beautiful. It is a kind of koft (inlay) work which is done on sword hilts etc., but koft work is inferior to teh-nishan. This level of excellence (of workmanship) noticeably cannot be achieved with koft [with false damascening]. In other words, it is also a kind of zar-nishan (gold inlaid work) in which carved out space is embossed in raised style and then it is gilded. In comparison to tehnishan and koft (work), more gold is employed in zar-nishan. It is much more costly.9

He calls the non-asil sword as amli and ispat or faulad. Explaining the difference between an asil and amali, Lutfullah informs that the asil sword in its original nature has softness while amali has acquired softness which could be due to good tempering and alloying, resulting in the appearance of softness on the blade surface. But it may be noticed that wherever the surface is soft the khamir is less; and whereever the khamir is more pronounced, softness is not traceable on that portion. The asil has softness in its substance. In a similar manner, a paper may be shaped into a flower but it cannot have the same appearance; rather, it will have dryness and


Chander Shekhar

hard edges. In the same manner, the khamir of an asil and amali are not similar. For instance, amali iron may be similar to asil’s or a good quality English amali made at some English ports may have softness in its genuine iron but the khamir of annealed amali disappears on hardening and results in the lead like colour or the colour explained earlier. It is impossible that the khamir remains unaffected on the hard surface or on a non-iron surface (of a blade). Another difference is that khamir emerges in an uneven pattern and even the surface in many places is without any khamir while asil iron is not devoid of khamir at any part of its surface. The distinguishing difference lies in the colour patterns in the khamirs of amali sword. The colour difference pertains to the different kind of iron used in forging. For a more transparent differentiation it may be noticed that in creating asil, irons of much softness having a single common colour are used in forging. Some other swords with an excrescence of cloud pattern are treated with vitriol as part of their furbishment but are dull due to the quality of steel with which they are forged. Swords with cloud pattern are available at every place and it has been heard that these have been begun to be made in Gujarat: but it is also stated that these are also made in Firang too. ON RECOGNIZING STEEL

There is not much difficulty in recognizing the various types of steel. Iranian blades which are called Angrezi (English) are made to a high standard by Ispahani swordsmiths, especially those made by Asad (who is as popular as Saleh is in Hindustan), and his son Kalb Ali, etc., one may find the detail on the swords made by Asadullah Isphani10 in various museums and arms collections. There are some fake swords also in his name. In a manuscript of BNF Paris, entitled, Majmua-e-Itelaat (SP318): an abstract from Tarikhe-shahadat-e-farrukhsiyar wa Jalus-e-Muhammad Shah, is also quoted and in continuation, the author states that there are many swordsmiths especially Muqim Diwana and Sharaf Shakurullah in the court of Shah Safi, Muhibb Ali in Shah Safi II and Qalb-e-Ali,

The Techniques of Sword Making and Trade Practices


Ismail and Haji Fazullah worked in the period of Shah Sulaiman. Khulasatussiyaq mentions that Noor Muhammad Asif Khan was the renowned swordsmith of Muhammad Shah’s period.11 One may trace out such detail in other works too. Lutfullah highlights the various trade practices of sword traders. He provides specific information concerning sword making in Europe, North Africa, the Near East, Sirohi, the Deccan, Gujarat and other areas and distinguishes swords on the basis of their place of origin as well as on the iron and steel used in their manufacture. It is unfortunate that he fails to tell us much about Mughal arms production, presumably because his audience was familiar with this. Lutfullah wrote that there are scarcely any written works on this subject. Al-Kindi (AD 800-60) in the ninth century and al-Qalashqandi in the thirteenth century are the two major Arab literary personages who wrote famous treatises on this subject. Al-Kindi, who wrote almost 200 works on various subjects, was a highlyacclaimed scholar at the court of the Abbasid Caliph Mamun (AD 813-34). His work was referred to by Ibn-e-Nadir in his catalogue Al-Fehrist.12 In India one might have expected Lutfullah to at least refer to a number of written sources such as Fakhr-i Mudabbir’s Adab al-Harb wa’l-shaja’a, written at the time of the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate. Perhaps he did not consider these earlier texts relevent but it seems more likely that he was unaware of them. The fact that Lutfullah takes no material from other writings on this subject gives his text the merit of being a fresh assessment. This text is important because it enables us to see into the international trade in swords from an Indian perspective at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Indeed, Lutfullah wrote his text at a moment of change in India when the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb who had taken the empire to its greatest expanse and in the process had bankrupted it and ensured its decline was dying. His successes masked the truth and the price that India would pay for his ambition in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was hidden. The Emperor had made it his life’s work to bring the wealthy Deccani states under direct Mughal rule and the region was plagued with war. It was an obvioeus market for arms sales.


Chander Shekhar

But if one analysis the comments of Lutfullah on various parameters, these project him as an amateur researcher and his text is full of uncertainties, expressed by literary devices like ‘people say’. It is abundantly clear that the information he gathered is second hand and his assumptions or those of his informers are often intuitive. His expertise had no understanding beyond his experience which was limited. There are times when it appears he has not understood the information he has gathered and knows it. He writes with resignation: ‘wa Allah ul Ålim’—God knows better! Sometimes he contradicts himself in successive lines and the information he collected is not always correct. Indeed, the present writers decided that Lutfullah’s false assumptions were too numerous to annotate individually and readers should treat his assertions with extreme caution. Often he is exasperating and merits the pungent comment written many years ago by a tutor on an undergraduate essay: ‘Canters skittishly round the subject!’13 Despite all this some of his insights are immensely revealing and even his mistakes have a value as they reflect contemporary opinion. Enough time has elapsed for his assumptions and even his errors to bear fruit. Some issues that he puzzled over such as the historical sequence and place of manufacture of the Genoa ‘bite mark’ stamped on blades and much copied are still being disputed to this day. His knowledge of the geography of Europe and the Near East is weak but he makes clear the very large import of blades from these places into India. In listing the countries that made swords he describes the direct import of arms but it does not appear to have occurred to him that arms were being exported from Europe to the Near East and then shipped on to India. European merchants had no control over caravans and therefore had comparatively little to do with them but they dominated the transport of goods by sea. Lutfullah writes a good deal about the similarities of the blades of various foreign places he had heard about rather vaguely. Unbeknown to him many blades must have originated in a relatively small number of European towns and subsequently been shipped to various Near Eastern destinations14 where they, and locally made copies, were bought to be shipped on to India for resale, acquiring new names

The Techniques of Sword Making and Trade Practices


en route, supposedly indicative of origin. No wonder blades from such diverse places looked similar to Lutfullah. The so-called Meccan swords were not made in Mecca for example, just as some blades from the Syrian town of Damascus were actually made in Bosnia15 but their value could be hiked by association with these towns. A fair number of Lutfullah’s Magribi swords of Alamani type for example were almost certainly German exports though in the late seventeenth and eighteenth century the European merchants faced increasing competition from arms makers in the northern Ottoman Balkans who established markets for their goods in Turkey, Syria and North Africa. Very little is known about the extent of blade production in Egypt and Syria which appears to be substantial but the Near East16 was quite as eager for the good steel swords of Europe as was India and when these prized blades were not available they were copied in Istanbul and elsewhere in the Ottoman empire as Lutfullah records. His text changes the manner in which the origin of blades can be regarded. A German ‘Alamani’ blade according to him may be made anywhere in the world and often was. We know of blades with this designation being made openly in India. He tells us that the famous Sirohi blades from Rajasthan were also made in Burhanpur and elsewhere. The appearance of blades is what concerns him but the underlying concern of the text is how to avoid one’s blade from breaking in combat. Lutfullah’s contemporaries preferred imported Firangi blades because they were less inclined to break and his text is about how one recognizes a genuine Firangi from a copy. The armouries in Rajasthan are full of these blades. His world, like the modern commercial world, was anxious to be able to make firm attributions about the nature and origin of blades and he does so with apparent certainty but his text shows the extreme unlikelihood that these attributions were correct in the majority of cases. Much of his information is based on visual evidence, colour, the number and position of fullers, etc. Metal colour is hugely important to Lutfullah, particularly bluing and this reflects his contemporaries’ beliefs about the predictable performance of a blade in battle. To seek to establish the origin and excellence of a blade by colour is like attempting to


Chander Shekhar

determine the origin and quality of a glass of wine by its colour. It is most unlikely that he himself saw the inner core metal of many blades, particularly high quality examples, and his comments regarding this should be considered inaccurate hearsay. But it is likely that this text is a fair reflection of contemporary attitudes. For example Lutfullah’s revelation that silver and more rarely gold was added to the steel used for making blades may seem fantastic: but in fact it continues a practice recorded by Fakhr-i Mudabbir in India four hundred years earlier; and is reaffirmed in the second half of the nineteenth century by the Russian Captain Massalski who, while his Regiment was stationed at Bukhara, observed silver being added to iron and cast iron to make crucible steel. Lutfullah also correctly reports the contemporary obsessions regarding the ‘oiliness’ of a blade, ‘dry’ blades being considered brittle and likely to break in combat. His evidence points to the well-known problem that high carbon watered steel blades are indeed brittle and break very easily. The mostly futile measures taken to prevent this show the limitations of Indian metalurgy at that time. The only practical testing mentioned by Lutfullah appears to have been the European habit of placing a sword blade in the cleft of a wall and bending back the point to check the flexibility. This practice is corroborated elsewhere but the suggestion that the blade was first soaked in water is his alone. From other sources we know that Indians blades were tried on live carp taken from the Ganges, staked buffaloes and very occasionally on criminals. With this text we have insights that are very valuable in the search for information about the sword business in the early eighteenth century but making attributions has just become rather more difficult and the hitherto humble Firangi style export blade is revealed as an object of great complexity. Lutfullah’s style of Persian reveals his Iranian links but he chose to retain Hindwi/Deccani sword terminology in his treatise. Interestingly, he defines all such non-Persian terms to make them comprehensible for Persian readers. He also employs words of European or English origin as these were in use in India at that time.

The Techniques of Sword Making and Trade Practices


MANUSCRIPTS There are only six known manuscripts of this work. These are at the Punjab University, Lahore (Shirani Collection, dated 15th Rajab, 30th regnal year of Muhammad Shah, i.e. 1749, copied a year after its author’s death in 1748); the Asiatic Society, Calcutta, Mss. no. 633, 634 and 627, Curzon collection; British Library, London and the University Library, Cambridge. Only the first one is complete, written in a nastaliq shikasta script. The last five are either defective and moth-eaten as well as incomplete but with the help of these a collated version is prepared. Curzon collection Mss. no. 627 which has a portion from Taiid-e-Bisarat has its own importance too. Apart from excerpts taken from Taiid-e-Bisarat of Lutfullah it also contains some portion of a work on hilt decoration compiled by Multafit Khan whose description is stated in the first pages of this paper. But the Mss. does not have any date of scribing but it seems it is from the late eighteenth century as the catalogue too opined the same. Certain portions which are not legible in the Lahore Mss. could be read only with the help of 633 of Curzon collection only. But these manuscripts of Curzon collection does not have a colophon which the Cambridge manuscript has and it gives the date of compilation of Taiid-e-Bisarat as AH 1118/AD 1706-7. In this article, the English translation is based on an edited text prepared from these four manuscripts and published by me in the journal, Sub Continent/Shibh-Ghare, wizeh name, Nama-e-Farhangistan, Academy of Perisan Language and Literature, Tehran, Iran, vol. 2, Spring-Summer 2014, pp. 349-80. Sources include: Tazkiratus-shora-e-Ghani, ed. Mohd. Aslam Khan, Delhi; Safina-e-Khusgo of Bindra Ban Das Khusgo, ed. M. Kakoravi, Patna; History of Indo-Persian Literature, ed. Nabi Hadi, Delhi, 2001; D.N Marshal, Mughals in India, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1998; Glossary of Islamic and Indian Terminology; Dr. R.F.W. Elgood FSA, FRAS (to be published by Brill, Netherlands).


Chander Shekhar

NOTES 1. Hussain Quli Khan, author of Tazkira-e Nashtar-e-Ishq, apart from the detail about his life and love for poetry which is given in other Tazkiras too as mentioned here, also quotes a couplet from the elegy composed on the death of Lutfullah Khan mentioning the date of his death in the following couplet:

ed. Asghar Jan Fida, pp. 1652-3, Dushanbe, 1988. 2. Qiyamuddin Hairat Akbarabadi wrote in his Tazkira, Maqalatush Shora: Mirza Lutfullah Nisar, addressed as Nusratullah Khan, who hails from Iran as his one of the ancestors settled here joined the services of Rafishan and the king Farrukhsiyar, and then came into the service of the court of Firdaus Aramgah (Muhammad Shah) after the massacre of Nadir Shah with the help of Ishaq Khan, on the position of Darogah-e-QurKhan-e-Begi. Some verses are also quoted from Lutfullah Khan, ed., Nisar Ahmad Farooqi, published by Ilmi Majlis, Dehli, pp. 92-3. The author of Taziratush Shora, Maulana Muhammad Abdul Ghani Khan Ghani too acknowledged that his ancestors were from Iran, ed. Muhammad Aslam Khan, Saud Ahmad Dehlavi Publications, Delhi, 1999, p. 289. 3. Abdul Latif Khan Mosavi, pen name Tanha, died in AH 1120/ AD 1708-9 just two years after the completion of Taiid-e-Bisarat. 4. Majma’un Nafais, Arzoo, Sirajuddin Ali Khan, ed. Abid Raza Bidar, Khuda Bakhsh Library, Patna, pp. 82-3. Safina-e-Hindi, ed. Syed Shah Muhammad Ata Kakavi, Patna, p. 219; Tazkira-e-Roz-e-Roshan, Ruknzade Adamiyat, Tehran, 1343, p. 802. 5. His name also appears in, ‘Ris"ala-e-Shamshir Az Bayaz-e-Nawwab Morid Khan’, entitled also as ‘Saya-e-Bisart’, in, ‘Majmua-e-Ahwalat-e-Muhtalif, Ms. no. SP318, BNF Paris. It is a small treatise on sword making and its trade in different countries. This manuscript has extracts from different Persian sources on eighteenth century. Also see for the contexts of this manuscript. A Descriptive Catalogue of Persian, Mss. in BNF Paris by Prof. Francis Richard, Rome, 2011, pp. 410-11. 6. Amongst the sword manufactured in northern and western Hindostan, Sirohi swords are very famous. One may find ample detail about in other works too. 7. Sirohi. A type of sword named after the town now in southern Rajasthan but formerly part of the Mughal subah or administrative area of Gujarat, famous for its manufacture of sword blades of various types, daggers, spears,

The Techniques of Sword Making and Trade Practices


katars and knives. The Chiefs of Sirohi are Deora Rajputs, a branch of the Chauhân clan whose greatest personage was Prithviraj, king of Delhi. They claim descent from Lachhman Raj who ruled at Nadol in what is now Jodhpur state towards the end of the tenth century. Two hundred years later when Nadol was captured by Qutb-ud-d$ûn Aibak, in early thirteenth century, the Chauhans migrated west and fought to establish new territory round Mount Abu, notably under a chief called Deoraj, from whom the sept called Deora Chauhan descends. Rao Sobha founded the old town of Sirohi in 1405 but the site proved unsatisfactory and in 1425 his son Sains Mal abandoned it and founded the new town. Sirohi was on the important trade route between Gujarat and Agra and is therefore mentioned by all the early travellers like Herbert, Olearius, Della Valle and Bernier. Rao Surthân, contemporary with the Emperors Akbar and Jahangir, is described as a reckless and valiant chief who in his pride shot arrows at the Sun for having the effrontery to shine on him. Though frequently defeated he steadfastly refused to acknowledge the supremacy of the Mughals. The Ma’asir ul-Umara describes a battle at Ajmer in 1615 in which the sirohi shamshîr established its reputation, inflicting fearful wounds. ‘Whoever was struck on the head by these Indian blades was cleft to the waist, or if the cut were on the body, he was divided into two parts’. The two factions in this battle were Maharaja Sur Singh Rathore and his brother Kishan Singh, suggesting that Sirohi blades surpassed anything made in Marwar. Tod, writing in the early nineteenth century, describes Sirohi swords as a slightly curved blade shaped like that of Damascus, the greatest favourite of all the varieties of sabres throughout Rajpootana. A common characteristic on Sirohi blades is a round fuller running from near the hilt to near to the point on the flat of the blade on both sides. Elsewhere Tod described the Sirohi blade ‘as famed among the Rajpoots as those of Damascus among the Persians and Turks’. This was correct in Tod’s time but the earlier blades are straight and double edged, the famous dudhara blades, with a central fuller running the length of the blade. Sirohi is also recorded for making mail and plate baktar of good repute in VS 1801/ AD 1744. At that date the Jodhpur Silehakhana Hazuri had 235 of them. Hendley wrote in 1883 that ‘this small state of Deora Rajputs supplies blades and spear points to all Rajputana’. According to the Maharao, Sirohi produced a variety of sword blades using four types of steel ingots. Sakela, used for the best and heaviest fighting swords. Gajvel for 2nd class fighting swords. Roti and fourthly lehriyan. A fifth steel made in Sirohi is called asil. Roti is the name given to the flat bread which is rolled out and this almost certainly describes the process of working the steel to produce Sirohi swords. According to the Maharao the steel being


8. 9.


11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.

Chander Shekhar made into a sword was heated, tempered, put in oil and rolled out repeatedly like roti bread being prepared. He believed the oil used was sesame oil. The late Sirohi blades appear to have a bright steel appearance with a distinct pattern of small nodules like small tadpoles. Mansaji Lohar the blacksmith said that tungsten was used in Sirohi swords which came from the hills near Balda village. Tungsten has been found by the Geological Survey at Sirohi, Robert Elgoods, Glossary of Islamic and Indian Arms Terminology. Chahar Gulshan, Rai Chaturman Sexana Kaiyath, ed. Chander Shekhar, NMM, printed by Dilli Kitab Ghar, Delhi, 2011. Mira’t-ul Istelah of Anand Ram Mukhlis, ed. Chander Shekhar, Hamidreza Ghilchkani, Houman Yousefdahi, published by National Mission for Manuscripts, New Delhi, 2013, vol. I, pp. 234-5. Asadall"ah Isfah"an$û. Famous sixteenth-century sword maker from the reign of Sh"ah ‘Abb"as I (1587-1629) at a time when Persian smiths were the best in the Islamic world. Asadallah had another son, Isma’il, who is known by only two swords, one formerly in the author’s collection. This inscription uses the word ‘valad’ for son, indicating that Isma’il was illegitimate. The second sword is in The Royal Collection, Windsor. This is said to bear the date AH 1186/ 1772. Based on the chronology we have established this is either incorrect, added later, or proof that the sword is by a later craftsman. A Zulfikar sword in the Royal Collection ‘inscribed in gold made by Isma’il, the son of Asadull"ah of Isfah"an, Safavid XVII’ was exhibited in the International Exhibition of Persian Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1931. The catalogue does not give its number in the Royal Collection and there is no suggestion that the sword described bears a date. Asadallah had a pupil, Muhammad Zaman Isfahani who is known by a number of blades. There is a group of early Asadullah blades. There is a fine one in the Maharaja of Jodhpur’s private collection. Glossary of Islamic and Indian arms Terminology, Dr R.F.W. Elgoods FSA, FRAS. (to be published by Brill, Netherlands), p. 25. A copy of the manuscript of this Glossary was given to the writer by Prof Elgoods himself. Khallaqutsiyaq or Khulasatussiyaq, National Archives, New Delhi, fol. 32 Edited and published by Abdur Rahman Zaki, Bulletin of Faculty of Arts, Alazhar University, Cairo, Egypt, 1952. See Hoyland and Gilmour 2003. Dr Colin Heywood of SOAS. See Elgoods, 2009, pp. 54ff Ibid., p. 132. Ibid., 2009.

C H A P T E R 14

Elephants and the Making of Early Modern India1 M A RT H A C H A I K L I N *

Early modern India was literally built on the backs of elephants. It was through their labour that India was transformed from the crumbled remnants of the Mughal Empire to a colonial Imperial state. The elephant was just one of the many animals upon which early modern India was built—other important animals worthy of study include the camel, the horse, the mule and the bullock. But there is a case to be made for beginning with the elephant because it had a diverse role that overlaps the roles of these other animals but is duplicated by none. Moreover, there were issues unique to elephants because they were generally born wild and then domesticated rather than being bred like all of the other animals listed. Additionally, the role of, and attitudes towards elephants uniquely impacted the species. The importance of the elephant is of course by no means unique to the early modern period or to India. They were significant cultural symbols in major religions such as Buddhism even in lands where there were no indigenous elephants. But this significance is nevertheless an important part of Indian history and culture, where representations of elephants can be seen in the earliest artefacts of human manufacture, and interwoven into religious beliefs. Elephants were an important source of labour, an essential weapon of military force in the region, as well as part of shikar (hunting) rituals. *This research was conducted with funding from the American Institute of Indian Studies.


Martha Chaiklin

According to philosopher and critic Viswanath S. Naravane, the West only had a superficial view of the elephant, equating it with ‘barbaric power and splendour’. He contrasts this with the ‘affection and solicitude’ shown in India.1 However, even to the earliest Europeans, to arrive in early modern Asia was to be engaged with many different attributes of the elephant. Dutch traveller Jan Huyghan van Linschoten (1563-1611), for example, noted that they hold a grudge, and are likewise thankful.2 Many European observers noted that elephants were ‘sagacious’.3 Moreover, it is difficult to generalize this relationship because the institutional relationship between the commercial trading companies and the elephant became more complex, and evolved as the colonial state was formed. This relationship between animal and man shows a side to Western participation in Indian life that cannot be understood otherwise. Although all Europeans powers in early modern India had some relationship with elephants, here we will focus on the British because they had the most significant interaction with elephants on an institutional level, and likewise were the most significant European agents in the transformation of India. ISSUES WITH SOURCES

Tracking down the details of the British interaction with elephants is challenging for a variety of reasons. First, the enormous size and diversity of the subcontinent meant that a variety of conditions coexisted in different parts of what is now the modern state of India. Moreover, British India came to include regions that are now the modern states of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Burma. Second, the vast range of the utility of elephants meant that records are spread across all departments of the Company and later Imperial British government, e.g. Military, Home, Foreign, Public, Revenue, Forestry and so forth. The indexing of the documents of these departments in Indian archives varies considerably; some having none at all. Finally, government was constantly evolving as the British expanded and solidified their place in India, which means that records shifted around various sub-departments as responsibility for elephants was reassigned. The documentary record of British interaction with elephants has just begun to be tapped.4

Elephants and the Making of Early Modern India


Nevertheless, some things are clear. First, in British India before the Raj, elephant management was mainly under the auspices of the Military Board. The Public Department was established in 1715, and through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this unit went through a variety of transmutations; e.g. Public and Secret (1763-5), and Public and Select Committee (1765-74). A separate Military Department was formed in 1768, representing the shift of the priorities of the Company from commerce to imperialism. These departments went through various permutations of public and military affairs that are too complex to detail here. In addition, various sections of the Military Department handled elephants and these also changed. One example is the Office of the Quarter Master General (1773-1809), which did so until it was merged with the Commissary General, but separated again in 1812 and lasted until 1867. Public Works, a major employer of elephants, did not become a separate department until 1855. Before then these activities were under Home Public, then the Board of Ordinance in 1775 and then the Military Board. It is not until the twentieth century that elephant management was officially handed over to the Forestry Department. ELEPHANTS OF STATE

The ‘barbaric power and splendour’ of elephants was, regardless of other emotions, what made them important in the affairs of state on the Indian subcontinent. The control of elephants represented the imposition of control over the animal world, which in turn embodied the reach and dominance of the ruler. Thus the Mughal and other indigenous rulers of India were entranced with elephants not just for their utility but also for the symbolic capital they provided. This was obvious even to the British, who participated in local gift rituals surrounding elephants. Diplomatic relationships throughout most of the world before the late nineteenth century were cemented with gifts. The Company in India did not absorb the desire to express power through elephants, but rather saw giving pachydermic gifts as a function of diplomatic interaction. In other words, they used elephants as gifts because it was a language the recipients understood. For example,


Martha Chaiklin

in 1760, Peshva Balaji presented the Bombay Residency with an elephant, which was immediately sent on as a convenient gift to Pharas Khan, a high official in Surat, in recognition for his services.5 When diplomatic relationships required a grand gesture, an elephant was a clear choice. This is evident in the gift of a pair of elephants, male and female, with caparisons, drivers and attendants that were sent to the Pasha of Cairo in 1838 as the Company’s, ‘best thanks for the very important aid afforded by your Highness’s foundry in repairing the machinery of the steamer “Berenice” when that vessel . . . [had an] accident in the seas near Your Highness’s dominions.’6 Unfortunately, the male elephant went into musth and injured both the female elephant and those in charge of transporting them.7 Similarly, the Amir of Kabul, also received a ‘good state elephant’ for ‘His Highness’s fidelity during late events’ in 1859.8 Depending on size and attributes, elephants could be a high-value gift, but they could also be quite cost-effective in terms of impact for value. If, as in the case of Pharas Khan mentioned above, the elephant was received as a gift, or was caught or captured by the Company rather than purchased, an elephant wasn’t necessarily expensive. This was apparent in the gift to Fateh Singh of Broach in 1773. The elephant was a ‘mark of credit and distinction’ for signing the treaty with the British after they conquered Broach. The treaty divided the revenues between the two parties. The gift of an elephant was made because it was deemed ‘as cheaper present as could be made him. . . .’9 The Company servants also needed elephants to participate in state occasions with local rulers. Although the Company kept a stable of elephants, these state elephants were frequently borrowed, because state elephants were generally bigger than the carriage elephants kept by the commissariat. The standard elephant size was about 6-8 ft. Moreover, the British generally preferred ‘the smaller but more useful female’ because males had too much down time from musth.10 It therefore was not economically efficient to keep many of the large tusked elephants for the odd affair. Rather, attempts were made to prevent individual officers from using elephants themselves, except at state occasions.11 In 1832 borrowing elephants from local powers was prohibited except on state occasions

Elephants and the Making of Early Modern India


in Hyderabad, and by 1854, this was extended to all of British India. By then, the use of elephants in any capacity