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Ch13/Sec3: The Indian Ocean Trade
 Stretched across the Indian Ocean from Iran and Arabia to SE
Asia connected Europe, Africa, and China
 The world’s richest maritime trading network
 An area of rapid Muslim expansion
Reasons:
 Rising prosperity of European, Africa, and Asian states after 1200
 Luxuries for the wealthy  large profits
 Construction of larger ships  transportation of bulk goods profitable
 Collapse of the Mongol Empire  Silk Road loosing strategic importance
Navigating the route:
 2 legs:
1. From the Middle East across the Arabian Sea to India
2. From India across the Bay of Bengal to Southeast Asia
 Westward route from India to Arabia: dhows (relied on monsoons)
 Eastward route from India to SE Asia: junks

 Developed in China
 Wooden hull, watertight below-deck-compartments, 12 sails
 1,000 men and a cargo over1,000 tons
Characteristics of the Indian Ocean trade:
 Decentralized and cooperative
 Each region specialized in certain types of goods
 Regional networks tied together by commercial interests (not politics)
 Center of the Indian Ocean trade: India
 Meeting point of trade from SE Asia, China, & the India Ocean: the
Strait of Malacca
 Regional emporia (marketplace): consolidation of goods for transport
across the seas
Regions of trade:
1. The Swahili Coast and Great Zimbabwe: East African Coast
 Extensive trade  rising prosperity  30-40 separate city states
 Import of luxury goods: imported glass beads from India, porcelain from
China
 Cultural diffusion: Arabic/Persian loan words written in Arabic script 
Swahili (“shores of the blacks”)
 Mogadishu  Kilwa as the Swahili Coast’s most important trading
center (Muslim)
- Arab and Iranian merchants spreading Islam
- Attracted to Kilwa for its gold
- The gold was mined by inland Africans and passed through Great
Zimbabwe (on a plateau of the Zambezi River)

 Walled enclosure
 Farming, cattle-herding, and long-distance trade
 Copper ingots, salt, gold
 Ecological problems: deforestation and overgrazing
2. Arabia: Aden and the Red Sea
 Monsoon winds  rainfall  drinking water  agric. & large popul.
 Ideal location: stopover for trade w/ India, the Persian Gulf, East Africa,
and Egypt  merchants sorting goods for transport
 Great wealth
 In general, a common interest in trade among the regions  peace
 However, violence did break out once in a while, e.g. when Christian
Ethiopia fought with the Muslims of the Red Sea coast over control of
trade (common tool: embargo)
 Traveler: Ibn Battuta
3. India: Gujarat and the Malabar Coast
a) Gujarat:
 Rich agricultural countryside & a long coastline
 Prospered from the Indian Ocean trade
- Exported: cotton textiles & indigo
- Imported: gold & silver
- Not just a commercial center but also a manufacturing center, e.g.
textiles, leather goods, carpets, silk, etc.
- Gujarat’s overseas trade was dominated by Muslims, but Hindus also
benefited (the merchant caste).
- Traveler: Marco Polo
- City of Cambay as a cosmopolitan, wealthy city
b) Calicut on the Malabar Coast:
 Calicut exported locally made cotton textiles and locally
grown grains and spices
 Clearinghouse for long-distance trade
 The ruler (Zamorin) of Calicut ruled over a loose alliance
of independent trade cities
-Tolerant of other religions and ethnicities w/ trade
interests (e.g. intermarriage w/ Muslims; Jewish
merchants)
4. Southeast Asia: The Rise of Malacca
 The Strait of Malacca is the principal passage from the Indian
Ocean to the South China Sea. In the fourteenth century, a gang
of Chinese pirates preyed upon the strait, nominally under the
control of the Java-based kingdom of Majapahit.
 n 1407, the forces of the Ming dynasty crushed the Chinese
pirates. The Muslim ruler of Malacca took advantage of this to
exert his domination over the strait and to make Malacca into a
major port and a center of trade.