When Asia was the world

Post a short synopsis of each chapter including lessons related to migration and trade. Also, feel free to post links to related resources and news articles.

Chapter 1: Monasteries and Monarchs

At age 26, he became dissatisfied; he did not know which doctrine to follow from the many different Buddhist schools. He decided to travel west to the center of Buddhism to clear his doubts. The Tang government forbade commoners to travel west, so his journey was illegal and the government circulated warrant for arrest. Along the way, his two companions and guide deserted him and, he faced difficult roads with hot winds and sand. He was given provisions at government tower after being left alone for three days without food or water. Although he was supposed to have been taken back to his monastery, the head sentry at the tower was Buddhist and ignored the government request for his capture. Xuanzang received a royal escort from King Qu-wentai of Taklamakan Desert he was a notable teacher wherever he went. He traveled north of Taklamakan Desert to Lake Issy Kul. The king at the lake honored him with 30 silk robes. Silk and grain were universally

Xuanzang's total travels added to 1500 miles and still within the institutional support of Buddhism. His pilgrimage set off diplomatic missions between China and India and both sides learned trade possibilities. Foreigners were welcomed in the imperial capital and influenced fashions of the time. He was asked to become high official but chose to stay a Buddhist monk. He supervised a team of translators and taught Buddhist texts in Chang’an. He designed and helped build a library for texts until the end of his life.

Chapter 2: Caliph and Caravan

Ibn Fadlan was a mid-class Muslim courtier who lived a relatively comfortable life in Baghdad during the 900th century CE. He was chosen by the Muslim caliph to to head an embassy to the Bulgars in 921. Almish, the Bulgar king, had requested that the caliph "send someone who would instruct him in religion, acquaint him with the laws of Islam" (21) etc. This was a prime opportunity for the Muslim empire to gain a new ally, which would help it expand across the known world. The embassy started on their journey June of 921. Their group included an ambassador, a jurist and a religious instruct among others. Instead of taking the direct route to the Russian Bulgar camp, this group was forced to travel the more round-about route through western Persia due to political and religious differences that could jeopardize the mission. In the fall of 921, they reached Bulchara, capital of Khurasan, and waited for the money that they were required to bring to Almish for his new fortress. However, the money never arrived and Fadlan decided that it would be better to keep moving towards their destination and let the money catch up to them there. They then traveled to Khwarizm by boat. It was here that the emir attempted to dissuade Ibn Fadlan from his journey, telling him that it was a trap, because he was afraid that if the caliphate had another ally in this region, they would be able to attack him from both the north and the south, and he would be helpless. Fadlan decided to press on and arrived at Jurjaniyah, to wait out the harsh winter of the north. When the river thawed, the embassy disbanded, too afraid to continue out into the reaches beyond Muslim control. Before, they had been traveling in areas controlled by the Islam Empire, but now everything was unfamiliar and much more dangerous than before. Fadlan however, continued his mission to Almish, joining a foreign caravan for provisions and protection. While traveling with this caravan, he reached the Etrek camp. Here, Ibn Fadlan presented Etrek with money, musk, leather, cloth, clothing, presents for his wife, and, most importantly, silk robes. The ceremony of presenting these robes showed honor and established political relations. This ceremony was universal, used all over the Asiatic world. However, Etrek violated the system by accepting the robes, but refusing to acknowledge the sovreignty of the caliph. Eventually, Ibn Fadlan was allowed to leave and at last, reached the Bulgar camp. The Gclub negotiations with Almish were layered with protocol and ceremony. They started with a diplomatic banquet, where Ibn Fadlan presented Almish with gifts, all having some political symbolism and underlying meaning meant only for the king to understand. Next, Fadlan read the letter from the caliph to the Bulgar king at the Friday prayers at the local mosque. These procedures went relatively well...until Almish discovered that there was no money. He proceeded to accuse Fadlan of stealing and betraying the caliph, refused all religious advice, and revoked Fadlan's ambassadorial status. The mission was deemed a failure. Ibn Fadlan returned home to Baghdad. Only weeks later, Almish wrote to the caliph, invoking the same relationship that Fadlan's mission had been attempting to accomplish, only this time, the Bulgars were in control. Ibn Fadlan's mission was about political and religious alliances that reached across the entire western part of the Asian world. It was common during this time period for caliphs to try and ally with other empires, seeing as religion and politics were closely intertwined, however it was slightly uncommon to have a journey this long. There were many benefits to converting to another religion, as well. These conversions were based on judgments tied to alliances, trade, taxes and benefits of a wider network.

Chapter 3: Philosopher and Physician Ibn Sina, 1002-1021 CE
Ibn Sina was the subject of this chapter which described his life, travels, and influence on Islamic philosophy and health between the years of 1002 and 1021 C.E. This chapter goes into detail on Ibn Sina's background. His father was an Ismaili and Ibn Sina was therefore influenced by these beliefs. Additionally, he himself believed in Neo-Platonism - he found it very important to understand the Forms, but also equally important to know about how politics and society is run. Over the course of this chapter, Ibn Sina's life is laid out in great detail. He was born in Balk and recieved his education in Bukhara. He was schooled in all of the basics including mathematics and literature. At the time, Baghdad was the center of education. Ibn Sina studied Greek and Roman classics that had been translated there and dispersed across the world. He also read about medicine in depth because it was of particular interest to him. When the king of Bukhara was ill, Ibn Sina was able to cure him. As a reward, Ibn Sina was given full control over the library allowing him to continue his studies, become the court physician and write his first external image arrow-10x10.png titled Good Works and Evil which was centered on ethics. Mahmud sent letters to the king of Bukhara asking to have Ibn Sina in his court, but Ibn Sina knew it was a trap because Mahmud was stongly against Ibn Sina's humanis, rationalist thinking. The primary source of Ibn Sina's travels was his fleeing of Mahmud's empire's control. When Ibn Sina arrived in Reyy (Teheran), he held of Mahmud with the help of the leader there. However, Ibn Sina's journey was not complete because he was not completely secluded from danger. After a brief stop in Qazvin, Ibn Sina continued to Hamadan where he made close friendly ties with the leader Shams al-Dawla. With this leader, Ibn Sina went on many military campaigns. Shams al-Dawla appointed Ibn Sina to many different offices, but he still had his eneimies amongst the city. Despite some difficulties here, Ibn Sina was able to write The Management of Troops (based on his own experiences), The Colic (a medical treatise), and Allegory on Human Intellect in Hamadan. But, because overall there was a uprising against Ibn Sina's power in Hamadan, he was forced to secretly correspond with the leader of Esfahan, the archrival of Hamadan. Upon the discovery of these letters, Ibn Sina and his companion, Juzjani, were put in jail. After some time, they managed to escape to Esfahan where Ibn Sina befriended yet another ruler, Ala al-Dawla, and stayed for the remainder of his life. Here, Ibn Sina wrote most of his important works such as his autobiography ( The Life of Ibn Sina ), many philosophical works, and the Canon of Medicine which is a medical encyclopedia with many remedies and medical teachings. In this external image arrow-10x10.png he compiled all that was know about medicine at the time along with new discoveries he himself made. Overall, Ibn Sina helped to spread many intellectual ideas that he had earned and believed in with his multiple writings. The central question which he wished to address was, "The core philosophic problem was to explain the relation of an eternal and unchanging God to a changing and flawed world" (Gordon 47). Ibn Sina strayed in his thoughts about this by believing in man's rationality rather than God having predecided everything and that man cannot ever understand His wishes. This was important in his overall impact on trade at the time because he not only spread what he learned and compliled in the medical field with his encyclopedia, but he also helped to promote Neo-Platonist philosophical teachings where he traveled. Ibn Sina allowed for Muslims to expand their curiosity by asking questions and being commited to learning about things that they care about.

Chapter 4: Ingots and Artifacts: the Intan Shipwreck circa 1000 C.E

This chapter centered on the truly extensive and impressive trade both land locked but primarily oceanic in 1000 C.E, which is represented through the Intan shipwreck. We see through this simple ship most likely of Chinese or Polynesian origin trade in Asia in the past. The ship was carrying raw materials and important goods from all across Asia. One of the many things found was what the chapter is named for tin Ingots, the ship seemed to be carrying a large amount of this metal based on the tin pebbles found around the wreck and of course the pyramids and ingots of raw tin that was found in the wreck. This shows the importance of tin in the expression of the culture of the rich in southeast Asia. Also Tin as a component of another important metal, bronze, was necessary for the production of prayer and everyday objects in many areas throughout Asia. This valuable metal was probably meant for Java which was barren of almost all metal. Another use of tin was also on the ship, mirrors of different value from china and the Peloponnesian islands. Also everyday objects were found on the ship showing that not only luxury items were being transported great distances like when trade in Asia first started. Bronze Buddha’s and terra cotta shrines most likley from Java were found on the ship, these statues with their engraving in remembrance of a past king shows the spread of the trade supported religion of Buddhism but also ancestor worship. It is important to remember that many items that were on the ship before it was sunk, most likely by a fatal storm, were destroyed, for example silk and cotton were probably on the ship considering there importance in Asian life but unfortunantly can not be proven to have been on this trading ship. Also other raw materials rather than metal were on the ship, glass beads and broken glass most likley on it’s way to be sold to be worked into beads were also on the ship. All in all this ancient treasure trove of trade from the 1000 C.E has shown us a lot about trade when Asia was the world. In addition, the Intan ship was constructed with the lash-lug method of shipbuilding. This method used primarily wood with no metal in an interlocking design. Therefore, the ship would flex and bend under pressure instead of break. Unfortunatly, in this case, the design did not perform to its standards. However, despite the destruction of the ship, it yeilds several clues as to the locations of its travels. The boat was constructed of lumber from South East Asia. From its origin, it traveled along the coast to major ports in China, India, Indonesia, and even the Middle East, demonstrating the power of the Indian Ocean trade circle. The ship was carrying products of various levels of wear when it sunk. There were scrap piles, ingots, and products made of gold, tin, silver, and bronze. These products were most likely being brought to Java, near the site of the wreck, which was devide of most necessary metals. The Intan Shipwreck provides vital information for a detailed look into the Asian/Indian Ocean trade market.

Chapter 5: Pepper and Partnerships: Abraham bin Yiju, (1120-1160 CE)
In this chapter, we learn about the times and travels of Abraham bin Yiju. Born to a Jewish family in Tunisia during the 12th century, he started his travels along the North African Mediterranean coast in order to spread letters of introduction from his father, a rabbi, to prominent Jewish traders. Around 1120 C.E. he traveled from Tunisia to Cairo by caravan, continuing over the Red Sea to Yemen where he would spend the majority of his trading life. During this time, Abraham developed an important partnership with Mahmud Ibn Bandar, one of the most prominent traders in Aden (The paramount city for Indian/Egyptian trade). After gaining an important "junior position" beneath Bandar, he was encouraged to enter the spice trade, and enraptured by the thought of traveling to the Indian spice trade to escape the rampant anti-semitism. One, of the spices, pepper, had incredible importance. This was shown in the fact that Ibn Faldan used it to bribe his way across the eastern steppe, and a king named Alaric demanded 3000 pounds of pepper as a ransom of Rome in 408 CE.PP Pepper was a major part of bin Yiju's trading. Almost all records of bin Yiju's life, we learn, were from letters found in the Cairo Geniza. A Geniza is a building where, in medieval times, members of the large Jewish community in Cairo would put documents containing a form of the word God written on them. These were placed here because under Jewish law these documents were sacred and therefore unable to be destroyed. Cairo's dry climate preserved the documents inside the Geniza to this day, and it is to thank for our knowledge of bin Yiju and many others like him. Bin Yiju mainly participated in the trade of the Mediterranean and Red Seas and the western portion of the Indian Ocean, and his travels were influenced by the geography of the political climate of the time. Overall, the main lessons of this chapter were that trade in bin Yiju's time was heavily influenced by familial and religious ties, and supported by (especially in bin Yiju's case) the underlying trade diasporas of a respective people or religion. There were no real legal reinforcements to trade at his time, and instead trade ran along the lines of agreements between and the reputations of individual traders, with fierce competition in the business fueling its strength and profitability.

Chapter 6: Nobles and Notables: Ibn Batutta, 1325-1356 CE
Ibn Batutta came from a family of judges. Throughout his life, he traveled everywhere from Africa, India and the Philippines to South East Asia and the Middle East. Overall, this was more than 73,000 miles. During his travels, he received his wealth from many notable people.He traveled during the time of the Black Plague when Islam controlled most of Africa and both external image arrow-10x10.png and India Ocean trade were flourishing.Along the way, he studied, made contacts, and took part in the robes ceremony.He saw the connection between religion and trade, loved travel, and had a passion for religious learning.

Chapter 7: Treaure and Treaty: Ma Huan, 1413-1431 CE
This chapter told the story of Ma Huan, a Chinese officer who was abord a fleet of 57 vessels from Nanjing, China commanded by Zeng He. His goal on this trip was to document the lives of the various towns they went to such as Champa, Java, and Cochin. He compared and contrsasted the unique lifestyles of these cultures. The fleet sailed allong the coasts of India and Africa stopping at various locations to befriend the local people on behalf of the the Chinese Ming dynasty. Ma Huan was transltor of foregin documents threfore his journals are one of the only two remaining documents from these journeys. The expeditions that these ships embarked on were very important to the development of Chinese trade connections, they built a relationship with regional kings and was beneficial to both sides. However, the journey was not repeated as the government decided it was not worth the cost or effort as China began to turn to inward trade.

Chapter 7: Treasure and Treaty: Ma Huan, 1413-1431 CE (C Period: Malloury and Abby)
This chapter follows Ma Huan on his journey throughout the Indian Ocean trade networks. He served as a translator of foreign documents on the fourth imperial Ming Chinese expedition. He was a 32 year old Muslim from Hangzhou, which is a large trading port south of Nanjing. On the trip he wrote a memoir that included fresh observation and a high attention to detail, setting him apart from other writers and explorers at that time. He noted thing such as dress, costume, and lifestyles and compared them to China so that his readers could understand the difference between the cultures. The fleet he embarked on was also known a a fleet of tresure ships because of the large amount of Chinse goods, trade, and tribute. The fleet intended to spread trade and diplomatic dominance and awe local and regional states in a non-violent way. The first stop was in Champa, which is modern-day Vietnam. The fleet sailed down the Southwest coast of China for 10 days and then they landed in Champa. The king was a firm believer in Buddhism and Ma Huan noted the use of robes to mark rank in nobility. Also, there was harsh law and no paper, so the people used pounded bark and goat skin. The desired trade items from China were silk products and beads. The next stop was Java, where Ma Huan noticed the dress of the people in particular. The king wore a silk wrap at the waist and all men carried a dagger at the waist. Java was the first resident Chinese community overseas, called Tu-Pan, holding over a thousand families. It held close trade ties to Fujian. The port was founded and run by oversea Chinese and was a destination of trade because of the abundance in wealth. The N. Java coast was one big kingdom with smaller ports within. Muslims, Chinese, Hindus, and Buddhists dominated the area. From Java, they sailed North along the East coast of the Malayan Penninsula, to Ayuthia, which is modern-day Thailand. Here, Ma Huan noted that the Thai Buddist monks were similar to the Chinese Buddhist monastic tradition. They differed because of the split between Hinayana and Manayana Buddhism. After that the fleet sailed to Malacca which is modern-day external image arrow-10x10.png. It was a rising port between the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. The past king had visite the Ming Empire and the king had converted to Islam. The fleet left collected tribute and traded goods in Malacca to come back for. From there the fleet divided, splitting into groups going to either Bengal, Africa, or India. Sri Lanka and the Maldives came next. In Sri Lanka there was a conversion of coinage, weights, and measures. Previous fleets had attacked when they refused tribute, so the king was willing to pay the tribute this time. In the Maldive Islands, shells were used as coinage and coconut husks were used to make rope. At the time of Ibn Battuta, women only covered their bottom halves, but when Ma Huan arrived things had changed, women being completely covered due to Islamic modesty. Relations of the fleet to kings and traders of ports was formal. To determine pricing, they examined the goods, set a date to determine pricing, and then once the prices were determined, they never changed. The Chinese court had plans for long-term domination, so was there mutual benefit for conquored peoples? Well, with soldiers stationed in the port, ports had no choice but to surrender, but there was Chinese support against external enemies and family rivals of the kings. However, fleets came sporatically throughout the years, so their promise of protection was rarely filled. When Ma Huan's fleet returned to China there were high taxes, internal unrest, and Mongol threats. Later on there were edicts passed to first reverse the policy of the fleets, then to burn all records of the fleets, and finally to end all foreign trade, forcing coastal dwellers to move inland.

Chapter 8: Blood and Salt: Barbur (1494-1526)
This chapter follows the life and rule of Barbur, a descendent of Ghenghis Khan. Barbur inherited the throne of his father in 1494, under pressure as the new king. Barbur was only 18 when he captured his first city in 1500, and his military and economic conquests continued until 1526, when his son took over. As a born Khan, Barbur preserved the legacies of his ancient ancestors, specifically his world famous relative, Genghis Khan. The most famous legacy, initiated by Genghis himself, was the "Salt System," an unwritten code where soldiers are "allowed" to serve under commanders and chiefs unrelated to them. This system allowed Barbur to augment his gigantic army with soldiers from nations he had conquered, and also increased the diversity of his army by admitting soldiers of many different ethnicities. Barbur later described specific soldiers who did or did not "keep their salt" in his 800 page memoir: the Baburnama, which is considered by historians to be one of the first Islamic autobiography. He said that those who did keep their salt were loyal, and honored their military leader, and was praised. However, a soldier who didn't keep his salt was disloyal and did not honor his leader. Such behavior was noted, but unpunished. With this salt system in full force, Babur gained a large following as he conquered along external image arrow-10x10.png that surrounded his homeland of the Fergana Valley in present day Uzbekistan. Another main advantage in Barbur's life was Blood. As a part of the royal Khan family, Barbur was blessed with wealth and fortune all his life, even though the descendants of Genghis are supposedly not all equal. As time went on, Barbur's military success continued, until he captured Kabul, a wealthy trading city, and made it his home, enjoying life at a high class. But the Khan in him was not the only famous blood that ran in Babur's veins. In fact, Babur was a direct descendant of Timur the Lame on his father's side. This gave him the impetus to conquer northern India, as an extension of the then present Timurid Empire. With a large army, assembled through the salt system, Babur was able to conquer Northern India. This, at the same time, ended the Delhi Sultanate. At the helm of power, Babur founded the Mughal Empire, which stood for another 300 years until 1856. When Barbur died in 1530, his grandsons who assumed his rule, once again spreading networks of blood and salt across Asia.

Babur portrait
Babur's Empire at it's fullest

Chapter 9: Medicines and Misunderstandings: Tomé Pires (1511-1521 CE)
This chapter followed the life of Tomé Pires, a Portuguese apothecary and government scribe from Lisbon, Portugal, who was one of the men chosen to go on the first diplomatic mission to China. Tomé Pires was born a commoner around 1468 CE to an educated family that had status, and his father was apothecary to John II, the king of Portugal. Pires was an apothecary to Prince Alfonso until the Prince's death in 1491, and he left Portugal for India in 1511 CE with letters of introduction from the chief physician of the king and the head of the overseas department in Lisbon. Soon after arriving in Goa, the governor sent Pires to Malacca to restore order in the newly-captured city. Pires arrived in Malacca, and wrote the Suma Oriental, which was his description of plants, markets and politics in maritime Asia based on what he heard from local traders. Pires's book reveals two core attitudes and assumptions that labelled Pires as an outsider in Asia: First, he divided the world into Moors (Sunni Muslims, who were considered the "enemy"), and Christians (the "ally"), while heathens were potential allies and possible converts, furthermore he brough the Crusades into Asia. Pires considered the Chinese to be natural allies because they were white, but when the Portuguese first made contact with the Chinese, the Chinese fleet fired on the Portuguese thinking they were pirates. The Portuguese continued on to Guangzhou, where they fired salutes and flew flags, insulting the locals, and the Portuguese were only able to establish firendly relations with the court after Pires convinced the officials that firing guns awas a form of respect and that they meant no harm to the chinese. After this, trade went well until the commander of the fleet that was supposed to escort Pires back to Malacca, offended the local Chinese officals. Pires was in Beijjing on a diplomatic mission when an ambassador from Malacca told of the Portuguese assault and conquest of the city, and the old emperor died. The new emperor was controlled by court advisors, and the chinese turned against the Portuguese. The authorities in Guangzhou insisted that Pires write a letter that demanded the return of Malacca to its rightful king, and upon Pires's refusal, the party was put in jail. After a few months, the remaining prisoners were beheaded as punishment for the actions of the Portuguese as a whole. The Portuguese grand plan for control of the Asian maritime world had failed due to many of its assumptions about the Asian world. Though their conquest failed, the Portuguese did have several important effects on the Asian world including the Chinese ban on foreign traders, and they initiated an arms race across the Asian maritime world. Also, Portuguese trade linked the spice islands with Europe. At the end of this chapter, we also learn that Pires might not have been executed with the rest of his expedition, there is a chance that he was banished from Beijjing and lived in a Chinese provincial town until his death from old age.

Chapter 10: The Asian World (500-1500CE)
This chapter wrapped up the previous nine; it looked at the Asian world from 500-1500 CE, particularly the networks linking the varied regions. These networks spread religion, trade, and ideas, and promoted the spread of culture that, to a certain extent,unified Asia. Kings used the same symbols and the same ceremonies. The courtly culture developed by large empires became a part of local ethnicities and regions.
The Asian world, in short, was an active area of trade and communication. New empires united stretches of land that had once be divided by geographical boundaries. They supplied standards in currencies and weights and measures, essential in promoting wide-spread, long-distance trade. Even religions like Buddhism and Islam united people beyond the extent of political boundaries. They spread quickly through travel, trade, and conquest and were quite successful due to their competing ideas and a constant search to meet people's needs. While capital cities were important for administration, it was the medium-sized cities that proved essential to trade and exchange of ideas. The capitals were frequently changed under new leadership, so the smaller cities actually provided a stable trading post for merchants that travelling between the Middle East and China. The products exchanged here were mostly light luxury goods that were easy to transport but also worth a significant amount. Chinese products like silk, tea, and porcelain were some of the more commonly traded objects. However, it is important to note products also varied from the practical, like iron cooking pots, to the impractical, as records indicate of a giraffe that was brought to the imperial court of China. Even things that couldn’t be traded, like disease, spread through this network. For example, the Black Plague originated in China and later moved west, eventually killing 1/3 of Europe’s population. Consequently, medicine and treatments also circulated this area along with other forms of innovation. The numeric system using the placeholder zero was created in India and people in the Middle East used this to begin the basics of algebra and astronomy. Even plants like sugarcane migrated because of its success in many areas and climates. Little government interference facilitated this exchange, with competitive prices driving the market. Many administrations built new roads and implemented armies that would protect them, all paid for by different, experimental forms of taxation. It’s quite clear that throughout this active world, Europe hardly played a role. Its limited contact on the fringes of the trading network evolved separately, only acquiring goods that had passed through many hands. Only when they had realized the enormous amount of profit and potential available in the adjacent areas did they start the race to hold colonies. Their various attempts brought many new ideas to Asians. Traders were customarily representatives of their kings, a new practice to most. Also, the Western belief of profitable politics drove many trade-based wars where new battle tactics were introduced. But it’s before their interference in a highly successful, constantly evolving trade network that is of importance. The Asian world between 500-1500 CE was the origin of world trade and one of the most important revolutions in economy, innovation, and other areas that has shaped the royal1688 world today.
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