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Southeast Asian Consumption Of Indian And British Cotton Cloth, 1600–1850

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Chapter Summary

It was Indian cloth, more than any other single article of import, which opened up Southeast Asia to the long-distance trade over the past millennium. The long sixteenth century was one of rapid expansion in the seaborne trade to and through Southeast Asia, as European, Chinese and Japanese traders joined the Indian and Southeast Asian shippers in increasingly fierce competition. The Dutch monopoly of the vital supply of Indian cloth was never so complete, as demonstrated by the fact that they had to pay progressively higher prices for their Indian cloth. The monopolistic approach of the East India Company ensured that Indian production remained relatively stagnant at a time when revolutionary changes were affecting the technology of cotton spinning and weaving. Between 1814 and 1819, Semarang's imports of British cloth to supply central Java leapt from 1,000 to 15,000 pieces.

Keywords: British cloth; Dutch monopoly; East India Company; Indian cloth; Java; Southeast Asia



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