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Introduction: The World Of South Asian Textiles, 1500–1850

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Chapter Summary

In 1500 cotton textiles were the centre of the manufacturing life of the Indian subcontinent and the foundation of a wide-ranging trade that spread from India via land and sea to as far as Indonesia and Japan in the east and Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Egypt and West Africa in the west. With the rise of Europe as a new market for textiles from the early seventeenth century, littoral South Asia played an increasing role in global maritime trade. Historical scholarship on the early modern Asian trading world has explored the pivotal role of Indian cotton textiles within this world. The early modern period structured its geographies around networks based on connections, with emporia, producing regions and mobile merchants operating across vast spaces. Kaoru Sugihara extends the intra-Asian trade story beyond the eighteenth century and beyond Indian cotton textiles.

Keywords: Indian cotton textiles; Indonesia; maritime trade; South Asian textiles; West Africa



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