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The Beginnings of the Kārim Merchants and the Nature of their Organization

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Chapter Summary

The Kārim merchants of the late thirteenth, fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries were as prominent in the countries of the Middle East as the German Hanse was in contemporary central and northern Europe. A first collection of source material about the Kārimis was made as early as 1838 and the scholar discussing them characterized them not improperly as banians, the Indian term for traders. This chapter shows the history of the Kārim, as it appears already in documents dating undoubtedly from the Fatimid period. These documents are in Hebrew characters, but mostly in the Arabic language-come from the so-called Cairo Geniza, whose treasures are now dispersed all over the world. The chapter discusses some conclusions based on the authentic Geniza texts mentioning the Kārim in Fatimid times.

Keywords: Cairo Geniza; Fatimid period; Kārim merchants

10.1163/ej.9789004179318.i-394.73
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