Chinese-East African Trade before the Sixteenth Century

The existence of direct trade between China and Africa before the 19th century has been neither categorically asserted nor dismissed by scholars. The usualy thorough Chinese court records are vague on this subject. There exist few written accounts of Africa; the & earliest is in the T’ang Shu. Other small pieces of information were catalogued by both Chinese and Arab writers, e.g. records of animals unique to Africa being presented as gifts to the emperor. On the East African coast, the supportive evidence of direct: trade is scarcer. It will be sufficient if it can be demonstrated that there could have been direct contact with Africa. The object of this inquiry is to reopen a debate which has not been resolved by available evidence. Sections: The earliest accounts – Nautics from the 1st to 13th century – Accounts of African countries – The 13th century: Chau Ju-kua – Maps – Later expeditions – Conclusions. Notes; bibl.

Title: Chinese-East African Trade before the Sixteenth Century
Author: Potter, Joshua W.
Year: 1975
Periodical: Ufahamu
Volume: 5
Issue: 2
Pages: 113-134
Language: English
Geographic terms: East Africa
China
Abstract: The existence of direct trade between China and Africa before the 19th century has been neither categorically asserted nor dismissed by scholars. The usualy thorough Chinese court records are vague on this subject. There exist few written accounts of Africa; the & earliest is in the T’ang Shu. Other small pieces of information were catalogued by both Chinese and Arab writers, e.g. records of animals unique to Africa being presented as gifts to the emperor. On the East African coast, the supportive evidence of direct: trade is scarcer. It will be sufficient if it can be demonstrated that there could have been direct contact with Africa. The object of this inquiry is to reopen a debate which has not been resolved by available evidence. Sections: The earliest accounts – Nautics from the 1st to 13th century – Accounts of African countries – The 13th century: Chau Ju-kua – Maps – Later expeditions – Conclusions. Notes; bibl.

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