Silk and Empire

Silk and Empire

In this book, Brenda M. King challenges the notion that Britain always exploited its empire. Creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship were all part of the Anglo-Indian silk trade and were nurtured in the era of empire through mutually beneficial collaboration. King presents a new picture of the trade, where the strong links between Indian designs, the English silk industry and prominent members of the English Arts and Crafts Movement led to the production of beautiful and luxurious textiles.

China Trade and Empire

Jardine, Matheson & Co. and the Origins of British Rule in Hong Kong, 1827-1843

China Trade and Empire

This edition of 263 letters written by or to William Jardine and James Matheson traces an intriguing range of commercial, political and personal dramas played out in Britain, India and China. The correspondence covers a period of rapid growth for Jardine, Matheson & Co, from 1827 when the founders first joined forces, to Jardine's death in 1843, shortly after the end of the Opium War. The letters document the immediate business concerns about tea, opium and British exports to China; but they also reveal articulate and passionate views on the major issues of the day, including monopoly, free trade, and after 1839 the conduct of the Opium War and the start of British rule in Hong Kong. The volume's detailed editorial notes make this a rich resource for anyone interested in individual families and firms engaged in the Eastern trade.

Empire of Style

Silk and Fashion in Tang China

Empire of Style

Tang dynasty (618-907) China hummed with cosmopolitan trends. Its capital at Chang'an was the most populous city in the world and was connected via the Silk Road with the critical markets and thriving cultures of Central Asia and the Middle East. In Empire of Style, BuYun Chen reveals a vibrant fashion system that emerged through the efforts of Tang artisans, wearers, and critics of clothing. Across the empire, elite men and women subverted regulations on dress to acquire majestic silks and au courant designs, as shifts in economic and social structures gave rise to what we now recognize as precursors of a modern fashion system: a new consciousness of time, a game of imitation and emulation, and a shift in modes of production. This first book on fashion in premodern China is informed by archaeological sources--paintings, figurines, and silk artifacts--and textual records such as dynastic annals, poetry, tax documents, economic treatises, and sumptuary laws. Tang fashion is shown to have flourished in response to a confluence of social, economic, and political changes that brought innovative weavers and chic court elites to the forefront of history.

Silk and Religion

An Exploration of Material Life and the Thought of People, AD 600-1200

Silk and Religion

This book deals with the silk trade in Eurasia between the seventh and twelfth centuries and explores how religious ideas and institutions affected economic behavior.

Fir and Empire

The Transformation of Forests in Early Modern China

Fir and Empire

The disappearance of China’s naturally occurring forests is one of the most significant environmental shifts in the country’s history, one often blamed on imperial demand for lumber. China’s early modern forest history is typically viewed as a centuries-long process of environmental decline, culminating in a nineteenth-century social and ecological crisis. Pushing back against this narrative of deforestation, Ian Miller charts the rise of timber plantations between about 1000 and 1700, when natural forests were replaced with anthropogenic ones. Miller demonstrates that this form of forest management generally rested on private ownership under relatively distant state oversight and taxation. He further draws on in-depth case studies of shipbuilding and imperial logging to argue that this novel landscape was not created through simple extractive pressures, but by attempts to incorporate institutional and ecological complexity into a unified imperial state. Miller uses the emergence of anthropogenic forests in south China to rethink both temporal and spatial frameworks for Chinese history and the nature of Chinese empire. Because dominant European forestry models do not neatly overlap with the non-Western world, China’s history is often left out of global conversations about them; Miller’s work rectifies this omission and suggests that in some ways, China’s forest system may have worked better than the more familiar European institutions.

Plants and Empire

Plants and Empire

Plants seldom figure in the grand narratives of war, peace, or even everyday life yet they are often at the center of high intrigue. In the eighteenth century, epic scientific voyages were sponsored by European imperial powers to explore the natural riches of the New World, and uncover the botanical secrets of its people. Bioprospectors brought back medicines, luxuries, and staples for their king and country. Risking their lives to discover exotic plants, these daredevil explorers joined with their sponsors to create a global culture of botany. But some secrets were unearthed only to be lost again. In this moving account of the abuses of indigenous Caribbean people and African slaves, Schiebinger describes how slave women brewed the "peacock flower" into an abortifacient, to ensure that they would bear no children into oppression. Yet, impeded by trade winds of prevailing opinion, knowledge of West Indian abortifacients never flowed into Europe. A rich history of discovery and loss, "Plants and Empire" explores the movement, triumph, and extinction of knowledge in the course of encounters between Europeans and the Caribbean populations.

Inventions and Trade

The Silk and Spice Routes

Inventions and Trade

The history of humankind is built on a series of technological innovations and inventions-from the horsebit and the wheel to the microchip and the computer. Over the centuries, the exchange of these technologies has inspired new developments and improvements. It is through trade that much of this exchange has taken place. Across Asia, the paths of the Silk and Spice Routes brought together many different peoples to trade and so gather knowledge of each other's science and inventions. In this way, some of the most fundamental technologies, including writing, weaving and agriculture, have evolved and developed. Splendidly illustrated with dozens of historic visuals, Inventions and Trade explores the process of invention technological exchange, and the massive contribution made to it by the Silk and Spice Routes.

Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America

Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America

A Seattle Times selection for one of Best Non-Fiction Books of 2010 Winner of the New England Historial Association's 2010 James P. Hanlan Award Winner of the Outdoor Writers Association of America 2011 Excellence in Craft Award, Book Division, First Place "A compelling and well-annotated tale of greed, slaughter and geopolitics." —Los Angeles Times As Henry Hudson sailed up the broad river that would one day bear his name, he grew concerned that his Dutch patrons would be disappointed in his failure to find the fabled route to the Orient. What became immediately apparent, however, from the Indians clad in deer skins and "good furs" was that Hudson had discovered something just as tantalizing. The news of Hudson's 1609 voyage to America ignited a fierce competition to lay claim to this uncharted continent, teeming with untapped natural resources. The result was the creation of an American fur trade, which fostered economic rivalries and fueled wars among the European powers, and later between the United States and Great Britain, as North America became a battleground for colonization and imperial aspirations. In Fur, Fortune, and Empire, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin chronicles the rise and fall of the fur trade of old, when the rallying cry was "get the furs while they last." Beavers, sea otters, and buffalos were slaughtered, used for their precious pelts that were tailored into extravagant hats, coats, and sleigh blankets. To read Fur, Fortune, and Empire then is to understand how North America was explored, exploited, and settled, while its native Indians were alternately enriched and exploited by the trade. As Dolin demonstrates, fur, both an economic elixir and an agent of destruction, became inextricably linked to many key events in American history, including the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812, as well as to the relentless pull of Manifest Destiny and the opening of the West. This work provides an international cast beyond the scope of any Hollywood epic, including Thomas Morton, the rabble-rouser who infuriated the Pilgrims by trading guns with the Indians; British explorer Captain James Cook, whose discovery in the Pacific Northwest helped launch America's China trade; Thomas Jefferson who dreamed of expanding the fur trade beyond the Mississippi; America's first multimillionaire John Jacob Astor, who built a fortune on a foundation of fur; and intrepid mountain men such as Kit Carson and Jedediah Smith, who sliced their way through an awe inspiring and unforgiving landscape, leaving behind a mythic legacy still resonates today. Concluding with the virtual extinction of the buffalo in the late 1800s, Fur, Fortune, and Empire is an epic history that brings to vivid life three hundred years of the American experience, conclusively demonstrating that the fur trade played a seminal role in creating the nation we are today.

The Silk and Spice Routes

Exploration by land

The Silk and Spice Routes

Examines the opening and development of the silk route and the effects of trade between the East and the West.

Opium and Empire

The Lives and Careers of William Jardine and James Matheson

Opium and Empire

In 1832 William Jardine and James Matheson established what would become the greatest British trading company in East Asia in the nineteenth century. After the termination of the East India Company's monopoly in the tea trade, Jardine, Matheson & Company's aggressive marketing strategies concentrated on the export of teas and the import of opium, sold offshore to Chinese smugglers. Jardine and Matheson, recognized as giants on the scene at Macao, Canton, and Hong Kong, have often been depicted as one-dimensional villains whose opium commerce was ruthless and whose imperial drive was insatiable. In Opium and Empire, Richard Grace explores the depths of each man, their complicated and sometimes inconsistent internal workings, and their achievements and failures. He details their decades-long journeys between Britain and China, their business strategies and standards of conduct, and their inventiveness as "gentlemanly capitalists." The commodities they marketed also included cotton, rice, textile goods, and silks and they functioned as agents for clients in India, Britain, Singapore, and Australia. During the First Opium War Jardine was in London giving advice to Lord Palmerston, while Matheson was detained under house arrest at Canton in the spring of 1839, an incident which helped prompt the armed British response. Moving beyond the caricatures of earlier accounts, Opium and Empire tells the story of two Scotsmen whose lives reveal a great deal about the type of tough-minded men who expanded the global markets of Victorian Britain and played major roles in changing the course of modern history in East Asia.