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Ref ID: 36849
Ref Type: Journal Article
Authors: Li, Peining
Title: The trade patterns of the South China Sea during the Song period
Date: 2020
Source: Asian Archaeology
Abstract: This paper aims to outline two different trade patterns in the South China Sea during the Song period by examining the distribution pattern of cargos on the Intan, Cirebon, Nanhai No.1 (南海I号) and Quanzhou Bay 泉州湾 wrecks. Through the detailed analysis, it is argued that the voyage of some merchant ships would be conducted at the request of a single authority, from a few available, who handled bulk selling while the remaining spaces on the ship would be leased to some individual traders who did retail business. The major cargo on board would be aimed toward a single directional destination, as is represented by the Inan and Cirebon wrecks. In other cases, the sea-going journey would be a joint operation involving multiple traders and the major cargo would be handled by peddlers and possibly sold at a number of ports-of-call, as is seen with the Nanhai No.1 and Quanzhou Bay wreck.

The South China Sea is the first leg of the long-distance tans-Asian trade route that led from China to the Mediterranean. Judging from the recovered shipwreck data and objects brought to the surface, from the late ninth century onward, the trading circle involved merchant ships originating in China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, and was fed with the manufactured objects as well as raw materials originating from a vast territory (Qin 2007; Li 2001; Manguin 1993). How was the trade of each different types of merchandise managed, and for ships that carried mixed cargos, how was the trade conducted?

So far, twenty-five wrecks and wreck sites from the South China Sea and areas directly to the east and south dating from ninth to thirteenth century have been salvaged or surveyed and published reports or on websites. Besides the Belitung wreck which was an Arabic merchant ship (Flecker 2010: 101–119), the others with identified origins are sourced to China or Southeast Asia. This paper discusses two different trading modes in the South China Sea that we identify during the Song 宋period (AD 960–1279), namely the single authority pattern and the peddler trade pattern. We do this through the analysis of the distribution of cargo on four major shipwrecks—Intan, Cirebon, Nanhai No.1 (南海I号) and Quanzhou Bay 泉州湾 wrecks.
Volume: 3
Page Start: 83
Page End: 93