Trade & Diplomacy
- Theme Two -
Goods and Exchange
Aside from being an important source of natural products for China, Angkor also served as an important export market for Chinese manufactured goods, particularly ceramic and glass products. Surviving fragments of pottery and glass products found in Angkor have been crucial in demonstrating the involvement of Khmer elites in broader Southeast Asian maritime networks that connected the region to an international economic system dominated by trade. Read the excerpt from Zhou Daguan’s A Record of Cambodia, the summary by Aedeen Cremin and the article from Carter, Dussubieux, Polkinghorne and Pottier and answer the following questions.
- Reading -
Excerpts from Zhou Daguan's A Record of Cambodia: The Land and Its People
21. Sought-After Chinese Goods
They do not produce gold or silver in Cambodia, I believe, and so they hold Chinese gold and silver in the highest regard.
Next they value items made of fine, double-threaded silk in various colors. Next after that they value such things as pewter ware from Zhenzhou, lacquer dished from Wenzhou, and celadon ware from Quanzhou and Chuzhou, as well as mercury, cinnabar, writing paper, sulphur, saltpetre, sandalwood, lovage, angelica, musk, hemp, yellow grasscloth, umbrellas, iron pots, copper dishes, glass balls, tung tree oil, fine-toothed combs, wooden combs, and needles – and of the ordinary heavier items, mats from Mingzhou. Beans and what are particularly sought after, but they cannot be taken there.”
- Questions -
What kind of Chinese goods did Khmer consumers want from Angkor? Why do you think they desired these items? What kind of significance do you think these goods had in Khmer society?
According to the articles, when did the relationship between Angkor and China begin to intensify? How have archaeologists come to this conclusion?
What evidence do Carter, Dussubieux, Polkinghorne and Pottier use to demonstrate that the Khmer Empire were part of a broader regional network of trade? What other polities were involved in this network?