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Serges, shagreen, and sea cucumber

Chinese merchants and global goods in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Canton

Add to calendar 2023-09-20 16:00 2023-09-20 17:30 Europe/Rome Serges, shagreen, and sea cucumber Hybrid (Villa Salviati, Sala degli Stemmi, and Via Zoom) YYYY-MM-DD


20 September 2023

16:00 - 17:30 CEST


Hybrid (Villa Salviati, Sala degli Stemmi, and Via Zoom)

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This session in the framework of the ERC ECOINT-CAPASIA projects summer talks features a presentation by Anne Gerritsen (University of Warwick).

Canton is well known in the scholarly literature as the place where European merchants purchased the porcelain, tea, silk and other desirable Asian goods. We know less about the global goods that entered the domestic market through the port of Canton. This paper will focus on the merchants that delivered goods for export like porcelain and tea to the Hong merchants in Canton, because it was these merchants that returned to their place of origin with goods purchased in Canton, included serges, shagreen and sea cucumbers. The so-called Huizhou merchants hailed from an area just south of Shanghai, but traded throughout the empire, making most of their wealth through control of the salt monopolies. Less well known is their involvement in the Canton trade, although several extant merchant handbooks, often in manuscript form, detail the stories of their active role in this trade. By exploring their involvement in moving goods from Canton to the inland spaces of the Chinese empire, we can begin to consider China’s mercantile activities beyond the outward facing trade houses of the European companies in Canton.

Please register to get a seat or the Zoom link.

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