Dec 26, 2020

Quilon and its trade links with China

That Quilon was well known to seafarers is not surprising, for it is well situated in the South West of the Indian coast. It was well known not only to Greek and Roman seafarers going back in time before Christ but also to later entrants such as the Arabs, Persians and Chinese into the Indian Ocean. If we dig deep into historic accounts left behind by some of the sailors or visitors, we can come up with a decent silhouette of the entrepot Quilon once was, as well as the preeminent position it held among the trading ports of Malayala, as Kerala was then known. Its name got attached to the Malayalam Calendar Kolla Varsham and for a time was reason enough to associate with a popular proverb in the Malayalam language which meant 'one who has seen Kollam, forgets his house’.

Dec 3, 2020

The Mamluk – Calicut - Jeddah Equations

And an event which happened ‘out there’ – at Calicut

For the Arab merchants, traders and rulers, Calicut was the place in Al Hind where they had established a lucrative trade, where they had families and representations, and a relationship with the benevolent king, the Ox-worshipper Al-Samiri. For most others who benefited from the trade in Europe, it was just a place out there. For the crusaders, it was perhaps the general region where a potential supporter, the Prestor John came from. Later authors, who never even set a foot there, equated it to Utopia. From the inimical Arabian nights story of Abu Hasan’s fart, you know that Calicut was a place where you went to in order to start afresh and make a new life. In a way it was akin to the Dubai of Malayali’s today, it was the Dubai for the Arabs those days.

We will now get into the story of two interesting individuals, one who daringly transferred trade from Aden to Jeddah and the other, a senior official of the Mamluk establishment who severely tested the diplomatic abilities of the Zamorin. And along the way, we will talk about the interesting relations between the Mamluk administration in Arabia and Calicut, while dwelling upon the interesting event which occurred some decades prior to the arrival of the Portuguese at Calicut.