The Great City of Calicut
Located on the Malabar (southwestern) Coast of India was its port city of Calicut. Calicut, Kozhikode, was the capitol of a state which served as an important, if not the most important, state in the region in which it lay. Although Calicut lay on the coast, there was no place along its shore deep enough for ships to anchor. Still, as early as the fourteenth century, Calicut conducted a considerable amount of trade. According to the primary sources of Ibn Battuta, Ma Huan, and an annonymous crew member of Vasco da Gama’ s, Calicut flourished as a center of trade because of their resources and trade systems, among other factors, making lasting impressions on these and other foreign visitors.
In the account recorded in the Roteiro (Logbook), of Vasco da Gama’s anonymous crew member, various resources of Calicut were given. Calicut was a supplier and producer of several desired spices, including ginger, pepper, and the cinnamon-like spice, cassia. By the fifteenth century, Calicut had established a system for cultivating pepper. Among spices that were brought to Calicut and traded with other countries were cloves from the island of Melqua and true cinnamon from Çillion. In addition to their natural resources, the people of Calicut created and sold silk. Once the silk was acquired from the silkworm, it was boiled, dyed, then weaved into kerchiefs.
Not only was Calicut admired for their resources, but Calicut established trade regulations among foreign countries that was both respected and appreciated. For example, Moroccan traveler-ambassador Ibn Battuta chronicled in his ribla (around 1356), book of travels, that when a ship wrecked along the Malabar Coast, all items from the ship were taken to the treasury. However, in Calicut, the owner of the wreckage was permitted to recollect his items. Merchants appreciated this, thus attracting further business. This policy was strategic of Calicut in that although they did not gain an...
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