Medieval Madagascar merchantry

May 2013
143
Sweden
#1
when i read about the trade networks of the medieval Indian Ocean, Madagascar is just briefly mentioned and not at all very elaborated on. Going from the Madagascar wikipedia page, it says that the arab trade posts introduced in the range between 600-900 A.D were important.

But how important were they? Did they ever compete with the trade centers of the Swahili coast who were able to profit from the resource rich African hinterlands? Did Madagascar function as a stepping stone to other routes to the east? Did it offer any unique goods? Did it simply offer safe ports with lower taxes compared to the Swahili coast?

The muslim ummah that the indian ocean trade networks was a part of were able to use the Quran as a common source for how to conduct trade and taxation. Was the trade posts of Madagascar ever considered a part of this "jurisdictional" union?

In short, these Madagascar trade posts are a mystery to me, and i'd be happy for any information or article regarding them.
 
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Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,583
#2
I can't add much on this- I know there were trade harbors existing and were important safe harbors sometimes even without trade occurring but otherwise it seemed the products of Madagascar were economically important quite late in the era of Arab dominated trade.

That isn't to say there was a lack of economically profitable trade going on but more that it didn't match African coasts which also carried on interior trade that reached deep into Africa.
 
May 2013
143
Sweden
#3
Let me ask you, did the arabs reach a point as south as Madagascar? I believe it is a lot souther than Sudan. Which I believe it is the most southern islamic country in North Africa? Madagascar's religion is islam today? And sorry for asking general questions. Just curious. I do not like searching google. I don`t know why.
The muslim communities created through the trade networks outside of the traditional middle east was very much concentrated to the coasts of both east Africa, northwestern Madagascar, India, Indonesia and even China for brief moments. As for today, Islam seems to still be a small minority religion in Madagascar, most of these communities are concentrated on the northwestern coast, where the medieval trade posts are likely to have been - the same principle goes for Tanzania and Kenya.
 
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Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,583
#4
Arabs reached Madagascar but not in high numbers or with as much interest as a bit further north. Also Madagascar was itself less settled than many other parts of Africa and had smaller trade network.

Interestingly recent research has indicated that much of the Muslim traditions and genetic contribution to Madagascar is actually from Malaysia showing the vast breadth of Indian Ocean trade, much of the rest of the contributions seem to have been coming from Comoros islands which were linked in strong relationship with rest of Swahili coasts and islands.

Brief perusal indicates most of the preserved records are talking about slave trade but I know some aromatics and wood was traded earlier when slaves weren't as important part of east African trade.
 
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May 2013
143
Sweden
#5
Arabs reached Madagascar but not in high numbers or with as much interest as a bit further north. Also Madagascar was itself less settled than many other parts of Africa and had smaller trade network.

Interestingly recent research has indicated that much of the Muslim traditions and genetic contribution to Madagascar is actually from Malaysia showing the vast breadth of Indian Ocean trade, much of the rest of the contributions seem to have been coming from Comoros islands which were linked in strong relationship with rest of Swahili coasts and islands.
Are there any accounts or evidence for the Malays trading with Indonesia from Madagascar? I believe i've seen maps that suggests this, but i can't imagine it being a very busy route.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,583
#6
Are there any accounts or evidence for the Malays trading with Indonesia from Madagascar? I believe i've seen maps that suggests this, but i can't imagine it being a very busy route.
Cowrie shells from Maldives are the main evidence left- and a huge amount at that! These shells were also used in India and China and I think I've read somewhere that the Mandarin symbol for money originally in older Chinese was pictogram for a cowrie shell. Coir was also a major trade item all over the Indian Ocean tradenetwork and was originally only found in Maldives I believe...

Maldive population is mostly Islamic but I think large contigents of Hindu and remnants of Buddhists.

It's been awhile since I read much on this but quick google has this reference starting on chapter 5-

https://books.google.com/books?id=E...ce=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
 
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Mar 2014
336
Carthage
#7
when i read about the trade networks of the medieval Indian Ocean, Madagascar is just briefly mentioned and not at all very elaborated on. Going from the Madagascar wikipedia page, it says that the arab trade posts introduced in the range between 600-900 A.D were important.

But how important were they? Did they ever compete with the trade centers of the Swahili coast who were able to profit from the resource rich African hinterlands? Did Madagascar function as a stepping stone to other routes to the east? Did it offer any unique goods? Did it simply offer safe ports with lower taxes compared to the Swahili coast?

The muslim ummah that the indian ocean trade networks was a part of were able to use the Quran as a common source for how to conduct trade and taxation. Was the trade posts of Madagascar ever considered a part of this "jurisdictional" union?

In short, these Madagascar trade posts are a mystery to me, and i'd be happy for any information or article regarding them.
Good thread. Read this. I bookmarked it for myself. I quickly scanned the index and it has exactly what your looking for in the beginning:

http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0004/000421/042152eo.pdf

I haven't read it yet because I bookmark like 10 things related to Africa a week and I'm constantly playing catch up. It's on my to read list.
 
May 2013
143
Sweden
#8
that unesdoc-piece seems really interesting. will def. read it.

the google book from chapter 5 (also 1-6 for general reading) do also seem perfect.

thanks.
 
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Nov 2014
474
India
#9
when i read about the trade networks of the medieval Indian Ocean, Madagascar is just briefly mentioned and not at all very elaborated on. Going from the Madagascar wikipedia page, it says that the arab trade posts introduced in the range between 600-900 A.D were important.

But how important were they? Did they ever compete with the trade centers of the Swahili coast who were able to profit from the resource rich African hinterlands? Did Madagascar function as a stepping stone to other routes to the east? Did it offer any unique goods? Did it simply offer safe ports with lower taxes compared to the Swahili coast?

The muslim ummah that the indian ocean trade networks was a part of were able to use the Quran as a common source for how to conduct trade and taxation. Was the trade posts of Madagascar ever considered a part of this "jurisdictional" union?

In short, these Madagascar trade posts are a mystery to me, and i'd be happy for any information or article regarding them.
Both the language and genetics of Madagascar are related to Indonesia and not to African main land; even though African main land is much much closer to it.
 
Mar 2014
336
Carthage
#10
Both the language and genetics of Madagascar are related to Indonesia and not to African main land; even though African main land is much much closer to it.

Are you serious? Africans were in Madagascar as well and mixed in with the other people. Did you even read the link I posted? And when did the OP ask about their ethnicity or race?
 

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