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The Muslim Merchants of Premodern China

Book description

In this major new history of Muslim merchants and their trade links with China, John W. Chaffee uncovers 700 years of history, from the eighth century, when Muslim communities first established themselves in southeastern China, through the fourteenth century, when trade all but ceased. These were extraordinary and tumultuous times. Under the Song and the Mongols, the Muslim diaspora in China flourished as legal and economic ties were formalized. At other times the Muslim community suffered hostility and persecution. Chaffee shows how the policies of successive dynastic regimes in China combined with geopolitical developments across maritime Asia to affect the fortunes of Muslim communities. He explores social and cultural exchanges, and how connections were maintained through faith and a common acceptance of Muslim law. This ground breaking contribution to the history of Asia, the early Islamic world, and to maritime history explores the networks that helped to shape the pre-modern world.


‘This is a fascinating and beautifully written study of the economic, social, and political lives of Muslim merchants present in the coastal regions of premodern China. It is a major contribution to understanding the history of maritime China, intra-Asian connections, as well as Indian Ocean exchanges.'

Tansen Sen - New York University Shanghai

‘Writing a history of Muslim merchants and their trade diasporas in pre-modern China is a great challenge. In this book John W. Chaffee traces back their fascinating story in a coherent manner for the first time, from their early activities and settlements in southern Chinese ports up to 1400.'

Angela Schottenhammer - University of Salzburg and McGill University, Montreal

‘John W. Chaffee forces historians to take the Muslim communities of middle-period China's Southeast coast seriously. Using a vast array of sources, Chaffee's work is the first to place these communities at the center and demonstrate their importance and how they functioned. It is of importance to all historians of China's premodern trade and international relations and to all scholars of the middle period.'

Hugh R. Clark - Ursinus College, Pennsylvania

‘This book is the first to present the whole picture of an important topic. The author has skilfully utilized scattered sources to re-examine the importance of the Muslim merchant communities in China up to 1400.'

Hyunhee Park - City University of New York

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