China, the Portuguese, and the Nanyang: Oceans and Routes, Regions and Trade (c.1000-1600), 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

China, the Portuguese, and the Nanyang

Oceans and Routes, Regions and Trade (c.1000-1600), 1st Edition

By Roderich Ptak


320 pages

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Hardback: 9780860789239
pub: 2004-05-25
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Under the Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties, China's maritime trade went through several stages of rapid expansion. This concerns both activities initiated by the central government and private seafaring: Chinese ships would sail to ports in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, and foreign merchants would come to China, often declaring themselves as tribute envoys. In the early 16th century, the Portuguese made contact with the Middle Kingdom, leading to the foundation of Macao in the 1550s. The present volume, the third collection by Roderich Ptak, explores important structural features related to China's maritime ventures and Luso-Chinese relations. It also discusses the perception of maritime space in late medieval Chinese texts and the importance of trade routes, especially the so-called eastern route from Fujian via Luzon to the Sulu 'zone'. The third section presents different 'key' regions as seen through Chinese eyes: Hainan, the coral island in the South China Sea, Barus on Sumatra, and finally Wang Dayuan's chapters on the Kerala coast.


'… this is a very important collection of essays for specialists of maritime Asia, who will find it invaluable to their work.' International Journal of Maritime History 'The depth of knowledge and range of interest displayed is impressive…' Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 'Following the tradition established by Paul Elliott and the finest western Sinologists, his studies are erudite, rigorous and demonstrate his eye for detail.' Oriente 'The present volume is […] a very successful attempt to review sources under new questions and to introduce some hitherto neglected aspects of China's maritime trade, both in the concrete (commodities, trade relations, etc.) and in the more abstract, conceptual sense (spatial concepts, etc.).' SOAS Bulletin

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Structural Issues and Trade: Ming maritime trade to southeast Asia, 1368-1567: visions of a system; Sino-Portuguese relations circa 1513/14-1550s; China's medieval fanfang - a model for Macau under the Ming?; Camphor in east and southeast Asian Trade, c. 1500: a synthesis of Portuguese and Asian sources. The Perception of Space and Sailing Routes: Quanzhou: at the northern edge of a southeast Asian 'Mediterranean'; Südostasiens Meere nach chinesischen Quellen (Song und Yuan); Jottings on Chinese sailing routes to southeast Asia, especially on the eastern route in Ming times. Islands and Regions: Die Paracel- und Spratly-Inseln in Sung-, Yüan- und frühen Ming-Texten: ein maritimes Grenzgebiet?; Hainans Außenbeziehungen während der frühen Ming-Zeit; Possible Chinese references to the Barus Area (Tang to Ming); Wang Dayuan on Kerala; Index.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General