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Silk in Maritime South Sea
Lee ChorLin

It is without doubt that silk was a prime mover in the development of the maritime trade that spanned more than a thousand years. However, due to its fragility and the absence of extant evidence in Southeast Asia, the dynamics and actuality of the trade in silk that plied between China and the region cannot be fully verified and visualized. Most information had to be gleamed from biji-form 笔记 jotted notes, first by first-hand observers of the trade, official voyagers and adventurers. Their observations were then replicated and passed down to form the basic body of knowledge we have of silk goods that might have made their marks in the South Sea world.

This paper re-examines this body of information and attempts to extrapolate, with the help of sources of later and modern periods, the extent of the presence of Chinese silk in this part of the world and assess the impact it has on the region’s development in textile-making.


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