Oceanscapes: Tamil Textiles in the Early Modern World
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S Jeyaseela Stephen
Directeur, Institut pour études Indo-Européennes
This book traces the global diffusion of woven, painted, printed, and dyed cotton Tamil textiles during the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries: this occurred not only because of the skills of Tamil weavers and dyers, but also because of the political and the economic compulsions in the various regions it travelled. These resulted in an exchange of technical and technological knowledge of textile production between the Tamil coast and Europe. Consequently, this book examines the long-term economic history of the Tamil region through the lens of textiles and provides not only an extensive and quantitative analysis of the types of textiles traded, but also examines the movement of precious metals, the process of monetization, and the struggle between the Portuguese, Dutch, English, French, Armenian, Tamil, and Telugu traders. Adopting Braudel’s approach, it breaks new ground by looking at changes and continuities in the Tamil textile economy, society, and technology as an integral phenomenon, thus rescuing history from becoming region or nation-centric and elevating its status to the global.