Tuesday, 25 November 2014


This is an attempt to amalgamate diverse aspects of early Indo-Chinese commercial linkages and interactions such as the trade routes, the commercial centers and its items exchanged. Even, this could be established from the various historical accounts that early Indo-Chinese interface was always two ways traffic and the elements of exchange may be categorized as material-religious, through the different trans-continentals commercial routes from second century B.C. to eighth Century A.D. The Chinese silk was in great demands among the Buddhist monks, traders and ruling families of early India. 

Although, religion was important institution which synchronized social life but urbanization was negated and discouraged in Brahminical literary traditions. These  literary tradition advised the king to regulate urban life by banishing bad elements including men living by showing their proficiency in arts, and clever ‘harlots’ and those non-Aryan who consider themselves as Aryans. But the development of the Mahayana school of Buddhism in the early Christian era enlarged the numbers of Buddhist lay adherents. Traders and guilds supported monasteries financially. An urban culture was born in a Buddhist community and mercantile community. The artisans and Buddhist monasteries crystallized in the explosion of Buddhist arts and monasteries. Still more mystifying is the fixing up of the first commercial contact between Chinese and the Indians. Though some of the scholars did try to trace and establish the commercial contact between these two ancient civilizations of Asia as back as to the 4th century B.C.1, but there is no definite historical record as yet to establish this.
 Certainly, it is an accepted belief that the commercial and the spiritual contacts between these two ancient societies took place through the silk routes. The early Indo-Chinese linkages and interactions were established by the selfless Buddhist monks of both ancient societies who used to carry and spread the message of love and peace, which Buddha delivered to balm the ailing and suffering mankind. The cultural interaction between these great societies was primarily initiated by the Chinese.However; the great achievements of these iconoclasts are not recorded in early history of Chinese and Indian History. Thus, these unsung torch-bearers of Indian civilization in China remain unknown.

In fact, for many centuries the Chinese society was primarily agrarian in nature, with no urbanization, but this, closed economy of China was transformed into trade economy by these trans-continental routes and ultimately economic interaction and urbanization came into being in early China. Moreover, the Chinese silk was in great demands in East and West. China fulfilled this ever increasing demand of silk in world market, sometimes through Indian traders-who served as middleman.2
 Kautilya also indorses silk trade with China, which clearly throws light on the regular commercial linkages between early India and early China. Kautilya specifically depicts two types of commodities of Chinese origin, skins and fabrics of Chinese manufacture3,even this is supported by the report given by the Chinese envoy Chang Kien- being the first to negotiate the route across Chinese Turkestan and sojourned in Bactria (127 B.C.) He found to his great surprise that bamboos and textiles from southwestern China were sold in the local market but were not exported by China itself. Rather on enquiry, he learnt that these were brought to eastern India through upper Burma, and then carried the whole way across north India. 3A
Interestingly, the early Indian secular and religious traditions inform us about two kinds of commercial routes between China and India. But this trade was regularly hampered on account of constant wars. The trade, therefore, remained confined within the frontiers of the country and later on extended to the boundaries of the other countries.4
In fact, the overland routes played very significant role in commercial and cultural linkages which ultimately, facilitated interaction between early India and China: The Indo-Chinese pilgrim routes, the Indo-Assam-Burma-China route and Indo-Tibetan-China routes were the major routes of commercial and cultural exchange. Thus, the merit and demerits of overland routes like those of the sea appear to have been realized as early as fourth century B.C. by both Kautilya and his preceptor. Though, Kautilya and his preceptor differed on certain issues. The question of overland routes was also subject of difference when his preceptor held that overland routes, viz-a-viz the sea routes, were more expensive and less productive in realizing profits, Kautilya disagreed with this view as he firmly held that overland routes were not liable to obstruction.5
Early India had several mountain Passes in the North-East and North West frontiers through which overland commercial linkages and interactions were experienced between early China and India, Burma and other Indo-Chinese countries on the North. From the North-Eastern frontiers of India, i.e. from the Assam hills, several overland commercial routes connected early India with China.6 B.R. Deeapk, states that Assam-Burma and Yunnan route originated in Chengdu, Sichuan province of China and entered Dali, Bashan and Tang Chong of Yunnan province. From Yunnan it passed through the northern part of Burma and entered Assam in the North-East of India. The Southern silk route finally merged with the Central Asian route.7 It is believed that this was the earliest route for Indo-Chinese interaction and commercial linkages. Long before second century B.C., Chinese Cotton was carried through this route to Bactria via Uttrapatha. From Campa Chinese goods were dispatched to all commercial markets of early India. Through this overland route, Chinese silk came to Bharakaccha which later was exported to the markets of Selevcia and Alexandria.8 P.C. Bagchi, argues that the Assam-Burma route to China which started from Pataliputra passed through Campa, Kajangala and Pundravardhana and extended to Kamarup. From Assam three commercial routes went to Burma, one, through the valleys of the Brahmaputra up to Patkoi range and then through its Passes up to upper Burma, and second through Manipur up to the Chindwin Valley, and the third through Arakan up to the Trawadi valley. These three routes converged on the frontier of Burma near Bhamo and then moved further over mountains and across river valleys to Yunnan-fu i.e. Kunming, in the Southern province of China.9
From Bactria, the western gateway of India several routes led to China through Central Asia. China explored the trade routes which crossed that territory in order to export to India and the west. It was through this great commercial interacting caravan of business that India and China came to know each other so well. The exports include porcelain, paper, ginger and various fruits, as well as the treasured silk which was so important an industry, as to give its name to the silk road, or Central Asian Road,10 across which silks were carried to Indian market or west through Indian market.
Surprisingly, the founding of this caravan trade through the commercial route led to the exploration of the long and dangerous route across the desert stretch which is known as Gobi. It was by means of this commercial linkage and interaction that symbiotic and friendly relationships were established between people who otherwise might have never met. This commercial route between early China and India however, did not only carry traders, merchants and patient, camel-drivers. But also a wholly different class of men whose hearts were not set on gaining any advantage from exchange of the rich produce of one land with that of another, nor were they interested in the subjugation of any small kingdoms by a great and strong empire, even though that great empire were their own native land. They were pilgrims, monks, who craved knowledge and were convinced that the source of knowledge lay in the distant land of India where the young prince Gautama had lived. These inquisitive minds trod the length of this commercial route from India to the cities of China and from China across the Pamir’s to India. They became the medium for the spread of Buddhism through silk route from India to China. Thus the Buddhist ideology revolutionized the cultural commercial life of the people of Indian and Chinese,11 the Chinese traveler, Fa-Hien, had also taken this route from Ch’ang-ngan, passed through Lung and Western part of Shen-Se and eastern part of Kan-Suh, crossed the mountain of Yang low to reach the emporium of Chang-yih. From there, he visited the kingdom of Shen-Shon, to the south and not far from Lake Noo into which the Tarim flows.
After a month and five days, he arrived at Yu-teen (Khotn), a large district on the south-west of Gobi desert. Khotan, according to Heiun Tsang, was a colony of Indians settled there by Kunala, the crown prince of Asoka. Its capital was Yotkan, from where the routes passed through Danalan, Ulik, Niya, Endre and others centers of Buddhism and commercial contact with India.12 Another important routes passed through the southern basin of the Tarim river of Tun-huang, which was the western port confine of China proper. Hieun-Tsang and Marco polo also had followed this track through the desert,13 besides these, even the northern routes was also important from the point of Indian commerce and  cultural interaction with China. The route between Kashgar and Kuch was an important trade settlement, 14 that passed along Faizabad, Mahalbashi, Ueh Turfan and Aks. From Kuch, this route merged with the main route coming via Khotan to Tum-huong.15
However, we learn about the Indo-Tibetan route from the experience of a Chinese pilgrim, Heiun-Tsang in 627 A.D. On leaving China, he traveled across the desert, finally reached Tibet. From, there with the aid of King Strongbtsan Syampo’s Chinese wife, he was safely escorted to Jullundur in the Punjab. This route was abandoned during seventh and eighth centuries because of political tension between China and Tibet; but appears to have been current only in tenth century when a Chinese traveler, Ki-ye returned to China through this route.16
However, the existence of sea routes for commercial contacts and linkages has been the hall mark of early Indian traditions. Therefore, it is difficult to accept the Kautilya belief that the water route was liable to destruction was not permanent, and a source of imminent dangers as it was incapable of defence.17 R.N. Saletore rightly argues that, “it is surprising that Kautilya symbolic of royal power, should have held such a view and could only have come to such conclusion in the absence of a strong sea- power and probably from an ignorance of the real position of sea - ways.”18 The main threat at sea were the pirates whose ship, bound for the country of an enemy as well as those which violated the customs and rules in force in ports towns, were recommended to be destroyed, who thus could have both obstructive, destructive and dangerous. But sea routes could hardly have been dubbed indefensible unless the sea power of the government was extremely feeble to cope with their defenses. If these objections had been really genuine and had actually existed during Mauryan supremacy then the foreign trade, about which Kautilya has given so many details could hardly have been viable
However, there were specific periods of the year during such sea voyages could be undertaken between India and China. Villages on the sea-shores and lakes or rivers had to pay a fixed amount of tax2. This could not be interpreted to mean that there were no harbours from which a ship could not sail out to the seas. Kautilya tells us that ships at harbours or on their way, may be requested to pay tolls, 21 it is very clear in Arthasastra that foreign traders, who often visited the country and those who were known to local traders were allowed to land on ports.22
In fact, Early India had an extensive sea board, since its borders were bounded on three sides of the sea. It had a network of navigable rivers free from the freezing effect of the cold climate. It is also noticed that the western as well as the eastern coasts had a number of good commercial harbours and emporium which were the trade units and partners of early Indian foreign trade. The early medieval literary traditions of the Sino-Indian interface could be traced to the Han dynasty (B.C. 206 - A.D. 220). The first information is provided by Si Maqion (B.C. 145. B.C. 90) ,the Great Chinese historian in his master piece Shiji. The traditions depicts that Zhang Qian who was Han envoy in the western regions returned to the court of Chinese emperor in 122 B.C.,23 through the sea route. The Jataka refers to some merchants who undertook the voyage to Suvarnabhumi (Land of Gold) for wealth and profit.24 wherefore; certain commercial routes between India and China were noticed. One commercial sea route started from Bharakaccha to the coast of Suvarnbhumi.25 Ptolemy informs us about another sea route, which was generally adopted by the merchants and traders of Kalinga. The ships set- sail from Polura, near the mouth of the Ganjam, would cross the Bay of Bengal for the Eastern Peninsula in the Far-East.26 Bairam Srivastava argues that “for the traders of Mathura, Katsambis, Varanasi and Campa the most convenient port was Tamralipati. From Tamralipati the ships sailed on the open sea for Suvarnabhumi and other countries like Yanadvipa, Campa and Kamboja.”27 Mission from Funan, which started from India, in the first Century A.D. actually landed on the part of Tamarlipati.
The Malayan Peninsula also played a very important part in the maritime activities of the Indians in the Far-East since long before the Christian era. It was the central place between India and China. Its famous port was Takkola, which may be identified with Takua Pa, 28 a Chinese ambassador during the Wu dynasty while going to India come to the port of Takkola and then took the route to India through gulf of Martaban. 29 Java also played an equally important role in the trade between early India and Far-East.30 It was colonized in the first century AD, by Aji Saka of Gujarat. Later on, Indian traders developed their direct commercial relations with China in the second century A.D., during the regime of Deva Varman a Hindu king of Java.31 According to the Chinese tradition, the king of Campa sent an ambassador in about 240-245 A.D. It took nearly one year to reach the mouth of Ganga from Campa. 32 The commercial route from Campa to Southern China was a direct one,33 the trader from Tabal in Kamboja could reach Canton, the most important emporium of Southern China, within a few days.34
The Chinese travelers, who visited India and returned to their home through sea routes, often recounted their journey. One such, probably the best Chinese description is given by Fa- Hien, who tells us how he left Tamralepti for Ch’ang Kwang sailing down to Ceylon with a favourable wind, he embarked on board a ship which had more than two hundreds merchants and it had a tailor-boat which was small in size and tied to the larger vessel to serve as a life-boat in cases of emergency. The traders in extreme and difficult sea condition were constrained to throw over-board many of their heavier cargoes, which involved considerable losses to the unfortunate merchants.35 The utter helplessness and the agonies of these miserable merchants, who had obviously secured neither on adequate ship nor a proper pilot, have been graphically described by Fa-Hien thus: “The merchants were full of terror, not knowing where they were going. After more than ninety days, they arrived at country called Javadvipa.” Again, embarking there from in another merchant who was also carrying more than two hundred men, they transported provisions for fifty days and they continued the voyage on the l6th days of the fourth month. Then they took a course to the north-east intending to proceed to Kwang-Chero.36 Fa-Hien took 172 days or five months and twenty-two days from Ceylon to reach Kwang-tung in China. In A.D. 453 a Chinese Buddhist called Dharmakrama, had also undertaken the sea route from Southern India on his way back to China. The 6th century saw a continued development of many such interactions and linkages between early India and China. In A.D. 526 Bodhidharma, the great patriarch of Indian Buddhism, who was the son of a king of Southern India, “reached Canton by sea”. He was received with the honour due to his age and Character, and invited to Nanking, where the Emperor of South China held his court.37 BeaI while referring to the life of Heiun-Tsang alludes to Baskarvarmana as having asked the great teacher that he would be escorted by his officials if he preferred returning back to China by the Southern sea route,38 it indicates that the king of Assam Baskarvarmana had his control over the commercial sea-route leading to China.39 Evidences of a regular sea- service from Kwang-Tung and the capital of Sri Vijaya, can also be found in history. I-Tsing tells us that it took him more than ten days to reach Kwang -Tang to reach Ka-Cha from here he left a north-westerly direction, reached Tamralipati in “about half a month time”. He further states that “from Sri Bhoja they sailed to ka-cha and, after a voyage of more than ten days they came to the country of naked people and from there proceeded to Tamralipati.40 l-Tsing seems to have taken about four months to reach from Tomralipati to Kwang-tung by sea. A Japanese text of the mid 8th century A.D. states that heavily laden merchant ships from India and Malaya regularly visited the part of Canton.41 An Indian monk named Bodhisena, a Brahman a of south India, set out for China by sea, and met on the way a priest of North India named Buttetsu a standard victim of ship wreck. They arrived together in China in 733 A.D., and then went to Japan in a ship in 736 A.D. 42
During the Tang period (A.D. 618 to A.D. 907), the commercial interaction and linkages with early India reached he highest peak in China. Thousands of Indian travelers thronged the principle cities in China. The period also witnessed a great development of the sea -borne trade interaction between India and China. An account written about 749 A.D. refers to the numerous traders and merchants belonging to the Poloman (i.e. Brahman of India) sailing in the river of Canton. Coins of Tang dynasty have been discovered in South India.43 The Chinese annals contain references to a kingdom called San-fo-tsi (Sailandra Empire) sent embassies to China in 904, 960-62, 971-72, 974-75, 980 and 983 A.D., for strengthening of trade relations with China. In 971 A.D., a regular shipping - house is said to have been opened at Canton and two more subsequently at later periods, came up. These were frequented by the merchants from San-fo-tsi and other places in the East-Indies.44

The journeys of Buddhists scholars and monks between India and China provide a convenient background for the understanding of commercial linkage and interaction between two ancient societies. In the second century B.C., the Chinese traveler Chang K’ien found that Chinese silk was imported into Bactria via India, suggesting that even at this stage the Indian had not yet fully mastered the art of spinning and weaving fine silks, which they certainly did later. Besides silkworm another insect of commercial importance was the lace-insect, which provide both the resin used for shellac, and also the dye known as lace. The above fact was also established by the great Chinese historian in his masterpiece Shiji. Xinanyizhuan. The record narrates that Zhang Qian who was Han enemy in the eastern regions returned to the royal court in 122 B.C., he reported to the Emperor, that while in Bactria, he saw clothes made in Shu and the walking sticks of bamboo. When asked where these things came from the man answered’, “these are from Shenda (Sindhu) served thousands from here in the south-east, we bought them at the Shu merchant’s market there.”45 From this statement, it can be surmised that, during the times of the Emperor Wu in 122 B.C. and the Bactrian traders used to go to India and there trade in Chinese cloths and bamboos which were sold in India by the Chinese businessman of Shu.46 This establishes the fact that Chinese goods must have been sold in Indian market, and Chinese businessmen had their own shops along with their Indian counterparts. This also shows that Indian traders had pronounced close commercial linkage and interaction with their Chinese counterparts, who seem to have been given the facility of setting up their own shops in Indian Territory. The records of grand historians of China throw some further light on the commercial aspiration of Bactria which was eager to open trade relation directly with China apparently through the northern routes but, as the Huna were blocking that route; such a course was not feasible. The Chinese emperor, Wu, tried to reach to the Bactrians through the South-western land route to India but the South-Western barbarians of K’un-ming did not let it happen. It shows that north and south routes were controlled by the barbarians and to that extent the trade of China, particularly in silk, must have been affected. But for them a trade might, therefore, have been conducted, which would have proved prospers for the inhabitants of China. China was actually cut off from both the northern and southern land routes, Chinese goods from the Shu province came to India where Chinese traders or businessmen sold them and these were purchased by the merchants from Bactria.47
Uniquely, the Kautilya policy regarding the import and exports of goods involved two main principles: The first being public welfare and second being the public prosperity. The import of such goods which were not easily available for production purposes like seeds and goods of daily needs etc, were exempted from payments of toll - charges which, if levied, would have only inflected the price of a large number and variety of goods, intended for public consumption. Kautilya argues that if article of trade was not beneficial to the welfare of the public or any commodity was easily available, than its import was not permitted into the country. In fact, the objective of public welfare is summed up by Kautilya in his estimate of a king’s happiness, thus, “In the happiness of his subjects lies his happiness; in their welfare, his welfare; whatever pleases him he shall not consider as good, but whatever pleases his subject he shall consider as good.”48 The Superintendent of Commerce  had specific duties in fixing the prices of merchandise imported from a distant country.49 The Office in-charge of boundaries  after carefully examining foreign goods as to their quality and stamped them with his seal before sending them on to the Superintendent of Toll.50
Interestingly, during the Mauryan times special concessions were granted to foreign traders, who come into the country for selling their goods and this shows the Mauryan Kings were infavour of economic liberazition. Whenever weather-beaten ship arrived at a port-town, the superintendent of Ships had to show fatherly kindness to it. As regard quality of foreign goods of the village Accountant and the district officer, puts spies, in the guise of merchants determined to such goods arrived there, had to ascertain the amount of toll, road tariff, conveyance cess.52Thus it is clear from the Arthasastra that concerned officials had to observe that foreign traders were granted certain concession but not spared in cases of offences. The state policy of bestowing concessions to traders engaged in foreign trade seems to have continued down to the early medieval terms. An inscription of a king named Visnusena (592 AD.) refers that traders staying abroad for a year were not to pay the entrance fee in the shape of toll while returning to their native place, but were to pay an exit tax when they went out again. This kind of an exemption can be considered an attempt to encourage foreign investment.
The official histories, as well as unofficial sources, record numerous instances of tribute to the Chinese emperor as acknowledgement of submission and as token of good will, or to a trader’s payment to the emperor for permission to trade in China,54 the donated items never went outside the palace in Chinese markets. Various items such as, Coral, pearls, glass and certain kinds of fragrances appear to be the important items exported from early India or through India to China; Silk was the major item exported from China to India.
Chinese silk was the only Chinese item which had reached the Western regions of Central Asia before the T’ang in large quantities, and because much silk was transported to Roman market through India in order to bye pass the strife ridden Roman and the Persians empires,55 The Buddhist traditions reveal us that silk was used as s status item in decoration in Indian royalty56 - as industries, semi culture and weaving, were well established in India during the Gupta periods. The wealth of the well known Mandason silk weaving guild testifies to the prosperity of the silk trade.57 In the early seventh century when Heiun-Tsang visited India, he listed silk as one of the most popular materials for clothing in the country. But he used the word Kauseya for the commonly worn silk fabric because it was obtained from a species of wild silk worm.58 Heiun-Tsang clearly distinguished between the two kinds of silk. Obviously the difference between Kauseya and Chinese silk was quite clear.
China exported both fine silk textiles and silk yarn to India, which controlled part of the silk trade between China and Byzantine. Before the Byzantians acquired the knowledge of semi culture, their silk industry was heavily dependent on Chinese yarn, which they obtained from the Persians. The Persians in turn bought silk yarn from the Central Asian and Indian traders. The Persians had to buy the Chinese silk from India, and the Persians had no direct trade links with China as the Indians dealt in Chinese silk yarn. The Chinese silk Cinamasuka was used by the Indian elite; it was woven from Chinese yarn in India. But during the Gupta periods, the Chinese had already lost their monopoly over the silk market. The decline of the Roman market for the silk might have slowdown silk export and production in India. It was due to the rise of the Byzantians Empire that almost made up for the loss of Roman trade. Along with it many other luxury goods from Asia, came to occupy importance in the Byzantian Court and Church.59 The Byzantian’s emperor tried to get Ethiopian merchants to buy silk from India, but the Ethiopians could not reach the source since, Persia monopolized the Chinese silk trade via India and its seas.60
Thus, it is important to recall the shift in trade tendencies and the resulted loss to the Indian merchants as the Byzantians traders came to have a direct commerce deal with their Chinese counterparts. This shift further loss back to the Indian-Chinese traders as the Byzantians came to develop their own technology in semi culture-as was the basis of trade monopoly late in the century.61 In spite of these setbacks the silk industry continued to prosper in India. Bana Bhatt (646 A.D.), refers to coconuts balanced on loops made of slips of China silk hanging from yoke.62 This shows that silk from China apparently continued to come to India, was in great demand especially on festive occasions. This, however, should not be interpreted to mean that there was no local industry of silk in the country as can be proved from the words of Heiun-Tsang himself.63
In fact, Silk consumption in India was closely related to the lives of elite social groups-especially the urban and monastic elite, and also certain religious needs and social customs, ritual and standards. This is evident from the Mandasor Inscription on the silk-weaving guild which prohibits a woman from meeting her lover in privacy until she has put on two silken garments.64 Kalidasa described  its customary significance during weddings in his works - Kumarsambhava and Raghivamsa where both the bride and bridge groom wear silk outfits.65 Silk banners were indispensable during Buddhist ceremonies. Fa-Hien observed silk banners hung over monks’ seats at a grand Buddhist ceremony held in Chieh-Ch’s. In Kashmir, silk banners were donated to the Buddha’s garden near Sravasti and were also hung in the parade of the Buddha image in Patilaputra.66 As official participation/delegations were rare, most of these banners were donated by traders passing by or, by people who bought these banners.
Another, item Storax, was imported into India from China, which was used for perfumery and medicine. It was utilized as an ingredient for manufacturing ointments and unguents.67 Aromatic, items of like clove were also imported into India by Chinese traders.68 Aloe69 another ingredient for perfume, Skin and fabrics were also imported into India from China.70
This two-way traffic of commercial exchange and linkage between early India and China saw the export of “Sugar” from India to China. Although China grew sugarcane since long but did not have technology of making Sugar. It is important to state that the term sugar was not to be found in China’s first dictionary Shuowen Jiezi compiled by Xushen as early as that 100 A.D. The Sugar manufacturing is beyond doubt the technology traveled to China from India, as word sugar, later on, came too referred in the supplements of the above mentioned ‘dictionary. More convincing evidence to this effect was found in Xin Tangshu (New Tang Annals) which informs us that the Chinese emperor T’ai Tsung (647 A.D.) sent a mission to India to acquire the recipe of sugar making. This technology was later adopted and improved by the sugar-cane groups of Yun-Cou, and resulted in the improvement of its colour and taste.71
The crystal was yet another precious metal from early India which was exported to a China, during the sixth century A.D. Chang’s Yue work Mirrors of Four Loards of the Lian dynasty, informs us that huge quantity of fine crystal “which belonged from western India, arrived in China” by some merchants The sellers often quoted one million strings of copper coins. The Chinese emperor ordered his officials to raise the sum as the treasury did not hold enough to pay this amount. This reflects that such mirrors were highly expensive.73
The Buddhist literary traditions refer blue or green precious stone, primarily lapis. Lazuli.74 a product of the Kashmir.75 Thus,  it can be surmised that Indian artisans must have been familiar with the technology of processing glass. B.B. Lal viewed that “glassed titles in Texila reveal that Indian was skilful at molding large pieces of glass,76 the glass bottle, boards and small artifacts were buried along the reliquaries under Buddhist stupa.77
Various other item of Indian export are refers in early Indian traditions, such as Coral and Pearls. These items could gradually spread from the royal court to the houses of other members of the elite, the Chinese aristocrats, Shih Ch’ung and Wang K’ai, vied each   other to display their wealth. Wang K’ai boasted to Shih that he had received a beautiful piece of Branch Coral two feet tall from emperor Wu of Chin.78 This indicates that after Chin period Chinese rulers of small states continued to acquire Indian Coral. There were three possible commercial routs to ship the Coral to China from India. The most frequented route was the southern route to India the Periplus informs us that the primarily destination of Coral in Roman Cargo ship was India and then India to China. Pliny mentions that Coral was an highly treasured in India as Pearls were in Rome.79 Hirth states that from the first century to sixth centuries, the Syrian merchants continued to export Indian Corals along with other goods for sale to Parthia and China.80 Coral beads along with beads of other precious materials have been found in north Indian sites,81 still coral continued to fetch high prices in the Gupta and post Gupta’s times, which appears that it was a item of luxury in early China and India. Coral was also one of the treasures in the house of the rich courtesan Vasantsena.82 Dikshitar states that Coral necklaces, Conches were largely in demands in China and the Chinese emperors were fascinated by the product of western India.83 Since, the India was the main market for Roman Coral, it follows that Coral beads which have arrived in China passed mainly through India, on through Red Sea to South China. S.K. Maity argues that Coral was transferred to North India from South during Kalidasa times but M.S. Shukla negated his argument and informs us about the fishing in and ornamental Coral was missing on the shores of South India.84 From where did it originate? Is an unsettled query, but certainly north India was the major exporter of Coral to China before T’ang dynasty.
 However, Fa-Hien informs us that the treasures of the Buddhist communities in Ceylon and India, were full of many priceless pearls .85 The Per plus reveals that the pearls from Persia were lower quality than Indian Pearls, exported to Far-East.86 Marshal found a casket full of various kinds of beads, including pearls, inside a Stupa at Taxila, verifies the association of pearls with Buddhist building remains. In North China pearls were also associated with Buddhist remains. A few hundred pearls were found in a casket under the foundation of a Northern Wei monastery, and also around the foundation of a famous Yung-ning Stupa in the Northern Wer Loyang.87 Thus, the finding of Indian Pearls under the foundation of Buddhist shrines suggests the trade in pearls between early China and India.
Thus, from the above exhaustive discussion, it can be conveniently inferred that trans-countries commercial routes played a leading and decisive role to harmonize the unevenly distributed economic resources between the Indian and the Chinese - the two ancient civilization of world from the fourth century B.C. They referred different commercial and cultural routes facilitated the flow of luxurious goods from places-where they were plentiful, to those where scarcity prevailed. This set right the balance of surplus production. With the growth of agriculture, the village economy of the people gradually changed its character because of the plethoric growth of towns, especially on the land and sea routes and the centers of pilgrimage, commercial linkages and interaction between China and India.
The Chinese standard histories, with such inter developmental reforms, detail the goods like Coral, pearls, glass, sugar and certain kinds of fragrances that were exported from or through India to China, with silk being the major item of import from China.
This active trade between the two ancient societies funneled the transmission of Buddhism to China in the first century A.D. The increased intellectual communication of the Buddhist monks helped in spreading of knowledge, cultural communion and understanding of the two civilizations. Mutuality came to be the hallmark of the age because besides traders, the pilgrims and monks traveled in caravans on the arduous routes. The Buddhist monks became agents of commerce and carried goods viz silks, corals, pearls, Buddhist texts, irons, relics to defray their travel coasts, and thereby patronage and received hospitality because of self sufficiency.89 Silk, corals, pearls and crystal acquired sanctity as these were pursued for religious purposes, especially in relic worship. The relic of the Buddha gained in commercial value when there was a market demand for it. Since the Buddhist relics came to be valued as treasures, the otherwise luxury goods trade thus, came to play special role in the development of Buddhism. This developed a desire to donate and enlarged the market for goods listed as the seven treasures, even though these had to be transported from India. Thus, without the trade in non-indigenous goods such as corals and pearls from north India, and without the foreign market which raised the value of products controlled by Indians, such as lapis Lazuli and crystal, the maturation of the concept of seven treasures would have been impossible. The Buddhist theological developments, therefore, provided a new market by creating the ritual needs for certain goods. The concept of sharing merits encouraged lay devotes to worship and denote, therefore, increased the demands for the exchange of gods between Indio-China via trans-countries routes.
The trade between China and India even though, was only for the satisfaction of a small elite segment of the both the ancient societies, yet its impact on the economy of these societies was a reaching and permanent. Simultaneously, it also alludes to the social and- economic disparities in both ancient societies of the world, which were/are suggestive of the class war, as did finally take place in the modern age. It can be, therefore, conclusively said the 20th century went into the 21st century - with a shift which extenuates the ancient concept of mutuality and self reliance through-once the old, and now the modernized commercial routes, linkages and cultural interaction. History yet again repeats itself but with an ostensible difference.

1.       Subramanian Swamy, India’s China perspective, Delhi, 2001, pp.1-2. R.N. Saletore, Early Indian Economic History, Bombay, 2nd ed. 1993. pp. 94-101. Latika Lahiri, (Tr.) Chinese Monks in India, Delhi, Introduction Xinu Liu, Silk and Religion, Delhi, 1996, Introduction. E.H. Schafer, Great Ages of Man, Ancient China, Netherlands Rep. 1995, pp. 38-39. A.L. Basham, The Wonder that was India, Delhi, 20thi ed., 1994, pp. 198-99. S.K. Dass. Economic History of Ancient India, Vol. I, Calcutta, 1937, p. 162.
2.       P.C. Prasad, Foreign Trade and Commerce in Ancient India, Delhi, 1977, pp. 66-67, B.R. Deepak, India-China Relations in the First Half of the 20th Century, Delhi, 2001, pp. 1-3. Mansura Haidar, Indo-Central Asian Relation from Early Times to Medieval Period, Delhi, 2004, pp. 253-59. Mildred Cable, “The Central Asian Buddhist Road to China”, in Journal of Royal Central Asian Society, Vol. XXX, London, 1943, pp. 275-83. Cm Parkash, “India’s Foreign Trade between 300 B.C. and A.D. 1000: Assumptions and Issues.” Proceeding of Indian History Conference, Kurukshetra, 1982, pp.109-14.
3.       Kautilya Arthasastra (Tr.) R. Shamasastry, Mysore, 1960-61.11.11,II.30. Arthasastra of Kautilya, (Hereafter AS) (ed.) T. Ganapati Sastri, Trivandrum, 1924-25,pp, 94-95. R.P. Kangle, The Kautilya Arthasastra Parts, 3, Bombay, 1965.  
3A.     K.A.N. Sastri, “The Beginnings of Intercourse between. India and China”, The Indian Historical Quarterly (hereafter) IHQ, Vol. XIV, No. 1 Calcutta, 1938, pp. 381-382. Cm Prakash, “India’s Foreign Trade between op.cit. pp. 109-113.
4.       Manusmrti With the Manubhasya of Mdhatithi (Tr.) C. Jha, Calcutta, 1932-39, VIII. 153; 406. Manu Smrti (tr)(Hindi) Jawala prashad Chaturvedi, Haridawar, 2002,; VIII. 406.
5.       AS VII. 12, Jataka Stories, (Tr.) Robert Chalmers 11. 243. III, 385 IV, 495, V. 520, 536.
6.       PeIlicot, Bulletion del Ecole Fran cease d’ Extreme Orient, Hanoi, 1904, pp. 142. S.M. Devi, Economic condition of Ancient India, Delhi, 1987, pp. 156-57. P.C. Bagchi, India and China, 2nd  (ed.) Calcutta, 1981, pp. 5, 16.. Bairam Srivastava, Trade and Commerce in Ancient India, Varanasi, 1968. pp. 112-113.
7.       Proceeding of American Orientat Society, New York, Vol. XXXVII, 1917, p. 89. Zhang Chuanxi, (ed) Zhongguo Gudaishi Gngyao (An outline of Chinese Ancient History) Vol. II, Beijing University, Press, Beijing, 1989, pp. 76-78. Collection of South Asian Historical Materials from Chinese Sources, Vol. I, Shanghi Guji, Publishing House, Shanghi, 1994, pp. 4-5. Geng Yinzeng, Hanwen Nanya Shiliaoxue (Historical Data of South Asia from Chinese Sources), Beijing, 1990, pp. 6-8. D.C. Sircar, Early Indian Trade and Industry, Calcutta, 1972, W.H. Schoft, (Tr.) Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, London, 1912 (hereafter Periplus), 46.
8.       W.W. Tarn, The Greeks in Bacteria and India, Cambridge, 1951, p. 364.
9.        S. Beal, Hiuen Tsiang, Si-Yu-Ki, Buddhist Records of the Western World, London, 1888, I, pp. 17, 19, 24, 30-38, 69, 172, 173, 176, II, pp. 198-99. Chhan Chunaj, Chhan, Si-Yu-Ki (Tr) Hindi (Maha Thang Rajavams Kat Mein Pishcham Kee Teerth Yatra ka Vrantant), Beeijing, 1991, pp. 267-71.
10.     L. Gopal, The Economic Life of Northern India, 2nd revised (ed). Delhi, 1989, pp. 107-108. Mildred Cable, ‘The Central Asian Buddhist Road to China’, Loc.Cit, pp. 275-77. Sir Hanry Yule, Cathay and the Way Thither, Vol. I, London, 1918, pp. 61-70. Xinru Liu, Ancient India and Ancient China, Delhi, 2nd  (ed.) 1999, pp. 25-57.
11.     L. Boulnas, The Silk Road, London, pp. 223-33. Mildred Cable, Loc cit. pp. 275-76. Xinru Liu, Silk and Religion, op.cit. pp. 22-23.
12.      A Stein, On Ancient Central Asian, Tracks, London, 1933, p. 157.
13.      Moti Chandera, Trade and Trade Rentes in Ancient India, Delhi, 1977, p. 12.
14.      E.H. Cutts, “Chinese Indian Contacts” IHQ, Vol. XIV, part I, Calcutta, 1938, pp. 487-502.
15.  K.A.N. Sastri, “The Beginnings of Intercourse between India and China” IHQ, Loc. Cit. pp. 38 1-87.
16.     . P.C. Bagchi, “Sino-Indian Relations the period of United Expires 618-1100 A.D.” in Sino-Indian Studies, (hereafter SIS), Vol. Part-I Calcutta, 1944, pp. 66-84.
17.     AS VII, 12. R. Champaklakshmi, Trade, Ideology and Urbanization in South India, 300 B.C. to A.D. 1300, Delhi) 1996, pp. 101-107.
18.      Ranbir Chakravarti, (ed.) Trade in Early India, Delhi, 2001, Introduction, pp. 1-110.
19.     AS 11.28. Kautilya further dilates, in pursuance of these principles, on the actual routes to be taken in the sea for commercial purposes.
21.     Ibid.
22.     Ibid. E.H. Cutts, “Chinese-Indian Contacts” in SIS, Vol, XIV, No.1, Calcutta, 1938, pp. 381-87.
23.      Institute of South Asian Studies, Beijing University (ed.) Collection of South Asian Historical Material from Chinese Formers, Vol. I, p. 4.           
25.      R.C. Maumdar, Ancient Indian Colonies in the Far-East Vol. 1, Pts. I-I, Decca, 1937-38, Svarnadivpa, 1, p.4.
26.     G.E. Gerini, Researches on Ptolemy’s Geogrphy of Eastern Asia, London, 1909, p. 743. (Hereafter, Ptolem’s) J.W. Mc Crindle (Tr.) Ancient India as Described by Ptolemy, Calcutta, 1825.
27.      G.L. Adhya, Early Indian Economic, Bombay, 1966, p. 169.
28.     R.C. Mazumdar, Hindu Colonies in the Far East, Calcutta, 1944, p.16. E.H. Warmington, Commerce between Roman Empire and India,Cambridge, 1928, p. 127. R.K. Mookerji, Indian Shipping, Delhi, 1962, pp. 114-115.
29.      T.W. Rhys Davids, (Tr.) Milindapanho, Sacred Books of the East (hereafter) SBE London, 1880, Vol. II, 269.
30.     R.C. Mazumdar, Hindu - Colonies in the Far-East, p. 19
31.     Ibid.
32.     Balram Srivastava, op.cit. p. 112. Moti Chandra, Trade and Trade Routes, op. cit. p. 19.
33.     E.H. Warmington, Commerce between Roman Experience and India, op.cit. 129.
34.      R.C. Majumdar, Hindu Colonies in the Far-East, op.cit. pp. 8-9, H.C. Clifford, Further India, New York, 1904, pp. 6-7.
35.     Fa-Hien, A Records of Buddistic Kingdoms, being an account of the Chinese Monk. Fa-Hien’s Travels in India and Ceylon, (Tr.) James. Legge, Oxford, 1886, pp. 111-12.
36.      R.K. Mookeerji, Indian Shipping, op. cit. p. 116.
37.     Edkins “Chinese Buddhism”, in Journal of Royal Asatic Society, London, 1896, p. 100.
38.     S. Beal. Si-Yu-Ki: Vol. II, p. 188. Si-Yu-Ki (tr.) in Hindi, op.cit. pp.1-7.
39.     Ibid. Introduction, pp. XXV-XXVI.
40.     1-Ising (tr.)J. Takakusu, A Record of the Buddhist Religion, as Practised in India and the Malay Archipalego, Oxford, 1896, pp.XXX-XXXIII.
41.      Epigraphia India, Govt. of India Publications, various volumes, (hereafter El) XVII, p. 310.
42.     Pellicot, Loc cit. pp. 24-26
43.     P.C. Bagchi, “Report on a New Hord of Chinese Coins”, SIS, Vol. IV, Calcutta, 1953, pp. 194-96.
44.     R.C. Majumdar (ed). The Age of Imperial Kanauj, Vol. IV, Bombay, 1955, p. 413. S.M. Devi, op. cit. p. 152.
45.     A.L. Basham, Wonder that was India, op.cit. p. 199, H.P. Ray, “Trade and Contacts” in Romila Thapar (ed.) Recent Perspectives of Early Indian History. 2nd  Revised (ed., Bombay, 1998, pp. 158-5946.         Burten Watson (tr.) Records of the Grand Historian of China, London, 1961, Vol. I, p.269.
47  V. Mishra, “Sea and Land Routes in India as Revealed in the Buddhist Literature”, Journal of Indian History, Vol. 32, 1954, pp. 117-129. H.P. Ray, “Early Maritime contacts between South and Southeast Asia,” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 20, 1989, pp. 42-54.
48.     AS 1.19. ,AS 11.4.
49.     AS 11.11.
50.     Ibid, 11.12
51.     Ibid, 11.25.
52.     Ibid,XV.51.
53.     E.l., XXX, p. 171.
54.     Xinru Liu, Ancient India and Ancient China, op.cit. p. 53.
55.      E.H. Schafer, Great Ages of Man Ancient China. Op.cit. 166-172. Balram rivastava, op.cit. pp. 109-117.
56.     The Buddhacarita of Asvaghosha, SBE, Delhi, Rep. 1985, Vol. 49. The Buddhacarita,(ed) E.H. Johnston, New Delhi, 1995, IV 49. The Mahavastu, (tr.) J.J. Jones, 3 vols. London, 1949-56-I, 149, 11175, III, 141. IV, 49, VIII, 21.       J.F. Fleet. Corpus Inscriptionam Indicarum, Varanasi, 1963, pp. 84-85, Vol. III. 5K. Maity, Economic Life of Northern India in Gupta period (A.D. 300-500). Calcutta, 1957 p. 113.
58.     S.K. Maity op.cit. p. 178.
59.     Xinru Liu, Ancient India and China, op. cit. pp. 65-66.
60.     Ibid.
61.     R.S. Sharma, India Feadulism, 2nd  ed. Delhi, 1989, p. 55.
62.     Harsacarita, E.B. Cowells, F. Thomas (Tr) Londan, 1997, p. 242.
63.     Hiuen Tsiang had observed in AD. 639 that the garments of Indian were made of Kauseya which he added was the product of the wild silk worm.
64.      Nancy Lee Swan, (tr.) Food and Money in Ancient China, The Earliest Economic History of China AD. 25, Princeton, 1950, pp. 65, 198, 231.
65.     M.R. Kale (tr.) Kumarsambhava, Delhi, 1967, VII, 7, 26, 73. R. Anotine (tr.) Calcutta, 1972, Raghuvamsa, VII, 18, 19.
66.     Xinru liu, Ancient India and Ancient China, op. cit. p. 68.
67.     RN. Saletore, op.cit. p. 114.
68.     Ibid, p. 115.
69.     Ibid. p. 120.
70.     AS 11.11.
71.      B.R. Deepak (tr.) Ji Xianlin, “Zhongyin Wenhua Jiaoliu yuan yuan liuchang” (Endless flow of Cross Cultural Current between India and China in Indian Horizon, Indian council of Cultural Relations, Delhi, 1995, pp. 5-6.
72.     J. Bostock and H.T. Riley, Pliny, the Elder. The National History, Vol. 6, Lodan, 1855-77, VI, p. 380.
73.     Ximnru Liu, Ancient Indian and China, op. cit. p. 59. P.C. Parsad, op.cit. p. 213.
74.     Pliny. XXX VII. 8, 10.
75.      M.G. Diskshit, History of Indian Glass, University of Bombay, 1969, p. 25.
76.     B.B. Lal, “Examination of some Ancient Indian Glass Specimens”, Ancient India, No. 1, 1952, p. 22
77.     John, Marshall, Taxila, Vol. I, Cambridge, 1951, p. 238. R.S. Sharma, Urban Decay in India, Delhi, 1987, p. 149.
78.     Xinru Liu, Ancient India and Ancient China, op. cit. p. 54. Ranbir Chakravarti, (ed).Trade in Early India, p. 39.
79.     Nayanjot Lahiri. The Archeology of Indian Trade Routes up to 200BC, Delhi, 1999, pp. 79-85.
80.     F. Hirth, The Ancient History of China, New York, 1911, pp. 73-74. Om Parkash, Economy and Food in Ancient India, Part I, Delhi,1987, pp. 97-112.
81.     A.K. Narain, and others, Excavations at Raghat, pts. l-IV, Varanasi, 1976-78, Pts. II, p. 12.
82.     P.B. Kane, (tr.), Malvikagnimitra of Kalidasa, Bombay, 1950. C.R. Devadhar (ed.) The works of Kalidasa, Delhi, 1986. verses, 164-5.
83.     V.R.R. Dikshitar, “Southern India and China”, in SIS, Vol. II, Part I, Calcutta, 1946, pp. 160-161.
84. M.S. Shukla, A History of Gem Industry in Ancient and medieval India, Varanasi, 1972, p. 44.
85.     James Leg, (Tr) Fa-Hien’s Travels in Indian and Ceylon, 1886, p.101.
86.     Pariplus, 36. Xinra Liu, Silk and Religion, op.cit. pp. 26-30.
87.     R.S. Aggarwal, Trade Centres and Routes in Northern India, Delhi, 1982, pp. 120-135.
88.  R. Deepak, op.cit. p. 3. Xinru Liu, Silk and Religion, op.cit. p. 26-27. Xinru Liu, Ancient India and Ancient China, op.cit. pp. 175-176. R.S. Sharma, Indian Feudalism, op.cit. 202-203.


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