This book explores the dynamic interaction between economic life, society and civilisation in the regions around and beyond the Indian Ocean during the period from the rise of Islam to 1750. Within a distinctive theory of comparative history, Professor Chaudhuri analyses how the identity of different Asian civilisations was established. He examines the structural features of food habits, clothing, architectural styles and housing; the different modes of economic production; and the role of crop raising, pastoral nomadism, and industrial activities for the main regions of the Indian Ocean. In an original and perceptive conclusion, the author demonstrates how Indian Ocean societies were united or separated from one another by a conscious cultural and linguistic identity. However, there was a deeper structure of unities created by a common ecology, technology, technology of economic production, traditions of government, theory of political obligations and rights, and a shared historical experience. His theory enables the author to show that the real Indian Ocean was an area that extended historically from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf to the sea which lies beyond Japan.
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'... utterly fascinating. It treats matters as diverse as the arrangement of caravanserai in Gujerat and the means by which the Chinese achieve the blue jelly of their preserved eggs; the primitive air-conditioning of tower houses in Yemen and the length of time a dromedary can go without water ... '. The Guardian
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