City of Ivory
In the eighteenth century, Surat was perhaps the single most important port city of the Moghul empire, if not the world. Dutch, English, French, and Portuguese ships were called from Africa and Brazil to obtain Gujarati textiles, side by side with dhows from the throughout the Indian Ocean. This textile trade was underpinned by ivory, large amounts of which poured in the city both by caravan and by sea. Even though Surat, or even Gujarat, was not elephant habitat in the early modern period, Surat became a significant port for the import of ivory into India. The need for tusks of an appropriate size for bangles created symbiosis of trade between Gujarati textiles and ivory that directly affected the prosperity of Surat. The chapter thus links Surat to the Indian Ocean World through ivory and demonstrate the interconnected nature of ivory and textiles in the Gujarat region.
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