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The Yuan Khanate and India: Cross-Cultural Diplomacy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth

Centuries
Author(s): TANSEN SEN
Source: Asia Major, THIRD SERIES, Vol. 19, No. 1/2, CHINA AT THE CROSSROADS: A
FESTSCHRIFT IN HONOR OF VICTOR H. MAIR (2006), pp. 299-326
Published by: Academia Sinica
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41649921 .
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TANSEN SEN
The

Yuan

Khanate

Cross-Cultural
Thirteenth

and India:

Diplomacy

and Fourteenth

in the
Centuries

INTRODUCTION
thirteenthand fourteenthcenturieswere a watershedin Asian
The and world history.The Mongol conquests of Asia and Eastern Europe,theformationofIslamic statesin southernAsia, and theexpansion
of commercealong the Indian Ocean and in the Mediterraneanregion
resultedin the formationof complex political, religious,and commercial networksthatlinked the Far East to Europe. Cross-culturalinteractions reached unprecedentedlevels in the earlier part of thisperiod
thatcontributedto thelaunchinglateron ofthegreatmaritimevoyages
(1371-1433) and Vasco da Gama (d. 1524).
by Zheng He
The mostsignificantdevelopmentin Eurasia duringthe thirteenth
centurywas undoubtedlythecreationby theMongols ofthelargestcontinuousland empire in the historyof the world.1"The result,"according to the editors of a recent work on the Mongols, "was the opening
up of Asia fromEast to West and back again, creatinggreat opportunities for cultural exchanges and interaction."2The accounts ofJohn
of Piano Carpini, William of Rubruck, Marco Polo, and Ibn Battta
all underscore the intensityas well as the complexityof cross-cultural
exchanges duringthe Mongol period.

I wouldliketothank
Thomas
Michael
AlanDiGaetano,
Alisen,
Brose,
HughClark,
Geng
H.Mair,
Victor
andthetwoanonymous
reviewers
forAsiaMajor
fortheir
comments
Yinzeng,
andsuggestions.
In thisarticle,
theuseofquestion
marks
"?"after
transliterations
indicates
that
a reconstruction
from
Chinese
toIndian
remains
doubtful.
languages
1SeeDavidMorgan,
7TieMongols
Blackwell
Publishers,
(Cambridge:
1990),p. 5.
2 Reuven
Amitai-Preiss
andDavidO. Morgan,
inReuven
Amitai-Preiss
and
"Introduction,"
DavidO. Morgan,
andItsLegacy
eds.,TheMongol
Brill,
(Leiden:
2000),p. [1].
Empire
299

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TANSEN SEN
was also takingplace in southSignificantpolitical transformation
ern Asia during the thirteenthand fourteenthcenturies.At the same
time as Mongol troops marched into the Persian Gulf and destroyed
the 'Abbsid Caliphate in Baghdad, Islamic forces were penetrating
deeper into the Indian subcontinent.By the early-thirteenth
century,
the slave Qutb al-Dn Aybek (r. 1206-1210) had inheritedterritories
conquered by his Afghan master Muhmd of Ghazna (d. 1030) and
founded the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526).3 Another Afghan called
Muhammad Bakhtiyr(d. 1206) invaded parts of eastern India and
laid the foundationsforthe Bengal Sultanate (1368-1 576) .4 In the first
quarter of the fourteenthcentury,Muslim forces entered the Deccan
region and southernIndia, establishing,at first,various outposts and
then,in 1347, the Bhmanl Sultanate (1347-1527).5
Much before the establishmentof the above Islamic sultanates
in southernAsia, Muslim tradershad asserted theirdominance along
coastal India. They are knownto have settledon theMalabar and Coromandel coasts of southernIndia as early as the eighthand ninthcenturies.6By the thirteenthcentury,Muslim merchantsalso established
theirguilds in the Southeast Asian archipelago and directed much of
China's maritimetrade. In fact, the Muslim diaspora, consisting of
tradersfromdiverse ethnicbackground,played a crucial role in linking the marketsin China to those in the Mediterraneanregion. Thus,
by the time the Mongols amassed theirempire across Eurasian lands,
theircommercialnetwork,withsignificantcontributionbyJewishand
non-MuslimIndian and Southeast Asian merchants,had already unified the maritimeworld. Indeed, in the view ofJanetAbu-Lughod,the
thirteenthcenturywitnessed the emergence of a "world system"that
integratedthe major tradingports and inland marketsof Europe, Africa, and Asia into a single,large-scale and effectivelyorganized trading system.7

3 OntheDelhiSultanate,
APolitical
seePeter
7TieDelhiSultanate:
andMilitary
Jackson,
U.P.,1999).
(Cambridge:
Cambridge
History
4 Themostrecent
is SyedEjazHussain's
The
anddetailed
oftheBengal
Sultanate
study
andCoins(AD1205-1576)
Sultanate:
Politics,
(Delhi:Manohar,
2003).
Bengal
Economy
5 SeeK.A.Nilakanta
AHistory
India:From
Prehistoric
"Times
totheFallof
Sastri,
ofSouth
ofIslamic
U.P.,1975),
(Delhi:Oxford
Vijayanagar
pp.227-63.Ontheestablishment
empires
III: IndoinIndia,seeAndr
Al-Hind:
theMaking
Volume
World,
Wink,
oftheIndo-Islamic
Islamic
Centuries
Brill,
(Leiden:
I4th-i5th
2004),esp.chap.4.
Society,
6 SeeAndr
1: Early
MedAl-Hind:
TheMaking
Volume
World,
Wink,
oftheIndo-Islamic
NewDelhi:Oxford
ievalIndiaandtheExpansion
Centuries
(1990;rpt.,
ofIslam,yth-iith
U.P.,1999),esp.chaps.3 and4.
7 SeeJanet
L. Abu-Lughod,
TheWorld
A.D.1250-1**0
Before
European
Hegemony:
System
U.P.,1989).
(NewYork:Oxford
300

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YUAN KHANATEAND INDIA


Exchanges between China and India during this definingphase
of Asian and world historyhave attractedonly limitedattention.8The
factthatSino-Indian interactionsduringthe thirteenthand fourteenth
centuriescome afterthe more celebrated Buddhist phase and before
the illustriousvoyages of admiral Zheng He to Indian ports seems to
be the major reason forthisrelativescholarlyneglect.This paper demonstratesthe complex natureof diplomatic interactionsbetween India
and China duringtheYuan period. It argues thatthefrequentexchange
of envoys between these two regions stemmedfroma mutual interest
in preservingand profitingfromcommercialactivityacross the Indian
Ocean. The Yuan court's missionsto southernAsia also formedan importantpart of Qubilai Khan's (Shizu H, r. 1260-1294) strategyto
maintaincommunicationlinks withthe Ilkhns in Persia and his aspirationto be recognized as the greatkhan of the Mongol Empire. These
court-to-court
exchanges in the Yuan period, I suggest,strengthened
the commercial and diplomatic links between China and southernIndia and paved the way forZheng He's voyages to tradingportsin India
duringthe Ming period.
THE DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS OF YANG TINGBI
Chinese rulers rarely sent diplomatic missions to Indian kingdoms. During the firstmillenniumad, Chinese envoyswere dispatched
to India only forstrategicmilitarypurposes (such as those sent to the
southernHindukushregionduringthe Han and Tang dynasties),to undertake Buddhist activities,or in search of longevitydrugs on behalf
of the emperor (the lattertwo motivationsbeing prevalentin the seventhcentury).9Diplomatic missionsfromChina to India became more
8 Twoscholars
whohavedoneexceptional
work
onthistopicareKarashima
Noboru
^
minami
andRoderich
Ptak.Karashima's
works
seikimatsu
niokeru
include:
"Jsan
o
noaidanokry:
kokubun
to'Genshi'
IndotoChgoku
Senshu
Tamirugo
Bahachijiden
7
megutte"
On
between
South
IndiaandChinaattheEndoftheThirteenth
CoT ("Relations
Century:
theQuanzhou
TamilInscription
andDescriptions
ofMa'barintheHistory
oftheYuan[DyinEnoki
hakushi
hensan
hakushi
ed.,Enoki
iinkai,
nasty]"),
Tyshirons
shju
shjukinen
kinen
shirons
Shoin,1988),pp.77-105;
Ty
(Tokyo:
Kyko
and"Trade
Relations
between
IndiaandChinaDuring
the13thand14thCenturies,"
South
Maritime
1 (1989),pp.59-81.SomeofPtak's
studRelations
Journal
important
ofEast-West
iesare,"China
andCalicut
intheEarly
andTribute
Embassies,"
JRAS
MingPeriod:
Envoys
ontheKayalAreainSouth
India,"
(1989),pp.81-111;and"YuanandEarlyMingNotices
ofSino-Indian
BEFEO80 (1993),
Works
scholars
onspecific
aspects
pp.137-55byChinese
theYuanperiod
interactions
arecitedbelow.
during
9 Theseexchanges
arediscussed
inTansen
andTrade:
TheReSen,Buddhism,
Diplomacy,
forAsianStudies
and
Association
Relations,
alignment
600-1400(Honolulu:
ofSino-Indian
U. ofHawaiiP.,2003),Introduction
andchap.1.
301

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TANSEN SEN
frequentafterthe twelfthcentury.The YuanshiTjfe(HistoryoftheYuan
Dynasty)reportsthat withina period of three decades, between 1272
and 1296, the Yuan court dispatched about sixteen missions to India.
A majorityofthese missionsvisitedeitherKollam/Kaulam (Quilon) on
the southwesternMalabar coast of India or the Ma'bar kingdomon the
Coromandel coast in the southeast.10Almost duringthe same period,
eighteenembassies fromIndia are recordedto have arrivedat theYuan
court,a majorityfromKollam and Ma'bar (see table, below).
TableofEmbassies
between
IndiaandYuanChinaRecorded
inYuanshi
Exchanged
YUAN
COURT
TOINDIAN
KINGDOMS
1226?
1272
1274
1275
1279
1280
1281
1282
1283
1284
1285
1286
1287
1288
1289
1290
1291
1291?
1293
1294
1294?
1296
1297
1314

To Xindu(i.e.,India)
To Malabar(Baluobo)#
To Malabar#
To Kollam*
To Kollam*
To Ma'bar
To Kollam*
To Kollam*
To Ma'bar
To Malabar#

To Ma'bar
To Kollam
To Kollam
To Kollam
To Ma'bar
To Ma'bar

INDIAN
KINGDOMS
TOYUAN
COURT
FromIndia
FromMalabar
(Baluobo)
FromMalabar
(Baluobo)
FromMa'bar
FromMa'bar

FromKollam(twice)
Buddhist
monk
from
Ma'bar
FromMa'bar
FromMa'bar
FromKollam
FromMa'bar(twice)
FromMa'bar
FromMa'bar
FromMa'bar
FromKollam

FromMa'bar
FromMa'bar

# Missions
ofYiheimishi
* Missions
ofYangTingbi
10Thedestination
oftheother
in1272,isrecorded
as "Xindu"
f/ffP
mission,
dispatched
is,India).See Yuanshi
(that
1976)7,p.143.
Zhonghua,
(rpt.
Beijing:
302

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YUAN KHANATEAND INDIA


For local economies in East and South Asia, the increasing significanceof internationalcommercemay have been a principalreason
forthisupsurgein diplomaticmissionsfromthe Yuan courtto India in
the late-thirteenth
century.A second, and equally important,motive
seems to have been the Mongol rulerQubilai Khan's desire to expand
his militaryand political influencebeyond coastal China. Both these
objectives can be discerned fromthe fourmissionsof the Yuan official
11
Yang Tingbi WoMSito southernIndia between 1280 and 1283.
Qubilai's accession as the great khan of the Mongol empire
in May, 1260, came against the backdrop of a strugglefor succession between him
and his younger
[ GO
A
/
9yjjayjjHagaj.
brotherArq Boke
(d. 1266), which
eventuallyled to a
four-yearcivil war
Jmadras
among the succes'lMANGALO
RE
0
Vcllorc
J
sors of Chinggis
Khan (d. 1227).
/
J
av
Arikamedu
' '
y
Although Qubilai
' ' Pandalayini-Kollam
1 A,

J
^
eventuallyemerged
1
yKozhikode
' (Calicut)
TAN
JAVUR
victorious,
ques Nagapattinam
V
tions about his
%f Kochi
' ik MADURAI# /r~ _
style of governance and chalPeriyar/attinam
V Settur

lenges to his claim


KollamU
''
S
1
(Palaya)
as the great khan
N, Kayal
I
ty
'
remained. Qaidu
' SRILANKA (1236-1301), the
grandson of OgCOLOMBO^
dei (1229-1241),
with
India
support from
MapofSouthern
11Another
a Uighur
named
Yiheimishi
wassentto
official,
Mongol
(Yighmish),
southern
Indiaonmultiple
missions.
He visited
southern
Indiain1272,1275,and1287(see
retable,
missions,
above).Unlike
YangTingbi's
Yighmish
mayhavebeensenttoundertake
ceremonies
onbehalf
oftheMongol
Infact,
in 1284hewasdispatched
toSri
ruler.
ligious
Lankatomakeoffering
in1287,hewassenttoMa'bartofetch
totheBuddha's
relic.Later,
theBuddha's
inthework
of
bowl.See Tuanshi
131,pp.3198-99.He alsoappears
begging
Rashld
seeTheSuccessors
Andrew
Khan
al-Dln;
, trans.
John
ofGenghis
Boyle(NewYork:Columbia
andtheBuddhist
interacand330.Yighmish's
missions
U.P.,1971),pp.279,298-99,
tions
between
theYuancourt
andsouthern
Asiaareexamined
inTansen
and
Sen,"Buddhism
Sino-Indian
Interactions
theYuanPeriod,"
in2006nianBeijing
daxue
during
Fojiaoyuhexie
lunwen
shijieguojixueshu
yantaohui,
ji 2006
303

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TANSEN SEN
the Chaghadayid khanate in Central Asia, mounted the most serious
challenge to Qubilai. Militarycampaigns against Qaidu failed to yield
resultsand the CentralAsian regionremainedoutside Qubilai's sphere
of influence.12
The dispute among the Mongol khanates seems to have played a
significantrole in the formationof Qubilai's strategytowardstatesbeyond coastal China. First,Qubilai tried to continue his predecessors'
policy of expansion. This included the naval attackslaunched against
Japan (in 1274 and 1280) and SoutheastAsian states (against Champa
and Java in 1281 and 1293, respectively).Second, Qubilai attempted
to persuade the rulersof maritimestatesto submitto the Yuan khanate
and recognize him as the greatkhan of the Mongol empire. Third, because the alliance between Qaidu and the Chaghadayids blocked commercial and communicationroutesthroughCentral Asia, the maritime
route along the coastal regionsof Southeast and South Asia to the Persian Gulf proved to be the only conduit throughwhich Qubilai could
fosterinternationalcommerce and maintain contact with the Ilkhns
of Persia, his main ally in the Chinggisidcivil war.
Foreignkingdomsthatfailedto submitto Qubilai's demands were
oftenthreatenedwith militaryrepercussions. In 1277, for example,
Qubilai ordered his generals to invade the kingdomof Pagan BH,in
present-dayMyanmar (Burma), because the Pagan king not only refused to send tributarymissions to the Yuan court,but had also killed
threeMongol emissaries.Also, in 1281, afterrepeated demands by the
Yuan court that the king of Champa ftlc
(present-daysouthernVietnam) personally lead one of the tributarymissions to China, Qubilai
sent an armada of one hundred naval ships under the command of
against this SoutheastAsian kingdom.13Although
general Sget
both operationsended in militarysetbacksforthe Mongols, Pagan and
across
inDiscord:
Buddhism
asMeans
SCM(Harmony
Cultures)
(Beijing:
Beijing
ofIntegration
Daxuezhexuexi,
2006),pp.134-40.
12On thechallenges
civilwars,
seePeter
andtheresulting
toQubilaiKhan'saccession
"TheAccession
ofQubilai
Journal
oftheAnglo-MongolQa'an:A Re-examination,"
Jackson,
"From
toYanDynasty:
W.Dardess,
ianSociety
2.1(1975),
Mongol
Empire
pp.1-10;John
MS30(1972),
RuleinMongolia
andCentral
Forms
ofImperial
Asia,"
pp.117-65;
Changing
U. ofCalifornia
Khubilai
Khan:HisLifeandTimes
andMorris
P.,1988),
Rossabi,
(Berkeley:
Biran's
ofQaiduisMichal
QaiduandtheRiseoftheIndepen3 and4. A detailed
study
chaps.
Asia(Surrey:
Curzon
dent
StateinCentral
Press,
1997).
Mongol
13Onthese
inHerbert
"TheReign
ofKhubilai
twoepisodes,
seeMorris
Khan,"
Rossabi,
vol.6 ofThe
andBorder
States
andDenisTwitchett,
Franke
, 907-1368,
eds.,Alien
Regimes
U.P.,1994),pp.414-89,esp.pp.484(Cambridge:
Cambridge
Cambridge
History
ofChina
Khan
Khubilai
, pp.213-19.
85;andRossabi,
304

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YUAN KHANATEAND INDIA


Champa eventuallyagreed to send tributeand acknowledge theirvassalage to the Yuan court.14
One suggestionthatsimilardemands may also have been made on
thekingdomsin southernAsia comes fromthebiographyofjialu'nadasi
SB#!?? (Karandas) in the Tuanshi.15Karandas, a Uighur, is said to
have been "knowledgeable about Indian religion
(Buddhism)
and [conversant]in the languages ofvarious [other]kingdoms."Karandas was ordered by Qubilai to receive trainingin Buddhism fromthe
state preceptorand then engage in translatingBuddhist texts.16Tuanshi statesthat:
[When]the [Yuan] courtplanned to embarkon militaryoperations
againstSiam jIIH, Lavo SM (present-dayBan Ta Khli in Thailand),
Ma'bar HA5E, Kollam {, Samudra
(in northeastern
Karandas
memorialized
Sumatra),and otherkingdoms,17
[saying]:
"All these are pettyand distantstates. Although we can [easily]
invade them,what can be gained [by belligerence]?The initiation
14Morris
oftheMongol
hiscredibility
as a ruler
that
inorder
to"enhance
Rossabi
writes
anassertive,
evenaggressive,
topursue
andChinese
worlds"
"needed
foreign
policy";
Qubilai
oftheYuannaval
thecommercial
Khan
Khubilai
, p.76.Emphasizing
Rossabi,
underpinning
wereterwhich
"Incontrast
tothecampaigns
onthemainland
LoJung-pang
writes,
missions,
Annam
and
inaim,thepurpose
oftheseaborne
ritorial
against
Champa,
Japan,
expeditions
toforce
andSouthern
Indiawere
Sumatra
tothestates
ofMalaya,
Javaaswellastheembassies
khanbutalsotobecome
thesuzerainty
oftheMongol
notonlytoacknowledge
these
states
with
Chinaasthecenter";
inthevastoverseas
economic
units
Lo,"China
Jung-pang
empire
andNavalExA Preliminary
oftheMaritime
asa SeaPower,
1127-1368:
Expansion
Survey
Ph.D.diss.(BerketheSouthern
oftheChinese
SungandYuanPeriod,"
Peopleduring
ploits
the
oftheYuancampaigns
against
1957),
study
p. 109.Foranextensive
ley:U. ofCalifornia,
chinoise
duXe
seeibid.,chap.13,andJacques
Southeast
Asiankingdoms,
Dars,La marine
sicle
auXIVsicle
Economica,
(Paris:
1992),
pp.328-45.
15Qubilai's
al-Dln.
that
states
submit
tohimisalsoreported
demand
Indian
QubibyRashd
tosubofIndia[tocallonthem]
ofthecountries
"sent
ambassadors
lai,hewrites,
byseatomost
time
ambassadors
topromise
thisanduptothepresent
mit.
passtoand
Theywerecompelled
Khan
Rashd
Successors
frodiscussing
theterms
ofsubmission";
, p. 272.
al-Dln,
ofGenghis
16Tuanshi
inBuddhist
seeHeractivities,
134,pp.3260-61.OnKarandas's
participation
ofthe
TheCompilers
inChinaunder
theMongols:
"ANoteonMultilinguality
bertFranke,
inEdward
H. Kaplan
andDonaldW.Whisenhunt,
Revised
Buddhist
eds.,
Canon,
1285-87,"
Western
Presented
inHonor
Altaica:
Schwarz
Washing(Bellingham:
Opuscula
ofHenry
Essays
tonUniversity,
1994),pp.286-98,esp.290-91.
17MarcoPoloreports
toQubilai,
River
hesaw15,000
that
ontheYellow
belonging
ships
hisarmies
totheislands
ofIndieoftheOceansea
tohim,were"tocarry
which,
according
A.C.Mouleand
anddistant
isneed,ifthey
whenever
there
rebel;ortoanyremote
region";
&
Polo:TheDescription
PaulPelliot,
Marco
trans.,
(London:
Routledge
George
oftheWorld
the
between
there
SonsLimited,
1938)1,p. 138[309].Although
maynotbeanycorrelation
these
tworeabout
thenavalbuildup,
intheTuanshi
andMarcoPolo'srecord
notice
together
of
shores
hisempire
thesouthern
seemtounderscore
beyond
ports
Qubilai's
plantoexpand
inthetrading
circuit
between
Asiankingdoms
Southeast
China.
Ontheroleofsomeofthese
see
with
theYuancourt,
andtheir
interaction
IndiaandChinaduring
thethirteenth
century
Asia(Honolulu:
R. Hall,Maritime
Trade
andStateDevelopment
inEarlySoutheast
Kenneth
U. ofHawaiiP.,1985),pp.209-31.
35

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TANSEN SEN
of militaryoperationswill only lead to the destructionof people's
lives. [It would be] betterto send embassies [to these kingdoms
and] discuss the calamities [ofwarfare]and benefits[ofsubmitting
peacefully].Attacking[thosewho] do not submit[peacefully]will
not impede [the plan]. The emperor accepted his opinion [and]
ordered Yuelayenu
Tiemie WM and others to proceed
these
as
[to
kingdoms] envoys. [As a result,]the kingdoms that
surrendered[peacefully]were more than twenty.18
It is not clear when Karandas made the above suggestion,but it
may have been in 1278-79, when the court was considering attacking Champa. Like Karandas, the Mongol general Sget, in 1278-79,
also recommended diplomacy over militaryconflict.As a result,in
the twelfthlunar month of Zhiyuan i7ti 16 (December 1279-January 1280), Sget, along withtwo otherYuan envoys,was sent to the
A'JIPp
king of Champa Shilizayaxinhebalamahadiewa
jL (SriJay Simhavarman Mahdeva?, also known as Indravarman
VI).19 This diplomatic mission to Champa was dispatched in the same
monththe Yuan court sent an embassy to Kollam led by Yang Tingbi
(see below forthe sequence of events thatled up to the dispatchingof
this mission by the Yuan court).
Yang had previouslydisplayed his militaryskills duringthe invasion ofkeytownsin southernChina underSget.20Upon reachingKollam in thethirdlunarmonthofZhiyuan17 (April-May,1280), he quickly
secured "conditionsof surrender"(jiangbiaoI^Hfe)fromthe rulerof the
kingdomcalled Binadi
(Pnlya?).21The Kollam ruleralso promised to send a tributarymission to the Yuan courtwithina year.22
18Tuanshi
ona Chinese
mission
toMa'barin1296
134,p. 3260,and19,p. 405,reports
from
that
included
a delegate
named
which
varies
thenameof
slightly
Yueleyenu
inKarandas's
that
noted
Thismeans
the
theMongol
envoy
Yuelayenu
biography.
Khan.Temr
tosendmissions
wasimplemented
Khaghan
(Chengzong
proposal
byQubilai
tohaveinitiated
the1296misr.1294-1307),
whosucceeded
$Ctk,
Qubilaiin1294,seems
twodifferent
sion.Thus,
andYueleyenu
wereprobably
Yuelayenu
people.
19See Tuanshi
210,p.4660.
20Tuanshi
andother
Yuanmission
toSouth
Asia,seeW.W.
210,p.4669.OnYangTingbi
andTradeofChinawith
theEastern
andthe
"Notes
ontheRelations
Rockhill,
Archipelago
PartI,"TP15(1914),
theFourteenth
CoastoftheIndian
Oceanduring
Century,
pp.419-47,
"Yuandai
guanxi
Quanzhou
yuNanYindu
esp.pp.429-38.SeealsoYangQinzhang
zhilu
inLianheguo
zuzhihaishang
sichou
xinzheng"
jiaokewen
taolun
huizuzhiweiyuanhui
kaocha
W
zonghe
Quanzhou
guojixueshu
sichou
zhilu
ed.,Zhongguo
yuhaishang
Ongeneral
renmin
chubanshe,
1991),
pp.195-207.
Fujian
(Quanzhou:
as a SeaPower,"
theSouthern
seeLo,"China
roleinthebattles
against
Songcourt,
Sget's
9 and10.
chaps.
21The"conditions
werewritten
in"Muslim
ofsurrender,"
wearetold,
script."
22Tuanshi
210,p.4669.
306

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YUAN KHANATEAND INDIA


In the latter half of 1280, seeminglybecause of the diplomatic
overturesofthe Mongols, embassies arrivedat theYuan courtfromthe
kingdomsofChampa, Ma'bar, Kollam,Java MIS, andjiaozhi
(present-daynorthernVietnam). Representativesof Champa and Ma'bar reportedlysubmittedmemorialsacknowledging"vassalage" ( chengchen
E) to theYuan court.23However, the courtwas disappointedthatother
kingdoms,includingKollam in southernIndia, had failedto "submit."24
It appears thatin order to express its dissatisfaction,Yang Tingbi was
ordered by the Yuan court to returnto Kollam.
Accompanying Yang Tingbi on his second mission to India was
Hasaerhaiya
(Qasar Qaya), who was appointed commissionerof thePacificationOffice [in-chargeof] Kollam MSSfifi.25
The mission departed China in the firstlunar month of Zhiyuan 18
1281). However, due to unfavorablewinds and di(January-February,
minishingprovisions on the ship on which they were traveling,the
Chinese embassy had to disembarkat the Xincun $T (literally,"New
Village" =Punnaikayal? thatis, present-dayKayal) port of the Ma'bar
kingdom on the Coromandel coast.26 In Kayal, Yang inquired about
the land route to Kollam, but, as is discussed in the next section, the
local officialsrefusedto reveal it to the Chinese entourage.Unable to
accomplish their mission, Yang Tingbi and Qasar Qaya returnedto
China. Qasar Qaya reportedto the courtthatit would be more appropriateto send the missionin the eleventhlunar month,when the winds
were favorable to travel to Kollam.27
Following Qasar Qaya's recommendation,Yang Tingbi was sent
fora thirdtime to southernIndia in the eleventh lunar monthof Zhiyuan 18 (December 1281-January 1282). He reached Kollam in the
second lunar month of the followingyear (March-April, 1282) and
had an audience withthe king (presumablythe same leader he met in
1280), the king's ministerMahema Sp, and other officialsof the
kingdom. Tuanshitells us thatthe king and his officials"received with
reverence" the imperial seal and letterthatYang Tingbi had brought
withhim. In the followingmonth,the king of Kollam sent one of his
on a tributary
officialsnamed Zhu'alishamanglibadi
24Tuanshi
23Tuanshi
210,p.4669.
11,pp.225-27.
25Ibid.OnQasarQayaandhisactivities
LechaintheAnnan
seeLouisHambis,
region,
1954),p. 85.
pitreCVIIIduTuanche(Leiden:
E.J.Brill,
26SeePtak,
"YuanandEarly
Ming,"
p. 140.
27Tuanshi
connecalsopoints
outthepossible
210,pp.4669-70;and11,p. 236.Rockhill
from
mission
andtheassistance
theobjective
ofLiuMengyan's
tionbetween
Yang
sought
in1281.SeeRockhill,
"Notes,"
p.434,n. 1.
Tingbi
307

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TANSEN SEN
mission to China. Before departingKollam in the fourthlunar month
(May-June, 1282), Yang met representativesof the Syrian Christian
and Muslim communitiessettledin theregion.The tworepresentatives,
perhaps belonging to local tradingdiasporas, sought Yang's permission to send annual tributarymissions to the Yuan court. He also met
a person fromthe kingdom of Sumuda SIMIS (Semenat?/Somnath,
in present-dayGujarat state),who, we are told, came especially to see
the Chinese envoybecause Kollam had officiallysubmittedto theYuan
court. On his way back to China, Yang Tingbi stopped at and secured
"submissions" fromthe kingdomsof Nawang KII (Nakur, presentday Nicobar Island?) and Sumatra.28
In the firstlunar monthof Zhiyuan 20 (January-February,
1283),
only a fewmonthsafterhis returnto China, Yang Tingbi was appointed
the commissioner of the Pacification Office and sent on a fourth
mission to Kollam. He was given imperial giftsthat included bows,
arrows,saddles, and a bridle.29Althoughthe details of Yang Tingbi's
visit to Kollam in 1283 are not given in the Yuan sources,30the outcome of his fourmissions to South Asian kingdoms is highlightedin
Tuanshi.An entryunder Zhiyuan 23 (1286-87) states that as a result
of Yang Tingbi's missions,ten kingdoms,includingMa'bar, Semenat,
Nakur, and Samudra, sent theirrepresentativesto submitto the Yuan
court.31
These submissionsindicate thatYang Tingbi had successfullyaccomplished the goal of persuading kingdomsin southernAsia to dispatch tributarymissions to the Yuan court and recognize Qubilai as
the great khan of the Mongol empire. However, the Yuan court may
have had other considerationsin sending these missions to southern
India. One was thatKollam and Ma'bar were perceived as two of the
most powerfulkingdomsin the local region. This is discerned froma
record in Tuanshithatstatesthat"among all foreignnations across the
seas, only Ma'bar and Kollam are capable of commanding[other]king28Tuanshi
andO. Franke,
Geschichte
deschin210,p.4670;Rockhill,
"Notes,"
pp.434-35,
esischen
Reiches:
EineDarstellung
seiner
seines
Wesens
undseiner
bis
Entstehung,
Entwicklung
vonWalter
deGruyter
& Co.,1930-1952) 4,pp.460-65,
zurneuesten
Zeit(Berlin:
Verlag
and5,pp.230-31.
29Tuanshi
20,p. 250.
30Tuanshi
that
a golden
waspresented
toWani,
theking
ofKollam.
20,p.251,reports
badge
Rockhill
hassuggested
theChinese
whopresented
thebadgemayhavebeenYang
diplomat
Rockhill
errs
inthepunctuation
oftheTuanshi
that
a title
of
However,
Tingbi.
passage,
stating
Son-in-Law"
wasalsoconferred
Rockhill,
"Notes,"
"Imperial
upontheKollam
king;
p. 338.
31Tuanshi
from
thesametenking210,p.4670.SeealsoTuanshi
14,p.292,where
envoys
domsarelisted
asarriving
intheninth
lunar
buttheroleofYangTingbi
inprompting
month,
these
missions
isnotmentioned.
38

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YUAN KHANATEAND INDIA


to themilitaryprowdoms."32The Chinese scribesare perhapsreferring
ess of the Pndyan kingdom under kingsJatvarmanSundra Pndya
II (r. 1251-1268) and Mravarman Kulaekhara I (r. 1268-1308/09).
During theirrule, the Pndyans had conquered most of southernIndia
and invaded northernSri Lanka.33 Since the southerncoastal regionof
India was on the main communicationroute between Yuan China and
the Ilkhns, alliance withthe Pndyan kingdomand the later rulersof
the region may have been strategicallyvital forthe Yuan court.34
The importance of the south Indian ports to internationalcommerce, on the other hand, is highlightedin the thirteenthand fourteenthcenturysources, includingstone inscriptionsfromthe Malabar
and Coromandel coasts writtenin South Indian and Arabic languages,
works of the Persian historiansWassf (fi. 1300s) and Rashld al-Dn
(ca. 1248-1 3 18), and Marco Polo's (1 254-1324) Description
oftheWorld.
Tamil and Telegu inscriptions,forexample, provide an extensive list
of commodities traded throughthe Coromandel coast and, on some
occasions, the duties levied on various items. They also indicate the
continueddominance of the South Indian guilds, especially the Tamil
merchantassociations Ayyvoje and Manigrmam,along the southern
coast of India and northernSri Lanka.35Arabic inscriptions(especially
those inscribed on epitaphs) fromthe region evidence the presence of
Muslim merchantcommunitiesin the coastal towns of Kayal, Calicut,
and Cochin.36Marco Polo reportsthepresence offoreigncommunities,
33SeeNilakanta
32Tuanshi
India
, chap.10.
Sastri,
History
ofSouth
97,p.4669.
34Theimportance
between
theYuancourt
Indiatothediplomatic
ofcoastal
exchanges
sentto
ofanembassy
s report
forexample,
from
andtheIlkhns
canbe discerned,
Waf
The
ruler
Ghazan
theYuancourt
(r.1295-1304)in1297(seealson.58below).
bythelkhn
therecoastofIndia.During
thesouthern
toChinathrough
tohavetraveled
seems
embassy
ina tomb
Hewasburied
theembassy
diednearMa'bar.
theambassador
turn
leading
voyage,
andJohn
ofhisuncle."
SeeH. M.Elliot
inMa'barthat
Dowson,
was,wearetold,"nearthat
Period
Volume
TheHistory
(1871;
3: TheMuhammadan
ofIndiaas ToldbyItsOwnHistorians.
ofcollabothere
isevidence
NewYork:AMSPress,
Inc.,1966),
pp.45-47.Additionally,
rpt.
inregard
Asia.Tuanshi
tosouthern
andtheYuancourt
between
theIlkhns
ration
8,p. 148,
that
thelkhn
ruler
in1273Qubilai
that
(longevpurchase
Abaqa
requested
reports
khanates
andthe
between
thefour
Ontheconflict
SriLankaonhisbehalf.
from
drugs
ity?)
Forms
of
T.Alisen,
seeThomas
andtheYuancourt,
relations
between
theIlkhns
"Changing
theSteppe:
andDanielMarks,
inGary
Seaman
inMongol
eds.,Rulers
Iran,"
from
Legitimation
U. ofSouthern
ontheEurasian
State
Formation
Press,
(LosAngeles:
Ethnographic
Periphery
California,
1991),
pp.223-41.
35SeeMeeraAbraham,
India(NewDelhi:ManoMerchant
Guilds
TwoMedieval
ofSouth
Trade
andUrbanization:
, Ideology
har,1988),
150.SeealsoR.Champakalakshmi,
pp.143-49,
South
Indiagoobc toad 1300(Delhi:Oxford
U.P.,1996),pp.323-26.
36SeeMehrdad
Architecture
India:TheSultanate
Muslim
ofMa'bar
Shokoohy,
ofSouth
Coasts(Tamil
andCoromandel
Settlers
ontheMalabar
andtheTraditions
oftheMaritime
andNewYork:RoutledgeCurzon,
Nadu,KeralaandGoa)(London
2003),esp."PartOne:
TheCoromandel
Coast(Tamil
Nadu)."
309

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TANSEN SEN
is
includingMuslims,Christiansandjews, at Kollam.37Also noteworthy
theworkoftheSouthernSong scholarZhou Qufei MS# ( 113 5 ?- 1189 ?)
called Lingwai daida
(Information
of WhatIs BeyondthePasses).
Zhou reportsthat Chinese and foreigntraderstravelingbetween the
Persian Gulf and China oftenchanged ships at Kollam.38
Preservingcommercialrelationswiththeseimportanttransitports
in southernIndia, therefore,
mayhave been equally pivotalfortheYuan
court. This is apparent fromthe events leading to Yang Tingbi's first
mission to Kollam. The missionwas dispatched shortlyafterQubilai's
armyhad overthrownthe SouthernSong dynastyand taken controlof
three importantcommercial ports in southernChina: Fuzhou, Quanzhou, and Guangzhou. The Mongols had already expressed theirsupport forlong-distanceand domestictrade when theyinvaded northern
China. The administrationofcommercialactivity,theyhad recognized,
AftertheMongol
generatedconsiderablerevenueforthegovernment.39
forcesoccupied the flourishingports of southernChina, local officials
called attentionto the potentialprofitsfrommaritimetrade. One such
officialwas Pu Shougeng vfMliJt,
the superintendentof maritimecommerce at Quanzhou.40
37SeeMouleandPelliot,
Marco
Poloi, p. 179[414].
38SeeZhouQufei,
daidajiaozhu
annot.
(BeiLingwai
YangWuquan
Thepassages
aretranslated
1999),
jing:Zhonghua,
7.2,pp.90-91;j 3,pp.126-27.
injitsuz
Kuwabara's
"OnP'uShou-keng:
AManoftheWestern
WhoWastheSuperintendent
Regions,
oftheTrading
inCh'iian-chou
towards
theEndoftheSungDynasty,
Ships'Office
together
with
a General
Sketch
oftheArabs
inChinaduring
theT'angandSungEras,"
MTB2 (1928),
pp.1-79;and7 (1935),
pp.1-104.SeeMB2 (1928),
p.65.
39Ontheencouragement
andadministration
offoreign
trade
includrulers,
bytheMongol
roleplayed
seeMorris
in
"TheMuslims
merchants,
Rossabi,
ingtheimportant
byMuslim
theEarly
inJohn
D. Langlois,
YanDynasty,"
Rule(Princeton:
Jr.,ed.,Chinaunder
Mongol
Princeton
"Merchant
Associations
U.P.,1981),
Endicott-West,
pp.257-95.SeealsoElizabeth
inYanChina:
TheOrtoy,"
AM3dser.2.2(1989),
Onthecollaboration
between
pp.127-54.
theYuancourt
andtheseafaring
seeK. Sat,"OntheForm
ofMaritime
Trade
merchants,
andCommerce
intheNearEastandtheFarEastfrom
theTenth
totheThirteenth
Centuries
oftheChristian
Biennial
AssociaEra,"inProceedings
oftheSecond
Conference
ofInternational
tionofHistorians
toYuanshi
94,p.202,Sat
ofAsia(Taipei:
n.p.,1962),
pp.335-37.Pointing
writes
theYuandynasty
"officials
ofthegovernment
office
offoreign
trade
(p.336)that
during
andcapitals
tothegovernment
tothe
rf^
[shibosi]
rI)entrusted
(shih-po-ssu
ships
belonging
merchants
whoapplied
fortheposition
ofthetrustee,
andtheprofits
weredivided
between
thegovernment
andthemerchant
inproportion
ofseventh
andthirty
percentfortheformer
"
forthelatter."
that
a similar
Henotes
form
ofcollaboration,
known
asaqir<jF
or muqratfa
,"
alsoexisted
intheNearEast.
40Kuwabara's
"P'uShou-keng"
wasthefirst
detailed
onPuShougeng
ina Western
study
Fora recent
ofPuShougeng's
roleinmaritime
trade
andpolitics
the
language.
analysis
during
transition
seeBillyK.L. So,Prosperity
inMari, Region
, andInstitutions
Song-Yuan
period,
time
China:
TheSouth
Fukien
Pattern
Mass.:Harvard
Asia
, 946-1368
(Cambridge,
University
B.
Center,
2000),chap.5 andappendix
31O

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YUAN KHANATEAND INDIA


Pu Shougeng, who shiftedhis allegiance fromthe Song courtto
the invadingMongols in 1277, activelylobbied the Yuan courtto promotemaritimetrade.41In August-September,1278, Pu and the Mongol
general Sget presented a memorial emphasizing the benefitsof encouragingmaritimetrade. In response, the courtordered the two petitionersto undertakeappropriate measures to attractseafaringtraders
to China.42 However, the measures taken by Pu Shougeng and Sget
failed to induce a largerinfluxof foreigntradersto Chinese ports.Perhaps the foreigntraderswere deterredby the lingeringskirmishesbetween Yuan forcesand remainingSouthernSong troops in the coastal
region.Thus, in the fifthlunar monthof the followingyear (June-July,
1279), when Pu soughtto renewimperialsupportforencouragingmaritime trade at Chinese ports,the court rejected his petition.43
Withina few days of the court's rejection,however, envoys were
reportedto have arrivedfromMa'bar and Champa. But,as noted above,
the Yuan court expressed its disappointmentthatotherrulers,including the king of Kollam, neglected to send appropriaterepresentatives.
As Tuanshireports,"the Branch Secretariatwanted to dispatch fifteen
persons as envoys to invite [representativesfrom]the kingdoms [that
had failed to submitto the Yuan court]. [But,]the emperorsaid, '[The
issue of sending envoys] cannot be solely determinedby Sget and
others.Unless I give the orders,no one should send the envoys.'"44Despite the objection, the emperor,in the twelfthlunar monthof Zhiyuan
16, sent officialsfromthe Hanlin Academy to consult with Sget on
the strategiesto attractforeigntradersto China.45 It was in the same
month,perhaps as a resultof the discussions between the Hanlin officials and Sget,thattheY uan courtorderedY ang Tingbi to proceed to
Kollam.46JitsuzKuwabara is probably correctin observingthatYang
41Maritime
attheport-city
Puheldthepost
trade
andlocaleconomy
ofQuanzhou,
where
1200
intheperiod
between
ofthesuperintendent
ofmaritime
witnessed
a decline
commerce,
atQuanzhou
and1279.Puseems
tohavebeenparticularly
affected
bythiseconomic
slump
andoperated
a large
number
ofmercanbecause
heandhisfamily
areknown
tohaveowned
inprivate
tileshipsthatwereengaged
trade
with
countries.
Thus,Pumayhavelobforeign
and
biedtheYuancourt
notonlybecause
ofthepossible
economic
benefits
tothenational
at
interests.
localeconomy,
butalsoduetohispersonal
On theeconomic
slump
monetary
theYuan,see
between
ofmaritime
trade
under
1200and1276,andtherevival
Quanzhou
So,Prosperity
, chaps.
4 and5.
42 Tuanshi
"Notes,"
10,p. 204;and129,p. 3152;Rockhill,
pp.429-30;andKuwabara,
"P'uShou-keng"
2,1935),p.66,andpp.80-83.
(part
43Tuanshi
"P'uShou-keng"
10,p. 221;andKuwabara,
2),p. 81.
(part
44See Tuanshi
"P'uShou-keng"
210,p.4669;andKuwabara,
2),p. 81.
(part
45Tuanshi
"P'uShou-keng"
10,p. 217;andKuwabara,
2),p. 82.
(part
46 Tuanshi
toChampa
thatenvoys
werealsosentinthesamemonth
10,p. 218,reports
andJava.
311

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TANSEN SEN
Tingbi's close association withSget duringthe invasion of Southern
Song territoriesmay have played a major role in his selection.47
Because of Yang Tingbi's missions,it seems, the rulersof Ma'bar
and Kollam began sending regular tributarymissions to China. The
Syrian Christian and Muslim trading communities in coastal India
also may have dispatched theirown representativesto the Yuan court.
The purpose of these tributarymissions was to enter into the trading activityin coastal China. In fact,a bilingual inscriptionfound in
Quanzhou indicates thattradersfromsouthernIndia had began to returnto coastal China shortlyafterYang Tingbi's firstmission.Written
in Tamil and Chinese, the inscriptionbears the date April 1281 and
notes of the installationof an idol of Siva in a Brahmanical temple at
the Chinese port for the "welfare"of the Yuan ruler.48The accounts
of Marco Polo and Ibn Battta,and the Chinese work Daoyi zhi lileS
(BriefRecordoftheIslandBarbarians)also demonstratethatcommercial relationsbetween India and China expanded rapidlyover the
next few decades.49 While Marco Polo and Ibn Battta,forexample,
reportof tradingships traversingbetween Indian and Chinese ports,
the authorof Daoyi zhi le>suggeststhe presence
Wang Dayuan
of merchantsin the coastal regions of India.50 The benefitto the Yuan
courtforpropagatingmaritimetrade is reflectedin the taxes collected
frommerchants,which increased from4,500 ingots of silver in 1271
to 450,000 ingotsby 1286.51
Thus, Yang Tingbi had not only succeeded in establishingdiplomatic and tributaryrelations between southernIndia and China and
advancing the political goals of Qubilai Khan, his missions seem to
have also invigorated the trading contacts between the two regions
and maritimecommerce across the Indian Ocean. As discussed in the
47Kuwabara,
"P'uShou-keng"
2),p.82.
(part
48SeeT.N.Subramaniam,
inMediaeval
inR.Nagaswamy,
"ATamilColony
China,"
ed.,
andEpigraphical
ReforArchaeological,
Historical
South
IndianStudies
(Madras:
Society
search,
, pp.227-31.
1978),pp.1-52;andSen,Buddhism
49SeeSen,Buddhism
ofChinese
Maritime
Net"TheFormation
, pp.228-31,andidem,
andSocialHistory
works
toSouthern
Asia,1200-1450
"Journal
oftheEconomic
oftheOrient
seeY.Subbarayalu,
evidence
from
theIndian
coast,
49.4(2006),
pp.421-53.Forarcheological
inHimanshu
Prabha
ofTamilnadu
andKeralaCoasts,"
"Chinese
Ceramics
RayandJeanandArchaeology:
Maritime
Contacts
intheIndianOcean
Salles,
eds.,Tradition
Franois
Early
Infact,
trade
between
Chinaandsouthern
(NewDelhi:Manohar,
1996),
private
pp.109-14.
wasforced
tobanthetrade
that
theYuancourt
Indiaseems
tohavegrown
tosuchanextent
wasissued
inthesecond
inSouth
inluxury
India.Theprohibition
year
kingdoms
goodswith
oftheYuanzhen
(1296);seeTuanshi
94,pp.2402-3.
reign
period
50SeeSen,"Formation
Maritime
Buddhism
ofChinese
Networks,"
,p.232.
p.426;andidem,
51SeeRossabi,
"TheMuslims,"
p. 279.
312

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YUAN KHANATEAND INDIA


next section, the Chinese diplomat may have even assisted a Ma'bar
officialobtain asylum in China.
THE POLITICAL REFUGEE FROM MA'BAR
On his second missionto Kollam in 128 1, Y ang Tingbi was forced
to disembarkat theport-cityofKayal on the Coromandel coast because
of unfavorablewinds. Tuanshistatesthatat Kayal, Yang met two local
officials,includinga person named Buali
(Ab 'Ali). This meetseems
to
have
behind-the-scenes
ing
triggeredprotracted,
negotiations
between Ab 'Ali and the Yuan court thatultimatelyresultedin Ab
'All's defectionto China in 1291.
, soon afterthe Yuan embassy led by Yang
According to Tuanshi
in
landed
Tingbi
Kayal theymet a Ma'bari officialnamed Mayindi
H&9. The Yuan envoys told Mayindi that they were on theirway to
Kollam and sought permission to proceed to the Malabar coast over
the land route. Declaring the land route impassable, Mayindi denied
consent and instead referredYang Tingbi to Ab 'Ali. However, Ab
'All too, tenderinghis own excuses, refusedto disclose therouteto Kollam to the Yuan representatives.What transpirednext was an intriguing episode that reveals political discord withinthe Ma'bar kingdom,
at least in the Kayal region.
In the fifthlunar month (May-June, 1281), two persons hastily
came to the lodge [where the Yuan entourage was staying].52In
private, on behalf of their leader, they communicated the real
reason [fornot revealing the land route to Kollam]: "I implore
your superiorcourt to bless me. I will serve the emperorwithall
the heart. My envoy Zhamaliding LSMT (Jamlal-Dn) has [already] visited the [Yuan] court. My clerk has also gone to [meet]
the sultan [of Kayal?]. [However, I have been] accused of insubordination. The sultan has confiscated my gold and silver, [impounded my] land and [other]property,and [arrested]my wife
and slaves. Moreover, [he] wants to have me killed. I have been
able to escape [execution]by makingexcuses. At present,the sultans [of Ma'bar], five brothersin all, have assembled in theJiayi
(Old Kayal?) region and are planning to clash with Kollam.
52LiuYingsheng believes
that
weretheaforementioned
Ma'bar
these
twopersons
kannanYinduyuYuan
officials
andBuali.Seehis"Cong'Bualishendao
beiming'
Mayindi
chaoji Bosiwandejiaotong"
(TheInterandtheYuanDynasty
asSeenfrom
theFuactions
between
Southern
thePersian
Gulf
India,
neralInscription
ofBuali),
Lishidili
7 (n.d.),
pp.90-95;seep.93.
313

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TANSEN SEN
When [they]heard thatCelestial (thatis, Yuan) envoys had come
[to Ma'bar], the people were told to portraytheirkingdom(thatis,
Ma'bar) as poor and lowly. These are all lies. All the gold, pearls
and precious objects of the Muslim kingdomsare produced in this
country.Moreover, Muslim [merchants]all come here to trade.
It is known that various kingdoms [in this region] are willing to
submit [to the Yuan court].53If [the presentruler of] Ma'bar surrenders,my envoys, carryingletters[fromme], will go and summon these kingdoms.They can all be persuaded to submit[to the
Yuan court]."54
In otherwords, the person who secretlycommunicatedwiththe Yuan
embassywantedQubilai to protecthimfromone (or more) oftheco-rulersofMa'bar in exchangefortheacknowledgementofsubmissionsfrom,
and possibly tradingrightsin, kingdomslocated in southernIndia.
When Yang Tingbi returnedto China, he musthave conveyed this
requestto the Yuan court.We findthatthe Yuan court,in the eleventh
lunar monthof Zhiyuan 18 (December 1281-January,1282), sent Liu
on a diplomaticmissionto theMa'bar kingdom.55TuanMengyan
shi, however,offersno insightsabout the purpose or resultsof thismission. Nor does it furnishany detail about whathappened to the person
seeking aid fromthe Yuan court or the nature of the political discord
withinthe Ma'bar kingdom.But,two fifteenth-century
Korean sources
and a funeraryinscriptionpreservedin the fourteenth-century
Chinese
workZhong'anji
Middle
[Collection
Hut)permit
of[Records
fromthe]
us to speculate on the identityof and the events leading to the Yuan
court's decision to grantasylum to a native of Ma'bar.
The Korean works KorysaiSMfe(Historyof theKory[Kingdom]
)
and Tongguk
Mirror
( Comprehensive
onggam
fortheEasternKingI, completed in 145 1 and 1485, respectively,have identicalrecords
dom)
about a "prince" fromMa'bar called P'aehali (Ch. Bohali)
53Theremaybe sometruth
totheimportance
ofMa'barininternational
commerce
rehere.Waf,
about
thekingdom,
states:
"Thecuriosities
ofChinandMchn,
ported
writing
andthebeautiful
ofHindandSind,ladenonlargeships(which
products
theycalljunks),
likemountains
with
thewings
ofthewinds
onthesurface
ofthewater,
arealways
arsailing
there.
Thewealth
oftheIslesofthePersian
inparticular,
Gulf
andinpartthebeauty
riving
andadornment
ofother
'IrkandKhursn
from
as faras RmandEurope,
are
countries,
derived
from
which
issosituated
astobethekeyofHind."SeeElliot
andDowson,
Ma'bar,
History
ofIndia3,p. 32.
54 Tuanshi
translation
ofthispassage
hasnumerous
errors.
210,pp.4669-70.Rockhill's
SeeRockhill,
anddetailed
examination
ofthis
"Notes,"
pp.432-33.Foranother
rendering
"YuanandEarly
seePtak,
passage,
Ming,"
pp.140-43.
55Tuanshi
11,p. 236.
3*4

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YUAN KHANATEAND INDIA


[In the sixth lunar month of the twenty-fourth
year of King
(that is, 1298)], P'aehali, the
Ch'ung'yl (Ch.: Zhonglie)
sent
an
of
embassy to [the Korean court] to presprince Ma'bar,
ent a cap stitchedwithsilver threads,handkerchiefsembroidered
with gold, fivejin thirteenHang (about seven pounds) of aloeswood, and two rolls of native cotton-cloth.Previously,the king
had given the daughterof Ch'ae In'gyu HtH in marriageto [the
Yuan] chiefministerSangha Ulf. [After]Sangha was executed [by
the Yuan court],56the emperor (thatis, Qubilai Khan) presented
the woman Ch'ae to P'aehali. [Because] P'aehali was at odds with
the ruler of his country,[he] defected to Yuan [China] and has
been residing in Quanzhou. And now, because of [his marriage
to] Ch'ae, [P'aehali] has sent an envoy to [establisha channel of]
communicationwiththe Korean king.57
The funeraryinscriptionofBuali (Ab 'Ali) included in ZJiong'an
ji>
seems to be narratingthe life of the same Ma'bari native who appears
in the above episode.58 Liu Minzhong
(1243-1318), the author
of the shorttreatisesand epitaphs thatcompriseZhong'anji , composed
56ThistookplaceonAugust
see
forhisexecution,
andthereasons
17,1291.OnSangha
etal.,eds.,IntheService
inIgordeRachewiltz
Herbert
Franke,
oftheKhan:Eminent
"Sangha,"
Period
Personalities
Harrassowitz,
(Wiesbaden:
1993),pp.558-83.
Mongol-Tuan
oftheEarly
StaatsbeamFranke's
dasLebeneinesuigurischen
Earlier
onSangha
studies
include,
"Sen-ge,
Sinica17(1942),
nachKapitel
tenzurZeitChubilai's,
205derYan-Annalen,"
dargestellt
inYiianChina,"
AOASH
A Tibetan
Statesman
34.1-3
"Sang-ko,
pp.90-113;andL. Petech,
(1980),
pp.193-208.
57Korysa
(Seoul:Tongbanghak
1955)33,p.676a.
Yn'guso,
58Thetranscriptions
inChen
thepassage
included
names
from
offoreign
Zhong'an
ji follow
laiHuaxinkao"
Bohali
"Yindu
Mabaer
Gaohua's
fliKjijl,
wangzi
intheBeijing
is housed
Nankaixuebao
4 (1980),pp.70-73.Chen'sedition
asBuhaer
thenameappears
IntheSKQSedn.,however,
$f.SeeLiuMinzhong,
fltto
Library.
1972)16,pp.133-35.ThelaterediShangwu
Zhong'an
yinshuguan,
ji, SKQSedn.(Taibei:
offoreign
names.
Seealso,Geng
thetranscriptions
torsofZhong'an
ji seemtohavedistorted
DataofSouth
Historical
xue
title:
Hanwen
shiliao
(English
Yinzeng,
Nanya
daxuechubanshe,
Asiafrom
Chinese
Sources)
1991),
pp.291-93.Kuwabara
(Beijing:
Beijing
theprince
oftheKishIsland
thesonofjaml
BualiasFakhr
ud-Dln
identifies
ud-Dln,
Ahmad,
"intheyear1297,as
toKuwabara,
ud-Dn
inthePersian
Gulf.ThisFakhr
Ahmad,
according
anaudience
to
Hewasgranted
camebyseatoChina.
anenvoy
ofGhazan,
theIlkhan
ofPersia,
inChina
After
married
toa nobleladyofthecourt.
theYiianemperor,
andbyhisorder
living
atMbar";
hisarrival
anddiedtwodaysbefore
hisreturn
toPersia
hetook
someyears,
voyage
ofthe
whowasapparently
unaware
"P'uShou-keng"
seeKuwabara,
2),p.63.Karashima,
(part
"Trade
seeKarashima's
ofAb'All,accepts
this
identification
byKuwabara;
funerary
inscription
theidentity
of
havealsodiscussed
andT.N.Subramaniam
Sastri
Relations,"
p. 74.Nilakanta
While
Nilakanta
Sastri
from
theYuancourt.
Indian
whosought
assistance
theSouth
proposes
thinks
itwasa
Subramaniam
ruler
that
theperson
Kulaekhara,
mayhavebeenthePnlyan
because
notonly
III. Theseidentifications
areflawed
oftheChjaking
descendant
Rjendra
written
andthefunerary
unaware
oftheKorean
records
were
thetwoIndian
scholars
inscription
inTuanshi.
Noritseems
onYangTingbi
alsomisconstrued
thenotices
byLiuMinzhong,
they
Fortheidentifications
with
offered
theidentification
werethey
by
byKuwabara.
acquainted
"ATamilColony,"
Nilakanta
andSubramaniam,
seethelatter's
Sastri
pp.25-44.
3*5

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TANSEN SEN
the funeraryinscriptionof Ab 'All in the second lunar monthof Dade
4 (February-March,1300). Liu reportsthatAb 'Al died at the Yuan
capital Dadu (that is, present-dayBeijing) in the tenthlunar month
of the previous year at the age of forty-ninesui. Ab 'All's body was
subsequentlysent to Quanzhou forburial. Following the usual format
of epitaph writing,Liu provides a briefbiographical sketch,which he
says was based on the documentsat the Ministryof Rites thathe had
"carefullyexamined."
Ab 'Al, according to the funeraryinscription,was formerly
called Sayidi
probably a transliterationof the Arabic name
His
was
Ma' JS
Sayyid.59
family
originallyfromthe cityof Helahedi 1=f
and
later
to
migrated "Xiyang" jS# (literally,
(Qalhat/Qara-qada)60
"WesternOceans"). There, the familywas engaged in commerce,and
his father,also named Ab 'Al, received imperialfavorfromthe ruler
and his fourbrothers.Because of his service to these fivebrothers,Ab
'Al, we are told, was termed"the sixthbrother."Afterthe death of his
father,the youngerAb 'All (hereafterreferredto as Sayyid) inherited
the familybusiness. Liu Minzhong reportsthat when Sayyid came to
know that the Yuan court had pacified China, he sent his envoys to
presenttributeof native products.
In Zhiyuan 28 (1291), Qubilai sent envoys Aliba
and Bietiemuer
an
to
letter
and
invite
Temr)
(Beg
Imperial
carry
to
China.
the
invitation
from
the
Chinese
ruler,
Upon receiving
Sayyid
Sayyid,according to the funeraryinscription,was so moved thathe renounced his wife,slaves, property,and familybusiness and traveledto
China along withfivehundredtributecarriers.ImpressedwithSayyid's
acts of devotion,theYuan rulerrewardedhimwithgifts,includingsilk,
and a wife surnamed Cui (thatis, Kor.: Ch'ae). Sayyid was also given
various titlesand an officialpost in the Fujian prefecture.A son and
two daughterssurvivedhim.
AlthoughLiu Minzhongdoes notexplicitlyconfirmthatSayyid
was a native ofMa'bar, Chen Gaohua has persuasivelyargued that"Xi59IntheSKQSedn.ofZJiong'an
asSatishi
ltti;.
ji, thenameistranscribed
60TheSKQSedn.hasHalahada
LiuYingsheng
identities
thecityasas Qalhat,
Bp
that
ispresent-day
seeLiu,"Cong'Buali,'"
Amman;
p. 91.A placecalledHelaheta
inYuanshi
inSeptember
battle
tookplacebetween
22,p. 477,where,
1301a major
appears
theYuanforces
andQaidu.According
toPaulPelliot,
Helaheta/Halahata
intheTuanshi
could
stand
for
inthevicinity
located
somewhere
("Black
Rock"),
Mongolian
*Qara-qata,
*Qara-qada
inCentral
ofQayaliq
Asiaandunder
thedomain
ofQaidu.Ifthesiteofthebattle
andSayyid's
hometown
wereindeed
then
oneandthesame,
there
couldbea simple
forQubiexplanation
lai'sinterest
intheMa'bari
resident:
theYuanruler
wanted
toacquire
information
strategic
abouttheCentral
Asiancity
noteappears
inhisKotesonMarco
occupied
byQaidu.Pellios
Polo(Paris:
Nationale,
i, pp.128-29.Seealso,Biran,
, p. 53.
Qaidu
1959-63)
Imprimerie
3l6

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YUAN KHANATEAND INDIA


yang"in thefuneraryinscriptionstandsforthekingdomofMa'bar. One
bit of compellingevidence is a recordin the Tuanshi
, whichreportsthat
in 1291 envoys BietiemuerS'JlTKinL
(Beg Temr) and Yilieshijin
were sent to the Ma'bar kingdom (the mission mentionedby Liu
Minzhong).61Chen Gaohua also argues thatalthoughthe Buali (thatis,
Ab 'Ali) mentionedin Tuanshiand Zhonganji (and P'aehali in the Korean sources) were the same person (thatis, the Sayyid of the funerary
inscription),he was not a prince (as the Korean sources imply),but an
influentialtrader(as the funeraryinscriptionindicates) who settledin
Ma'bar. Because of a dispute withthe ruler of Ma'bar (as Tuanshiand
the Korean sources informus),62Sayyid sought assistance fromYang
Tingbi in 1281 and eventuallydefectedto China in 1291. Afterarriving in China, Qubilai bequeathed a Korean woman, ne Ch'ae, as his
wife. He lived and worked in Quanzhou, and was buried there after
his death in 1299.
The Indian sources are silent about the diplomatic interactions
between the Ma'bar kingdom and the Yuan court and make no mention of this episode. However, contemporaryauthorsand inscriptions
describe a complex administrativesystemunder the Pndyas, who had
emerged as a major militarypower in southernIndia duringthe second half of the thirteenthcentury.Marco Polo speaks of "fivebrother
kings" of Ma'bar;63 the Persian historianWassf notes fourPndyan
brothersruling simultaneouslyover four autonomous regions of the
kingdom;64and Tamil inscriptionssuggestthatat least threePndyan
kings may have reigned simultaneouslyin the latterpart of the thirteenthcentury.65
Reportsofjoint-rulersand thefiveroyalbrothersofMa'bar are also
foundin the Chinese sources noted above. In the funeraryinscription,
ei Tuanshi
"Xidiscussion
ontheterm
"Yindu,"
16,p.351;Chen,
pp.71-72.Fora detailed
inWangTianyou
seeFangMing,
"Shi'Xiyang,'"
inChinese
sources,
yang"
Heyuanhang
XuKaifl,andFangMing
eds.,2^ieng
Jinian
2Jieng
yushijiewenming:
600zhounianlunwen
HexiaXiyang
ji
daxuechubanshe,
2005),pp.97-113.
(Beijing:
Beijing
62Welearn
attheendofKulasekhara's
theMa'bar
abouta civilwarwithin
reign
kingdom
ItisnotclearifSayyid's
from
al-Am$ar
al-A'$r.
Wafs
(c. 1308/09)
wa-Tazjiyat
Tajziyat
thecontodowith
with
toChinahadanything
theruler
ofMa'barandhisdefection
dispute
ofKulaekhara
thedescendants
within
theMa'bar
Thedispute
flict
kingdom.
among
brewing
SeeElliotand
ofIslamic
forces
intotheTamilterritories.
ledtothepenetration
eventually
DelhiSultanate
, pp.206-7;andNilakanta
Dowson,
History
ofIndia3,pp.49-54;Jackson,
India
, p. 217.
Sastri,
History
ofSouth
63MouleandPelliot,
Marco
Polo1,pp.381,412.
64Elliot
andDowson,
History
ofIndia3,p.32;andpp.52-54.
65Nilakanta
: From
theEarliest
Times
totheSixteenth
ThePndyan
Sastri,
Century
Kingdom
Swathi
Publications,
(Madras:
1972),p. 158.
3Z7

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TANSEN SEN
Sayyid's father(that is, the elder Ab 'Al), for example, is reported
to have gained the designation"sixthbrother"of the five co-rulersof
Ma'bar. Additionally,Tuanshirecordsthatin Ma'bar, Yang Tingbi was
secretlyinformedabout the plans of the five sultans to launch a militaryoffensiveagainst Kollam. K. A. Nilakanta Sastri explains that"the
systemofjoint-rulersor co-regentsthatthusprevailed in the latterpart
of the thirteenthcenturyin the Pndya (sic) empiremusthave been the
result of the great extension of the empire duringthis period and an
imitationof the practice of sending out princes of the royal familyas
viceroyswhich had prevailed in the Chola empire."66
Evidence fromIndia also validates the accounts of the migration
of Muslims fromthe Persian Gulf region to southern India. Due to
environmentalreasons, natives of Yaman and Hadramaut, as Andrew
D.W. Forbes has demonstrated,migratedto various regions of the Indian Ocean, including to southernIndia in the thirteenthcentury.67
The tombs of some of these emigrantshave been discovered at Indian
ports,includingKayal. Among the entombed at Kayal are people who
bear the name Sayyid, commonly associated with the Halrammerchants. It is possible thatthe person who defectedto China belonged
to the same group of Halrammigrantswho had settled in southern
India duringthe thirteenthcentury.68
Chen Gaohua explains thatbecause Sayyid's father,the elder Ab
'All, was called "the sixth brother"of the five rulers of the South Indian kingdom,the youngerAb 'Al (thatis, Sayyid) styledhimselfas
"the prince of Ma'bar" (hence the designation of "prince" in the Korean sources).69According to Thomas Alisen, however,the use of the
title"prince" in the Korean sources "mightsuggestthatthisperson was
the head of the merchantsin Ma'bar, that is, malikal-tujjr, literally,
'prince of traders,'a titleoftenbestowed on the leader of the commercial communityin a given townor region."70At some point,beforehis
meetingwiththe Yuan envoy Yang Tingbi in 1281, one of the Ma'bar
66Ibid.,p. 160.
67Andrew
D. W.Forbes,
"Southern
Arabia
andtheIslamicisation
oftheCentral
Indian
OceanArchipelagoes,"
21 (1981),pp.55-92.SeealsoAndr
Al-Hind:
The
Wink,
Archipel
II: 7TieSlaveKings
World
andtheIslamic
11th, Volume
Making
oftheIndo-Islamic
Conquest,
Brill,
(Leiden:
13thCenturies
1997),
pp.276-77.
68Onthemigrations
ofHalram
seeRobert
Bertram
"TheHalram
merchants,
Serjeant,
inDenysLombard
andJeanAubin,
andBusinessmen
inthe
Network,"
eds.,AsianMerchants
IndianOcean
andtheChina
Sea(NewDelhi:Oxford
U.P.,2000),pp.145-53.
69SeeChen,"Yindu,"
"YuanandEarly
pp.70-73;andPtak,
Ming,"
pp.142-43.
70Emailcommunication,
December
24,2005.
3l8

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YUAN KHANATEAND INDIA


rulersmust have given Sayyid an officialpost in Kayal (thus the title
of "Grand Councilor" stated in Tuanshi).But the relationshipbetween
Sayyid and one or more of the rulersof Ma'bar seems to have turned
hostile, and he secretlysoughthelp fromthe Yuan court (as reported
in Tuanshi
). The Yuan court may have initiallyofferedhim asylum in
1281, when it dispatched the envoy Liu Mengyan to Ma'bar. A decade
later, the Yuan embassy to Ma'bar in 1291 seems to have escorted
Sayyid to China.
Why the Yuan court agreed to grant asylum to the Ma'bari native and what it intended to gain fromthe defectionof Sayyid is difficultto ascertain fromthe available sources. Perhaps the Yuan court
believed that Sayyid would be able to provide strategicinformation,
both political and economic, regardingcoastal India, which was, as
noted above, considered vital forpreservingthe maritimetradingand
communicationlinks between China and the Persian Gulf.71 Sayyid's
defection apparently did not have any adverse effecton the diplomatic intercoursebetween Ma'bar and the Yuan court. Embassies are
reported to have been exchanged between the two regions in 1294,
1296, 1297, and 1314.
It is surprising,however,thatTuanshidoes not include any account
of diplomatic exchanges between Ma'bar and China afterthe Muslims
fromnorthernIndia took control of the region in 1333. Karashima
Noboru explains the absence of such records by statingthat, "The
sultan's envoys, if theyhad been sent, mighthave been mentionedin
the Tuanshiunder some othername than Ma'bar, which we are unable
to recognize as such. The characterof theirtrade mighthave changed
from'governmental'to 'private' resultingin no recognitionof it in the
officialrecords."72While it is true that private trade between China
and southern India increased rapidly in the fourteenthcentury,the
absence of records on the diplomatic exchanges between China and
southernIndia in the fourteenthcenturyis perhaps a reflectionof the
shortcomingsof Tuanshiconcerningthe Yuan court's contactswithforeign countries.In fact,the dynastichistoryhas no record of the Yuan
court's interactionswith northernand eastern India.73 The evidence
forsuch interactionsand the continuingdiplomaticexchanges between
71On another
intheMa'barinative,
see
interest
reasonfortheYuancourt's
possible
aboven.60.
72Karashima,
"Trade
Relations,"
pp.73-74.
73On theshortcomings
with
in Tuanshi
interactions
theYuancourt's
foreign
regarding
under
theMongol
"Sino-Western
Contacts
seeHerbert
Journal
Franke,
countries,
Empire,"
Branch
Asiatic
6 (1966),
Kong
Society
pp.49-72.
oftheHong
oftheRoyal
3I9

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TANSEN SEN
the Yuan courtand India duringthe fourteenthcenturyare to be found
in the work of the Moroccan travelerIbn Battta.
IBN BATTTA'S DIPLOMATIC MISSION TO CHINA
Ibn Batttareached the banks of the Indus River in Septemberof
SS) threeyears afterhe had departed Mecca.74 From 1334 to 1341,
Ibn Batttaheld an officialpost and led an affluentlife at the courtof
Muhammad b. Tughluq (r. 1324-1 351), the ruler of the Delhi Sultanate in northernIndia. In 1341, because of his involvementin political strifewithinthe Sultanate, Ibn Batttaresigned fromhis post and
decided to returnto his homeland. However, soon afterMuhammad
had consented to Ibn Ba{tta's request to leave India, the sultan recalled him and ordered thathe, as an ambassador of the Delhi Sultanate, accompany fifteenmembers of the Yuan court's embassy to the
Sultanate on theirreturntripto China.75 Ibn Battta'saccount of this
mission to China provides valuable informationabout the diplomatic
and commercial relationsbetween the Delhi Sultanate and China, the
Yuan court's continuedinterestin maintainingtradingties withIndia,
and the magnitude of maritimeexchanges between India and China
duringthe fourteenthcentury.
Ibn BatttareportsthattheYuan embassy,whichseems to have
arrivedin Delhi in 1340,76 broughtwithit a bountyof gifts,including
slave girls,velvet cloth, musk, a jeweled robe, embroidered quivers,
and swords. When the Yuan ruler also sought permission to rebuild
a Buddhist temple in the Himalayas,77 Muhammad refused to grant
permission,but decided to respond withan embassy of his own to the
74Fora complete
translation
ofIbnBattta's
seeH. A.R.Gibb[andC. F.Beckingwork,
A.D.1325-1354.
Translated
with
Revisions
andNotes
ham],TheTravels
ofIbnBattuta,
from
theArabic
Text
Edited
andB.R.Sanguinetti
TheHakluyt
(London:
byC.Defrmery
Society,
Fora shorter
ofIbnBattta's
narrative
seeRossE. Dunn'sThe
Adventures
travels,
1958-1994).
AMuslim
Traveler
U. ofCalifornia
P.,1986).
ofIbnBattuta:
ofthe14thCentury
(Berkeley:
75Gibb,Travels
76SeeDunn,
Adventures
, p. 213.
3,p. 767.
ofIbnBattuta
77Gibb,Travels
believes
that
theYuanembassy
4,p.773.AzizAhmad
ofIbnBattuta
sought
torebuild
intheQarchl
thistemple
where
Mohammad's
toconforces,
region
attempting
Khursn
and
Transoxiana
andwestern
Central
Asiarespectively),
is,Afghanistan
(that
quer
weredefeated
Infact,
Ahmad
seems
tosuggest
thatMohammad's
bylocalhillmen.
military
intotheHimalayan
because
ofitsproximity
totheChinese
instiborder,
expedition
region,
theYuanmission
totheDelhiSultanate;
seeAhmad
Pressure
inanAlien
Aziz,"Mongol
gated
toPiyal-Dln
inMuhammad's
Land,"CAJb
BaranI,
(1961),
pp.182-93.Indeed,
according
tention
wasto"bring
under
thedominion
ofIslmthismountain,
which
liesbetween
theterritories
ofHindandthose
ofChina,
sothat
thepassage
forhorses
andsoldiers
andthemarch
ofthearmy
andTransoxiana]
berendered
andDowson,
[toKhursn
might
easy";seeElliot
ofthemilitary
launched
History
ofIndia3,pp.241-42.Fora detailed
study
expeditions
by
Muhammad
b.Tughluq,
theidentification
oftheQarchll
anda discussion
including
region
320

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YUAN KHANATEAND INDIA


r. 1333-1368).
reigningMongol ruler,Toghon Temiir (Shundi JHJf^,
Muhammad
to
Ibn
Battta,
According
his
requited
present [to the Yuan ruler] with an even richer one
- a hundredthoroughbredhorses saddled and bridled, a hundred
male slaves, a hundred Hindu singing-and dancing-girls,a hundred pieces of bairamicloth, which are made of cotton and are
unequalled in beauty, each piece being worth a hundred dinars
- a hundredlengthsof the silk fabricscalled juzz> in which the silk
material of each is dyed withfouror five differentcolours - four
hundred pieces of the fabricsknown as salhi, a hundred pieces
a hundred pieces of shn-bfcfive hundred pieces of
shrn-bfc
mirHzwoolens, one hundredof themblack and a hundredeach in
white,red, green, and blue, a hundred lengthsof Greek linen, a
hundredpieces of blanket-cloth,a sercha, six pavilions, fourcandelabra in gold and six in silverenamelled, fourgolden basins with
ewers to match, and six silver basins, ten embroidered robes of
honor fromthe Sultan's own wardrobe and ten caps also worn by
him, one of them encrustedwithpearls, ten embroideredquivers
one of themencrustedwithpearls, ten swords one of themwitha
scabbard encrustedwithpearls, dasht-bn
, thatis gloves, embroidered withpearls, and fifteeneunuchs.78
The Indian ruler also ordered the amir Zahlr al-Dln and the eunuch
Kfrto accompany Ibn Batttaand the Yuan envoys,led by a person
named Tursi, to China. Escorted by about one thousand cavalry, the
79
entourageleftDelhi on August 2, 1341.
The massive entourageproceeded by land throughDaulatabad
toward the port of Cambay in present-dayGujarat. From there they
planned to take the maritimerouteto Calicut. In Calicut, whichby this
time had emerged as the leading commercial port in southernIndia,
the delegation intended to board an ocean-going vessel across the Bay
TheDelhiSultanate
seeJackson,
ontheKhursn
ofBaran's
, chap.13;and
offensive,
report
intheReignofMuhammad
andtheDelhiSultanate
"TheMongols
Peter
Tughluq
Jackson,
C4719(x975)
PP-ii8"5778Gibb,Travels
someof
haveidentified
4,p.773-74.GibbandBenkingham
ofIbnBattta
ontheexchange
inthispassage
mentioned
thetextiles
study
(p.774,nn.3-7).Fora detailed
T.
seeThomas
theMongol
andclothing
culture
andsignificance
oftextiles
during
period,
Textiles
A Cultural
intheMongol
andExchange
Alisen,
Empire:
History
ofIslamic
Commodity
ofhonor"
the"robes
ofoneofthegifts,
U.P.,1997).Theimplication
Cambridge
(Cambridge:
outofa
"Thesharing
isnoted
which
wascarried
kha$$),
byAlisen.
byIbnBattta,
(tashrif-i
tiesand
itwasmanifest,
created
"inwhatever
form
hewrites,
wardrobe,"
personal
special
prince's
andlate,eastandwest"
feature
ofalltheMongolian
wasa common
courts,
(p.50).
early
79Onthedateofhisdeparture
IbnBattta,
about
thepeoplewhoaccompanied
anddetails
Adventures
seeDunn,
, p. 214.
321

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TANSEN SEN
of Bengal to China.80 This itinerary,instead of a shortertripthrough
CentralAsia, may have been selected because ofthepolitical instability
in Central Asia afterthe death of the Chaghadayid rulerTarmashirin
(r. 1326-1334).81 It is also possible thatthe Yuan delegation had taken
a similar sea-land route throughCalicut and Cambay to the court of
Muhammad and wanted to returnthe same way it came.
Unfortunatelyfor Ibn Battta and members of the northIndian embassy to the Yuan court,the land-and-seajourney was beset by
mishaps and misfortunes.Before the mission reached Cambay, Hindu
insurgentskilled many of its members,including the eunuch Kfr.
Ibn Batttahimselfwas robbed and taken captive. Afterhe managed
to escape, Ibn Batttarejoined the depleted mission and reached Calicut throughCambay withoutfurtherincident.But,the nightbeforeIbn
Batttawas to set sail fromCalicut, a severe stormstruckthe coastal
town and destroyedthe ship carryingthe sultan's giftsand slaves to
the Yuan ruler. Only Ibn Battta,who was onshore praying,and two
otherIndian officialssurvivedthe disaster.The Yuan envoys,who had
leftthe port beforethe storm,althoughbuffetedby the turbulentseas,
were able to reach Kollam. Despite losing all the giftsand presents
intended forToghon Temr, Ibn Batttawas determinedto complete
his joiirney to the Yuan court. Sometime in mid-1346, six years after
he had departed Delhi, Ibn Battta eventually reached the Chinese
coastal port of Quanzhou.
Although Ibn Battta reports that he traveled to Dadu, the
Mongol capital, modern scholars have judged his account of thejourney fromQuanzhou to the capital as apocryphal. It seems thathe had
not only failed to gain audience withthe Yuan ruler,but also decided
to leave aftera very shortstay. He began his returnvoyage to India
sometimein eitherDecember 1346 orJanuary 1347.82
Ibn Battta's journey, even thougha failed mission,provides important informationabout diplomatic exchanges between northern
India and China. His travelogue not only atteststo the court-to-court
80Ibid.,p. 214.
81Ontherelations
between
theDelhiSultanate
andtheChaghataids
thereign
of
during
Muhammad
b.Tughluq,
seeJackson,
DelhiSultanate
, pp.231-37.Dunngivesthefollowing
fortheindirect
route
taken
toCambay:
"Thelandward
itinerexplanation
bytheentourage
DelhitoCamby
washardly
themost
direct
asDaulatabad
route
aryfrom
possible,
laysome
oftheport.
Sultan
Muhammad
hisenvoys
official
busi240milessoutheast
mayhavegiven
nessinDaulatabad
thattheRihlafailstomention,
orperhaps
heinstructed
thecaravan
to
makeanappearance
there
asa symbolic
show
ofDelhi'scontinuing
intheDeccan";
authority
seeAdventures
, p. 214.
82Ibid.,p. 266.
322

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YUAN KHANATEAND INDIA


contactsbetween the Yuan dynastyand the Delhi Sultanate, but also
demonstratesthattherewere Muslims fromvarious parts of the world
who frequentlytraveledbetweenDelhi and China. At Quanzhou, forexample, he metMauln Qiwm al-Dn who had previouslyvisitedDelhi
withhis maternaluncle. Ibn Batttaalso mentionsa Muslim preacher
in China called Burhn al-Dn whom Muhammad b. Tughluq wanted
to invite to India.83 His record, therefore,fills some of the historical
gaps in YuanshiconcerningSino-Indian interactionsand confirmsthat
therewere regularinterchangesofenvoys,tradersand otherindividuals
between northernIndia and China duringthe fourteenthcentury.
Ibn Batttagives a detailed account of the maritimelinks betweencoastal India and Quanzhou duringthefourteenthcentury.Especiallynoteworthyare his reportsoftheassistanceofseafaringmerchants
provided to officialrepresentativestravelingbetween India and China.
In Kollam, forexample, Ibn BatttawritesthatChinese merchants,perhaps froma local diaspora, provided clothingto the Chinese envoys
whose belongings were lost in a shipwreck.Additionally,at Calicut,
Ibn BatttaidentifiedChinese ships that provided passage to Indian
and Yuan diplomats.84The encouragement and support that states,
including the Yuan court and kingdomsin coastal India, provided to
merchantcommunitiesin the fourteenthcenturymay have prompted
traders to offeraid and comfortto court officialsvisitingimportant
overseas tradingemporia or markets.
Ibn Battta's work also includes valuable informationabout
some of the lesser-knownitems traded between southern Asia and
China in the fourteenthcentury.He reports,for example, that areca
nut was exported to China fromthe Malabar coast. China also imported fishand coconut cords fromthe Maldives. Among the Chinese
pottery(porcelain) exported to India were platters,which, according
to Ibn Battta,had "remarkableproperties;theycan fall froma great
heightwithoutbreakingand hot food can be put in themwithouttheir
colours changingor being spoiled."85
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of commercial activitybetween India and China witnessedby Ibn Batttawas the involvement
ofpeople fromdiverse culturalbackgrounds.The ships sailingbetween
India and China seem to have been owned and operated by the Chi83Gibb,Travels
4,pp.899-900,
906;and3,p. 677.
ofIbnBattuta
84Ibid.4,pp.813-15.
85Ibid.4,pp.811,832,827,and904-5.Onthepresence
India
atcoastal
ofChinese
traders
Networks."
Maritime
seeSen,"Formation
ofChinese
theYuanandMingperiods,
during
323

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TANSEN SEN
nese; Muslim tradersfromdifferent
partsofAsia visitedand exchanged
at
the
in
coastal
India
and
China and the intermediaryregoods
ports
and
the
Hindu
in
southern
India and the Mongol court
gion;
kingdoms
in China encouraged and gave state support to long-distance trade
and traders.Indeed, Ibn Battta'sjourney fromthe Delhi Sultanate to
China demonstratesthe complex, multiethnic,and intense nature of
trade and commerce between India and China in the firsthalf of the
fourteenthcentury.
CONCLUSION
The Yuan missions to Indian courtsmarked a discernable change
in the nature of the diplomatic exchanges between India and China,
especially in regard to the motives thatled to the sending of emissaries fromChina to the Indian courts.The key reasons forthisshiftwere
Qubilai's strategytowardmaritimestatesand the tremendousupsurge
in cross-continentalcommerce in the twelfthand thirteenthcenturies.
Beforethetwelfthcentury,veryfew,ifany,Chinese embassiesweresent
to India withthe objective of promotingcommerciallinksbetween the
two regions.By the thirteenthcentury,not only had China emergedas
one of the mostlucrativemarketsin the world,the rulersin China also
recognized the economic benefitsof facilitatingand regulatingforeign
trade at itsbordersand in the coastal towns.As a result,the Song court,
forinstance,oftendispatched diplomatic envoys overseas to promote
tradingrelations and induce foreigntradersto China.
Afterthe Mongols occupied the flourishingportsof coastal China,
they continued the previous policy of fosteringmaritimetrade. And
similarto the precedingSong dynasty,the Yuan courtsentspecial missions to foreignkingdomsto exact tributeand to entice seafaringtraders to Chinese ports. The missions of Yang Tingbi to southernIndia
demonstratethe Yuan court's intentionto secure access to the important transitpoint in Indian Ocean both for political and commercial
reasons. Indeed, this seems to be the firsttime in Chinese historythat
court officialswere sent beyond the Bay of Bengal to demand submissions, forgediplomaticalliances and promoteinternationaltrade,illustratingthecomplexityofcross-culturaldiplomacyduringthethirteenth
and fourteenthcenturies.
The Chinggisid civil war that centered on Qaidu in Central
Asia seems to have forced Qubilai to explore the maritimeroutes for
militaryexpansion, political alliances, and commercialprofit.To prove
his mettleas the heir to the greatkhans and demonstratehis trueMon324

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YUAN KHANATEAND INDIA


gol heritage,qualities that were being questioned by some members
of the Chinggisidfamily,Qubilai launched several militarycampaigns
against island states in East and Southeast Asia. At the same time,he
dispatched envoys to the Indian Ocean kingdomswho demanded that
the foreignrulers send tributarymissions to recognize Qubilai as the
great khan of the Mongol empire.
By the timeenvoys fromthe Yuan courtbegan to arrivein Kollam
and Ma'bar, Chinese merchantswere already sojourningto the Coromandel and Malabar coasts of India. Advances in shipbuildingtechnology duringthe SouthernSong period had enabled Chinese traders
to gain dominance gradually over the maritimelanes between coastal
China and southernAsia.86 This explains why,when Ibn Batttatraveled to China in the mid-fourteenth
century,he observed that ships
of
were
the
traversing Bay Bengal
mostlyChinese. Althoughmany of
the tradersand intermediariescontinued to be Muslims, it is evident
thatin the thirteenthand fourteenthcenturiesthe Chinese had gained
control of a larger share of shipping and transportationof commodities across the Bay of Bengal. In thiscontextof the expanding Chinese
the Yuan missions to South Asia not only served
maritimefrontier,87
the political goals and economic interestsof the courtand privatetraders, but also, throughthe execution of tributarytreaties,mighthave
reinforcedthe Confucian rhetoricof Chinese world order.88
The intensivetradingactivityand the unprecedented diplomatic
and commercial relationsbetween China and coastal India duringthe
Yuan dynastyprovided the Chinese authoritieswithan opportunityto
obtain detailed informationabout tradingcenters,commodities,and
commercialroutes along the Indian Ocean. This may explain why the
emperor;r. 1403-1425),
Ming rulerChengzu fiS(or, the Yongle
in theearlyfifteenth
centurydecided to dispatchtheChinese naval fleet,
under the command ofZheng He, to major port-citiesacross the Indian
withthe coastal regionofIndia may
Ocean. In fact,Chinese familiarity
have made the Malabar coast one of the main destinationsof the Ming
armada. The display of naval power and the commercial activitythat
accompanied Zheng He's voyages, in turn,persuaded foreignstatesto
send tributarymissions to the Chinese court and promoted maritime
86Details
Maritime
Networks."
inSen,"Formation
ofChinese
arediscussed
87Ontheconcept
"TheRemaritime
seeHughClark's
oftheChinese
andnature
frontier,
inthisvolume
ofAM.
Culture
ofSouthern
ligious
Fujian,"
88SeeMichael
inYuanforeign
oftheConfucian
rhetoric
detailed
discussion
Brose's
poliinthis
onForeign
intheTuanshi
andIdealism
Relations,"
Chapters
cyintheessay"Realism
volume
ofAM.
325

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TANSEN SEN
trade withChina. Indeed, the solicitationof tributarymissionsand the
promotionof maritimetrade,which were the main objectives of Yang
Tingbi's missions,could have been the basis of Zheng He's voyages to
southernAsia.89 In short,the Yuan missions not only conferredofficial supportto Chinese mercantileactivitybetween China and coastal
India, but also laid the foundationsforthe grand maritimeexpeditions
of Zheng He to southernAsia and beyond.

89Fordetails,
seeSen,"Formation
ofChinese
Maritime
Networks."
326

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