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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 4:58 am 
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I would be very grateful if any forum members - or wider community if you are lurking out there - can help a friend of mine, a historian, not a textile expert, who is editing a translation of an historic text of the 17th century which is originally written in Portuguese. In the text there are references to several traded textiles from India to south-east Asia. As an example he has sent me a contextual sentence for reference:

"And from Bengal fifteen or twenty carracks could then go to Melaka laden with rice and wax, and an infinite range of textiles as well: cassas, saranpuras and balachas, and other textiles, and many colchas de montaria, and tents, and almoada, a very expensive product, and semianas and fabrics made from plants that look like silk."

I am afraid that I have not been able to identify any Indian textiles with which I am familiar amongst the Portuguese words. Any help would be gratefully received!

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 9:53 am 
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Here are a couple of references to "semianas", but no help with a definition:

semianas

http://www.sjsu.edu/foreignlanguages/do ... _Dance.pdf

If the first link doesn't work, the book is about exports to the Philippines, the passage just including semianas among textiles imported.

[I edited the first link as, although it worked, it distorted the page when viewing. Thanks very much Larry, for getting us going on this! Pamela]


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:18 am 
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James Boyajian's book, "Portuguese Trade in Asia under the Habsburgs, 1580-1640", provides a fascinating insight into trade between Asia, the Cape and Europe for anyone interested in trade route development as well as historical insights into the machinations of imperial power struggles. In the glossary are to be found the following:
semiana also spelt samiana was a type of fine plain cotton or muslin cloth produced in Samana and Girhind in Northern India.

colcha was also a type of fine cotton or more specifically a cotton and silk embroidered cloth produced in Bengal and imported by the Portugese for use as wall hangings and bedspreads.

As an aside, could the word almoada be similar to the Spanish almohada - a type of pillow/cushion?


Last edited by iain on Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:40 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Cassa = cossae?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:35 am 
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I wonder if the word cassa could be the same as cossae alternatively spelt khassa which was a very fine type of muslin produced in great quantities in India. P.J. Thomas' book, "Mercantilism and the East India Trade", provides incredible detail on quantities of trade exported literally to the different gingham types exported and an excellent resource.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:12 am 
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Iain

Thank you so very much for your contributions! You have suppassed my expectations for a response on this one!

Best

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PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 10:39 am 
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My historian friend, Peter, has been in touch with me again as he is back at editing the Flemish merchant's text from around 1635. He apparently spoke Portuguese but is writing in Spanish so Peter thinks that the names may well be garbled but hopefully recognisable. Peter is an expert of European history and of the voyages of discovery into south east Asia. However, he is no textile expert!

The list of words which keep appearing in the text but are not in his vocabulary are, in alphabetical order:

Balacha
Caladaris
Cassa
Panos de gran
Sabane
Saranpura (Peter suspects this is the name of a city that produces a particular textile)
Sarassa and tapisarassa

You will find from the posts above that, amongst the help that Iain came up with last time was the suggestion that:

"cassa could be the same as cossae alternatively spelt khassa which was a very fine type of muslin produced in great quantities in India."

I had a stroke of luck when putting Indian textiles and V&A (London museum which has a leading collection of Indian textiles) into Google and came up with a super ID for Sarassa (and probably tapisarassa with 'tapi' or 'tapis' meaning textile and which I tend to think of in connection with textiles in Indonesia) with a reference to: 'Sarrasa: a group of nine Indian textiles made for export to Indonesia' and two images of very striking block printed textiles: http://www.artfund.org.uk/artwork/5304/ ... -indonesia I hope that the V&A won't mind but I am going to attach one of the images below. A further hunt with this info took me to a blog
http://stylecourt.blogspot.com/2010/06/ ... dy_16.html – this has some Sarasa (not Sarassa or Sarrasa) wood block prints and also refers to the John Guy Book ‘Woven Cargoes’ Maa ceremonial banner, 14th-century, Gujarat for Indonesian market, cotton, block-printed mordant-dyed and block-printed painted resist-dyed from Woven Cargoes: Indian Textiles in the East. I was thinking when I saw the V&A photos that fine block printing from India could well come from Gujarat. The blog also refers to sarasa sent to Japan but in the 19th century and known as wasarasa. Also talks about sarasa made for Japan on the Coromandel coast. A nice definition on the blog: Sarasa is cotton cloth decorated with hand-painting or printing.

So, do join in the hunt!!! Peter and I would be very grateful for any further contributions for his list above.


Attachments:
File comment: One of nine Indian trade textiles in V&A museum - Sarrasa made for export to India representing the luxury end of the vast textile trade that flourished between India and Indonesia from medieval times onwards. Their designs can be linked to Indian man
sarrasa2-VA.jpg
sarrasa2-VA.jpg [ 31.36 KiB | Viewed 13223 times ]

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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 2:08 pm 
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Peter has come back to me:

Quote:
Pamela

I have made major headway on the textile problems. The copy of Woven Cargos that you gave me was quite useful. In the end I found another source, Irwin and Schwarz, rather good and I give the details below. Who knows if another poor unfortunate soul needs help with Portuguese textiles again.

Irwin, J.I. and P.R. Schwartz, Studies in Indo-European Textile History (Ahmedabad: Calico Museum of Textile, 1966).

the "tapisarassa" turned out to be a nasty one. A hybrid word, from "tapih" (Javanese for skirt) and then sarassa (a textile from Bengal). So a tapisarassa is not really a textile, but a garment.

Still, I had fun doing the research and am now all the wiser about textiles and medicinal products. Not to speak of other things like Burmese penis inserts..... Argh!

I add in here the books section of the website of the Calico Museum http://www.calicomuseum.com/books.htm which is great textile library in itself!!!

Although 'tapisarassa' could be deemed to be clothing, a Javanese skirt, or sarong, presumably would be a length of fabric i.e. textile wrapped around the lower torso and I have referred to 'sarassa' above which is a hand painted or printed textile.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:32 pm 
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I thought I would update the forum - especially the helpful forum members who responded to my request for assistance - on the literary outcome of this thread.

The resulting book is "The Memoirs and Memorials of Jacques de Coutre: Security, Trade and Society in 16th and 17th-century Southeast Asia" Edited by Peter Borschberg and Translated by Roopanjali Roy published by NUS Press Singapore 2014 ISBN 978-9971-69-528-6.

Quote:
"Jacques de Coutre was a Flemish gem trader who spent nearly a decade in Southeast Asia at the turn of the 17th century. He left history a substantial autobiography written in Spanish and preserved in the National Library of Spain in Madrid. Written in the form of a picaresque tale, with an acute eye for the cultures he encountered, the memoirs tell the story of his adventures in the trading centres of the day: Melaka, Ayutthaya, Patani, Pahang, Johor, Brunei and Manila. Narrowly escaping death several times, De Coutre was inevitably drawn into dangerous intrigues between the representatives of European power, myriad fortune hunters and schemers, and the rulers and courtiers in the palaces of Pahang, Patani, Siam and Johor.

In addition to his autobiography, De Coutre wrote a series of memorials to the united crown of Spain and Portugal that contain recommendations designed to remedy the decline in the fortunes of the Iberian powers in Southeast Asia, particularly against the backdrop of early Dutch political and commercial penetration into the region.

Annotated and translated into English for the first time, these materials provide a valuable first-hand account of the issues confronting the early colonial powers in Southeast Asia, and deep into the societies De Coutre encountered in the territory that today makes up Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines. The book is lavishly illustrated with 62 maps and drawings of the period, including many examples not previously published."

6 of the 7 textile terms which were in Peter's wish-list above are explained in the special glossary in the book "Glossary of Non-geographic Names, Currencies, Measures and Commodities".

I share a few of my comments to Peter on my receipt of the book which he very kindly sent to me:
Quote:
"Jacques de Coutre has arrived safely in Canterbury! I appreciated your ‘thanks’ in the acknowledgements...I am currently working my way through your introduction. I am certainly impressed by the huge amount of work involved in the Glossary and footnotes and obviously the great attention to the review of the translation and determination to capture the true meaning of the more than 400 year-old language and very specific vocabulary of de Coutre’s writing and his professional life.

In the way that I always wonder about the maker of a textile so here I wonder here what de Coutre would think about the volume. He would surely appreciate the seriousness with which you have taken what he wrote and the way you value it as rare mirror of his time and where he travelled! A canter through the Contents certainly indicates that he lived his live pretty much to the full – and was lucky to get through much of it in one piece to be able to eventually write the tale! I think of my own travels in the region and they seem pretty tame by comparison! I must say that so many of the places that he visited have a resonance for me. The illustrations, as well as being informative, certainly add charm and vitality and the quality comes up well on the page. A very nice collection of maps from the period. I like the way that the book is both an academic text yet very approachable – the translation comes over very directly and I think the translator (and his editor) have caught the right tone with the language – of today and flowing well yet still conveying its period."
I am almost at the end of Peter's very informative introduction and am looking forward to reading Jacques de Coutre's own account of his adventures.


Attachments:
File comment: The Memoirs and Memorials of Jacques de Coutre: Security, Trade and Society in 16th and 17th-century Southeast Asia
Jacques-de-Coutre-Front-Cover.jpg
Jacques-de-Coutre-Front-Cover.jpg [ 44.66 KiB | Viewed 10477 times ]

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:37 pm 
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A short video of Peter Borschberg being interviewed at the Bangkok launch of the book about it and Jacques De Coutre has been posted on YouTube and I thought that I would share it here:


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:30 pm 
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Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Pamela!

By the way, the work of Ruurdje Laarhoven on the VOC textile trade may be of additional interest to some people.
I believe this was her dissertation: The Power of cloth: the textile trade of the Dutch East Indiea Company (VOC) 1600 - 1780.
I once found it in the KITLV library in Leiden. The dissertation was submitted to ANU.
I believe that Ruurdje now teaches in an anthropology department in Hawaii.

http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/T ... edir_esc=y

Of course she also struggled with the problem of trying to ascertain the appearance of some of the textiles whose names she came across in the archives.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:24 pm 
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On Goodreads.com Patricia_Bjaaland, in her review, has said:

Quote:
"I wish this work had been available a few years ago when I was doing some research on Indian trade textiles as it would have filled in some gaps in where some of those remarkable textiles were sent. It's the perfect accompaniment to John Guy's Woven Cargoes: Indian Textiles in the East or his later book co-authored with several other textile experts, Interwoven Trade: The Worldwide Textile Trade. Unfortunately, Jacques de Coutre was no textile expert, and leaves us no descriptions of these textiles aside from a single reference to "red cloth", other than their places of origin: Cambay, Coromandel Coast, etc. (which fortunately DOES tell us a lot of what type of textiles these were--palampores, calicoes, kalimkari, etc.-- and must have looked like). The Index contains half a page of entries that reads: "take to Aceh; take to Arabia; from Cambay; to Cambodia; to Champa; to Mombasa, to Mozambique, from Sindh...."

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