Makassar was one of those early-modern Southeast Asia kingdoms which has been seen as exemplifying The Age of Commerce, both in its trade based prosperity in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, and its decline into insignificanceMoreMakassar was one of those early-modern Southeast Asia kingdoms which has been seen as exemplifying The Age of Commerce, both in its trade based prosperity in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, and its decline into insignificance following conquest by the Dutch East Indies Company in 1667. However, statistical analysis of the Dutch harbourmasters registers (which listed incoming and outgoing non-Company traffic) reveals that Makassar actually succeeded in establishing new and profitable networks after a difficult period of transition.
Initially the Company confined the ports private sector overseas trade and shipping within narrow limits, but by the middle of the eighteenth century new routes and traders had emerged. Whereas slaves and rice had once been predominant exports, focused upon the colonial centres of Batavia and Maluku, by the mid-1700s sea produce, in particular sea cucumbers, had become the most important commodity.
This marine product was in great demand in China, and the consequent dramatic shift in Makassars commercial profile was reflected in new patterns of exchange, within which Chinese merchants and skippers gradually surpassed all other ethnicities in importance.
This volume provides detailed material on shipping, crews, armament, routes, merchandise and skippers, and hence offers unique insights into both the trade of Makassar itself, and the wider transformations of Asian commerce in the eighteenth century.