Saturday, 30 May 2020

Stephan van Galen

Introduction

When during the first half of the fifteenth century the Venetian merchant Nicolo di Conti travelled from Bengal to Burma he most probably passed through the Arakanese capital Mrauk-U. At that time Mrauk-U apparently did not stand out amongst the many cities and countries he visited. Nicolo di Conti at least did not have much to report about Arakan. The most that he found could be said of the Arakanese capital that it lay on the bank of a river and that it was surrounded by a tract of uninhabited mountains. For Nicolo di Conti the city of Arakan was just another harbour en route to his next destination, the magnificent city of Ava.1

Four hundred years later, in 1824 when the British invaded Arakan, they on the other hand were struck by the formidable remains of what appeared to have been a powerful state, but what was at that moment not much more than a more or less deserted border area between the Burmese and British empires.2

The centuries between British annexation of Arakan and the arrival of Nicolo di Conti had apparently witnessed a rapid expansion followed by a relatively quick decline of Arakanese economic and political influence in the Bay of Bengal. In the early modem period Arakan grew form a small agrarian state with its nucleus in the hart of the Kaladan river system to a significant power that, at the height of its political might, received tribute from local rulers between Dakha and Pegu. The rapid rise and perhaps even quicker decline of the Arakanese state from the early sixteenth tot the end of the seventeenth century is the subject of my doctoral dissertation which I hope to complete this summer. Today I would like to discuss an important aspect of the Arakanese economy during the seventeenth century: the development of the slave trade.

The development of the slave trade from the early seventeenth century

In Bengal the relatively stable political situation which had been created by the Afghan Kings after the downfall of the Gaur Sultans began to breakdown following the death of Sultan Sulaiman Karrani (1565-1572). In 1574 the Mughal Emperor Akbar defeated Daud Khan, the last Afghan Sultan in Bengal, in a battle near Patna. The next year his generals took over Gaur, the ancient capital of Bengal from the Afghan Sultan. But as the Mughals soon found out, capturing the capital was not to mean that they ruled the land. For almost a whole century Bengal was the scene of an intense struggle between Mughal forces and local lords 3. In these battles the Arakanese would prove to be toughest adversary the Mughals would encounter. As a result of the ensuing Mughal-Arakanese wars in eastern Bengal a trade in Bengal slaves developed during the seventeenth century. Sanjay Subrahmanyam in his insightful article, 'Slaves and Tyrants in Mrauk-U’ explored some aspects of Dutch trade with Arakan during the seventeenth century.4 Subrahmanyam suggested that the slave trade in Arakan should be thought of as a seventeenth century phenomenon. In this paper I will further explore this idea. It is my contention that the demand for slaves from the Dutch East India Company, or VOC, fundamentally changed the nature of this trade.

In 1621 with a show of brutal force the Dutch governor-general Jan-Pietersz. Coen established VOC control over the Banda archipelago. Coen forcibly removed or killed most of the indigenous population of the Banda islands, estimated at 15,000 people. This horrifying act left the VOC in the possession of the world's only source of nutmeg and mace, but without workers to tend the nutmeg gardens. Coen introduced on Banda a plantation system with so-called perkeniers, or keepers of the nutmeg gardens. The VOC provided the perkeniers with slaves to do the work for them. The slaves needed for the Spice Islands such as Banda were until 1624 bought or captured in a fairly haphazard way. From 1623 onwards the VOC would find a structural supply of slaves on the Arakanese market.5 Demand for slaves increased when in 1634 180,000 new nutmeg trees were planted, and more and more trees were to planted during the following decades. On Banda natural disasters such as several severe earthquakes in the 1620's, a tsunami in 1629, and virulent diseases in the 1630's meant that demand for slaves remained high for at least the whole seventeenth century come.6 The incorporation of Ambon by the VOC only increased the company's demand for slaves. The high labour costs in the Southeast Asian port cities were another factor in the European demand for Asian slaves.7

This paper aims to show how the sustained demand from a single large buyer had a profound effect on the slave trade in Arakan and Bengal. In the following paragraphs it will be argued that the Arakan slave trade transformed from supply to demand driven. After the arrival of the VOC in Arakan in 1608 the Arakanese king Man Raja-kri repeatedly offered the harbour of Dianga near Chittagong to the VOC. Man Raja-kri suggest the company should make a fortress at Dianga for the protection of merchants plying the Arakan-Bengal trade. In 1616 after the Arakanese king had removed Sebastiao Goncalves Tibao from the Sandwip he recounted how during the early years of the seventeenth century Manuel de Mattos had succeeded in generating tax revenue at Dianga of 20,000 Tanka 8. The Arakanese promises of a profitable trade in this part of the Bay of Bengal prompted several investigations by the Dutch company into the nature of trade in the Bay of Bengal. Two special reports concerning this trade were eventually produced, one written in 1608, the other in 1614.9

Both reports provide an overview of the trade in this part of the Indian Ocean during the early seventeenth century. It is interesting to note what Cortenhoeff, the author of the 1614 report had to say about trade in eastern Bengal:

The city of Chattigam [Chitragong] where this king [Man Raja-kri] has a fortress, lies at about 22 degrees north. [Chittagong] is situated next to Diango [Dianga] Bouduschreeve (not identified].The cities Saxsala [not identified], Romour [Ramu] and Sijckeraij [Cukkara on the Matamuhuri river]. All these places are situated east of the river Ganges along the coast in the direction of Arakan. Bolwa [Bhalua] lies west of Chittagong. People say that the king of Arakan has again recovered this place from Achabar [Akbar sic.].

Dianga is separated by a small river from the mainland and the government of Saxsala. It has been praised and offered to us as a perfect place for conducting trade in Bengal. The Mogolleessen from the land of Achabar [Mughals from the land of Akbar] also come to Dianga to trade. Dianga is situated within sight of Chittagong and in a straight line would be two hours sailing from Chittagong, the journey however takes three-quarters of day via the river and the sea across the broken land of the delta. [..] From Arakan ships with a draft of two or three fathom can sail to Dianga in three days. [...]

Goods to be had at Dianga

Catsecilles, Cassis, t'Chantaers, Bethielles Gramsont and a lot of other types of cloth from Bengal 10, silk cloth and the like, red lacquer, long white pepper, wax, sugar, rosewater, grains, arak, rice, butter , oil and an innumerable amount of other provisions. Indigo is plentiful and of a better quality than that of Arakan. It is hoped that the indigo of Agra will be brought to market at Dianga after news will have reached the Mughals that the VOC has opened a factory there.

Goods to be shipped to Dianga

Gold, rubies and lesser precious stones, like roughly cut emeralds are brought by the local portuguese. Reals of Eight, tin, steel, red and other nicely coloured cloth, all kinds of porcelain, spices and sandalwood The shells named cowries brought from the green Maldives and Ceylon are current as payment and give a good profit. Tintenago, wanted by the Mughals in Bengal and traded to India.

The 1608 report by Wiilemsz is not dissimilar while adding that most of the finer cloth is produced in Sripur and Sonargaon. What is however most interesting is that these reports have nothing to say about a possible trade in slaves. Both reports are completely silent when it comes to the slave trade. The trade reports from the market in Mrauk-U itself are also devoid of any information regarding the slave trade. In 1608, Jan Cerritsz. Ruyll reported from Mrauk-U to company headquarters in Banten about market conditions at Mrauk-U. Ruyll spoke of the rice trade, the market for cloth, and on the subject of various other commodities. Slaves were however not among the items listed by Ruyll.11 It could be of course that because the VOC was at this time not particularly interested in slaves that they are therefore not mentioned at this point. It is however unlikely that the slave trade would have been left out of the aforementioned reports had it existed at that timer The VOC was in Asia with the primary goal of making a profit. If there had been a trade in slaves it would most likely have been mentioned in the reports cited here.12 The absence of references to the slave trade before the early seventeenth century is also noted by Subrahmanyam. Subrahmanyam observes that Mughal sources are silent as well on slave trade in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century in this part of the Bay of Bengal.13

Although it thus seems that a large market for the export of slaves had not existed before the early seventeenth century it is not true that there were no slaves at this point in time in this part of the world. Incessant warfare between the Mughal empire, Arakan, the Portuguese and the Burmese would have provided anyone of these parties with large numbers of captured enemies who would have become slaves in the hands of their captors. Debt slavery no doubt existed as well before this time. It seems however that this category of slaves was not sold from Arakan ports in large quantities on an open market as they would be in years to come.14

The successful wars of king Mahasirisudhammaraja (r. 1622-1638) against the Mughal empire in Bengal inaugurated the large scale intra-Asian trade in slaves from Arakan. The wars of Sirisudhamma coincided with the start of VOC control over the Spice Islands and the resulting need for slave labour to work the spice plantations. Sirishudhamma started his wars in 1622 with a campaign directed at Dakhin Shabazpur and other parts of the Meghna delta.

In 1624 Sripur was taken and about 10,000 people taken as slaves to Arakan.15 The other campaigns that are known to us at this time are the attack on Dhaka, which probably took place in 1625, the 1632 large scale attack on Lower Bengal which ironically drove the Portuguese from Pipely to Hugli were they were removed the same year by the Mughals, and in 1633 an attack on Bengal with help of ships of the Estado da jndia from Goa. This time the Arakanese aided the Portuguese crown in an attempted recovery of Hugli.16 The pattern of attacks seems to have been concentrated on the weaving area's in eastern Bengal at Sripur and Sonargaon. The fact that the Arakanese also did not sell any skilled slaves abroad supports the idea that for Sirisudhamma the attacks on Bengal were a means to develop a weaving industry in Arakan itself with the expertise on Bengal craftsmen.17 The VOC was from the beginning only allowed to buy slaves on the condition that they had arrived directly from Bengal and were not skilled in any craft or trade.18

The attacks of the Arakanese on eastern Bengal so unsettled the Mughal governor Islam Khan Mashhadi that in 1637 he sent an ambassador to Mrauk-U with orders to negotiate a peace.19 The Dutch factor Adam van der Mandere reported that the ambassador brought a gift, six horses and robes of honour for the king. In his letter to the Arakanese king the Mughal governor Islam Khan (1635-1638) wrote:20

In the meanwhile it has been reported that you, of apparent sincerity, have held out temptations and summoned all the Ferangis from their abodes and having provided them with boats and sailors encouraged them to practice piracy and commit depredations on the masses. This is an extremely improper behaviour and is most unexpected and astonishing. [...] You should repent of and express remorse for your deeds and desist infuture of such actions

To which Sirishudhamma replied:

I shall proceed with my valiant troops consisting of Telangis and Ferangis [...] If; as is the saying, from one end to the other the lands arefull ducks, all their strength will disappear on the very sight of the flying auspicious falcon

Sirishudhamma also pungently referred to earlier failed Mughal attempts to invade Arakan and closed his letter expressing the hope that they would meet in battle after the rainy season. Peace was thus not agreed upon and slave raiding would continue for at least a century.

It is interesting to note that the Mughal governor expressly points the finger to the Portuguese as being the central figures in the slave trade. Subrahmanyam also cites contemporary European authors who claim the slave raids were the work of the Portuguese.21 The records of the VOC confirm the idea that the Portuguese were the central figures in this trade. On several occasions the Dutch factors remark that without Portuguese assistance the Arakanese would not go slave raiding in Bengal. In 1643 the Portuguese community in Dianga assisted the chief of the royal bodyguard, the ko-ran-kri in an attempt to dethrone king Narapati. When this attempt failed the local Portuguese did not return to Arakan fearing they would not escape punishment. The Dutch factor Arent van den Helm in 1643 foresaw that without the Portuguese the supply of slaves would dry out.22 In 1653, after an absence of five years VOC employees noted that the Portuguese had stopped bringing in slaves to Arakanese ports, but had instead moved their activities to other harbours in the Bay of Bengal, notably to Pipely. This confirms the idea that one the one hand Dutch demand was vital for the slave trade and on the other that the Portuguese were the main actors when it came to slave raids.The fact that Poituguese renegades, sponsored by the Arakanese kings, went to war with the sole purpose of enslaving their enemies is a substantial deviation of earlier practice. S.Arasaratnam in his article on the seventeenth century slave trade already pointed out that although slavery existed in India and Southeast Asia long before the arrival of the European trading companies, the trade remained a local affair and was mostly fed by poverty, which necessitated people to sell themselves or their family to buy or secure access to food or pay off outstanding debts.23

The nature of bondage in Arakan

In Arakan different forms of slavery were in existence throughout this period. M. Aung Thwin has described the nature of slavery in Burma.24 Jacques Leider has suggested that the analyses of Ang Thwin would also be valid for Arakan.25 The main question we ·should be asking when studying the institution of Kywanship is to whom was the kywan bonded and for what purpose. In theory everyone in Arakan was a subject or kywan of the king, but in practice there a wide variety of forms of bondage. Kywun could be bonded to the king, to a relgion, or to individuals.26 Leider has suggested that we should reserve the term slave far those who find themselves kywan involuntary.

Michael Charney's analyses of the role of the Augustinian monks in Arakan suggests that the distribution of the king's slaves to representatives of the Portuguese clergy such as Manrique were part and parcel of a more general policy of the Arakanese kings to create patronage ties with their subjects.27 Charney's thesis is supported by evidence from VOC sources. Although not connected to any religious foundation in the early 1640s the VOC's chief in Arakan, Arent van den Helm, received man-kywan from the king as well. Arent van den Helm was for example was allotted 25 king's slaves for his own use. I would interpret these gifts as a similar attempt to create patronage ties between the VOC's chief and the king.It is interesting to note that such slaves could be taken back by the king at any moment.28

The stories of two groups of Dutchmen who had involuntary become man-kywan provide rare insights into the world of slavery in Arakan form the perspective of the enslaved. The stories of these men have been recorded by the VOC chief in Arakan Arent van den Helm in 1645.29

The first group consists of the crew of a yacht owned by a Dutch vrijhurgher from Malacca. In 1643 the ship was captured in Arakanese waters and the crew was condemned as slaves and distributed across the land. Two sailors named Albert Gerritsz. Geus van Amstel, and Thiljs Coster van Antwerpen, survived and told their stories to Van den Helm. They described how after their capture they were taken to the palace in Mrauk-U where their names and their belongings were registered in a parabaik. After having spent almost two weeks in the palace prison they were distributed in small groups to different areas. Van Amstel and Coster were sent to a village in the Lemro valley where they had to work for a group of four families. They worked everyday for a different family and would receive their food from the family they worked for. The labour they were used to perform ranged from pounding paddy, to cutting bamboo, ploughing the land, and other jobs at hand. The families they worked for were described as very poor, the richest person in the village not owning more than one Tanka. The villagers were so poor that it seemed they were often unable to feed their slaves properly. Coster described the business of the village as consisting mainly of cutting bamboo and planting tobacco. Rice was only produced in quantities enough to feed the villagers themselves. The way the villagers treated the slaves is interesting. Coster recounted how they told him that as he was the king's slave and not one of their children they did not feel the need to care properly for him. As a result slaves sent to do heavy agricultural work often died quickly. Van den Helm remarked that the Portuguese and Dutch who where sent as slaves into the woods, by which phrase he meant outside of Mrauk-U, disappeared like morning fog on a field.

The other example of the experience as a slave in Arakan is from Adriaan Corneliszoon van Moock Hooploper, a sailor from the VOC ship Eendracht. Adriaan spent more then two years working for the Tripura, learning Arakanese and Tripura during his time in captivity. In the source describing his captivity a certain element of dialog is preserved, with the author, Arent van den Helm, apparently striving to present part of the story in Adriaan's own words. The story ofAdriaan's captivity is not only remarkable but also extremely valuable because it is a seemingly unique ego-document of a seventeenth century slave in Tripura. The story begins somewhere during the dry season of 1644, when the Eendracht is waiting to take her cargo of rice and slaves destined for Batavia and Banda.

We interrogated Adriaan Cornelisz. van Moock Hooploper to find out why he had left his post at the ship Eendracht and how he had become a captive in the hands of the Mooghen. Van Moock told us that he had been herding some goats for captain Mossel, at the time of his disappearance. He related how he had been accused by a runaway shipmate of the ship of bringing him food while he was hiding in a Pagoda near the river for a few days. "This boy told the skipper that he had slept ai night in the Pagoda's, and that I had brought him food during the day. The skipper sent him away in irons and he threatened to punish me with the whip the following morning just as severe as he would the runaway sailor. As the boy was lying about the whole affair (I had never given him a mouth full of food) and I was afraid of the punishment waiting for me the next day, early next morning I was walking in those same fields near the river where I was used to herd the ships goats. Here I met a black Portuguese man whom I had encountered earlier onboard the ship where this man had come to sell fowl. I explained to him my problem and he told me I had no reason to be afraid. He suggested that I should go with him to his village and that he would ask the captain on my behalf for forgiveness in one or two days. I accepted his offer and believed that everything would turn out fine. That day we walked through the hills and at night we arrived in a village that he said was his. He treated me very well and made sure I had enough to eat and drink. The next day I asked him to bring me back on board the ship, but he answered that it would be wiser to wait two or three days for the skipper to forget about the whole affair. After I had stayed for five days in the village the black Portuguese told me that we would leave for the skipper, something I was eager to hear and I was ready to go immediately. That day we started out for the ship, accompanied by five big black chaps. After we had been walking or a while, the five black men tied my arms behind my back, as if l were a thief. The same evening we arrived in a big house that rests on golden poles. Here I was examined by a Moogh who asked my name and wrote it down. I was now untied and my legs were put in irons (as all the slaves here walk around in irons) and he gave me over to his people. After I had been in irons in this place for twenty days they took me outside during the night and I was brought into the forest, where I have been since then."

I asked Adriaan, because I assumed he had been examined in the fort by the Sicgue, if he had never seen me walking around the place. He said: “Yes, I saw you there everyday, and when I wanted to call-out to you I was prevented by the guards to do so." I am sure that he was registered by the white Sicque and was condemned to be thrown into the forest, which must have been approved by the King. I asked him further where he had been brought to, to what nation they had sent him, and how he was received by these people.

He told me that the country where they brought him is called Tiparaes Para Kituer 30 and that it is three nights and two days rowing from here. He related how his new masters tried to find someone who would be able to communicate with him, and so he was taken to various places in search of other Dutchmen. "Finally, after having visited many white and black Portuguese who could not understand me that well and who told the black man that I did not belong to their people, I was brought to two sick Dutchmen. These two Dutchmen belonged to the captured yacht 31. One was the merchant Nicolaas van der Graaf, the other one I did not know. They translated my words to the Portuguese that were with them and so my master knew that I was a Dutchman. The next day Van der Graaf died. They cut of his nose and both ears to prove in Arakan that he died. His body was put in a small bamboo hut, where it was torn to pieces by dogs and eventually all the meat disappeared from his bones. Not many days later the other Dutchman died from red diarrhoea. For the same reason his nose and ears were cut off as well. He was put to rest in a similar bamboo shed. A few days after their deaths I was brought back to the place were I had been earlier. Here I was allowed to walk without ball and chain. But they treated me very bad and I was often hit. I was allowed a very meagre meal. The best things I got to eat were half rotten and stinking elephants or buffaloes hides, snakes, sneals and toats. Because I could not stand this food I decided to walk to a different place, named Tianen Para, which lies even deeper into this country. I hoped to improve my position in this way, but I was sorely disappointed. And things turned out contrary.

As Adriaan fled to the Hills, further into the jungle, he was picked up by a people, he named Abasij.32 Eventually however the Abasij sold Adriaan back to his former owner, who was not at all pleased at having to buy him back. Here Adriaan had to resume his former duties of carrying water, cutting bamboo and pounding paddy.

As was mentioned earlier one objective of Arakanese slave raiding was to relocate a part of the profitable weaving industry from eastern Bengal to the Arakanese heartlands. Bengali slaves from weaving villages were no; scattered across the land or divided over Arakanese or Tripura villages like our Dutch examples. It seems that in Arakan these craftsmen and women lived together in Bengali villages. This idea is supported by the fact that VOC sources refer to village headmen as either talukdar or rosa. In one instance for example the VOC's factory was searched for illegal slaves on orders of the king's treasurer33. Van den Helm describes how on 26 October 1645 about four hundred to five hundred Bengali and Arakanese village headmen stormed into the factory to search for slaves that ought not to be exported. They found one Bengali girl, from a village of man-kywan, who was sold to the company illegally by her father with the knowledge of the village's talukdar. Van den Helm paid 14 Tanka for her, of which three Tanka went to the talukdar, and two Tanka to the writer of the village who had to falsify the records and register on of the king's slaves as deceased. 34

The stories of the groups of Dutch slaves, and the example of the Bengali man-kywan provide evidence for the way in which slaves were treated, how they were divided over the land, and what kind of labour they had to do. The central role of the king is a striking element in both stories. Slaves were brought to the palace in Mrauk-u were a court official, the lakya-mran, had their details recorded and decided where they were brought to. Van den Helm noted that these decisions had to be signed by the king. It further seems for the mass of documentation provided by the VOC that control over people was extremely important for the Arakanese king. Meticulous records were kept of how many slaves entered the country and where they were kept. The slaves bought by the VOC were regularly inspected to confirm the company did not export slaves belonging to the king, i.e. those who were skilled or had lived in Arakan longer than a year.

I could go on for along time discussing various other aspects of this cruel trade. The mechanisms of this trade of course varied over time, the 1640s somehow seem to be a kind of Wild West period much more so than the second half of the seventeenth century when during the rule of king Candasudhammaraja (1652-1684) the slave trade became more regulated and subject to tougher controls. The practice of slave raiding, or the different kinds of bondage could also have been the basis of another article. I will however now take the time to draw some preliminary conclusions regarding the changing nature of the slave trade.

Conclusion

In the introduction to this paper I suggested that the demand for slaves by the VOC eventually led to a fundamental change in the nature of the slave trade in Arakan. Before the early seventeenth century the trade in human beings mainly was a by-product of war or a result of poverty. It was a trade driven by supply. The need for cheap labour for Batavia and the Spice Islands created a stable and almost insatiable demand for slaves. This demand would fundamentally change the Arakanese slave trade. Dutch demand created a constant and predictable market for Slaves in Arakan. This new market stimulated the Portuguese nomad-warriors operating under the umbrella of the Arakanese king to conduct regular raids on Bengali villages in the Ganges delta. This probably resulted in a different way of slave raiding, smaller in scale but more brutal and unpredictable, aimed at quick profits. It is also clear that slave raiding continued well into the eighteenth century, we lack however any detailed evidence as to the nature of these raids. It is therefore difficult to say if with the disappearance of VOC demand from the Arakanese markets at the end of the seventeenth century the nature of the slave trade changed as well. If a parallel with the Atlantic slave trade is allowed we could observe that in the Americas and the Caribbean the formal abolition of the slave trade did not immediately herald the end of slavery, nor the clandestine trade in slaves. In Arakan the end to slave raiding was probably gradual as well. The available evidence suggests that slave raiding did not disappear after the Dutch left Arakan but perhaps it became more and more sporadic.

Reference:

  1. Gangnern ascendens quator ciuitatibusfamosissimis post se relictis Maaratiamprepotentem urbern desvendit, ubi ligni aloes aurique et argenti, gemmarum quoque ac magrarirarum magna uis. Hoc relicta cum monies ad orientem sitos carbunculorum gratia .xiii. dierum itinere petisset, primum Cernouern deinde Buffetaniam rediit. Mari deinceps cum mense integro adhostium Rachaniflawiperuenisset, atque inde eiusdem nominis ciuifatem supra flumen sitam diebus sex petisset. Per desertos habitaculis montes decern et septem, inde per compos patentes .xv. diebus profectus, flumen maius Gange est ingressus, Daua ab incolis appellatum. Turn fertur mensis nauigatione aduersoflumine adduitatem nobilissirnam omnium, que dicitur Aua .xv. mil.pas.  circuitu amplexam. {After he ascended the Ganges, leaving four very famous cities behind, he descended to a city that belonged to [the] Maharadja, where there is an abundance of aloe-wood, of gold and silver, gems and pearls. After he had left this, he undertook ajourney of 13 days through the mountains in the East looking for carbuncles, and he first returned to Cernovis and after that to Buffetania. After that he reached - travelling by sea during a month - the mouth of the river ofArakan and in six days he reached the city with the same name that was situated further on. Seventeen days through mountains without any dwellings, subsequently fifteen days through a vast plain he entered a river bigger than the Ganges, which the inhabitants name Dava. Then, he was brought, sailing upriver during one month, to the most noble city of all cities, that is called 'Ava', 15,000 feet in circumfence}.From the travels of Nicolo di Conti (c. A.D. 1396-1469) as recorded c. A.D. 1445 by Poggio Bracciolini. I am indebted for this translation to my sister Anne van Galen. Poggio Bracciolini, De Varietate Fortunae ed. 0. Merisalo (Helsinki Suamalainen Tiedeakatemia 1993) 158. See for a recent appraisal of the various editions of Conti's travels Kennon Breazeale, 'Editorial Introduction to Nicolo de' Conti's Account’ in SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research, Vol. 2, No. 2.
  2. The fort [...] consists of three concentric walls [...] which form the citadel. These walls are of considerable thickness and extent, constructed with large stones, and with a degree of labour, such as a powerful state alone could have commanded. Where the masonry is dilapidated, the interstices have, by the Burmans, been filled up with piles of timber. This interior work is comparably trifling to that by which, informer days, the defects in the circumvallation of hills appear to have been supplied. At every point where the continuity of their natural outline is broken, artificial embankments, faced with masonry, some of a very great height, connect them with each other. [...] The extent of the circumvallation is about nine miles. At the gateways the stone walls appear to have been of considerable elevation and great solidity, but where the steepness, or altitude of the hill rendered artificial defences of less importance, a low wall of brick or stone has been carried along the summit. H.H. Wilson (ed.). Documents illustrative of the Burmese war (Calcutta 1827)129-134.
  3. R, Baton, Rise of Islam 137-158 cf. Sarkar, History of Bengal passim.
  4. S. Subrahmanyam, 'Slaves and Tyrants in Mrauk-U' in Journal of Early Modern History 1997 vol. 1 201-253

Reprinted as 'Dutch tribulations in seventeenth-century Mrauk-U'in S. Subrahmanyam, Explorations in Connected History. From the Tagus to the Ganges Oxford Univesity Press 2005 200-247.

  1. From 1626 onwards slaves were difficult to procure on the Coromandel coast. As the economy prospered it meant that less people needed to sell themselves or their relatives as slaves because of their debts. Before 1626 slaves on the coast reportedly came not only from Golconda, but also from Malabar and Cotchin. Letter by Pieter de Carpentier, dated 3-1-1624 and 3-2-1626 published in W.Ph. Coolhaas ed. Generale Missiven Goeverneur-Generaal en Raden aan Heren XVII der VOC 2 Vols. (Martinus Niljhof The Hague 1960-1964) Vol.1
  2. Banda had in 1638 3842 inhabitants of which 2190 slaves, in 1640 there were only 1120 inhabitants left, in 1642 4290 souls, in 1645 3525 and in 1663 there were 5103 people on Banda. The population of Banda would never again reach its estimated size of 15,000. V.I. van de Wall 'Bijdrage tot de geschiedenis der Perkeniers, 1621-1671' in Tijdschrift voor de Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde van het Koninkliik Bataviaas Genoodschap LXXIV, 1934 516-580.
  3. S. Arasaratnam, 'Slave trade in the Indian Ocean in the seventeenth century' in K.S. Mathew ed., Mariners,Merchants and Oceans Manohar 1995 197-199.
  4. National Archives of the Netherlands, the Hague (N.A.) VOC 1061 Originele missive van Cortenhoeff uijt Masulipatnam aen de kamer Amsterdam in dato 25 april 1616 [Letter of Cortenhoeff from Masulipatnam to the chamber Amsterdam, dated 25-4-1616] fol. 192r.
  5. Willemsz 1608 and N.A. VOC 1059 Cortenhoeff, 'Corte informatie van Diango ende andere plaetsen van Bengala ' [Short note on Diango and other places in Bengal] n.d. [1614] fol. 107.
  6. See Wil O. Dijk's Seventeenth century Burma and the Dutch East India Company 1634-1680 unpublished PhD thesis Leiden University 2004 vol. II appendix 6 for an excellent overview of various types of cloth produced and traded in the Bay of Bengal in the seventeenth century.
  7. N.A. VOC 1055 Brieven en papieren uit Atchin n.f. nr. 1 Copie missive van Jan Gerritsz. Ruyll uyt het schip van Mollicque Tusajer aen den raedt der schepen commende in Arracan, in dale 27 maart 1608 [Letters from Atjeh n.f. nr. 1 Copy of a letter from Jan Gerritsz. Ruyll onboard the ship of Molljcque Tusajer written to the council of captains of the next ships arriving in Arakan, dated 27-3-1 608].
  8. Ruyll for example is thinking aloud in his letter to his colleagues about what to do with the money he had left after the sale of his cargo to the king. N.A. VOC 1055 Ruyll 1608.
  9. Subrahmanyam 'slaves and Tyrants' 209.
  10. Arasaratnam, 'slave trade'200-207.
  11. N.A. VOC 1087 Report on Arakan by Jan van der Burch 170r-172v.
  12. Letters of the Governor-General at Batavia in Coolhaas, Generale Missiven Vol. 1 passim. In April 1633 in Mrauk-U there were four frigates and a galleon sent by the Portuguese viso-rey, see H.T. Colenbrander, ed. Dagh-registe gehouden int Casteel Batavia entry for 8 Februari 1634.
  13. This is also implicitly argued in Subrahmanyam's discussion of the slave trade in 'Slaves and Tyrants'.
  14. Ibidem.
  15. The Daghregister at Batavia records for 13 February 1637 a letter dated 31 January 1637 from Adam van der Mandere. Colenbrander, Dagh-Register
  16. Correspondence between Islam Khan and Sirisudhamma 1637 Ghulam Shalafuddin Qadiri Rashidi, compiler, ashrafal-Musauwadat in Syed Hasan Askari,'The Mughal-Mahg relations down to the time of lsiam Khan Mashhadi’ in Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 29th  session (Gauhati 1959)I Bombay 1960 20/-2/3, 209-210 and 211-213.
  17. Subrahmanyam, 'Slaves and Tyrants'213-214.
  18. Stephan van Galen, 'Arakan at the turn of the first millennium' 1 58- 1 59.
  19. Arasaratnam, 'Slave trade'passim.
  20. M. Aung Thwin, 'Athi, Kyun Taw, Hpaya-Kyun: Varieties of commendation and dependence in pre-colonial Burma'jn A. Reid ed. Slavery, Bondage and Dependency in Southeast Asia St. Martin's Press New York 1983 64-89.
  21. J.P. Leider, Le Royaume d'Arakan, Birmanie. Son histoire politicque entre le debut du xve et la fin du xviie slecle Ecole francaise d'Extreme-Orient Paris 2004 436-439.
  22. Aung Thwin, 'Athi, Kyun. Taw, Hpaya-Kyun '67-68.
  23. M.W. Charney, Where Jambudipa and Islamdom Converged: Religious Change and the Emergence of Buddhist Communalism in Early Modern Arakan (Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries) (Unpublished Ph.D.dissertation University of Michigan; Ann Arbor 1999). 133-143
  24. The Daghregister at Batavia for 24-4-1642 referring to an event early in 1641.
  25. N.A. VOC 1 155 Diary of Arent van den Helm 25 February to 29 October 1645 [Daghregister't sedert 25 februari tot 29 october 1645] fol. 759-797.
  26. Para meaning Hill in Bengali (see Buchanan-Van Schendel).
  27. In December 1643 a private Dutch yacht from Malaka was captured by the Arakanese fleet in the river Samocktolij. Van der Graaf was the owner of the yacht and he was heading for Chittagong.
  28. For an example of the bamboo burial huts cited by Adriaan see Claus-Dieter Brauns and Lorenz G. LGffler, Mru. Hill people on the border of Bangladesh Birkh~user Verlag Basel 1986,1990. i 99.
  29. The dignitary is referred to in VOC sources over the span of 80 years variously as Xama, Cachma, and Sangma or Zangma. I have not been able to determine the corresponding Arakanese title.
  30. N.A. VOC 1 155 Diary of Arent van den Helm 25 February to 29 October 1645 [Daghregister 't sedert 25 februari tot 29 october 1645] fol. 759-797.

 This paper was submitted at "Arakan History Conference", Bangkok 23.11 - 25.11.2005, organised by the Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.

(Draft only. Please don't quote)