In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue – but you can check out more about that here.
Instead of focusing on the genocidal doings, let’s take a look at what was happening on the other side of the world, and actually closer to Columbus’ planned destination than where he ended up – East Asia. More so, East Asia and the economy.
Ah, economy. Bring wealth to values and value to wealth, it can make or break entire civilizations. Either way, we need it to survive and be a functioning society. Societies have to face choices about what they’re producing, how they’re producing it, and who they’re producing it for.
The Ming Dynasty‘s (1368-1644) economy was the largest in the world during its time, and one of China’s three golden ages, the others being the Han Dynasty and the Song Dynasty. During this time lots of technological advancements were made, as well as societal progress that had to do with economy – like a change of currency and capitalism implementations.
The early signs of capitalism (known as the “sprouts of capitalism”) in China first appeared in the Ming Dynasty, because as well as privatizing their tea and salt industries, groups of merchants were gaining money and power. The government made contracts with merchants to transport grain to the borders, and gave the merchants salt tickets so they had permission to sell it to the citizens. This was very profitable for the merchants, and they began to have political influence.
They did use paper money in the early part of the Dynasty, but ended up using silver as their official currency, so silver was a very important commodity for them.
The construction of canals, roads and bridged definitely helped commerce, and with lots of silver coming in from Japan and modern firearms coming in from as far as Europe, it propelled economic development. In fact, overseas trading resulted in about 300 million taels to China – more than 190 billion dollars in todays world.
The Muromachi Period (1337-1573) in Japan was in a state of war for a large part of their time, but they were still thought of as very sophisticated, and a place with advanced technology.
They traded wood, sulphur, copper, swords and folding fans to China in exchange for silk, porcelain, books and coins. The Japanese were poor in common resources found in Europe like iron, but were exceedingly rich in precious metals. They became major exporters of copper and silver. With the little resources they did have, they were very skilled in using and making things out of them – so skilled that European visitors were shocked when they saw the level of their craftsmanship and metalsmithing.
In Korea, the Dynasty that preceded the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1837) was the Goryeo Dynasty. During the Goryeo Dynasty, Korea had a healthy trade relationship with Arabia, China, Japan and Manchuria, and were infamous for their brocades, jewelry, ginseng and porcelain. However, during the Joseon Dynasty, confucianism became the national philosophy, and lots of changes were made. Including eliminating certain Buddhist beliefs, their porcelain was replaced by baekja, which wasn’t popular amongst the Chinese and Arabians. Commerce was also more restricted so they could focus more on Agriculture.
Here are my group members posts:
And here is our google doc that contains all our notes, collaborations, and sources.
“Economic History of Japan.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 28 July 2015. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.
“Japan: Muromachi Period (AD 1333-1568).” British Museum. The British Museum, n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.
“Joseon.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, July 2013. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.
“Ming Dynasty Economy.” – Facts about Ming Dynasty Trade & Production. N.p., 2014. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.
New World Encyclopedia Contributors. “Ming Dynasty.” New World Encyclopedia, 4 Sept. 2015. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.
“Economics Essays: The Importance of Economics.” Economics Help. N.p., 17 June 2011. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.