Istanbul Journal of Economics
International Tradable Goods in Ibn Battuta’s TravelogueMuhammed Esat Çetin
Travelogues constitute an important source for the study of economic history, and the work of Ibn Battuta is a great example of the genre. This is primarily because Ibn Battuta traveled extensively, visiting dozens of different countries during his life in the 14th century. The travelogue contains important information on the political, economic, and social conditions of the diverse geographies that its author visited. Ibn Battuta generally accompanied merchants and thus, tended to follow their trade routes. These travels offered Ibn Battuta excellent opportunities to observe economic and social life. This study focuses on the goods subject to international trade mentioned in Ibn Battuta’s travelogue. It draws attention to the abundance of goods and services subject to international trade and the variety of products that are passed along trade routes. The travelogue provides important information for evaluating early mercantilist international trade policies, helping to explain the diversity of raw materials, production, and final products, and the general patterns of international trade in that period.
İbn Battuta Seyahatnamesi’nde Uluslararası Ticarete Konu Olan MallarMuhammed Esat Çetin
İktisat tarihi çalışmalarına kaynaklık eden eserler arasında seyahatnameler önemli yer tutar. İbn Battuta seyahatnamesinin bu seyahatnameler içinde önemi büyüktür. Bu durumun en önemli sebebi İbn Battuta’nın yaşadığı yüzyılda onlarca farklı ülkeye seyahatler düzenlemesidir. İbn Battuta’nın gezdiği coğrafyaların siyasi, iktisadi ve sosyal durumları üzerine önemli notları seyahatnamede bulmak mümkündür. İbn Battuta bu seyahatlerini genel olarak kendisi ile aynı güzergahlara seyahat eden tüccarlar ile birlikte yapmıştır. Bu seyahatler İbn Battuta’ya iktisadi ve sosyal yaşamı gözlemlemede çok kolaylıklar sağlamıştır. Bu araştırmada İbn Battuta Seyahatnamesi’nde uluslararası ticarete konu olan mallar ele alınmaktadır. Seyahatnamede incelendiğinde uluslararası ticarete konu olan mal ve hizmetlerin fazlalığı ile ticaret yolları üzerinde, ticareti yapılan ürün çeşitliliği dikkat çekmektedir. Ham madde, nihai ürün ve üretimin çeşitliliği ile dönemin uluslararası ticaretini anlatması açısından erken dönem merkantilist uluslararası ticaret politikaların değerlendirilmesinde seyahatname önemli bilgiler sunmaktadır.
Travelogues are an important source for the history of economics, particularly for illuminating the period from the 10th to 15th centuries. Understanding Ibn Battuta’s travelogue, also known as the Rıhletü İbn Battuta, is important in terms of economic history, as this travelogue provides important information about the political, economic, and cultural structure of the contemporary Islamic world.
The long name of Ibn Battuta, the great traveler of the Middle Ages, was Ebû Abdullah Muhammed b. Abdullah b. Muhammed b. Ibrahim Levati Tanji. In the year 725/1325, the great traveler, then a young man of 22, began his journey and came from the North African coast to Alexandria, intending to perform the pilgrimage. Ibn Battuta traveled from there to Cairo, where he remained for a time before traveling to Lebanon and Syria. The traveler also remained there for a while and then made his first pilgrimage to the Hijaz. Ibn Battuta journeyed to Shiraz from the Iraqi side, visited Cizre and Mardin, returned to Baghdad, made a second pilgrimage, and headed to Yemen via the Red Sea to commence his East African tours. He later went to Yemen and Oman and, after circumnavigating Iran via the Strait of Hormuz, returned to the Hejaz for Hajj. Following visits to Cairo, Gaza, and Latakia, he sailed to the port of Alanya and explored Anatolia. Thereafter, he went to the Crimea via the port of Sinop and passed through Deşti Kıpçak before returning to Istanbul. He subsequently returned to Deşti Kıpçak and reached the Delhi Sultanate via Khwarazm and Khorasan. After staying there for seven years, he went on to the Maldives and remained there for many years, before proceeding to China. He made a return journey via Sumatra to Java, then via Baghdad and Syria back to Egypt and the Hejaz. Ibn Battuta then reached Morocco via Egypt and Tunisia, carried on to Niger via Mali, and returned to Morocco in 754 by the order of the sultan. These journeys took 29 years.
Although Ibn Battuta mentions various goods in his travelogue, this study concentrates only on those goods subject to international trade. Textiles played an essential role in trade during this period. As is clear from the travelogue, a wide variety of textile products existed, with linen, cotton, silk, wool, and even coconut fibers being used in fabric production. Ibn Battuta also notes that trade in agricultural products such as wheat, rice, dried fruit, and coconut was widespread. Although the traveler mentions various products that were subject to international trade, including milk, fish, and sheep, he devotes remarkable attention to the trade in horses and dried fish. Ibn Battuta also discusses the trade in timber, pottery, etc.
Based on the information given in the travelogue, previous studies have noted that movement along trade routes was not only from east to west. Commercial activity also flowed from west to east, as is evident from the products analyzed in this study. The seyahatname also provides evidence for the timing of changes in the cultural and economic pursuits of Turkish migrants to Anatolia as they transitioned to a sedentary lifestyle. Ibn Battuta emphasizes that Greek women were active in cotton weaving while Muslims were active in wool weaving. This suggests that Turks living in Anatolia were still engaged in animal husbandry rather than agriculture in the 14th century. The travelogue also provides valuable insights into the production of goods and services subject to international trade and the diversity of products that passed along trade routes. Thus, a wide variety of goods, both finished products and raw materials, were used throughout the period.
Ibn Battuta’s travelogue provides important information for the evaluation of early mercantilist international trade policies, helping to explain the diversity of raw materials, production, and final products, and the general patterns of international trade in that period.