New Julfa

There are names of places that evoke images of adventure, the desire to travel and go and see the geheimnisvolle Orient. Isfahan (Ger., Eng.) is such a name. But when in Isfahan next time, do not miss to see New Julfa.
Isfahan saw its golden age under the Safavid Dynasty (Ger., Eng.), who ruled from 1501 until 1722. They made Isfahan their capital in 1598. Shah Abbas I. (Ger., Eng.) conquered Armenia (Ger., Eng.) – and a lot of other regions –  at the beginning of the 17th century and re-located the population of the city Julfa in the Caucasus by force. They were weavers and tradesmen, merchants. Until Nader Shah (Ger., Eng.) destroyed New Julfa 1747 this city and its Armenian population developed a truly global trade system: They connected Europe-Eurasian trade with South-East-Asia. The Armenian merchants traded silk and silver, and formed a system of trade posts around the Mediterranean into Northern Europe with Amsterdam as terminal; they also had connections into the Russian state; at the same time they had stations at the shores of the Indian Ocean and further through India, reaching out to the Philippines. All these lines and connections merged in New Julfa  (Ger., Eng.). Abbas I. had not only the Armenian merchants transferred to this place, but he gave them the monopoly on the export of silk. In 1622 he retook the island of Hormuz (Ger., Eng.) from the Portuguese, so breaking their position in the trade of the region.
The Armenian merchants developed a system of companies with outposts run by agents all over the world: The agent was a kind of subcontractor, he stood in a very close, contractually defined relation to the chief of the operation, and very often additionally in a kinship relation.
The agents held close contact to the centre by letters. In the year 1748 British naval forces confiscated a ship “Santa Catharina” in India. She carried aboard 1.700 pieces of correspondence between chiefs and agents written in an Armenian dialect. The convolut came into the British Library and there it seemingly was forgotten.
Until Sebouh David ASLANIAN used these sources for his book about the Armenian worldwide trade connections from Madras to St.Petersburg, Manila to Venedig. This is what HOPKINS (Eng.) and BAYLY (Ger., Eng.) called Proto-globalization (Eng.). Seems to be worth a look.

ASLANIAN, Sebouh David: From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean. The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa (California World History Library),  2011.

12 thoughts on “New Julfa

  1. I have BEEN to Isfahan!!! Where are you, or at least what country are you in? I’ve seen you on a few blogs I used to follow, most dpecifically MJ’s.

    I’m getting virtually no traffic. I’m thinking of doing the FB blogging thing. I want to be unfettered by a little box that limits how much I can write. I think writing’s beautiful. It’s what separates us, largely, from the beasts.

    And here we are, trying to get rid of it by using something with less feeling, fewer words and a little box. Or a tweet. No thanks.It may be clever, somehow, saying the same thing in fewer words.

    But we’re losing our feeling, our zest, in our rush to save time.
    we need to slow down and smell the roses.

    Thanks for dropping by! If I move my blog, I’ll let you know.

  2. I always wanted to see a desert. I don’t know why, something to do with the expanse of it… likewise, I always wanted to visit the poles…. just to check that they are actually there.

  3. Hey Chris, you old battlehorse, good to see you! I lost track of spaceship Orion sometime last year, and had the impression that you did stop using it. I saw you lately at the Infomaniac and under Zig’s duvet.
    What did you do in Isfahan – was there a sports event?

    See, Austere, all the good things come from India! In German newspapers etc. the last Shah is often called the last ruler “auf dem Pfauenthron” – I had no idea that it originally came – well: was robbed – from India.

    No, von LX, I haven’t been there. I would very much like to travel the Near East including the “-stans”, all these former sovjet republics with names ending on “stan”. With a rucksack and a Lytro. And yes – the Pyramids!

    These are regions I feel no attraction to, MsScarlet: The idea to have to march through the big white Nothing while parts of my body gently freeze off … I’d declare some place the Pole and treck back the fifty meters to the snow bar … I like to see pictures of sand or stone deserts and I’d even join a Karawane, but only once.

  4. Hey, sorry to take so long. I was in Isfahan as part of a cross-continents trip I went on in 1979 to India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Greece, and then all through Europe to England and back. I actually started the trek in England and went to India & back. Be well!

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