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Brief History of Trade in Indonesia

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Trade is a buying and selling transaction of goods between the seller and the buyer somewhere. Trade transactions may arise in the event of a meeting between supply and demand for the desired good. Trade is also a specific activity, because it involves a series of goods production and distribution activities. See also History of Puppet in Indonesia

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Trade Has Been Happened Since Prehistoric

The history of trade in Indonesia has started from the prehistoric era. This is evidenced by the discovery of nekara, beads and other metal tools. The goods spread from Sabang to Merauke. The trade in such goods occurs because of demand from indigenous people, especially those deemed to be respected or capable. Indo-Pacific glass beads spread throughout Indonesia to the Pacific. This is a clear proof of trade between nations. This trade is increasing due to maritime relationships conducted by canoe or boat.

Trade in Indonesia before Christ

Based on existing evidence, trade between nations is increasing when entering the beginning of BC. Already found settlements and harbors in coastal areas so as to facilitate in the distribution of goods desired. Arikamedu pottery findings from India at Pacung Site – North Bali is strong evidence of inter-nation trade involving foreign merchants in several regions of Indonesia in early AD. Read also History of Buddhism in Indonesia

The Silk Road Gives Advantage to Indonesia

Indonesia lies between Asian and European continents as well as the Pacific and Indian oceans. This is a strategic position in the intercontinental merchant shipping lanes. Because of this strategic position, Indonesia follows a trade path that is a silk path. 

The silk road is from China and Indonesia, through the Malacca Strait to India. From here it is to the Persian Gulf, through Syria to the Mediterranean Sea.

Some road to the Red Sea through Egypt and also to the Mediterranean Sea (Van Leur). Sea trade between India, China and Indonesia began in the first century AD. Likewise Indonesia’s relations with the regions of the West (the Roman Empire).

The presence of islands in Indonesia and relationships with the outside world. There is a tendency to be a trading relationship.

Trade happens because of the exchange between various goods area. Trading in antiquity can not be interpreted as a trade as we know it today. Trading at that time can be interpreted as an exchange of goods with goods called inatura or barter.

Trade relations between islands gradually evolved into wider trade. The relationship between Indonesia and India and China has grown since the beginning of Christ date. The trade has taken place first with the country of India. Then also with China.

Kingdoms Era (Sriwijaya Period)

Before the fifth century, Indonesia had entered the world trade with the Chinese. The traded goods include: kemenyan, sandalwood, camphor, spices, various handicrafts and animals.

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Merchandise which is an export commodity include: salt, nutmeg pepper, fennel, clove, gaharu wood, sandalwood, resin, camphor, cane sugar, banana, pinang, kapok, coconut, elephant ivory, turtle shell, and cotton cloth.

Imported commodities include: silk fabric, silk umbrella, sword, indigo, candle, iron pot, dish, bowl, warangan, pandan mat, pepper, nutmeg, camphor, ivory, gold, silver and copper. The goods are traded between domestic traders and also foreign traders entering the waters of the archipelago. You may read also The Dark History of Violence Indonesia

During the Sriwijaya period, when international trade from East Asia to Western Asia and Europe, reached its golden age. Trades in the period of traditional kingdoms have the nature of political capitalism.

The influence of kings in trade is enormous. Kings and nobles derive their wealth from tributes and taxes. There is no protection against certain types of products, because they are actually benefited by the number of ships that “stop by”.

The Use of Money

The use of money in the form of gold coins and silver coins was known in Kingdoms era. But the use of new money began to be known in the period of Islamic empires, such as picis made of lead in Cirebon. It is still limited, because many barter trade takes place in the International trading system. Therefore, there is no surplus or deficit that must be offset by exports or imports of precious metals.

Trade Between China and Indonesia

The biggest traders come from China and the Middle East. They exchange congenital products such as ceramics with Indonesian produce. Namely nutmeg and fragrances which are the best selling commodities.

The demand of ceramics in large quantities by the people of Indonesia is a good opportunity in forging the ropes of trade between these nations. The largest increase in luxury goods occurred during the Majapahit Kingdom in the XIV century.

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Luxury goods are in the form of silk and porcelain from China. They even sent a special envoy with the title of arya or patih to conduct diplomatic trade with China. History of Tsunami in Bali

The trade increased more rapidly when there was a Chinese travel mission led by Zheng He. Zeng He was Emperor Yongle’s deputy from the Ming Dynasty to extend Ming’s influence beyond the Chinese border. This took place between 1405 – 1433 AD. The mission finally brought up port cities along the northern coast of Java Island in the XV century.

Trade of Asian Nations Attracts Europe’s Attention

The bustle of trade and the need for spices, attracted the attention of Europeans. Europeans make their own voyages to find the source of the spice. The Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch are Europeans capable of mastering and monopolizing spices in Indonesia. In the XVI – XIX century they magnified the name of Batavia as the largest port city in Asia.

Since Europe was raising Batavia, they controlled the other areas around it. This is the beginning of the occupation of Indonesia by the Europeans. Colonization begins by the Dutch, then the Portuguese. This is because the Europeans want to got the needs of their spices with more quantities.

Indonesian colonization by the Europeans

Trade in Indonesia seems to be the main history of Indonesian colonization. Colonization begins by the Dutch then Portuguese and Spanish as well as English. Indonesian colonialism ended the kingdom in Indonesia. One by one the Indonesian empire collapsed.

The rules of trade were then dominated by the colonialist nation. They forced the Indonesian people to work hard to produce spices to meet the needs of Europe. You may also read The Amazing History of Pottery in Indonesia

Trade in Indonesia continues to change in accordance with the colonial power at the time. In addition to the Netherlands, Britain and Japan contribute in the colonialism of Indonesia. But the Indonesian does not remain silent. Throughout the occupation took place, so long as the struggle for independence was made by Indonesian.
In the end, Indonesia became independent on August 17, 1945. Indonesian trade continued to develop until there was Indonesian trade today.

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