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Notes on the Geography of China: Macao: Photo 23

world pictures China: Macao

We've managed to get this far without ever talking about the source of Macao's original prosperity--its wealth before gambling, before coolie-export, before opium. Back in the 1600's a fleet arrived from Malacca in early summer; the ships brought pepper, Indian cotton, European mirrors and clocks, and Middle Eastern jewelry. The ships sold some of what they carried and loaded up with Chinese silk from the winter fair in Canton. Before the typhoon season came in July, the fleet headed north to Nagasaki, where it sold Chinese silk, Indian cotton, and European wine for silver. While the fleet was in Japan, the Canton summer fair was held. When the fleet returned by Christmas, shipowners invested the Japanese silver in silk from that fair, as well as pearls, medicines, and porcelain, then sailed early in the year for Malacca and Europe.

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