Accepted paper:

Embroidered flowers and birds for Shah Abbas I: Chinese silks in Portuguese Diplomatic Missions during Early Modern world

Author:

Maria João Ferreira (CHAM)

Paper short abstract:

In 1611 a Chinese textile was included in the shopping list of gifts to buy in India for Shah Abbas I. This paper aims to find out what led the Portuguese to elect Chinese textiles as diplomatic gifts to the Safavid Iran ruler and its consequences in the Portuguese trade of Persian and Chinese silk.

Paper long abstract:

In 1611 a Chinese embroidered ensemble was included in the shopping list of gifts to buy in India for Shah Abbas I, the greatest ruler of the Safavid Iran. Their mention in the royal instructions sent to D. Jerónimo de Azevedo, Viceroy of India, calls our attention to various aspects related to the circulation of Chinese textiles through Portuguese trade networks in Asia and between Asia and Europe in Early Modern world. This is the case of the circuits involved, but also the status and meaning that shapes these objects. To the point of the Crown regularly exhibit or take them as gifts within the Portuguese diplomatic contacts and missions held both in Portugal and abroad. Under the then ongoing diplomatic relations between Portugal and Safavid Iran these aspects gain greater projection: while Portugal tried to maintain at all costs its solid position in the Persian Gulf area, simultaneously, Abbas I, the emperor of one of the most important country silk producers in the world sought new outlets to get products to Western markets. This paper aims to find out what led the Portuguese Crown to elect the Chinese textiles as diplomatic gifts under these circunstances and the consequences of this strategy in the Portuguese trade of Persian and Chinese silk.

panel P12
Global gifts: material culture and diplomatic exchange in the Early Modern world