Dr Ryan Holroyd1
1Academia Sinica, Nangang, Taiwan
This presentation will examine the role of Putuoshan as a commercial centre in East Asia’s early modern maritime trading network. It will use the case of this island to demonstrate how Chinese government policies influenced the evolution of trade across Asia. Putuoshan is a verdant island off the coast of China’s Zhejiang province, and is primarily known as the site of several important Buddhist monasteries. Less well known is the fact that it was a common departure point for merchant vessels heading from China to Japan during the Kangxi period (1661 – 1722). The argument that my presentation will advance is that Putuoshan’s importance as a maritime centre was dependent on the warm relationship the island’s monasteries enjoyed with Qing officials in Zhejiang. Patronage from the officials encouraged the popularity of Putuoshan as a pilgrimage site and limited oversight of traffic in the island’s harbour. It was only during the Yongzheng emperor’s reign (1722 – 1735) that concerns about smuggling and emigration to Japan prompted stricter management of commerce, and consequently reduced Putuoshan’s role. The changing fortunes of the island will illustrate the ways that Qing government policies reshaped China’s commercial links to the rest of maritime Asia.
Dr Ryan Holroyd is a researcher focussed on the development of maritime connections across East and Southeast Asia in the early modern period. Ryan received a doctorate in history and Asian studies from the Pennsylvania State in 2018, and is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the Academia Sinica in Taiwan.