Professor Morris Rossabi
The Mongols and the Sea
Thursday, March 28, 2019
at 4 pm
Room 1122, School of Global and International Studies
355 North Jordan Avenue,
Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
The conventional wisdom is that the Mongol Empire focused on overland expansion and commerce, and deriving from a landlocked region, the Mongols scarcely exhibited much knowledge and expertise in naval warfare and ocean borne trade Their disastrous naval expeditions against Japan and Java would appear to confirm that the Mongols were not adept at sea voyages. However, the number of Yuan dynasty governmental agencies concerned with the sea, the number of missions they sent abroad to India and Japan, and the navigational innovations they sponsored challenge the view of the relative insignificance of the sea to the Mongol rulers. Moreover, the century of Yuan rule witnessed the largest flow of people and products throughout Eurasia until that time. The Mongols’ knowledge of potential markets for goods and their own love of beautiful objects contributed to seaborne commerce. This presentation suggests that the Mongols set the stage for the renowned Zheng He expeditions of the fifteenth century.
Professor Rossabi is a historian of China and Central and Inner Asia. He teaches courses on Inner Asian, East Asian, and Chinese history at Columbia. During the 2008–2009 academic year, he received an honorary doctorate from the National University of Mongolia. He and Mary Rossabi are involved in an oral history of 20th and 21st century Mongolia, which has led to the publication of Socialist Devotees and Dissenters; A Herder, a Trader, and a Lawyer; and The Practice of Buddhism in Kharkhorin and its Revival (National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, 2010, 2012, and 2013). Author or editor of 25 books, he has helped organize exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.
Co-hosted by: The Mongolia Society, Pan Asia Institute, Department of Central Eurasian Studies.