Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 March 2008
THE DUTCH COMPANY TRADE
The Coromandel coast
We noted earlier that the first Indian region to be reached by the Dutch East India Company was the Coromandel coast where a factory was established as early as 1606. While the region had the potential of providing items such as indigo, saltpetre and diamonds for the European market, its principal attraction consisted in the availability of large quantities of textiles initially primarily for southeast Asia, but eventually also for the European market. The staple varieties included the ‘long cloth’, dyed in bright colours and with stripes and checks, and re-exported extensively by the Dutch from Europe to the West Indies under the title of ‘Guinea linen’. A variant, bleached white or dyed blue, was also extensively used in the southeast Asian trade under the designation of ‘negro-cloth’. Other staple varieties exported to Europe included bethilles, salampuris, muris and parcallas. The range of the varieties exported to the Asian markets was much larger. The principal consuming markets served by the Dutch were in southeast Asia and included the Spice Islands (the Moluccas, Banda and Celebes), Java, Sumatra, the Malay peninsula, Siam and Burma. In the Far East, limited quantities of Coromandel textiles figured in the exports to Taiwan and Japan. Other Asian markets supplied with these textiles were Sri Lanka and Persia. In Indonesia, these textiles were used primarily to procure pepper and other spices, but were often also used as a medium of payment to the soldiers in the service of the Company.