Islamic Heartlands and India in the 18th Century

The chance survival of a ‘postbag’ of letters reveals a lost world of merchants, pilgrims, bankers and scholars.

Nautical chart of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, 1800-10.

The Bengali merchant Thana Allah found himself in a bind in 1748. Contrary winds and the sudden appearance of Angria pirates were to blame. They had forced his ship – bound for Basra – to turn back towards India’s Malabar coast and there seek refuge in one of the many ports dotting the shoreline. If Thana Allah persisted with his commercial venture westward, his family in Bengal would have

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