Bing Zhao. Luxury and Power: The Fascination with Chinese Ceramics in Medieval Swahili Material Culture
Centuries before the European fascination with Chinese porcelain began, Asian high-fired pottery had long been prized along the shores of the western Indian Ocean. The ocean covers more than 70 million square kilometres and extends from Africa to Australia and from Asia to Antarctica. By as early as the 1st century CE, a series of long-distance maritime networks had emerged, based on the seasonal shifting of the monsoon winds. Their development led to the progressive integration of different regions of the Indian Ocean. Beginning in the 7th century, specifically because of the parallel expansions of the Chinese empire of the Tang dynasty (618-907) and of the world of Islam, the Indian Ocean and China Sea were interconnected and formed the first transcontinental trading systems.