Clarification – Karimi and merchant banks

[Englished version]

I’ve just realised that my reference to the ‘karimi’ could be misunderstood.

If you look online you’ll see there are two groups that may be referred to by that term:

(a) a group of merchants specialising in trading eastern goods. These Karimi are the ones usually said to have begun the idea of  Merchant Banks in the medieval sense;

(b) Karaite Jews of the Crimea.

As a rule the second group (Karaite Jews of the Crimea) are *not* meant.  Karaites or Karaimi, not Karimi is the usual term there.

Karaite Jews, however, were certainly also to be found in considerable number in fifteenth-century Egypt. The same traveller whose description of the balsam garden I quoted, speaks of them at several points in his narrative and gives details of how their script differed from that used by other Jews.

Historians may have misunderstood any relationship between the two groups, but at present the division stands.

The Karimi of Egypt and India  made fabulous fortunes from goods of the eastern trade, but even about this group, let alone about Karaites in the Crimea, information is scarce and argued about.

Nationalistic histories only make things worse by trying to claim or their own nation all credit for such things as inventing merchant-banks.

The attitude is rarely productive of fair studies.  If you don’t mind, then, I’ll just point out a couple of online sources.

  • There’s a pdf entitled  ‘Slave Traders and Karimi Merchants during the Mamluk Period ..’ at

mamluk.uchicago.edu/MSR_X-1_2006-Sato-Tsugitaka_2.pdf

  • This wiki article ‘Merchant Bank’ isn’t too bad. It does at least recognise a wide range of groups, and (unusually) includes discussion of the contribution made by Jews in medieval European history.  (Well done, those wiki-ers).
  • karimi convoys  – on the eastern side of the trade. Another pdf  –  faculty-gsb.stanford.edu/jha/documents/SJhaTradeandInstitutions.pdf

and this relates to Voynich studies because….

of that trade in eastern goods, and specialised fonduks and/or birbar,  that may underlie Baresch’s allusion to “thesauros artis medicae Aegyptiacos”.

Small point – true.

Cheers.

Advertisements

One Reply to “Clarification – Karimi and merchant banks”

  1. I see the stanford link no longer works. The paper is still online.
    Saumitra Jha, ‘Trade, Institutions and Ethnic Tolerance:Evidence from South Asia’ (pdf). I found it by G/gling ‘Karimi’ AND ‘Stanford’.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s