Foreign Trade and Items of Trade under the Kushana

Scientific Essay 2014 6 Pages

History - Asia



Two hundred years and more of the Kushana ascendancy in a period of special significance are in our history. The country once again was given political unity, after Mauryas. Distinct progresses were made in literature, arts, sculptures, trade, religion and political unification of the country and brought about stability in economy. During the period of Kushana the trade and commerce has reached on its pinnacle of glory. Through land, India maintained commercial relation with foreign countries from the North-Western part of her boundary and by sea through the ports situated in the Western and Southern regions. They controlled the Indus and the Gangetic basin through which Inland trade was carried.[1]

For more important than internal trade was the foreign trade of India during this period. Literary and archaeological sources strongly suggest the flourishing inter courses of trade between India, the Roman world, Central Asia, China and South-East Asia.[2]. Trade and commerce can flourish only if a region is well connected with the places of commercial interest.[3] After the establishment of the Kushana kingdom, the Geo-political situation of the Kushana Empire makes the North-Western region of the country, the meeting points of the three civilizations i.e. China, India and West Asia.[4] The advent of the Kushana with their full control over the Indus valley, Gandhara and Turkistan safeguard and the major routes of communication. The North Western routes from Gandhara to the Middle East through Bacteria to China through Turkistan and also the Western route from Kandhar through Persia to the Mediterranean Sea port. A brick trade was carried on the regions between Ganga, the Indus, the Euphrates, the Oxus and the Mediterranean, Caspian and Black-Sea.[5] Trade, commerce and art and crafts flourished under the patronage of Kushana Kings.[6] The principal articles of commerce were precious stones, cotton and Silk cloth, timber, aromatics, herbs cereals, sugar and spices among the export, and gold, silver, copper, tin, glass and wine among the imports.[7]

The discovery of Monsoon (Etesian) winds blowing regularly across the Indian Ocean by Hippalus in 47 A.D. about which people had previously only a very vague idea. The evidence on trade is supplied by the Avadans, the Mahavastu, the Avadinasataka, and the Divyavadana, all which had been compiled by the end of the 4th century A.D.[8] The Karmayoni’adhayoga[9] of this text mention five kinds of professions i.e. Govt. officers, trade and commerce, agriculture and animal husbandry, arts and crafts, and work on daily wages or labour. Some of the inscriptions of the Kushana period refer to person like superintending engineer (Navakarmikah), actors (Sailakah), perfumer (Gandhika), goldsmith (Suvarnakaran), big merchants (Sethi), leader of caravans (Sarthavaha), servant or priest, clock makers (Pravarika) and so on.[10]


[1]. Mukherjee, B.N. The Economic factors in Kushana History, Calcutta, 1970 , pp.15-16

[2]. Kumar , Santosh . The Economic History of Ancient India. Allahabad, 1925, p.117

[3]. Singh, Y.B. Essays on Culture and Art of Northern India (upto-1200 A.D.) Jay Kay book house Jammu, 1999, p.230

[4]. Kachroo, Vijay . Ancient India; Harnand Publication Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi p. 280.

[5]. Gosawami, Jaya. Cultural History of Ancient India. Agam Kala Prakashan ,New Delhi, 1979, p.31

[6]. Kachroo, Vijay. op.cit. p. 282.

[7]. Kumar, Baldev .The early Kushana, Sterling publication, Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi,1973, p.198

[8]. Chattopadhyaya, Brajadulal. Essays in Ancient Indian Economic History. Munishiram Manoharlal publisher pvt. Ltd. New Delhi1,1987, p-111

[9]. V.S. Agarwala, “Introduction to Angarijia” in Munishri Panyavijayaji ed. Angavjja. p. 94.

[10]. Chattopadhyaya, Brajadulal op.cit. p-111


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Title: Foreign Trade and Items of Trade under the Kushana