Journal of World History, vol. 6, no. 1 (1995)


The Lateen Sail in World History, pp. 1-23
I. C. Campbell
Conventional interpretations give the lateen sail an important place in the history of navigation as a transitional sail–a link between square sails and fore-and-aft sails–that Europeans adopted from the Arabs. The conventional view is that this acquisition endowed European ships with greater maneuverability and thereby made possible the new ship designs and voyaging accomplishments of the Renaissance and later centuries. The conventional view also holds that superior sails evolved from the lateen, leading to a lasting transformation of sailing ship technology. This article maintains, on the contrary, that the Arabs neither invented the lateen nor transmitted it to Europe; that it was a specialized sail, the wider importance of which has been generally exaggerated; that it did not lead to further sail evolution; and that lateen-style sails were developed in the Pacific independently of those in the west Asian and Mediterranean culture areas.

Silks and Religions in Eurasia, c. A.D. 600-1200, pp. 25-48
Liu Xinru
For more than a thousand years, long-distance trade in silk flourished over trade routes passing through some of the most inhospitable terrain on earth. Commerce in silk persisted for two main reasons. First, silk became a status symbol in several important states. Both China during the Sui and Tang dynasties and the Byzantine empire established dress codes in which silk indicated high status in bureaucratic and ecclesiastical hierarchies. Both states also enacted sumptuary laws banning the wearing of silk and other unwarranted clothing by commoners. Second, silk became a sacred object and a token of sacred objects among both Buddhists and Christians. Buddhist monks and merchants carried silk to India out of devotion. Meanwhile, silk costumes became necessary regalia for Christian priests, and silk fabrics served as ceremonial covers for the relics of saints. From the eighth century Islamic rulers brought sericulture and filature to the vast area from India to the Mediterranean basin. The Islamic textile industry produced large quantities of silk fabrics and made silk available in much of Eurasia.

Muslims and Hindus in the Culture and Morphology of Quanzhou from the Tenth to the Thirteenth Century, pp. 49-74
Hugh R. Clark
This exploratory essay argues that China’s maritime frontier, especially the coastline south of the Yangzi River, was an important site for the shaping of Chinese culture during the later imperial era. This frontier therefore deserves attention alongside the better known and more frequently studied “inner Asian” frontier of the north. Archaeological evidence demonstrates the presence of communities of Muslims from west Asia and Hindus from south and southeast Asia in the port city of Quanzhou throughout the Song dynasty. Those communities and the trade ties they represented influenced a range of cultural innovations, including the introduction of the Champa strain of rice, which transformed Chinese agronomy, and the conception of the monkey god popularized as Sun Wukong in the Chinese novel Journey to the West.

Guns and Government: A Comparative Study of Europe and Japan, pp. 75-106
Stephen Morillo
Did gunpowder weapons cause the “military revolutions” in sixteenth-century Europe and Japan, or were prior governmental changes the key factor? Japan provides a clear control case for comparison with Europe, because the date of the introduction of gunpowder weapons is unambiguous: 1543. The evidence suggests that Japanese rulers first tightened their hold over their administrative systems, beginning in the late fifteenth century. Military changes based on those improvements had begun in the first three decades of the sixteenth century, well before the introduction of gunpowder. This prior military change seems to have made possible the effective introduction of gunpowder weapons into Japan. This pattern suggests new ways to think about the European military revolution. It also suggests conclusions about “warring states periods” as a useful comparative category and about the limited role of technology as an agent of change in the premodern world.

The American YMCA in Meiji Japan: God’s Work Gone Awry, pp. 107-125
Jon Thares Davidann
Drawing inspiration from Mikhail Bakhtin’s dialogic model of analysis, this article examines the intercultural interchange between the American YMCA and Japanese Christians from 1887 to 1897. In 1887 the American YMCA sent three missionaries to Japan. Encouraged by the number and quality of conversions, the YMCA had high hopes for successful missionary work in Japan. This hope was dashed in the 1890s, as Japanese Christians involved in YMCA activities made it clear that they took an independent approach to Christianity. They showed interest in liberal theology, staged YMCA summer schools, and rejected American YMCA membership standards. By 1897 the American YMCA’s corresponding secretary in Japan had resigned in frustration at the inability of the American organization to understand or control events in Japan. This forced the American YMCA home office to reevaluate its mission to Japan.

BOOK REVIEWS, pp. 127-152