Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History


Malwa has been much inquired after during the last week. They must have heard of the price in Canton. I do not think we could get more than 40-50$ more than the Canton prices. We should have 100 chests up for this market to sell with the Bengal drug.

Captain Rees in Shenhu Bay to William Jardine in Canton, 15 June 1836.*

The historical region of Malwa produced an alternate to the East India Company's monopoly opium from Patna and Benares. Indore, where this page is geotagged, is the largest present-day city in what was once called Malwa.

Malwa opium was packaged in cakes, rather than balls, and exported out of Bombay (Mumbai) rather than Calcutta (Kolkata). Because Malwa was produced outside of the British East India Company monopoly in Patna and Benares, its quality and pricing by the time it reached China was more volatile. The Shi lineage of Yakou Village purchased a great deal of Malwa for resale in Taiwan and North China during the mid-1830s.

The above quote from Captain Rees contextualizes the place of Malwa in the Shenhu Bay opium market during 1836. As Rees tells Jardine in the quotation, the brokers (people from Yakou village and the surrounding area) had a close eye on pricing in Guangzhou and Lintin. Both Rees and his Chinese partners were therefore trying to take advantage of price discrepancies between different opium markets on the China coast.

*Source: JM B2-7, Reel 495, No. 1, 6/15/1836.

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