“The salt in a merchant’s letter”: Business Correspondence and the Courier System

Sebouh David Aslanian

in From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780520266872
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947573 | DOI:
“The salt in a merchant’s letter”: Business Correspondence and the Courier System

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This chapter examines the glue that held the Julfan settlements and the trade network together. It considers the circulation of what was arguably the most important commodity throughout the Julfan network: information. It offers the first scholarly treatment of the art of Julfan business correspondence by examining thousands of business and family letters written by Julfan merchants in their unique dialect of mercantile Armenian. In addition to analyzing the stylistic properties of Julfan correspondence and assessing the economic function of letter writing and information sharing, the chapter also looks at the role of correspondence in helping create an “imagined community” of merchants who were scattered in different parts of the world. finally, it addresses the role of Julfan courier networks, which acted as a private order postal system and delivered information and news to Julfan merchants and their families, thus gluing merchants in different settlements together and the settlements to their “nodal center” in New Julfa.

Keywords: New Julfa; settlements; trade network; business correspondence; letters; merchants; information sharing; imagined community; courier networks; news

Chapter.  14229 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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