Ceramics in Indian Ocean Trade

The East African Experience

In: Matatu
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  • 1 , Kenya, Nairobi
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Ceramics have been extensively imported on the East African Coast over many centuries. The principal sources have been Iran and China, the latter trans-shipped through the port of Malacca and the Indian ports of the western Indian Ocean. These ceramics were used to embellish the gates and mihrabs of mosques, and the exteriors of elaborate tombs. They were vessels in homes and decorations on buildings. In the last two centuries, the old ceramics came to be supplanted by imported ware more utilitarian in make and appearance. These came in mainly from Holland, England and Germany. These products of Western Europe were influenced by the Islamic markets they had entered, while in turn these plates became an important part of the East African Coast’s architecture and Swahili traditions and homes.

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