Asian Studies: The Development of the Spice Trade


Though something like a peppercorn may seem extremely insignificant to us now, there was a time when spices like pepper controlled the trade of Europe.

The spice trade was a major factor in the development of the modern world economically, culturally, and politically. One area that was affected majorly by the growth of the spice trade was the economy of Eurasia, affecting different groups of people in different ways. Arab middlemen became very rich due to the spice trade. “… Arab traders sold their cargoes of these precious goods to Italian shippers, who, in turn, sold them to people in European towns and cities… Each time these goods changed hands, their price increased” (Spice It Up 1). This quote shows how the middlemen profited from the spice trade, due to the high demand and the long way the spices had to travel to reach European cities. European powers that controlled the spice trade also benefitted economically. “When the Portuguese… succeeded in gaining a monopoly over the spice trade, they dictated prices as the Venetians had done before them” (Price of Spice 4). As explained in the quote, the country that controlled the spice trade could dictate prices as they wished, making the spices cheaper for themselves and more expensive for other countries. However, these weren’t the only ways the spice trade affected the economy of Eurasia. Not only did countries improve economically as a whole, but the economic status of individuals within the country also changed. “Pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg were status symbols for the ruling class, emblems of power which were displayed and consumed” (Price of Spice 2). As spices were seen as “emblems of power”, the ruling class that consumed it became more powerful, while the poor that could not afford it became more economically distanced for the rich. The economy of Europe and Asia improved, and in some cases worsened, drastically in many ways due to the growth of the spice trade. However, economy wasn’t the only thing affected by the spice trade.

Culture was also greatly affected by the spice trade, particularly religion, for it was spread through the Silk Road. As explained in episode 9 of Crash Course: World History on the Silk Road and Ancient Trade, the trade along the Silk Road, which also consisted of spices, helped the spread of religion to other places. An example is Buddhism, which was dwindling in India, but due to the coming and going of merchants, the religion was gradually spread to other countries in Asia. This example shows how the spice trade played a big part in spreading culture throughout Europe, Buddhism being only one example among many. The episode also explains how cities, along the Silk Road, where the spice trade passed through frequently also became religious centers. Merchants would stop to rest and pray for good luck during their journey. This is yet another example of how the spice trade affected culture, as the culture and religion in these towns and cities flourished due to the coming and going of the merchants. Without the spice trade, religions would never have spread and cultures wouldn’t have developed. The spice trade was therefore a major factor in the spread of culture and religion around the globe.

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Economy and culture were not the only areas majorly affected by the spice trade, because it also played a big part in developing politics during that era, including political borders and wars. Political borders in Asia were constantly changing during this time due to control over the spice trade. “Your Petitioners think it necessary for the Security and Protection of their Trade and Possessions in the East-Indies as soon as possible to to [sic] enlist a Number of Men to serve as Soldiers in India for the Term of five Years” (Thomas Morton 1789). This example shows how, while the British were in possession of the East Indies, the British were worried that other European powers would come and try to take control. The spice trade influenced the growth of empires and change of political borders greatly. The map above shows the colonial expansion of European powers during that time period. Notice how several of the arrows showing the spread of empires head towards the East Indies, because that’s where spice were produced. This shows how the spice trade affected political borders, because European powers were all expanding to the areas where they could best control the spice trade. The spice trade also spurred many wars during Big Era 6, mostly for political power over the areas that supplied spices. “… Europeans …were also in conflict with each other. They competed for trade in Asia and the Americas, and their efforts to establish markets, conquer, and drive out competition, often led to clashes. These commercial and political rivalries led to wars…” (Spice it Up 2). The passage explains how European powers warred for trade in Asia and power over markets and lands. This also contributed to the changing of political borders. Development in political power was created through the spice trade, mainly in swapping of political borders and wars for domination.

To sum up, the spice trade had a major hand in the development of the modern world of Europe, majorly affecting areas such as economy, culture and politics in a large variety of different ways. As hard as it is to believe, those insignificant little peppercorns had a major hand in shaping the world we live in today.




“Exploration and Empires, 1400-1700.” Web. 13 Sept. 2015. <>.

Primary Source:

Morton, Thomas. “Transcript Raising Soldiers for India.” Raising Soldiers for India CO 77/26, Ff. 104-5 (1789): 1. Web. Sept.-Oct. 2015.


“Crash Course: World History – Episode 09: The Silk Road and Ancient Trade.” Web. 12 Sept. 2015.

“The Price of Spice.” 13 Sept. 2015.

“Student Handout 3.1—Spice It Up.” World History for Us All. 13 Sept. 2015.


Two Sides to Every Story

“Me, streaking out of the park, ducking like I was caught in hail: Pregnant, pregnant, pregnant, the word pulsing in the summer night in time to the cicadas” (Flynn 219). This was just one of the many secrets revealed from the two perspectives in Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. It is a book that is written in the different perspectives of Nick Dunne and his wife, Amy Elliott Dunne. The two write about the same events with a completely different point of view and they often shed some light on secrets kept from one another. These two perspectives come together and create an engaging plot, as well as some added suspense.


Throughout most of the rising action, Nick and Amy are both telling the same story, but they each have their own emotions about it, and they both have an idea of who to blame for the downward spiral their marriage has taken. “I won’t blame Nick. I don’t blame Nick… But still. It is our third wedding anniversary and I’m alone in our apartment, my face all mask-tight from tears…” (72). This quote shows the doubts that Amy has in Nick, after he doesn’t show up for their anniversary. She refuses to blame him, because she doesn’t want to be one of those women who yell at their husband for everything, but she still resents him for abandoning her. Meanwhile, Nick paints a completely different picture of what has happened; “I speak specifically of the Amy of today, who was only remotely like the woman I fell in love with… Over just a few years, the old Amy, the girl of the big laugh and the easy ways, literally shed herself, a pile of skin and soul on the floor, and out stepped this new, brittle, bitter Amy” (55). In this quote, it shows that Nick blames Amy for his lack of love for her, because she was the one that turned into a bitter person, forcing Nick to hate her, or so he says. Amy’s diary entries are several months behind Nick’s perspective, so she would describe how something happened that Nick had already talked about earlier on, and it would give us a new idea of who exactly this couple is.


But this is not the main cause for suspense within the story; each perspective reveals new secrets about the relationship. When Nick finds out that Amy was attempting to buy a gun, Amy revealed in her diary several chapters later that she was trying to buy a gun to protect herself and her unborn baby from her husband. “… I was pregnant… I wish I’d been able to get that gun. I get frightened now, sometimes, when my husband gets home” (230). This clearly shows that Amy’s perspective of Nick was that he was dangerous and had potential to hurt her. The trust that she had for him in the first few years of their marriage is gone, implying that Amy may not have been the only one that changed. Nick suspects nothing of this, and believes that his wife was as she always was. He didn’t believe that she still loved him, what with her “new, brittle, bitter” (55) shell, but he still believed that nothing had changed. “’I don’t know, Go. Amy didn’t say anything to me. If she was pregnant, why would she tell Noelle and not tell me?’ ‘Why would she try to get a gun and not tell you?’ ‘None of this makes sense’” (223). In this quote, it is very clear that he had no idea about the gun or the pregnancy, and he’s very confused as to why she would keep it all a secret. Did she not trust him? This all just goes to show that these perspectives have a huge role in progressing the plot and creating suspense for the story, as well as adding in a shock factor.


However, Gone Girl isn’t the only book that uses perspectives in this way. One example of another book that uses different perspectives to create suspense is Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. Just like in Gone Girl, Wonder reveals secrets using the different perspectives, but more than two, and it gives you a new idea of the relationships between characters. For example, in Wonder, we read in Jack’s, August’s best friend, perspective and find out that he actually sees August as a friend, and not as the traitor that August sees him as. “At first, I admit it, I was only friendly to him because Mr. Tushman asked me to be especially nice and all that. But now I would choose to hang out with him” (Palacio 143). In Gone Girl, Amy, the person Nick once saw as a beautiful, funny woman, is revealed in Nick’s perspective as someone he no longer loves. This is similar to Wonder, because in both, it is revealed that the characters have a different perspective on someone than we originally thought, although Jack’s perspective would lead to positive consequences and Nick’s wouldn’t.


To sum up, it is obvious that in this book, the use of different perspectives plays a big role in creating the suspense needed in a mystery like Gone Girl. This is because it gives the reader more insight to how the characters see each other, and shows their true feelings for each other, as well as revealing secrets about characters that the reader never would have suspected if not for the perspectives. There are other books, like Wonder, that use this method in the same way, by coming together and creating added suspense to the story.


Flynn, Gillian. Gone Girl. London: Phoenix, 2013. Print.

A Perfect Scene Of Despair

Let me set the scene. It’s the morning of your fifth anniversary, and you wake up in your childhood home, Missouri, to the sounds of your wife making a special breakfast of crepes for you. How could this be anything other than perfect? Well, in the life of Nick Dunne, it’s anything but. The setting laid out for the reader in the beginning of Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, creates a mood that implies hopelessness and despair.

The first sign of this mood appears when Nick talks about the unemployment of both him and his wife. “Do not blame me for this particular grievance, Amy. The Missouri Grievance. Blame the economy, blame bad luck, blame my parents, blame your parents, blame the Internet, blame the people who use the Internet. I used to be a writer… I had a job for eleven years and then I didn’t, it was that fast” (Flynn 4). He rants on about his current situation, setting the scene for our current generation, where everyone uses the Internet and writers like him and his wife, Amy, go out of business. He has no hope of getting his old job back, as the use of technology is rapidly rising. As he talks about this problem, it is clear that the mood created is hopelessness.

Despite the deep plunge that the mood in this setting has already taken, it only gets worse. The only reason that Nick and Amy have moved back to Missouri is because of his mother’s illness. “Go’s voice was warm and crinkly even as she gave this cold news: Our indomitable mother was dying”(5). Even Nick’s warm feelings for his childhood home aren’t enough to raise spirits for this occasion. Not to mention Amy strongly dislikes Missouri, after being pulled away from her home in the busy bustling city of New York, where she grew up. It couldn’t be clearer that this is hopeless situation.

Another slightly larger piece of evidence that shows this mood is his reaction to his wife and his fifth anniversary and his reaction when he sees her. It’s not the reaction that a man who loves his wife would have; “… she leaned against the kitchen counter and said, ‘Well, hello, handsome.’ Bile and dread inched up my throat” (8). He talks about his initial feelings for her, but as the exposition goes on, it shows that these feelings are now non-existent. “I knew I liked her then, really liked her, this girl with an explanation for everything. There’s something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold” (7). These quotes all lay out a scene worth despairing, for he no longer has love for his wife, the one person who should be able to comfort him.

While it may seem slightly pitiful that a person’s life could appear to go so wrong, I’m sure there are many other people, especially in our world today, who go through the same hopelessness and despair that Nick is going through. There are people today that may too have been fired from a job because of the upscale in technology. There are also people today that have seen their marriage go down to the drain for the same reasons Nick’s did, though these reasons have not been made clear yet. Because of all this, they would without a doubt be experiencing the same moods that are portrayed in the exposition of this story.

Therefor, it is clear from the exposition of this story that the setting projects a mood of hopelessness and sadness for many reasons, some including the loss of his job and the failure of his marriage. Let me set the scene as we now see it. It’s the morning of your fifth anniversary, a day that you have always dreaded. You wake up in your childhood home, Missouri, as an unemployed man that has had to move back here to take care of your dying mother. You wake to the sounds of your wife, who has become a cold shell to you, making a special breakfast that you’ll probably feel too queasy to even enjoy. This scene is anything but perfect.


Flynn, Gillian. Gone Girl. London: Phoenix, 2013. Print.

Polymer Design Journal #4

Today, we watched the final videos that everyone made for the polymer project.

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I think that our final prototype was very good. It was still very durable and we managed to fulfill our initial goal, to create a coaster. Our video wasn’t exactly professional, because it would probably be more interesting if it wasn’t too serious. Our video still managed to describe all the elements of the product fairly clearly, and I think that that’s what is important.

However, I know that ours wasn’t the best, because there were a lot of other videos that were much better in quality. The FiFi, the Bumpies and the Renare were all examples of really good videos and prototypes. I felt that the first two both had very creative ideas for real world application, and I like the video for the Renare because I particularly liked their method of introducing the different colors the polymer came in.

As a whole, I think this unit went fairly well, because we reached the goal that we wanted (with good quality) without getting sidetracked. Although, I know that if we had a bit more time, we would be able to improve this prototype further, because it didn’t stick well enough to the bottom of the cup to stop it from getting knocked over.

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Polymer Design Journal #3

Day 3 – April 9:

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We finished making all our prototypes last class, so this class, we chose our final prototype and created more of it. The prototype that we chose was Trial 2, because it was the stretchiest and least easy to break. All our polymers were non-slip, but this was the only one that stayed together well, even after two days, so we decided that this would be the most appropriate polymer. We made more of it, because we needed more to display in our video, which we will film tomorrow. We originally only had a small ball of it, and we knew that we would need more to create a coaster, which is the goal of our product.

When making this larger scale polymer, we doubled the amount of ingredients used in the original recipe and it came out with almost exactly the same properties. However, we had to do this twice, because in the first one, it came out too watery.

Throughout the entire process, I found that there was never much need to change our idea/goal, because instead we changed our method of making it to fit our requirements. This is the current recipe for our polymer:

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In the end, we also decided to marble our polymer, to make it look more appealing and interesting for the final video.

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Polymer Design Journal #2

Day 2 – April 7:

Today, we continued testing and designing our polymer. We’ve decided that instead of making the non-slip polymer for glasses, we would use it as coasters, because using it on glasses may cause it to stain your face with food coloring. The polymer, however, would still need to be non-slip. We started off with some of the same materials, but changing the quantities. The result from our second trial was a polymer that was much stretchier than our first and not as easily breakable.

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We tested the waterproof ability of this polymer by incasing a piece of paper inside and putting it in water. When we took it back out, the paper was dry. We also tested this by pulling it over the cover of a cup of water and turning the cup upside down. No water came out, and this also proved that the polymer was much stronger and would be able to hold its shape when there is a weight on it. This polymer was also non-slip.

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We were fairly sure this would be our final polymer, but just to be sure, we did a third trial of another polymer. This polymer stuck together very well, but wasn’t very stretchy, and so wouldn’t be able to be stretched into the shaped of a coaster.

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Next class, we will begin making our video. At the end of class, we left out samples of each polymer, and next class we’ll see the effects the polymers will have when dried out.

Polymer Design Journal #1

Day 1 – March 31:

We started our project today! My partner Joy and I started off by designing the polymer together. We decided that we wanted a polymer that could stop things from slipping. For example, you could stick it on the nose pad of your glasses to stop them from slipping and having to push them back up all the time. As someone who has worn glasses for a long time, I know this can be a pain. To make this type of effect, we would need a polymer thats sticky but not too sticky, and not slimy at all. It also has to be fairly firm and be able to keep its shape. So this class, we looked back through our slime tests to find the main materials that would create this effect. We decided not to add too much laundry starch, because that made the Boogers very slimy, and added a little bit of everything else. Here is our simplified procedure so far:

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So far, we haven’t been able to create the polymer that we wanted, and the polymer looks a bit like Silly Putty. It’s not slimy and sticky but not too sticky, but we haven’t tested if it’s non-slip yet (something we need to do next class). We left it out to dry last class, so next time we will see if it is non-slip when dry. If not, we will change the design accordingly.

Cultural Un-Barriers Final Reflection

During this unit, the first thing I had to do was find out what represents my cultural identity. I made a mind map with different things that represent my cultural identity, with examples in each category. Afterwards, I had to choose which I would like to turn into a stamp, and then start designing different designs that would represent this aspect. I chose the one I liked most, and got peer feedback on it. Meanwhile, we started making a digital self-portrait of ourselves. We took pictures for it with partners, chose our favorite and drew it out on Adobe Illustrator (we already done a test drawing before this of ice cream). As I finished this, I had to start creating a background for this the portrait, using different colors and textures first, and then my stamp print. I also had to choose a stamp from another class that I related to.

The aspect of my cultural identity that I chose was my love for TV shows and movies. The bulk of my stamp was Disney related, because Disney movies and stories have been a big part of my childhood and taught me many values. My stamp includes Disney, Harry Potter and other movies/TV shows that I have recently been interested in, because these are all some of my favorite examples from this aspect. The stamp from the other class that I related to was Howard Lam’s, because his stamp showed that he was Chinese, and I’m also Chinese.

Most of the things that we did in this unit are new to me, because I’ve never done stamp making or any drawing on the computer. This was very interesting to learn, and would be very useful art skills in the future. I would like to practice digital drawing more and improve on it. Also, during the planning process, something new that I learned was to do multiple designs. Before, I would just draw one design and keep erasing stuff and building off that, but I never drew out multiple ideas. This is a useful method that I could start using in the future, because it’s much more effective.

Throughout this whole project, something that I found extremely challenging was finding a way to combine all those TV shows and movies into a simple yet effective stamp. The ones I came up with were all a bit too complicated, and so was my final design, because there’s still too much going on in the stamp. I feel that I practice more of this on my own; I’ll be able to improve on this in the future. A breakthrough for me during this unit was that I discovered I was actually pretty good at drawing digitally, something I have always wanted to do. I really enjoyed learning how to make art digitally, because I’ve seen many examples of this online, but was never sure how to do it. This unit gave me a chance to try it out, and I’ve found that it’s something I would like to continue doing in the future.

American Revolution Journal

This is the link to my character’s revolution journal.


The American Revolution was a revolution for a reason. When the end of this time came, it brought with it many changes, but the most important differences were political. Before the Revolution, all the political power was in the hands of the King and Parliament, and the government system was a monarchy. Afterwards, the power went to the people and a new government was set up, with George Washington as the first president. The government created at this time set the foundation for the future government. There were other things that changed after the revolution, like the number of colonies, because the leaders didn’t think that the United States should have been limited to thirteen colonies. At first, they considered giving the new states less power than the original ones, but in the end, all the states were given equal power. Another thing that changed was religion. There were some states that at first decided to keep their churches, but in the end, freedom of religion was accepted.

However, although the revolution caused many changes in America, there were also many things that remained the same. One important thing was slavery, which was not abolished. If anything, it became more protected, especially in the South, and many states wanted to spread it further. Slavery was only finally ended by the Civil War in 1861, but African-Americans were still treated less than equally compared to white men. Women were also still treated less equally and were not given the right to vote, or any personal rights. Social order was still kept the same, with only wealthy, white, landowning men given power, and farmers owning land given the right to vote. All this was later on changed. First, the African-Americans were allowed to vote, then the women, and finally the Native Americans.