Chapter 20: The Unconventional Right to Distribution
“How do you all intend to sell the Hyderabad ore?”
Wang Chong lifted his head up and asked.
“We don’t intend on selling the ores directly. Firstly, we don’t accept Wu Zhu coins, copper coins, or silver taels. The currency in the Central Plains is not accepted in Sindhu. However, we can accept gold and jewelry!”
The two monks said.
Wang Chong nodded his head. As this was similar with the other foreign traders from the Western Region, he wasn’t surprised by this demand.
“Other than that, we only sell by batches. If gongzi simply wants to buy a few to play with due to the novelty of the object, please pardon us but we won’t be able to sell it to you. If that’s the case, it would be best if you leave.”
Gradually, a stern expression appeared on the faces of the two monks. They had traveled great distance not just to earn a few spare change. Rather, they hoped to find a wealthy buyer for their commodity.
This was the mission given to them.
“Finally, if a deal is struck, at least half of the payment must be paid using rations. This is also the most important term of all, as well as the prerequisite for our trade. Only if one can do this will we view him as our collaborator.”
“Furthermore, you and your family will earn the respect and gratitude of us Sindhis. We, from Hyderabad, will also supply you with the ore continuously!”
The two Sindhi monks said with a serious expression.
Wang Chong exclaimed. He was surprised by their conditions.
He could understand why they wouldn’t accept Wu Zhu coins, copper and silver currency. However, it was beyond Wang Chong’s expectation for them to demand to offer half of the payment in terms of rations.
Who uses rations for payment?
Initially, Wang Chong thought that the two monks were joking. However, upon seeing their serious expression, Wang Chong knew that they meant what they said.
“Why would this be?”
Wang Chong was baffled. This was the weirdest trading terms he had heard before. However, looking into the gaze of the two, a thought suddenly flashed through Wang Chong’s mind and some memory that he had almost forgotten from his previous life was dredged up:
Sindhu and the Central Plains were completely different countries!
They had a huge population, but they did not enjoy the prosperity of the Central Plains.
Based on Wang Chong’s understanding, most of the time, Sindhu was plagued with poverty, war, darkness, and chaos. This also explained why the Sindhu, despite uncovering such a strategic resource in the Hyderabad mines, did not use the ores for themselves and instead, went around the world to search for a buyer.
They needed rations, large amount of rations!
Most probably, they were just trying to cover up this fact by saying half. If possible, they would probably wish to trade it all for rations to bring them back to Sindhu.
The situation gradually grew clearer and clearer in Wang Chong’s mind.
Based on his memories, it was likely that Sindhu was in dire famine now and these two monks carried a huge responsibility on their shoulders.
It was no wonder they were uninterested in small trades.
“…However, this makes the matter harder to deal with!”
Wang Chong frowned as he recalled something.
Theoretically, as long one had money, one could buy anything in the Great Tang. However, the problem was that the Great Tang regulated the flow of rations extremely carefully. It would be difficult to sell even a single grain of rice to the other countries.
‘Hunger breeds discontentment’. In reality, Great Tang wasn’t the only one to implement such strategy. If one were to look at the previous eras, regardless of which dynasty one was in, food was always a commodity which was strictly regulated
These two foreign monks wanted to half of the payments to be in the form of food, and this was a huge challenge to Wang Chong. It was the death penalty for those who smuggled food out and sell it in the other countries!
Just by this demand itself, probably no one in the Great Tang would be able to do business with these two foreign monks.
Wang Chong came to a realization. It wasn’t without a cause that Great Tang failed to lay its hands on a strategic resource like the Wootz steel. The demands of these two foreign monks weren’t something that just anyone could fulfill.
Wang Chong felt that the situation was extremely tricky.
However, he couldn’t just give up on the Wootz steel like that!
“…Do I really have to give up this deal to those of the Abbasid Caliphate?”
Wang Chong panicked within.
He knew that the Abbasid Caliphate would soon become a great adversary of the Great Tang. If these people were to lay their hands on huge amounts of Hyderabad ores, their military strength would be significantly boosted.
More importantly, it wasn’t just a conjecture on Wang Chong’s part. This had become reality in his previous life.
If he could take down a great amount of Hyderabad ores, not only would he benefit from it, it would also help to whittle down the strength of Great Tang’s enemies.
“Wait, something’s wrong. The Abbasid Caliphate don’t eat rice!”
A thought flashed through Wang Chong’s mind and he suddenly remembered something.
The Arabs didn’t eat rice; what they ate was a type of large date plum. Then, going further north, the Turks didn’t grow rations of any type.
Yet, in his previous life, the Hyderabad monks had sold ores to these countries.
Clearly, the ‘rations’ the Sindhu spoke of was completely different from the ‘rations’ the people of the Central Plains comprehended as. One must know that Sindhu was in a huge famine right now. As long as there was food, they wouldn’t be overly concerned with what it was.
Clearly, if one didn’t pay attention to this factor, it was likely for negotiation to fall apart due to the Great Tang’s strict regulation on rations.
At this point, Wang Chong suddenly felt excited.
“Masters, do you accept apples and pears?”
Wang Chong abruptly asked.
The two foreign monks were astounded, but they slowly nodded their head. They had done their investigation and the rice eaten by the people of the Central Plains was very suitable for the consumption of Sindhu people. It would be best if this type of ration could be shipped to Sindhu in massive quantities.
However, if it was impossible to obtain such rations, the other types of food were also acceptable.
After all, Sindhu was in a dire famine right now!
“Then, what about banana, sorghum, and millet?”
Wang Chong continued asking, his excitement clearly expressed on his face.
“That’s also acceptable.”
The two foreign monks traded gazes and nodded their heads. As long as it was edible, they weren’t in the position to negotiate about it.
“Hahaha, what about goats, and camels?”
Wang Chong burst into laughter and thought further ahead.
Even though the Great Tang had regulated rations strictly, the camels and goats on the grasslands weren’t part of the restriction. The vast lands of the Turks were filled with these livestock.
If the foreign monks needed a huge amount of food, he could totally circumvent the law of the Great Tang and trade with the Turks to fulfill their requests.
This was a good solution for the matter.
“It would be best if the rations are camels and goats.”
The two foreign monks replied.
Compared to apples and pears, fruits that are hard to store for long, it was clear that ‘rations’ such as camels and goats were much more ideal. As long as it could solve Sindhu’s famine, they weren’t particularly concerned with what the food was.
“If gongzi and your clan can accept this point, then we can continue to negotiate.”
The two foreign monks were clearly much more interested in the conversation with Wang Chong than before.
“What about the price?”
Wang Chong smiled.
Since they have struck an agreement on this point, the atmosphere between the two became much more amiable.
“Going by the prices of the Central Plains, our Hyderabad ores are worth 300 gold taels per jun!”
1 jun ~ 25~26 jin ~ 12.5~13 kilogram
The two answered his query earnestly.
“300 gold taels?!?”
Wang Chong was taken aback.
“Why? You find it expensive?”
Seeing Wang Chong’s expression, the faces of the two Sindhi monks immediately darkened.
“300 gold taels is our lowest price! We definitely will not lower it any further!”
“I thought that we can come to a consensus. If you can’t accept this price, then there’s no way for us to work together. ——Looks like you and your family aren’t the collaborators we are looking for!”
The attitude of the two Sindhi monks immediately did an 180-degree turn and became frosty. 300 gold taels per jun was the price that all of them had gathered together, discussed upon and found reasonable before heading out for the various locations to conduct trade.
The High Priest had already stated clearly that anything lower than this price meant a break in negotiations.
The Hyderabad ores were different from ordinary metal ores, so they could not sell it using the price of ordinary metal ores. Before coming to the Central Plains, they had traveled to many different locations and met many different people.
There were also quite a few of them who could speak fluent Sanskrit. When they heard the price, their reactions were just like Wang Chong’s.
If they were unable to comprehend the true value behind the Hyderabad ores, then there’s no point continuing on with this trade.
“Looks like the Central Plains isn’t a location suitable for the Hyderabad ores to be sold in!”
The two said coldly before turning around to leave.
In the past few months that they were in Great Tang, they had already determined that they would be unable to find a suitable buyer for the Hyderabad ores here, and they had intended to return back to Sindhu in the next few days.
When they met with Wang Chong, the both of them thought that the situation might be different with him. Yet, contrary to their expectations, the conclusion was still the same.
Wang Chong’s reactions had reaffirmed the initial judgement the two had made.
——It was impossible to deal with the Central Plains on the Hyderabad ores.
“Wait! Masters, you two are mistaken!”
Seeing the two foreign monks turning around to leave, Wang Chong didn’t know whether he should cry or laugh. He hurriedly waved his hands to stop them.
That’s right! Hyderabad ores were not just expensive, they were extremely expensive!
300 gold taels were probably sufficient to buy several carts of other metal ores. It was definitely much too extravagant to purchase ores at such a price.
However, based on the memories of his previous life, Wang Chong knew clearly that the price of the Hyderabad ores would inflate to several tens of thousand, even a hundred thousand gold taels.
Furthermore, it wasn’t a commodity that you could buy just because you had the money!
The two Sindhi monks did not know that Wang Chong wasn’t surprised by of how expensive it was. Rather, he was surprised by how cheap it was!
Compared to those sky-high prices in his previous life, the price of the current Hyderabad ores was simply too inexpensive!
Wang Chong did not expect that the prices of the ore would actually be so cheap at the very beginning.
Of course, Wang Chong wouldn’t be so foolish as to point that out.
“Masters, I am alright with the price of 300 gold taels per jun!”
Wang Chong said.
Upon hearing those words, the expressions of the two foreign monks cleared up slightly and they stopped:
“Even though 300 gold taels per jun isn’t cheap, the ‘jun‘ of us Sindhu is different from the ‘jun‘ of the Central Plains. In the Central Plains, your jun is only 30 jin, but the jun of our Sindhu is large ‘jun‘, weighing a whole 50 jin! This is much more than the jun of your Central Plains——What you held in your hands just now was a jun of the Hyderabad mine!”
1 large jun = 50 jin = 25 kilogram (Note: large jun isn’t an official term)
One of the foreign monks said, as though trying to console Wang Chong.
Wang Chong chuckled. Of course he knew about the difference between Sindhu and Central Plains, just that the monks were mistaken on a single point. The jun of the Central Plains didn’t weigh up to 30 jin. At most, it was only 25 or 26 jin.
On this point, the Sindhis were rather honest.
Furthermore, 50 jin of ores for 300 gold taels, doing a rough calculation, that was around 6 gold taels for each jin. Honestly speaking, that was truly dirt cheap.
He had really made it in for the opportune time for the investment in the Hyderabad ores!
“Price isn’t a problem. Let’s talk about the details then.”
Wang Chong said. After satisfying the several conditions listed by the Sindhi monks, it was his turn to list his.
“As long as you can accept our conditions, the rest isn’t a problem. How much jun of ores do you want?”
The two Sindhi monks asked.
“No! Masters, you both have mistaken my intentions!”
Wang Chong lifted a single finger up and shook it. With a smile, he said:
“I have come to negotiate with you with great sincerity on my part. However, there is something that you are mistaken about. What I want wasn’t the quantity of the ores… What I want to purchase is the rights to distribute your Hyderabad ores in the Central Plains and the entire Eastern world!”
Wang Chong spoke of his conditions!
What did a single trade count as? So what if he could buy a single jun, two jun, a hundred jun, or even a thousand jun of Hyderabad ores?
Just a single lump of Hyderabad ores was insufficient to arm a sizeable army, needless to say, bolster the Great Tang’s military strength.
Wang Chong was much more ambitious than that!
——What Wang Chong wanted was all of the ores from the Hyderabad mountains for the next few decades, the next few centuries, all the way until all of them have been unearthed!
Wu Zhu coins:
Zhu is actually a type of SI unit for mass. Wu Zhu = 5 zhu = 3.25grams.
These coins are round in shape with a square gap in the center.
Only at 621 did the Tang Dynasty start to mint Kai Yuan Tong Bao (It is also a similar coin to the Wu Zhu coins, but different design, weight and composition)
Well basically, the currency of the Tang Dynasty was mainly Wu Zhu coins (Later on, Kai Yuan Tong Bao), silver taels and gold taels. (The gold taels were the largest denomination if I’m not wrong). Of course, there were bank notes as well, but they aren’t as commonly used as they are now.
Just to give you a rough idea of how expensive the Hyderabad ores are.
According to the later chapters, it is stated that the Wang Clan’s property, in total, only adds up to several thousand gold taels. (Note, Wang Clan, not just Wang Yan’s family.)
An average scion doesn’t even get a gold tael per month for monthly allowance.
Even a member of royalty (or very wealthy families) only received a dozen gold taels or such per month as allowance.