During the early modern period maritime objects were extracted, traded and collected on a worldwide scale. Focusing on shells, corals and pearls between local nets and global networks my research compares and connects Asian, in particular Chinese, and European conceptualizations of oceanic exploitation in the framework of a transcultural history of collecting and display. A special focus lies on maritime material culture not only as transcultural but also as gendered, for example in the understanding of the ocean as mother of all things, as womb and birthplace, and in relation to erotic and sexual connotations linked to shells. Defining ‘China’ and ‘Europe’ as spaces intrinsically entangled with South and South East Asian sites of knowledge production, commodity trade and source supply between 1500 and 1700, my work understands oceanic goods as well as oceanic networks as transcending and subverting territorial and topographical divisions and links the study of globally connected port cities to local ecologies of oceanic exploitation.