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ASIA: MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS Colin Brown.

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Presentation on theme: "ASIA: MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS Colin Brown."— Presentation transcript:

1 ASIA: MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS Colin Brown

2 MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS Two aspects: Independent achievements Contributions to world civilisations Asia never isolated Asia and the west in the pre-modern period Religions

3 Major Achievements And Contributions States and empires The arts Science and technology Languages Cuisine Conclusions

4 ASIA AND THE WEST Samuel Huntington: The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

5 Asia and the West For several hundred years, however, [Europe] lagged behind many other civilizations in its level of civilization. China under the T’ang, Sung, and Ming dynasties,

6 Asia and the West the Islamic world from the eighth to the twelfth centuries, and Byzantium from the eighth to the eleventh centuries far surpassed Europe in wealth, territory, military power, and artistic, literary and scientific achievements. Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1997, p 50

7 RELIGIONS Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity Confucianism, Taoism -- religions or philosophies?

8 Religions (T)he great Asian civilizations became dominated by religions that stressed harmony: for Hindus and Buddhists, it was harmony with the universe; for Confucians, it was social harmony;

9 Religions and for Taoists, it was harmony with nature. Thus, Asian religions encouraged people to cooperate rather than compete, to be agreeable rather than aggressive. Glenn Blackburn, Western Civilization. A Concise History, St Martin’s Press, New York, 1991, pp 43-44

10 Religions Certainly, religious distinctions cannot account for all the differences among civilizations,

11 Religions but it is significant that Western Civilization … developed a worldview that honoured human assertiveness and aggressiveness. This worldview originated with the Hebrews and the Greeks. Blackburn, Western Civilization, p 44

12 STATES AND EMPIRES Sophisticated systems of government and administration Bureaucracy Foreign relations National defence Taxation

13 States And Empires 12th century city of Angkor (present-day Cambodia) Population > 1 million London: <35,000

14 THE ARTS South Asia tradition of sensuality in art and architecture Konarak, Kamasutra

15 Konarak

16

17 Arts Taj Mahal [The Taj Mahal is] the triumph of Indo-Islamic synthesis in art …. Commencing work in 1631, twenty thousand Hindus and Muslims laboured for twenty two years to finish it. D P Singhal, India and World Civilization, vol 2, Sidgwick and Jackson, London, 1972, p 182

18 Taj Mahal

19 Arts Mahabharata and the Ramayana

20 Arts Almost every myth, allegory, and symbol familiar to the Indian imagination can be found in these epics. Religious beliefs and practices, cultural and social ideals, and philosophical convictions all refer back to or are illustrated by one or the other. Handbook of India, p. 257

21 Entombed warriors (Xian)

22 Arts Writings of Mencius, Confucius, Sun Tze Calligraphy Painting Fine porcelain (‘china’)

23 Arts Silk 14 BCE: Roman Senate bans men from ‘disgracing themselves with the effeminate delicacy of silk apparel’.

24 Arts Seneca: I see garments in which there is nothing to cover either the wearer’s body or her shame. John E Vollmer et al, Silk Roads China Ships, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 1983, p 24

25 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Indian astronomers: the earth is round, rotates about its axis, eclipses the moon. Year: days Lunar calendar

26 Science And Technology pi (  ) = Decimal system of numbers Zero ‘[Numerical system is India’s] greatest gift... to the West, apart from religion.’ (O H K Spate and A T A Learmonth, India and Pakistan, Methuen, London, 1967, p. 183.)

27 Science And Technology Chinese: magnetic compass, gunpowder, firearms Koreans: printing press Arab and Islamic scholars

28 Science And Technology It would not be an exaggeration to state that Arabic culture, enriched by many assimilated elements, was pre-eminent from the 8 th through the 11 th centuries. Arabic was the language of science. Encyclopedia Americana, vol 2, p 493

29 LANGUAGES Indo-European language family Ireland to India Sanskrit

30 Languages The Sanskrit language … is a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either,

31 Languages yet bearing both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident. Cited in David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, Cambridge UP, Cambridge, 1987, p 296; apparently published in Asiatic Researches, 1788

32 Languages two: dwi duo (Latin) dual, duo, double, duet tri triangle, trio, triple, tripartite tres (Latin)

33 Languages panca punch five

34 CUISINE The theory and practice of a high cuisine were an integral part of every Asian civilization. K N Chaudhuri, Asia Before Europe, Cambridge UP, Cambridge, 1990, p 176

35 Cuisine On finer points of technical skills and the knowledge of ingredients and flavours, a Chinese cuisinier would have found few rivals in Asia…. The highest art of the cuisinier of China was no different from that of his counterparts in the rest of the world.

36 Cuisine A Ch’ing literary work which included a biography of the author’s cook stated the problem admirably. If the cook had the necessary skills, a piece of celery or salted cabbage could be made into a marvellous delicacy. Chaudhuri, Asia, p 176

37 Cuisine Tea (China) Coffee (west Asia) Pepper (India) Cloves, nutmeg, mace (Indonesia)

38 Cuisine Sugar (southeast Asia) Oranges, lemons (west Asia) Wheat, millet, sorghum (south, northeast Asia) Chickens (Southeast Asia)

39 Cuisine Spaghetti?

40 CONCLUSIONS Sophisticated societies: intellectually, culturally, politically, linguistically, gastronomically Part of roots of global civilisations

41 Conclusions The binary divide: Asia and Europe, or Asia and the west Ultimately not sustainable Holistic view of humankind


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