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Thread: Westernization of Asian countries and cultures

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    Westernization of Asian countries and cultures



    what do you guys feel about Asian countries and cultures being westernized?
    and especially i would love to hear from Asian people to voice their opinions on this

    as an Asian myself, i think we should modernize but not westernize,
    but the problem is : how?
    i think we have failed to create our own modern cultures, so we are borrowing or copying from the western.

    i feel its sad that we are kinda losing our culture bit by bit, and i wanna preserve our culture, our forms of arts and other stuffs.
    we wear western clothes, but we are kinda forced to wear them, you don't expect us to wear traditional asian clothes everyday, right?

    and Asians who grew up in western countries, some of them don't even speak their root language..its funny that even their parents speak the language well, some of those parents do not want their kids to be Asians.
    some people don't even wanna be Asians themselves, they try to become as white or as black as possible..and frankly i wouldn't make friends with those people, its really a disgrace...i don't mind when an Asian person hangout mostly with non-Asians, but atleast you gotta admit that you are an Asian, if you don't like being Asian, maybe you don't like your parents,grandparents and siblings too?
    i think some Asians feel that we are inferior to whites..therefore they keep trying to be whites, i'll give an example, not a good example but anyways...girls in China, Hong Kong, when they get a white boyfriend, some of them go brag infront of their friends like 'my boyfriend is white, he is from...blah blah blah'..like they think Asian guys are inferior, like they got a white boyfriend so shes superior to her Asian girl friends.

    we gotta develop our pride and our own modern culture, we are Asians
    we can learn from other cultures, but don't copy from them and destroy our own culture

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    Yes, Westernisation ^ is an Outdated Concept !

    I hear ya, Dream Time. Given the past 150 yrs of humiliating defeat and subjugation by colonialism, aka "Orientalism," no one can blame you or anyone else of Asian descent for feeling the way you do. To be honest, I have at times felt the same way.

    That being said, I think looking closer at history (I am still learning myself. ) can be good both for the learning value itself, and for overcoming the more-or-less subjective "Asian Perspective" that many Asians are prone to choose. I am not saying that I object to all the specifics you ofered, but some of them are historically inaccurate, some a bit on the overreacting side.

    It is not easy to see the bigger picture when history and geography textbooks do not give a straightforward comparison with the kind of aligned historical information that can help us see history from an objective perspective. Some tidbits that might help mitigate the Asian stigma plaguing the thinking Asian individual. (There's a lot to be found in the books of Joesph Needham, I recall.)

    Before the rise of nation-states, competition for resources, and fight for European hegemony that eventually developed into emprialist-colonialist expansion, culminating in the Industrial Revolution in the 1700's, Europe often staggered behind in material culture, production, and consumption. As has been pointed out sporadically on this forum and other sites, (often with a rather downplaying of the Chinese/Asian contribution esp. in the case of inventions) Europe would not have been able to make the rapid growth in terms of technology in material consumption and warfare had certain key techniques not been introduced from the Asian continent via the middle east or via direct import.

    It is a given historical process that at any given point in time, a superior knowledge offering hight yield, higher effieciency will be copied from whatever origin to the "late commers." It is my perception that since the decline of social mobility and scientific pursuits since the low-level philosophising of Zhuxi's neo-Confucianism in the Southern Song dynasty, the defeat in the Opium Wars was only waiting to happen albeit 7 centuries years later..

    What matters now is not going back to the Late Colonial Period to regain hegemony but to create new ideas that guarantee prosperity, more equity, and progressive yet workable plans for mutual survival and progress. I believe the copying old-world ideas of colonialism/emperialism by Meiji Japan has given one fine example of how blind copying can have infinitely damaging consequences for everyone involved.

    I believe Asians as a whole must learn from those years of turmoil and destruction in a positive way. I do not think you have extremely racist ideas, but that you are simply stating the sad state of things as seen on the surface. In fact even a person of western-caucasian descent would probably agree with you how the pop culture has been going in strange and irrational directions. Good post, Dream Time !

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Time
    as an Asian myself, i think we should modernize but not westernize,
    but the problem is : how?
    i think we have failed to create our own modern cultures, so we are borrowing or copying from the western.
    I disagree. It may be partially true for technologies, but not for cultural things such as clothing styles, architectural styles, music, design, etc.

    i feel its sad that we are kinda losing our culture bit by bit, and i wanna preserve our culture, our forms of arts and other stuffs.
    So why not create original Asian designs. I also think it's pretty lame to just copy things which do not need to be copied. Look at Japan, many big companies (Mitsui, Mitsubishi...) and some government buildings (e.g. Bank of Japan) or even Tokyo Station were copied on Western buildings. They use Greco-Roman stone columns because it looks more impressive, but that is of the strongest symbols of Western civilisation (look at the White House and Capital in the USA).

    we wear western clothes, but we are kinda forced to wear them, you don't expect us to wear traditional asian clothes everyday, right?
    That's a choice made by Asian people themselves. I am not talking about you as you live in a Western country, but I often see (older) Japanese people wear kimono or yukata. The youth only wear them on special occasion by choice. What always surprised me is that Japanese (or other Asian) traditions clothes have hardly evolved for centuries, even millenia.

    I couldn't find any better link than this one (complete but not very clear), but I remember having an encyclopedia with drawings of the evolution of fashion in Europe since ancient times. We can see how much clothing styles changed every century, and even every decade from the 18th century. I've just found this example, but it is not a 20th century trend that fashion changes noticeably every decade in the West. What has always amazed me is that fashion changed at the same time almost everywhere in Europe at a time when communications and transports were much slower than now. It even changed exactly at the same time in North America throughout colonisation and after the independance.



    and Asians who grew up in western countries, some of them don't even speak their root language..its funny that even their parents speak the language well, some of those parents do not want their kids to be Asians.
    This is also true for immigrants of European descent. Maybe it is a sign or adaptation to the local society. The Chinese in Malaysia have continued to speak Chinese through the ages and not Malay, mostly because they lived in separate communities.

    i think some Asians feel that we are inferior to whites..therefore they keep trying to be whites, i'll give an example, not a good example but anyways...girls in China, Hong Kong, when they get a white boyfriend, some of them go brag infront of their friends like 'my boyfriend is white, he is from...blah blah blah'..like they think Asian guys are inferior, like they got a white boyfriend so shes superior to her Asian girl friends.
    This trend also happens in Japan. That strange as it coexists with a feeling of superiority of the Japanese race over the world and a disdain/fear of foreigners. It's like a polar contradiction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Time
    what do you guys feel about Asian countries and cultures being westernized?
    What do you feel about European countries being easternised? All those people learning Asian martial arts. Ever more people trying to eat with chop sticks. So many Asian restaurants & shops popping up everywhere. A.s.o....
    That's globalisation for you.

    i think we have failed to create our own modern cultures
    Show me one major culture which developed independent from foreign influences.

    i feel its sad that we are kinda losing our culture bit by bit, and i wanna preserve our culture, our forms of arts and other stuffs.
    Cultures always change. A preserved culture is a dead culture.

    and Asians who grew up in western countries, some of them don't even speak their root language..its funny that even their parents speak the language well, some of those parents do not want their kids to be Asians.
    Growing up in Germany, living here, having all your friends here, getting integrated,... makes you German. Why should you stay Asian?

    some people don't even wanna be Asians themselves, they try to become as white or as black as possible..[...]
    i think some Asians feel that we are inferior to whites..
    Er... What about all those white & black Asians? They don't count as Asian for you?



    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I also think it's pretty lame to just copy things which do not need to be copied.
    I agree. It's also pretty lame that European or US architects copied so much from ancient Greeks & Romans.

    What always surprised me is that Japanese (or other Asian) traditions clothes have hardly evolved for centuries, even millenia.
    [...]
    We can see how much clothing styles changed every century, and even every decade from the 18th century.
    European "traditional" clothes haven't changed that much either. What is traditional, anyway? The stuff that peasants (majority of the population for the most time) wore on a day-to-day basis? Or the stuff that the nobility at the court wore on special occasions? Something else?
    What you mostly see labeled as traditional are the clothes of middle (or sometimes upper) class worn on special occasions.

    Frequently changing fashion for all is a fairly modern invention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    What do you feel about European countries being easternised? All those people learning Asian martial arts. Ever more people trying to eat with chop sticks. So many Asian restaurants & shops popping up everywhere. A.s.o....
    That's globalisation for you
    i don't think they are being easternized, for me, being westernized or easternized means you have adopted the thinking of that culture.
    like some Asians in western countries, they act and think like western people.

    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    Show me one major culture which developed independent from foreign influences.
    i can't name any, but Asia is becoming so western, some people give up their Asian cultural values, and they think that by speaking English they are superior than those who don't


    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    Cultures always change. A preserved culture is a dead culture.
    true, but when a culture is copying from another culture, thats different

    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    Growing up in Germany, living here, having all your friends here, getting integrated,... makes you German. Why should you stay Asian?
    its not like about just where you live, what you eat and wear, some Asians here do not want to be Asians, they don't learn the languages, some can't even use the chopsticks, they don't make friends with Asian people, they are somehow racist towards their own race.


    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    Er... What about all those white & black Asians? They don't count as Asian for you?
    depends, like some even say they are not Asians, for those who say they are not Asians, i won't count them as Asians.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Time
    i don't think they are being easternized, for me, being westernized or easternized means you have adopted the thinking of that culture.
    Well, actually a lot of people in the West try to adopt Eastern thought. Or, better, they try to adopt what they perceive as Eastern thought.

    like some Asians in western countries, they act and think like western people.
    How would you define Western thought?

    i can't name any, but Asia is becoming so western, some people give up their Asian cultural values, and they think that by speaking English they are superior than those who don't
    Thinking that because of your language skills in English you are superior to someone who doesn't speak it is pretty silly.
    But, well, you have similar phenomena in the West. Eg. in Germany where English is very hip now. It becomes really ridiculous if they pronounce Dutch or Italian names the English way.
    But does it mean that German culture is anglicised? To a degree, of course, but it's still a distinct German culture (well, distinct, there is probably nothing like a distinct culture, but you get the meaning).


    true, but when a culture is copying from another culture, thats different
    Nope. That's what always happens. You copy from a foreign culture. Over time this copy becomes ever more integrated.

    its not like about just where you live, what you eat and wear, some Asians here do not want to be Asians, they don't learn the languages, some can't even use the chopsticks, they don't make friends with Asian people, they are somehow racist towards their own race.
    Asian race? What's that? Somehow I get the impression that you have a very narrow understanding of "Asian." There are a billion Asians who never touched chopsticks (look at India), for example.
    I seriously doubt that there are so many Asians who don't learn the language of the country/culture they live in.

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    An Asian Studies professor once told me..

    that europe was just a small Asian pennisula.
    (Not relevant to anthying, just a random thought.)


    I have to say I agree with Bossel. Maybe DreamTime is specifically refering to East Asian cultures?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    Asian race? What's that? Somehow I get the impression that you have a very narrow understanding of "Asian." There are a billion Asians who never touched chopsticks (look at India), for example.
    I seriously doubt that there are so many Asians who don't learn the language of the country/culture they live in.

    when i said Asian, i meant like Chinese,Japanese,Korean,Vietnamese etc
    its true, many Asians don't learn their culture and language , some Asian parents try to raise their kids to become white, i've seen and met quite a few of those people who denies that they are Asian, this happens more often for the Chinese people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    I agree. It's also pretty lame that European or US architects copied so much from ancient Greeks & Romans.
    I anticipated this reaction. But that is hardly a valid point as we are talking about the same civilisation. Or are ou ancestors' culture not part or our contemporary culture anymore ? Shall we deny our roots and history ? The Romans were mot just people from Rome, but the inhabitants of an Empire that stretched from Britain to the Middle East. There are still ruins of amphitheatres, aqueduct and Roman villas in most of Western Europe (except the regions that weren't Roman).

    Then, neoclassicism is not just a copy of Roman style, but a noticeable improvement. No Roman administrative, political or religious buildings were as imposing as the Capitol of Washington, St Paul Cathedral in London, or the Supreme Court of Justice in Brussels. They weren't as massive and didn't use windows or other architectural features found in these buildings. I see it as the continuation of a cultural style in time. The heavy Romanesque style of the 11th or 12th centuries were a sort of transition between the two styles (the Gothic was more influenced by Arabic architecture though).

    European "traditional" clothes haven't changed that much either. What is traditional, anyway? The stuff that peasants (majority of the population for the most time) wore on a day-to-day basis? Or the stuff that the nobility at the court wore on special occasions? Something else?
    What you mostly see labeled as traditional are the clothes of middle (or sometimes upper) class worn on special occasions.
    I was not referring to peasants neither in Europe or Asia. I wasn't referring to court attire only either, but the clothes than merchants, artisans, soldiers, explorers, etc. wore. Just look at the evolution of clothing style among the military from the late middle ages to the 19th century. Every century had its own very distinctive style, with small changes coming in almost each decade. This does not happen in Japan. Both court clothes, middle-class ones and military (samurai) ones hardly changed from the Muromachi (from 14th century) to the late Edo period (late 19th century) over 500 years. The kimonos that the Japanese people are still wearing almost haven't changed in style for over 500 years (maybe even 1200 years). It's just that anybody can wear them nowadays, while only rich people could before the 20th century.

    Can you in all good faith tell me that there is no major change in European fashion from looking at the pictures below ?

    15th century Italian merchant (Flemish painting, 1434)


    16th century moneylenders (Flemish paintings, 1514)



    German merchant (1532)



    early 17th century (Walter Raleigh, England, 1602)



    mid 17th century Dutch soldiers (1642)



    late 18th century bourgeoisie (France, 1788)



    early 19th century (France, 1827)



    late 19th century (France, 1877)

    Last edited by Maciamo; 23-09-05 at 10:39.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I anticipated this reaction. But that is hardly a valid point as we are talking about the same civilisation.
    Are we? Sorry, but I disagree. There are certain shared elements in the "West", but the same civilisation? That's like saying Japanese, Chinese & Vietnamese are one. Even in one country, like Germany, you can have a whole number of varying cultures.

    Or are ou ancestors' culture not part or our contemporary culture anymore ?
    Well, they're dead. Anyway, I doubt that I had many Greeks in my ancestry, perhaps some Romans, but the vast majority was probably Germanic.

    Shall we deny our roots and history ?
    You don't deny any roots just because you don't copy ancient style. Should I wear some toga-like stuff, just because there may have been some Romans 2000 years ago who occupied the territory where my hometown is nowadays?

    Then, neoclassicism is not just a copy of Roman style, but a noticeable improvement.
    Is it? To quote you again:
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I also think it's pretty lame to just copy things which do not need to be copied.
    There was no need to copy some nice pillars or cupolas from the past. They could have made up their own style.

    No Roman administrative, political or religious buildings were as imposing as the Capitol of Washington, St Paul Cathedral in London, or the Supreme Court of Justice in Brussels.
    Well, I'm not easily impressed anyway, esp. not by fascistoid constructions which were created for the sole purpose of being impressive, but the Hagea Sophia or the Pantheon do not seem to be much less "imposing" than what you itemised.

    I was not referring to peasants neither in Europe or Asia.
    Why not? They made up the bulk of the population, hence their clothing style(s) should be truly representative.


    Every century had its own very distinctive style, with small changes coming in almost each decade. This does not happen in Japan.
    Does it in Europe? Doesn't it in Japan? It really depends where & when you look, & which part of the population you look at.


    military (samurai) ones hardly changed from the Muromachi (from 14th century) to the late Edo period (late 19th century) over 500 years.
    Hmm? Look at the pictures below from Muromachi, Momoyami & Edo. Quite a change. Anyway, again it depends on what you compare. Military developments in Europe were quite dynamic for a while. New weaponry, new tactics, new branches of service led to new uniforms & equipment. You would need a detailed study of let's say the clothing of lancers in some territorial army over time. This is hard because the situation is highly fluctuating in Europe, due to so many varying countries & shift of borders/governments. The situation in Japan was a bit more stable, I suppose.

    Perhaps it might be a good idea to find a European country which was not involved in the on-going wars, with a rather stable society & with rather high self-esteem. Perhaps Switzerland could be used as a model (at least for a few centuries).

    Can you in all good faith tell me that there is no major change in European fashion from looking at the pictures below ?
    Where did I say that there was no major change in European fashion? I said "European "traditional" clothes haven't changed that much either." Fashion does not constitute tradition. Tradition as M-W defines it: "cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions"
    You have to differentiate between tradition (where I would add "representative") & fashion (of some aristocratic or monetary elite).
    &, actually, your pictures are not representative in any way (hardly possible with such limited space, anyway). This is comparing apples to pears.


    Can you in all good faith tell me that there is no major change in [Japanese] fashion from looking at the pictures below ?

    Nara period courtier


    Kamakura era gentleman


    Muromachi period, Uchikake kosode worn katsugu style


    Momoyama period kosode
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    Are we? Sorry, but I disagree. There are certain shared elements in the "West", but the same civilisation? That's like saying Japanese, Chinese & Vietnamese are one. Even in one country, like Germany, you can have a whole number of varying cultures.
    I think you are confusing civilisation and culture. Don't tell me about cultural differences in Europe. As a Belgian, I know that in two towns 30km distant from each others, people can speak a different language and have a noticeably different culture, and that centuries of cohabitation don't erase those differences. I have also lived in Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain, and know France as well as if I were French. Yet, compared to North Africa, the Middle East, Japan, China, India or whatever, there are striking similarities between European societies. It's not just a matter of culture or language (otherwise India wouldn't even be a civilization in itself), but system, fashion, values, etc. As I said earlier, I am amazed that clothes and various technological advances evolved almost simultaneously in most of Europe since the Middles Ages (even before that).

    It's harder to put Japan and China together as a civilisation, because Japan was isolated for most of its history, those countries never conquered each other or had significant blood exchange before the 20th century. We can easily say that Japan was heavily inspired by Chinese civilization, but the reverse is not true. In Europe, scientists, philosophers, royalties, etc. interacted across the continent more as if it was China or Japan during the warring state period, but were ultimately part of the same civilisation. Royalties intermarried so much they became a single family. Once a scientist discovered or invented something, it spread to other countries with lightning speed (but stopped at the borders of Europe, except the population colonies like the US or Australia).

    Well, they're dead. Anyway, I doubt that I had many Greeks in my ancestry, perhaps some Romans, but the vast majority was probably Germanic.
    This is because you fail to consider that the Roman Empire was not 100% (or even 10%) Roman/Italian in blood. Many Germanic tribes lived under Roman rule. Anyway, there would be no point in blaming France, Italy or Spain for reviving Roman architecture, as about all of them have at least some ancestor s (Celtic, Latin or whatever) that were Roman for over 400 years.

    You don't deny any roots just because you don't copy ancient style. Should I wear some toga-like stuff, just because there may have been some Romans 2000 years ago who occupied the territory where my hometown is nowadays?
    If you look at the evoluation of clothing since the antiquity (it is clearer since the Middles Ages), it is all a long evolution. Our clothes now wouldn't be such without that evolution.

    There was no need to copy some nice pillars or cupolas from the past. They could have made up their own style.
    Do you mean you have to reinvent things that "work". Should scientists throw away all their ancestors knowledge and start from 0 again ?

    Well, I'm not easily impressed anyway, esp. not by fascistoid constructions which were created for the sole purpose of being impressive, but the Hagea Sophia or the Pantheon do not seem to be much less "imposing" than what you itemised.
    Have you visited these places ? The Pantheon in Rome is really tiny even compared to the Court of Justice in Brussels. The Hagia Sofia was built in a very different style (Byzantine) and didn't really inspire neoclassicism.

    Why not? They made up the bulk of the population, hence their clothing style(s) should be truly representative.
    I disagree. Peasants had no means to wear good clothes. Therefore what they wore is not representative of the culture and creativity of the time.

    Does it in Europe? Doesn't it in Japan? It really depends where & when you look, & which part of the population you look at.
    If you look at people who had enough means (middle and upper class), then the difference is huge.


    Hmm? Look at the pictures below from Muromachi, Momoyami & Edo. Quite a change.
    I am not sure what you know about Japanese historical clothes, but apart from the Nara courtier, these are all styles that have coexisted. You have just chosen to mix men and women's clothes, courtiers and samurai ones. Those clothes are still worn nowadays (for wedding pictures, by Shinto priests, etc.). Which of the clothes in those I posted do you regularily see in the streets in Europe ? Note that I didn't take nobility or royalty clothes, which change even more (just look at the kings and queens paintings through the ages).

    Anyway, again it depends on what you compare. Military developments in Europe were quite dynamic for a while. New weaponry, new tactics, new branches of service led to new uniforms & equipment. You would need a detailed study of let's say the clothing of lancers in some territorial army over time. This is hard because the situation is highly fluctuating in Europe, due to so many varying countries & shift of borders/governments.
    I understand that the changes in uniforms reflected advances in technology and warfare-style. We all know that the "West" progressed dramatically from the Renaissance onwards, while Japan stayed basicaly the same until the Meiji Restauration (1867).

    The situation in Japan was a bit more stable, I suppose.
    Politically or militarily, Japan was not stable at all from the 14th to the early 17th centuries. After it was very stable until the late 19th. Yet uniforms/armours, and kimono didn't change in either period.

    Where did I say that there was no major change in European fashion? I said "European "traditional" clothes haven't changed that much either." Fashion does not constitute tradition. Tradition as M-W defines it: "cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions"
    That's not how I understood tradition. I meant clothes that were not worn anymore in daily life (maybe for festivals) but are part of the cultural heritage. In fact, from that definition, kimono are not completely traditional. They are still worn in daily life by some people (esp. elderly women and the few geisha that remain).

    You have to differentiate between tradition (where I would add "representative") & fashion (of some aristocratic or monetary elite).
    &, actually, your pictures are not representative in any way (hardly possible with such limited space, anyway). This is comparing apples to pears.
    OK, so let me rephrase this. I feel you are arguing just for the sake of it, though. Fashion (of some aristocratic or monetary elite) has evolved a lot from decade to decade since the late Middle Ages (14th-15th centuries) in Europe, while it has remained almost unchanged until the late 19th century in Japan. Even from the late 19th century, it only changed because the Japanese started wearing Western-style clothes (a word still used to describe everyday clothes as "youfuku" m). The Japanese themselves consider that truly Japanese clothes worn to this day are the kimonos, those that haven't changed much since the Heian period, and hardly at all since Muromachi.

    I came to realise that when I watched "historical dramas" on Japanese TV. Whatever the century the story is set in, it is almost impossible to tell what age it belongs to (16th, 17th, 18th, 19th century ?), except for Heian because of the absence of samurai class and the longer hair of court ladies.
    Yet, when watching a film on European history, as soon as I turn on the TV I know from the clothes they are wearing when the story happens, with an uncertainty of about 50 years until the 18th century, and 20 years from the 19th.

    Btw, don't forget that in any society there is a range of different clothes worn by different people (by function or class) or just varying styles of the same clothes from the same period. For example, in kimono, you have the kosode, furisode and other "cut". There are also thousands of diffent colours and patterns, but the shape stays about the same (except for the 3 or 4 "cut" styles). I took this into consideration for Europe too. When I say that the 1780's style is different from the 1790's style, it is regardless of the colours and for the same kind of people. In the pictures above, I spent over 30min looking for pictures of middle-class (merchant, travellers...). There is just the late 17th century that includes military men (and civilians) as I couldn't find better. It would be much easier to look at the royalties or high nobility, or just the military. The changes are much more obvious. But I forced myself to be honest and take people of a similar status among the (upper-)middle-class. You just posted pictures of people of very different functions, even mixing males and females. The irony is that if you go to a shop for weddding pictures, they will have all of those you posted (and no others), except the Nara one.

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    Well, since I'm on the move, I don't really have time for this, but just for argument's sake.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I think you are confusing civilisation and culture.
    Nope, just to be sure I looked it up before posting my previous response.
    M-W 1b on civilisation: "the culture characteristic of a particular time or place"
    & M-W 5b on culture: "the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group"
    are my references. There is a huge overlap between civilisation & culture.
    In one way entire humanity is one civilisation, in another there are uncountable varieties.

    Don't tell me about cultural differences in Europe.
    What you said before:
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    we are talking about the same civilisation. Or are ou ancestors' culture not part or our contemporary culture anymore ?
    As I said earlier, I am amazed that clothes and various technological advances evolved almost simultaneously in most of Europe since the Middles Ages (even before that).
    Not really amazing if you remember the close & continued contacts.

    It's harder to put Japan and China together as a civilisation, because Japan was isolated for most of its history, [...]We can easily say that Japan was heavily inspired by Chinese civilization, but the reverse is not true.
    Actually, not quite so. IIRC, at least during Tang there was quite some influence from Japan.

    This is because you fail to consider that the Roman Empire was not 100% (or even 10%) Roman/Italian in blood.
    Wrong. I did consider. But: the Roman empire is not exactly the same as Romans. I spoke of Romans in my ancestry. The vaaast majority of Germans never became Roman citizens.

    Anyway, there would be no point in blaming France, Italy or Spain for reviving Roman architecture
    Blame? Who blames?

    Do you mean you have to reinvent things that "work". Should scientists throw away all their ancestors knowledge and start from 0 again ?
    Did I say so? It seems you're just arguing for argument's sake.
    There is absolutely no need for gigantic cupolas & pillars, this is simply fascistoid crap. You don't need to re-invent architecture to construct useful buildings without this. BTW, style is not exactly the same as science.

    The Hagia Sofia was built in a very different style (Byzantine) and didn't really inspire neoclassicism.
    You didn't speak of neoclassicism but of "Roman administrative, political or religious buildings". Unless you restrict the meaning of Roman in this context on the city instead of the empire, Hagea Sophia was a Roman religious building.


    I disagree. Peasants had no means to wear good clothes. Therefore what they wore is not representative of the culture and creativity of the time.
    This sounds very elitist. Sorry, but culture consists of more than just the elite. Culture is the whole of society & since peasants made up the bulk of society, they are very representative.

    I am not sure what you know about Japanese historical clothes, but apart from the Nara courtier, these are all styles that have coexisted.
    Just like many European styles coexisted.

    You have just chosen to mix men and women's clothes, courtiers and samurai ones.
    Ah, now you see how it is to compare apples & pears.

    Those clothes are still worn nowadays (for wedding pictures, by Shinto priests, etc.). Which of the clothes in those I posted do you regularily see in the streets in Europe ?
    Perhaps you confuse historical & traditional? Traditional clothing is usually historical, but historical is not automatically traditional.


    Politically or militarily, Japan was not stable at all from the 14th to the early 17th centuries. After it was very stable until the late 19th. Yet uniforms/armours, and kimono didn't change in either period.
    I said "a bit more stable" than in Europe.

    That's not how I understood tradition. I meant clothes that were not worn anymore in daily life (maybe for festivals) but are part of the cultural heritage. In fact, from that definition, kimono are not completely traditional. They are still worn in daily life by some people (esp. elderly women and the few geisha that remain).
    Again M-W: "cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions"
    They don't mention that this continuity stopped somewhere in the past.


    I'm not saying that Japanese style varied as much as in Europe or that it changed as much. What I'm saying is that it is not really fair to compare Japan to the whole of Europe. A fair comparison would be with a society on comparable levels of international "isolation" & (dis-)continuity of internal social structures.

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    Bossel, sorry but I cannot agree on any of your point in your reply above. I feel you are just arguing to prove me wrong without even considering what I say (maybe because you want to be politcially correct and don't want to admit that clothing evolved much faster in Europe than Asia ?)

    You are just playing on defintions and contradicting yourself with what you wrote 2 posts before.

    As for the definition of civilisation, I know German people like definitions, but sometimes it's useful to look at the usage too. How often do English-speakers talk of Luxembourger civilisation or Swiss civilisation ? According to you (or your defintion) civilisation is "the culture characteristic of a particular time or place" and like cultures exist in "uncountable varieties". Yet, the usage is almost always restricted to bigger groups than cultures. One country can have more than one culture (e.g. Belgium), but one civilisation usually emcompasses more than one country (e.g. Belgium or Luxembourg are not civilisations) at a given period of time (usually spanning over several centuries). IMO, we can talk or Greek or Roman or Greco-Roman civilisation, Chinese civilisation, Japanese civilisatio, modern European civilisation or even Germanic civilisation, Nordic civilisation, but not French civilisation, Belgian civilisation, Alasatcian civilisation or Shikoku civilisation, because they cannot be clearly dissociated from a bigger cultural and political group.

    In consideration of the topic discussed (Westernization of Asian cultures), the most appropriate usage of the word "civilisation" is the division of the world's cultures in a few main groups based on ethnico-linguistic, religious and historical similarities (as described by Samual Huntington in this book Clash of Civilizations).

    Quote Originally Posted by Bossel
    Actually, not quite so. IIRC, at least during Tang there was quite some influence from Japan.
    I would be interested to know which ones. The Tang dynasty lasted from 618 to 907. The first real Japanese state and capital were founded in Nara in 710, then moved to Kyoto in 794. Both Nara and Kyoto were modelled on the Chinese capital of Chang'an (Xi'an). Japan had just imported the kanji and buddhis from China and looked up to China for a model for its own culture. In these circumstances, how could have Japan influenced China with lasting effects to the culture ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bossel
    Wrong. I did consider. But: the Roman empire is not exactly the same as Romans. I spoke of Romans in my ancestry. The vaaast majority of Germans never became Roman citizens.
    I understand your dilema as a German. But the original discussion was about the Japanese copying neoclassical buildings (e.g. Bank of Japan, Misui headquarters...) that had no historical roots in their culture at all, while they could have made something more Japanese (the Chinese usually do a good job reinventing their culture). So, if you dislike that fact the the Germans do the same, I'd say that there is at least historical reasons to do it. Wasn't most of present-day Germany part of the Holy Roman Empire ? Wasn't this emperor crowned by the pope in Rome ? Before that, wasn't the West and South of Germany part of the original Roman Empire ? Didn't the Roman leave a cultural heritage in cities like Trier or Cologne ? So it's quite unfair to dismiss Roman influence in Germany just because "the vaaast majority of Germans never became Roman citizens".

    Whether you like imposing ("fascistoid") neoclassical buildings is just a matter of personal taste. What I cannot understand is how you criticise all Western countries for taking inspiration in their roots, if their ancestors were more Roman than Germanic. Even Germanic languages have taken a lot from the Greco-Roman culture (thousands of words, part of the legal system, philosophy, sciences...), so it doesn't really matter if there is little ethnical connection, as there is a cultural one, and architeture is somthing cultural.

    Now look at the picture of the Bank of Japan below and tell me honestly (I don't want to hear about yur tastes) if this building is out of place in Japan, and whether it would be more or less out of place in Germany.

    Last edited by Maciamo; 25-09-05 at 06:28.

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