Reformation at a Glance

As previously discussed in the November 20, 2015 post “Devotionalism” ushers in the Reformation, throughout the 14th and 15th centuries of Europe a “new religious movement, known as the ‘modern devotion’” was seen (Sayre, 2010, p.239).  The movement was one where “lay citizens gathered in houses organized to promote a lifestyle similar to that of monks and nuns” but this is where they stopped, since no monastic vows were taken (Sayre, 2010, p.239).  The ‘modern devotion’ movement would see a tragic end with the coming of the Protestants Reformation, which is a pivotal point in religious and secular historical division.

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Map 1. Europe during the Reformation, 1560 (Sayre, 2008)

Three individuals are considered central reformer figures in the Protestant Reformation movement. These figures are Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Calvin. A number of issues lead to the formal break from the Roman Catholic Church by faithful individuals, which began around 1050 of the medieval period. Among those issues were sale of “indulgences, biblically based rituals and practices, the relationship of the body and spirit, grace, predestination and transubstantiation.” (Sporre, 2008, p. 343). Each reformer used these basic criticisms of the Church and ended up with three different outcomes based on the society in which they lived.

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Fig. 1 Johannes Tetzel, Dominican Monk, ca. 1517. Monk notorious for the sale of indulgences (Sayre, 2013)

The most successful and, therefore, prominent reformer of the Protestant movement was Martin Luther, a German monk. His most significant protest was against the sale of indulgences by the Church. This was a very lucrative business where Church officials believed they had amassed a ‘surplus of merits’ or good deeds and these merits could be sold to a truly penitent person, in order to liberate them from their obligatory penance for their sins in purgatory. For Luther, there was no need to purchase good deeds in order to obtain favor with God.

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Fig. 2 Image of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach, ca. 1526 (Sayre, 2013)

In many ways, Luther’s had started to formulate an opposition to the sale indulgences based on biblical facts and not on clerical teaching. “From Luther’s point of view, Christ had already atoned for humankind’s sins – or what was the point of his sacrifice? – and he provided the faithful with the certainty of their salvation.” (Sporre, 2008, p.262). Of course, Luther’s major complaint against the sale of indulgences was directed at the church in taking money away from the poor in return for atonement for sins, which Luther believed was given through the free gift of salvation. Thus, he began preaching “the doctrine of salvation by faith rather than by works.” (Sayre, 2013, p. 262)

According to Sayer,

“Luther led the Reformation in Germany” while “other reformists initiated similar movements in France and Switzerland….The appeal of Luther’s Reformation was as much due to its political as its religious implications. His defense of the individual conscience against the authority of the pope was understood to free the German princes – and King Henry VII of England – of the same papal tyranny that plagued the Church. And to many townspeople and peasants, freedom from the pope’s authority seemed to justify their own independence from authoritarian rule, whether of a peasant from his feudal lord, a guild from his local government, or a city from its prince.” (Sayre, 2013, p.263)

The ideas of the Reformation would eventually find their way into the art world, especially in works by the German painter and printmaker Albrecht Dűrer.

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Fig. 3 Self-portrait, Albrecht Dűrer, ca. 1500 (Sayre, 2013, p.259)

In many ways, Albrecht Dűrer art attests to the social changes being witnessed throughout Northern Europe. In his print, The Knight, Death and the Devil, one can observe the reversal of years of Church domination. No long were the faithful being extorted by the Church for their favor with God. Also, he does not include the normal biblical cast of characters, such as Christ, Virgin Mary, and John the Baptist, to emphasize how one obtains salivation. Instead it is through diligent belief and faithfulness one will be taken into the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’.

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Fig. 4 The Knight, Death and the Devil, by Albrecht Dűrer, ca. 1513. (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, 2006)

In the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History at The Metropolitan Museum of Art the following best describes Dűrer’s work titled The Knight, Death and the Devil:

“Riding steadfastly through a dark Nordic gorge, Dürer’s knight rides past Death on a Pale Horse, who holds out an hourglass as a reminder of life’s brevity, and is followed closely behind by a pig-snouted Devil. As the embodiment of moral virtue, the rider…is undistracted and true to his mission. A haunting expression of the vita activa, or active life, the print is a testament to the way in which Dürer’s thought and technique coalesced brilliantly in the ‘master engravings.’”

Summary

One must remember the Middle Ages were not too long ago and the feelings left in the wake of the Black Death still lingered, where life was short and the faithful must prepare for the end. The Reformation signaled a new beginning for humankind and the emergence of more social diversity because reformers, such as Luther, lead the charge for change. There was also had very wealth merchants class developing who wanted to actively support artists but did not necessarily want religious scenes. In fact,

“A spirit of innovation dominated the art, spurred on largely by competition in the marketplace. Civic and mercantile patronage would rival that of the nobility and the Church, and artistic workshops increasingly functioned as businesses.”

References

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. (2006, October). Albrecht dürer: Knight, death, and the devil (43.106.2). Retrieved from http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/43.106.2

Sayre, H. M. (2010). Discovering the Humanities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson

Sayer, H. M. (2013). Discovering the Humanities.(2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson

Sayer, H. M. (2008). The humanities: Culture, continuity & change. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson

Sporre, D.J. (2005) The Creative Impulse, An Introduction to the Arts (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson

Stokstad, M. (2008). Art history. (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson

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‘Devotionalism’ ushers in the Reformation

The arts have always played an active role in promoting social change, which leads to more social diversity in any given society. Within any culture, it is the artists, through their creation of paintings, sculptures, prints, theater, music, literature, dance, and other art forms, who provide us a better understanding of the world we inhabit, both past and present. An artist can provide context to philosophy, religion, aesthetical theories, economics, and politics along with other social concerns. This is due to how artists record and commemorate events by giving tangible for the unknown and to ideas and feeling of people living in their localities. Also, through an artist’s work we can experience life and situations differently than we previously considered possible. In short, artists help us fully understand past experiences leading to social change and diversity.

We will now examine the underlining social, political, and artistic movement known as the Reformation. It was during the Early Renaissance that Petrarch promoted the revival of classical learning and literature, scholars term Humanism. The humanist wanted to extend quality education to laypeople by investigating nature phenomenal without religious bias and logically scrutinizing philosophical and theological teachings. Contrary to popular understanding, the rise of humanism was not intended to “signify a decline in the importance of Christian” values since most art in Europe still contained “an intense Christian spirituality.” (Stokstad, 2008, p. 586) However, there was much skepticism about the Western Church in the minds of Renaissance thinkers. As a result, just as the Renaissance was reaching the northern boundaries of Europe and into England, so was a new way of thinking about religious and secular duties of those in positions of authority. This thinking has become known as the Protestant Reformation.

Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries of Europe a “new religious movement, known as the ‘modern devotion’” was seen. (Sayre, 2010, p.239) The movement was one where “lay citizens gathered in houses organized to promote a lifestyle similar to that of monks and nuns” but this is where they stopped, since no monastic vows were taken. (Sayre, 2010, p.239) The ‘modern devotion’ movement would see a tragic end with the coming of the Protestants Reformation, which is a pivotal point in religious and secular historical division.

References

Sayre, H. M. (2010). Discovering the Humanities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Pearson.

Stokstad, M. (2008). Art history. (3rd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 553-1238). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

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Importance of Understanding Cultural Artifacts

Throughout these blogs a number of cultural ideas have been or will be discussed, ranging from social structure and religion to art and music to architecture and literature. Over the course of the next few blogs entries we will discussion how philosophy and religions have shaped laws, politics and economics of the last 500 years. Each of the before mentioned entities combine to create the unique culture each of us inhabit. These cultural ideas form an integral part of humanities identity as a whole, but at the unique root of any given culture is its artifacts.

We must remember culture has many definitions, but most scholars agree culture encompasses the sum of all socially transmitted or learned behavior patterns, interactions, and belief. Culture is also the products of humankind, both tangible works and intangible thoughts. Cultural artifacts are, in the most basic sense, those products of human work or thought.

Cultural artifacts include a wide range of physical objects, from works of art and architecture, to digital recordings or e-mail messages. Anything humans create could be argued to be a cultural artifact. The information gathered from such artifacts depends, to a great degree, on the cultural knowledge of the person interpreting its meaning. For example, Mayan hieroglyphs have less meaning to the untrained individual than they do to an epigrapher with knowledge of that system of writing. The various forms of cultural artifacts found around the world have a wide distribution, but all cultural artifacts tell us a great deal about both the maker and the user. Over time, the artifact, its meaning, and the way its meaning is interpreted may evolve because human cultures are constantly changing and, therefore, this changes the lens through which the artifact is viewed.

Cultural artifacts may date to prehistory, or they may be part of today’s culture. No matter what time period the artifact dates to they tell us about the maker and the user. Consider a television. What can it tell us about the society of the maker? Is this artifact made by a single maker or by more than one individual? What, if any, tools are needed to create this artifact? What technology must exist for it to have been created? Could it have any spiritual or religious importance? Is the object found frequently, or is it a rare find? Is it found in areas of high economic status? Is it found in areas of known low economic status? What might it be used for? Are there any known cultural taboos associated with the object? What other artifacts are related to this object, and how are they related? What use does the artifact have or appear to have?

When asked about a television, some of these questions seem out of place, but that is because the television is familiar to modern people in most parts of the world. Now, consider asking these questions about cultural artifacts less familiar to you, such as the Great Pyramid at Giza or perhaps a coin from a 17th century shipwreck. Consider how asking these kinds of questions might help one to know more about the makers and users of an artifact less familiar to one’s own culture.

As we continue to move into an increasingly technologically advanced world, culture and the preservation of culture continues to change. The forms that cultural artifacts take will continue to change. Also, the ability to understand these cultural artifacts will depend on the context in which they are left or rediscovered and also their condition. Consider media stored on a computer disk. Although the media may be very representative of culture, the format in which it has been saved, the disk, is also indicative of the culture. If people are unable to access the information because of technological advances or a degradation of the medium itself over time, the value of the artifact in terms of the information it can present changes.

Summary

Cultural artifacts are always subject to the interpretation of the viewer (in many cases, these are archaeologists or historians). A scholars background knowledge of the culture informs their hypotheses about what a particular object may have represented or what use it could have had within a given cultural context. The more historical information there is to corroborate their hypotheses, the more certain the researcher can be that his or her evaluation of the artifact is a correct assessment. There is, however, always room for error.

In our current day and age artifacts of our own culture and other cultures surround us everywhere. In fact, the many cultural artifacts we live amongst have deep roots. Many times the roots of an artifact are so deeply engrained in our culture and we do not necessarily understand where they originate.

References

Sayre, H. M. (2010). Discovering the humanities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Pearson.

——-, H. M. (2013). Discovering the humanities. 2nd, ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Pearson.

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West Africas Encounter with Portugal

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Map 1. World Exploration, 1271-1611. (Sayre, 2013)

In this discussion we turn our attention to the indigenous people of West Africa. Since the Portuguese were more interested in fostering trade prospects with Africa a large percentage of their encounters with Non-Western people were in West Africa. Many explores, such as Bartholomeu Dias, Vasco da Gama, and Pedro Cabral, ventured into the uncharted lands to the south searching for not only people to trade with but also new territories to claim. Two primary indigenous cultures were discovered, the Ife and Benin. However, it did not take both European and African traders long to extend their trading practices into human exploitation to Europe and the Americas

It shocked Portuguese explores when they arrived on the coast of West Africa to find indigenous people already living in these areas. To their amazement the region contained several large kingdoms, in particular the Yoruba state of Ife and the kingdom of Benin, both are located in modern day Nigeria.

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Map 2. Sub-Saharan West Africa, 1200-1700. (Sayre, 2013)

Sometime around the 8th century the Ife culture developed on the bank of the Niger River in West Africa. It did not take long for the Ife to start creating “highly naturalistic, sculptural, commemorative portraits in clay and stone, probably depicting its rulers, and not long after, elegant brass sculptures as well.” (Sayre, 2013, p.281) Ife brass sculptures possess unique characteristics of their oni, or king. The Ife artifact Head of a King showcases some of these characteristics.

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Fig. Head of an Oni or King. Ife culture, Nigeria, ca. 13th century (Sayre, 2013)

The head shows decorative feature of scarification and also includes a number of holes on the neck and head regions. The holes on the neck are used for placing the head on a wood mannequin, and then an Ife court robe would be attached to the mannequin. This was either used to represent a dead leader or a leader who was unable to attend the gathering. The smaller holes on the head were perhaps used for some sort of veiling purpose. The veil may be a “symbol of the king’s capacity to organize the world and to prosper”. However, the Ife left no written record of their cultural beliefs and we can only begin to understand their traditions by observing the descendants of the Ife, such as the Yoruba.

The Yoruba people are a cultural tribe living today who trace their ancestral linage to the people of Ife. The Yoruba culture revolves around the king because he serves as a linkage to the two cosmic worlds the Yoruba believe exist. These cosmic worlds contain the world of the living and a realm of the gods, with the realm of the gods comprising of two groups – the primordial deities and ancestral heroes. It is for this reason that the king’s head is considered sacred.

Nigerian Head Dress

Fig. 2 Ade, or beaded crown, Yoruba culture, Nigeria, late 12th century. (Sayre, 2013)

The stylization of the Yoruba crown is highly symbolic. The king’s crown “rising high above his head, symbolizes his majesty and authority” is accompanied with “rows of beads” falling “over his face to shield the viewers from the power of his gaze.”

Another culture known as the Benin thrived some 150 miles south of Ife known as the Kingdom of Benin. The kingdom was founded around 1170 when the Ife oni sent Prince Oranmiyan at the request of the people living in the region. The Benin would create head images similar to those found in Ife.

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Fig. 3 head of an Oba, Nigeria; Edo , Court of Benin. ca. 1550. (Sayre, 2013)

By the 20th century Chief Jacob Eghaverba, the Benin court historian, realized the cultural traditions were in jeopardy of being lost to history since the stories were passed down from generation to generation orally. Chief Eghaverba began recording the historical narratives of the Benin people in a book he titled Short History of Benin. In one section he describes the beginnings of brass-casting:

“Oba Oguola [r.1274-87] wished to introduce brass casting into Benin so as to produce works of art similar to those sent to him from Ife. He therefore sent to the Oni of Ife for a brass-smith and lguegha was sent to him. Iguegha was very clever and left many designs to his successors, and was in consequence deified, and is worshipped to this day by brass-smith. The practice of making brass-casting for the preservation of the records of events was originated during the reign of Oguola.” (Sayre, 2013)

Much of the first encounters of West Africa with the Portuguese were harmonious and the Benin culture remained intact. The first goods to be traded were “gold, ivory, rubber, and other forest products for beads and brass.” (Sayre, 2013) Figure 4 depicts a Portuguese trader surrounded by 5 horse-shoe shaped copper/brass manila, a form of payment or object traded.

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Fig. 4 Portuguese Warrior Surrounded by Manillas, Court of Benin, Nigeria. 16th century (Sayre, 2013)

Eventually the Portuguese and West African trade turned to human exports, or slave trade. Many African tribes had been selling those they captured in war to Muslim traders for quite some time. However, under later trade agreements the Portuguese will greatly expand this practice. In the latter part of the 15th century there were around 150,000 African slaves in Europe but by the mid-16th century the Portuguese turned their efforts to shipping hundreds of thousands of salves to Brazil. The demand for slave labor ultimately outnumbered the amount captured during wars. Forcing the Portuguese to simply capture and ship anyone they found to the Americas.

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Map 3. The salve triangle known as the Middle Passage. (Sayre, 2010)

Additionally the Portuguese “treated these slaves much more harshly than the Muslims had.” (Sayre, 2013) In order to insure the captive did not escape “they chained them, branded them and often literally worked them to death.” (Sayre, 2013) In the end, the Portuguese initiated “a practice of cultural hegemony (cultural domination) that set the stage for the racist exploitation that has haunted the Western world ever since.” (Sayre, 2013)

Summary

Since the Portuguese were more interested in fostering trade prospects with Africa a large percentage of their encounters with Non-Western people were in West Africa. Many explores, such as Bartholomeu Dias, Vasco da Gama, and Pedro Cabral, ventured into the uncharted lands to the south searching for not only people to trade with but also new territories to claim. Two main indigenous cultures were discovered, the Ife and Benin. However, it did not take both European and African trades long to extend their trading practices into human exploitation to Europe and the Americas.

References

Sayre, H. M. (2010). Discovering the Humanities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Pearson

——, H. M. (2013). Discovering the Humanities. 2nd. ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Pearson.

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Latin American before and after the Spanish

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Map 1. World Exploration, 1271-1611. (Sayre, 2013)

This discussion revolves around the indigenous people of South American, who are the people living in the areas of this region before the written word and exploration by Europeans. The diversity visible in Latin America today has its roots in the historical foundations of its land and people. The major historical influences include the impact of indigenous cultures and significance of conquering or invading nation politics and social structures.

Using modern technology, Anna Roosevelt and a team of anthropologists argue that there was a prehistoric society that predated Andean societies located in the eastern Marajo, a low-lying area around the Amazon. The “Marajoara” people were a large civilization of people, perhaps numbering 100,000 or more. She and her team have developed a new picture of prehistoric Latin America where people settled at rivers and estuaries to exploit the natural food sources found there and began to make pottery, which dates 1,400 and 3,000 years before the first pottery appeared in the Andes or coastal areas of Peru. In other words, this culture developed into the chiefdom cultures we recognize today but the people themselves disappeared mysteriously before 1300. By the first written accounts, a different culture of Indians existed in the savannas of the Marajo.

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Fig. 1 Clossal head, La Venta, Mexico, Olmec culture. ca. 900-500BCE. (Sayre, 2010)

Initially, the Spanish and Portuguese, known as the Iberians hoped to trade with the indigenous peoples of the New World. The Indians, however, were not interested in commercial intercourse. In response, the Iberians began to settle and colonize their new territories instead. Social hierarchies based on land ownership were slowly put into place by Iberian settlers. Although many settlers sought gold, others focused on agricultural development. In order to stabilize the colonies and make them more self-sufficient, skilled craftsmen and farmers were encouraged to migrate to the New World.

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Fig. 2 Plan of Tenochtitlan, from Cortes’s first letter to the king of Spain. (Sayre, 2010)

The opulent Indian empires were captured and the inhabitants were made subject to the Castilian monarch. Although the Spaniards were outnumbered, European innovations such as steel, gunpowder, the domestication of the horse, effective military tactics, crossbows, and desire helped to facilitate their victories. Another aspect helping to insure European domination over the natives was through the spread of European diseases, against which the natives had no immunities.

The Iberians exploited all of the natural resources found and cultivated in the New World. Eventually, this rich land of resources and wealth drew the attention of the French, Dutch, and English. The abundance of gold and silver mined in Peru, Brazil, and Mexico helped stimulate the European economy and fund industrial revolutions. Even though the Indians were exploited as slave labor, the Iberians learned much from their “subjects” about how to survive in their new environment. Through intermarriage, the settlers and subjects were irrevocably linked together creating a new social class structure.

Historically, Latin America has been economically dependent on the export of agricultural and mineral commodities. Early trade attitudes were initially defined by the “physiocrat doctrine” with regard to competition. Observing the wealth accumulated by trade in economic markets, countries began to vie for free trading privileges. Unfortunately, they competed against each other and flooded the market causing the prices and profits for farmers to fall. This was to set a precedent for economic activity in Latin America. According to E. Bradford Burns in Latin America, “development became more illusion than reality over the years.”

Several attempts have been made over the last four or more decades to form trading blocs within Latin America. The goals have been to unify the countries and protect the markets from outside competition and to form larger internal markets. In 1960, a trade association known as the “Latin American Free Trade Association”, or “LAFTA”, now known as the “Latin American Integration Association”, or “LAIA”, was developed to encourage trade within Latin America. Fostering trade between the countries, they held, would eliminate some of the dependency incurred by separate nations trading outside the continent with foreign competitors. Then, in 1969, the “Andean Pact” was signed with similar goals in mind. Next, in 1992 the “North American Free Trade Agreement” was signed by the leaders of three countries: George H. W. Bush of the United States, Brian Mulroney of Canada, and Carlos Salinas de Gortari of Mexico. Finally, another trade agreement was prompted by Brazil based on the North Atlantic Free Trade Organization and was called the “South American Free Trade Area, or “SAFTA”. While economic frontiers were experiencing change, so were the population centers of Latin America.

Summary

Industrialization and modernization accompanied the growth of cities in size, number, and population. Cities became increasingly more important in each nation as the “hub” of cultural activity, government, commerce, transportation, communication, and education. Job opportunities and housing were among the many lures that encouraged the migration of peoples to the developing cities. Some cities experienced population migrations that they were unable to support.

Overpopulation, in fact, led to more competition for job opportunities, less housing, poverty, increased crime, the rapid spread of illness and disease, and the breakdown of the family unit. On the other hand, cities also provided the opportunity for upward mobility, job training, job opportunities for women, and participation in commercial activity and trading. It is important not to assume a “golden age” mentality about the growth of cities, however, since education was still basically a privilege of the elite, countries have remained dependent on an export economy, landowners have remained in the top realm of the social and economic strata, and color still defines social class.

References

Sayre, H. M. (2010). Discovering the Humanities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Pearson.

——-, H. M. (2013). Discovering the Humanities. 2nd. ed., Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Pearson.

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Foregin Influence on Japan

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Map 1. World Exploration, 1271-1611. (Sayre, 2013)

In this discussion we will review the indigenous people of Japan, their courtly refinement and their rivalries over whether Buddhism should be introduced into the country. Japanese culture can be defined by the three periods, Heian, Kamakura, and Muromachi, before Japan started closing itself off to Western influence in 1587 during the Azuchi-Monoyama era.

Around 550 CE Japanese culture was comprised of three clans, the Soga, Mononobe, and Nakatomi, with each clan having ties to the imperial family through royal marriages. Each clan preformed a specific duty. The Mononobe clan was responsible for maintaining the emperor’s military, while the Nakatomi were responsible for Shinto rituals – Shinto is the indigenous spirituality practiced by the people of Japan, not necessarily a faith but more of a way of life – with both clans opposing the practice of Buddhism in Japan. However, the Soga clan was responsible for managing the emperor’s trade and estate with Korea and China and would eventually help introduce Buddhism to the island. Through the Soga contact with these two other cultures the people were introduced to Buddhism and were intensely attracted to the Buddhist way of life. For this reason, the emperor allowed the Soga clan to practice the Buddhist faith.

In map 2 the relative isolation Japan has from the Asian mainland is highlighted. Due to this isolation Japan was slow to develop and was also more susceptible to the influence of more advanced cultures.

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Map 2. Japan. (Sayre, 2013)

Even though the initial reaction to the infusion of Buddhism into Japanese culture was not welcomed, by the early 7th century the ideologies of Buddhism and Shintoism were influencing one another. The two ways of life eventually intertwined so much so that “the Great Buddha of Nara became identified with the Shinto goddess Amaterasu, and Buddhist ceremonies were incorporated into Shinto court rituals.” (Sayre, 2013) Due to the close relationship between Buddhism and Shintoism sometime between 784 – 794 the capital was moved to Heiankyo. Records indicated “the move occurred because the secular court needed to distance itself from the religious influence of the Buddhist monks at Nara.” (Sayre, 2013)

Buddha Image

Fig. 1 Great Buddha of Nara. (Japan-guide.com, 2013)

The move of the capital may have created a fracture within the religious and secular communities but the arts were able to flourish in the Heian Period. Japanese court life was determined by gender. The lives of men were public, while women lived concealed, private lives. Women rarely ventured into public life; if they did it was usually to a Buddhist temple. For the most part, women lived lives out of the public domain but at the same time Japanese women were highly educated.  The one except to Japanese women entering into public life was during gathering at court for poetry reading, where “poems were generally composed for a single recipient – a friend or lover – and a reply was expected”. (Sayre, 2013)  Much of the daily activities of court life were captured in nikki, or diaries. Such diaries give us an idea of what Heian court life was like.

If the Heian Period is considered the time in which the Japanese people witnessed courtly refinement then it was during the Kamakura Period that intense rivalry and warfare was witnessed. “As war spread across the country, many Japanese felt that it announced the coming of Mappo, the so-called Third Age of Buddha, often translated as the ‘age of Dharma Decline’.” (Sayre, 2013)  It was also during this time that no enlightenment could be obtained, and for this reason Pure Land Buddhist artists emerged because they “seemed to offer a way out.” (Sayre, 2013)  This form of art was especially attractive to the Japanese people due to the chanting phrase of Namu Amida Bustu (“Hail to the Buddha Amida”), see fig. 2.  In the chant the faithful believed they “would be reborn into the Western Pure Land paradise…where enlightenment…might finally be attained.” (Sayre, 2013)

Preaching

Fig. 2 Kuya Preaching, Kamakura period, before 1270. (Sayre, 2013)

However, it was during the Muromachi Period that the Japanese people re-instituted their indigenous cultural patronage of Zen Gardens. The influence of Zen Gardens became a way for Japanese artists to express long held traditions of water features, along with other features. Many of the Zen Gardens “taken as a whole” are “best…viewed as a narrative, perhaps a metaphor for the passage of time, or even the passage of a Zen Buddhist philosopher from the relative complexity and confusion of early life to the expansive simplicity and enlightenment.”

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Fig. 3 Garden of the Daisen of Daitokuji, Kyoto. Muromachi period, ca. 1510-25. (Sayre, 2013)

By the end of the Kamakura and the early part of the 16th century, during the Muromachi period, “tea contests to discern different teas and regions in which they were grown had become popular.” (Sayre, 2013)  These contests became such an integral part of Muromachi court life that masters of ceremony would create and design specific rooms for holding the contest.  Main times the rooms would be decorated with “calligraphy on hanging scrolls or screens, the guest was to leave the concerns of the daily world behind and enter a timeless world of ease harmony, and mutual respect.” (Sayre, 2013)

The last major period of foreign influence was seen in the Azuchi-Monoyama Period. Even though the country was culturally thriving, civil war was ripping the country apart. It was only after the one of the Azuchi-Monoyama leaders, Nobunaga, was introduced to gunpowder by Portuguese traders that the warring ended.  Once the warring died down the foreign trades, mainly Dutch and Portuguese, were used as inspiration in Japanese paintings, with a new genera of painting known as namban or “southern barbarian”. The term namban was used to refer to the Westerns. In many of the images the ships crews are seen unloading goods with the priests in the images being Japanese converts to Christianity.

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Fig. 4 Namban six-panel screen from the School of Kano, ca. 1593-1600. (Sayre, 2013)

The Namban, fig. 4, image showcases the meeting of two cultures and the high hopes of trade. These cultural encounter scenes were not used in ordinary households but instead for the palaces and castles. “Traditional Japanese interiors consisted of mostly open rooms with little or no furniture” but these large screens could be used to soften and divide the large open rooms. (Sayre, 2013)

However, no matter what experience Nobunaga had with Western people his successor, Hideyoshi, would become very suspicious of Christianity.  Around 1587 Hideyoshi would disallow the practice of the Christian faith within Japan, and in 1597 he had 26 Spanish and Japanese Jesuits executed.  Later rulers would forbid Japanese to travel in 1635 and by 1641 and there was limited trade between Japan and the Dutch. Japan would remain sealed off from the Western world until 1854 after being urged by the President of the United States to receive American sailors. (Sayre, 2013)

Summary

Japanese culture can be defined by the three periods of Heian, Kamakura, and Muromachi before Japan started closing itself off to Western influence again in 1587 during the Azuchi-Monoyama, which would end abruptly in 1635. In the early formation of Japanese culture, it was comprised of three clans, the Soga, Mononobe, and Nakatomi, with each clan having ties to the imperial family through royal marriages and preforming specific duty. This period is known as the Heian Period and it witnessed the influx of Buddhism into Japan from China.   It was during the Muromachi Period that the Japanese people re-instituted their indigenous cultural patronage of Zen Gardens and the formality of tea ceremonies.

The last major period of foreign influence was seen in the Azuchi-Monoyama Period.  The Japanese culture was thriving but civil war was ripping the country apart.  This period is recorded as the time in Japanese history when gunpowder was introduced by Portuguese traders.  After warring between clans died down the Dutch and Portuguese were able to begin trading with the Japanese. Due to these trading encounters a new genera of painting known as namban or “southern barbarian” was created.

However, this trade would come to an end under the reign of Hideyoshi and his suspicious about Christianity. Later rulers would forbid Japanese to travel in 1635 and by 1641 and  limited trade.  Japan would remain sealed off from the Western world until 1854 after being urged by the President of the United States to receive American sailors. (Sayre, 2013)

References

Japan-guide.com. (2013). Todaiji temple. Retrieved from http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4100.html.

Sayre, H. M. (2013). Discovering the Humanities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Pearson.

——-, H. M. (2008). The humanities: Culture, continuity & change. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, Prentice Hall.

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India’s Cross-Cultural Encounter

Map1

Map 1. World Exploration, 1271-1611. (Sayre, 2013)

In this discussion we will turn our attention to the indigenous people of India and their encounter with the Islamic west. The people of India were more tolerant of outside forces and in most cases they welcomed explores.  By the 17th and 18th centuries the rulers in India were Muslim not Hindu, which is the traditional religion of the indigenous people of India. As early as the 11th century a variety of Islamic groups had moved across the Hindu Kush mountain range through the northern passage and by the early part of the 13th century Muslims established a foothold in Delhi. It was not until the 16th that a group of Turko-Mongol Sunni Muslims known as Moguls would establish a permanent empire in northern India in parts of Delhi and Agar. For the most part, these footholds and establishments were tolerated and even welcomed by the native people. However, between 1540 and 1555 Hindus rose up and exiled the Moguls.

It was during this time of exile, from India, that the great Persian leader, Shah Tamasp Safavi, in Tabriz, would accept the Islamic Moguls into his court. Safavi was a patron of the arts and his love of the arts would make an impression on the to be ruler, Akbar, once the Moguls reconquered India 15 years later.

Mughal King Akbar

Fig. 1 Image of Mughal King Akbar. (Indianetzone, 2008)

In 1556, the new ruler was quick to establish “a school of painting in India open to both Hindu and Islamic artists, taught by Persian master brought from Tabriz.” (Sayre, 2013) Akbar would also encourage artists to learn Western styles of art brought to the east by Portuguese traders. It is record that there were “more than 1,000 artists” who had “created a library of over 24,000 illuminated manuscripts.” (Sayre, 2013)

The rule of Akbar was one in which he recognized the diversity of the people he reigned over. For this reason “he invited Christians, Jews, Hindu, Buddhists, and other to his court to debate Muslim scholars”. However, by the time Akbar’s son, Jahangir, became ruler the courts taste for art had switched from Persian influence to British-English.

In 1599 King James I of England awarded the British East India Company exclusive trading rights to the East Indies. Jahangir’s growing interest to English life is most visible in image Jahangir Seated on an Allegorical Throne. Even though Jahangir assumes the typical profile pose of the Mogul court, the inclusion of “two Western-style putti fly across the top of the composition.” (Sayre, 2013)

Jahangir Seated on an Allegorical Throne

Fig. 2 Jahangir Seated on an Allegorical Throne, by Bichitr. From the Leningrad Album of Bichitr. ca. 1625 (Sayre, 2013)

If you look closely you will notice the putti on the left is in the act of shooting an arrow, alluding to the importance of loving the world, while the one on the right is covering its face in the act of contemplation, possible of worldly power. At the bottom of the throne two more angle-like figures appear who are inscribing something. The inscription reads “Oh Shah, may the span of your life be a thousand years.” (Sayre, 2013) Of course the most prominent Western influence is seen in the decorative flower boarder. The outer Western-style flower board is in stark contrast to the inner Turkish flower boarder design.

Jahangir son, Jahan, would not embrace the art of painting nearly as much as his father and grandfather. However, he would become a patron of architecture with his most significance contribution to Indian art being the construction of the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is not just any architectural structure it is a mausoleum Jahan had constructed for his favorite wife, Mumtaz-i-Mahal, whose name means “Light of the Palace”. Muntaz-i-Mahal died while giving birth to their fourteenth child.

Taj Mahal

Fig. 3 Front view of the Taj Mahal. (Department of Tourism)

The overall look of the structure combines Islamic with Indian architecture. “The white marble tomb is set on a board marble platform with minarets at each corner…at the top of these minarets are chattri, or small pavilions that are traditional embellishments of Indian palaces.” (Sayre, 2013) The minarets also act as a location where the muezzins would announce the call to worship for Muslims. The main structure has identical facades with a “central iwan, or traditional Islamic architectural feature consisting of a vaulted opening with an arched portal, flanked by two stories of smaller iwans.” (Sayre, 2013) The open vaulted facades also contribute to the Taj Mahal’s feeling on weightlessness.

Sadly thought, by 1658, Jahan would fall ill and his more conservative son Aurangzeb would assume power and confine his father to the Red Fort on the Jumna River. Aurangzeb would reinstate “traditional forms of Islamic law and worship, ending the pluralism that had defined the Mogul court under his father, and grandfather” and even his great-grandfather. (Sayre, 2013) However, from the Red Fort Jahan was able to “look out over the Jumna River, see the Taj Mahal and re-create in poetry the paradise” where his beloved wife rested. (Sayre, 2013)

Summary

Unlike the people of China the people of India were more tolerant of outside forces and in most cases welcomed explores. As early as the 11th century a variety of Islamic groups had moved across the Hindu Kush mountain range and by the early part of the 13th century Muslims established a foothold in Delhi. However, it was not until the 16th that the Moguls would establish a permanent empire in the northern India and by the 17th and 18th centuries Muslim ruled over native Hindus.

For the 16th century onward a number of Mogul rules, from Akbar to his grandson Jahan, would impart their love of both Non-western and Western art on Indian culture and the landscape. In the earlier years of the Mogul rule the love of art was in the form of establishing artistic school, however, in later years it was in portraiture creation in the English-style. Eventually their love of the art was seen in the combining of Indian and Islamic architecture.

References

Department of Tourism. (n.d.). Taj mahal photo gallery. Retrieved from http://tajmahal.gov.in/picture_gallery.html.

Indianetzone. (2008). Influence of muslim rule on indian religion. Retrieved from http://www.indianetzone.com/51/influence_muslim_rule_on_indian_religion.htm.

Sayre, H. M. (2013). Discovering the Humanities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Pearson.

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