Have Western cultures affected indigenous Asian creative expression…

“How could one even begin to make comparative judgments? Who could say, with authority, that Plato is a greater political theorist than Mencius? Who could compare The Canterbury Tales to The Tale of Genji? How to evaluate the art of Picasso compared to the creations of unknown African masters? is a question the Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization asks when teaching Western Civilization at the University of Colorado.اضافة اعلان

According to Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World, by Frederick Cooper and Ann Laura Stoler, the Westernization of Asian societies has been going on for centuries, its claws digging deep into their hierarchies of art and literature.

The long-lasting effects of Western cultures influencing world art can be traced back to traders and colonizers from Western Europe, particularly Ancient Greece, who settled Asian (and African) lands.

“When mentioned among Western elites, the traditions of the West are almost always an object of criticism or contempt,” said James Kurth, professor of political science at Swarthmore College.

Utagawa Hiroshige’s Plum Estate. (Photo: Boston Museum of Fine Arts)

These societies believed their way of doing things, whether in writing or brushstrokes, was superior to the civilizations they were trying to colonize, Emory University psychology professor Patricia Bauer recently said. And to understand the deeply rooted effects of Western cultures on the artistic expression of many societies, one must be aware of the world’s long artistic and creative history.

The evolution of art dates back to before 3000 BC, in the prehistoric times of man. With simple cave paintings, Neanderthals generally represented themselves as sticks, and also as animals, beginning the long history of artistic expression, according to Art in Context, an online art museum/archive.

The Middle Ages were a difficult time, often loosely considered “the age of artistic censorship” by several scholars, with the art generally consisting of manuscripts and mosaics, rather than the realism on which it focused.

After 3000 BC. AD, ancient Egypt and Greece, the Etruscans and Romans finally dabbled in realistic representations of humanity. Human sculptures, busts and paintings predominated for many centuries, especially in ancient Greece. People back then, however, did not boast of written works and literature. Their emphasis was on seeing and touching, rather than reading and writing, as Professor of Developmental Anatomy (1996) Gillian Morriss-Kay put it in her article The Evolution of Artistic Creativity human.

The Middle Ages were a difficult period, often loosely considered the “age of artistic censorship” by several scholars, with the art generally consisting of manuscripts and mosaics, rather than the realism on which it focused. In the Middle Ages, the teachings of the Church overtook Europe and other parts of the world, with their rules following behind, according to Brent F. Nelsen and James L. Guth, professors at Furman University, in their article Roman Catholicism and The Founding of Europe: How Catholics Shaped European Communities.


The Japanese by Claude Monet (Camille Monet in Japanese costume), 1876. (Photo: Boston Museum of Fine Arts)

Strongly focused on literature and religious studies, portraits and sculptures depicting the human form were incredibly rare. Monotony took precedence over artistry, with muted, weathered colors staining the once-vibrant artistic expressions of age-old artists. This was specifically apparent in Christianity reaching Japan, according to Tamon Miki, in the essay The Influence of Western Culture on Japanese Art, published by Sophia University.

A Spanish Christian missionary named Francis Xavier arrived on Japanese land accompanied by an artist named Anjiro. The missionary brought religious paintings adorned with Christian themes and used them to decorate his altars. These paintings were a means of educating the public about Christianity and hoping that it would alter the minds of the public by following the teachings of the religion, in turn adhering to their stricter rules of art. It reached a point where a holy painting of the Virgin Mary was brought to Hirado, a city in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, in 1565, and fell into the hands of Katō Kiyomasa, a Japanese daimyo (a general of a specific rank) of the Azuchi-Momoyama and Edo periods (according to Wikipedia), which was largely against the infiltration of Christianity into Japanese cultures, and made many efforts to ban it. This continued until the Renaissance, in the 1500s and 1600s, which means it lasted at least two centuries.


Yoshikazu — Yokohama-e print of an English couple, 1861. (Photo: Visualizing Cultures)

Yet at this time in Europe and many other countries literature became abundant, consisting mainly of philosophy, religious treatises, legal texts, and a number of creative literary works. While medieval literature is a broad subject encompassing the many literary works produced in the Middle Ages, it is important to note its effect on the evolution of art and literature.

Literature became the gateway to freedom of expression when art could not meet this need due to censorship. It led to many notable discoveries which were later popularized during the Renaissance. One of the interesting facts, however, is that interest in Asian literature was mostly born after battling the storms of anthropological civilizationalism, ethno-history and subalternism, according to Daud Ali, in his essay The Idea of the medieval in the writing of the South. Asian History: Contexts, Methods and Politics”, published by Taylor & Francis, Ltd.

The Renaissance arrived in full force and the renaissance of art mingled with the literature that invaded societies around the world. Turning away from primarily biblical scenes, the Renaissance led to art again including portraits, alongside events from contemporary life. There has been a resurgence of interest in classical learning and the values ​​of ancient Greece and Rome in Europe, with increasing political stability that allowed freedom in literature and art.

The development of new technologies led to even larger and more prosperous contemporary and literary works, with the printing press becoming increasingly popular. However, with all these developments came the discovery and exploration of new continents, with curiosity getting the better of many European thinkers and philosophers. Their need for adventure called for a voyage on the seas. This is where the seed of Westernization was planted, blossoming into something that would later be seen as the problematic part of the story.


“The Mi’raj of the Prophet” from Shah Tahmasp’s Khamsah. (Photo: Epoch Magazine)

Architecture is one of the many ways Western cultures infiltrated Asia during the Renaissance.

“By the mid-16th century, Renaissance churches were being erected in Latin America and in Portuguese outposts in Asia. Colonial architecture continued to be a showcase for advanced European design ideas long after World War II,” said Kathleen James-Chakraborty in her essay Resisting the Renaissance in the book Architecture Since 1400, published by the University of MinnesotaPress.

The development of new technologies led to even larger and more prosperous contemporary and literary works, with the printing press becoming increasingly popular.

The slow death of the Renaissance led to the disastrous movement called the Counter-Reformation. Less is known that the Counter-Reformation is the movement that most affected Asian countries and global culture, as opposed to Martin Luther’s Reformation, according to Alexander Chow, a Chinese-American instructor with a doctorate in theology.

The Catholic Church at the time decided to once again censor artists, stifling creativity a second time. They felt the need not only to control the actions of Europe and neighboring countries, but also to plant their claws in the creativity of Asian peoples. It gave way to a rise in Catholic missions, all of which had one goal: to spread religion as far as possible, even if it meant colonizing the lands of indigenous peoples and taking away their freedom of expression.

After the Renaissance came a period of wars in Europe, with each country fighting for a piece of territory in neighboring countries. Realizing what was happening, they decided to broaden their horizons and conquer lands in Africa and Asia.

“By 1886 the rest of the region had been divided between the British, French, Dutch and Spanish (who were soon replaced by the Americans), with the Portuguese still clinging to the island of Timor,” William said. H. Frederick, an associate professor of history at Ohio University. All of this has led to the catastrophic infiltration of artistic expression from Asian cultures; it can be seen in many paintings, as Tamon Miki mentions: the altar paintings of a church in Yamaguchi (which were specifically affected by the Counter-Reformation and the wars of 1556), paintings which were presented to Ōmura Sumitada by Cosimo de Torres, a Spanish priest trying to transform Asian art into Reformed work with Christian and Western influence.

Asian art has had a long history of Western influence due to the many colonial empires and religious missions that have set foot there, and it has survived even greater influence with the current rise of globalization and the pressing need to westernize art through Europe and America. .

Many artists have tried to keep history alive through their inspirations drawn from ancient Asian plays and literature. Trying to maintain the heritage in its core values ​​is difficult, but it is important, because it holds many secret treasures in the world of art and literature.

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