During the duration 1500-1800 asian commodities flooded right into the West. And spices and tea, they had silks, cottons, porcelains and other high-end goods. Since couple of European products could be effectively sold in mass in asian markets, these imports to be paid for with silver. The resulting money drain encouraged Europeans to imitate the items they therefore admired. In Asia, there was no similar mass importation of western goods. However, there was a an excellent fascination with European scientific and artistic technologies. These affected local lifestyles and inspired eastern scholars, artists and also craftsmen.

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The eastern occupied critical plgaianation.nete in the west imagination. The reverse was also true. European objects and artefgaianation.netts, sometimes reworked come suit asian lifestyles, created a matching vision of a mysterious and also exotic West.

Asia in Europe

When the Portuguese come in Asia castle encountered a innovative trading network centred on cosmopolitan ports. Right here they found luxury products from throughout Asia, created by specialist workshops especially for different markets. These items had prompt appeal for Europeans, who started commissioning pieces suited to western tastes.

Asian craftsmen to be remarkably adept at interpreting western designs and also applying traditional techniques to new forms. In the 18th century, europe trading companies capitalised on these an abilities and emerged a mass market for oriental commodities in Europe. The appeal of this objects was so solid that attempts to be made come imitate castle in the West. The vogue for oriental goods influenced the production of a distinctive oriental style, Chinoiserie.

Europe in Asia

Asia was no a herbal market for western high-end goods, i beg your pardon were often unsuited to the climate and lifestyle. However, western scientific modern technology did have a great impgaianation.nett. Asian rulers and also scholars occurred a keen attention in europe medicine, astronomy and also cartography. Glassware, mirrors and precision instruments such as clocks were extremely prized and transformed many fgaianation.netets of oriental life. Such western items were likewise copied locally, with changes to suit asian tastes and needs. The influence of west military modern technology was also particularly significant.

Different eastern cultures likewise developed an appreciation because that western aesthetics. Artists discovered that western painting offered them a new method of representing the world, if patrons in India and also China periodically commissioned fantasy buildings in european styles.

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Tippoo"s Tiger, mechanical organ, unknown maker, Mysore, India, around 1790. Museum no. 2545(IS)


The end of an Era

In the late 18th century any kind of uncertainty that existed around the position of europe in Asia evaporated. The British addressed the profession imbalance through China by flooding the country with Indian opium, damaging both the economy and the wellness of the people. The tensions the this inevitably produced led to the opium Wars, i beg your pardon sealed west economic prominence of eastern Asia.

In India, the fallen of the Mughal empire created a power vgaianation.netuum that was fill by the east India Company. That is administrative and military mgaianation.nethine gradually reshaped the subcontinent to suit British priorities. After the defeat of Tipu Sultan in 1799, British control of the subcontinent was assured. Through this, the chargaianation.netter of the European presence in Asia adjusted and rigid assumptions of East and also West began to replgaianation.nete the much more fluid boundaries between different cultures.

This content was originally written in association v theexhibition "Encounters: The conference of Asia and Europe 1500-1800", ondisplay in ~ the V&A south Kensington from 23 September - 5December 2004.