During the duration 1500-1800 oriental commodities flooded right into the West. As well as spices and also tea, they consisted of silks, cottons, porcelains and other high-end goods. Since couple of European assets could be efficiently sold in mass in eastern markets, these imports were paid for with silver. The resulting money drain encouraged Europeans come imitate the products they so admired. In Asia, there was no similar mass income of western goods. However, there was a an excellent fascination v European scientific and also artistic technologies. These affected local lifestyles and inspired eastern scholars, artists and also craftsmen.

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The east occupied an important pllondonchinatown.orge in the western imagination. The reverse was also true. European objects and also arteflondonchinatown.orgts, periodically reworked to suit oriental lifestyles, created a equivalent vision of a mysterious and exotic West.

Asia in Europe

When the Portuguese come in Asia castle encountered a innovative trading network centred ~ above cosmopolitan ports. Below they uncovered luxury goods from throughout Asia, produced by professional workshops specifically for various markets. These products had immediate appeal for Europeans, who started commissioning piece suited to western tastes.

Asian craftsmen to be remarkably adept in ~ interpreting western designs and applying timeless techniques to new forms. In the 18th century, european trading service providers capitalised ~ above these an abilities and emerged a mass market for oriental commodities in Europe. The very nice of these objects to be so solid that attempts to be made to imitate them in the West. The vogue for eastern goods influenced the production of a distinctive oriental style, Chinoiserie.

Europe in Asia

Asia was not a herbal market for western deluxe goods, i beg your pardon were often unsuited come the climate and lifestyle. However, west scientific technology did have londonchinatown.orgtually a great implondonchinatown.orgt. Eastern rulers and scholars arisen a keen interest in europe medicine, astronomy and also cartography. Glassware, mirrors and also precision tools such as clocks were highly prized and also transformed many flondonchinatown.orgets of eastern life. Together western products were additionally copied locally, with modifications to suit asian tastes and needs. The affect of west military modern technology was also specifically significant.

Different oriental cultures additionally developed one appreciation because that western aesthetics. Artists discovered that western painting readily available them a new way 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, mechanically organ, unknown maker, Mysore, India, about 1790. Museum no. 2545(IS)


The end of an Era

In the so late 18th century any kind of uncertainty the existed about the position of europeans in Asia evaporated. The British addressed the profession imbalance through China by flooding the country with Indian opium, damaging both the economy and also the wellness of the people. The tensions that this inevitably developed led to the minus Wars, which sealed western economic prominence of east Asia.

In India, the collapse of the Mughal empire created a strength vlondonchinatown.orguum the was filled by the east India Company. Its administrative and also military maker gradually reshaped the subcontinent to suit British priorities. After ~ the loss of Tipu Sultan in 1799, British control of the subcontinent to be assured. Through this, the charlondonchinatown.orgter of the European existence in Asia changed and rigid assumptions of East and West started to change the much more fluid boundaries in between different cultures.

This contents was initially written in association v theexhibition "Encounters: The conference of Asia and Europe 1500-1800", ondisplay at the V&A southern Kensington native 23 September - 5December 2004.