Rudyard Kipling used to say that the union of the East and the West was impossible. But the fashion for everything Oriental still persists. So do talks about the necessity to borrow things, approaches, lifestyle and cultures that are absolutely extraneous to Western people.
For instance, is it really wholesome to eat according to the Ayurvedic medicine? Or to perform certain procedures to cleanse your organism?
Here are some things that were borrowed from the Oriental culture and got fully accustomed to.
The first folding-screens appeared in China in the seventh century AD. Originally they were an object of luxury, their leaves were paper, silk and brocade. There were also varnished folding-screens with inlaid work. They were made of varnish and golden foil. From China folding-screens came to Japan where they were used to decorate minimalist interior. In Japan they were no decoration, but folding-screens separated space into several parts. In the 17th century Europe acquired folding-screens together with fashion for everything Chinese. In the rococo period folding-screens were the obligatory element of the palace style. They were coated with gold and varnish, adorned with lots of frills.
Nowadays folding-screens can hardly be seen at homes, although they found an extensive use in open-space offices as partitions.
Massage was known in Ancient Egypt, Abyssinia, Libya and other countries 12 centuries BC. That is proved by various pictures of massage on papyrus and alabastrine relief in kings’ palaces. An ancient Chinese medical treatise written about five thousand years ago recommends rumpling your body “to defend yourself from a cold, keep your organs mobile and prevent some ailments”. Massage appeared in the West much later and it was not practiced systemically for a long time.
Nowadays, at all events, most health-improving massages used now are of the Oriental origin.
China was the first nation that started to grow and consume tea regularly. The first documented evidence of tea can be seen in manuscripts dated as far back as 2700 BC. First Buddhist monks planted it and thus tea entered the culture of Buddhist monasteries. According to a legend, Buddhist saint Daruma fasted and prayed, but could not resist his fatigue any longer and fell asleep. When he woke up, he was so wrathful with his eye-lids that he tore them off and threw them on the ground. His eye-lids sprang out, and a tea-plant grew from every eyelash of his eye-lids. The drink made from the leaves of those plants allowed to struggle with sleep.
Russia started drinking tea in 1638 when Mongolian Altyn-Khan sent several sacks of tea leaves to Tsar Mikhail. As Russian-Chinese relations were developing, Russia was consuming more tea. In the 18th century tea drinking became an inherent ceremony in rich houses (among noblemen and well-to-do merchants).
It goes without saying nowadays that tea has become the national drink of almost every country on the globe.
The first known theorist of warcraft was Chinese commander Sun Tzu. His treatise The Art of War is the bible of soldiery up till now.
Sun Tzu’s ideas inspired strategists and then adepts of control theory. They have become most relevant now, in the epoch of cyberwars. Sun Tzu’s ideas formed the base for indirect strategy that teaches to figure out your rival’s actions in advance and to unhinge the strong opponent. Indirect actions help to foul the trail, to increase uncertainty of surroundings and to lessen a rival’s assurance that he is in control of a situation.
Chaturanga, the predecessor of chess, originated from India. Chaturanga was the battle of four armies, with eight playing pieces in each. Among other pieces there were kings, war elephants and chariots. Then chess came to ancient Iran, and later Arabs brought it to Europe.
According to a legend, chess was invented in 1000 BC by an Indian mathematician, who also thought of involution, a mathematical action.
Translated by Julia Bulygina