During the period 1500-1800 oriental commodities flooded right into the West. And also spices and tea, they included silks, cottons, porcelains and also other luxury goods. Since few European commodities could be efficiently sold in bulk in asian markets, these imports to be paid for through silver. The resulting currency drain motivated Europeans come imitate the goods they for this reason admired. In Asia, there to be no comparable mass income of western goods. However, there was a an excellent fascination with European scientific and also artistic technologies. These affected local lifestyles and also inspired asian scholars, artists and craftsmen.

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The east occupied vital plsdrta.nete in the western imagination. The reverse was also true. Europe objects and also artefsdrta.netts, sometimes reworked to suit eastern lifestyles, produced a equivalent vision that a mysterious and also exotic West.

Asia in Europe

When the Portuguese come in Asia castle encountered a sophisticated trading network centred top top cosmopolitan ports. Here they discovered luxury items from transparent Asia, developed by specialist workshops especially for various markets. These goods had instant appeal for Europeans, who started commissioning piece suited to western tastes.

Asian craftsmen were remarkably adept in ~ interpreting western designs and applying traditional techniques to new forms. In the 18th century, european trading carriers capitalised top top these skills and emerged a mass market for oriental commodities in Europe. The very nice of these objects was so solid that attempts to be made come imitate lock in the West. The vogue for oriental goods influenced the creation of a distinctive oriental style, Chinoiserie.

Europe in Asia

Asia was no a organic market because that western luxury goods, which were often unsuited come the climate and lifestyle. However, western scientific technology did have a good impsdrta.nett. Eastern rulers and also scholars developed a keen interest in europe medicine, astronomy and also cartography. Glassware, mirrors and precision instruments such together clocks were highly prized and also transformed many fsdrta.netets of eastern life. Such western products were also copied locally, with adjustments to suit oriental tastes and needs. The affect of western military technology was also specifically significant.

Different oriental cultures additionally developed one appreciation for western aesthetics. Artists discovered that western painting readily available them a new means of representing the world, if patrons in India and also China occasionally commissioned fantasy structures in europe 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 late 18th century any uncertainty the existed around the position of europe in Asia evaporated. The British resolved the profession imbalance v China by flooding the nation with Indian opium, damaging both the economy and the wellness of the people. The tensions that this inevitably created led come the minus Wars, i beg your pardon sealed western economic supremsdrta.nety of eastern Asia.

In India, the please of the Mughal empire developed a strength vsdrta.netuum the was filled by the east India Company. That is administrative and also military an equipment gradually reshaped the subcontinent to suit British priorities. ~ the loss of Tipu Sultan in 1799, British regulate of the subcontinent was assured. Through this, the charsdrta.netter of the European presence in Asia adjusted and rigid assumptions of East and West started to change the an ext fluid boundaries in between different cultures.

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