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Unit 8

8.1 Period Characteristics South, East, and Southeast Asia, 300 BCE-1980 CE

3 min readโ€ขoctober 28, 2020

cait

Cait Levin

charly511115

Charly Castillo


Unit 8 Overview

In unit 7, we learned about West and Central Asia, but now, we're going to move east to the areas that we haven't explored yet ๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ; welcome to South, East, and Southeast Asia! In this unit, you'll learn about the influence of different religions and philosophies on people's beliefs and how this translates to their artworks ๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ We'll also learn more about cross-cultural interactions on the continent between Europeans and native groups, and how this led to artistic syncretism (fusion of different cultures). So, without any further delay, let's start learning about the history and art of unit 8.

Contextualization (AKA The Historical Religious Background) ๐ŸŒ

For this unit, we're going to shake things up a little bit! Because so much of the art that we're going to review was made for religious purposes, it only makes sense to go over South, East, and Southeast Asia's religious history, instead of its general history. Below are brief descriptions of the six main religions of this unit.

Buddhism โ˜ธ๏ธ

  • Founded by the Buddha (AKA Siddhartha Gautama) in the 6th century BCE
  • Practiced in all of the nations covered in this unit in different forms (Theravada and Mahayana, including Zen)
  • Neither monotheistic or polytheistic because its followers don't believe in a god-like figure

Hinduism ๐Ÿ•‰๏ธ

  • No founder, but first appeared sometime between 2300 BCE and 1500 BCE
  • Practiced mainly in India ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ, but there is a visible Hindu community in Indonesia ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ
  • Some consider Hinduism to be polytheistic or monotheistic, but it's actually neither (read this article to find out exactly why!)

Daoism โ˜ฏ๏ธ

  • Founded by Laozi in the 6th century BCE
  • Most of its followers live in China ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ and Taiwan ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ, where it functions as both a religion and a philosophy
  • Some believe that Daoism should be considered polytheistic, but others argue that it doesn't fit the framework for either monotheistic or polytheistic religions

Confucianism ๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป ๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿฝ

  • Founded by Confucius in 479 BCE
  • Confucianists mainly live in China, but the religion has influenced both cultural and religious practices in South Korea ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท and Japan ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต
  • Doesn't have a god or deity (god or goddess in a polytheistic religion), so it isn't considered monotheistic or polytheistic

Shintoism โ›ฉ๏ธ

  • Doesn't have a founder, since it is a religion based on indigenous (native) animist beliefs
  • Almost exclusively practiced in Japan ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต
  • Considered polytheistic because its followers believe in different kami (spirit or gods) that are found throughout nature

Christianity โ›ช

  • Started by Jesus Christ in the first century CE
  • Brought to Asia by European explorers and missionaries during the Age of Imperialism; small communities of believers on the continent (mainly in ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต and ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท)
  • Monotheistic and considered to be one of the three major Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam)

Islam โ˜ช๏ธ

  • Founded by Muhammad in the seventh century CE in what is now Saudi Arabia
  • Practiced mainly in India ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ during the time of this unit, but now also followed in Indonesia ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ and parts of China ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ and Cambodia ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ญ
  • Like Christianity, it is monotheistic and Abrahamic
Now that you know a bit more about what's going to inspire so many works in this unit, let's get into the art!

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