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  1. 1. ᴥThis chapter surveys the traditional societies of Asia, primarily before about 1900. ᴥTheir emphasis on hierarchical ranking ᴥThe primacy of the family ᴥLarger groups beyond it within the context of group solidarity and group effort ᴥPatterns of marriage and sexuality and child rearing ᴥStatus of women ᴥImportance of education and learning ᴥMaterial welfare ᴥAttitudes towards nature and human life ᴥThe role of law
  2. 2. ᴥAs is still true today to a large extant, traditional Asian societies showed a remarkable similarity in their emphasis on hierarchical status groupings based primarily on age, gender and occupation or social role. ᴥPeople were discouraged from trying to operate on their own and certainly from attempting to challenge, subvert, get around or change the group oriented social system. ᴥIndividualism and individual expression, so highly valued in the modern West, were seen as antisocial, disruptive, selfish and destructive of the group interest, except to a degree in Southeast Asia.
  3. 3. ᴥGiven the relative stability and the impressive accomplishments of traditional Asian societies, it must be acknowledged that their social systems and values worked well, however different they were from modern Western norms. ᴥOne measure of the success of this traditional social system was its survival, essentially unchanged, for some 2000 years in India and China and only slightly less long in the rest of Asia. ᴥIn contemporary Asia as a whole, authority, power and patronage still tend to be controlled by heads of groups; family, village, work or administrative units, corporations and even states.
  4. 4. ᴥThe longevity of traditional social systems suggests that they delivered rewards and satisfaction to most people most of the time. ᴥThe authority of those with superior status, including family heads ad elders, was seldom questioned, still less defied; people were supposed to follow their directions, a pattern still widely observable in contemporary Asia. ᴥThe traditional social system particularly disadvantaged women, except in Southeast Asia, and the young as well as tending to stifle individual initiative.
  5. 5. ۞Traditional Asian civilizations were hierarchically based, marked not only by the uniquely Indian institution of caste but by the status groupings associated with kingship, feudal-style relations, occupation, age, gender and levels of literacy and learning. ۞The emphasis on achieving status through learning remains a distinctive aspect of Indian, Chinese, KoreanandJapanesesocieties to the present day. ۞The importance attached to education and learning both for prestige and for advancement, was andis greaterin most Asia thanelsewhere.
  6. 6. ۞In most traditional Asian societies it was a relatively tiny elite who acquired full literacy and advance learning through them superior status, authority and power. ۞Southeast Asia has remained fundamentally different from China, Korea, India and Japan because of the influences of Buddhism and Islam, both of which stress equality but mainly because of the indigenous nature of Southeast Asia society whichhelps to explain whythese two religion were acceptedtheir.
  7. 7. In contrast to the merit-based system of China founded examinations and its variants in Vietnam, Korea and Japan, caste was decreed by birth and affected nearly all South Asians including those living in what are now Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Caste evolved as a sociocultural rather than religious practice with some religious concepts woven in. It is still practiced by South Asian Muslims, Christians and Buddhists. Caste provided a system of social organization that was otherwise largely lacking and gave each individual a sense of belonging in the form of membership in a larger group beyond the basic nexus of the family.
  9. 9. Ritual pollution and purity became the essence of caste definition, drawing boundaries of intergroup interaction, but its operative units were and are subcastes or JATIS, commonly linked to occupation: potters, weavers, learners. Each jati was and is endogamous and members are forbidden to eat with or water from any member of other jatis. Caste cannot be changed, any more than one can change the place where one was born. Individuals might improve or degrade their status as their caste group rose or fell in the hierarchy.
  10. 10. J A T I S
  11. 11. Those outside the original four VARNAS came to be regarded as outcasts and later centuries dalits, since their touch or even their shadow could defile. Their occupations were defiling in themselves they performed the essential services of cleaning and disposing of the dead bodies of animals and people, including the tanning of leather from hides and the making of leather goods.
  12. 12. Most of the dalits also ate meat even beef, forbidden to higher-caste Hindus or Buddhists and lived squalid, segregated ghettoes. In Buddhists Japan a comparable group emerged people now referred as BURAKUMIN or hamlet people who were also considered untouchable and for the same reasons although the Japanese did not adopt the rest of the caste system and may even have been aware of it But caste distinctions seem not to have been observed rigidly until relatively late in Indian history in Gupta times.
  14. 14. Escape from caste was always possible through religious devotion again underlining castes nonreligious nature. The ascetic SADHU or holy man was regardless of his earthly origins beyond caste and honoured by all. Such figures and other mystics were and remain like priest BRAHMINS, far more numerous in India than elsewhere. For centuries all South Asians have known what jati they were born into but it is not really part of their religion perhaps no more than genealogy, social class or occupation are for Christians
  15. 15. BRAHMINS S A D H U
  16. 16. Caste has remained a highly flexible system. Although individuals are born into a given subcaste, by sustained group effort any jati might raise its status often by adopting the religious, dietary and other practices of higher-status groups and by asserting higher status. The process called SANSKRITIZATION from the use of Sanskrit rituals associated with Brahmins. This particularly characteristic of Asian societies where the individual is important primarily as a member of a group whether family, clan, caste, guild, or regional or linguistic division.
  17. 17. Caste also served the need for some form of hierarchical order in a region of complex divisions. Caste provided a sense of group identity, a means of support and defense and cultural vehicle as well as since each caste was necessarily local and shared a common language. Caste was a less matter of religious than of social ordering and the hierarchy it involved was perhaps less important than day-to-day supporting functions it served, while at the same time it made social mobility possible for group members.
  18. 18. Brahmins have always been as widely distributed as Hinduism, but nearly all other caste groups remain limited to much smaller areas, speaking a common regional language and sharing common local culture. As in all premodern societies, most people moved about every little from where they were born. People travelled in groups, not only for better security and for company pilgrims from other areas and they camped at the pilgrimage site in the same groups preparing meals and interacting only with one another.
  19. 19. Despite the uniqueness of caste, Indian society conformed in other respects to the dominant Asian social model, of whichChina is the principal example. China was the original model for the rest of East Asia and remained overwhelmingly its largest and most populous unit. Under the empire in China, which lasted from the third century B.C.E. to 1911, power, responsibility and status formed a pyramidal structure, with the emperor at the top as a truly absolutemonarch. But this was not merely a political pyramid and it did not act alone. The emperor and his officials has as their highest duty the setting of a good example of virtuous conduct.
  21. 21. In practice social order or in Confucian parlance the Great Harmony, was preserved primarilyby the family system; this operated in much the same wayin the rest of Asia. The familywas the state in microcosm. Younger people deferred to their elders as did wives to their husband and social inferiors to their superiors. This was the Confucian formula for happiness and social harmony which spread Confucianismto Korea, Vietnamand Japan. But it was most respects paralleledby Indian socialmores. For all Asians age was equated withwisdom andauthority.
  22. 22. CONFUCIAN
  23. 23. The hierarchal structure of society was less pronounced in Southeast Asia, sometimes attributed to the egalitarian emphasis of both Buddhism and Islam, but even before these religions spread to the area the traditional society appears to have been more open , less rigidly stratified, and with far more opportunity or even equality for women. Women had different functions from men, but these included rice cultivation, handicraft production and marketing. Their chief distinction from men was child bearing of children which tended to attribute magical and ritual powers to them.
  25. 25. Daughters were valued far more highly than in the rest of Asia or in Europe; indeed they were regarded as an economic asset. Southeast Asians commonly practiced bilateral kingship, in which inheritance might pass through either the male or female ancestors. At marriage money and property were transferred from a husbands to his wife's family whereas in most of Asia a bride had to be given with a dowry, often a heavy burden to her parents who were at the same time losing her help. Many Southeast Asian grooms had to pay a bride price a kind of reverse dowry.
  26. 26. Southeast Asian married couples often moved to the wife’s village or family rather than the other way around as in the rest of Asia and the property was held by the couple jointly Property was frequently inherited equally by all the children whatever their sex again departure from other Asian practice where the eldest son inherited all or most. In may parts of Southeast Asia women retained their own names and identities and sometimes passed them on to their children; property also could descend through the female line.
  27. 27. Early European observers of Southeast Asia in the 16th century whose early modern cultures were often rather prudish about sex and frowned on premarital sexual activity, were shocked at the behavior of Southeast Asians. Portuguese described the Malays as FOND OF MUSIC AND GIVEN TO LOVE while Southeast Asians were said to be VERY LASCIVIOUSLY GIVEN, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN. The relative economic freedom of women and their income-earning ability, mainly in trade, made it easier for them to leave an unsatisfactory marriage.
  28. 28. This seems to have made both spouses try harder to make the marriage work. What was called TEMPORARY MARRIAGE often took the place of prostitution as a means of providing foreign traders with female companions, an arrangement that apparently brought no shame on the woman and may even have increased her appeal as a marriage partner in part because she was well paid for her services. Husbands including TEMPORARY husbands generally treated their wives with respect.
  29. 29. There was a deep prejudice against political power for women in most mainland Asia (East and South plus Burma, Thailand and Vietnam), but in Indonesia and the Philippines there were occasional women rulers and in few areas most rulers were female. Women were also often used as diplomatic and commercial negotiators because they were seen as more reasonable and less bound by male codes of aggression or HONOR.
  30. 30. With the exception of Southeast Asia, the paternalistic family was a hierarchical structure in which group welfare took precedence over individual preferences. The father was like a little emperor, not only with absolute power but also with absolute responsibility. In family relations age was the major determinant. Younger sons were subject to their older brothers and all to the eldest male. Individual initiative other than by the patriarch was not tolerated the welfare of the family as interpreted by him came first and all decisions were accordingly made by the elder members.
  31. 31. The larger the society had no adequate mechanisms for taking care of the elderly, so they died in the households where they were born, or in total penury in the few cases where they had no surviving children. Family continuity also and a semi religious aspect not only in the context of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese ANCESTOR WORSHIP but also in India. The oldest surviving son had the responsibility in all of these cultures to conduct funeral services for his parents and annual and periodic rituals thereafter theoretically forever so as to ensure the well-being of the departed spirits and their continued help form the hereafter.
  32. 32. In China and India each generations eldest son might thus be responsible for rituals on behalf of past generations of ancestors by name over many preceding countries. In Vietnam, Korea and Japan similar practices developed although continuity with ancestral past was less extensive and rituals usually did not name ancestors for more than a few generations back. But the general Asian belief in the basic importance of family and generational continuity and in the permanence of family and personal identity was a further expression of the central role of the family as the anchor for all individuals and their place in the temporal and spiritual worlds.
  33. 33. A new Asian bride was the servant of the husbands family and was often victimized by a tyrannical mother-in-law. This classic conflict reflected the distribution of power in a traditional Asian home, in which a bride had the potential to undermine the security, power and happiness of the older woman whose closest relationships were often with her sons. In a typical story a bride was carried in an enclosed cart or sedan chair to her new husbands family; when the curtains were opened, an unwilling bride would sometimes be found to have killed herself.
  34. 34. Marriage was seen as a business arrangement between families not as an individual choice or a love match. In later centuries the custom of foot-binding become widespread in China, inflicting dreadful pain on growing girls, emphasizing their role as erotic play things and defining their beauty in Confucian terms of self-practice, domesticity and obedience. About the same period, the practice of PURDAH the veiling and sequestering of women, spread with the Muslim conquerors even through Hindu northern India.
  35. 35. FOOT-BINDING
  36. 36. PURDAH
  37. 37. Few Asians questioned the family hierarchy . The family operated as a collective entity; each member was both socially and legally responsible for the behavior of all other members. Collective responsibility, family pride, and the shame of family disgrace are still credited for the relatively low rate of crime in much of Asia. Government from higher levels was far less necessary. Asian societies have been called self-regulating, and to a very large extent was true.
  38. 38. Individuals moved through life only as members of families, as did members of larger groups such as caste, clans, guilds. Yet there was a surprising amount of vertical mobility in Chinese society, which also explains the appeal of the Confucian system to the lower classes. Downward mobility was often said to have been hastened by the corrupting effects of wealth and its sapping of the ethic of hard work in favor of luxurious and idle living. In Asian countries families and sometimes villages, clans or guilds squeezed their resources to support promising boys through the lengthy education needed for entry to the scholarly ranks, in effect as their representative and as one who could bring prestige and profit.
  39. 39. Many Asian-American families and students continue this tradition, at least for a generation or two, including the realization that education, like anything else worth having, cannot be achieved without hard work. The larger society offered few support mechanisms. Without family or descendants to care for them, the sick, the poor and the elderly could not survive. In the Hindu and Buddhist countries, minimal shelter and food were available to all at temples, as they still are, but in most Asia the production of offspring, especially sons, was the overriding goal for simple self preservation. Those who did well in life were bound to help not only siblings but also uncles, aunts, cousins and their families.
  41. 41. The bonds of obligation and collective responsibility reached throughout the extended family, which included all paternal and maternal relatives, or at least those with whom a given nuclear family was in touch. It was thus fortunately uncommon for individuals to be wholly without some family connection and consequent claim for support, although for those whose relatives were too poor to often much help which was not so uncommon life was often a losing struggle. Most Asian societies retain even now a complex variety of name designations for each of these kin relationships. This extended network of relationships not only put a heavy burden on individuals but also provided mutual support.
  42. 42. ♂Marriages were almost always arranged by agreement between the two families concerned. ♂Dowries were commonly part of the marriage contract outside Southeast Asia, especially in India; Southeast Asia the males family commonly paid a BRIDE PRICE. ♂Part of woman's dowry, again especially in India, was often, however in the form of jewellery that remained her own and that could serve as a kind of security against hard times. ♂The average age at marriage was lower than in the medieval or early modern West: approximately 21 for males and 17 for females in traditional China, 16 and 14 respectively in India, and 20 and 16 in Japan and Southeast Asia
  43. 43. M A R R I A G E
  44. 44. D O W R I E S
  45. 45. ♂Except for most of Southeast Asia and small region of South India, most marriage was and remains patrilocal; that is, the bride, who was almost invariably recruited from another village to avoid interbreeding, left family and became a member of her husbands family. ♂Under this patrilocal agreement, she was the lowest-status member until she has borne a son. ♂She might visit her parents occasionally, but she was lost them as a family member or helper and cost them heavily in dowry. ♂Girls were often loved as much as boys, but on practical grounds they were of far less value, although girls did much of the household work.
  46. 46. ♂Sons were essential for family continuity and security. ♂Because life was an uncertain business and death rates were high, especially in the early years of life, most families tried to produce more than one son. ♂Girls, on the other hand, might be sold in hard times as servants or concubines in rich households. ♂The childless family was truly bankrupt and might even pay relatively large sums to acquire a son by adoption. ♂A wife who failed to produce a son after a reasonable amount of time was commonly returned to her parents as useless, for the prime purpose of marriage was perpetuation of the male line.
  47. 47. ♂It was known until recently that the sex of a child is determined by the father of that childlessness may result from male as well as from female sterility, so the woman was always blamed. ♂In time, however, most women became willing and even enthusiastic members of their husbands families, passing on these attitudes to their children. ♂Eventually they might sometimes achieve considerable power. ♂Marriage was seen by all as a contract between families for the furthering of their interest. ♂Virtually all marriages were arranged by the families, usually through a go-between.
  48. 48. ♂Go-betweens were often older widows surveyed the assortment of suitable partners in the area. ♂They made it their business to keep informed, to investigate the characters of prospective partners and their family circumstances, and to do at least the preliminary primary income. ♂The small fee they charged was often their primary income. ♂Bride and groom had usually before their wedding. ♂Sometimes they might be allowed to express preferences, although these might be overruled in the family interest. ♂Compatibility was rarely considered, and love marriages were extremely rare, although affection might grow in time.
  49. 49. ♂Divorce was rare in Asia outside the Southeast, but though difficult, was still possible. ♂Remarriage was even more difficult if not impossible, and that knowledge probably helped people try harder to make their marriages work. ♂There is abundant evidence from biographies, memoirs, popular literature, and legal records that most marriages were successful within these terms, and that husbands and wives valued and even loved one another and worked together in the family unit to reproduce the dominant social pattern.
  51. 51. Asian women outside Southeast Asia were expected to be modest and chaste. Upper-class women seldom appeared in public, and any open display of affection with their spouses was taboo, as it still tends to be. The elite Asian cultures are famous for their erotic literature and art for the development of a courtesan (prostitute) tradition older than in any other living civilization. The GEISHA tradition of Japan and its original, the ‘sing-song’ or ‘flower-boat’ women of China, are well known, as is the cult of ritual sex among Indian temple priestesses and the orgies of Tantric Buddhism.
  52. 52. COURTESAN
  53. 53. GEISHA
  54. 54. In India, courtesans were also patronized by the elite as witty and learned conversationalists, and even poetesses, steeped in the classics and able to match wits and learning with their patrons or to cap a classical quotation with a brilliant extempore invention. All of this the pleasures of the elite was far beyond the experience of most people. For the great mass of the population, sex was a brief and often furtive pleasure after dark and centered on procreation. Most people lived close together and almost most households included three generations, sharing at most two small rooms.
  55. 55. Privacy was nonexistent and one was almost never out of sight or sound of other people. As in the West a double standard after marriage again outside of Southeast Asia. Wives were strictly forbidden to commit adultery and were often very harshly punished for it, while male sexual infidelity was often tolerated. As pointed out, philandering and visits to sing-song girls of other prostitutes was largely limited to the elite, who could afford such indulgences and also could afford additional wives and concubines.
  56. 56. In India and East Asia children were taught to obey, boys as well as girls, but until about the age of seven boys were especially indulged, as were infants of both sexes. Given the pressing need for sons, boys were clearly favored, but children in general were welcomed and loved and much fuss was made over them. They were often not formally named until they were about a year old and their names earlier was often thought to be tempting fate. Girls were trained early to accept their lowly place in the hierarchy of the family and the larger society, and there seems to have been little or no possibility of rebellion.
  58. 58. Some modern psychological studies have in fact shown the females, at least in the modern West, are far less inclined than males to think and act hierarchically or to accept such ranking as appropriate, but we lack comparable modern studies from Asia. Women's much lower level of literacy also tended to mean that their voices remained unheard, including whatever objections they may have had in the past to their general subjugation. Boys were not free of what we would call oppression, especially at the hands of their fathers, older brothers and other male relatives.
  59. 59. The great indulgence that boys were accustomed to often came to an abrupt end when they were seven years old, around the same age when Chinese girls began the footbinding process. Some autobiographies suggest that this was commonly a traumatic time for the male child, no longer waited on and coddled but subjected to an often harsh discipline, especially in Japan and China. The early years of life were made as easy and pleasant as possible, and by the modern consensus that is the critical period for the development of an individual.
  60. 60. Babies were commonly nursed by their mothers. Until they were at least two or three and were carried everywhere. First on their mothers back in a sling and later in her arms or those of an older sister. Babies and young children were handled, played with, touched and kept close to mother, father, or siblings until they were about five or six and were given lots of love. Fathers often looked after the babies and young children.
  61. 61. In any case, Western observers find that the Asian adult male, especially an oldest son, remains heavily dependent on others throughout his life. He not only tends readily to accept the hierarchy of society. His place in it but also assumes that people will take care of him especially his wife, society in general, his superiors, his friends and so on. This extreme dependency has been most remarked on in Japanese and Indian adult males. There is a range of such behavior in all societies.
  62. 62. Dependent adult males are far from unknown in our own society. This trait does seem to be related to Indian and East Asian child-rearing practices. In contemporary term, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the patterns just described have a very long history and were part of traditional Asian societies.
  63. 63. Many women might have been powers within their families, their role, in general, was highly subordinate. Females were subject first to their fathers and brothers, then to their husbands and to their husbands male relatives. Most Asian widows, again outside the Southeast and parts of South India, were not supposed to remarry or even to have male friends,
  64. 64. Although in the lower classes, necessity would overcome the social stigma, especially if a widow was young and childless. Given the high death rate and the unpredictable fortunes of life, many women often no more than girls were condemned to celibacy, loneliness and penury for most of their lives. CHASTE WIDOWS were praised and though some managed a little of their own, most conformed to the expected model and suffered. The suicide of widows was not uncommon in China.
  65. 65. Footbinding in China, apparently first practiced by the elite in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) was another example of the limitations imposed on women. The custom spread in later centuries and became accepted by the Qing Dynasty (1644- 1911) as a painful rite of passage if a Chinese girl was to obtain a good husband. The so called lily foot, or the three inch golden lotus, came to be praised as a sexual object and much was written about its erotic charms
  67. 67. While the girls were still young and their bones were supple, their feet were tightly wrapped and prevented form growing or they were distorted until the arch was broken and the toes bent under. Many women with especially small feet were effectively crippled and could walk only in painful hobble; they became mere playthings for men, especially for the well-to-do, and their freedom action was further limited. Other women after the first few painful years, found that they could move about relatively freely.
  68. 68. The size of a woman's foot was often closely linked to her class status; poor women spent far too much time working to be able to devote the time required to produce an exceptionally tiny foot. Westerners have long condemned footbinding, in many cases for good reasons, but the custom meant ,any things in Chinese. The excruciating process of footbinding according to some scholars was one way that a Chinese mother conveyed to her daughter the limitations of female life. Footbinding was also perceived by Chinese as a particularly manifestation of beauty in Confucian world.
  69. 69. Over time the bound foot became an object of great pride among many Chinese women and their men, and it was seen as a symbol of Han civilization, in contrast to BARBARIANS who were often depicted with unshod feet. Despite the appeal of many aspects of Chinese thought and culture, footbinding remained a uniquely Han Chinese custom and many minority peoples in China (including Manchus who ruled during the Qing Dynasty) did not bind their feet. The custom seems incomprehensible today, although male admiration of small female feet is certainly not confined to China.
  70. 70. BARBARIANS
  71. 71. H A N
  72. 72. MANCHUS
  73. 73. As in the West in hard times female infants were sometimes killed at or soon after birth so that the rest of the family could survive. Female babies were also sold as servants or potential concubines. Power within the family brought women rewards that were especially important in this family- centered society. Their key role in ensuring family continuity brought much satisfaction. In most families women, as the chief raisers of children, shaped the future.
  74. 74. They managed most families finances as they still do in Asia. In India, China, and Southeast Asia few women became rulers in their own right, but only in India could one find women who were brilliant generals and cavalry fighters, such as the Rani of Jhansi. But the crucial role of women in what mattered most the family its well being and its perpetuation was recognized within clear status limits. In reality for most people women were as important as men even though their public rewards were far less and they suffered form discrimination.
  75. 75. Upper class women lived a generally idle life and commonly turned their children over to nurses or tutors. Southeast Asia has traditionally been freer of sex discrimination than India, China, Korea or Japan and most of its regional cultures included some matrilocal marriage, female control and inheritance of property, and female dominance within the family. Property usually descended through the female line. Children often carried their mothers family name.
  76. 76. In the Islamic areas women were discouraged from participating in activities outside the home by the conviction that females should be secluded as well as veiled. Women who engaged in trade or educational pursuits were rare exceptions outside Southeast Asia, where orthodox Muslim restrictions on women did not apply, even in the Islamic areas of Malaya, Indonesia and the southern Philippines. The women's primary task was to marry and raised children, especially boys. They were regarded as the property of their husbands, a view reinforced by the Qur’an.
  77. 77. The Qur’an was used explicitly to legitimate the subordination of the women. This point was succinctly stated by a 17th century Iranian theologian who asserted that a wife's principal spiritual duty was subservience to her husband; “A WIFE MUST OBEY HER HUSBAND, NEVER DISOBEY HIS COMANDS, NVER LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT HIS PERMISSION.” As early as the 1200s Islamic society was characterized by a separate social life for men and women.
  78. 78. SALAMAt 