The ORIENT is the East, traditionally comprising anything that
belongs to the
Eastern world , in relation to
Europe . In English , it
is largely a metonym for, and coterminous with, the continent of Asia
, which was, depending on source, formally thought of as the Far East
Near East .
The term ORIENTAL, as a descriptor of people or objects from the
Orient, is considered outdated and sometimes culturally insensitive in
some regions and dialects, but in others remains inoffensive and
regularly used in modern parlance. An image of the "Eastern world
" defined as
Asia , consisting of three overlapping cultural blocks:
Asia (green), South
Asia (orange), and Southeast
Asia (blue). The
"Orient" usually refers to
East and sometimes Southeast Asia, but not
South Asia. In archaic use, the term "Orient" may also be used to
describe the entire "Eastern World" and
Middle East (not coloured).
* 1 Derivation
* 2 History of the term
* 3 Current usage
* 3.4 German
* 4 See also
* 5 Notes
* 6 Further reading
* 7 External links
The term "Orient" derives from the Latin word oriens meaning "east"
(lit. "rising" < orior " rise"). The use of the word for "rising" to
refer to the east (where the sun rises) has analogs from many
languages: compare the terms "
Levant " (< French levant "rising"),
"Vostok" Russian : Восток (< Russian voskhod Russian :
восход "sunrise"), "
Anatolia " (< Greek anatole), "mizrahi " in
Hebrew ("zriha" meaning sunrise), "sharq" Arabic : شرق (<
Arabic yashriq يشرق "rise", shurūq Arabic : شروق
"rising"), "shygys" Kazakh : шығыс (< Kazakh shygu Kazakh :
шығу "come out"), Turkish : doğu (< Turkish doğmak to be born;
to rise), Chinese : 東 (pinyin : dōng, a pictograph of the sun
rising behind a tree ) and "
The Land of the Rising Sun " to refer to
Japan . Also, many ancient temples, including pagan temples and the
Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, were built with their main entrances
facing the East. This tradition was carried on in Christian churches .
To situate them in such a manner was to "orient" them in the proper
direction. When something was facing the correct direction, it was
said to be in the proper orientation.
Another explanation of the term stems from
Rome during the Roman
Empire , specifically the Eastern
Roman Empire , or the "Roman
Orient", during the
Byzantine Empire . Although the original East-West
(or Orient-Occident) line was the
Italian Peninsula 's
around 600 AD this would shift to the City of
Rome . Any area below
the City of
Rome was considered the Orient, as well as the ethnicities
inhabiting the land, such as Dalmatian Italians , (modern Neapolitans
along with Sicilians , Tunisians , Moroccans ,
Greeks , etc.), as well
East of Southern Italy, hence the Italian name "Italia
nord-orientale" (in English
Northeast Italy ) for Le
Tre Venezie (the
3 Venice's) located above the Roman latitude line separating it from
Abruzzo ; the beginning of the
Orient in the East, while Lazio
is its beginning in the West of the
Italian Peninsula .
The opposite term "Occident " derives from the Latin word occidens,
meaning west (lit. setting < occido fall/set). This term meant the
west (where the sun sets) but has fallen into disuse in English, in
Western world .
HISTORY OF THE TERM
Harem Pool by the Orientalist
Jean-Léon Gérôme c. 1876; naked females in harem or bathing
settings are a staple of much Orientalist painting
In the later Roman Empire, the Praefectura Praetorio Orientis, the
Praetorian prefecture of the East , included most of the Eastern Roman
Empire from the eastern Balkans eastwards; its easternmost part was
the Diocese of the East, the Dioecesis Orientis, corresponding roughly
to the region of Syria . Over time, the common understanding of "the
Orient" has continually shifted eastwards, as European people traveled
farther into Asia. It finally reached the Pacific Ocean, in what
Westerners came to call "the
Far East ". These shifts in time and
identification sometimes confuse the scope (historical and geographic)
of Oriental Studies. Yet there remain contexts where "the Orient" and
"Oriental" have kept their older meanings (e.g., "Oriental spices"
typically are from the regions extending from the
Middle East to
India to Indo-China). Travelers may again take the
Orient Express train from
Paris to its terminus in the European part
Istanbul , a route established in the early 20th century.
In European historiography , the meaning of "the Orient" changed in
scope several times. Originally, the term referred to
Egypt , the
Levant , and adjoining areas. as far west as
Morocco . During the
1800s, India, and to a lesser extent China, began to displace the
Levant as the primary subject of Orientalist research. By the mid-20th
century, Western scholars generally considered "the Orient" as just
Asia , Southeast
Asia , and eastern Central
Asia . As recently
as the early 20th century, the term "Orient" often continued to be
used in ways that included
North Africa and even parts of southeastern
Europe . Today, the term primarily evokes images of
Vietnam , and peninsular Southeast Asia. Throughout the
history of the changing sense of the term, "the Orient" was never
Asia as a whole. "The Orient" being largely a cultural
term, large parts of Asia—
Siberia most notably—were excluded from
the scholarly notion of "the Orient".
Equally valid terms for the
Orient still exist in the English
language in such collocations as
Oriental studies (now Asian Studies
in some countries).
The adjectival term Oriental has been used by the West to mean
cultures, peoples, countries, Asian rugs, and goods from the Orient.
"Oriental" means generally "eastern ". It is a traditional designation
(especially when capitalized) for anything belonging to the
Asia ), and especially of its
Eastern culture . It
indicated the eastern direction in historical astronomy, often
abbreviated "Ori". In contemporary American English, Oriental usually
refers to things from the parts of
Asia traditionally occupied by
East Asians and most
Central Asians and
Southeast Asians racially
categorized as "
Mongoloid ". This excludes Jews , Indians ,
and most other South or West Asian peoples. Because of historical
discrimination against Chinese and Japanese, in some parts of the
United States, some people consider the term derogatory. For example,
Washington state prohibits the word "Oriental" in legislation and
government documents, preferring the word "Asian" instead.
In more local uses, "oriental" is also used for eastern parts of
portions of the Mediterranean Sea, for example Morocco\'s Oriental
Region . Oriental is also used as an adjective akin to "eastern",
especially in the Spanish-speaking world. For example, the Philippine
islands of Mindoro and Negros are each divided into two provinces
whose titles include the words "oriental" and "occidental"
respectively. The official name of
Uruguay is the República Oriental
Uruguay or Oriental Republic of
Uruguay because it is east of the
Uruguay River .
Since the 19th century, "orientalist" has been the traditional term
for a scholar of
Oriental studies ; however, the use in English of
"Orientalism" to describe academic "Oriental studies" is rare: the
Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary cites only one such usage, by
Lord Byron in
Orientalism is more widely used to refer to the works of the
many 19th-century artists who specialized in "Oriental" subjects,
often drawing on their travels to
North Africa and Western
Artists as well as scholars were already described as "Orientalists"
in the 19th century. In 1978, Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said
published his influential and controversial book,
Orientalism ; he
used the term to describe a pervasive Western tradition, both academic
and artistic, of prejudiced outsider interpretations of the Arab and
Muslim worlds , shaped by the attitudes of European imperialism in the
18th and 19th centuries.
British English , the term Oriental refers to people from
Asia (such as those from
Korea , Indonesia,
Laos ) and is
not generally regarded as offensive. "Asian" in the United Kingdom
generally refers to people from South
Asia (in particular
Sri Lanka ,
Maldives ) since
British Asians make up approximately 6.9% of the population.
"Orientals" refers exclusively to people of
East and Southeast Asian
origin, who comprise 0.7% of the UK population as a whole, and 5.3% of
the non-European population. Of these, the majority are of Chinese
Orient is also a word for the lustre of a fine pearl . Hong
Kong, a former British colony, has been called "
Pearl of the Orient".
Distinct within American culture, some
American English speakers
consider the term "Oriental" to be an antiquated, pejorative, and
disparaging term. John Kuo Wei Tchen, director of the
Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program and Institute at New York
University , said the basic critique of the term developed in the U.S.
in the 1970s. Tchen has said: "With the U.S.A. anti-war movement in
the '60s and early '70s, many Asian Americans identified the term
'Oriental' with a Western process of racializing Asians as forever
opposite 'others'." In a 2009 American press release related to
legislation aimed at removing the term "oriental" from official
documents of the State of New York , Governor
David Paterson said:
"The word 'oriental' does not describe ethnic origin, background or
even race; in fact, it has deep and demeaning historical roots".
In 2016, President
Barack Obama signed legislation striking the word
from federal law.
Australian English , the term "Asian" generally refers to people
East Asian or Southeast Asian descent, such as those of Chinese,
Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, or Filipino descent. Persons of
Pakistani, Sri Lankan, and most other
South Asian descent are referred
to by their respective demonym , but without explicit knowledge, those
people are indeterminately inferred as "Indian".
In German ,
Orient is usually used synonymously with the area between
Near East and
India , including
Israel , the
Arab world , and
Greater Persia .
The term Asiaten (English: Asians) means the people of
Asia . Another word for
Orient in German is Morgenland (now
mainly poetic), which literally translates as "morning land". The
antonym "Abendland" (rarely: "Okzident") is also mainly poetic, and
refers to (Western) Europe.
Land of the Morning Calm
Land of the Rising Sun
Orientalizing Period of Archaic Greek art
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of
Western world (the Occident; the opposite of Orient)
* ^ Harbaugh, Rick (1998). "東". Chinese Characters: A Genealogy
and Dictionary. Han Lu Book & Pub. Co. p. 227. ISBN 0-9660750-0-5 .
Retrieved 26 October 2010.
* ^ A B C D Lewis, Martin W.; Wigen, Kären (1997). The myth of
continents: a critique of metageography. University ù Africa.
Retrieved 8 November 2011.
* ^ Hooke, Robert . 1666. Drawing of Saturn in Philosophical
Transactions (Royal Society publication) Volume 1
* ^ Senate bill (pdf file)
* ^ "The World Factbook". cia.gov.
* ^ Nosal, K R. American Criticism, New York Standard, New York.
* ^ "2011 Census: Ethnic group, local authorities in the United
Kingdom". Office for National Statistics. 11 October 2013. Retrieved
13 April 2015.
* ^ 2011 Census: KS201UK Ethnic group, local authorities in the
United Kingdom, Accessed 19 April 2014
* ^ orient: definition of orient in Oxford dictionary (British &
World English). Oxforddictionaries.com. Retrieved on 12 April 2014.
* ^ "Oriental: Rugs or People?". nyu.edu.
* ^ official 2009 press release Archived 12 February 2013 at the
Wayback Machine .
* ^ Weaver, Dustin (2016-05-20). "Obama signs measure striking
\'oriental\' and \'negro\' from federal law". TheHill. Retrieved
* Coexisting Contemporary Civilizations: Arabo-Muslim, Bharati,
Chinese, and Western (INUPRESS), Geneva, 2000. ISBN 2-88155-004-5
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