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Cultural interaction with Asia: Culture and areas of contact between civilizations

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  1. Theoretical Framework
  2. The United States in decline?
  3. Challenging traditional stances
  4. Structural challenge: overcoming the hegemony
  5. The situation in China
  6. Tracks of thought
    1. Conflict
    2. Collapse of China
    3. Comparative Advantage

History shows that the contacts between civilizations can be sources of conflicts or on the contrary more profitable source of cultural exchanges between two sometimes different civilizations. It is often at the same time one and the another. The history of the Silk Route, the voyages of Marco Polo or the arrival of the Jesuits thus became various conflicts when their original intention was often only to explore.

Among the great inventions made by these trips, we must mention the four major discoveries that are attributed to the Chinese compass [zhinanzhen, the needle that shows the south], the powder [huoyao, medicine of fire], paper [zhi] and movable type printing. From a more anthropological view, two main concepts emerged which will be discussed in the conclusion: acculturation, which describes the consequences of prolonged contact between two cultures is the Rites, a fine example by the debates it has provoked and the diffusionism theory that an invention, technological progress found in an area spreads from there step by step.

Cao Lin, born around 50 in the province of Hunan, was agriculture minister under Emperor He, codified in 105 the art of paper making and improved the technique. Flax, hemp, bamboo and mulberry were used. The emperor gave him a title of nobility and significant wealth. Around 120, Cao Lin was implicated in a conspiracy, arrested and driven to suicide. The oldest trace of paper dates under the Han dynasty in the West (-206 to 25). This is a letter, found in Gansu province; the paper is made from flax fibers, on which a score of old characters have been deciphered.

Previously it was thought that the paper had appeared at the second or third century BC (some say 140 to 87 BC), in China, during the reign of Qin Shi Huang (founder of the Qin Dynasty who gave his name to the country). Attributed to the French is the incorporation of rags in the pulp as it is also attributed to the Arabs and Chinese Cao Mon

At the time we used strips of silk and Cao had the idea to add rags, nets, as well as the bark of mulberry tree. Fibers and fiber remnants were cleaned, boiled and filtered, dried, pressed and smoothed, and the resulting amalgam paste of plant fibers formed a relatively homogeneous sheet of paper. The same techniques, filtering and pressing, were attested by the year 300 in Thailand and around 625 in Japan.

Because the bark is a material which, unlike wood, has longer fibers and, therefore, lasts longer, the paper developed by Cai Lun was used for writing and printing of course, as well as for decoration, such as upholstery or clothing. We even found armor made of several layers of paper, used during the Qing Dynasty and which protected the wearer from almost all existing weapons. The use of the mulberry leaf comes from the silk industry - another Chinese invention - from the silkworm, which we know, feeds on mulberry leaves.

Tags: Qing Dynasty, Silk Route, Chinese compass

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