Vasco da Gama opened the trade route between Europe and Asia after landing in Goa in 1498. An exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum is dedicated to the early connections between Europe and China, India, and Japan.
Europeans in Asia (04:47)
Multiculturalism, in large cities like London, is not a new concept. Though trade was the practical reason for Europeans to go to Asia, many were also searching for a sense of eastern mysticism or to convert the populations to Christianity. "Encounters" includes numerous Christian items made in an Asian style.
Trade with Asia (01:41)
The spice and textile trade with Asia helped Britain and the Netherlands becoming the dominate empires of the 1600s. Indian cotton became a popular Asian export to Europe; "Encounters" includes clothing items from the period. Luxury goods like porcelain were used in art and household items.
Early Indian Connection (03:00)
The East India Company controlled all trade with India in the early days and company officials were opened and engaged with Indian culture. Marriages between Englishmen and Indian women were common and accepted.
Newcomers in Asia (05:04)
Asian artwork from the period shows how people in China, India, and Japan viewed foreign barbarians to their lands. Indian and Japanese society had a fascination with Europeans, while the bureaucratic Chinese society showed little interest. Europeans provided clocks, guns, and scientific knowledge in exchange for textiles and spices.
Influences on Art and Design (03:05)
Asian artists were influenced by European contact and the prospect of selling their art to a global market. "Encounters" features Asian artwork that incorporates European elements.
Influence of Superiority (02:50)
Multiple political events in 1799 soured the relations between Europeans and Asians. The East India Company gained control over India through a military defeat and began to flood the Chinese market with opium.
Credits: Encounters: The Meeting of Asia and Europe 1500-1800 (00:41)
Credits: Encounters: The Meeting of Asia and Europe 1500-1800
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