The topic that this essay covers is the issue of Orientalism and Occidentalism and how the two are perceived by one another. It will concentrate chiefly on how the Occident has developed a stereotyped perceptual experience of the Orient and all things ‘Eastern ‘ by being subjected to a really narrow position for many old ages. It began in the colonial old ages when ‘Westerners ‘ travelled to the Far East and other Oriental states with the mentality that these states were inferior to the more civilized West. They enforced their ain civilization onto these people, whose civilization was merely as sophisticated and so more so than that which was being imposed. Painters and bookmans travelled to detect this undiscovered land and dutifully brought back grounds of their perceptual experience of the Orient in all its savageness, lecherousness and degeneracy. These texts, pictures and even political positions all helped to raise the western attitude of sensed positions of the Orient when the work of persons who grossly exaggerated the East became mainstream in Western society. They created an semblance of the ‘exotic ‘ E where work forces sat smoking opium pipes while adult females were sexual phantasies.

This essay will concentrate on the work of Edward Said who redefined what being an Orientalist meant in today ‘s society and the bias associated with it. Said focused on the division of the universe into what he called ‘two domains ‘ of East versus West and Western perceptual experience of the East. How hold his positions helped alter the stereotype of the East? Western art of the Orient besides played a critical function in how it was both taken and thereby influenced Western civilization. Art was cardinal for two things, it was a ‘picture book ‘ of the East and its civilization to the general populace, and was besides inspiration for many Eastern influences in Western society such as Architecture and interior design. These will be examined to see how the Orient has influenced Western civilization and society.

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What is the Orient? It is a inquiry that the general populace would give changing replies to. The ground for this is the huge array of Western stereotypes sing the East and even what constitutes being ‘Oriental ‘ . Oriental studies has been likened to being ‘almost a European intercession ‘ by Edward Said ( pg 1, 1978 ) who goes on to specify it as manner of idea based on epistemic differentiation between the two civilizations ( pg2, 1978 ) . He is right in proposing that the division of the universe came about by Westerners who felt it necessary to specify countries of ‘culture ‘ to other lands who were different, and thereby in their position, non capable of western position.

But what is the Orient and how did this division of the universe come about? In ‘Orientalism ‘ Said ( 1978 ) distinguishes the universe as being split into universes: the West and the Rest. Said continues ( 1978, pg 122 ) by imputing Napoleons invasion of Egypt as specifying epoch in the preparation of Western sentiment sing the Orient. It was during this invasion that Napoleon formulated his ‘Description de Egypt ‘ as a instance survey into the history and civilization of the state. This text was extensively studied by many larger European civilizations and became the foundation on which future texts were to be written. This lead to a period where many states were ‘written up ‘ and it was from these texts that the populace generated their sentiments of the Orient. The texts themselves became increasing fanaticised and moved farther from world thereby fuelling the populace ‘s perceptual experience of the Orient being a mystical land. Said determines this as the point in which the Orient was defined most falsely and talk in order to govern a state you must make so by cognition ( The last interview, 2004 ) . Alternatively it was going more platitude to copy literary texts and thereby keeping the forepart of an alien East instead than continually updating the perceptual experience of the Orient by more frequent, up to day of the month Hagiographas.

Said highlights the current division in the universe between the Occident and the Orient. This division can be associated as get downing with the Greeks who conquered their surrounding land and thereby started the ‘spread of the West ‘ by spliting their universe between themselves and the Barbarians. This in bend developed in faith being cause for division, with religious believing making a divide between Christianity in the West and the remainder of the universe. Over the old ages this has led to many wars and campaigns between the Occident ‘s and the Orients. Finally civilization can be seen as a spliting factor with the East and West holding clearly different civilizations that were non accepted as being equal, instead they were seen as being different and scorned as being incorrect ( Mandahar, 2010 ) .

However this division of the universe developed further to go forth the current universe in an equivocal mismatch of East and West. Assorted wars over the last century have sculpted the universe into the First universe, Second universe, Third universe and even a Fourth World. These originated with America and its Alliess being viewed as the first universe, Russia and its Alliess as the 2nd, and impersonal states as the 3rd. These divisions have since been warped to separate between category and wealth to model the universe to its current standing today. This has made the term ‘Oriental ‘ and ‘Eastern ‘ hard to specify with Australia being a good illustration, although located in the East, it is viewed as being a Western state. This clarifies the trouble in obviously separating between what the West and East really means in today ‘s society ( Mandahar, 2010 ) .

This confusion can take to a deficiency of a sense of individuality for many Oriental people, or possibly confusion as to a sense of belonging is a better phrase. One such illustration which symbolises the trouble in both sense of individuality and separating geographically between the Orient and Occident is Anzaldua ‘s ‘Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza ‘ ( 1987, pg 7 ) where she describes a adult female populating on the boundary line between America and Mexico. This adult female is caught between two civilizations, experiencing ‘alien ‘ in her ain land depicting it as ‘uncomfortable ‘ to populate in. This is a perfect illustration of how hard it is to specify Orientalism. Geographically Mexico is located in the West, and is technically a western state even though it is non perceived as such, yet it is classed as ‘Eastern ‘ and even can be defined under the umbrella of ‘Oriental ‘ . Said himself was born into a Protestant household in Palestine with an American male parent and a Lebanese female parent. Forced out during the war his household moved to Cairo where he spent his instruction at an English school until being sent to a boarding school in America. It is here that Said identifies his feeling of ‘not belonging ‘ , even his name led to a deficiency of unequivocal individuality by matching a traditional English name ‘Edward ‘ with the Arabic ‘Said ‘ ( A memoir, pp sixteen, 3-4, 1999 ) .

So how did these texts and graphics taken from the Orient affect Occidental society? Western art from the 19th and 20th centuries was a agency of conveying the East to those who had non been to see for themselves. Paintings we ‘re used as in the same manner a modern twenty-four hours camera might be used to picture a vacation. They conveyed everything from the visual aspect of Oriental edifices to the sexual wonts of the autochthonal people. It is of import to observe here that while they depicted these things they were seldom a true representation of what the Orient really was like, and harks back to the common job of western perceptual experience of the Orient instead than the world.

They did non impact society in a physical manner like the influence of architecture, instead they influenced and frequently fuelled the semblance of how the Occident perceived the Orient. Most were painted when picture taking was yet to be invented and were hence the lone beginning of information sing the East, some creative persons ne’er visited the E while others travelled extensively ( MacKenzie, 1995, pg 44 ) . Consequently these pictures played a important function in the act uponing the Occidental reading of a land most people would non meet first manus. One of the more celebrated Oriental pictures is the ‘Death of Sardanapalous ‘ by Delacroix. Painted in 1827 the image depicts the autumn of Sardanapalous after enduring a military licking, who has ordered the devastation of all his ownerships including his servant adult females, one of whom is imploring him for clemency on the bed. This picture could be described as the ultimate rendition of sensed Arab degeneracy ( A reappraisal of modern-day media, 2007 ) . One of the cardinal psychotic beliefs represented in Western reading of the Orient shown via pictures is the sexual reading of Oriental adult females. They are more frequently than Fig 1: The Death of Sardanapalous

non depicted in a sexual nature with small or

in this instance no vesture and are ever subservient to the work forces. It perceives female gender as being openly flaunted and alludes to a land of sexual ‘fantasies ‘ , most unlike Occidental civilization where the adult females were ‘reserved ‘ and ‘cultured ‘ . A notable point is how Delacroix has painted the adult females to look Occidental instead than Oriental- therefore confirming their figure as appealing in visual aspect, unlike the work forces who tend to be darker skinned and less physically attractive. Attention is drawn to the adult females chiefly as their picket tegument is brilliantly contrasted with the dark red of the munificent bed on which Sardanapalous calmly lies. The force of the image can non be overlooked, the savageness of Sardanapalous shows the Orient as a brutal, loutish race- the polar antonym of Occidental reading of their ain civilization. The image of the female retainer in the underside right holding her pharynx cut by a adult male with a sticker is peculiarly powerful as it combines the sexual temptingness of the Orient with the cruel and force of work forces that is so frequently portrayed. It demeans the Orient as a race indifferent to life, Sardanapalous has decided that if he must decease so all his retainers, ownerships and animate beings must decease excessively. It fuels the perceptual experience of a barbarian race that needs to be ruled as they are unqualified of making so on their ain.

However non all the painters perceived this fantasy land, some painted more representational graphics that show the Orient in better gustatory sensation, Ludwig Deutsch was one such creative person. A German by birth, Deutsch travelled often to the East and in peculiar Cairo where he studied chiefly spiritual scenes, one such picture by him is ‘The Scribe ‘ . This picture depicts a erudite adult male sitting in a chair with a papers on his articulatio genus on which he is clearly composing. This is interesting as it shows the Orient as a scholarly race and draws a crisp contrast to the barbarian race shown in Delacroix ‘s pictures. The Scribe himself is Fig. 2: ‘The Scribe ‘

dressed in typical vesture and has a baronial visual aspect as he sits comfortably in his munificent chair with adorned milieus. The bright colors of the surrounding tiles and the ornate doorcase and furniture show how Orientalist architecture in the Occident was influenced by such pictures. Again the milieus are a contrast to Delacroix ‘s observation that Oriental building comprised a collapsible shelter with some pillows, Deutsch shows an luxuriant solid building that is extremely decorated and would necessitate a high degree of workmanship. Some reappraisals believe the crumbling construction around the room access is representative of a debauched civilization, which is frequently represented in Oriental pictures, nevertheless in this instance it is more likely to hold been what the creative person really saw.

Other less obvious agencies of portraying the Orient through art and media is the influence of films on public perceptual experience. This is more clearly shown in Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People by Jack G. Shaheen. Here the manager outlines how the Orient, specifically Arabs, are stereotyped runing from physical visual aspect to comprehend cultural wonts. One illustration used by Shaheen ( 2001 ) is the movie Aladdin. Here the chief character Aladdin is an Arab who is shown to be thin, refined and about Western in physical visual aspect. Womans are represented by the Princess who is depicted in a sexual nature, have oning the apparels of a belly terpsichorean. The other characters particularly the ‘bad ‘ characters are shown to hold shaggy mustaches, losing dentitions and aquiline olfactory organs. All of these are ‘typical ‘ characteristics have been shown via art in past centuries by creative persons but have carried through to the modern twenty-four hours and made the passage into films.

Aside from some states on mainland Europe, Britain and the remainder of the Western universe had small involvement or influence from the East until the bend of the nineteenth century ( MacKenzie, 1995, pg 73 ) and this is reflected in the Architecture. Improved communicating and conveyance links shrunk the universe and shortly far off and alien topographic points such as ‘the far east ‘ was more accessible. The first Oriental influence was the inclusion of Chinese garden furniture in the late eighteenth century. These in bend lead to larger buildings such as pagodas like the one found at Kew Gardens. The pagoda was built by Sir William Chamber and was representative of his travels in the E, nevertheless like so many of Orientalist buildings it is merely his reading of the Chinese manner and is thereby non to the full representative of Chinese architecture. Other more Fig. 3: Pagoda at Kew Gardens

public Oriental influences such as obelisks and pyramids became commonplace towards the late eighteenth century with Napoleons invasion of Egypt. MacKenzie ( 1995 pg 75 ) suggests that the inclusion of so many Egyptian buildings are a loyal response to Napoleons conquerings. This becomes a familiar subject where the East is drawn into the limelight, normally as the effect of war. As a consequence there is an increased reaction in the western universe and more eastern influences appear with many ‘coming into and out of manner ‘ ( MacKenzie,1995 pg 75 ) . During the nineteenth century Architects began to look to orientalist architecture as a agency of geographic expedition and experimentation, peculiarly after the rigidness of the Victorian period. Soon geographic expedition became the foundation of a new signifier of look and freedom ; a release from the intransigency of typical Victorian architecture and the control that neo-classic design demands. Mackenzie ( 1995, pg 72 ) depict how Orientalist architecture became the Centre of showing the displacement in attitude that occurred, preponderantly in the early twentieth century.

One edifice to a great extent influenced by the East is the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. This typical castle has been host to a figure of sovereigns since its building and is presently a major tourer attractive force offering information, Tours and hosting ceremonials. Work began in 1787 by the designer Henry Holland who was commissioned by King George IV to renovate and widen a farmhouse. The Fig. 4: The Royal Pavilion at Brighton

so Prince George was an devouring aggregator

of different manners of art which may explicate his involvement in the chinoiserie manner of decorating, so much so that he had the inside of the Pavilion furnished with in a Chinese manner to include wallpapering and even bamboo furniture ( Royal Pavilion, museums and libraries, 2009 ) . However it was the Prince ‘s love for Equus caballus siting that led to the Pavilion being constructed as it appears today. In 1808 William Porden constructed a monolithic stalls, wholly upstaging the little Marine Pavilion as it was known so. This turned the Prince ‘s attending towards building a new, every bit as expansive ‘Royal ‘ Pavilion. Construction began in 1815 and was completed in 1822 by the Architect John Nash. He had proposed an Indian manner building based on the publication ‘Oriental Scenery ‘ which, given the Prince ‘s love of the Chinoiserie manner was certain to affect. The marquee was described as ‘progressive for its clip ‘ ( Royal Pavilion, museums and libraries, 2009 ) and one time completed featured many new and advanced characteristics such as to the full plumbed bathrooms amongst others.

The exterior design to a great extent influenced by the Indian manner, the dome and attach toing towers bear a dramatic resemblance to the Taj Mahal making a ‘romantic ‘ feel. Internally the coating is every bit munificent as the exterior suggests. The music room is decorated in reds and gold in conformity with the chinoiserie manner, the ‘Lotus ‘ molded pendants are typical of the criterion and manner of coating throughout the castle. The design is typically western in its attack, by get marrieding an Indian outside to a Chinese inside the design could be described as demoing disdain for Indian interior design. It is really clearly non western and provides a blunt contrast when viewed within the context its neighbouring edifices and so Brighton as a whole. However this is non to state that Fig. 5: Inside the Royal Pavilion

The edifice is to be written off as an architectural faux pas,

its elegant columns and bosomy domes are a arresting contrast to the typical classicalism on which most castles are styled and is worthy of Kings and Queens. Despite the creative activity of ornate and aesthetically delighting constructions such as the Brighton Pavilion Orientalism ne’er developed as motion of architecture, nevertheless in malice of being mostly rejected by designers it became embraced by interior interior decorators ( Mackenzie, 1995, pg 72 ) . Interior design allowed for less obvious ways in which to show as it is internal and hence became one of the most common signifiers of oriental design influences. Features such as internal ornament, cloths, rugs, ceramics and metalwork were all platitude but peculiarly in countries of leisure or relaxation such as theaters and baths. One such illustration is the Turkish baths at Harrowgate which were opened in 1867. The Oriental influence is evident with the internal tiles representative of that shown in so many pictures picturing the E, along with baies with curving paseos all symbolic of a western reading of eastern design. Other easy buildings that lent themselves peculiarly good to oriental Fig 6: The Turkish baths at Harrowgate

influences were the seaside wharfs. These were platitude in the Victorian epoch where loosen uping began to take on a new significance along with the dominance of the in-between categories who were able to afford to try these pleasances all contributed to a rise in theater, pier and dance hall production ( Frampton, 2007, pg 12 ) . The wharf at Brighton, near to the Brighton Pavilion, is a perfect illustration of oriental influence. The wharf shows many eastern characteristics such as a gateway entryway and a series of booths along the wharf. The nature of the wharf besides gave other characteristics non seen internally such as ironwork of seating and even the construction itself a opportunity to show influence. With the most evident oriental influences happening in theaters, dance halls, baths, wharfs and gardens it is easy to see how Orientalism in architecture was seen as an architecture for popular civilization ( MacKenzie, 1995, pg 72 ) and did non keep its possible as a motion in western architecture.

Oriental studies influences in architecture today are non every bit obvious as the Brighton Pavilion, instead influences are used in a more elusive mode. An illustration of current influence can be seen in Jean Nouvel ‘s Arab institute which uses a wooden screen frontage to cut down blaze. These screens are platitude in so many orientalist pictures from the nineteenth century and were clearly an inspirational factor for Nouvel. Possibly Orientalism ‘s most revealing part to architecture is being one of the inspirations behind the art deco motion, the bright colorss and motives laid the foundation for another signifier of Fig 7. Jean Nouvels Arab Institute

look born out of orientalist influences.


The footings Orientalism and Occidentalism have long divided the universe into the comfortable West and the poorer relation, the East. It is a human creative activity stemming from ignorance on behalf the early colonialists who chose to research and settle in these lands, without handling them with the regard that they deserve. It is hard for me to explicate why the painters and authors felt the demand to convey such negative images of the Oriental states which they occupied, possibly the lone ground was to fulfill the Western populace ‘s appetency for the phantasmagoric, myth-like land that was the Orient. It is something that can non be defended hence I am inclined to hold with most if non all of Edward Said ‘s theories and sentiments when specifying Orientalism. The division of the universe can still be seen today nevertheless we are in transitional times with the rise of more ‘Oriental ‘ states provides an interesting hereafter, most decidedly in the political sphere. With China and India coming to the bow as possible world powers, the political country in old ages to come will be really different- possibly we could even see an dry reversal of the manner the Occident sees the East?

In respect to the influences on Architecture I find it surprising that the assorted Orientalist stages did non amount to more. Possibly the ground for this was their reading as being seen as edifices of leisure than edifices of serious architectural virtue. I do experience that the orientalist influences live on through the many edifices and insides that survive. It was merely by making this faculty that I realised the extent of the influence the Orient has had on the architecture- possibly because I was non looking for it before. I wish to reason by stating I found this faculty really emancipating in the mode in which was taught and helped to open my eyes to the Orient. I would number myself unfastened to all sentiments nevertheless holding merely been subjected to western influences it was a bracing return on others from other civilizations positions.


Anzaldua, G. ( 1999 ) Borderlands/La Frontera: The new Mestiza, 2nd Edition, Aunt Lute Books.

Edward Said, The Last interview ( 2004 ) [ Video ] . Directed by Mike Dibb. London: ICA Undertakings

MacKenzie, J. ( 1995 ) Oriental studies: History Theory and the Arts, Manchester: University Press, Manchester.

Said, E. ( 1978 ) Oriental studies, USA: Vintage Books Edition.

Said, E. ( 1999 ) Out of Topographic point: A memoir, United Kingdom: CPI bookmark

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