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Chinese, Overseas

(2,208 words)

Author(s): Mittag, Achim
1. OverviewThe term Overseas Chinese (Chinese huaqiao[11. 26–30]) denotes in general people of Chinese background who live outside China (the People’s Republic, Hong Kong, and Macao) and Taiwan, whether temporarily or permanently, or families that have done so over many generations, displaying sometimes strong ethnic and cultural assimilation and correspondingly loose ties with the Chinese homeland. The imprecision of the term is further exaggerated in that it refers to a variety of patterns of emigra…
Date: 2019-10-14

Grand Canal (China)

(818 words)

Author(s): Mittag, Achim
1. European perceptions and reporting In early modern perceptions and reporting of China, the Grand Canal, the longest artificial waterway in the world, was ranked second only to the Great Wall among manmade structures. Enlightenment-era historians affirmed that the canal “overshadows everything that one might call wondrous of this nature in Europe” [1. 17]. Marco Polo had already told of the wide, deep canals that connected rivers and lakes and that themselves seemed like a great river [4. 312]. Yet information about the Grand Canal in European reports was for the mo…
Date: 2019-10-14


(1,021 words)

Author(s): Mittag, Achim
Today’s colloquial understanding of kowtowing (derived from the Chinese term ketou, “touching the ground with one’s forehead”) as a self-abasing expression of respect and a gesture of submission dates back to a honorific Manchu ritual introduced in the context of the tribute system of the Qing Empire (1644-1911). In this rite, which was carried out three times in a row, the salutant or supplicant would throw himself to the ground, touching it thrice with his forehead (Chinese san gui jiu kou), while keeping the befitting distance from the dignitary - not only the Emperor, b…
Date: 2019-10-14

Great Wall

(1,055 words)

Author(s): Mittag, Achim
1. European awareness and perceptions The Great Wall of China (Chinese:  wan li changcheng, “Ten Thousand-Mile Wall”) was, in Europe from the second half of the 16th century, known, marveled at, and described as “the world-famous Wall that divides the Empire of China from Great Tartary” [1. 1614] (Chinese world).The much-quoted remark that the Great Wall is more imposing than all the Seven Wonders of the World put together derives from the Jesuit missionary Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-1688) [4. 206]. Enlightenment scholars (e.g. Voltaire) made comparisons with the Pyramid…
Date: 2019-10-14

Chinese world

(8,778 words)

Author(s): Mittag, Achim
1. China’s standing at the dawn of the early modern period1.1. China and Europe at the dawn of the early modern periodChina was the starting point of the early modern period. On the surface, this assertion reflects those three Chinese technological accomplishments that became essential to the signature of the early modern world: the compass, gunpowder, and printing. More profoundly, it calls our attention to the characteristics of early modern China that might be called modernizing tendencies: the generally high reg…
Date: 2019-10-14

Palace eunuch

(1,016 words)

Author(s): Mittag, Achim
1. Introduction The palace eunuch was a long tradition in China, probably dating back as far as the 8th century BCE, even though castration was contrary to the religious principle intrinsic to ancestor worship - securing the succession of generations by producing heirs. Appointing palace eunuchs in the Chinese Empire was therefore a practice strictly confined to the imperial court. The eunuchs’ central task was serving the women of the imperial harem. Over the course of time, however, t…
Date: 2020-10-06

Macartney Embassy

(1,051 words)

Author(s): Mittag, Achim
1. Background and history “As your Ambassador can see for himself, we possess all things. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious, and have no use for your country’s manufactures” [3. 340] – this brusque dismissal of British hopes for a relaxation of trade conditions by the elderly Qianlong Emperor formed the centerpiece of the letter George Macartney was given at the end of his 1793 mission to the Chinese court to submit to King George III of Great Britain. Other British requests, also denied, concerned a permanent emba…
Date: 2019-10-14


(1,375 words)

Author(s): Mittag, Achim
1. Concept and principlesThe term Neo-Confucianism refers in a strict sense to the Confucianism of the period from the Song to the Ming Dynasties (10th–17th centuries CE), and in a broader sense to the tradition of thought that originated in the transition from the late Tang to the Song Dynasty (9th/10th centuries), coalesced under the Song (960–1279), and dominated Chinese intellectual life until the end of the Ming Dynasty (mid-17th century), extending its influence across the whole of East Asia …
Date: 2020-04-06


(942 words)

Author(s): Mittag, Achim
1. Concept The word “mandarin,” first attested in English and German ( Mandarin) around 1630, derives from the Portuguese  mandarim, which in turn goes back to the Malay menteri and Sanskrit mantrin (“minister,” “advisor”; from Sanskrit mantra, “advice”). In this sense, the Portuguese were the first to apply it to members of the Chinese bureaucratic class, and many other European languages adopted the usage. The term was later extended to other areas of the Chinese cultural sphere, especially the northern dialect of the formal spoken language “Mandarin [Chinese]” (Chinese  guanhua…
Date: 2019-10-14


(2,670 words)

Author(s): Pelizaeus, Ludolf | Mittag, Achim
1. Holy Roman Emperor 1.1. Term and developmentThe Holy Roman Emperor was the supreme head of the Holy Roman Empire, elected for life by the college of electors, in accordance with the majority principle laid down in the Golden Bull (1356). All emperors until 1806, with the exception of the Wittelsbach Karl Albrecht VII (1742-1745), were of the House of  Habsburg (or later Habsburg-Lorraine). The office stood in the tradition of the ancient Roman Empire, and thus gave rise to a claim to precedence in protocol over all other monarchs [8].The close association between the office of …
Date: 2019-10-14

Economic ethics

(5,069 words)

Author(s): Köster, Roman | Mittag, Achim
1. Europe 1.1. TermThe term economic ethics refers, first, to the attitudes that underlie actions in the individual economy; secondly it describes normative notions of right and just economic activity. The setting of social standards in economic activity does not necessarily coincide with actual practices; divergences give cause for economic-ethical reflection.How a particular economic ethics becomes effective in the economy is evident on the basis of the question of the connection between economic-ethical notions and the relevant economic ord…
Date: 2019-10-14

East Asian societies

(8,545 words)

Author(s): Mittag, Achim | Mathias, Regine | Eggert, Marion
1. IntroductionThe term for “society” now (and in this specific sense only since the second half of the 19th century) current in  China, Japan, andKorea (pronounced in Chinese shehui, Japanese shakai, Korean sahoe), consists of the two Chinese characters for “earth altar” ( she) and “meeting” ( hui). The reference to the “earth altar” where the local deity of a village was venerated [35] signals the great importance of religious ideas and practices to the social cohesion of the family, associations, neighborhood networks, municipalities, secret societies…
Date: 2019-10-14

East Asian economy

(6,801 words)

Author(s): Mittag, Achim | Schottenhammer, Angela | Mathias, Regine
1. IntroductionEver since Marco Polo's travel journal in the Late Middle Ages, China has been seen in Europe as a land of flourishing trade and great wealth. Even in the mid-18th century, it was still characterized as an “earthly paradise” [1. vi]: “Trade in China is done in gold, silver, precious stones, porcelain, silk, calico, spices, rhubarb and other apothecaries' wares, tea, lacquered objects, and the like. The trade among the provinces is so great that they have no need of selling their wares outside” (“Der Handel in China bes…
Date: 2019-10-14

Cultural contact, global

(9,702 words)

Author(s): Rinke, Stefan | Falola, Toyin | Aderinto, Saheed | Reichmuth, Stefan | Liebau, Heike | Et al.
1. Introduction The term cultural contact was long taken to mean the meeting of different cultural units that was homogenous and static in themselves. Modern approaches to an understanding of the concept proceed on the basis of a different idea of culture, seeing it as a “self-woven web of meaning” [3. 9] in human consciousness, subject to perpetual change in dynamic processes of the construction of symbols. Interpretations are thus made both individually and collectively, and these give rise to meanings and identities. This interpretation br…
Date: 2019-10-14

East Asian art

(4,048 words)

Author(s): Chang, Sheng-Ching | Mittag, Achim | Trede, Melanie | Jungmann, Burglind | Wahlen, Kyu-Hee
1. Introduction Chinese porcelain, Japanese lacquerware, Korean ceramics - the influences of East Asian motifs, forms of artistic expression, uses of material, and ornamentation on the development of European art in the early modern period were many and varied, and often powerfully inspiring (Chinoiserie). However, the impact of European works on the arts in China, Japan, and Korea is less well-known.The most visible manifestation of European art in East Asia was in architecture. Striking examples of Jesuit sacred architecture included the Church of St.…
Date: 2019-10-14

Historical traditions beyond Europe

(7,316 words)

Author(s): Rinke, Stefan | Mittag, Achim | Berkemer, Georg | Sievert, Henning | Nolte, Hans-Heinrich | Et al.
1. Introduction The understanding of history and the resultant historiography depend for the most part on a European self-image that was concerned to impose a certain interpretation and order on the past in accordance with European norms and categories (Eurocentrism).Outside Europe, however, such concerns had no part to play for much of the early modern period. Rather, many different views of history held sway, distinct not only from the European, but also from each other. Although European techniques and conventions were certainly a…
Date: 2019-10-14

Knowledge systems beyond Europe

(14,466 words)

Author(s): König, Hans-Joachim | Reichmuth, Stefan | Raina, Dhruv | Mittag, Achim | Mathias, Regine
1. Introduction The beginnings of a project to “conquer nature” that became apparent in European science and technology from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and the sense of superiority this engendered, distorted views of the accomplishments of non-European civilizations (World perception) [2. 81 ff.]. This was particularly true of perceptions of and attitudes towards the countries of Asia and the “Orient” as a whole (Orientalism). During the 16th and 17th centuries, this region of the world had found its way to an albeit volatil…
Date: 2019-10-14