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Orient Collection

History Archive - Orient Collection

The Orient is a historical term for 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, loosely classified into the Near East, Middle East and Far East: the directional regions now known today as western Asia, southern Asia, eastern Asia, and southeast Asia (Note that traditionally directional regions of a continent do not use an upper-case letter).

Originally, the term Orient was used to designate the Near East, and later its meaning evolved and expanded, designating also the Middle East or the Far East. 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". 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 East 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. Today, the term primarily evokes images of China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Mongolia, and peninsular Southeast Asia. Throughout the history of the changing sense of the term, "the Orient" was never equivalent to Asia as a whole.

More simply the the Orient is largely a cultural term and large parts of Asia-Siberia most notably were excluded from the scholarly notion of "the Orient". 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 Orient or "East" (for Asia), and especially of its Eastern culture.

References:

Lewis, Martin W.; Wigen, Karen (1997). The myth of continents: a critique of metageography. University u Africa.

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