Name of Institution
Cultural anthropology uses ethnography so as to use quantitative research approach so as to explore cultural phenomena of different cultures around the world. The societies selected include those of Indian and Chinese backgrounds and the human culture aspect to be discussed is religion. Religion is essential in the study of culture since it in itself define what culture really is in terms of shared behaviors, customs, values, and beliefs and more so it moulds the entire culture system.
- Describe the background information of each of the societies you have chosen. You need not analyze this background information; only provide details regarding these societies.
The Chinese culture has been recorder to be amongst one of the known world’s oldest societies. The region in which the Chinese culture is prevailing covers a great geographical expanse in Eastern Asia with traditions and customs varying deeply between cities, provinces, and also towns. Some of the important elements of Chinese culture consist of cuisine, martial arts, visual arts, music, literature and religion among others. In the present day, there are fifty six distinctive acknowledged ethnic groupings in China. The Han Chinese is apparently the biggest group in the country with respect to numbers. Seemingly, all through history, lots of groups have disappeared or fused into some neighboring ethnicities. Similarly, numerous people in the Han identity have preserved distinctive regional and linguistic cultural traditions. The Chinese societal structure has a long history whereby there has been a Chinese monarch for instance, the Zhou Dynasty, Song Dynasty, and Sui Dynasty amongst others (Robinson & Johnson 1997).
The majority social values in the society were derived from Taoism and Confucianism while others such as Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism concepts emerged later. Martial arts have been documented to originate from China and other elements such as the Chinese tea and arts/architecture have elevated the general perception of the Chinese society globally.
India has had a long history going back to the prehistory time some hundreds of thousands of years ago. During the prehistoric times, there was an elongated period of Paleolithic gathering and hunting cultures similar in characteristics and time with the prehistoric/Paleolithic peoples of East Asia and Europe. Then followed growth of settled agricultural societies in some areas and by 27000 BCE, urban civilization emerged followed by quite a number of princely kingdoms and states, large and small all over the subcontinent. Continued conquest and war disrupted by the birth of religions like Sikhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism and also foreign invasions. The conquest by the British brought new cultures and way of living which has since been integrated into the main Indian culture. The country is rich in cultural history and has accepted benevolently the excellent qualities of diverse religions which resulted to rise of various diverse cultures (Gajrani 2004).
Art developed massively direct from Stone Age at a time when the early man was drawing and painting animal figures in caves. Painting has since reformed and is majorly applied as decorations in housing while their dance and music developed from rudimentary to modern types such as Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Hindustani and Carnatic. Moreover, literature has developed over the ages and the country is renowned for the birth of great scholars, philosophers and thinkers. Big literary works such as Mahabharata, Ramayana, and Vedas have been considered as holy epics. Indian cuisine was introduced as a culmination of various religions and it has turned out to be a cultural foodways identity for the country worldwide (Gajrani 2004).
- Analyze the aspect of human culture you selected for each of the societies.
The element of Religion in China is described by pluralism ever since the start of Chinese history. All the Chinese religions are usually family-oriented plus do not demand special adherence, thus permitting the belief or practice of a number of them at the same time within a family setting. The prominent religions in china include Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism and they seemingly have similar teachings and a major aspect adopted from these religions is to always live in accord. Taoism and Confucianism was prevalent in china between the periods of 600 and 400 BCE and since the religions advocated for the philosophy of harmony, people and communities were at peace with one another. They believed that one’s wrong doings and ill behavior would haunt the doer in future and most importantly the solution to contentment was self restraint and good conduct. Confucianism brought in strong values within the communities with respect to domains of family life and the government whereby for instance the parents and children had particular rights (Robinson & Johnson 1997).
On the other hand, Buddhism reinforced the previously subsisting beliefs in the country. It instilled virtues of perseverance and patience in hard times since it asserted suffering brought strength. Buddhism faith actually centers on truthful understanding of ultimate reality and human nature and the belief that salvation ought to be achieved right away. Therefore, there is beliefs that in one’s life, they can be released from suffering (disease) and attain true joy (enlightenment, nirvana) the soonest possible and people ought not wait or rather suffer until they die. Other fundamental principles include: accepting Buddha as their rightful teacher, accepting always the Middle Way or rather being non-extremism, Eightfold path, the 4 Noble truths, and Dependant Origination. Also, followers practice or rather perceive that Buddahood to be the utmost achievement.
The Indian religions form several spheres including: Hinduism which is the majority religion, Islam which is the leading minority religion, while others are the Bahá’í Faith, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Sikhism. All the religious affiliations in the country preach common virtues such as living in harmony as witnessed in festival celebrations (Hardy 2005).
As of the 2001 general census, 80.5% were of the Hindu religion, 13.4% were Muslims, Christianity had 2.3%, and Buddhism had less than 1% (The World Factbook (2013)). Numerous rituals and about millions of holy places such as temples and shrines are all over the country celebrating different religious beliefs. Big pilgrimage temples are holiest centers for Hindu, while pir (tombs of saints) are significant in the Islam faith. While Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe there is paradise after death while the Hindu belief in pure reincarnation (Hardy 2005).
- Compare and contrast the similarities and differences between the societies in relation to the topic you chose—for example, standard of living, education, or employment opportunities.
The Chinese and Indian religions have several similarities whereby the two countries have a multi-cultural society and old religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism cover the two counties. Religious and philosophical ideas such as various deities, karma, and reincarnation are almost universal in the two countries. The fundamental Hindu beliefs comprise: the power of Vedas which is a historic Indian sacred manuscripts plus the Brahmans (priests); also, the existence of rebirth and the commandment of karma which determines one’s providence both in present life and the afterlife.
Buddhism faith actually centers on truthful understanding of ultimate reality and human nature and the belief that salvation ought to be achieved right away. Therefore, there is beliefs that in one’s life, they can be released from suffering (disease) and attain true joy (enlightenment, nirvana) the soonest possible and people ought not wait or rather suffer until they die. Other fundamental principles include: accepting Buddha as their rightful teacher, accepting always the Middle Way or rather being non-extremism, Eightfold path, the 4 Noble truths, and Dependant Origination. Also, followers practice or rather perceive that Buddahood to be the utmost achievement (Watts 1999).
- Summarize and address human behavior in relation to your topic and based on your examples.
The Chinese social and religious practices include: feng shui, astrology and prophecy, divination, longevity practices, prayer, and ancestral worship. On the other hand, the Hindu practice living with accordance to dharma, pilgrimage to sacred cities, devotion to goddess/god, puja (worship), meditation, and yoga (Olivelle 2009).
India has had several social problems with respect to religion whereby it has witnessed religious conflicts between Muslim and Hindu which still persists until to date. For instance, the 1980 conflict between Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab state brought out violent clashes due to demands towards religious broadcasts rights by the Sikhs and also separate legal act for religious shrines. Discrimination existing in numerous institutions where for instance the Muslim allege that the Hindu have put their symbols and mythologies in all school textbooks is still bringing tension between the two religions. China has also had social issues related to religion whereby Christians allege the government together with the political drive to interfere with religion. The Christians are segregated, harassed and oppressed in an effort by the country to divide them but they have had a remarkable resilience (Gajrani 2004).
Gajrani, S. (2004). History, religion and culture of India. Delhi: Isha Books.
Hardy, F. (2005). The Religious Culture of India Power, Love And Wisdom. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ Press.
Olivelle, P. (2009). Dharma: studies in its semantic, cultural, and religious history. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.
Robinson, R. H., & Johnson, W. (1997). The Buddhist religion (4th ed.). Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth.
The World Factbook. (2013, July 10). CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY. Retrieved July 3, 2013, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html
Watts, A. (1999). Buddhism, the religion of no-religion: the edited transcripts. Boston: Tuttle Pub..