Cultural Focus

By: Neha Kodali (2nd Period)

The Métis

  1. The Métis emerged during fur trade in the 1700s and were comprised of descendants of people born of relations between Indian women and European men. The initial offspring were of mixed ancestry and the offspring continued as so through the subsequent intermarriage of mixed ancestry individuals.
  2. The Métis women taught the traders local languages, showed them how to survive on the land and tended to domestic affairs such as preparing food, constructing shelters, and making clothing. The men grew up to enter the fur trade, become hunters, trappers, or canoemen.
  3. The Métis highly valued their horses. They were expert marksmen on horseback, and loved to engage in horse-racing to increase their riding skills, and for the pure joy of it. Horses helped the Métis develop the local buffalo hunts and pemmican trade across Canada and the northern United States.
  4. One of the activities Métis are best known for historically are the buffalo hunts. The hunts were not just hard work, they were also festive events. The buffalo hunt was extremely dangerous, but horses and riders were skilled and fearless. Métis women and children followed behind the hunters skinning the animals and preparing the meat for drying. At the end of the hunt, boisterous parties were held, celebrating a successful hunt.
  5. The Red River Jig fiddle tune has come to be known as the unofficial Métis anthem. It is believed to have been created by the Desjarlais family of the Red River colony. Vigorous foot tapping is believed to have originated as a replacement for Indian and Celtic hand drums. Métis music was intended for social purpose, especially dancing. The most popular dances were the rabbit dance, the duck dance, la dance du crochet and the Red River Jig.
  6. The artistic skill of Métis women was demonstrated in practical application of clothing design as well as decorative elements of outfits worn by people, horses and even dogs. The Métis were referred to as "Flower Beadwork People". Coats, mittens and caps for people were finely decorated. Horse halters, bridles, martingales, blankets, pad saddles, pouches and whips were colourful expressions of skill and artistic design.
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Women in Pakistan

  1. The majority of Pakistani women are homemakers, and the largest percentage of working women in Pakistan are nurses or teachers.
  2. Women are represented in government as ministers in Parliament and ambassadors.
  3. The women of Pakistan are regular voters as are the men, and women also are regular attendees at colleges. Islam gives women rights to child custody, to alimony, and to inheritance, and they also have the right to conduct business and enter any profession. Women are engaged in agriculture production and the services sector. Women judges have been appointed to four high courts as well as several lower courts and a 10 percent quota was established for women to become police officers.
  4. There are growing numbers of violent crimes against or involving women and the government has introduced the concept of women police stations.
  5. Programs are underway to expand basic health services for women, develop a women-friendly district health system, and both strengthen and improve human resource capacity to sustain women's health development.
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The Mughals

  1. The Mughal Empire was the most powerful Islamic empire in the history of India, which ruled most of India and Pakistan in the 16th and 17th centuries. This was symbolized most clearly by the breathtaking beauty of the Taj Mahal.
  2. The empire consolidated Islam in South Asia, and spread Muslim (and particularly Persian) arts and culture as well as the faith.
  3. During this period, regional languages were developed due to the patronage extended to them by local and regional rulers. They acquired stability and maturity and some of the finest lyrical poetry was produced during this period.
  4. Music was the sole medium of Hindu-Muslim unity during the time period. Akbar patronized Tansen of Gwalior who is credited with composing many new melodies (ragas).
  5. Traditional Dance continued both in the north and in the south. Kathak was a new dance that had developed during this period, but the art was not pursued purely from an aesthetic point of view. Sufism with its religious feeling expressed itself in dance and music that resulted in the Muslims appreciating the music.
  6. Though all the Great Mughals built memorable monuments, Shah Jahan was a class apart going on a classy contruction streak building such marvels as the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort and several mosques. He hoped to make Agra an urban center to rival Istanbul (Constantinople)
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The Safavids

  1. Under Safavid rule eastern Persia became a great cultural centre.
  2. During this period, painting, metalwork, textiles and carpets reached new heights of perfection. For art to succeed at this scale, patronage had to come from the top.
  3. The Safavids were often artists themselves. Shah Ismail was a poet and Shah Tahmasp a painter. Their patronage, which included opening royal workshops for artists, created a favourable climate for the development of art.
  4. The Safavid dynasty is one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Persia (modern Iran) after the fall of the Sasanian Empire. It followed the Muslim conquest of Persia in the seventh century A.D., and is often considered the beginning of modern Persian history.
  5. A key aspect of the Persian character was its love of luxury, particularly on keeping up appearances. They would adorn their clothes, wearing stones and decorate the harness of their horses. Men wore many rings on their fingers, almost as many as their wives. They also placed jewels on their arms, such as on daggers and swords. Daggers were worn at the waist.
  6. Since pre-Islamic times, the sport of wrestling had been an integral part of the Iranian identity, and the professional wrestlers, who performed in Zurkhanehs, were considered important members of the society. Each town had their own troop of wrestlers, called Pahlavans. Their sport also provided the masses with entertainment and spectacle.
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Polynesia: French

  1. The Territory of French Polynesia consists of five archipelagoes under French administration. While each island group displays a variant of the Polynesian cultural tradition and all are united by over a century of colonial administration, residents maintain cultural identities specific to the home archipelago and home island.
  2. Reciprocity, generosity, and hospitality are central values. When guests are invited for a meal, the hosts are not necessarily expected to eat. Tahitians greet each other by shaking hands or exchanging kisses on the cheek. Unless there is a large number of people in the room, it is considered impolite not to shake hands with all of them. It also is considered impolite to keep one's shoes on when entering another person's home.
  3. Musical performance genres range from highly stylized hymn singing, to humorous storytelling songs, to popular ballads and local rock and pop music. In addition to "classic" local songs, new songs and music are performed and distributed locally. Traditional drumming is widely practiced, often as an accompaniment to dance performances.
  4. The gendered division of labor resulted from efforts of Christian missionaries and French colonial officials to introduce a Western cultural system. In this system, men were defined as the breadwinners and heads of families and the ideal roles for women were as helpmates and nurturers.
  5. The ability of men to earn money became an essential part of their breadwinning role. Men's predominance in income-earning activities and greater income were translated into greater control over household decision making. This authority is not supported by an ideology of male superiority. Belief in the interdependence, complementarity, and equality of men's and women's activities and capabilities exists in urban and rural settings.
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The Harem

  1. The harem was defined to be the women's quarter in a Muslim household. The Imperial harem contained the combined households of the Valide Sultan (Queen Mother), the Sultan's favorites, and the rest of his concubines (women whose main function was to entertain the Sultan in the bedchamber). It also contained all the Sultanas' (daughters) households.
  2. Harem women formed only half of the harem hierarchy. Eunuchs were the integral other half of the harem. Eunuchs were considered to be less than men and thus unable to be "tempted" by the harem women and would remain solely loyal to the Sultan. Eunuchs were castrated men and hence possessed no threat to the sanctity of the harem
  3. The reasons for harem existence can be seen from Ottoman cultural history. Ottoman tradition relied on slave concubinage along with legal marriage for reproduction. Slave concubinage was the taking of slave women for sexual reproduction. It served to emphasize the patriarchal nature of power.
  4. According to Muslim tradition, no man could lay his eyes on another man's harem, thus someone less than a man was required for the role of watchful guardianship over the harem women. Eunuchs tended to be male prisoners of war or slaves, castrated before puberty and condemned to a life of servitude.
  5. Under Islamic law, a man can have as many wives as he can support, with the traditional number topping out at around four. However, concubines are unlimited and many harems grew into the thousands.
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