A Short History of Asia, Second Edition by Colin Mason

By Colin Mason

The peoples of Asia now make up greater than half the world's inhabitants. they're more and more well-educated, and profitable in each quarter of contemporary alternate and know-how. Their impression within the remainder of the realm can also be changing into higher. Colin Mason presents a readable and transparent advent to their background and traditions, from prehistory correct as much as the current day. This completely revised, up-to-date and elevated new version comprises the vast alterations and additions made helpful through the fast-changing scene in Asia, rather China's expanding prominence in global affairs. There are new chapters on Afghanistan and Taiwan, and on global struggle and its importance in Asia, in addition to vast transforming of the chapters at the international locations of South Asia. Maps and illustrations now additionally enhance the textual content all through, making this the basic advisor to the heritage of a desirable continent and its peoples.

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This period is notable for exquisite paintings, like those in the Ajanta caves, its sophisticated sculpture and its Sanskrit drama, especially the plays of Kalidasa, a poet and dramatist who is regarded by some as comparable with Shakespeare. Kalidasa’s Sakuntala, based on part of the Mahabharata, has been translated into many other languages and has taken its place in world literature. So prolific and varied was this literary output there is strong evidence that it was the work of a school of writers, possibly three people.

Hence in the discussion which follows of ‘kings’ and ‘states’ it is important not to overrate the importance of their total effect on the majority of society, or that of the ‘cultural grafts’, for that matter. Since what written sources there are almost always deal with those kings and states, and are more concerned with eulogy than fact, it is difficult indeed to trace the development and history of the ordinary people. Nevertheless, it is worth trying to do so. This can be attempted through a study of the south-east Asian village societies as they are today – their legends, beliefs and customs, and the evidence of archaeological remains.

Children’s bodies are 22 Indian Culture: Hinduism and Buddhism 23 Figure 1 Acute poverty in many parts of the Indian plain has perpetuated this kind of traditional village housing, with its low mud walls and thatched roofing simply placed in rivers. The chandals use long iron rods to stir the ashes and remains, and to smash the skull and other larger bones so they will be totally consumed – this might take seven or eight hours. Although they no longer have to shout or ring bells to announce their presence, to avoid the ritual contamination of any other Indian, they are effectively cut off from the rest of society.

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