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Old 2008-01-31, 18:57   Link #21
Vexx
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Actually, the OLD religions in england and the germanic/french territories (Kelt and related areas) were an older form of polytheism -- basically a two-tiered set of animism and polytheism.

That's the well from whence all the pixies, sprites, brownies, trolls, and other demi-gods ... as well as the harvest/fertility gods come from.. the "lesser" gods. It isn't exactly like Shinto but there's some strong parallels.

Yeah, its very difficult to parse out all the Victorian insertions of fanciful religion but there are a number of real celebrations in Europe that really are hundreds and hundreds of years old if you trace them (though often very few are aware of the pre-christian roots). And yes, historians are routinely dismayed

The Golden Bough suffers mightily from 19th C. Victorian delusions about such things so it has to be taken with lots of salt.

OTOH, its a *great* source for writing fiction like this (or using as a D&D source).
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Old 2008-01-31, 19:21   Link #22
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Those Celtic, Germanic, Slavic lesser gods are the cousins of the Roman fauns or Greek satyrs. All these religions might have a common indo-european origin anyway. I wouldn't call their existence an animistic trait. They are numerous, but also individuals, separated from nature, like angels are. Of course, you can find animistic traits everywhere if you look (and argue) long enough. Doesn't Jesus materialize in bread and wine?
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Old 2008-01-31, 20:27   Link #23
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Well.. actually I was referring to things like "the little people", pixies, brownies, the trolls, nature-spirits of that kind, the land of Faerie.

Not the Big Name religions you describe (and I agree none of those really might be considered remotely animist unless they're directly attached to some natural action like lightning bolts or thunderstorms) ... but the actual "pagan" (i.e. country rural) beliefs. That which you throw salt over your shoulder to appease ... or make taboos over.
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Old 2008-01-31, 21:30   Link #24
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I should clarify that when I wrote "pagan", it was in relation to the Catholic Church, which was supposed to be the official religion of Christian Europe during the Middle Ages. I believe it used to suggest witchcraft as well, which conjures all sorts of negative connotations, but for the most part, that is no longer the case today. I think it's difficult to pin down what pagan actually means. It could refer to any number of beliefs and practises derived from folklore. But that's just within Europe. In the wider world, anything that wasn't Christian could be considered pagan as well. From the Medieval European worldview, even world religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism would have been considered "pagan."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vexx
The Golden Bough suffers mightily from 19th C. Victorian delusions about such things so it has to be taken with lots of salt.
From what I understand, anthropologists today dismiss Sir James' theory that Christianity has its roots in the "pagan" belief of a "dying king that is reborn every year." Based on what little of the book I've read, the idea does sound like a great deal of wishful thinking.

But the belief in a "harvest spirit" that needs to be protected through the winter is not the product of Victorian fantasy. Apparently, it does indeed exist in various forms throughout Europe. In Cornwall, UK, (Thomas Hardy Country) it's known as "Crying the Neck." There is even a popular folk-song based on the custom, "John Barleycorn." The making of corn dollies is also very well-documented. It is no longer connected to any religious belief, but survives today as a rural craft.

The fact that we've forgotten entirely about the custom is an indication of how far removed we are from rural life and traditions. I think this is part of the "change" that Horo felt in Episode 2. She sensed correctly that an era was passing and that her time was coming to an end. If people stopped believing in you, would a god still exist?
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Old 2008-02-01, 01:39   Link #25
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Heh, that was the problem in an Original Star Trek episode... if no one believed in the gods they faded away (ref: Who Mourns Adonis?). Its campy Trek but posed an interesting question.

Pagan practices were equated to "witchcraft" or for that matter *any* sort of non-christian practice (unless it had been reformulated for Church purposes, like Christmas, Easter, All-Saints Day and other formerly pagan holidays) -- the Church at the time was *very* serious about total domination and eliminating *any* competition (I credit the Roman Empire mindset for that). A lot of herbalists, alchemists, and "country doctors" fell to the efforts to drive competition to extinction. Its one reason so much information has been lost over the millenia.

Aye... I keep trying to minimize my post size so I end up over-simplifying my explanations. The "country beliefs" or underlying village lore had little to do with the Big Name pantheons (even the Keltic versions). It was a whole "down home" system of goblins, gremlins, "little spirits", and things that went bump in the night to explain a very spooky world from the viewpoint of someone with no science background. Its one of the amusing appeals of Shinto to me since those beliefs have, to some extent, survived to present day even if people practice it with a wry smile.

Much of technology today might as well be "magic" or "full of spirits" to the majority of the population.... after all, whats an "electron" but some sort of "daemon"
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Old 2008-02-01, 17:16   Link #26
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This was being discussed in the Image thread but I feel like the data belongs more over in this thread.

Pertaining the "Horo==whore in Finnish" joke meme.

I can find nowhere any validation that "horo" (ほろ) is related to the Finnish word for whore. The closest/only example is "huora" which would be rendered quite differently in Romaji (probably ふおら hu-o-ra). The only other word is "hitto" which is even less coincident in pronunciation or writing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alternative Finnish Dictionary
huora † a female prostitute, whore note useful when insulting a woman by calling her Saatanan huora, literally Devil's whore. The verb for calling someone with the name whore is huoritella. (from the Alternative Finnish Dictionary)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncyclopedia
Hitto, probably from pagan origin, is a considerably mild swear word, but still considered an expletive. Also used in a diminutive form "hittolainen". It is a reference to a sacred chamber or honeymoon site, or a mythical being hiisi associated with them (and possibly Hittavainen). It can nowadays be translated as "succubus tramp whore" or some other little hellish being, like Ann Coulter.
The Uncyclopedia is a very funny wiki if you like that sort of thing...

I've found a few implicit references for the Ainu word for "wolf" but most of them are under the JSTOR locked down documentation and a pain to extract. The only direct online reference I've found is "While his name is Ainu for 'Wolf'," describing Horo of the Shaman King in the IMDB database -- hardly proof. Its been amazing difficult to find anything converted on the Internet about Ainu (which is sad)... a problem I noticed when researching Utawarerumono the other year.

So... although it may be funny to some and possibly an interesting way to insult her (many people as children get their names twisted into something insulting), there's very little evidence of an actual connection. I could imagine someone from the Church in the story calling Horo a "hitto" if he were from the far north though
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Old 2008-02-01, 17:38   Link #27
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Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
Spoiler for Snippity:

Just thought that I should help to clear some of this as a finn.

Horo is a widely known slang term for huora. Basicly the difference is that horo is worse. (Like butt being huora and ass being horo. Yeah we can call whores even worse ) You won't find it in any real encyclopedias but everybody knows what it is.

And hitto is directly translated into damn. That uncyclopedia article for 'nowadays' translation is either untrue or something that only those that study finnish literature would know.

It's not common in anime to find something that is something complitely different in finnish. Mostly these just cause slight snickering and can be thrown away easily. I didn't think for one second that Horo and horo had something in common.

Horo is not a real word so there is nearly zero changes the author would have known it unless he/she (can't bother to check) would have visited Finland and found out it by him/herself. Hope this clears some things up.
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Old 2008-02-01, 17:51   Link #28
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Thanks for the enlightenment .... I think the author *intended* that he was using the Ainu word for wolf and probably had no idea that it meant something else in Finnish slang.

I read a story about writing for the Star Trek series and they were *always* running into disaster with "Made Up Words or Names" that turned out to mean something filthy in another language.

But given that there's a direct explanation for the source of the name *in* the author's home of Japan, I'll go with that until I discover better data. Basically the whole thing reminds me of the type of people who snicker when someone says "tool".
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Old 2008-02-01, 18:48   Link #29
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I don't know about Star Trek, but Singaporeans had a snickering "good" time when Star Wars Ep I first arrived to our shores.

"I'm the ruler of Naboo."

"Oi! Why you scold my mother?" (ie, "WTF?! Why are you swearing at my mother?")

Spoiler for why it had us in stitches:

Meanwhile, back on topic:

==============================

"When I first started out, all merchants seemed like monsters to me."
— Lawrence, Episode 2, “Wolf and Distant Past”

A hated parasite
Somewhere inside the generic discussion thread, I've highlighted how Confucianist East Asia tended to despise merchants. It is pertinent to point out that merchants were not very highly regarded in Medieval Europe either.

The old, feudal model of society was dominated by the concept that there were three divinely ordained orders: knights, clergy, and peasants. Each of these groups had a role to play, either defense of the realm, maintenance of the soul of society, or the growing of essential foodstuffs.[1]

The merchant, as a class, was hated for not contributing to these essential duties, but rather for aiming to get rich himself. His pursuit of gain was considered against the laws of God, because he was not a producer of real goods, but rather a resaler, or a usurer (someone who charges interest on loans). He was considered a parasite and a sinner, barely tolerated for his questionable contribution to society's output.

The merchant, during this transitional period, had to contend for respect and honor with the nobility and the knighthood, which stood at the head of medieval civic society. The nobility cultivated a disdain for the petty details of moneymaking and money-saving and prided themselves on their ability to spend, to be showy and magnanimous. These qualities were directly at odds with the careful attention to profit and loss which characterised the commercial man.

The traditional role of the merchant in popular literature reflected their lost status. In moral tales, they are subjected to a variety of tortures in hell, or dreams, as a result of their "evil" way of life.

The rise of commerce
Nonetheless, medieval society increasingly came to rely upon the merchant's services in distributing and obtaining items not produced locally. This reflected the rising commercialism that developed during the so-called High Middle Ages (roughly between the 1000s to 1300s).

Bear in mind that prior to this period, Christian Europe was essentially a feudal economy where a noble's wealth is entirely dependent on territorial property. However, the Crusades produced a powerful economic effect. Knights and nobles had to sell many of their possessions to merchants in newly developing towns, to raise cash for their military expeditions.[2]

The growing independence of the towns and its merchants acted against the power of the landed aristocracy. As the towns grew bigger, people began specialising in various crafts, which widened the scope of commerce between the towns and the countryside.[3] This in turn led to improved methods of transportation and communication, which facilitated the growth of international trade.

By the Late Middle Ages (1300s to 1500s), the merchant class had become very rich, often intermarrying with impoverished members of the nobility, and they held positions of power in civic government. Merchants dressed more elaborately, were housed more elegantly, and enjoyed greater entertainment than most of their fellow citizens. Even so, they never completely overcame the general contempt for the way in which they acquired their wealth.[1]

==============================

References:
[1] Medieval Merchant Culture

[2]The Middle Ages

[3]Muck and Misery in the Middle Ages

Last edited by TinyRedLeaf; 2008-02-02 at 11:18.
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Old 2008-02-02, 23:01   Link #30
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Pagan practices were equated to "witchcraft" or for that matter *any* sort of non-christian practice (unless it had been reformulated for Church purposes, like Christmas, Easter, All-Saints Day and other formerly pagan holidays) -- the Church at the time was *very* serious about total domination and eliminating *any* competition (I credit the Roman Empire mindset for that). A lot of herbalists, alchemists, and "country doctors" fell to the efforts to drive competition to extinction. Its one reason so much information has been lost over the millenia.
Are you sure about that? Apart from the repurposed pagan holidays, I've always understood this to be just the fantasy of modern-day neo-pagans. Belief in witchcraft was actually considered heresy for most of the time the church was spreading throughout Europe - it certainly wasn't something the church was actively trying to get rid of at the time. I've never heard of the church getting rid of herbalists and so on either except in the 'burning times' type neo-pagan versions of history.
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Old 2008-02-03, 03:09   Link #31
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Hmm.... the preferred method of "christianizing" a tribe or kingdom was to convert the leadership by persuasion or threat. The population was *commanded* to convert. What followed was often a lengthy cultural destruction or assimilation of any prior belief system. It is true the usual charge was "heresy" -- promulgated in trumped up charges against anyone who 'disturbed the new order of things'. Midwives were often targets, local festivals were at best suspicious, even monks had to be careful about how they did their research.

Most of the time it wasn't a top-down coordinated effort .. but more like what you see in extremist Islam ... many instances of local leadership going completely overboard in their zealotry (like the recent case of the journalist female sentenced to death by a Sharia court for downloading a file off the internet that criticized treatment of women in Afghanistan). What histories have you read that didn't include references to the Church forcefully eliminating any competition while in its expansion during the latter Dark Ages and Early Middle Ages?

In some regard, it was a replay of the Roman Imperial drive to destroy the culture of the Kelts hundreds of years earlier while expanding into Western Europe.
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Old 2008-02-03, 04:47   Link #32
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What histories have you read that didn't include references to the Church forcefully eliminating any competition while in its expansion during the latter Dark Ages and Early Middle Ages?
Sorry, I should have been clearer, anything I've read suggests that more of Europe was converted by the sword than not. It was the "pagans as witchcraft" thing I was wondering about - as you said heresy would have been the usual charge for pagans rather than witchcraft, and your clarification that you were talking about the actions of local churches rather than a concerted effort by the whole church was more in line with what I've read. My misinterpretation there, I think.

Incidentally, why do you spell it Kelt instead of Celt? I don't think I've seen that used as the modern spelling before.
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Old 2008-02-03, 21:49   Link #33
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It is pronounced with a "hard k" sound rather than a "soft C" .... and is an accepted 'alternate' spelling for a word that wasn't originally English anyway


Unfortunately, so many people see the "Celt" and pronounce it "selt" that many scholars of Scots/Irish and other European pre-Roman cultures resort in desperation to the "Kelt" spelling just so people will stop "selt-ing" ... no thanks to the so-named Boston Celtics.
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Old 2008-02-04, 02:43   Link #34
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Ah right, I suppose that makes sense. I live in Ireland, and the word is in common enough use here that mistaken pronunciation isn't really a problem.
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Old 2008-02-04, 03:08   Link #35
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aye... I live in a place where its nearly impossible to underestimate the stupidity in the general population
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Old 2008-02-18, 06:52   Link #36
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What does spice signify within the context of the title? I can't figure out what it's referring to. Is it literally a spice? If so, how does a spice figure into the story?

"Pepper. Do you have pepper? It's light and it won't be unwieldy. It will be winter soon, and if there are more meat dishes, the price will rise."
— Spice and Wolf, Episode 6, "Wolf and Silent Farewell"

Spice up your life
A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for flavoring, and sometimes as a preservative by killing or preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.[3]

Spices were among the most luxurious products available in Europe in the Middle Ages, the most common being black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. They were all imported from plantations in Asia and Africa, which made them extremely expensive. From the 8th until the 15th century, Venice had the monopoly on spice trade with the Middle East. The trade made the region phenomenally rich.

It has been estimated that around 1,000 tons of pepper and 1,000 tons of the other common spices were imported into Western Europe each year during the Late Middle Ages. The value of these goods was the equivalent of a yearly supply of grain for 1.5 million people.

Black gold
Black pepper (piper nigrum) is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. The same fruit is also used to produce white pepper, red pepper and green pepper.[4]

A popular modern-day misconception is that medieval cooks used liberal amounts of spices, particularly black pepper, to disguise the taste of spoiled meat. However, a medieval feast was as much a culinary event as it was a display of the host's vast resources and generosity. As such, the use of ruinously expensive spices on cheap, rotting meat would have made little sense.

Historically, dried ground pepper is one of the most common spices in European cuisine and its descendants, having been known and prized since antiquity for both its flavour and its use as a medicine. Lawrence was most probably buying this type of pepper in Episode 6, but this is debatable, as Horo was referring to red pepper in Chapter 5 of the manga.

Pepper has been used as a spice in India since prehistoric times. Its most important source was India, particularly the Malabar Coast, in what is now the state of Kerala. Until well after the Middle Ages, virtually all of the black pepper found in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa travelled there from India's Malabar region.

The preciousness of pepper and other spices encouraged European efforts to find a sea route to India and consequently to the European colonial occupation of that country, as well as the European discovery and colonisation of the East Indies and the Americas.

“We seek Christians and spices”
In 1498, Vasco da Gama of Portugal became the first European to reach India by sea. When the Arabs in Calicut (who spoke Spanish and Italian) asked why they had come, de Gama’s representative replied, "We seek Christians and spices." Though this first trip to India by way of the southern tip of Africa was only a modest success, the Portuguese quickly returned in greater numbers and used their superior naval firepower to gain complete control of trade on the Arabian sea.[4]

The Portuguese proved unable to maintain their stranglehold on the spice trade for long. The old Arab and Venetian trade networks successfully smuggled enormous quantities of spices through the patchy Portuguese blockade, and pepper once again flowed through Alexandria and Italy, as well as around Africa. By the 17th century, the Portuguese had lost almost all of their valuable Indian Ocean possessions to the Dutch and the English.

Going Dutch
By the end of the 16th century, the highly profitable sea trade routes between Europe and Asia had been established and dominated by the Portuguese. In 1596, a group of Dutch merchants from the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC in old Dutch spelling, literally "United East Indian Company") decided to circumvent the Portuguese monopoly.[5]

The Dutch East India Company was established in 1602. It was the first multinational corporation in the world and the first company to issue stock. In addition, the VOC possessed quasi-governmental powers, including the ability to wage war, negotiate treaties, coin money, and establish colonies.

In 1596, a four-ship VOC expedition established contact with Indonesia. The expedition reached Banten, the main pepper port of West Java, where they clashed with both the Portuguese and indigenous Indonesians. Half the crew were lost before the expedition made it back to the Netherlands the following year, but with enough spices to make a considerable profit.

By 1603, the first permanent Dutch trading post in Indonesia was established in Banten, West Java and in 1611, another was established at Jayakarta (present-day Jakarta).

But a new competitor soon entered the fray — the British East India Company.

The Company
Like the VOC, the British East India Company (“the Company”) was an early joint-stock company with similar powers to wage war and establish colonies.[6]

The Company was founded by a variety of enterprising and influential businessmen in 1600. They obtained the Crown's charter for exclusive permission to trade in the East Indies for a period of 15 years.

Initially, however, the Company made little impression on the Dutch control of the spice trade because it did not have a lasting outpost in the East Indies. Eventually, ships belonging to the Company arrived in India, and established a trade transit point at Surat in 1608. Within the next two years, it built its first factory (ie, a trading post) in the town.

From this foothold, the Company began spreading its activities throughout India and the East Indies. It eventually ruled India with a private army of 260,000 native troops (twice the size of the contemporary British Army).[2] It encountered severe VOC hostility that triggered the Anglo-Dutch Wars, fought over access to spices. The English eventually gained control of all Dutch colonies in the East Indies after Napoleon conquered the Netherlands in 1810.[7]

Competitive advantage
The company’s past is often more dramatic than its present. Early businessmen took risks with their lives as well as their fortunes. Send a fleet to the Spice Islands at the beginning of the 17th century, and you might be lucky if a third of the men came back alive. This was a time when competitive advantage meant supplying an English lady for the sultan’s harem and when your suppliers might put your head on a stick.

On hindsight, companies have become more ethical: more honest, more humane, more socially responsible. In contrast, the early history of companies was often one of imperialism and speculation, of appalling rip-offs and even massacres.

The company has been one of the West’s great competitive advantages. It has rendered human effort productive. Companies increase the pool of capital available for productive investment. They allow investors to spread their risk by purchasing small and easily marketable shares in several enterprises. And they provide a way of imposing effective management structures on large organisations.[2]


=============
References:
[1] Spice: The History of a Temptation, Jack Turner, Vintage (2005)

[2] The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea, Micklethwait & Wooldridge, Phoenix (2003)

[3] Spice

[4] Black pepper

[5] Dutch East India Company

[6] British East India Company

[7] The Anglo-Dutch Wars
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Old 2008-02-19, 05:56   Link #37
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A late observation:

The system mentioned in episode 2 is more complex than mere "bartering" (in the historical sense of the word). The term the anime uses, kawase (為替), refers specifically to a system of credit notes, according to Japanese Wikipedia (although it can also refer to modern monetary exchange). While I don't think credit notes were specifically mentioned in the show, I think they're implied in the very system. The basic idea is that merchants are credited by companies with a certain paper value for their goods, which they can redeem from the company in the form of other goods at other locations. I think a "credit system" would be a better term for this.

Last edited by creamyhorror; 2008-02-19 at 07:22.
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