East Meets West on the Pasture


Globalization is about migration, easy travel, fluid borders, exchange and openness, though the politics of our age tend to forget how long it has been around. Trade between countries and continents is a millennium-old continuing flow: The Han traded with the Romans, Central Asian designs from Sassania travelled East and West, creating common ground between England and Tang dynasty China. By the 18th and 19th century, trade permeated the world; Tibetans exchanged horses for Chinese and Russian brocades, elaborate French clocks found their way to the abodes of high lamas and the palaces of emperors. Imitations of Chinese art or Chinoiseries, were the craze in Louis XV France. Europeans appeared in Chinese Yuan Dynasty court paintings and China and Japan began manufacturing furniture and porcelain for European tastes.

The merging of cultures brings a refreshing synergy; on the Ritoma grassland, sheep sit in the in the living room, a nomad in his best sheepskin bears a rifle against a Chinoiserie French Gobelins tapestry, a ‘bergere’, meaning shepherdess in French, sits and spins on a ‘bergere’ chair, a man in gold rimmed glasses hovers over an 18th century edition of a book on China resting on an Empire French desk.  

Out on the endless summer pasture, a long table graced by an embroidered Italian table cloth sits in the open laid in porcelain dishes and ornamented with German rococo chandeliers. In another setting, Norlha scarves are served on silver platters. Family heirlooms that found their way from Europe to deepest Asia…Nothing new, it has been happening for centuries.