Even after Japan began its formal policy of isolationism in 1639, the Dutch continued to be allowed to trade through the port of Nagasaki. They were notably… pliable… traders. Basically, the Dutch would do whatever was needed to maintain good relations and keep trading flowing. For example:
“…In 1640 a Dutch trading party was allowed to stay [in Nagasaki] after the expulsion of the Spanish and Portuguese. The ‘Hollanders’ assured their hosts of the relative pliancy of their brand of Christianity, demonstrating their good Protestant faith by firing a few shells at the Japanese Catholics huddled in Hara Castle.” Their actions meant that the Dutch had exclusive access to Nagasaki for over a century. Japan also kept trading relations open with their much closer neighbors the Ryūkyū Kingdom, Korea, and Russia through the ports of Satsuma, Tsushima and Matsumae (respectively).
Did you know that Christ the Redeemer, the iconic statue that looms over Rio de Janeiro, was finished in 1931? The 130-foot reinforced concrete-and-soapstone statue sits atop the peak of the 700-meter (2,300 ft) Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park.
The statue cost approximately US$250,000 to build. That’s 3.5 million in today’s dollars. It was built mainly on donations, too. So thank goodness the project was started in 1922, giving them plenty of time to raise donations before the Great Depression hit!
The archangel Michael, whose cult first emerged in Ethiopia under the patronage of Emperor Zär’a Ya’eqob (ruled 1434–1468), remains the most venerated archangel in Ethiopia. This is largely due to his role as an intercessor on behalf of the faithful.
In this folio dating to the late 1600s, Saint Michael rescues the faithful from the flames of hell. And on the facing page, those Michael has already saved are depicted as living safely in paradise.
Until recently, it was the habit of preachers to enumerate the points they made in their sermon. The phrase ‘fifthly and lastly, dear brethren’, or whatever number it was, was a familiar one to churchgoers. St Mary Magdalen Church in Bermondsey Street, London, once had a Puritan preacher who, some four hundred years ago, preached a sermon from sixty pages of notes concluding with the words ‘one hundred and seventhly and lastly, dear brethren.’
This is the earliest surviving Chinese globe, and dates from the early 1600s. It was not made by the Chinese, but by two European missionaries, Father Nicolo Longobardi and Manuel Dias – they actually signed the globe using Chinese versions of their names, Yang Ma-no and Long Hua-min.
Both men introduced important Western geographical ideas into China, and the globe helped them to do this. The globe is inscribed with a number of complicated geographical and astronomical concepts. These include an explanation of the theories of latitude and longitude, and a description of the way eclipses of the sun and moon prove that the world is round.
The Chinese already had a long and esteemed map-making tradition. One inscription on the globe pays tribute to this by referring to terrestrial magnetism – the magnetic force that pulls a compass needle to the north. Chinese scientists were aware of this force about forty years before it was understood in Europe. Chinese maps traditionally showed China at the center of the world. They called China “the middle kingdom” for a reason. Far-away continents and countries were generally unknown, or downplayed. This globe does not downplay China, but simply puts it in context with other continents and countries.
The seven-day week has no correspondence to astronomy – unlike the presence of the sun giving us days, or phases of the moon giving us months. Historians generally think the seven-day week was “invented” by Mesopotamians and/or Jews. Both thought the number seven had mystic significance. Sumer had a (mostly) seven-day week system since at least the 21st century BCE. The Jewish weeks may have developed independently or been influenced by their Fertile Crescent neighbors.
From the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa the seven-day week spread around the Old World. The Greeks and Persians adopted the Babylonian system, and fro Persia it spread to India and China in various forms. In Japan, for instance, seven-day weeks were mainly used by specialist astrologers until the 1800s. In Europe, it was officially adopted by the Roman Empire in the 300s CE, but it was already in common use throughout the empire.