The Orient (from Latin oriens "east", present participle of oriri " rise "; actually sol oriens " Rising Sun" ), later known as the Orient, is originally one of the four Roman world regions. At the Roman axis between the north ( midnight ) and south ( noon ) of the Orient, the world area in the east, opposite the Occident ( Occident, of such Occidens " setting sun " ) is the lying to the west areas.

Change in meaning

The term goes back to the Romans as defined by the regions of the world (Latin plagae mundi ) and was designated as plaga orientalis. In Greek it is called the Orient today Anatolian ( ανατολή, see Anatolia) and levante in Italian ( present participle to levare " rise "). The geographical term Levante bordering the eastern Mediterranean countries are meant.

Throughout history, the meaning of the term changed. While previously the entire Asian world, that is the Arab countries, Iran, India and China was regarded as the Orient, then later only the countries of the Near East and Egypt and most Islamic cultures, included among these, today's parlance, the term on the Middle East tends and the Arab-Islamic world - including Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and North Africa, but without the Islamic countries of South and Southeast Asia - to restrict.

"Orient" in other languages

In English, the term Oriental is also applied to the South Asian countries of India and Pakistan, East Asian countries such as China and Japan as well as the Southeast Asian countries of Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. Accordingly, these countries also define themselves as oriental as prominently featured, for example, at the Shanghai TV Tower, the Oriental Pearl Tower.

In Spanish and Portuguese oriente simply means "east" and oriental " east ". For example, are known as Grupo Oriental, the eastern islands of the Azores.

Religious and cultural aspect

Orient, in addition to the geo- political and a religious- cultural aspect. The oriental world inspired many poets and writers, see, eg, Goethe's West-Eastern Divan or Hesse's novel Journey to the East. The cited literature is based on a romantic transfiguration of the Orient, as they could arise only after 1683, when the danger of conquest was rated low by the East with the withdrawal of the Ottoman forces at the end of the Second Siege of Vienna for Europe. The Orient of Egypt to China in the 18th and 19th centuries into a dream world that was mapped imaginatively in the painting of the Orientalists. Domes and arches from the Ottoman and Moorish palaces sacral and found themselves in a completely different context of meaning in the oriental architecture of European cities again.

Since the 1970s, the concept of separation of East and West has experienced strong criticism ( Orientalismusdebatte ). Starting from today influential theses Edward Said was stated the Western image of the East was full of unconscious prejudices and distortions that would not do justice to the reality. The concept of the Occident and the Orient is less old than claimed, but it was developed only in the 18th century.