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What would the Gods think.

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  • Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post

    I think it's safe to assume that Chinese slaves were NOT treated well at all!

    If you need evidence, look up the concept of "foot binding" which they used on women to both prevent them from running away, as well as make their feet slip into smaller shoe sizes. WARNING, it's probably not a good idea to look it up if you have a weak stomach.
    Not to derail the discussion there, but footbinding had nothing to do with slavery. Such a "lotus foot" was a mark of beauty and nobility, not of servitude. I mean, still horrible sexist crap, but a whole other kettle of fish from slaves and how they were treated.

    Originally posted by Manbat View Post
    Old Japan: Seem to have happened, but was banned in the 16th century. Does not exist many relates about it. But is known cases of Japanese soldiers using populations in "forced labor" works during WW2.

    For the Gods I would go with "It is forbidden, unless really necessary.". Seems that all is acceptable in Love and War.

    Shen: I dont know much about Chinese history, and this seems very complicated and with a lot of nuances, so I'm not going to guess on this one. Someone knows better than me about it?
    So, historical East Asian slavery is kind of ... fuzzy around the edges. There's very much historical development there, and very few clear definitions. In general, if one talks about cultural perceptions of slavery, one encounters a problem of definition - what is slavery? Do models as different as the Roman one, the Aztec one, the Ottoman one, the US one really deserve the same label? Often we find a lot of nuance within a culture, the treatment of debt slaves, war captives, slaves of different ethnicity, and so on being very different. When cultures with such different social conceptions encounter one another, miscommunications arise, further pointing out that there is no such thing as kingship, slavery, piracy, queerness, or whatever, but only ever culturally specific "Irish kingship", "Mesopotamian kingship", "Medieval Japanese piracy", "Caribbean piracy", "Song Dynasty queerness", "21st century Western queerness", and so on (a problem which is also totally the topic of my B.A. thesis, but I digress). This fundamental indivdual-ness is something to keep in mind when cultures who hold such related but different institutions clash, as they are wont to do in Scion. I'll still talk about "slavery" below, but even if we can't avoid using problematic terms (because there are no appropriate replacements), we should keep in mind that, how and why they are problematic.

    Back to East Asian slavery in particular, though. I can't say all that much about China, because I don't have as much background there as with Japan, but the bottom line is: That concept changed constantly. There were different sources for slaves over time: debt slaves in the young state of Ancient China that meted out severe punishments to create order in this newly created thing; war captives in the Golden Age of expanding Medieval China, centre of the world; and whole ethnic groups in the multi-ethnic mega-state of Early Modern China. The history of China until the Revolution of 1911 can, simplified, be viewed as an ever-turning wheel of ethnic groups, religions, philosophies etc. changing in dominance, spinning around an axle of core values. That can, of course, be said about e.g. Europe as well, but I find that the changes in China, where no creed or philosophy was ever as powerful as Christianity or Islam, are more fluent. Thus, attitudes to social institutions like slavery could change fundamentally from dynasty to dynasty and even from ruler to ruler. Some tried to abolish slavery, others codified it; some made slaves into court eunuchs, others drew eunuchs from the free population, others tried to abolish that institution. And the reason I make such a big excourse into history there is that if there is one pantheon that does constantly change, it's the Shen, most of whom are deified mortals from a wide array of historical eras, who would thus have grown up in wildly different environments regarding such issues. So basically, most of what I can say is: It's complicated.

    With Japan, you see even more of that fuzziness. Slavery did exist in Japan for most of the country's history, but weirdly, it did so mostly in name only. It seems as if slavery never was really important in pre-modern Japan, and that the slave population was never very big. I read quite a few works of Japanese historical literature and historical documents, but I've never encountered a single slave therein; I've been told there is evidence, but it's sparse. There were no big slave markets, and more of a kidnapping of certain people by certain other people until yet different people managed to free them or not. Really big was the slave trade the Japanese then held with the Portuguese, but that lasted not even 50 years until Toyotomi Hideyoshi, as part of his general anti-European policy, outlawed it (don't cheer him too much, though, he also robbed peasants of basically all their rights and had lots of Christian converts executed, so ...). Essentially, the attitude of the Kami would be ... they've heard of it, but never held much interest, and gotten off the habit centuries ago.

    Originally posted by Manbat View Post
    Orisha: Those I know they had slaves, but I cant say much beyond that. The Gods would seem to be okay with the concept of "War slave" and "Debt Slaves", but they might have rethought their opinions after Colonial America. Or not, many of the slaves how came to America where sold by other African people, so it is hard to tell.
    I don't claim to be an expert on the relationship between African and Euro-American slavery, but the issue is more difficult than "Africans sold Africans, so they were okay with it". This is where my aforementioned concept of miscommunication comes into play: The Yoruba idea of slavery was fundamentally different from the Western one. Slaves in traditional Yoruba society were mainly war captives, debtors, and criminals, though locally also an ethnic caste. There were jobs that were only done by slaves, and not only just the nastiest ones: Gate guardians and royal emissaries, for example, were exclusive slave offices. Slaves weren't chattle, but a social rank/caste with certain (though of course still inferior) rights, and had at least a certain degree of legal protection against maltreatment. They were allowed to own property and to marry both other slaves and free people; the children of two slaves would also be slaves, but those of a slave and a free person would be free. On the other hand, however, the slave caste was also the source for the relatively rare human sacrifices of the Yoruba.

    Beginning with the Portuguese explorations of the 15th century, the Yoruba kingdom of Ijebu, which bought it slaves from the far bigger and more powerful kingdom of Oyo, became one of the biggest exporters of African slaves to the Euro-American sphere. Not only did this extreme demand in slaves permanently change West African culture, intensifying the need for destructive wars to claim new, profitable captives, but it also confronted the sold slaves with a violently different concept of such servitude. People in Africa, in the Yoruba kingdoms, for a long time simply had no idea how much more brutal slavery abroad was, and we have strong historical pointers that they would never have let the trade become this big had they known about it. When word of the conditions in the Americas did reach the homeland through returning freedmen, we can actually see even many prominent slave traders turning into stalwart enemies of their profession, fighting against the ill-treatment of their "merchandise" - look up people like Madam Tinubu.

    So if you want to get an idea of how the Orisha view slavery, it may best be expressed as "Yoruba slavery good, other slavery bad". And I think that could be applied to many, if not all cultures. There was slavery in almost every part of the world, at least at some point in history, and the slave owners there probably thought they were doing right. In the 19th century, the Cuban elites railed against British efforts for Abolition as slavery was supposedly the best that could be done for the slaves' salvation, yet derided the Muslim slave trade in the Mediterrannean. Chinese dynasties which were okay with their own slaving system balked at the mutilated and castrated slaves some of their allies sent them as gifts. As I said in the beginning, it's less fruitful to ask how a civilisation sees an abstract concept of "slavery", and more so to ask what it counted as such.