The High Nose

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The High Nose

Post by ladislav »

The High Nose.

This collocation does not much exist in Western languages. There is a long nose, a hooked nose, a pointed nose, but there is usually no “ high nose”. You can say it, but people will not always understand you.

However, in E/SE Asian tongues, that expression exists. In Japanese, you say “ hana takai”, in Thai, “jamook dong”and in Visaya, it is “taas ug ilong”. In Tagalog, you say “matangus ang ilong”. “Matangus” does not mean “high” really, but also not“ pointed”as in English. In English, a pointed nose or a long nose refers to the tip of it, not the middle section.

“Matangus” is different.

As in most other E/SE Asian languages, it means that there is a cartilage on the nose bridge which is “ protruding” a certain height from the rest of the face. This is what E/SE Asian people see first when they look at a Westerner’s face. His nose is “ high”.

Some ethnic groups in the West, such as Armenians, have their daughters get a “nose job” as soon as they are old enough- meaning get parts of their noses cut off- the ones that are too big. The same is common among Sephardic Jews in the Eastern USA. Go get rhinoplasty. The nose is too Jewish, too big. But usually, only for the ladies. The men are OK with their own natural shape.

SE Asians, especially Thai people, do the opposite. To look beautiful, according to their society’s standards, they must get rid of the flat nose base. Thus, they have an operation whereby they have a chip of their own bone cut out from the hip and then, inserted to create a higher nose bridge. They call it “ perm jamook” meaning “ add to the nose”. Such ladies are then admired and fawned upon by Thai gentlemen for being “ khon sway”- a beautiful person.

In the Philippines, such operations do not yet appear to be common but the admiration for “ matangus ang ilong” can often be observed. “ My boyfriend is so handsome. His nose is so high!” I have heard a Filipina lady say. “ Can we exchange noses?” some say in jest when they talk to a Western person.

A long Jewish nose had many people shipped to Auschwitz, and meaty Armenian noses made many ladies cry as they would look in the mirror sadly. What man would want me? But those people were not living in the right country. If they came to SE Asia, they would become objects of envy and admiration.

Some of my Filipino friends told me that it was because of the Spaniards and was part of the colonial brainwashing. But Thailand was never colonized. So, how come they are into the same thing?

My theory is that it goes further back, to the Indian times, when all of SE Asia was part of Greater India. So, apparently, the rulers were Indian upper cast-descent with “ high” noses, while the common people were of Malay/Austronesian/Indo-Chinese appearance with flatter, typical SE Asian noses.

Incidentally, the desire to have lighter skin may also have come from the Indian times. The upper casts would be indoors, but the lower casts would be outdoors toiling in the fields. Thus, lighter skin means “ a ruler”, whereas darker skin means “a worker”. This may have been impressed on the entire SE Asia over all those centuries of Indian rule.

The Spaniards, the French, the Dutch, the British only reinforced such a bias, but they probably did not introduce it. There is usually no nose hierarchy in the West, and tanned complexion is seen as something healthy. The so called flat noses of SE Asian people do not evoke any reaction among Western people, positive or negative. If anything, they look “ cute” to them.
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Re: The High Nose

Post by MrMan »

My high school geography teacher had been to India, had us read a book about India, and focused a disproportionate amount of class time on the country. He said in ancient India, Aryan tribes had conquered Dravidic tribes. Dravidic tribes were darker skinned. Aryan descendants tended to have the priestly and scholarly, merchant, and warrior caste roles. I either asked him or someone else if higher casts tended to be lighter skin, and he said yes. I might have asked some other lecturer that along the way, but it might have been him.

I've seen dark skinned Brahmin caste members, and a lot of Indians that immigrate to the US are from the upper castes. I suspect they interbred before the caste system got locked in and they pretty much only bred within the same cast for thousands of years. But it may be that a certain percentage of the ruling castes were light-skinned and spread their influence in Southeast Asia. Indonesia also had Hindu kingdoms and Buddhist kingdoms before Islam. At least one of the 12 imams who brought Islam to Indonesia was of Indian descent. It could be appreciation of the 'pointy nose' had something to do with Indians being rulers, wealthy traders, and religious leaders, later reinforced by the Dutch.

Indonesians have a range of skin tones. I suppose this could be from centuries of mixing with Indians and Chinese, but my guess is there was a range of skin tones among Javanese, Sundanese, Bugis, Batak, etc. already and whatever Chinese, white, etc. blood mixed in further lightened some of the skin.
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