cultural capital(ism)


Proximity to borders as the fruitful grounds for language (and market) mixtures/overlaps. Here, Tibetan script tops a sturdy bag of woven fibers, while the writing below is in Chinese.

Consider how customers read into the difference in ratios of their native language to that of the adjacent context’s. The imagery here seems to be strongly Tibetan, however – is that a good branding if you are a Chinese customer? Or is that a “bare minimum” for a Tibetan customer to even be interested in the contents of the bag? What are the assumptions about customers, here? China seems not to lack examples of packaging that are inconsistent with my American norms.

If you can’t read the label, any guesses as to the bag’s contents? Considering the apparent strength and robustness of the bag, rice, fertilizer, seed, or objects of a similar weight/density would be plausible. None of them would be right, however: this is labeled to have originally contained (a presumably great number of) 哈达/kata/khata/kada/khada, the traditional Tibetan scarf used to welcome, honor, apologize, and mourn. Think of how this packaging conveys, albeit subtly, the manufacturer’s perspective of the “holiness” of this traditionally sacred object (how would someone devout consider a fifty-gallon vat of holy water as opposed to a goblet-full?).

In light of this, the logic of labeling changes somewhat; Tibetan letters are likely not an attractor to Tibetan customers, but rather proof of product legitimacy. The notion that the scarves are “authentic” is bolstered by the presence of the Tibetan writing, the culture whose approval must be obtained in order for the contents of the bag to be truly considered (and ostensibly for whom it most matters, as opposed to the Chinese manufacturers of the objects).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s