Monday, December 23, 2013

Etiquette for New Zealand

The History of New Zealand Manners 

and Social Behaviour

"Māori traditionally ate with their hands but incorporated Pākehā utensils and equipment into their eating practices in the 19th century. Here a man called Watikini is eating a potato with one hand but grasping a spoon in the other. He is also using a plate." From "Te-Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand"  

Attitudes to manners and etiquette reveal much about national character. New Zealanders have traditionally seen themselves as friendly and informal, but have sometimes been accused of being rude, insular and authoritarian.

What are manners?

Manners are rules that govern polite social behaviour. People learn manners from those around them, often their parents, and they are reinforced by society. Different people may have different expectations of manners depending on, for example, their age or ethnic background.

Manners in the 1800s

In the 1800s settlers brought to New Zealand manners from their home countries, mainly the United Kingdom. England had very formal rules about manners, which were connected to their class system. New Zealand became a place that valued social equality, and so manners became less formal.

Characteristics of New Zealand Manners

New Zealanders came to see themselves as informal, friendly and hospitable, especially in comparison with the more reserved English. Some criticised New Zealanders for a lack of respect and good manners. In the 1960s an American psychologist published a book that argued that New Zealanders were actually quite formal and authoritarian.

Changing Manners

In the 1970s there was a move around the world and in New Zealand to challenge authority, including traditional manners. Manners also changed in response to the rise of feminism.

Pākehā- White New Zealander or relating to white New Zealanders and their languages and culture.  Tom Adamson (left), seen here with Wiremu Mutu, was a Pākehā–Māori who fought with Whanganui kūpapa (pro-government) Māori during the New Zealand Wars.

Cross-cultural Manners

Māori were pressured to conform to Pākehā ways, and adopt Pākehā manners. In the 1970s there was a growing awareness of and respect for Māori culture, both by Māori and Pākehā. Some Pākehā came to learn Māori protocol, or manners, including how to behave on marae.

With immigration from a wider range of countries, there was a growing awareness and understanding of other cultures and their cultural practices.

Manners in the 2000s

People have always complained that manners have declined as they changed. However, manners are still relevant in the 2000s as a way of making social interactions smoother. New technologies such as the internet and cell phones have led to the development of new manners and etiquette.

You've read the short story, now...

Nineteenth-century Manners

Nineteenth-century Pākehā settlers brought with them the manners and customs of their homelands, with English manners being the dominant influence. The concept of etiquette – formal rules of manners – had gained ground in the English-speaking world from the mid-18th century, and was particularly important in the 19th century.

How Vulgar!

Some rules of etiquette were specially designed to trip up those who attempted to rise above their station. An 1866 etiquette manual for women prescribed that ‘Your gloves should always be of kid; silk or cotton gloves are very vulgar,’ and that ‘Ladies scarcely ever eat cheese after dinner. If eaten, remember it should be with a fork’. Language was one of the most subtle markers of class. It was unwise to use the words ‘polite’ or ‘genteel’ in society: ‘it is quite certain they mark the class to which you belong’.

Manners and Class

Manners were strongly associated with ideas of class. The upper classes developed an intricate set of customs to differentiate themselves from people of lower classes, or from cultures they believed to be inferior. To them, these manners were a sign of being ‘refined’ and their absence suggested that a person was ‘uncivilised’. For people who had been born into a high class but had come down in the world, like some settlers who were forced to emigrate because of a lack of money, manners were often one of the few remaining signs of their rank, so they clung to them.

For those who aspired to better themselves socially, learning manners was essential. They turned to advice books such as Etiquette for ladies (1866). There was also some demand for private tuition in deportment and manners for the young.

However, some of the stricter aspects of Victorian etiquette had to be relaxed in the raw new colony. In 1855 one observer noted that people in New Plymouth made an effort to keep up appearances, entertaining guests with good plates and cutlery, but that the serving and cleaning up generally had to be done by the hostess and her daughters.

Manners and Egalitarianism

Manners were influenced by the growing egalitarianism of New Zealand society. But while some settlers were happy to see class distinctions broken down, others wanted to preserve them. Some who considered themselves of the upper classes complained of the ‘rudeness’ and ‘familiarity’ of servants and tradesmen.

Proletarian Politeness

According to an 1843 newspaper article, the egalitarian spirit of New Zealand society resulted in ‘the labouring classes’ paying the respects due to those ‘of superior station’ to each other instead. ‘Every working man styles his fellow workman “the gentleman,” and his wife a “madam;” indeed we have never, in the society of what are styled the gentry at home, met with a hundredth part of the “ma’ams” and “sirs” which we hear bandied about in the cottage of a colonial labourer.’

Working-class people objected to being dismissed as inferiors. They had their own sense of manners – in particular, they expected to be treated with respect. In a society that depended on their labour to function, their views carried weight. According to a newcomer to Auckland in the 1860s, ‘A servant thinks nothing of sitting down while her mistress is standing and giving her orders; at the smallest cause of offence … the former walks off and is seen no more. From the dearth of servants, the former can always secure a good place …They know this, and rule their mistresses with a rod of iron.’

These trends supported the view that a person’s birth and upbringing was less important than their behaviour. The terms ‘lady’ and ‘gentleman’ once primarily indicated a person’s wealth and high social caste, but they were increasingly used to describe a courteous person of any class or culture.

The Girls’ Mutual Improvement Society was set up in New Zealand, and had a strict list of rules and manners.  If a member was not following this code of protocol, the member would have been expelled.  The code included these rules;
  • “Never take your pet dog on a call. Children, also, should be left at home.”
  • “Your gloves should always be of kid; silk or cotton gloves are very vulgar.”
  • “When a lady is crossing a muddy street she should gather her dress in her right hand, and draw it to the right side.”
  • “To wear a bonnet fit for a carriage when not in one is the extreme of bad taste.” 
  •  “It is always silly to try to be witty.

Manners and Gender

In the 19th century New Zealand’s male-dominated rural working world, which encompassed all classes of men, had its own code. But, often associated with hard drinking, fighting and swearing, it was inconsistent with the world of polite manners. As urban bourgeois men increased in numbers, these behaviours were increasingly frowned on, though they never entirely disappeared.

Women, on the other hand, were seen as a ‘civilising’ influence and the guardians of manners. Upper-class women observed the formalities of paying and returning calls, for example. Gradually these expectations relaxed, and simply dropping by to visit became more common.

By the end of the 19th century, while manners remained important, many people considered strict etiquette and dress codes out of keeping with the more casual New Zealand way of life.

Colonial Manners

In the 19th century ‘colonial manners’ were a topic of much debate in newspapers. Edward Gibbon Wakefield, founder of the New Zealand Company, wrote in 1849 that colonial manners were ‘slovenly, coarse, and often far from decent, even in the higher ranks’.1 But what to some was rough and ready was to others refreshingly open and relaxed. By the 1890s some New Zealanders were defending their manners, with the support of some high-profile visitors, such as leading British Fabians (liberal socialists) Beatrice and Sidney Webb. During their 1898 tour of the country they commented on New Zealanders’ ‘free and easy tone’, ‘agreeable independent manners’ and expectation of ‘equality of treatment by all of all’.

Friendliness versus formality

An often-repeated story about General Bernard Freyberg, commander of New Zealand troops during the Second World War, underlines how Kiwis preferred friendliness to formality. A British general accompanying Freyberg through the New Zealand lines in the desert remarked ‘Not much saluting, is there.’ Freyberg replied, ‘Ah yes, but if you wave they’ll wave back.’


Often New Zealanders deplored how the English upper classes treated lower ranks with disdain, with one journalist remarking ‘Colonial manners may sometimes not be all that could be desired, but in most respects they are infinitely better than those that prevail among the snobocracy of London.’4 Down-to-earth New Zealanders tended to be suspicious of very refined manners, preferring others to be informal too. Visitors or new immigrants who stood on ceremony were unpopular.


Many New Zealanders thought of themselves as friendly and open, especially in comparison with the more reserved English. One writer claimed ‘There is beyond doubt a certain warmth, a kindliness and friendliness in colonial manners which should form an excellent foundation for the most charming manners in the world.


Warm-hearted hospitality emerged as an important New Zealand value. Some important New Zealand customs related to food, drink and welcoming visitors probably emerged during the 19th century, when people in isolated communities had to help each other through difficult times. By the mid-20th century and beyond visitors to the home, including tradesmen, were always offered refreshments, and it was considered polite to accept. The morning or afternoon cup of tea, always accompanied by baking such as scones or pikelets, was an established ritual. People felt comfortable about dropping by unannounced at the homes of friends and acquaintances. While these customs became less common in large towns and cities, they persisted in rural areas.

Comparing manners

When American troops were stationed in New Zealand during the Second World War many young women were bowled over by their suave manners, which contrasted with the less polished advances of New Zealand men. Americans brought presents such as flowers and candy, whereas New Zealand men arrived empty-handed and expected their dates to pay their own way. One woman later remarked that American men 'gave us the gentle, careful attentions that we were starved of, and moreover did it in a way that made us expect more of our boys when they came back. A good many of them, sensing comparison with American manners, had to pull their socks up.’

At the pub the custom of taking turns to ‘shout’ (buy) rounds of drinks – a remnant of 19th century mateship – became entrenched. Outlawing this practice during the First World War, in an attempt to curb alcohol consumption, was unsuccessful.

An alternative view

Some people, both New Zealanders and outsiders, continued to defend more formal manners. They felt that the attractive traits in the New Zealand character were outweighed by negative behaviours such as lack of respect by children for adults, brusqueness, impudence and rough language. They were concerned that these revealed ‘the want of proper training in colonial homes.’


Changing manners

Vintage New Zealand Public Advertisement

Challenging the myths

In post-Second World War years New Zealand manners were analysed critically by visiting writers, and some long-held beliefs came under attack. American David Ausubel, in his 1960 book The fern and the tiki, conceded that New Zealanders were less reserved than the British, but controversially suggested that rather than being relaxed, New Zealanders were in fact quite formal in their use of titles, way of introducing people and methods of running meetings and committees. He ventured that they were not very friendly and showed marked hostility towards foreigners. He also claimed that they were not really egalitarian, with Pākehā showing racist tendencies and a liking for work hierarchies and social class distinctions.

The standard of debate

David Ausubel was highly critical of the standard of public debate in New Zealand, suggesting that it reflected the generally low level of courtesy. He claimed ‘The proceedings of various public and quasi-public bodies, from Parliament down, are characterized by an inordinate amount of contentiousness, bickering, petty wrangling, abusive name-calling, insult, counter-insult and ruffled feelings.’


In particular, Ausubel found many New Zealanders to be essentially ungracious, something he attributed to a respect for the form rather than the substance of politeness, arising from authoritarianism. He commented that ‘in demanding courteous behaviour parents and teachers place excessive emphasis on their position of authority and their power to punish, and insufficient stress on the inherent right of every person, irrespective of his power or position, to be treated courteously.’

Ausubel’s comments were not well-received, partly, perhaps, because they contained some truth. Some of the faults he identified probably arose from New Zealanders’ widely acknowledged insularity – as a 1952 handbook for European immigrants put it ‘we think that we ourselves are just about the only yard-stick on which other people can be measured’.3 This may have diminished as increasing numbers of overseas visitors arrived and more New Zealanders travelled overseas from the 1970s onward.

Challenging authority

From the 1970s overseas events and trends had an increasing influence on New Zealand. One was the rise of youth activism and protest movements which challenged authority. The New Zealand edition of The little red schoolbook, which caused a stir when it was published in 1972, encouraged schoolchildren to question unnecessary rules: ‘Demand your rights, but be polite,’ it advised.4 Assertiveness, however, was often taken for aggression and rudeness by an older generation.


Another influence was the rise of feminism, which questioned all aspects of male behaviour towards women. Practices such as standing up for women on buses or when they entered a room, or holding open doors for women, were derided by some feminists as patronising, and most men were quick to abandon these courtesies.

Dressing up or down

In her satirical etiquette book, Thank you for having me: a guide to morals and manners for modern New Zealanders, published in 1979, Rosemary McLeod commented on changing dress codes. ‘Most New Zealanders dress down. This means that as a race we’re a dowdy lot, and we’re becoming dowdier as we reduce the number of places we dress up to go to. The places we’ve left are the races, weddings, balls, dinner in expensive restaurants, and places where the beautiful people go.’

Dress codes

As hierarchies broke down, so did the rigid dress codes that once operated. Until the 1960s most adult women wore a hat and gloves to all formal events – and even going shopping was deemed to be a formal event. Similarly, men wore hats which they doffed to women and took off indoors or at funerals as a sign of respect. This began to change late in the decade and dress became increasingly informal, along with manners generally.

Changing etiquette

An early 20th century New Zealand wedding party

New Zealand etiquette books of the late 20th century ranged from serious to satirical, but all touched on situations that would be familiar to most New Zealanders: getting on with neighbours, attending social functions and marking important life milestones. They also raised previously unmentioned issues such as appropriate sexual behaviour and dealing with divorce.

Post-war racial conflict

During and after the Second World War more Māori young people and families moved from rural communities into large towns and cities in pursuit of work and educational opportunities. Increasingly, urban Pākehā and Māori worked together and lived in close proximity. Intermarriage also became more common. During this period, Māori were pressured to conform to Pākehā ways. These changes often led to racial tension.

Māori renaissance

From the 1970s heightened awareness, particularly among young Māori, of land, language and cultural losses led to the Māori renaissance, which included initiatives to recover and restore aspects of Māori culture. Many Pākehā sympathised and sought to learn more about the Māori way of life, which until then had usually been a mystery to them. The search for knowledge entailed learning a new set of rules about manners.

Marae protocol

In the 1970s and 1980s many Pākehā had their first experience of visiting a marae and being part of the rituals of welcome, hospitality and farewell. This involved learning correct behaviours and avoiding others, for example not talking at inappropriate moments, not sitting on tables and pillows, and not wearing shoes indoors. As New Zealand moved towards becoming a more bicultural society often the protocol of the marae was introduced into workplaces, schools and meetings for special occasions such as greeting new staff. Some schools and other educational institutions built their own marae.

Not seeing eye to eye

One of the many cultural misunderstandings to do with manners relates to the way people look at each other. Pākehā children are taught to look people in the eye to show trustworthiness, interest and undivided attention. Māori and Samoans often think that it is rude to look at people directly because to them it suggests a challenge and encourages conflict and opposition, so they may fix their gaze elsewhere or even close their eyes. Pākehā in turn may read this as rudeness or shiftiness.

Learning new manners

Workplace training courses to teach correct behaviour and instil understanding of the meanings behind certain rituals became common in the public sector. New generations of children were taught these matters routinely at school. Books advising on behaviour, such as Te marae: a guide to customs and protocol by Hiwi and Pat Tauroa, and Talking past each other: problems of cross-cultural communication by Joan Metge and Patricia Kinloch, went through numerous editions. Penelope Hansen’s 1990 general etiquette book, Special occasions, also included a section on correct behaviour on a marae.

Awareness of other cultures

Growing awareness of and respect for Māori culture, and recognition of the need to behave correctly in the Māori world, was a timely reminder of the need for more sensitivity towards other cultures in New Zealand society. In the years after the Second World War people of other cultures, including many Pacific and Asian peoples and later people from African countries, migrated to New Zealand in greater numbers. Misreading of quite subtle differences in use of language, expressions and mannerisms remains an obstacle in the way of better cross-cultural understanding.

 Nancy Swarbrick. 'Manners and social behaviour - Cross-cultural manners', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 8-Jul-13

Etiquette for Visiting in Dubai

Social Behavior for Westerners Visiting Dubai

Dubai is predominantly a Muslim society but yet doesn’t impose any stringent rules or regulations on its visitors with reference to personal lifestyle. Amongst all the Emirates in UAE, the laws in Dubai are the most flexible allowing complete freedom to a tourist / business expat in its city.
As a guest in a foreign country, it becomes our duty that we govern our social behavior or act according to the customs prevailing in the said country. Compared to other Arabic/Muslim countries, women have the freedom to wear, say and roam according to their wishes. But certain limitations are to be self-imposed in the dressing style. At one point of time exposing skin was banned in public places like shopping malls or beaches. But with booming tourism, rules have been relaxed and women tourists can now enjoy wearing “western” clothing as long as it’s not offensive. Bathing suits are okay at hotel pools and private beaches, but if possible refrain to one piece suits.

Men are also expected to dress demurely with no bold overtones. Don’t go over the top with eccentrically designed crazy or tacky clothes. You wouldn’t be really welcome in Dubai.

Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims holds utmost importance in Dubai. The festival which takes place during the ninth month of Islamic calendar, is regarded as the Five Pillars of Islam. Dates aren’t fixed as it is dependent upon the sighting of the new moon. Guests and tourists as a sign of regard are also expected to abstain from alcohol, dancing, chewing gum, smoking and singing in public places during the day. This is obligatory according to Dubai Law. Accordingly you won’t find any food or drink shops open in the day. But the life in evenings brightens up with the city, restaurants and pubbing places working overnight.

Deep rooted inside the Islamic traditions that form the main constituent of UAE’s lifestyle, the Culture in Dubai is diverse and rich. It is very much important for the foreign nationals to respect the tradition of the Emiratis when in UAE. Well-known as the entertainment hub of the Middle East, Dubai acts like a magnet for the party lovers who enjoy splurging inside the expensive clubs and bars of the city. Emiratis are quite popular for their warm hospitality who offers tempting refreshments to their guests.

When Arabs meet up, they take their own time and talk about general things. Men and Women do not greet each other outside their family. Men do shake hands and might even kiss each other on the cheek with their real good friends. On the other hand a woman tends to hug and kiss only her close friends.

Perhaps there are certain things that are to be kept in mind if you are invited in an Arab’s house. It is advised to dress gracefully, to be punctual as far as possible, and greet the elders first in a way to respect them, remove your shoes before entering and bring something small as a way of thanking. Flowers are generally given for a woman by the woman guest. Giving alcohol has to be avoided as a gift unless it is accepted positively. Hosts commonly do not open the gifts in front of the visitors. If you are served the Arabian coffee and dates, be obliged to taste it and if you are invited for a meal then it is understood that it is time to socialize and have a small talk before the meal is served. Residents generally sit crossed legged or else kneel down on one knee when having their meal on the floor and eat with their right hand. Tourists are requested to try a bit of each delicacy served.

People normally dress up in their traditional clothes that make them the most comfortable. Men generally prefer the khandura or dishdasha, a long white shirt, along with the ghutra, white headdress, and the agal, a rope for the ghutra. Women wear the abaya, long black cloak, over their clothes and a hijab or sheyla, a scarf wrapped around face and head. Visitors are requested to dress sophisticated whilst traversing around the city. Men are requested to wear trousers and women to wear dress long enough to cover their knees. Visitors can wear clothes according to their wish when inside the hotel or at bar or club. Swim wear is accepted at the pool or beach. Alcohol consumption is allowed only inside the nightclubs, bars and some of the hotels. Locals can enjoy a drink inside their house as long as they possess an alcohol license given by the municipality. Residents or tourists are not allowed to consume alcohol on the streets or in public places.

When in Dubai visitors are requested not to exhibit Western culture habits on the streets wherein the foreign nationals may find it offensive. Tourists are asked for not to take photographs of airports, ports, government buildings and military installations. Before taking the snaps of the locals, especially women, tourists are requested to ask politely.

General Etiquette in Dubai:

Respecting the law and religion in any country is a basic pre-requisite and not an exception in Dubai.

Make sure that an Arab friend consumes alcoholic drinks before offering.

When in the sitting position, keep your legs firmly placed on the ground and not crossed.

Always eat/drink with your right hand as the left hand is considered to be unhygienic by the Arabic world.

Do not show the soles of your feet or shoes as this implies as a mark of disrespect to the other person. It could mean that you are comparing him to the soles which correspondent to ‘dirt’ or ‘trash’.

If a Muslim is praying, do not walk in front of him or stare at him.

If you have not accepted Islam as your religion, then take out prior permission before entering a Mosque.

Do not point fingers at the other person as this is considered impolite or disrespectful.

No public display of affection.

Avoid aggressive behavior withstanding any condition you are faced with.

Ask permission before taking photographs of local people.

Alcohol is available in hotels but restaurants are not permitted to serve alcoholic beverages.

Tipping is not expected in hotels but you can do as an act of gratitude towards the hotel staff.  Hotels and restaurant add service charges to their bills.  If not added, expect to add 10% to your bills.  Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped.

1800s Stagecoach Etiquette

Stage Coach Rider's Commandments

1. Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink, share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and unneighborly.

2. If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking cigars and pipes as the odor of same is repugnant to the Gentle Sex. Chewing tobacco is permitted but spit WITH the wind, not against it.

3. Gentlemen must refrain from the use of rough language in the presence of ladies and children.

4. Buffalo robes are provided for your comfort during cold weather. Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver.

5. Don’t snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passenger’s shoulder for a pillow; he or she may not understand and friction may result.

6. Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies. Do not fire them for pleasure or shoot at wild animals as the sound riles the horses.

7. In the event of runaway horses, remain calm. Leaping from the coach in panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians and hungry coyotes.

8. Forbidden topics of discussion are stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings.

9. Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers will be put off the stage. It’s a long walk back. A word to the wise is sufficient.

Other bits of etiquette advice for the traveler:

Don't grease your hair before starting or dust will stick in sufficient quantities to make a respectable 'tater' patch.

Provide stimulants before starting; ranch whiskey is not always nectar.

Never ride in cold weather with tight boots or shoes, nor close-fitting gloves. Bathe your feet before starting in cold water, and wear loose overshoes and gloves two or three sizes too large.

If you have anything to take in a bottle, pass it around; a man who drinks by himself in such a case is lost to all human feeling.

In very cold weather, abstain entirely from liquor while on the road; a man will freeze twice as quick while under its influence.

Don't growl at food stations; stage companies generally provide the best they can get.

Don't keep the stage waiting; many a virtuous man has lost his character by so doing.

Don't smoke a strong pipe inside especially early in the morning.

Spit on the leeward side of the coach. 

Don't swear, nor lop over on your neighbor when sleeping.

Don't ask how far it is to the next station until you get there.

Don't discuss politics or religion, nor point out places on the road where horrible murders have been committed.

Don't linger too long at the pewter wash basin at the station.

Tie a silk handkerchief around your neck to keep out dust and prevent sunburns.

A little glycerin is good in case of chapped hands.

Never attempt to fire a gun or pistol while on the road, it may frighten the team; and the careless handling and cocking of the weapon makes nervous people nervous.

When the driver asks you to get off and walk, do it without grumbling. He will not request it unless absolutely necessary. If a team runs away, sit still and take your chances; if you jump, nine times out of ten you will be hurt.

Don't imagine for a moment you are going on a picnic; expect annoyance, discomfort and some hardships. If you are disappointed, thank heaven.

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Friday, December 20, 2013

French Court Etiquette at Versailles and Who Was "Madame Etiquette"?

Marie Antoinette's royal family in Austria was quite informal, so the seemingly absurd etiquette at French court annoyed her greatly. Marie Antoinette would pick at food, preferring a second meal be served in her private chambers. 

Etiquette Rules at Versailles:

It was in the Queen’s antechamber that the public meals were held, whose sumptuous ritual, Grand Couvert, attracted a large crowd. Grand Couvert was a public ritual, in which the French King and Queen ate their dinner in public view. Only the royal family could take their places at the table and before them, seated, the duchesses, princesses or high-ranking persons who had the privilege to sit on a stool, then, standing, the other ladies and persons who, due to their rank or with the authorisation of the usher, had been allowed to enter.

The room where Marie-Antoinette didn't eat her dinner; The Salon of the "Grand Couvert" has been restored to its past splendor, part of an ongoing refurbishment of the entire palace. 

Louis XIV subjected himself to this performance almost every evening; Louis XV often preferred intimate suppers; as for Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, a testimony from that time reports that:
"The Queen sat on the King’s left. They had their backs turned to the fireplace […] The King ate with a good appetite, but the Queen did not remove her gloves and did not use her serviette, which was very wrong of her".
To counter this boredom, Marie-Antoinette asked for there always to be music in the Grand Couvert and for that purpose a platform was set up for the musicians in this room.

Other Rules:

Those wanting to speak to the king were not to knock on his door. Instead, using the left little finger, they had to gently scratch on the door until they were granted the permission to enter the room. Many courtiers grew that fingernail longer than the others for that purpose.

A lady never held hands or linked arms with a gentleman. It was in very bad taste and nearly impossible because a woman’s skirts were so wide. She was to place her hand on top of the gentleman’s bent arm as they strolled through the gardens and chambers of Versailles. Ladies were only allowed to touch their fingertips with the men.

The king and queen always had a fauteuil (armchair) to sit on. In their presence, no one else was allowed an armchair, unless you were also a monarch.

A chair with a back but no arms was allowed for those closest in rank to the king, such as his brother or children.

The tabouret, a padded stool was awarded to those holding the rank of duchess. Lesser ranking nobility would be expected to stand.

For nightly Grand Couvert, men and women had to dress appropriately. Appropriate dress included swords for the men. If a gentleman arrived at Versailles for Grand Couvert without his sword, it is said he could rent one.

Etiquette for the aristocracy included how to use a napkin, how far to unfold it in one's lap and when to use it .

Only ushers were allowed to open doors. If you desired to leave the room, you had to wait for the usher to open the door.

Of Versailles and France, Margaret Visser wrote;

"During the 17th century, in France, manners became a political issue. King Louis XIV and his predecessors, in collecting together the nobility of France to live with the sovereign at Versailles, instituted a sort of school of manners. At the palace, the courtiers lived under the despotic surveillance of the king, and upon their good behavior, their deference, and their observance of etiquette their whole careers depended. If you displeased a Louis, he would simply "not see you" the following day; his gaze would pass over you as he surveyed the people before him. And not being "seen" by the king was tantamount to ceasing to count, at Versailles.

A whole timetable of ceremonies was followed, much of it revolving around the King's own person. Intimacy with Louis meant power, and power was symbolically expressed in attending to certain of the king's most private and physical needs: handing him his stockings to put on in the morning, being present as he used to chaise percée, rushing when the signal sounded to be present as he got ready for bed. It mattered desperately what closeness the king allowed you - whether he spoke to you, in front of whom, and for how long.

The point about Versailles was that there was no escape: the courtiers had to "make it" where they were. The stage was Louis's, and the roles that could be played were designed by him. It was up to each courtier to fit him- or herself into one of the slots provided. The leaders of all the other towns and villages of France were made, largely through the use of etiquette, and more specifically through rudeness and judicious slighting by the tax-collecting intendants, to feel their subordination, the distance from the court.

Once, the nobility had relied on strength, swagger, and vigor, even violence, personally to make their mark and uphold their honour; at Versailles, the way to success became discretion, observation, cunning, and the dissembling of one's aims and passions. At Versailles, and at the courts all over Europe which imitated it - everything was done to make it very clear who was superior to whom; and of course, each time anyone was polite, he or she was simultaneously acknowledging rank and demonstrating who stood where.

The new manners - both the formal rules of protocol and precedence and the unspoken, more profoundly enculturated rules like table manners - were seen increasingly, according to Elias, as ways in which one did not offend other people. You were controlling yourself, so as to prevent other people from being disgusted or "shocked." People lived very closely together at Versailles; everyone was watched by everyone else, and actual physical proximity helped raise some of the new sensitivity to other people's real or imagined susceptibilities. Men were expected on the whole to give up physical force as a means of getting their way, and - as always when "the graces" are preferred over brute strength - women begin to count for more. Within the aristocratic court circle, people became, in spite of the obsession with rank, far more equal. Secure in the knowledge that just being at court was the pinnacle of prestige, from which most of society was shut out, courtiers could permit themselves to respect each other.

As the bourgeois became richer and more indispensable even at court, they demanded - and were given, by self appointed experts who wrote manuals for them - instruction in how to behave as people did in "the best circles." In 1672, Antoine de Courtin produced "Nouveau trait' de la civilité' qui se pratique en France parmi les honnestes gens" or The "New Treatise of the Civility Which is Practiced in France Among Honest People." ("Honest" -hônnete- kept its original association with honour and the opposite-but-supporting motion, shame.) De Courtin writes about manners for both hosts and guests, and invite advises his bourgeois readers on how they should address the nobility. The church in France also produced handbooks of manners and talk to precept in schools. Gradually gentility spread down from the court to the bourgeois, and finally trickled further down to the rest of the population. The bourgeois were even stricter about standards of civility than were the nobility were; having no ever-present King do enforce the rules, they imposed restraints on themselves. Being more anxious to rise, they had more to lose by making slips and gaffes; so their self-inhibiting mechanisms had to be deeper rooted, less obviously the donning of an external personna than the nobility could permit themselves. The policing of emotions became internal, and finally invisible even to themselves: they were able to think that they acted, not in obedience to power and self-interest but for purely moral reasons."

Chateau Versailles

The Courtiers:
"The whole of France around the King"

The spacious quarters at Versailles allowed a large Court to live in residence close to the King. Depending on the days, 3,000 to 10,000 people crowded there, forming a very varied society with a rigid hierarchy. Some were there by birthright, others by social obligation, others out of self-interest or curiosity, and others still to earn their living. The high-ranking nobility were often present, currying the favours of the master of Versailles.

The courtiers were obliged to follow the rules of Etiquette. These extremely strict rules governed priority, determining not only who was allowed to approach the important people in the Court, but also where and when. Gestures and language were also codified and varied subtly according to the circumstances: this included using titles to address different people, the right to sit down, and use an armchair, a simple chair or a stool, etc.

Among the courtiers, those who held a role were said to be "established" at Court. These roles, either inherited or purchased, often very dearly, corresponded to a function or office. For the most important, the King's approval was essential; this was particularly the case for the secretaries of State. But for a simple valet de chambre or barber, the agreement of the Grand Master of the King's Household was sufficient. Living quarters in the palace were also highly sought after. They avoided much travelling back and forth and provided a place of retreat for those moments when one was not at Court. The princes of the royal family had apartments overlooking the gardens, while "established" courtiers were accommodated on the town side or in the Palace outbuildings: in the Grand Lodgings, the Stables and so on.

Serving the King in the army or in high administration was the principle means of gaining the Monarch's favour, even if the art of appearances at Court remained essential. Personal attributes, such as beauty or wit, rivaled with dazzling finery to attract the Monarch's attention. By granting the Court greater importance than either Henri IV or Louis XIII had done, Louis XIV gave the nobles a sense of service. Serving was a means of pleasing the Sovereign, it was useful to the kingdom and contributed to a certain control over the nobility, thereby strengthening the royal authority.

The French court imposed elaborate codes of etiquette on the aristocracy, among them the way to use a napkin, when to use it, and how far to unfold it in the lap. A French treatise dating from 1729 stated that "It is ungentlemanly to use a napkin for wiping the face or scraping the teeth, and a most vulgar error to wipe one's nose with it." And a rule of decorum from the same year laid out the protocol:

"The person of highest rank in the company should unfold his napkin first, all others waiting till he has done so before they unfold theirs. When all of those present are social equals, all unfold together, with no ceremony."
Fashionable men of the time wore stiffly starched ruffled collars, a style protected while dining with a napkin tied around the neck. Hence the expression "to make ends meet." When shirts with lace fronts came into vogue, napkins were tucked into the neck or buttonhole or were attached with a pin. In 1774, a French treatise declared, "the napkin covered the front of the body down to the knees, starting from below the collar and not tucked into said collar." 

Of Nobility in France

Nobility in France was generally hereditary and was passed down through the male line. It had certain privileges attached to it, such as being exempt from taxes, sole access to certain offices and positions within the civil and military administrations of France, and all commissions in the army. There was a sense that as a noble, one was possessed of greater intelligence, more refined sentiments and in general more deserving of the best life had to offer.

In general, there were three ways to become a noble:

1) By birth ~ The father must be of noble blood. Illegitimate children could be ennobled by letters patent from the sovereign. The king’s illegitimate offspring were automatically noble, and therefore needed no ennobling. (However they were still illegitimate, and needed to be legitimated. This was accomplished finally by naming only the father, and not the mother.)
2) By holding certain offices, either by purchase or appointment, such as in the king’s household, or in the Parliament.
3) By royal decree.

These are the titles of nobility, and the order of their importance:

1) Duc
2) Comte
3) Marquis
4) Vicomte
5) Baron

These titles as well as the names of the family were derived from the properties they were attached to, and only one person at a time could carry each of these titles. However, the presence or absence of a title was not in itself a test of nobility, because there were generally more family members than there were titles to go around.

One you have reached the threshold of nobility, there are still more degrees of nobility: How long has your family been noble? How many of your paternal and maternal grandparents’ lineages were noble? The oldest nobility was traced to the “Mists of Time,” back in the early recorded history of France. 

Of those already blessed enough to claim the ties of nobility, some could also claim peerages. These peers originated from the twelve dukes who were raised in the 12thcentury above the other dukes by the King as his direct vassals.

Though forks had established a foothold in the polite society of France, by the later 1500s, Louis XIV still ate with his hands. He had plenty to say about using one's knife though... Etiquette required that aristocratic nobleman always bring their own dining implements to banquets. Specifically, the dagger used for both cutting and spearing their food. Some diners used the tip of their daggers/knives to pick their teeth, which one can imagine was disgusting. Louis XIV put an end to such spectacles by outlawing pointed, double-edged personal use daggers, thus creating a demand for not with a rounded and and the single cutting edge that we have today. Louis XIV was also the first king to provide his dinner guests with individual place settings of a knife fork and spoon so they need not bring their own. 

There were ecclesiastical peers, which ranked ahead of lay peers. For lay peers, the order of precedence was determined by date of peerage’s creation- except as it applied to Princes of the Blood, they gained precedence over the other peers, regardless of peerage creation date, because of their claim to royal blood.

By the time of Louis XIV, the main role of the peers was to participate in the coronation ceremony. This was important, because it created precedence in day-to-day life for the title-holder over others without this distinction.

Even more important than title was rank. Rank in regards to the Court of France can be understood as a degree of eminence within the class of nobility. It was measured from the king on down, so the highest ranks were filled by the individuals most closely related to the king, and the higher the rank, the greater the precedence.

Within the royal family, the rank and precedence of said persons was:

1) King and Queen

2) Dauphin and Dauphine (1st in line for throne)

3) Sons of the current king

4) Daughters of the current king

5) Sons of the former king

6) Daughters of the former king 

After the immediate relatives, there were the Princes du Sang, or “of the blood,” who were related to the royal blood in a lesser concentration than the immediate family.

The framework of rank and precedence were pretty firmly fixed. There might be wiggle room in certain situations, but being that everyone was fiercely protective of their rights of precedence, any concession a person finagled for their self would usually be nullified at the next occasion, and they would be put back in their place.

The prestige attached to a name was a valuable commodity for those trying to advance themselves or their connections at court. In everyone's eyes, the most important factors in determining a family's prestige were:

How long had a given family been noble
Into what other families did it marry
What positions its members achieved and what offices they held
What actions they performed

Madame Etiquette was played by Judy Davis in 2006's "Marie Antoinette" 

Etiquette, "Madame Etiquette" and Marie Antoinette

This hierarchy was played out through etiquette. Life at Versailles was centered on conversational skill and interpersonal interactions, just as much of which was non-verbal in its expression. The way courtiers moved through the day at court could be summed up with the housekeeping maxim: “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

While these distinctions seem unimportant today, in the 17th century knowledge and use of proper etiquette was vital because it was the foundation of the social order and political system of the ancien regime.

Using one of the most often cited subjects of this code of etiquette are the rules of seating arrangements. The king and queen always had a fauteuil, an armchair to sit upon. Within their presence, no one else was allowed an armchair, excepting another monarch. A chair with a back but no arms was allowed for those closest in rank to the king, such as his brother or children. The tabouret, a padded, drum-shaped stool was awarded to those holding the rank of duchess. Lesser ranking nobility would be expected to stand.

At some point Louis XIV’s brother Philippe, Duc d’Orleans, lobbied for an armchair in the king’s presence instead of the armless chair he was allowed already. In the Memoires of Madame de Montespan, she records Louis’ explanation to his brother for denying to him this elevation of rank. In Louis’ reasoning we understand better the power of etiquette as the expression of rank and privilege:

It is in your interest, brother, that the majesty of the throne should not be weakened or altered; and if, from Duc d'Orleans, you one day become King of France, I know you well enough to believe that you would never be lax in this matter. Before God, you and I are exactly the same as other creatures that live and breathe; before men we are seemingly extraordinary beings, greater, more refined, more perfect. The day that people, abandoning this respect and veneration which is the support and mainstay of monarchies,--the day that they regard us as their equals,--all the prestige of our position will be destroyed. Bereft of beings superior to the mass, who act as their leaders and supports, the laws will only be as so many black lines on white paper, and your armless chair and my fauteuil will be two pieces of furniture of the selfsame importance.

In other words, the importance of your position at Court was dependent on how well you recognized and defended etiquette. Personal feelings were irrelevant because the symbolic place held by a person mattered more. Your place and the attention you received devolved from the treatment of others around you.

Rank and precedence was the visible glue holding the structure of the ancient regime system together. To ignore and disparage this meant that the whole system would come into question, as it did in the reign of Louis XVI.

Obviously there were more factors involved in contributing to the great social upheaval that was the French Revolution than etiquette being marginalized, but it is a way to compare and contrast why society changed; why it happened in 1789 and not before (as there had been governmental insolvency and peasant uprising during the reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XV).

Madame de Campan, a lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette, wrote of etiquette:

These servile rules were drawn up into a kind of code; they offered to a Richelieu, a La Rouchefoucauld and a Duras, in the exercise of their domestic functions, opportunities of intimacy useful to their interests; and their vanity was flattered by the customs which converted the right to give a glass of water, to put on a dress, and to remove a basin, into honorable prerogatives.

So, while she was a victim in many ways, Marie Antoinette played a role in this marginalization of etiquette: She did not want to dispatch the role of queen in the prescribed manner and chose instead to retreat from the endless rules into an environment of informality, thus depriving the Court of opportunities for acting out their duties (which were considered not to be a chore but an honor to hold), and therefore made her position seem unnecessary at worst and meaningless at best.

Who was Madame Etiquette?
Anne d'Arpajon, aka "Madame Etiquette" ~A French aristocrat and first lady of honour to Queens of France, Marie Leszczyńska and Marie Antoinette, Anne d'Arpajon was called "Madame Etiquette" by Marie Antoinette for her insistence that no minutia of court etiquette ever be disregarded or altered in any way. 

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Japanese Transit Etiquette

Japanese Etiquette for the Train

“The Japanese adopt rules and mannerisms different from other cultures. Some rules are the same as other countries, such as eating on subways is not allowed; however, there are others—such as talking on your phone—that are considered rude in Japan. To help foreigners avoid public transport faux pas on its trains—and as a reminder to locals—the Tokyo Metro creates a series of courtesy posters each year to display in its stations and platforms. For 2013, a series of vibrantly colored posters were unveiled—one poster was created for each month, inspired by the months’ activities and season. 

Presented in illustrations that accurately and easily get the message across, the posters depict various scenes to help you know how to behave on the subways—and the perils you could cause for behaving in ways that you should not. Even if you don’t read or speak Japanese, you’d know what is considered discourteous, and what you should or should not do, just by looking at the illustrated posters.”

Please "do it at home" campaign-

Vintage Tokyo subway manners posters from Pink Tentacle: Here are a few manner posters that appeared in the Tokyo subways between 1976 and 1982.

I'll stand up (July 1979)

Uesugi Teppei, a character from the popular manga "Ore wa Teppei," offers to give up his seat to the elderly and infirm.

Space Invader (March 1979)

This 1979 poster pays tribute to the extremely popular Space Invaders video arcade game and encourages passengers to read their newspapers without invading the space of other passengers.
Don't forget your umbrella (October 1981)

The text at the top of this poster -- which shows Jesus overwhelmed with umbrellas at the Last Supper -- reads "Kasane-gasane no kami-danomi" (lit. "Wishing to God again and again"). The poster makes a play on the words "kasa" (umbrella) and "kasane-gasane" (again and again).
Coughing on the platform (January 1979)

Modeled after the paintings of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, this poster -- titled "Hōmu de Concon" (coughing on the platform) -- urges people not to smoke on the train platforms during the designated non-smoking hours (7:00-9:30 AM and 5:00-7:00 PM). The poster makes a play on the words "concon" (coughing sound) and "cancan" (French chorus line dance).

Umbrellas left behind in the subway (June 1976)

This Marilyn Monroe poster aims to remind passengers to take their umbrellas with them when they leave the train. The text in the top right corner -- "Kaerazaru kasa" (umbrella of no return) -- is a play on "Kaerazaru Kawa," the Japanese title for "River of No Return," the 1954 movie starring Monroe.
Directly above and below- From Vibrant Posters For Tokyo Subway, Teach Tourists Manners With Fun Illustrations, By Anthea Quay

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia