Portuguese Naus on Namban Screens: A study of the first European ships on paintings from the late 16th to early 17th centuries in Japan

Dublin Core

Title

Portuguese Naus on Namban Screens: A study of the first European ships on paintings from the late 16th to early 17th centuries in Japan

Description

Namban screens, a well-known Japanese art form, were painted by skillful Japanese artists from the late 16th century to the 17th centuries. Approximately 90 of these screens have been handed down up to the present. Not only they show some important historical scenes of European commercial activities in the Far East for the first time, but they also depict representational pictures of Portuguese ships during the Age of Discovery. Although the ships’ images on the screens are roughly acceptable, the details are often strangely anachronistic. The same images could be found in some Western maps in the 16th century. Judging from the similarity, perhaps, Japanese painters, who had never seen actual ships themselves in ports, did manage to copy the images from ones on those maps, which were brought to Japan by the wellknownTensho embassy. This was the first Japanese embassy that was sent to Europe; the diplomats left Japan in 1582 and arrived at Portugal in 1584. They met with Pope Gregory XIII and his successor, Pope Sixtus V, in Rome, and then returned back to their homeland in 1590. In the following year the embassy members succeeded in seeing HideyoshiToyotomi, who was the leading political ruler in Japan at that time. They gave him some souvenirs from Europe, including the maps. It seems that some official court painters had a chance to see those gifts, from where Japanese artists could have obtained an idea of the ships’ images that appear in the Namban screens.

Creator

Kotaro Yamafune, in Van Tilburg, H., Tripati, S., Walker Vadillo, V., Fahy, B., and Kimura, J. (eds.)

Date

5/15/2014

Files

Citation


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