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Unformatted text preview: Nagasaki (fig. 43). In the latter, the passengers are usually shown proceeding
from the shore toward town, where they mingle with people, both Japanese and Europeans, who have come to greet them. The Portuguese
traders are drawn with exceedingly small heads, thin legs, and huge pantaloons, and the Jesuits are shown attired in flowing black clerical robes.
In some of the namban screens, the Portuguese are accompanied by black
servants (who greatly delighted the Japanese) and are leading such animals as Arabian horses, deer, peacocks, and elephants. Also frequently
shown in these screens are Christian churches, constructed in the architectural style of Buddhist temple buildings.
It is impossible to date these rather stereotyped namban screens precisely, although most of them were probably painted in the early or mid1590s when the fad for Western things was at its height in Japan. Hideyoshi had established his military headquarters near Nagasaki for the
invasion of Korea in 1592, and this proximity aroused a new curiosity
about the foreigners and their ways among Japan’s samurai leaders. The
Jesuits sought to capitalize on such curiosity in the hope of gaining
better understanding and offsetting Hideyoshi’s anti-Christian acts of
recent years. They were fortunate to have available an exceptional “public
relations” group of four Japanese Christians from Kyushu who had gone
as youths in 1582 on a mission to Europe where they had visited Pope
Gregory XIII in Rome. Returning in 1590, these young men possessed
not only first-hand knowledge of Europe but also various mementos of
their trip, such as artworks, mechanical devices, and maps.
Hideyoshi and his advisers, then planning their invasion of Korea,
were much impressed by the foreign maps and techniques of cartography;
and the making of maps, many of them painted in bright colors on folding screens and even fans, became as popular about this time as the production of the namban pictures showing the arrival of the Portuguese
great ship. Most of these namban maps were depictions either of the world
or of Japan alone, and, apart from a distorted rendering in the world...
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- Spring '13