The namban screens commonly come in pairs and are

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Unformatted text preview: finest artwork of the Momoyama epoch was done on screens and sliding doors for use and display in castles. Before examining further the Momoyama epoch of domestic culture, however, let us return to the foreign and exotic namban culture of the Portuguese traders and Jesuit missionaries that also flourished briefly during these years. One of the most noteworthy projects undertaken by Europeans of this age in Japan was the opening of a Jesuit press. During the period from 1591 until 1610, the Jesuits, using chiefly movable type which they introduced to the Japanese, printed some fifty books in Latin, Portuguese, and Japanese (in both the romanized and native orthographies). Most of the The Country Unified 149 Jesuit publications were Christian religious tracts, but some dealt with language and literature. Among the few examples of literary works that have been preserved are a Japanese translation of Aesop’s Fables and a rendering into romaji or roman letters of the famous medieval war tale The Tale of the Heike. The Heike and other Japanese narratives, known from the records to have been done in romaji at this time, were primarily intended for the use of missionaries as aids in learning the native language. One of the things for which the Jesuit missionaries became famous was their work in studying the languages of the countries where they proselytized. Of the early Jesuits in Japan who worked in this area, none was more highly regarded than João Rodrigues (1561–1634), who went to Japan as a youth and spent most of the remainder of his life there. Given the sobriquet “Rodrigues the Interpreter,” he appears to have attained a greater command of Japanese than any other European of this age, even serving on occasion as interpreter for the hegemon Hideyoshi. In addition to writing a lengthy history of Japan, Rodrigues took the lead in compiling a monumental study in Portuguese of the Japanese language entitled Art of the Language of Japan (Arte da Lingoa de Iapam). In the opinion of C. R. Boxer, Rodrigues’ Art may be taken as “the starting point of the scientific study of Japanese as a language.”8 Another cultural activity in which the Jesuits were prominent was the...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.

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