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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
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
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.
- Spring '13