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Nanban people coming to Japan
NMHC_A1i0001
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Since Portuguese merchants and missionaries had been expelled from Japan in the early 17th century by the contemporary government, Tokugawa shogunate, these screens present one of the most precious witnesses of the overseas exchange in Japan before “Sakoku (National Isolation)” period. Ryuji HIRAOKA and Kenji KUBO, curator, Nagasaki.

History of the Object
This pair of folding screens are called “Nanban byobu (Nanban folding screen)”. “Nanban” (lit. Southern Barbarian) is a Japanese word which originally designated people from South and South-East Asia, but was especially used to identify Portuguese and Spanish people who came to trade in Japan from the mid-16th to the early 17th century. It is characteristic of Nanban folding screens that they are drawn in the traditional Japanese decorative methods and styles, but their subjects strongly reflect exoticism of contemporary Japan. The scene is thought to be that of Nagasaki port during the Keicho era (1596-1614). On the left screen, the Nanban ship is seen coming into port and unloading. The right screen presents the parade of Capitão (captain) marching into town and the Christian missionaries welcoming them like a host. On the upper-right corner, we can also see the “Nanban-dera” temple, a Christian church constructed in the Japanese temple style. These screens descended from a family of cargo ship wholesale merchants in Matsumae, Hokkaido, although how they were made is still unclear. It is thought, however, that the most likely origin was when some Kano school painter who was involved with the construction of the Hizen Nagoya Castle had a trip to Nagasaki and sketched the scene around the port.

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Type
Drawing 
Materials
color on paper, mounted on a pair of folding screens 
Measurements
168cm × 390 cm × 2 screens 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 16th century ~ AD 16th century 
Creation date
16th Century - 17th Century; the Keicho era (1596-1614) 
Function
 
Acquisition
These screens descended from a family of cargo ship wholesale merchants in Matsumae, Hokkaido. They were later purchased by the Nagasaki prefecture and now preserved in Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan 
Museum
Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture 
Credit line
Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture, Nagasaki, Japan 

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