China, Korea and Japan have a long history of religious, commercial and diplomatic relations in which Korea often played the role of mediator. Diplomatic missions were sometimes so important that they were described and illustrated in books or screens.
This Korean album describes in 25 paintings the mission of diplomats from the Joseon period (1392-1910) to the Ming court in China. Since the overland route was occupied, it was accomplished by sea.
The 18th-century screen from Korea illustrates a special diplomatic mission from Japan to Korea. Relations between the two countries had soured because of the Japanese invasion of 1592. In order to restore relations a Japanese delegation was sent in 1609 to Korea, where they were received not in the royal palace, but in the residence of the Dongnae magistrate. The ten panels of the screen depict this progress chronologically. The last panel shows the banquet held for the guests in the Yeonhyangdaecheong Hall. The painting is typical of Korean realistic landscape painting between 1676 and 1759.
The silver Mongolian passport illustrates a very different aspect of diplomacy. During the “Pax Mongolica” in the 13th and 14th century, a messenger with this “document” was given free passage through the Mongolian Empire, which extended from Japan to Asia Minor.
Click on the pictures to enlarge and read the label