Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A glimpse of 17th-century Japan through the eyes of a Dutch missionary

by Chris MaGee

Okay, does this have anything to do with Japanese film? No. It does have to do with Japanese history, though, and it's pretty fascinating stuff, so therefor I post it here for your enjoyment. Fellow bloggers Bibliodyssey have posted a whole gallery of images from the 17th-century book "Denckwürdige Gesandtschafften der Ost-Indischen Geselschaft in den Vereingten Niederländern an unterschiedliche Keyser von Japan" by Arnoldus Montanus, a Dutch missionary who lived on Dejima, the artificial island constructed in Nagasaki Bay during the era of Japan's self-imposed isolation by the Tokugawa Shogunate. The island provided the visiting Dutch traders a place to dock and sell their wares without actually setting foot on Japanese soil. There are some great etchings here, although some featuring grandiose idols may have arisen more from Montanus' imagination rather than actual fact.

If the above image gets you curious then click here to visit the full gallery. Thanks to MutantFrog.com for pointing the way.

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