Arrival of the Europeans


Not on view

This pair of folding screens is characteristic of Nanban byōbu, literally, “Southern Barbarian screens,” showing Europeans landing on Japanese shores. The left screen depicts carracks arriving at a port with sails lowered, while the right screen represents the procession of the ship’s captain and his crew through the main street of the port town and the greeting they receive from a group of missionaries near the entrance to a Christian church. Here, a group of monks—Jesuits (in black) and perhaps Franciscans (in brown)—is assembled inside the church in the main worship hall. Many dark-skinned members of the crew are also included in the depiction. The three women dressed in exotic Chinese robes shown walking ahead of the crew on the right screen, however, are completely imaginary, since no women, European or otherwise, are known to have landed in Japan with the Europeans.

Arrival of the Europeans, Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, gold, and gold leaf on paper, Japan

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