People of Color in European Art History


  1. aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

    Unknown Japanese artist

    The Illustrated Scroll of Obusuma Saburo

    Japan (c. 1200s)

    Tokyo National Museum

    [x], [x]

    Kotaku has an article on this, called Is This The Oldest Image of a White Dude in Japan?:

    Blond hair. A big nose. These aren’t just the white people stereotypes Japanese people have today. They also could describe one unusual individual in a 13th century Japanese scroll. 

    On 2ch, there is a range of theories about this mysterious man (these are internet theories, so your mileage may vary). Perhaps, wrote one 2ch commenter, these bandits came from Europe to Japan via the Silk Road. Or maybe this was a Russian. Others thought this was a legend—maybe a yokai (monster). One net user joked, “What is this, The Last Samurai?”343536

    Some thought that this wasn’t a white person, but rather, a Japanese person in a fur hat. The result is simply people thinking the bandit was European because of the cap, confusing the headwear’s fur with blond human hair. Makes sense to me. But that doesn’t necessary explain the nose—but maybe it doesn’t have to. Maybe this is just a Japanese person with a big nose.

    There’s a link to this blog in the comments, of course.

  2. att. Kano Naizen

    Namban Byobu (detail): Japanese and Portuguese Christians with servants

    Edo period, Japan (c. 1590-1600)

    [x] [x] [x]

    Namban Art

  3. att. Kano Domi

    Namban Byobu (detail): Portuguese Merchants Arriving at a Japanese Port

    Edo period, Japan (c. 1590-1600)

    [x] [x] [x]

    Namban Art

  4. att. Kano Domi

    Namban Byobu (detail)

    Edo period, Japan (c. 1590-1600)

     [x] [x]

    Namban Art

  5. att. Kano Domi

    Namban Byobu (detail): Unloading of a Portuguese Carrack

    Edo period, Japan (c. 1590-1600)

    [x] [x] [x]

    Namban Art

  6. att. Kano Domi
Namban Byobu (detail): A Portuguese Merchant and a Japanese Noble Confer
Edo period, Japan (c. 1590-1600)
[x] [x] [x]
Namban Art

    att. Kano Domi

    Namban Byobu (detail): A Portuguese Merchant and a Japanese Noble Confer

    Edo period, Japan (c. 1590-1600)

    [x] [x] [x]

    Namban Art

  7. att. Kano Naizen
Namban Byobu (detail)
Japan, Edo period (c. 1570-1600)
[x]
Namban Art

    att. Kano Naizen

    Namban Byobu (detail)

    Japan, Edo period (c. 1570-1600)

    [x]

    Namban Art

  8. Edo Period Artist (Kano School)
Nanban Screen (detail), Portuguese Traders in Nagasaki
Japan (c. 1600)
Pigment, Gold Leaf on Paper
[x]
Namban Art

    Edo Period Artist (Kano School)

    Nanban Screen (detail), Portuguese Traders in Nagasaki

    Japan (c. 1600)

    Pigment, Gold Leaf on Paper

    [x]

    Namban Art

  9. Edo Period Artist (Kano School)
Nanban Screen (detail), Portuguese Viewing a Peacock
Japan (c. 1600)
Pigment, Gold Leaf on Paper
[x]
Namban Art

    Edo Period Artist (Kano School)

    Nanban Screen (detail), Portuguese Viewing a Peacock

    Japan (c. 1600)

    Pigment, Gold Leaf on Paper

    [x]

    Namban Art

  10. Hi! Huge fan of your work. Yesterday I went to an exhibit on Japanism (mainly focusing on Catalan production, but with important international artworks included). And there was this Japanese folding screen depicting the arrival of the Portuguese to Japan in the 17th c.

    (pic here: http://prensa.lacaixa.es/obrasocial/photo.html?noticia=18987&imagen=28

    you can download the HD version clicking on “Calidad Alta” right underneath “Descargar”, you must download it if you want to see the detail - and it’s so worth it, believe me!). What is so revealing about it is that everyone has Japanese-like features (especially the eyes) even though it depicts a fair amount of Black men (I’m guessing slaves/serves brought by the Portuguese, considering the Atlantic trade had been going on for a while by then).

    Next to it was a print I couldn’t find online, but it was Felipe II with the Japanese ambassadors (1667) and their depiction was very white-washed. They honestly looked like your average white men wearing kimonos. The guide explained that it is believed that the author himself was not a witness of the event so he drew them after whatever stories he had heard.

    Thought you might find it interesting :)

    Thank you so much for this submission!
    I love Namban screens, and of course you can see that there are many, many Afro-Portuguese on missions like these. This is true throughout Nanban screens depicting the arrivals of Spanish and Portuguese merchants and emissaries. Most of them are probably not enslaved, especially the sailors.
    As for the painting showing the Japanese ambassadors, I couldn’t find it either but I think their depictions as looking “white” can be attributed to the artist not having seen them, but also the fact that Japanese weren’t considered to look physically different than Europeans, to Europeans. The same can’t be said for how the Europeans looked to the Japanese (as can be evidenced from the images they made of them). Actually, there’s less evidence of racial Othering (to my eyes at least) in Nanban screens’ depictions of the Afro-Portuguese than the White Portuguese.