Japan: late Edo.
Until the late 17th century, the Chinese had been permitted to move in Japan quite freely for trading purposes. But in 1689, due to the rise of smuggling activities, the Chinese were restricted, like the Dutch, to a compound on the eastern tip of Nagasaki — called the “Tojin yashiki” (“Chinamen’s mansions”) — surrounded by a moat and walls with gates which could be locked from the outside. Inside were housed on average 2000 Chinese merchants and sailors, along with interpreters, inspectors, and staff.
This scroll depicts two large Chinese ships just off Nagasaki surrounded by a number of smaller transport and supply ships. It is clear that these smaller ships are Japanese based on the clothes the crewmen are wearing. The numerous Japanese government officials are dressed in black robes; they are inspecting the arriving goods (sugar, raw silk, and finished fabrics) along with antiques. The final section of the scroll depicts a portion of Tojin yashiki. We see the arriving transport ships, warehouses, government workers inspecting the arriving goods, laborers carrying goods, etc.
This scroll — based on a scroll at the City Museum of Kobe entitled “Nagasaki tokan koeki zukan” — is unfinished in several ways: it has not been fully colored and it is clearly incomplete at the end. Nevertheless, this is a marvelous record of the early trading days in Japan with the outside world.
Minor worming carefully repaired, otherwise in fine condition.
Item ID: 5736