The Orient Museum in Lisbon has launched an inaugural exhibition on 'Namban art', a rare collection of over 60 pieces of 'Namban' furniture, textiles, arms and paintings.
The Portuguese were the first Europeans in Japan and 'Namban art' is any artistic expression from Japan and China in the 16th and 17th centuries that resulted from the influence of these European sailors.
With artefacts dating back to 1640, this exhibition in the Orient Museum is titled "Namban Commissions: The Portuguese in Modern-Age Japan," and includes rare pieces from various collections, including extraordinarily-illustrated screens and military masks.
This exhibition is divided into four sections with the first section focusing on 'The Art of War'. The arrival of the Portuguese in Japan in1543, coincided with a period of great political instability in the region, and the exhibits in this section of the exhibition are a product of the civil war that devastated the country for more than a century.
The second section focuses on 'Kirishitan' Art. Kiritishan means 'Christians' in Japan, and this section of the exhibition displays items linked to the presence and the actions of Christian missionary religious orders in Japan - inlcuding military objects associated with the great Japanese lords who had converted to Christianity as well as items designed for Catholic worship and liturgy. The exhibition also features a section dedicated to objects that reflect the influence that Namban art has had from other cultures and geographical contexts, namely Gujarat in India and China.
The exhibition is open until 31st May 2011.