Pictures of foreigners from 17th/18th century Japan
In 1635, Japan closed its borders to foreigners and began a 200 year period of seclusion, but that hardly meant that the Japanese stopped obtaining information about the rest of the world. Limited trade continued with the Dutch, Chinese, and Koreans, and through these contacts the Japanese authorities were able to learn quite a bit about what things were like in other countries.
The Dutch traders based in Nagasaki were a particularly useful source of information, so the city became a hub for Japanese scholars who studied foreign countries. Many European books and maps were translated into Japanese, creating a steady (although limited) flow of foreign technology and ideas into Japan.
Kyushu University now maintains a digital archive of many such old books and artwork relating to the outside world. Below is an interesting selection of pretty color images [via 空] from a 1714 guide to the world, followed by some scans of a guide published in 1688.
Images from 1714
Images from 1688
And last -but not least- dwarves! (from both 1714/1688)
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