Through the eyes of strangers

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It is always interesting to look at drawings of foreign places, and foreigners, from the days that predated photography.

The artists of those eras must have grown up in very homogeneous societies, and as a result they frequently struggle depicting the visible ethnic details of foreigners.

Usually, these drawing are done by Europeans during the Age of Exploration. The blog Japan Post has a post Pictures of foreigners from 17th/18th century Japan that links to a Kyushu University digital archive that has pictures drawn by the Japanese of their view of foreigners.

Europeans are included, but there are also many pictures of other nationalities. Frequently, it is difficult to place where the people drawn were supposed to be from. for example, in the picture to the left, I can't quite decide if they're Polynesians or American Indians (D'oh, the linked website says they're Brazillians).

The Kyushu University site is in Japanese. I think this is the correct link to the gallery page of drawings of foreigners. The complete list of galleries appears to be located here.