1. A thousand friendships
The gifts from Japan included a thousand fans. Each one was made of delicate wood or bamboo sticks and beautifully painted paper. Fans are a popular gift in Japan. They went with the luxurious clothes worn by the men and women at the court of the emperor. And if you give someone a fan, you hope that it will lead to an unfolding friendship.
Japan; around 1855; paper, wood, bamboo, pigments, gold foil; RV-4-2a, -3a, -4a, -15a, -27
2. A hunt with the first shogun
The shogun, the leader of Japan, asked his best artists to paint twenty folding screens, all with a background made of gold leaf. They only did this for important diplomatic gifts. But Museum Volkenkunde, where the folding screens are kept, soon swapped two of them for objects from a museum in Denmark. It seems that the person who gave the present thought it more beautiful than the person they gave it to.
Kano Moritsune (1829-1866); Japan; 1854-1856; paper, gold leaf; RV-4-27
3. The boss of the army
Samurai were proud Japanese warriors. When they were fighting they wore armour and helmets to protect them. They also had decorated armour to show how proud they were. Special suits of armour make very good gifts. This suit of armour and helmet are quite big. Maybe the Japanese shogun thought the Dutch king might like to try it on?
Myōchin Munekane (1817-after 1855); Japan; 1855; precious metal, leather, silk, cotton, lacquer; RV360-7749, RV-360-7750a-b (heaviest object in this case)
The heaviest gift
Look at all these gifts. Which one do you think is the heaviest?