The samurai and the European question
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The article analyses the origins of the pictures in C.K. Norwid’s Album Orbis: Japanese monks from Vol. I and a Japanese archer from Vol. III. Norwid borrowed the illustrations from Aimé Humbert’s book Le Japon illustré; these illustrations originated as photographs by Felice Beato, transformed first into graphics printed in books and in press articles, and later cut-out or re-drawn by Norwid and placed in an entirely new illustrative and narrative context within his Album. Such multi-stage borrowing (photography-graphic-drawing) required many modifications; this process reflected the indirect and multi-stage transfer of knowledge between Japan and Europe in the 19th century and this knowledge exchange was taking place in the context of European, including French, colonial expansion in Asia. The fact that Norwid placed the Japanese archer among illustrations from early medieval Europe may suggest that he wanted to create a parallel between the actions of the Carolingian dynasty in relation to the papacy and the actions undertaken by the first Minamoto shoguns with regard to the Japanese emperor, as the latter were described by A. Humbert.
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