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Deciphering The Dutch In Deshima

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Chapter Summary

A harpsichord cover evocative of sumptuous Golden Age interiors may hardly seem an auspicious place to begin a discussion of the visual vocabulary of exploration, but in this case it provides a vital clue for a reconsideration of the Dutch presence in Deshima, Japan. This chapter begins to explore how the material culture of Dutch Reformed churches informed the visual vocabulary of exploration. Many have written about the transformation of word and image initiated by iconoclasm in systems of meaning in Western Europe during the sixteenth century. Where real iconoclasm brought religious and political independence in the Netherlands, performed iconoclasm in absentia ensured positive trading relationships with Japan. Dutch loyalty to their own form of Christianity, Dutch Reformed Protestantism, can best be seen in the visual vocabulary appropriated from Reformed churches and then recast for exploration.

Keywords: Dutch in Deshima; Sunday visual culture



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