The DutchDutch ShipsAnimals for the CourtRussiansForeigners in YokohamaOther Prints

Red-Haired Barbarians

The Dutch and other foreigners
in Nagasaki and Yokohama
1800 - 1865
40 Japanese prints from the NEHA collection

From the 1630s to the middle of the nineteenth century, Japan was practically closed to foreigners. The only Westerners allowed to stay in Japan and engage in trade were the Dutch. They had to submit to very strict regulations, however, and were only allowed to live on Deshima, a small artificial island in Nagasaki harbor.

This is a digital exhibition of a collection of 40 Japanese woodblock prints published between 1800 and 1865, depicting Dutch traders in Nagasaki. Now extremely rare, at the time of their publication the prints were sold as souvenirs to Japanese who visited Nagasaki and perhaps hoped to catch a glimpse of these strange 'red-haired barbarians'.

These prints are documents of a unique episode in Dutch trading history, and represent an early period in the art of the Japanese woodcut. Above all the prints show the amazement with which the Japanese looked at Westerners. The Dutch are depicted as pale, ugly, red-haired barbarians with large noses. The ships the Dutch used and the exotic animals they brought caused much astonishment and admiration.

In 1804, a Russian envoy visited Nagasaki in an attempt to obtain trading rights. He failed, but was portrayed in prints. It was only in 1858 that the Russians, Americans, French, and English were granted the same rights as the Dutch. They settled in Yokohama, a fishing village close to Tokyo. Prints were also created of this settlement, some examples are shown.

A few prints in the collection of 40 have other subjects. These are also shown here. For further information, some books and links are suggested.

These prints are in the collection of the Netherlands Economic History Archive (NEHA), which is housed in the International Institute of Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam.
For more information about this collection, contact

All texts and picture files on this site are copyrighted. They are meant for display on this site only. Nothing may be copied, duplicated or distributed in any other way without prior written permission.

Text and design: Marien van der Heijden, IISH Amsterdam
Photography: Thijs Quispel, Oosthuizen
Image digitizing: Ruparo, Amsterdam
The Dutch
Dutch Ships
Animals for the Court
Foreigners in Yokohama
Other Prints