Sunday, October 31, 2010

Second scroll depicting 'Wako' pirates found to be held by Beijing museum

The National Museum of China in Beijing holds a picture scroll very similar to one in Japan that was until now thought to be the only pictorial record of the medieval "Wako" pirates, it has been learned.

"Wako" is a name meaning "Japanese invader," used in the past by China and Korea to refer to pirates that plundered and engaged in smuggling along the Chinese and Korean coasts from the 13th to 16th centuries. Through the 15th century, the Wako were mostly Japanese, as the name implies, but in the 16th century most of the Wako are believed to have actually been Chinese.

Japan's scroll and China's scroll were both found to be inscribed with dates using a Japanese period name. The scrolls will be discussed at a joint research meeting between the two countries, planned to be held on Nov. 12 at the Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo, where Japan's scroll is held. Expectations are high that the research meeting will shed new light on the little-understood Wako.

Click here to read this article from the Mainichi Daily News