One of the most interesting and particular phases in the history of collecting in Lombardy. 

Kawari kabuto, or “extravagant helmet”, with mask, Edo Period (1603-1868), From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures

In the mid-1800s, a silkworm pandemic led some of Europe’s main textile merchants to explore southern Asia to find uncontaminated silkworm seeds.

Clothing textile, Mid-19th century, From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures

Fascinated by the superior skill and refined materials of Asian craftsmanship encountered during their travels, they returned from their commercial mission with impressive selections of Chinese and Japanese artworks: silk robes, embroidered fabrics, kimonos, theater masks, calligraphy sets, scepters, painted porcelain and finely engraved bronze sculptures.

Calligraphy box and table, Edo Period (1603-1868), From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures
Box decorated with the motif of a phoenix among Paulownia leaves, Ca. 1860-1870, From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures
Nuihaku, Nō theater costume, 1870 ca., From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures

Most of the objects on display come from two endowments, the Carlo Giussani collection and Giovanni Battista Lucini Passalacqua’s so-called Japanese museum.

Onna norimono, noblewoman’s palanquin, Edo Period (1603-1868), From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures
Lady’s Palanquin 
This sedan chair belongs to the most opulent type of palanquins used in ancient Japan, reserved exclusively to women of the nobility for transport during ceremonies and parades associated with weddings. 
Onna norimono, noblewoman’s palanquin, Edo Period (1603-1868), From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures
Amida Buddha (Amitābha), Edo Period (1603-1868), From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures
Statue of Amida Buddha 
Amida, also known as Amitābha or the celestial buddha of the Western Paradise, is normally depicted seated in meditation on a throne in the shape of a lotus flower with a large boat-like halo. 
Amida Buddha (Amitābha), Edo Period (1603-1868), From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures
Amida Buddha (Amitābha), Edo Period (1603-1868), From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures

In Japan, what distinguishes this figure from that of the original Shaka Buddha (Gautama) is the position of the hands, resting on the lap with interlocked fingers and index and thumb forming a ring.

Child on game board, Nangawarayama Kilns, Ca. 1670-1690, From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures
The Travel Collections: Passalacqua, Giussani, and Meazza 
The Japanese collections were formed from the trades and noble tourists of the time. Among these collections, stand out those of Passalacqua, Giussani and Meazza.
Nō theater mask, Edo Period (1603-1868), From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures

Most works date to the end of the Edo era (1603-1868), a long period of peace that favored the flourishing of the arts in Japan.

Nyoi, ritual scepter, Edo Period (1603-1868), From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures

The most common materials associated with late 19th century Japanese art are textiles, lacquers, and bronzes.

Fabric sample, Ca. 1870, From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures

However, Passalacqua, Giussani, and Meazza collected also innovative ceramic artwork, painted scrolls, weapons, and small clothing accessories.

Plate, Hirado production, Second half of the 19th century, From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures
Netsuke, Second half of the 19th century, From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures
Netsuke 
The term <i>netsuke</i> refers to broaches that were used to tie small accessories to Japanese garments, which had no pockets. The most common accessories were tobacco pouches with a pipe and tinderbox, small lacquered boxes with compartments, or calligraphy sets. The item hung from a silk cord which wrapped around the belt of the robe and was securely fastened with a netsuke. 
Netsuke, Second half of the 19th century, From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures

In Japan, netsuke quickly became sought after as collectibles for their elaborate manufacture and evaluated according to their artist’s signature.

Netsuke, Second half of the 19th century, From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures
Netsuke, Second half of the 19th century, From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures

They come in various shapes and forms, representing everyday work objects connected with trades, real or imaginary animals associated with the horoscope or with auspicious word plays, deities, or caricatured figures.

Netsuke, Second half of the 19th century, From the collection of: Mudec - Museum of Cultures
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