What can images of foreigners tell us about the people that make them?
Many cultures have looked to artistic representation as a means of learning about foreigners, coming to terms with the presence of outsiders in their own societies, and defining their relationships with people different from themselves. Sometimes this has resulted in costume books like those produced by Venetians in the Islamic world during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Other times, it has led to the depiction of foreigners in decorative arts or narrative scenes. In their art, both the Japanese painter of the namban screen and the creator of the Benin saltcellar made representational decisions that illuminate the way they perceived the European merchants who had become constant fixtures in their communities.