Elephants are found in parts of Africa, South, and Southeast Asia but the Japanese archipelago where there were no elephants. In the years between 1639 and 1853, Japan was supposedly isolated, its citizens forbidden from going abroad. How did the Japanese even know elephants existed, much less consume increasing amounts of ivory? This lecture will examine the Japanese relationship with elephants during these so-called years of isolation.
Dr. Martha Chaiklin is an American Institute of Indian Studies Fellow. She obtained her Ph.D at Leiden University and is the author of Cultural Commerce and Dutch Commercial Culture (2003) and Defining Meiji Ivory (forthcoming) as well as book chapters and articles on trade, material culture and east/west interaction. She is currently researching ivory trade in early modern Asia.