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Biombo  

Sofía Sanabrais

Name used in Mexico and throughout Latin America for a folding screen. The word biombo is a transliteration of the Japanese word for folding screen—byōbu—an acknowledgement of its place of origin. The Japanese byōbu has long been a quintessential example of Japanese art and was a common diplomatic gift to foreign courts in the early modern period (see Screen, §1). Referred to as the ‘face of Japanese diplomacy’, byōbu were presented as ambassadors of Japanese culture to places as far off as London and Mexico City. Byōbu also found their way to New Spain as exports in the Manila Galleon trade. In 17th-century Mexico the Japanese screen was admired by artists and patrons, and was adapted and reinterpreted on a grand scale. The unique format of the biombo provided new ways for artists to depict subject-matter, and locally made biombos began appearing in the archival record in the first years of the 17th century. ...