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Bronze fumi-e or ebumi, crucifix, Japan, 17th c

Bronze fumi-e or ebumi, crucifix, Japan, 17th c

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Devotional Objects: Pre 1700: Item # 841251

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Step-on image in bronze of Christ on the cross before a town-setting. The scene cast in high relief, the background in low relief. The heavy piece is standing on four corner-feet. Signed on the side Yoshisuke saku. The back inscribed Kanbun kyunen junigatsu hi kore tsukuru (made on a day in the 12th month of the year Kanbun 9 (1669); niju no uchi ni (no. 2 from 20); Aratame jashumon yo, kurumehan (For examining the wrong faith, the Kurume clan).
7.25 x 5.5 x 1.3 inches (18.3 x 14 x 3.5 cm).
Surface strongly rubbed, some corrosion, basically excellent condition.

Step-on pictures, or fumi-e, or ebumi, were images of the Virgin Mary or of Jesus that Japanese authorities used to make people suspected to be Christians to step upon. This practice was executed during the Tokugawa regime, in an effort to ban Christianity from the country. By 1629 this practice was generally spread throughout Japan and it was only abandoned completely at the beginning of the Meiji period. All kinds of media were used to make images: wood, stone, prints and bronze.
In 1669 the bronze founder Hagiwara Yoshiysuke was ordered to cast 20 fumie with prescribed images (5 pieces with ecce homo, 5 pieces with Christ on the cross, 5 with the pieta and 5 with the saint Rosario). A piece with the image of the pieta is in the Gakushuin Museum of History in Tokyo.