NHK WORLD

Thursday, 12th April 2018

The Virgin and Child (The Virgin with Rosary)
(Fumie)

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The Tokugawa Shogunate, which ended the long period of wars which raged across Japan from the late 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century, viewed Christianity as a threat and banned it. In this episode, we feature a brass plate with the Christian image of the Virgin and Child. It was a tool for discovering Christians. The first fumie – literally, treading pictures – were made of paper but they would tear easily and the authorities began producing them in brass instead. In order to prevent them from becoming objects of faith, the Shogunate kept them locked up securely in the offices of the Nagasaki magistrates. The fumie were made by applying mirror-making techniques used from ancient times and relatively simple to fashion. How were the fumie used? Their story reveals much about social conditions at the time, the lives of the people, and the place of religion in society.

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