• Japanese & Korean Art  auction at Christies

    Sale 2296

    Japanese & Korean Art

    24 March 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 599

    A bronze Christian Icon (fumi-e)


    Price Realised  


    A bronze Christian Icon (fumi-e)
    Edo period (18th century)
    The fumi-e of oval shape cast with the Virgin Mary within a halo of seven stars; pierced with a circular suspension hole at the top and mounted on wood
    4½ x 2¾in. (11.5 x 7cm.); wood mount 9 7/8 x 7 x 1½in. (25 x 8 x 4cm.)

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    Fumi-e (literally "step-on pictures") were created by the Tokugawa government after it officially banned Christianity. Officials used fumi-e to identify Christians. Suspects were ordered to step on these icons, under the belief that real Christians would hesitate or outright refuse to do so. The practice became widespread after 1629. Initially, crude painted icons or crosses were used during these examinations but from around 1661 brass and bronze crucifixes were cast at foundries in Nagasaki and distributed to daimyo solely for the purpose of rooting out Christian adherents.