This votive tablet was probably used as a liturgical object by the "Hidden Christians" (Kakure kirishitan) of Japan during the Edo period when the Tokugawa government implemented a seclusion policy and shut out the rest of the world. Christianity, which represented a foreign influence and threat to the primacy of the Tokugawa government, was officially banned in 1614. By this time there were almost 300,000 Christians in Japan. When persecution of Christians became severe, many concealed their faith and devised ways of continuing their beliefs and practices in secret. The result was a form of Christianity of great resilience, lasting more than 200 years. In the absence of any priest or printed manuscript, artistic devices such as concealed crosses nurtured and perpetuated the faith.