Two Existing "Mysteries" on First Public DisplayKyoto University Museum11 January 2013 - Sightseeing/Events
"The Madonna with the Infant Jesus and Her Fifteen Mysteries," from the early 17th century, is on public display for the first time in a special exhibition at the Kyoto University Museum in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto. There are only two confirmed pieces in existence and they are on display concurrently. The drawings convey the Marian faith of hidden Christians in the Edo Period and Professor Naoko Iwasaki says, "The strange fate of two Mysteries being encountered during the era when Christianity was banned is in itself dramatic."
They were found in 1920 and 1930, in attics of private houses, such as at Sendaiji in Ibaraki City, Osaka, which used to be the feudal territory of the Christian "daimyo," or feudal lord, Ukon Takayama, and are designated as an Important Cultural Property (Harada house document, Kyoto University Collection) and Designated Cultural Property of Osaka Prefecture (Azuma house document, in the trust of the Ibaraki Municipal Cultural Properties Depository) respectively.
The compositions are similar, with an image of the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus in the center surrounded by fifteen drawings tracing the lives of Jesus and the Virgin Mary (the fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary) as well as images of saints such as Saint Xavier. It is assumed that hidden Christians used to pray the rosary in front of these drawings. Although there are differences among the saints and events depicted, both are likely to have been drawn by Japanese artists using Western painting techniques.
The special exhibit is sponsored by the Kyoto University Museum and the National Museum of Japanese History. Joint research results, including digital photographs examining the secrets of the artists' designs and materials, and the reproduction of imitation drawings will also be on display. The exhibit will continue until February 3. There is an admission fee.(translated by Galileo, Inc.)