Edo Era. Okayama. This type of image has been called a "Maria Kannon." They were used during the years of Persecution and are still used by some Kakure Kirishtan (Secret Christians) in Japan today. In order to continue their association and religious devotion to Christianity after the Prohibition and Great Persecution began, the Kakure Kirishtans made images of Mary that looked like the goddess of Kannon so as not to be detected by local authorities or neighbors. Very small crosses were often carved on the back or at the base of the images. Sometimes secret compartments were carved into the middle of the statues where metal or wood crosses, as well as other valuable family items or religious relics were inserted undetected. Some valuable Kirishtan artifacts in museums today were preserved for over 200 years by this method.Kanda Collection

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