PIECE OF THE ORIBE KIRISHTAN LANTERN

Momoyama or Edo Era. Okayama. Top portion of the lantern is displayed. Oribe Kirishtan Lanterns, known in Japanese as "Oribe Toro" were used by Kirishtan during the 16th and 17th century in their gardens. When the entire lantern is viewed one can see the lantern is formed in a unique shape of a cross, with the Latin words IEUS written side ways in the middle, and at the bottom there is an image praying with hands folded. It is believed the image at the bottom could have resembled Mary, Jesus or an angel. These lanterns are called Oribe Lanterns because they were first made by Lord Oribe Furuta the Kirishtan Daimyo (king) of Gifu in the Momoyama Era. Many of these lanterns have been discovered at sites where there was at one time a Kirishtan church or the residences of a Kirishtan noble.

It isn't clear when Lord Oribe added the Christian symbolism to his lanterns or for what purpose Japanese Kirishtan placed them in their gardens. Lord Oribe could have freely incorporated the symbols sometime during the Kirishtan Century at which time they were acquired by Kirishtan and freely placed in their gardens. He could also have incorporated this design in the lantern secretly during the Persecution at which time they were purchased by Japanese who still had Kirishtan association but could only secretly express their identity with such a possession as this. Loan from the Kanda Collection, Okayama


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