Menino Jesus Bom Pastor

Nº de referência da peça: 

Baby Jesus the Good Shepherd
Thailand (Siam), Ayutthaya Kingdom, 17th century
Dim.: 21.2 cm

Prov.: Guus Röell, Netherlands

Large ivory Baby Jesus sculpture produced by a 17th century Portuguese-Thai workshop. The image is reclined replicating the iconography of the dying Buddha about to enter Nirvana, as adopted in Thailand (Siam). Jesus is lying on a cloak of jasmine flowers, his head supported by his right hand, while with his left he strokes a lamb that sits on a Bible. The serene rounded shaped face is framed by regular, perfectly aligned snail-like hair curls, in an allusion to the enlightenment of Buddha while the eyes are depicted semiclosed and the mouth curled in a cryptic but gentle smile. The figure wears a shepherd’s tunic tied by a cord at the front exposing the abdomen, and wide styled trousers emblematic of Thai male costume. The Ayutthaya period was one of the most politically and culturally influential periods of Thailand’s history. Ayutthaya remained the kingdom’s capital between 1350 and 1767, and for the most part of 400 years it was one of the largest, richest and most prosperous cities in Asia, mainly on account of trade from its important seaport. The Thai or Siam People originate in Southwestern China. Expelled from their lands in the 12th century they settled in the Indochina Peninsula adopting Buddhism as their religion, albeit one with strong Hindu influences brought in by Indian travelers and settlers in the region. After the conquest of Galle in the Southwestern tip of the Island of Ceylon in 1505, and of Goa in western India in 1510 the Portuguese landed in Malacca, whose Sultan was a vassal to the King of Siam. In 1511 the Portuguese government in Goa negotiated an agreement with Siam allowing the establishment of permanent trading outposts in that territory which would give the Catholic Church an enclave from which to spread its faith in the whole of the Far East. Those early missionaries relied heavily upon visual imagery, mainly through a myriad of artistic portable objects, to divulge and interpret the sacred scriptures and the Christian iconography in an attempt to overcome language and cultural barriers, while attempting to develop common cultural and religious dialogue, which would eventually result in a new, but unintentional hybrid artistic language. The humanist and introspective theme of the Good Shepherd finds strong parallels in the figure of Buddha, adapted to various local aesthetics throughout the reach of his cult since his earliest representations in Northwest India, where depictions of the reclining Jesus, in a pose allusive to Buddha or Shiva, are also well identified. The iconography of the Good Shepherd, revealing the innocence and purity of the Child, reappears in European art at the time of the Counter-Reformation, and in a particularly evidenced manner in India in the 17th and 18th centuries as a way of conveying to Buddhists and Hindus the encompassing remit of the Christian faith in Its openness and acceptance for conversions.

  • Arte Colonial e Oriental
  • Arte Cristã
  • Marfins
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