Inculturation: Japanese and Chinese Madonnas

The idea of inculturation in the liturgical arts can very often be tossed aside with all too easy disregard because it has so often been pursued in contemporary times in ways that do not seem particularly in alignment with the Church's view of what it should be.  Proper inculturation is not the awkward and forced unification of that which is incompatible with Christian teaching, tradition and liturgy to the same, it is rather the organic grafting on of those expressions which can find harmony and synergy with them.

One particular expression of this that has always been of keen interest to me are the representations of the Madonna and Child that can be found within parts of Asia.  These images always strike me as especially demonstrative of the power and beauty of proper inculturation, merging the theme of the Madonna and Child within the sophisticated culture and iconography of the orient.

Today, I wanted to show you a few such images as examples, inspiring in their own right and educative as to the real potentialities of inculturation as well.

The particular origins of this first image are not directly known to me; what I can tell you is that it was photographed in the Columban House in Dublin.

These next three images were painted by a Japanese nun in a Discalced Carmelite convent in Japan and are part of a worked called a "kakejiki" -- a hanging picture which would display one picture at a time according to each season. Here are three of the four seasonal images:

Here are a few of other odds and ends, the first a statue of the Virgin and Child found in Macau:

Here we have a detail from a Roman chasuble that is found in Hong Kong:

Finally, we have this painting on silk, "Mater Amabilis," by Luke Ch'en which is found at the Catholic University of Peking. 

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