ACM AND Anima Mundi: Chinese Christian Art from the Vatican Museums
An ivory Madonna and Child is carved with Buddhist-style robes and jewellery. Another canvas depiction shows the Virgin Mary dressed as a Qing empress, while a third version, on a batik baby carrier, improbably combines the mother-child image with a cookie-box logo Mary.
This eclectic jumble of cultural and religious motifs is an offbeat detour through Asian Christian art. They show how artists and artisans in Asia adapted styles and techniques to create objects for the then new religion.
The artifacts are part of the new Christian Art Gallery at the Asian Civilizations Museum (ACM), which has updated its display with Chinese art on loan from Anima Mundi, the Museum of Ethnological Art and Artifacts in the Vatican.
Despite the lack of a strong narrative connecting the items, some of which come from the ACM’s own collection, there are some eye-catching pieces.
A stunningly intricate ivory chest of drawers from Sri Lanka has a pair of doors with Adam and Eve at the tree of knowledge in a central panel surrounded by a trellis of vines and flowers.
Japanese artifacts include an 1868 sign from Hyuga Province announcing the banning of Christianity as well as a tiny netsuke depicting Saint Anthony.
The objects not only held religious significance for their original owners, but also showcased the skills and imagination of their creators.
Where: Level 2 Christian Art Gallery, Asian Civilizations Museum, 1 Empress Place
MRT: Raffles Square
When: Sunday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission: Free for Singaporeans and permanent residents