Child Jesus as a Good Shepherd ivory statuette on a pedestal. He is naked her head is rounded and his face is gently leaned. His hairs are sculpted in fine strand of hair shaping curls. His almond eyes and his fixed look suggest a mystic and pensive attitude. The Christ child is seated, he is in a deeply meditation. In accordance with the classic representation of Salvator Mundi (“Savior of the World”) he holds a globe in his hands and lean on his visage his other hand, index finger and his middle finger is out in sign of benediction and sovereign divinity.
He is seated on a three degrees rock, representing sheep, various animals and vegetations, a fountain and a lying woman. The three floors of the rock allude to the saint trinity and can also refers to Indian trimūrti.
On the bottom Marie Madelaine is lay down, she has long hair and she is reading. She is an illusion to buddha lay down, she has her head leaned on her right hand. This posture of Marie Madelaine had all to please as much Buddhists believers as Christians, who gave different interpretations. Lay down and posing like buddha, Marie Madelaine presents other similar attitudes with him : born in a noble family, father’s orphan, she had being push into a bohemian and lust life, that turns her into a symbol of love after meeting Jesus Christ. Thus, she combines two religious aspects : one secular and a sacred one.
The other side of the pedestal is a incised spacers decoration which can refer to the mountain. The shape reminds you of south Indians temples, especially them of Vijayanagar empire. We observe the same pyramid-shaped on the three floors of the rock.
The Christian story of Goa begins in 1510 with the firsts Portuguese. Religious orders will be established : from 1517, Franciscans settle, followed by the Dominicans in 1547 and the Augustinians in 1572. The territory covers in churches, Goa becomes in the XVI century the “Eastern Rome”. The ivory Christian production go on to Goa and becomes an important producer of luxury products and a commercial center. The town used to be an influence hub for Indians artisans. Sculpted in Portuguese colonies, ivories represent this interconnection of European, Indian and Asian decorative and figurative traditions.
Sculptures of the Christ child Salvator Mundi, were diffused in Europe during the XV century by the Flemish town “Malines” in the context of spiritual renewal of the Devotio Moderna which was based on a meditation devotion and God humanity. These representations and several engravings of the XVI and XVII centuries were the firsts to travel to the East, by the intermediary of travellers and portugueses missionaries. They were the most intelligible way to evangelize Eastern people. The Christ Child Goa is inspired by this European model, and the Buddhist representation of Child Jesus as a Good Shepherd. Indeed, their sitting position, legs crossed and not standing like the representation of the “Malines” model, as well as their attitude of meditation, evokes the Indo-Portuguese model. The Good Shepherd is the result of a creative process that uses known and European elements, to achieve a completely new set, a recomposed image and of which we find no model in Western art.
Indo-Portuguese work, XVIII century
Height : 13 cm (5,1 inch) – Length : 5,2 cm (2 inch) – Width : 4,2 cm (1,7 inch)