バテレン当て独楽 (priest roulette-style top)

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Title:

バテレン当て独楽 (bateren ategoma)
priest roulette-style top

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This top depicts a priest. When Catholic missionaries began to enter Japan in the sixteenth century, they were known as bateren バテレン, a word that comes from Portuguese padre, “father.” Most of the first missionaries entering Japan during this time were Portuguese Jesuits. Here, Hiroi-sensei has depicted a sixteenth-century priest with exaggerated frills at his neck to form the base of the roulette-style top, which features Roman numerals. A roulette-style top is a kind of game. Someone spins the handle at the top, and the priest’s long nose lands on the winning number on the base.

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Hiroi Michiaki: Umm what was this? What is it called? A bateren [priest]. Yeah. It’s a bateren roulette-style top. I asked Landis-sensei what a bateren was, and she said she didn’t know. It’s sort of what Christians used to be called in the past.

Paula Curtis: Yes. In the sixteenth century.

Hiroi: Ahh, the sixteenth century. That long ago? Hmm…

Paula: Yeah, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Hiroi: Ohhh it’s that old?

Paula: Yeah.

Hiroi: Then Landis-sensei wouldn’t know, huh? Heh heh heh. Ahh I see. It’s someone from that time period, and I made a roulette-style top game from it.

 

 

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