Delft biblical wall tile showing the Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness. Dutch, 17-18th century? 131mm x 131mm
Private collection Great Britain
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Matthew: Chapter 4, 1-11. King James Version.
This wall tile shows the Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness. The Devil is offering Christ stones to be turned into bread (note what seems to be a wooden cross on the left hand side of the roundel). The tile has an interesting history; it was discovered in a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan by cleaners while sorting through the temple’s unwanted bric-a-brac. Given the long (400-year) relationship between the Dutch and the Japanese it’s not surprising that an object with a biblical theme should have found its way to Japan. It’s a mystery, however, why such an object should have ended up in a Buddhist temple in Kyoto. Perhaps one of our readers can shed more light on the subject.