Chat Tricolore(JSK)-Art Cloumn-

Who or What are Putti?!

 The cherubic child resembling an angel on the bodice of the dress is called Putto (plural: Putti) in Italian, referring to a winged infant.  

 Putti made their appearance in art history during the Renaissance period (14th to 16th century) in Italy. Prior to the Renaissance, artwork from the medieval period mostly consisted of Christian religious paintings. It was rare to depict such cute winged children. Angels were depicted in adult forms, with six wings on their faces or as wheel-like figures emitting flames, often portrayed in monstrous forms.
 It was during the Renaissance, with the revival of classical antiquity and humanism, that artists were able to explore motifs beyond Christianity. Discoveries of ancient Roman ruins also led to the resurgence of depictions of mythical spirits such as Cupid (known as Eros in Greek mythology), the son of the mythological Venus. This marked the beginning of Putti in the Renaissance period.  

Left: Seraphim depicted as decorative angels in the 14th century

Right: "Eros playing on the chariot of Mars" 98-117 AD, preserved at the National Roman Museum, Italy.

 One of the renowned figures during the early Renaissance was the sculptor Donatello (1386-1466), who is sometimes referred to as the founder of Putti.   
 Later, while Raphael (1483-1520) was painting the "Sistine Madonna," two children who were models for the painting's mother peeked in from a window. Raphael, finding their presence adorable, incorporated them into the painting as angels. Since then, the angels depicted at the feet of the Madonna became more famous than the Madonna herself, and are now known as "Raphael's angels," becoming the most famous angels in the world.

Left: "Dancing Putto" by Donatello, 1417

Right: "Sistine Madonna" by Raphael, 1513-14, housed in the Old Masters Picture Gallery, Germany.

 Putti, once believed to be mischievous gods or spirits, transformed as numerous angelic infants started to be depicted. Angels playing musical instruments also began to appear.   
 Now, are these winged infants Christian angels or gods and spirits from Greek or Roman mythology? Here's how to distinguish: if Venus is nearby or if they're holding a bow and arrow, it's Cupid (Eros). If there are many of them by Venus's side, they could be Cupid's companions (attendants?), known as Putti. It's a bit confusing, isn't it?!

Left: "Putto playing the lute" by Fiorentino, 1521, held at the Uffizi Gallery, Italy

Right: "The Worship of Venus" by Titian, 1518-19, housed at the Prado Museum, Spain.

Are Cats Divine Beings or Minions of the Devil?!

 Cats originated in ancient Egypt, and it's said they began to be kept as pets between 4000 and 9500 years ago (there are various theories). Due to their prolific breeding, they became associated with fertility gods, with the male cat symbolizing the sun god Ra, who battled serpent gods, and the female cat representing the moon goddess Bastet. Cats, cherished as household deities, were even mourned by their owners, who shaved their eyebrows as a sign of mourning upon their death.

 From Egypt, cats spread to Europe. However, with the rise of Christianity, a dark era for cats began. The symbol of fertility was sometimes interpreted as a symbol of lust, and the carefree nature and appearance of cats were seen as devilish.

 Thus, while cats were revered as divine beings in ancient Egypt, under Christianity, they faced a period of persecution as the familiars of witches. During this time, not only witches but also cats (especially black cats) were burnt at the stake or thrown from towers. Even those who owned cats were executed.

 Even before the spread of Christianity, during the summer solstice festival (later known as Saint John's Eve), a ritual called "cat burning" was performed to ward off evil. Several cats were stuffed into bags or baskets or crucified on trees and burned in bonfires. People danced around the flames, and the burnt remains and ashes of the cats, believed to possess magical powers, were carefully collected as lucky charms.

 However, the mass appearance of rats followed the burial of cats. These rats caused the spread of the plague, bringing misery to people. There was a time when even the plague was attributed to cats, but people eventually realized that cats were essential for controlling rats. Thus, the era of cat persecution came to an end.

 Nowadays, we are no longer in the dark ages of cats. In Ypres, Belgium, a Cat Festival has been held every three years since 1955 to commemorate the cats that were once executed by cat throwing and burning. In the past, there was a tradition of throwing live cats from the belfry to the square, but in modern times, people throw stuffed toy cats and compete to grab them. Cat lovers from around the world gather to participate, dressing up as cats, witches, mice, and more, and thoroughly enjoy the festivities. If you're a cat lover, it's definitely an event worth attending!

Left: Cat mummy at the British Museum in England,Right: Cat festival in Ypres

The printing of cat on dress Chat Tricolore

What Does the Rose Symbolize?

 What does the queen of flowers, the rose, symbolize? Let's start with a tale from ancient times.   
In Greek mythology, the rose becomes the attribute (symbolic possession) of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty (in Roman mythology, the goddess Venus). When Aphrodite was born from the foam of the sea near the island of Cyprus (Aphros), the Earth declared, "I too can create beautiful things like the gods." And so, it is said that she created the rose. This scene is depicted in the famous painting "The Birth of Venus" by Botticelli (around 1483).

"Birth of Venus" by Botticelli, around 1485, held at the Uffizi Gallery (Italy)
 Now, at the time of Venus's birth, roses were said to be white. However, when Venus accidentally stepped on a rose while trying to save her lover Adonis, she pricked herself on a thorn, and the rose turned red from her blood. Hence, when red roses are depicted alongside Venus, they symbolize trials of love and the "trials of love."   
 Additionally, there is the phrase "under the rose," which means "in secret." This term originates from when Venus was unfaithful, and her son Cupid gave roses to the god of silence as hush money. In ancient Rome, during banquets, roses were hung from the ceiling, and it was understood that anything said or done under the rose was to remain secret. This phrase is said to still exist in Western culture today (in English, "Under the Rose").
 In Christianity, it is said that the roses in the heavenly paradise had no thorns. However, when Adam and Eve were tempted by the serpent and ate the apple, thorns appeared. The roses symbolizing the Virgin Mary, who did not commit sin, do not have thorns. Red roses represent "martyrdom," while white roses represent "purity."

"The Madonna of the Roses" by Roffonner, 1848

 And then, the roses depicted on this dress by Juliette et Justine were beloved by women during the Victorian era in Britain. They are what we would call collage-style sticker parts today. They are overflowing with roses of various colors. While red roses symbolize "love" and yellow roses symbolize "jealousy" among other meanings, what stories or messages would you receive from the roses surrounding you in this dress?

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Kuro Neko Aikokai (Black Cat Enthusiasts Association), ed. "Black Cat Maniacs." Byakkoya Shobo, 2017.
Haruyama, Y. "Cultural History of Flowers." Yukika Sha, 1964.
Haruyama, Y. "Haruyama's Natural History: Volume I, Language of Flowers." Heibonsha, 1986.
Okabe, M. (Ed.). "Deciphering Masterpieces with Codes." Sekai Bunka Sha, 2021.
Hiramatsu, Y. "Illustrated Guide to Attribute Symbols Unraveling the Mysteries of Masterpieces." Kadokawa, 2015.