World Nativity Traditions





Joseph Marufu


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Creation Date

circa 2005


poplar, rosewood

Exhibition Label

Morabaraba is a game and popular among youth in the southern regions of Africa. In our culture it's called Nine Men's Morris. The board consists of three concentric squares of increasing size. it it believed to be one of the oldest games in history, and is found widely around the world. Found in Egyptian temples as well as Medieval cathedrals, the Morris square was sacred. The central square is known in some cultures as the square of regeneration and new life. The lines emanating from the centers are symbols of the uinverse. We have set Mother and Child in the center of this imitation Morabaraba board. In Christian culture they are the very symbol of regeneration. Joseph Marufu is a Shona sculptor. His figures, meek and withdrawn, share in his personal tragedy. Joseph is referred to as an albino. His skin produces little melanin pigment. His condition means that he works indoors in a poorly lit environment.


7 piece nativity set handcarved from poplar wood and jacaranda wood, also known as rosewood, by Shona artist Joseph Marufu in Zimbabwe. Mary and infant Jesus are carved as one piece. Exhibition label written by Father Johann G. Roten, S.M. originally for exhibition entitled "African Symphony" held at Roesch Library, University of Dayton.


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crèches, nativity scenes, nativities, At the Manger, figurines, Jesus Christ, wood carvings, wood sculpture, Zimbabwe

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