World Nativity Traditions


Best Friends




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Venezuelan Nativities come in many shades. Some imitate the rich ornamental beauty of pre-Columbian art. A more recent style combines the Latin American reaction against baroque gravity with the lightweight childlikeness of US nativity sets. This nativity, on a Chinese checker board, conveys playfulness with caution. The caution refers to the two animals, a playful version of ox and ass. They have always been best friends of Jesus; ever since God felt abandoned by his people and hailed the faithfulness of ox and ass (Isaiah 1:3). Not mentioned in Luke and Mathew, they stand for the intelligence and affection of animals — a challenge sometimes of human behavior. More important — and don't be jealous, Mary and Joseph — they announce Jesus’ future: his willingness to carry the weight of the world (ass) and to be sacrificed on the cross (ox).


Nativity set created in Venezuela. 6 pieces made of clay, hand-painted and lightly fired. Figurines depict Jesus, Mary, Joseph, angel with an open book, ox, and ass. The condition of the set is excellent. Exhibition label originally written by Fr. Johann G. Roten, S.M. for exhibit entitled "Elisabeth's Nativity House: The van Mullekom Collection" held at Roesch Library, University of Dayton.


crèches, nativity scenes, nativities, At the Manger, figurines, Jesus Christ


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