World Nativity Traditions





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Creation Date

20th century



Exhibition Label

This nativity set has been carved by Malagasy artisans belonging to the tribe of the Zafimaniry, and living in Ambositra on the island of Madagascar. The wood used comes from a non-hardwood tree called Vandriaka. Zafimaniry people are known for the decorative carvings of doors and windows of their homes. Begun as a conservation measure by Catholic missionaries in the 1960s, the Zafimaniry were instructed in the craft of figure carving as a means of saving the lushly forested areas of their habitat, while assisting the people to find sources of income. These smooth, shining, and beautifully carved figures are a tribute not only to the artistic abilities of the Zafimaniry, but also to their will of economic and cultural survival. So much in life is a matter of survival! The message of Christmas is no exception.


12 figures (18 pieces) made of hand-carved rosewood by Malagasy artisans of the Zafimaniry tribe in Madagascar. Figures depict Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus in crib, angels, kings, shepherd, 2 sheep, 1 zebra, and 1 donkey. 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

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