World Nativity Traditions





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wood, camphorwood

Exhibition Label

Many nativity sets bought in the USA carry the label “Made in China.” Almost all of them are of Western design but produced in China. There is a different kind of nativity representations which are a genuine product of Chinese culture. Chinese art with its roots in calligraphy and the mastery of the brush excels in rendering the intricate beauty of details and the narrative power of broad strokes. There exists in Chinese art a fortuitous assimilation of Christian art as exemplified in this nativity representation. The tondo featuring the journey of the magi is a masterpiece of detailed intricacies. Held and supported by the butterfly, a symbol of life eternal, its medallion shaped Nativity scene is both mirror and shield of divine protection suggested by the circular form of the artwork.


Circular hand-carved relief on wood, lightly lacquered; frame and base stained darker color. Relief depicts three kings bearing gifts on camels following a star; destination pagoda homestead in background, paired groves of date and coconut palms in foreground. 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.


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nativity scenes, nativities, relief carvings, At the Manger, Jesus Christ

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