World Nativity Traditions



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The distinct traits of this Mexican region are bright colors and mask-like faces. Oaxaca. artists practice the art of drama. In this Nativity drama, the actors' expressions are solemn and mysterious. They suggest a tableau rather than a play. A tableau or scene, much talked about in a 'high level' conversation between the two angels (see the elevated position of the two angels!). Indeed, stories about angels debating the birth of Christ, its possible failure or success, abound in Christmas lore. They add drama to the event. Oaxacan nativities usually hold an element of enchantment, too. Ox and ass are far from being the baby's plain and humble companions. They are the fabled animals of age-old myths inspiring awe and wonderment. If their figures are awe-inspiring, their Christmas message is plain and confident: 'There is more here than what meets the eye.'


Handcarved and handpainted wood figures created by Juan Melchor Ojeda in Oaxaca, Mexico, depicting the nativity of Jesus. The exact date of creation is unknown. Exhibition label originally written by Fr. Johann G. Roten, S.M. for exhibit held at Roesch Library, University of Dayton.


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crèches, nativity scenes, nativities, At the Manger, figurines, Jesus Christ, wood sculpture, wood carvings, Oaxaca de Juárez (Mexico)

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