World Nativity Traditions



G. Tassou


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Creation Date

20th century



Exhibition Label

Burkina Faso, formerly Upper Volta, is a landlocked country south of the Sahara Desert in Western Africa. A longtime French colony and overseas territory, the religious culture of the small number of Christians has been marked by French missionaries. Roughly translated, Burkina Faso means "the land of the upright people." In fact, the proud and elegant bearing of the figurines in this Nativity set reflects the national motto with great accuracy. Made of yellow metal, which is an alloy of copper and tin, the personages show a similarly composite cultural provenance. If the overall impression is African, there are many details, for example Mary's veil, Joseph's staff, and the wise men's crowns, which are of European (French) origin. The artist is an alumni of the National Center for Arts and Crafts in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Communities of artists are one of the important pillars of African culture, and Christmas is truly the feast of "the upright people," in Burkina Faso as well as in other countries.


12 brass figurines made in Burkina Faso, depicting Joseph, Mary, the infant Jesus, three Magi, one shepherd, and assorted animals. 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

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