World Nativity Traditions



One People




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Creation Date

20th century



Exhibition Label

This nativity set is crafted in light and malleable thornwood. The individual figure is without proper personality. It remains schematic and anonymous, except when taking its place within the group to which it belongs: as musician, warrior-shepherd, as oarsmen or wise men. Thus, this nativity set highlights the communitarian dimension of African life. In the midst of several groupings of people stands the huddled group of the holy family easily overlooked and forgotten. But in fact it is not, for all the little people are moving toward them from the four directions. The burning sun, the eerie tree, the red bridge, and the temple on the mountain are colorful distractions, but they do not divert the attention from the leiftmotif of this nativity, which is that of all and any nativity: peace on earth to all of good will. However different by race or birth, in Jesus Christ we are one people.


32 handcarved wooden figures and 1 wooden replica of a mosque. The figures are carved from thornwood by an unknown artist in Nigeria, and depict Mary, Joseph, infant Jesus, shepherds, kings, and assorted animals. The replica of the mosque was acquired separately from the figures. 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, Nigeria

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