World Nativity Traditions



John Tse


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Creation Date

circa 2005



Exhibition Label

The stylized shapes of these figures evokes a number of association. The shape may be a concession to matter. Ebony is the densest wood in the world, making it difficult to carve. The hooded appearance of the figures, suggesting veil-like headgear covering shoulders and back, may further point to a nomadic existence. African shepherds, travelling with their herds, carry on their back a mini-tent as protection against heat and weather. From an aesthetic point of view, the shape of these crèche figures speak of solid nobility, peaceful concentration, and sovereign strength. They are like pillars in a sea of restlessness. In Psalm 75:3 it is God who holds the pillars of the earth firm. God's own pillar is his son we recognize as Jesus the Christ. This nativity set honors the nobility, strength, and peace grounded in the Nativity of Christ.


15 pieces, handcarved from ebony wood by the Ghanan artist John Tse. The faces are typical of Ghanan masks. The Baby Jesus has been carved separately from the manger. Exhibition label written by Fr. Johann G. Roten, S.M. originally for exhibit 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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