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South Africa

South Africa

The following Nativities are each displayed in a unique permanent setting created by Marian Library Crèche Collection volunteers. The descriptive text for each was written by Father Johann Roten, S.M.

Nativity set from South Africa
A Logo for Life
Ndebele Artisans

Popular art has a tendency to stylize its objects, and to empty them of individual traits. The result is frequently one of harmonious uniformity favoring color and ornamental motifs. This applies to the art of the Ndebele artisans. They are renowned for their use of lustrous glazes and hand-fired raku. The recurring flower motif is like a logo for life.

– ML.2615

Nativity set from South Africa
Painted Houses
Ndebele Artisans

The colorful animals and the painted house illustrate Ndebele (Nguni people of South Africa) culture and design. The strong and vivid geometric patterns have symbolic meaning. They are used as code to express values, prayers, and emotions typical to the Ndebele people. The origin of this secret symbolic language lies in the conflict between Ndebele and Boer farmers in the late 19th century. Harsh life and suffering, as well as horrible punishment led to this form of secret communication among tribal groups. The two midwives in this setting emphasize the fact that Ndebele women carry on and watch over tradition. They are the main developers of Ndebele design of painted houses and complex beadwork. Like painted houses, Christmas is a code for those who cherish and share the message of God's loving presence for this world.

– ML.4075


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