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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 Zimbabwe
The Ladder

One of the finest bead-and-wire artisan in Zimbabwe, Patmore was born in Chitungwiza, the city where bead and wire art originated in the early 1990s. His specialties are bead animals, cars, and motorcycles. He only recently expanded his art to include nativity sets. This may explain the visible clash between the plain and abstract nativity figures and the vivid realism of hippo, flamingo, warthog, rhino, and lemur. This setting attempts to visualize the opposition between these two worlds: a world of fright, violence, and darkness symbolized with the ferocious beauty of the animals, and the somewhat remote and removed world of hope and good will pictured in the solemn and peaceful simplicity of Holy Family and Magi. The ladder hovering in the cloud is a very old symbol of spiritual ascent and progress. It is also a bridge between good and evil, between the material and the spiritual world. Ultimately, the ladder stands for Jesus Christ himself. Is it by climbing this ladder that we will attain our own good measure as Christian.

– ML.4070

Nativity set from Zimbabwe
Joseph Marufu

Morabaraba is a game and popular among youth in the southern regions of Africa. In our culture it's called Nine Men's Morris. The board consists of three concentric squares of increasing size. It is believed to be one of the oldest games in history, and is found widely around the world. Found in Egyptian temples as well as Medieval cathedrals, the Morris square was sacred. The central square is known in some cultures as the square of regeneration and new life. The lines emanating from the centers are symbols of the universe. We have set Mother and Child in the center of this imitation Morabaraba board. In Christian culture they are the very symbol of regeneration. Joseph Marufu is a Shona sculptor. His figures, meek and withdrawn, share in his personal tragedy. Joseph is referred to as an albino. His skin produces little melanin pigment. His condition means that he works indoors in a poorly lit environment.

– ML.4067


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