Nativities, Nacimientos

Nacimiento is Spanish for nativity. The concept of the manger scene is supposed to have come from St. Francis himself in the 13th century and the idea and form seem to have migrated to the Americas with Spanish priests in the 1700's. As the missionaries slowly went about their work, they slowly introduced the concept into the pueblos where they were working. The potters of each pueblo, in turn, adapted the concept to their local conditions (clays, colors, etc.) and now we see nativity sets with multiple pieces (representational forms of Mary, Joseph and a baby are required pieces). Sets that depict Mary, Joseph and a baby on a donkey are also classed as nativity sets.

Generally, nativity sets come from Jemez and Santa Clara Pueblos but there are a few out there from Cochiti, Isleta, Zuni and the other pueblos. The Navajo also make a few nativities but I have yet to see one from Hopi.

Seven pieces in a nativity set
Nativity set with seven pieces, by Maxine Toya, Jemez
8 3/4 in H by 7 3/4 in Dia
Measurement of largest piece
Six pieces in a carved redware nativity set
Carved redware nativity set with six pieces, by Linda Askan, Santa Clara
4 1/2 in H by 2 3/4 in Dia
Measurement of largest piece
Five pieces make up an eagle figure nativity set
Eagle figure nativity set with five pieces, by Loren Wallowing Bull, Jemez
5 in H by 7 in Dia
Measurement of largest piece
Pottery photos are courtesy of Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery