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Figures made of clay, faience, porcelain, stone, glass, ivory, various kinds of wood: ebony, linden, cedar, olive, rosewood, hawthorn; metal, straw, corn, wool, burlap, felt, fabric, paper, bread, and other materials, many and varied sizes along with a small number of icons make up the collection "baptized" as "World Nativities".

Very simple and not very large, when compared to some collections where the number of crèches exceed several thousands, with valuable works of art, acquired at high prices. In this case its value and its originality resides only on the large number of countries represented.

The collection contains some miniatures as well as nativity sets of 30 centimeters height, these being the exception. The average size is 20 cm. Some countries are represented by several sets. Others by only one. There are crèches consisting of just the Holy Family, while others include the manger, the Wise Men, angels, shepherds, mule and ox, and other characters and animals. At the same time, the nativity sets reflect the traditions and customs of the places they come from, giving them an added artistic value. Thus, the manger can be represented by a crib or a cave in the traditional way, or have been replaced by a Laotian country house, a Nepalese pagoda or a Mongolian yurt. Elephants, bison, llamas, zebras, giraffes or the most unexpected animals may appear equally instead of the mule and ox.

The collection consists of about 460 copies. There are a number of countries that do not produce nativity sets - or I have not been able to find them - but in which the devotion to the mystery of the Nativity of Our Lord is expressed through icons. That is why a reduced number of icons is included here. And lastly, some countries difficult to reach or exotic places, of which I have not been able to obtain any mativity or icon, are represented simply by photographs of the nativity sets dispayed at Christmas in one of their temples, thus recording that they also present there. In total 186 sovereign countries - 96% of the 194 recognized as such by the United Nations - are represented. There are therefore 8 countries still missing, for which I am making an effort to find a nativity.

I hope the collection will be enjoyed by those accessing this web.

Fernando Pardo de Santayana
fernan1930@yahoo.com

Revised and corrected translation by Mr. James L. Govan
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