Nativity Paintings from Around the World

Christ is Born! Indeed He is Born!

 Χριστός Ετέχθη! Αληθώς Ετέχθη!

nativity1

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)

Jesus Christ was born for all people of all times. To illustrate this truth, Christians around the world often depict him as coming into their own culture, in the present time. The Italians, whose visual language was predominant during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, did it. In fact, when you think “Nativity,” you probably think of the church art from that age and country—not because it offers the most legitimate representations (they are no more “accurate” than the ones below), but because the Church held particular sway at that time, in that place.

Well, the center of Christianity has shifted; it is no longer in the West. And thus if we were to survey the Christian art being produced today, we would see that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and the settings they inhabit, have a much different look. We’d see Mary dressed in a sari or a hanbok; we’d see Jesus wrapped in buffalo skin, or silk. We’d see lizards and kangaroos instead of oxes and asses.

Historical accuracy is not the point; the point is to see Jesus as the Savior of your own people, as incarnated very close to you, and relevant to life today.

Here are 19 contextualizations of the Nativity painted within the last century. Each work brings Jesus into a different place, in order to emphasize the universality of his birth.

USA:

nativity1

“Nativity” by James B. Janknegt
James B. Janknegt, Nativity, 1995. Oil on canvas, 57 x 82 cm.

Crow Nation (Montana-based tribe):

nativity2

Native American Nativity
John Guiliani, Mary Gives Birth to Jesus, 1999. From The Crow Series.

Guatemala:

nativity3

Guatemalan Nativity
John Giuliani, Guatemalan Nativity, 1990s.

Nicaragua:

nativity4

Nicaraguan Nativity
Leoncio Saenz, Nacimiento (Nativity), 1983. The banner reads: “I come to tell them that in Nicaragua the new man has been born.”

England:

nativity5

Nativity by Dinah Roe Kendall
Dinah Roe Kendall, The Shepherds Went to See the Baby, 1998.

India:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

China:

nativity7

Chinese nativity
He Qi, Nativity, 1998. Ink and gouache on rice paper.

Tibet:

nativity8

Tibetan nativity
A thangka (sacred wall hanging) given by H.H. the Dalai Lama to Fr. Laurence Freeman and the World Community for Christian Meditation in 1998.

Korea:

nativity9

Korean nativity
Woonbo Kim Ki-chang, The Birth of Jesus Christ, 1952-53. Ink and color on silk, 76 x 63 cm.

Japan:

nativity10

Japanese nativity
Sadao Watanabe, Nativity, 1960s? Stencil print on momigami paper, 58 x 78 cm.

Thailand:

nativity11

Thai nativity
Sawai Chinnawong, Nativity, 2004. Acrylic on canvas, 32 x 37 in.

Malaysia:

nativity12

Malaysian nativity
Hanna Varghese, God Is With Us, 2006. Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20 in.

Indonesia:

nativity44

Indonesian nativity
Erland Sibuea, Nativity, 2008. Acrylic on canvas, 31 x 23.6 cm.

Philippines:

nativity33.jpg

Filippino nativity:
Kristoffer Ardena, The Meaning of Christmas, 1995. Oil on canvas, 62 x 46 cm.

Uganda:

nativity15

African nativity
Francis Musango, Christ in the Manger, n.d. Oil painting.

Cameroon:

nativity16

African nativity
Fr. Engelbert Mveng, Nativity, early 1990s. Central scene from church mural. Holy Angels Church, Aurora, Illinois.

Democratic Republic of the Congo:

nativity17

African nativity
Joseph Mulamba-Mandangi, Nativity, 2001. Peinture grattée, 70 x 50 cm.

Australia (Aboriginal):

nativity18

Australian nativity
Greg Weatherby, Dreamtime Birth, 1990s? 51 x 64 cm.

Tahiti:

nativity19

Nativity by Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin, Baby (The Nativity), 1896. Oil on canvas. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Posted on December 25, 2011 by Victoria Emily Jones

The Jesus Question

Four years ago on Christmas Day I posted a selection of nativity paintings originating mainly in non-Western cultures. Each year since then that post has ranked as one of the five most-read posts on this site, with over twelve thousand views to date. So I’ve decided to do a part 2.

My friend Scott Rayl shared a quote with me this week by S. D. Gordon: “Jesus was God spelling Himself out in language humanity could understand.” What a succinct summary of the Incarnation!

Today we celebrate the transcendent God made immanent, accessible. We celebrate his new name: Emmanuel, God-with-us. The artists here can aid us in that celebration.

 

Australia (Aboriginal):

First Nations of Canada:

Guatemala:

Nicaragua: 

India:

Thailand: 

China:

Japan:

Korea:

Vietnam: 

Philippines: 

Indonesia:

Nigeria:

Ethiopia:

Kenya:

Tanzania:

South Africa:

(Many of the Asian artworks in this post were found through the Asian Christian Art Association website. It’s a really rich resource…

View original post 3 more words

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s