Monday, August 21, 2017

Jade Nativities from Myanmar

Our family loves to collect Nativities.

Whenever we travel we keep our eyes on the lookout for new additions to our collections.  While on Semester at Sea we found new Nativities in India and South Africa. We looked in other countries as well, but without luck.

 Bogyoke Aung San market (Scott's Market) in Yangon.

Our lovely, determined, self-appointed guide who helped us try to find a Nativity in the market.

 In Myanmar, with the help of a local sales girl, we scoured the many stalls of Scott's Market (recently renamed Bogyoke Aung San Market) for a local Nativity. We found statues of Jesus and Mary, but nothing related to the birth of Jesus. In our quest, we met a nice jade merchant (I never learned his name) in the back section of the cavernous market. He had religious items for sale but no Nativities. I explained what we were interested in and he expressed interest in learning more. He said he was always looking for new items to sell. Back on the ship, I sent him an e-mail linking him to our blog about Nativities. I also included a few photos of standard looking Nativities that he could perhaps use as a template or model.

Here he is at his jade stall. 2015

Last month our friends Jeremy and Rochelle Johnson traveled to Myanmar. Prior to their departure we had several opportunities to visit about travel in SE Asia and in particular Myanmar. We told them about the jade merchant and gave them a copy of his card so they could find him. We were curious to know if he had ever done anything about creating jade nativities. The Johnsons found our friend in the market. He now happily and successful sells jade Nativities. Filipinos are his main customers. They have suggested that he add the Latin term "incarnate" to the Nativities and that he also start selling jade crosses.

The Johnsons bought us two nativity sets. One large and one small. Each includes Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, a sheep, ox and donkey. They are beautiful. The merchant is willing to make a larger set, but worries that a cost of $35 will be too expensive for tourists. I really like the hard wood base and the unique design of the pieces. My only frustration is that if bumped, the pieces fall like dominoes.

 I found it hard to accurately capture the soft green colors of the larger nativity. It looks whiter that it really is.

As a token of thanks the merchant gave us this lovely set of jade elephants on parade.

It has been fun to play a small part in helping an enterprising entrepreneur to expand his business and to help like-minded Christians to find Nativities in Myanmar. 

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