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Model (1 of 2), of Cave of Nativity, Bethlehem

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Model (1 of 2), of Cave of Nativity, Bethlehem
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This model represents the Cave or Grotto of the Nativity under the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Made of wood and inlaid with mother-of-pearl, it dates from the eighteenth or nineteenth century.

The five Maltese crosses on the lid are the arms of Jerusalem.

Souvenirs like this would have been made by Arab Christians, working in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and elsewhere in the Holy Land. Pilgrims would have been able to purchase models of the Cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem or Jerusalem. Such models were also exported by the Franciscans and others, to Catholics in Europe and to Greek and Russian Orthodox Christians.

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