Tag Archives: Steven Kyalo

Maasai Nativity

This Nativity is carved from ebony wood by Joseph Kisilu. The set is painted by Steven Kyalo. They work in an artisan workshop run by Steven Kyalo in Gikomba, a poor area near the city center of Nairobi, capitol of Kenya. 

Both Joseph and Mary are bald because, according to the Maasai culture, when a baby is born the father and the mother shave their head as a symbol that they have conquered or have been relieved of a heavy burden. Mary wears a beautiful necklace and carries a gourd filled with milk to feed the baby Jesus. Joseph carries a spear and shield as a symbol of his duty to protect his sacred family. The angel is represented by a Maasai messenger who has praying hands. The two shepherds with red hair, each carrying a spear and shield, are Maasai warriors who protect the village and herds from predators. The three wise men are Maasai seers; they wear headdresses and carry a spear and club. The giraffe, leopard, and zebra signify that the Maasai live with these animals in Kenya and Tanzania . The Joseph figure measures 5.5 inches tall (excluding his spear).