This set is finely carved of a light-toned wood, called naranjillo. All the figures are in traditional clothing with native faces. Mary has her hands clasp together on her abdomen (which is an unusual pose of the nativities that we own). Joseph and the kings wear Panama (paja toquilla) hats. The animals are extremely well carved. This Nativity was most likely carved by an artist from San Antonio de Ibarra, which is the most important wood-carving center in South America.
Panama hats originated in Ecuador where they are still made to this day. Photographs of Panama Canal workers wearing their special hats quickly circulated around the world, causing people to label the Ecuadorian headpieces as “Panama hats.”

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