c1810 Napoleonic POW Carved Bone Nativity Figures


An interesting trio of carved sheep bone (Ovis aries) figures, which represent characters from a Christian Nativity.

These have been made by French Napoleonic or American Revolution Prisoners of War, from bones in their food, to trade with their captors, in order to supplement their diet. The figures are the Virgin Mary, a smaller bearded man, that may be Joseph and an ox. There is a naivety to the figures that testifies to the lack of proper tools, but adds to the charm. Only the front has been carved.

The Mary figure is in very nice condition, but the ox has lost part of his horn and Joseph is armless. Unusual subject for P.O.W. art.

Size Mary: 3 x 1 x 4 cm (1 3/16 x 3/8 x 1 9/16 inches)
Weight: 21 g