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Bethlehem Crafts

Olive Wood Carvings from the Holy Land

At Bethlehem Crafts, we work with Bethlehem Christian artists and craftsmen in Bethlehem and Jerusalem to design custom pieces and to select the best quality Bethlehem olive wood carvings from the Holy Land for all budgets. Bethlehem Crafts imports the most popular, unique and one of a kind hand made olive wood religious items direct from Christian artists in the Holy Land. All sales help support local Christian artists and craftsmen in the Holy Land to keep them rooted in their homeland and place of Jesus' birth and crucifixion.

Olive Wood Carving is an Ancient Tradition

Olive wood carving is a deeply rooted tradition in Bethlehem. The Bethlehem olive wood carvings handicraft arrived in the Holy Land as early as in the 4th century with the advent of the Christian pilgrimage. Since that time, families specializing in the olive wood carving craft have been passing down the wood carving techniques from generation to generation. One piece of olive wood passes through various stages and the work of multiple artisans before it is ready for sale. The basic shape is often done by machine. After that, skilled craftsmen manually add details and features. Finally, items are sanded down, polished and coated with olive wax for a natural shine or lacquer for a more durable finish. The natural qualities of olive wood and the artistry of each craftsman give each item unique characteristics.

Bring the Holy Land Home for the Holidays

A little more than 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ was born in the little town of Bethlehem. This good news spread around the world, making Christmas and Easter the most celebrated holidays worldwide. Over a million people visit Bethlehem each year to see the Shepherd's Field, where the angels announced, "Peace on earth and goodwill toward men." Olive trees and olive groves are distinguished features of the Bethlehem landscape. The Nativity Church is another popular tourist destination and Christian pilgrimage site, built in 333 AD by St Helena to commemorate where the Virgin Mary gave birth to Baby Jesus. Near the church are winding stone streets lined with colorful oriental shops selling olive wood handicrafts that pilgrims can take home to remember their visit. Hand carved olive wood sculptures statues and figurines, olive wood ornaments, olive wood crosses, olive wood rosaries, olive wood nativity scenes, mother of pearl, and colorful embroidery purses and shawls are the most popular locally made items. For those who cannot take a pilgrimage, Bethlehem Crafts brings a piece of the Holy Land to your home for the holidays.

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All items are made from sustainably sourced cuttings of olive trees cultivated throughout the Israel-Palestine region. Since the wood from pruning is used, no trees are killed in the process.

The art of carving Mother of Pearl was introduced to Bethlehem in the 15th century by Franciscan friars from Damascus. MOP or abalone inlay and carving continue as a traditional craft today. 

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