"Isn't this the carpenter's son?" Matthew 13:55
O' Little Town of Bethlehem, well known as a place for artists and spiritually, is the city of Jesus' birth and the cradle of peace.
Throughout the years, The Church in the Holy Land uses art to teach the word of Jesus. Art became the peoples' Bible.
The olive wood handicraft art began in Bethlehem in the fourth century following the creation of the Church of the Nativity, which was built on the traditional birthplace of Jesus. At the time, Monks taught the handicraft trade of carving olive wood to the local Christian residents. This handicraft was then passed on from one generation to another and was perfected and mastered; thus continuing the ancient tradition of beautiful and exquisite olive wood carvings in the Holy Land.
The Bethlehem Carving Group artists combine the experience and skills of the old traditions with the innovation and creativity of the new generation. We are the new generation of dedicated artists who continue to spread the same timeless message of Jesus and his teachings through our art. With humbleness, we are considered among the most skilled carvers in the world and many of our carvings find their way to museums and homes of faith around the world; and now to your home!
The Olive Tree Farmers
"The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops." Timothy 2:6
Every year the farmers of the Holy Land pick the olives in the middle of October. During the same season, they prune the branches.
The pruning also allows sun rays to hit the heart of the tree and the foliage inside.
The pruning of olive trees must be done with a hand saw and not an electrical tool as to avoid the smoke that comes from the diesel or gas saws which affects the taste of olives, the olive oil, and even weakens the tree.
Olive Wood Carvers in Bethlehem Today
"But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever", Psalm 52:8
The handicrafts trade evolved as a cultural tradition of Christians in the Holy Land for centuries. This indigenous form of art has since become an industry of great importance to the local people of the Holy Land who rely on it for livelihood, and to Christian pilgrims from all around the world whose holy pilgrimage can be memorialized for a lifetime in cherished olive wood or mother-of-pearl souvenirs. The olive wood carving market is the major source of income in the Bethlehem area. More than 60 percent of the income of the community in Bethlehem comes from this work.
In recent years, however, the holy crafts trade has suffered many hardships due to social, economical, and political pressures. Because of a sharp fall in tourism and the export market, and also as a result of diminishing numbers of craftsmen who leave their traditional trade and emigrate due to the difficult conditions in their homeland, the handicraft market is facing serious danger, and so is the Christian community in the Holy Land.
With the recent waves of instability in the Holy Land entering, many Christians in the Bethlehem area have left the country. Many others are considering the possibility of migrating soon. Our Olive Wood Promotion Program of marketing their work to other communities outside the Holy Land is critical to keeping them in their homeland.
The Holy Land Olive Trees Today
Since the days of Noah, the olive branch has been a symbol
of peace and goodwill. The olive tree today symbolizes the spirit of the Holy
Land farmers and their connection to the land; a connection that remains
strong, despite years of war and political unrest. Unfortunately, in recent years, the instability in the Holy Land
has led to the uprooting of olive tree orchards totaling more than 50,000 olive
trees. They have been uprooted and destroyed; the sole source of income for many
Testimonial from an Artist
"Olive Tree to us symbolizes life. Since 2000 years ago, St. Joseph was a carpenter and he used the Olive Tree. We also use the olive oil for soap and food. There isn’t anything more beautiful and special for any Christian than a hand carved ancient olive piece art hand made by the remaining Christian community in the Holy Land. "