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  • Writer's pictureNeil Allen

Navajo Mud Toy Nativity



Sue Parker


I love this Navajo mud toy nativity. The nativity was made from mud by Rose Herbert in 2008. Rose lived in a remote part of the Navajo Nation. The nativity was acquired through Paul Tipton, who had a great appreciation of nativities made by Native American and other Southwest artists.


I met Paul in Sabinita Lopez Ortiz’s small home shop in Cordova, NM in August 2008. Paul had three of Rose’s nativities in the trunk of his car, including this one. This one especially appealed to me because one of the wise men’s gift is a watermelon.


Water is extremely scarce in the Navajo Nation, so typically plants are hand watered and labor intensive. Navajo mud toys are dried in the sun and not fired, so they are very fragile. The three mud toy nativities in the back of Paul’s car are the only mud toy nativities I have ever seen.


Sabinita Lopez Ortiz is an accomplished Spanish Colonial carver carved beautiful nativities.


Mrs Ortiz is in her 80s, but I’d still carving and still selling nativities from her home.

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