Khach'atur of Khizan (attrib.), The Nativity

Tempera and gold leaf on paper, from "Four Gospels in Armenian"
Metropolitan Museum of Art (2010.108)

The cave common to eastern images of the Nativity is here highly stylized, but the artist preserves the tradition of keeping the mother and child in separate areas of the picture. The figure with the thin staff holding his hand to acclaim the child resembles the shepherd seen in very early Nativities (example). Except for that similarity one would tend to interpret him as St. Joseph with his flowering rod. In the lower left corner the prophet Balaam points the way to the star for the three Magi. Christian legend associated the Magi's star with the one Balaam spoke of in Numbers 22:14, "A star shall rise out of Jacob and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel."

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Photographed at the museum by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.