To the east of the Church of the Nativity is a small road that gently goes down to the fields of Boaz. It was here that the Shepherds were told by the Angel Gabriel that the Prince of Peace had been born unto the world, in a field along the path that the Three Wise Men had taken both into Bethlehem and out of it, until they were warned by Gabriel of Herod’s wicked plot and told to return to their lands through another direction.
It is also here that the modern Christian community of Beit Sahour exists; the largest Christian village in the Holy Land. From desert valley of Wadi Musa near Petra, Arab Christian clans came to settle in the caves and fields as they herded their flocks, planted their olive trees and slowly built their homes out of hand-hewn stone. Over time, many of these families learned a new trade – olive wood carving - as Christian pilgrims came to the Holy Land in greater numbers and desired items to remember their pilgrimage with. These skills have been improved upon and passed down from father to son for many generations, with each family specializing in a different technique, style and signature mark.
Our family – the Bannoura clan – is one of these families. We have been handcrafting olive wood figurines for a very long time, and we hope to continue this trade, even as some of our family have moved to the United States and built their lives there. We keep our Christian faith as we keep our olive wood artisan traditions, and are proud to be considered to be part of the living Christian heritage of the Holy Land.
But I, like an olive tree in the house of God, trust in God's faithful love forever. - Psalms 52:8. Olive wood has always been an intrinsic part of The Holy land.
Consequently, the Holy Land is famous for its unique olive wood carvings. Christian artists made many unique religious crafts out of the olive wood in the Holy Land.
They made hand carved statuses for Jesus Christ, saints and Virgin Mary, hand carved Nativity sets, olive wood crosses, olive wood plate, spoons and olive wood utensil sets. Not only that, artists in the Holy Land designed Holy places with olive wood carvings. For example, King Solomon's temple was adorned with intricate olive wood designs. The natural brightness of its colors and the variety of grains make the olive wood a unique and most exquisite wood.
It is never stained. Christian families like Bannoura’s family began crafting their genuine grade-A artwork out of olive wood in Bethlehem more than 300 years ago. However, the craft was brought to the Christians by religions from the Greek Orthodox Church more than 1700 years ago. Three centuries earlier, Saint Joseph taught our Lord Jesus Christ carpentry skills.
As Joseph taught his Son faithfulness to the trade, the Bannoura’s family did the same. They remained faithful to their God and to this rich cultural heritage. They take great pride in this distinct and unique art form and very proud to provide the most outstanding olive wood products with the highest quality ever with no parallel to it in the whole universe.