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Otta Rakovník
A Czech advertising nativity promotes soap

Everyone—Wise Men and their attendants, peasant folk, even a camel, is bringing… soap to the Newborn Child.

A simple frame and glass enclose Milan Zábranský’s Otta Otta Rakovník diorama.

Otta Rakovník Promotional Nativity

By Artuš Scheiner; two sheets, 13 x 9. 5 inches (34 x 24 cm); circa 1920.

Milan Zábranský places all eight little boxes of soap in a row in a raised platform up front.

You'd think the "product" would add a visually jarring note to the composition, but the opposite is true: all those geometric, colorful boxes cause to do a double take.

A camel, resting after carrying all that soap, is placed on a second tier along with the Wise Men and their acolytes and all their finery.

The Nativity is at the right, under a straw porch that leads into a cave. All about, a man carries a basket full of soap on his back and a woman a live hen in another wicker basket.

A shepherd in his warm coat stands to the left holding his crook, and to the rear, a long procession is approaching from Bethlehem in the distance.

Zdeněk Peer Collection

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© 2022

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