Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mud People Nativity With Gift Bearers

In a recent post we looked at examples of European nativities including the little figures called mud (clay) people figurines or mud dolls. Souvenirs of Spain, these two-inch figures depict the peoples of various regions of Spain and various aspects of Spanish life. They are also sometimes referred to as "the poor man’s Lladro" in contrast to the fine porcelain figures put out by the Lladro firm. As promised, today's post gives a closer look at this delightful series.

My 18-piece set has two groups: the typical nativity scene and the gift bearers.
This is list of figures that came with the set, their names in Spanish and English:
Nativity Scene

Nino Jesus - Baby Jesus

Virgen Maria - The Virgin Mary
San Jose - St. Joseph
Note the halos on Joseph and Mary. Don’t the gold discs look like hats?

Rey Melchior - King Melchior
Rey Gaspar - King Gaspar
Rey Baltasar - King Baltasar

Everyone has a wide-eyed surprised look on their face, including the three kings:

Angelito - Little Angel

Buey - Cow warming the manger
Mulita - Mule Mary rode to Bethlehem; also helped to warm the manger.

Gift Bearers Each one brings what he can to the baby:
Pastor con Pollo - Shepherd with a chicken.
Pastor con Saco Harina - Shepherd with a sack of flour.
Pastor con Oveja - Shepherd with a sheep

Pastor con Marranillo - Shepherd with piglets.
Pastor con Pan - Shepherd with a load of bread.
Pastor con Sandia - Shepherd with a watermelon.
Pastor con Cantaro - Shepherd with a jar of honey.
Pastor con Cesta - Shepherd with a homemade basket.
Pastor Tocando Zambomba - Shepherd playing a zambomba; unique Spanish noise making instrument.

All their gifts refer to local trades and foodstuffs.
Among the gift bearers is one who presents a piglet for his gift... Everyone brings his gift, even though this would be most inappropriate for a Jewish baby!

Only one of the little pastores (shepherds) brings a lamb.

My set just includes the 18 pieces listed above. However, there are a large variety of little mud people available to add to your nativity – bakers, farmers, bullfighters, dancers, priests, choir boys, famous saints, -- even Don Quijote and Sancho Panza from Miguel Cervantes’ novel! There are also figures in typical dress from various regions of Spain.
Additions available for the biblical scene are stable, manger, camels, camels keepers, the wise men on camels, Roman soldiers, well, bridge, campfire, and other accessories.

Here are a few photos I found online of these whimsical clay figurines. From is this scene with a variety of local color.

On Flickr I found one collector who photographs a store display and indicates on each "lo tengo" (I have that one!)

Then he shows one of his displays with the figures in a setting with houses:
This Flickr user, macfacizar, also showed step by step as he sets up a large panorama. This is what Spanish belenistas (nativity builders) do each year in Spain. He also showed several mosiacs of his figures in their setting:

Thank you for visiting. I hope you enjoyed seeing more about the mud people figurines. Do come again soon. I will continue to share items from the collection for your interest.
Not quite vintage, these figures were first made in the 1970’s , so I will link to Vintage Thingies Thursday. Please visit Suzanne at ColoradoLady for more Vintage Thingies Thursday posts.


  1. Hi Carrie,
    I loved your little figurines and more than anything..I loved your story. It was just wonderful and I so enjoyed it. Happy VTT..have a wonderful weekend.

  2. I LOVE your mud people! I'd never heard of mud figures before, and I really LIKE them.

  3. Wow, that's an impressive collection. Thanks for sharing and Happy Holidays!
    Living it up at Lakewood,

  4. Thanks for all the information about your Nativity figures. I enjoyed the Spanish lesson too.

  5. I have never seen anything like these before! The expressions on each one are so wonderful, and it looks like you can keep adding to your collection. I especially like the little houses that you could also get. They're sooo cute!
    Merry Christmas and Happy VTT!

  6. Oh...what a treat today to see all your nativity glad you linked in. Have a great VTT!

  7. Carol --
    Yes, these figures are so darling...there are many, many other figures available to make a large panorama. In Spain they also have lots of buildings you can buy or make for a wonderful display.
    Merry Christmas,

  8. OMGosh!!! I am so glad you let me know about this post!! I have been so busy here at home with my 5 kiddos home plus I keep my 7 month old nephew during the day as well...let's just say BUSY more like busier than
    I do LOVE the Mud people series!! Something about them I think they are just precious!! I told my Hubby about your blog and that I might have to start collecting nativities myself...poor thing just shook his
    Thanks agian for letting me know!! I sooo enjoyed it!! Happy New Year to you!!

  9. Can you tell me where to buy mud people online? Ebay has a very small selection. I used to collect them as an Air Force child living in Spain. Any help would be appreciated.

  10. Anonymous --I am afraid that currently there is little on sale. I recently did an intensive search online but there seems to be little available. Right now, Ebay is the best bet. Just do a saved search so you can be notified of any new items as they are listed.

  11. all right thank you. When we lived in Germany a couple of years ago, I flew to Spain to get more; guess I'll have to go again soon!

  12. I too lived in Spain as a Marine child and collected these (1968-1971). I love them and have found several in antique stores. I wish there was some way to order other than ebay. It would be fun to swap out some of my duplicates for one I don't have...suggestions?


  13. i have probably over 300 i am looking to sell. i also have houses. anyone interested?

    1. What is in your inventory of over 300? These are little Spanish Mud figurines? What price are you asking for the lot? Please reply to: Thanks

  14. Jennifer, where is your contact information?

  15. my email is

  16. Hello everyone again (I am posted above a anonymous) I have found the store in Granada, Spain where you can order the mud people online. So far I have ordered over 200 and now have everyone they make to complete my collection. It is best to translate the page and even then is difficult. The potter or craftsman is Alborox and then you can click on "see all products", but first I clicked on belenes (nativities) to find Alborox. Ordering is also challenging and you will need to email them directly. The website is Let me know if you have any questions.

  17. Anonomys what is your email address. I reviewed the website you posted and cannot find the more simple small mud people I collected when I was in Rota Spain in the 70's. Do you know where on the site they are? I have also sent an email to Jennifer to see what she has for sale. The Mud doll people I have a very basic not a lifelike as the ones that are on this website. Looking for help from anyone on finding these type of Mud Doll People from Spain. Thanks Jon

  18. My email is The website is not user friendly, but I can explain how to find the mud people in more detail. I was able to purchase over 100 of them. Very excited!! (My name is Dawn)

    1. Dawn, in your email address, there is a dropped 5,how do you do that? My email is obviously want mud people.I have a starter nativity set

  19. I too went to spain in the '80's picked up lots of these plus the chior boy set, yep gave them all away as gifts but would like to find an outlet to purchase one for me...

  20. I have some of the same people as you. I was in Spain as a child in the 80's and let my children play with them on special occasions.

  21. I bought a nativity set in Rota in 1968. Later I was able to buy one through a friends niece who was stationed in Rota. Right now I can't find my set and am very unhappy with myself.
    Have decided I'm going to have to figure out how to order online.

  22. I know I'm coming to this thread late but would love to have info on how to order more of the mud dolls. I was stationed in Rota 1982-1984 and bought mud dolls for myself and my mother. Would love to get another male flamenco dancer. Mine was broken years ago. Anyone have any updated info on how to get these dolls?

  23. maypop,
    Have you tried Ebay? That is where I found mine. Good luck on your search!

  24. Hello from spain , actually you can buy this figurines,
    My email is
    Sorry for my bad inglish
    Ernesto marin

  25. I actually bought a whole box of these about 10 years ago at a yard sale. Would like to know more about them. Everyone wants to buy them from me but I won't sell. Its so hard to find information on them and the stories that go with them.