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Bethlehem Artworks

The Olive Tree

The olive tree is native to the Holy Land where it has been cultivated since ancient times. According to historians, the first olive groves took root in the Holy Land and along the coast of the eastern Mediterranean around 4,000 B.C.

The Bible contains many references to the culinary and religious uses of olives and olive oil. In the Book of Genesis the dove sent out from the ark by Noah returned with an olive branch (Genesis 8:11). Here it became the great symbol of peace and goodwill, indicating the end of God’s anger. And its recognition by Noah suggests that it was already a well-known tree. Also, the use of the olive tree for carvings was mentioned in I KINGS chapter 6, “And within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive tree… and for the entering of the oracle he made doors of olive tree… also made he for the door of the temple posts of olive tree”.

The olive tree is connected to our Christian faith as Jesus prayed under an olive tree in his way to Jerusalem after the last supper and before his crucifixion on a cross made of the olive wood taken from the olive trees near the garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem.

More than any other plant, the olive tree symbolizes the Holy Land it has been called: “The Sacred Tree”, “The Peace Tree”, “The Tree of Light”, and “The Tree of Legends”. The olive tree represents the Holy Land in all religions. “The olive tree stands as a perfect personification of man’s historical memory in the Holy Land. It is the tree with the highest endurance and fruitful capacity. It is the sign of peace between God and mankind.

Bethlehem Artworks

The Process..

All the olive wood figurines and arts that we produce are hand carved from the trimmings (pruning) of the olive trees, which is an essential process for a healthier growth for the trees and to generate environmental stability. So no tree is damaged or destroyed in the process !

After the olive tree is trimmed its branches are kept for a long period inside dark places. Dark places are ideal to dry the olive wood because the temperatures of the place stays the same year round and there is no moisture or humidity so the wood dry without splitting or cracking and becomes dry and ideal for carving.


You can estimate the age of a particular piece by examining its grain. Very old trees have a dark grain while younger trees exhibit a lighter color.

The dark lines inside this olive wood trunk tell how old the tree is the more lines the wood have the older the tree. The dark grain inside the trunk of the olive wood olive wood trunks is called the heart of the wood or the jewels and they are what olive wood carvers and their customers look for.

Holy Land olive trees are also called the Roman trees. They get this name because they have been living in the Holy Land and bearing fruits since the time of the Romans and Jesus time.

Bethlehem Artworks

Holy Land Olive Wood

Holy Land olive wood is heavy, dense and durable with a distinctiveness pigment in its grain. All carvings made of this hard wood have a varying and smooth grain, making every piece extraordinarily unique. It is very difficult to match the grain of two pieces since the pattern is completely hidden in the heart of the wood. The artistically smooth and elegant grain of the olive wood renders it one of the most beautiful in the world and olive wood carvings will easily last a life time and be enjoyed by generations to come.

Once carved, the wood is sanded and coated with a special varnish to protect it and highlight the texture of the grain. There is no need for oiling or further treatment of any kind since olive oil inside the wood is naturally protecting the wood from corrosion’s. Since olive is one of the hardest woods on earth, carvings will easily last a life time and be admired by generations to come. As it ages, it will become darker and even more beautiful. Cleaning the live wood art pieces is done only with a lightly wet cloth and no further materials are required.