The Nativity scene in the field of modeling

Also this year Christmas is at the gates and rivers of our Colle21,and our other materials for dioramas and cribs,have been used by many customers in Italy and in the world, to decorate and make more solid the creations of their cribs.
There were many requests to our shop and so I was intrigued … for years I have been hearing about how Italians historically have a baggage of “crib” tradition that brings them a more than natural
predisposition to the diorama and the ability to recreate “scenarios to scale” and to exploit the various types of materials for dioramas and cribs.
I therefore wanted to see what this statement was based on, and to do so, the best procedure I thought was undoubtedly to go back to the origins of this Christmas custom: The Nativity scene or Crib.
Since the Late Middle Ages we have news of the first examples of representation of the Nativity. The protagonist of this form, which we could initially define as sculptural, is precisely the birth of Jesus Christ.
There are two main types of nativity scene: the living one and the scale one.
It is precisely this second type that we will deal with in this article, although it is still necessary
specify that the very first forms of representation of Advent were pictorial and attributed as early as the third century of .C.
In the Byzantine tradition you can clearly find the custom of portraying Mary and baby Jesus inside a cave, while instead the first example of three-dimensional representation has as its recognized author Arnolfo Di Cambio, in the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.
The name nativity scene comes from the Latin praesaepe and means greppia, manger, but also indicates the enclosure where the cattle were kept.
Although historically the first representation of the crib is attributed to St. Francisof Assisi, in fact he celebrated a ceremony of songs and prayers. Only later was the presence of Mary, Joseph and the child Jesus canonized, in the form of scale figures arranged in a setting.
The scenes as early as 1400 usually depicted a stable (or a cave) with ox, donkey and the family surrounded around the manger, while outside were placed various people who gathered in a nocturnal setting, guided by the comet star.
At that time the custom of reproducing that scene so important for the Christian religion took hold in the churches and became an inevitable appointment that involved not only the artists, but also the rest of the population.
It spread progressively in the various regions and kingdoms on the territory of the future Italy. Especially in the center and south, real “traditional variants” soon developed, recognizable by the type of materials used.
From these differentiations, and from its diffusion, I begin to see real analogies with modeling, obviously estranged from the religious sphere.
For example, we begin to use wood, clay, and sculptural pastes to recreate the characters (not only the main and inevitable protagonists of the Nativity, but real rhetorical figures such as the observer of the star, the shepherd etc … recognizable in each of the “crib schools”,although with more or less different names), as well as precious materials such as ivory and mother of pearl.
Moreover, from 1600 the tradition of setting up the crib in the homes of the nobles became widespread and stable, being also suggested by the Pope who recognized its effective ability to bring popular feeling closer to the faith.
However, it was the following century that saw the development of regional crib traditions, such as the “Neapolitan Nativity”, the “Genoese Nativity” and the “Bolognese Nativity”.
From Rome also spread in Umbria and marche the practice of puppeteers,who reproduced statuettes in series to adorn the crib … also
this is undoubtedly a similarity with today’s “dioramistica”.
But the similarity that most fascinates and amazes me is the fashion that became dominant in the eighteenth century in Naples, where the noble families generated a real “competition” to decree which was the most beautiful crib.
For this purpose, entire rooms were reserved in the noble houses for the development of the reproduction of the birth of Jesus.
In the same century, in Bologna, the Fiera di Santa Luciawas established, where you could buy statuettes produced by local artisans. The Fair is still a tradition of the city.
With the industrialization of the late ‘800 and throughout the ‘900 the tradition of the crib has definitively become part of the Christmas “decorations” of all Italian homes.
The spread in the rest of the world is thus inevitable and continuous, especially as a result of the Latin influences divided into two macro areas (Europe and the rest of the world). The forms and more concretely the materials change minimally, but the scene reproduced is always the birth of Jesus, the protagonist of readings and interpretations ranging from the most realistic to the most conceptual and minimalist.
Whether it is true or not that the custom of the crib has a correlation with the dioramaistic and modelling skills of Italians, after having traced the history of this tradition the Christmas atmosphere has awakened to us.
I therefore wish Merry Christmas to men and women of good will, and to each of you I leave a very special Bella Zeon, with which to encourage not to underestimate the crib as a form of expression also modeling, personal and artistic.
If you too have rekindled the desire to make a crib I leave you the link where to provide you with all the materials for dioramas and cribs to
our disposal to make this experience as easy and fun as possible:
From Marco Mirage for this Colle21 article is everything, see you soon for more insights.^^

Author:Marco Mirage Colloid

Passionate collector since I remember, among the major collections is certainly worth mentioning that of Myth Cloth.
Later I approached the Gunpla world until I became Admin and Vice President of the Gundam Employeecommunity. I am also responsible for the development and management of gundam Employee workstation groups, called GD Side, for Italy.

In 2018 together with Teachan I created my most important project: Gunpla Chronic,a crew of enhancement and dissemination of content ranging from work in progress to tutorials, from workshops with groups of all ages to deal with news and interviews.

My goal is simple: to get as many people as possible passionate about these irresistible model kits, modeling and the Gundam universe.
My motto is: Bella Zeon!

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