M: The child in the manger builds bridges between cultures. In the display case on the right, we have mainly European cribs and nativity figurines – while those in the case on the left are mainly from America and Africa.
F: Let's start with the European showcase. Have you noticed the wide range of different materials? We have figurines made of terracotta, silver wire, cow horn, pewter, porcelain and glass. At the bottom, you can see what’s known as santons, nativity figures made of terracotta from Provence. They represent different trades and professions – a miller, a priest, a musician, a fishwife, fishermen, market traders, shepherds...
M: In addition to a porcelain nativity scene from Switzerland and colourful Majorcan nativity figurines, we also have a crib from South Tyrol on display – where everything is made from cow and goat horns. And have you spotted the tiny crib inside a nutshell? It’s more than a century old.
F: In the showcase on the left, we have particularly beautiful examples from Africa on display. Take the crib from Niger, which is made of banana leaves. The one from Burkina Faso is cast in bronze, while the Tanzanian crib is carved of ebony. Exhibits from America include a crib from Colombia, carved from a soft stone kernel that only hardens when it dries and is then polished. And there’s a crib made of bread dough from Ecuador.
M: The crib on the wall is a Polish nativity scene from Krakow, made of colourful glossy paper. Known locally as a "szopka", this example from the mid-20th century comes in the shape of church. Note the Holy Family and the Three Wise Men standing within the portal.
Since 1927, the city of Krakow has hosted a major annual crib competition during the Christmas season. Our exhibit once won first prize there.
F: Which of these the nativity scenes would win your personal first prize? Take your time … Meanwhile, our crib exhibition continues on the floor above.
Fotos: © Krippenmuseum und © Trüpschuch