F: "Today, a Saviour is born to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger".
M: ... the words of the angel, as proclaimed to the shepherds. That scene from the Gospel of Luke appears on the left-hand side of this Trebitsch crib made of paper.
F: The crib is named after the place where it was made: the town of Trebitsch in southwest Moravia, now in the Czech Republic. In the 19th century, Trebitsch became the main centre for paper nativity sets. Our example was made about 140 years ago by an unknown artist. As well as sheep and goats, it includes horses, chickens and cattle. Palm trees, pines and other conifers grow in this imaginary landscape. And the figurines wear both Middle-Eastern and typical local dress.
M: The message here is that the birth of Christ is celebrated the world over. And has meaning for everyone – no matter where they hail from, whether they’re rich or poor.
F: In the middle of the scene is the Holy Family. They’re surrounded by shepherds tending their flock in the field*, sleeping, playing the harp* or resting by the fire. Trebitsch cribs devote special attention to the lives of the shepherds.
M: The very steep mountain backdrop is also typical of Moravian cribs. A framework made of strips of wood is covered with crumpled paper, coated with glue, painted and later decorated with moss and stones. The paper figures are also hand-painted. A flat wooden pin is glued to the back of each figure, which allows them to be inserted into the landscape of the crib.
F: Although of great artistic merit, such paper nativity scenes were actually poor people's cribs.
Fotos: © Krippenmuseum und © Trüpschuch