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Santons
Published by EF041008 on 2008/12/25
 Santons

Symbol of the crib of Provence, The story of the Santons ( "Santibelli", the little saints) is linked to the introduction of te representation of Nativity in the churches.  





The story of the Santons ( "Santibelli", the little saints) is linked to the introduction of te representation of Nativity in the churches.  The crib whose origins are to be found in Gubbio, little village in Abbruzzi (Italy), is introduced in Provence in the 13th century.
 
François d'Assise seem to be the one who pomoted the idea, influenced by his mother, who was coming from Tarascon and new well the "Pastrages" , a representation of the Nativity done by the shepherds in the church for Christmas in Provence.

                   

In the 17th centry, Arles seem to be the town were Satons are created for the firts time in Provence. The first ones were done in glass ( they were called "belen", whose nme cam from Bethleem) but they were extremely expensive.Only people from bourgeoisy could buy them.

After the French Revolution that closed agreat number of churches, people were wishing to have the cribs at home to celebrate Christmas.

An artist from Marseille, Jean-Louis Lagnel, started to create santons made of clay. They were much more affordable.
A large number of santonmakers established shops in Aix, Marseille, Arles, Grassetoulon, Saint-Rémy...

Each santonmaker has his style, but the santons are always the same:
- Joseph, Marie, Jesus
- the angel Boufareu, that announces the coming of Jesus to the shepherds
- The Three Wise Men
- the servants like " le ravi" ( he simplemind whi is always happy), le Pistachié ( the one who is always scared) or Giget ( the stutterer)...
- the village men or women like the miller, the baker, the lady with the black chicken, the lady who sells snails...
- the old people and the young nes
- musicians...

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