During my walk today I came upon a small exhibition of cribs in the local village. In Malta and Gozo it is very traditional to build nativity cribs named ‘presepju’, quite often a whole village scene is built around it too, the structure can become quite large and is always interesting as features are used that shows life, and incorporates items of farming or domestic scenes from long ago set in local landscape. The traditional figurines that are made here, are called ‘pasturi’ they are hand-made out of unfired clay or wax.
I have been fascinated by some of these cribs here in Gozo, last winter I saw some beautiful and very artistic ones in a shop window. The clothing of the figurines quite elaborate, my favourite was one crib where the figurines were all dressed in medieval textiles and clothing design of that day. This time too among the cribs in this exhibition there was use of textile in the making of one of the cribs and the effect was rather nice, down to the minutest details of for example a slipper, made in miniature with fine gold thread and use of deep reds and greens. There is no doubt that a lot of loving and patient work goes into making these cribs and it is fine to see exhibitions of them all over the island around this time of the year. I took some photos to show some of the variety for your perusal.
In this crib all the figurines have been dressed in beautiful textile.
This Christ child is surrounded by traditional flowers made of metal wire, silk thread, beads, and or jewels. This work is done by hand and is called ‘ganutell’. I read that this beautiful art form was practised in monasteries. But it also mentions that the Maltese in the sixteenth century made use of the spiral gold and silver wire called canutiglia, and together with silk thread, glass beads, pearls, gems, and gold and silver wire would produce these beautiful flowers which are mostly kept under glass domes now – and here is one of them. One of my Gozitan friends has made me a flower bunch like that, she told me that it is very intricate work, and I believe her. For more information on Ganutell see this link: https://www.google.com.mt/search?q=ganutell+malta&sa=X&dcr=0&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ved=0ahUKEwj8trq0v63YAhULbxQKHW10DQcQsAQILg&biw=1366&bih=622
Another one of the Christmas traditions in Gozo is putting a crib in the window, it is an old custom, and I saw it a lot in Victoria last winter. Here is an example, made as part of the exhibition.
And these are then some of the ‘pasturi’ made in unfired clay, some of them painted.
More ‘pasturi’ but larger this time.
These is a collection of all the participant of this exhibition, I just wanted to include it in case anyone would like to know.
It was an unexpected and nice surprise to come across during my walk to fetch some milk today, things like this always teach me something more about Gozo and the Gozitans for which I am very glad and thankful.