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Thurible Nativity No. 1—Alpine Crèche
A museum-quality nativity, familiar to crèche aficionados as the cover crèche of "Santi Auguri!"

This large (15 x 13 x 2.5 inches) nativity features an Alpine setting and is the cover crèche of Santi Auguri!
Cut along purple lines; fold towards you along yellow, and away from you along yellow lines marked with the letter "A".

Finding Santi Auguri! at Pollock's Toy Shop, Covent Garden, London, was the beginning of my love affair with paper nativities.

That was many years ago, but I still remember my excitement at seeing — after decades — a paper nativity like the ones from my youth — in a book!

This discovery was a turning point in my quest for the paper nativities of my youth, and it was marketed by an attempt to re-create the Santi Auguri! cover nativity.

That involved "cutting" the image, using Photoshop, and creating the four separate layers, or planes, that comprised the original.

This meant, of course, that when you separated the manger — the icicle-draped Alpine setting with the kneeling shepherd — you were left with holes to the left of the kneeling and the right of the standing Magi!

Many days of painstaking "reconstruction" work with the Photoshop Stamp (and other tools) later I was so happy to be able to assemble my Alpine Nativity.

Alas, in hindsight, it pales when compared to the beauty of the original (see photos, above).

Alpine Crèche

It's a magnificent nativity. It's size, alone, 15 x 13 x 2.5 inches, makes most other crèches look like mere miniatures.

But it's not just its size, but its design that so captivates an onlooker. The setting is Alpine, covered in glistening (sprinkles) snow; dripping in icicles; and featuring two gables, one containing a bell; three stone steps; and a small picket fence.

A white scroll — applied as an extra layer (so that it could be in different languages, without necessitating the expense of extra printing plates) proclaims, in German, "Glory To God In The Highest!"

A straw roof, in soft gold tones, can be seen in areas where the snow has receded, and two pine trees — a large one on the back and a smaller one on the front — provide the only touches of green.

There's also that hay inside the manger, but, I believe, it looks green only because it's printed on non-glossy paper, and the gold color shifted, perhaps.

Three huge boulders seem to buttress the left front of the Alpine structure — not to mention a small tree that's growing among them — and a lattice-work of beams, on the left; stonework, on the right; and bricks, on the belfry at left, make up the manger which also features a kneeling shepherd boy on the left.

The second plane contains the three Magi. The one on the left, almost totally obscured by the shepherd boy, offers his gift and a cloud of incense that bellows from a censer he is holding.

The middle Magi, with long white mane and gold robe, offers his gold grown on a red, velvet pillow. The third Magi, a turbaned Ethiopian wears ring earrings and holds a bejeweled case.

A sheep, peacefully, grazes, between two of the Magi.

The third features another kneeling shepherd boy, almost a twin of the one on the front, Joseph, steadying himself on his cane, and the Virgin and Child.

Two steps create a platform for Mary, and to her right, a wooden enclosure houses the ox and the ass which have turned their heads to face the Christ Child.

The side walls of the manger are off-white, and the back wall features wood boards, a loft with the aforementioned "green" hay, and a window covered with purple cellophane.

While the front of the Alpine Crèche and all the planes are printed on glossy paper, and are in relief, the back of the manger is matte.

Crèchemania Collection

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