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Greek Fatni Nativity
A Greek crèche patterned on an Italian original

A cave provides the manger in this 1950s Greek fatni (nativity) based on an early 1900s Italian original (see photo, below).
Fold-out Nativities
Greek Fatni Nativity

Five panels of the Greek Fatni Nativity create a multi-layered 3-D effect: the cave-like Front features a young shepherd boy and two lambs, and, above a slatted, slanted roof, two little angels hold a banner with the words, in Greek, "Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth Peace," while an angel sings and two other angels play instruments. In the second layer a Magi and shepherd adore, and in the other two Kings of the East offering gifts are joined by a young shepherd who offers a lamb. A shepherd, holds a wicker basket with two doves in the fourth layer with the Holy Family, and in the fifth Bethlehem is pictured in the distance.

Size: 12 x 3 x 11 inches.
Provenance: Greece, circa 1950
Attributes: Die-cut, fold-out
Copyright: Crèchemania
Price Guide: I have never found this nativity for sale, but the Italian vintage crèche on which it is based has sold for over $200.

The Italian, circa early 1900, original. Can you spot the differences with the Greek Fatni above?
A Manger resembling a cave houses this 1950s Greek Fatni (manger). Above, two little angels unfurl a "Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth Peace" banner while an angelic trio serenades the New Born King with voice, viol, and lute. Below, shepherds and Magi kneel in adoration, while in the distance, Bethlehem, under a starry sky.

I can still remember my excitement upon seeing it in a bookstore window in my native Pyrgos, Greece. Run your mouse over the right small images above to see what I consider to be the Italian crèche that inspired it…

Imagine my surprise while visiting Vittorio Pranzine, co-author of Santi Aguri!, to see in front of me a crèche resembling my very first paper nativity (see photo at left).

Since the provenance of the Italian nativity was early 20th century, and the Greek Fatni was published in the 1950s; and given the similarities of the two crèches, one assumes that the Greek artist was inspired, and clearly influenced, by the Italian original.

The Greek artist has retained the flavor of the work of his Italian counterpart, departing from the original in major and minor details: the manger, for example, has become a rocky cave; What other differences can you spot?

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