Traditional trade from Val Gardena
The creation of wood-carved figures is a century old tradition in Val Gardena which harks back to the long winter nights, during which people fantasized and tried to give wooden blocks a shape with rudimentary objects. At the same time carving was an opportunity to give shape to individual impressions, beliefs and life stances. Masks and everyday items were the most carved, followed by wooden toys and religious figures, which only testified to the improved technique and the achieved artistic finesse of carvers.
What had started as a small endeavour around 1600 had become a main trade at the end of the 18th century for many people in this Dolomite valley. The establishment of an art and design school, the construction of the road of Val Gardena as well as the establishment of a sales cooperative all contributed to the overall improvement in the valley. The carved and exported objects were mostly Christian figures, such as representations of Mary, angels, crucifixes and nativity scenes. Incidentally, the largest wood-carved nativity scene in the world can be seen at the Iman Center in Santa Cristina. People can even look closely over the shoulder of the sculptor carving a new nativity figure, as they are added every year, to obtain a glimpse into the fascinating tradition of woodcarving. People still carve wood today in Val Gardena: proof that this typical trade is alive and kicking.