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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Picturesque Presepi

As promised, a few photos of the presepi show on Isola Bella. The collection of almost 100 nativity scenes are scattered around the island, like a treasure hunt, wonderful surprises turning up everywhere. Some are in the obvious places, the church, and the chapel, and others are hidden in less obvious spots; a piece of wood in an alcove becomes a pedestal for a porcelain presepio; a summer tourist newsstand is now a shelter for a large display.






The scene below is actually two-dimensional and etched in a piece of glass. It's small, and locked safely in a frame attached to a stone wall.
This very old and fragile set of figures is made completely of chalk. Sadly, the cow and the Virgin Mary have been lost, and the chalk is crumbling badly in places, but I love the soft colors and tender feel of this arrangement.
A nativity scene as depicted by an Ethiopian artist. Look at the details, the pots and dishes, the women seated on the left working, and the gauzy desert fabrics.
This Asian artist has so lovingly captured a feeling of total adoration. Mary’s hand gently cradling her baby's head, Joseph’s hands folded as he gazes at them. These little faces may be my favorite of all.

It’s quiet on Isola Bella. The weather on Vigilia di Natale, Christmas Eve, was unseasonably warm. Tourists are few. A Christmas mass was held in a small chapel. Normally the chapel holds 18; this day a ‘crowd’ of 40 filled it. Not too many shops are open. Nothing distracts from the serenity, simplicity, and true meaning of the day.


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