Audio story about the panel with musical mechanism "Holy Family"

Today's issue of the column "Audio Stories" is dedicated to the ceramic panel with musical mechanism "Holy Family", made by skilful Swiss craftsmen at the turn of 19th – 20th centuries. You will get acquainted with sacral symbols and rituals, hear a story about a musical mechanism with pinned metal cylinder and sound comb, built into a wooden case covering the panel from the rear side.

 The Holy Family, as a plot in art, gained special importance in the late Middle Ages. Since the closure of churches in France in 1793, most Catholic families around the world had made home Christmas cribs from a variety of materials, with the same characters - the Virgin Mary, Child Jesus, and Saint Joseph. This is how Santons appeared (Fr. santon, literally "little saint") - miniature clay figurines depicting Biblical characters, saints or ordinary people.

The tradition of making Santons dates back to the times of the French Revolution, when, according to the new anti-clerical laws, churches in the country were closed, and it was forbidden to offer the liturgy. However, is was not easy for worshipers to turn their backs on celebrating Christmas, and many of them secretly set up Christmas cribs at home, which they used to see in churches. The first clay Santons were created in 1798 by the Marseille sculptor Jean-Louis Laniel. His works were in demand, so Laniel came up with more and more new characters. He was the author of the most common types of Santons, which are still reproduced nowadays. Laniel used special patterns to create the figurines bodies, while the hands, hats, details and accessories were made manually and attached to figurines’ bodies.

In 1803, the first fair where multifarious Santons were presented, was held in Marseille and later it became the annual tradition. In the 20th century, Santons were still popular. Earlier clay figures were left unburned, as time went on, they were made from the baked (burned) clay. Thus the possibility apperared to stored them longer and to transported them over greater distances.

More details about  the musical ceramic panel "Holy family"  presented in the museum Collection are in the “Audio Stories” section.