We carry authentic santons from Provence, which are designed and made by three internationally renown santonniers (santon makers): Les Santons Didier, Les Santons Fouque, and the santons of Les Ateliers Marcel Carbonel.
The specialty of Provence craftsmen is the making of cribs (mangers), representing nativity scenes. Santons making is a tradition that was taught by Franciscan priests and originated in Provence in the 13th century.
History of Santons
Since the Renaissance, nativity scenes in cribs composed of shepherds and the three Magi (the Three Wise Men) were commonly found in Provence's churches; the French Revolution (1789) helping its popularity and development. The closing of churches and the forbidding of worship, incited inhabitants of Marseilles to make cribs at home for nativity scenes with small figures made of wax , clay and the soft part of bread. Hence, Santons were born.
Workers in the community were also represented in small figures along with the already popular biblical characters. These painted figures are very detailled and expressive. The are named Santons de Provence, literally “Santons from Provence.” The name itself comes from the local dialect, and means little saint. Santons became so popular in France that festivals were organised. The first was held in Marseilles on December 4th, 1803. Today, santons are sought after by art collectors.