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Handicraft with tradition

From everyday objects to altar figurines: discover the art of wood carving in Val Gardena

Wood carving has a long tradition in Val Gardena. Since the 17th century, carving articles for daily use, such as cutlery, tableware or field tools, was part of everyday farming life and was a popular pastime, especially in winter. Over the course of time, a handicraft developed out of necessity. Secular and sacred works of art attracted more and more buyers over time and became the main source of income in Val Gardena during the 18th century. In addition to Nativity scenes and holy figures, wooden toys and dolls were also produced, which were exported throughout Europe and as far as America.

The best known is the Val Gardena jointed doll, the so-called ‘Dutch Doll’. Since the collapse of the Val Gardena wooden toy industry after the First World War, nowadays the Val Gardena carving masters mainly produce high-quality series products as well as handcrafted individual pieces. Once a year, in September, local artists present contemporary carving art at the UNIKA sculpture fair in Urtijëi/Ortisei.

The South Tyrolean wood sculptors

The path from wood craftsman or religious sculpture carver to international artist was difficult and rocky for many key players from Val Gardena: it was not until 1969 that the trademark for exclusively handmade wood carvings was introduced.

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Home of artists and natural treasures

Handicraft is omnipresent in South Tyrol and has produced some great artists. Where do they get the inspiration for their works? Discover the home of the wood sculptors and marvel at the beautiful natural features.