Mechanical Splendours

Krýza’s crèche – The nativity scene created by Tomáš Krýza

The nativity scene (creche) created by Tomáš Krýza (in Czech Krýzovy jesličky) is a large mechanical construction, since 1998 mentioned in Guinness Book of World Records as the largest one in the world.

Stocking-weaver Tomáš Krýza (1838 – 1918) was a burgher from Jindřichův Hradec (a town in today’s South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic). He had worked on the creche for over sixty years. The scene covers around 60 m² (length 17 m, size and height 2 m). It contains 1389 figures of humans and animals, of which 133 are moveable. The material used was woodfloursawdustgypsum and fish glue. The mechanical parts were originally powered manually, now single electrical motor is used.

The oldest part of the nativity scene depicts birth of Christ. Themes from Bible and scenes of everyday life in 19th century Bohemia inspired the rest.

The creche is now exhibited in the Museum of Jindřichův Hradec.

The area has tradition of nativity scenes – first written record comes from 1579. In 1936 the museum obtained two other large nativity scenes created by Emanuela and Bohdan Steinocher. These are placed next to the Krýza’s creche. Source, Museum webpage about the Krýza’s work (in Czech)

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