In the Christian tradition, a nativity scene (also known as a manger scene, crib, crèche (/krɛʃ/or /kreɪʃ/), or in Italian presepio or presepe) is the special exhibition, particularly during the Christmas season, of art objects representing the birth of Jesus. While the term “nativity scene” may be used of any representation of the very common subject of the Nativity of Jesus in art, it has a more specialized sense referring to seasonal displays, either using model figures in a setting or reenactments called “living nativity scenes” (tableau vivant) in which real humans and animals participate. Nativity scenes exhibit figures representing the infant Jesus, his mother, Mary, and her husband, Joseph.
You may find it hard to believe, but what you’re seeing in the picture above is actually a self-operating, programmable machine, capable of writing letters and words with a quill pen, that’s still functioning after a quarter of a millennium.
Even Queen Elizabeth II has some old pieces of jewelry that once belonged to the Russian royal family.
The diamond, emerald and sapphire tiaras of the Romanov dynasty were remarkable for their beauty and opulence, and they were well known to other monarchies in Europe. This has to do with their unusual shape since most were reminiscent of the kokoshnik, an old type of Russian headdress. It was Catherine the Great who first brought the fashion for “Russian dress” to the court, and then in the middle of the 19th century under Nicholas I it was made mandatory. At official receptions, women began to wear diadems with a national flavor—“les tiares russes,” as they are called abroad.
From the late Middle Ages to the Baroque, Habsburg emperors and archdukes collected exotic and uncommon materials, to which they often ascribed magical powers, such as precious stones, ostrich eggs, coral and shark’s teeth, which were considered to be dragon’s tongues. From these natural products, artists created virtuoso works of art.
The history of Barrel organs’ creation extends back over several hundred years. Historians from different countries are still arguing about where and how this mechanism and its design was invented.
Sublime Dreams of Leaving Machines Part VI. An over 200-year-old timepiece-automaton adorned with golden mechanical birds, which still sing to this day.
Sublime Dreams of Living Machines. Part V. Made by Hans Schlottheim in German, in about 1585, the central figure of the galleon is the Holy Roman Emperor, surrounded by seven noblemen. When the clockwork mechanisms were wound, the ship moved forward over the table and they bowed in front of the Emperor. Miniature figures of the trumpeters and drummers on the deck moved in time to music that was generated by an internal organ and drum. The front canon also fired, lighting a fuse which in turn fired the canons on each side of the ship. The display finished in a cloud of smoke and must have been breathtaking to a 16th-century audience.
Sublime Dreams of Living Machines. Part IV. One of the most interesting clocks, as well as one of the most representative of clockmaking during the transition from the late 16th to the early 17th century, is this rather spectacular automaton of Diana On Her Chariot, as it’s called.
Sublime Dreams of Living Machines. Part III. The Silver Swan is an automaton dating from the 18th Century and is housed in the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Teesdale, County Durham, England.
Sublime Dreams of Living Machines. Part II. “Without the duck of Vaucanson, there would be nothing to remind us of the glory of France.” – VOLTAIRE