Wood Carving in Ortisei - Gardena
In addition to agriculture, arts and crafts were also well developed in Val Gardena by the Middle Ages, and the craftsmen of the valley had a fine reputation for their skills and diligence. They produced thick loden cloth, turned wooden bowls, and the women later made lace as well. At the beginning of the 17th century Christian Trebinger, his brother Bartlmä, and Melchior Vinazer established a craft that is today inseparable from the name Val Gardena – wood carving.
Many of them made wooden bowls and other simple utensils, while the more talented tried their hand on more artistic items, mostly statues with a religious subject. In the course of the 17th century the Val Gardena wood carvers concentrated more on works of a figural type, while some of them produced caricatures, picture frames, ornaments, animals, nativity scene figurines and children’s toys. By the 18th century Val Gardena was a major centre of wood carving, and pedlars and merchants carried the carvings and the name of Val Gardena far and wide.
Of the several thousand wood carvers in the valley, some developed into true artists, and in order to raise the general standard an art school was founded. Today wood carving is a modern industry and a genuine craft at the same time, producing individual, varied and authentic specimens of the art.