The particularity of the Neapolitan nativity scene (Christmas crib) is given by the enlargement of the scene. The holy family is placed in a very joyful environment that represents old Naples, with its architecture, its people, its traditions. Admiring the nativity scene is like touring around Naples in the 1700s, among the craftsmen, farmers, street vendors. Added to this spectacle there are the Magi, dressed in an Eastern or Moorish, set in the city at that time. What must be noticed is the special care of the craftsmen in reproducing the dresses, using the textiles available at that time.
The study of the contemporary reality was reflected in the specific dressing distinctions among the most important characters. Their dresses were made by using some gold threads sometimes. The popular figures were represented in theirexpressionistic, pitiless realism. This realism is connected to 17th-century Neapolitan painting. On the other hand, and very distinguished, we have the saints and the angels, charactherized by a very high-level and delicate execution, as we can see from their clothes in cool tones of color, such as the blue, the yellow and the white. The figures were made using an metal frame. The head was made of terracotta, while the legs and arm were of wood, in order to permit different gestures.
Greater value figures are enriched by little particularities with special treatment. An example is the eyes – made of glass and put in place after the baking of the terracotta.
It is also interesting to notice that the scene is not set in a nabger, but inside a Roman ruin instead. This aspect underlines, on one hand, the triumph of Christianity over paganism, and, on the other hand, the new interest generated by the discovery of the buried ruins at Herculaneum.