The woodcarving tradition in Val Gardena region of Italy dates back nearly 500 years, to the beginning of the 17th century. A thorough analysis of historical records indicates that the tradition was started simultaneously and independently by two different peasant families, the Vinazer family in Pescosta and Trobinger family of Ciancel. Initially, they carved such functional things as toys, tools and domestic utensils, which they sold at spring fairs as a means to supplement their income and endure the long, snowy winters. The families enjoyed tremendous success with their woodcarvings and what started as a means of survival soon became a major industry for the region.
Within several generations of woodcarving, the Val Gardena region had established itself as a leader in Italian woodcarving. As a result of its new found reputation, master craftsman who learned their noble trade at well-known art workshops and academies across Europe, including Munich, Vienna and Paris relocated to the region and brought with them their unique influences and inspirations. It was around this time that the craftsmen of Val Gardena began to exclusively produce religion sculptures, a tradition that continued for many years.
Today, the skilled craftsmen of Val Gardena continue these ancient traditions with carvings that combine historical flavor with the delicacy of contemporary art. We at the House of Staunton are proud to offer the Gardena Art Chessmen for those who can appreciate the artistic value of these true masterpieces.