First the Romans, then the Greeks, the Arabs, the Spanish and the Normans dominated the city, bringing in their traditional designs and techniques which merged into a unique ceramic production and one of the most distinctive Sicilian pottery traditions.
The Nativity figures were certainly part of the local production already during the Middle Age, as reported in many documents, although no actual example has ever been found due to the terrible earthquake that destroyed the city in 1693.
However, it can be argued that no proper artistic production took place before the 18th century. At this time the more talented potters started to make hand modeled freestanding figures that represented not only the key characters in the Nativity crib, but also the local characters in their daily tasks: the cheese maker, the hunter, the shepherd and so on.
The Real world became part of the Sacred world, carrying into the Nativity Scene the ever changing social scenario, the attitude of people, their everyday clothes and even their common gestures.