Mad in Pursuit Notebook

Santo's face.

The Santo Doll: Saint for All Seasons

3 Oct. 2021. It's October and suddenly I'm doll crazy, leaving a couple of writing projects in the lurch while I play. It's Halloween month. It's autumn. Life is cozy. Time for a little haunting.

We purchased this 28-inch tall, wooden "doll" at the Wayne County Antique Show for my birthday in November, 2017. It was sold as a French antique and I assumed it was a mannequin for doll clothes.

But I quickly discovered that figures of this type began as an object of religious devotion but has since become popular as folksy home decor. They are known as santos or cage-dolls.

View of Santo, front, back, and sides.

From what little research I can find, I believe these figures were originally made in European and Latin American villages that celebrated saints' days with parades and devotions, but were too poor for statuary. These gender neutral dolls could be elaborately dressed, bewigged, and crowned with the regalia deemed correct for each saint. The positionable arms could mimic a saint's gestures. The "cage" could be filled with appropriate offerings.

I've decided to accept our Santo as an antique, if only because current folk-art decor tends to have a matte finish and our Santo shines with mid-century gloss.

Photo below from 10 Nov. 2017, a snowy day.

Santo at the window on a snowy day.

Photo from 14 Dec. 2019 (below). The only time I tried to dress Santo was shortly after Maddie and Stella joined the clan.

Santo with Maddie and Stella

Now. Yesterday, my haunted mood led me to dig out my grandmother Kitty Mom's ancient piano shawl, an Egyptian asyut embroidery. In 2013, I researched it, with the intention of repairing some tears and putting it back into use. But I stupidly tried washing it with a strong solution of Oxy-Clean. The darn thing started falling apart, losing its shimmering brass doodads. I wrapped it in netting and stored it away, humiliated, hoping some day I'd dream up a way to repair it.

Sadly, it is still irreparable. But what if I cut it to fit Santo? I kept it pinned to the netting, trying to keep it from deteriorating further.

Oh! How perfect! With her arms outstretched, Santo makes a lovely wraith. Still a work in progress. [continued>>>]

Santo models the ruined asyut.





HEADLONG: Over the Edge in Pakistan and China (2018) Traveler's tale of a 1992 adventure. A poorly planned roadtrip takes long-time lovers Susan and Jim to forbidden places and lost times. Kindle.

THE SUDDEN SILENCE: A Tale of Suspense and Found Treasure (2015) Thailand: lovers of ancient treasure tangle with international black markets. Delia Rivera pulls Martin Moon back into the game and their quest turns deadly. In paperback and Kindle editions.

TRIBE OF THE BREAKAWAY BEADS: Book of Exits and Fresh Starts (2011) Time after time, Mary asks herself: Do I go or do I stay? She finds her power in her ancestors: Smart women turn discontent into action. An illustrated memoir in paperback and Kindle editions.

PASSION AND PERIL ON THE SILK ROAD: A Thriller in Pakistan and China (2008) The twin forces of revenge and redemption drive Nellie MacKenzie and Taylor Jackson on a crazed adventure into the heart of Central Asia. They grapple with issues of ethics, trust, rage, and bitter heartbreak -- as well as the intrigue of the international antiquities trade. In paperback and Kindle editions.



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All pages in this website by Susan Barrett Price are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. [The snowstorm image at the top of this page came from Wikipedia, under a Creative Commons license.]