Sunday, March 30, 2014


My recent post about my Santos cage dolls brought many questions,
mostly about their history.   
In retrospect, I should have included that with the post.  My bad. 

One of my Santos Cage Dolls

I was able to find some information about them.  Obviously mine, and most of those available for sale are reproductions, but I thought you'd enjoy a little about their origins.

History of Santos Cage Dolls reproduced from

European Beginnings

The Santos dolls take their name from the Spanish word for Saint, and are also known as Santons (French) and Santibelli (Italian). The Santos that started the genre of dolls we currently represent (primarily Spanish Colonial and Western European style), were originally started as copies of 17th century carvings by priests. Originally, Santos were created for use as in-home altars.  They were needed in small villages that did not have a priest, as well as for when it was not possible to travel to church, such as during times of war.  Their development flourished in Europe  in the 1700's and 1800's, primarily due to these wars.

Santos dolls are closely related to the Crèche figures, which were implemented in Italy by St Francis of Assisi, during the 13th century. However, the Crèche are primarily associated with Italian and French nativity and crib scenes.  Crèche scenes are still elaborately displayed throughout Italy and in parts of France, most notably in Provence.
Discovery of the New World

European Santos dolls were also brought to the Latin Americas during the Colonial age of Spain's settling of The New World.  The dolls were used to aid in the of conversion of the Native Americans and Central American Indians to Catholicism. Many of these original dolls, along with the art that inspired them, were destroyed while trying to settle the West.  Therefore, antiques in good shape are rare and very expensive. It is not uncommon to see an antique Santos bring 4 and 5 digit figures.  In more recent years, fine and folk art has emerged to replace these dolls.  Santos dolls are designed and created by "Santeros" or "Santonniers" (loosely 'saint maker'). As the art form has progressed, the Santos has become recognized as a true artistic doll.  Some dolls are rustic carvings, while others have magnificent details. 

There are many sources for purchasing these lovely reproductions.

Obviously from  They have many examples.

They're also on eBay

Santos for sale on eBay

Amazon has a nice selection too.

Santos for sale on Amazon

And of course my friend, Sandy, who has a shop at the Delaware shore, has one for sale too.
 If you'd like to know more about hers, let me know.  I'll put her in touch with you.  

I hope this answered some of your questions.
 I actually have to thank you because I learned some facts I didn't know either.


FYI, this is not a sponsored post.

No comments:

Post a Comment