Spanish Colonial, Mexico, ca. late 19th century CE. A skillfully carved Santo figure depicting Saint Michael the Archangel, dressed as the general of heaven's angels and protector of the Church Militant, donning regal garments and vanquishing the devil in the form of a serpent underfoot, armed with a sword in his raised left hand and holding a set of scales in his left hand. This iconography preceded and inspired the traditional depiction of Michael and his angels waging war on the dragon, symbolizing the Christian conflict of Christ vs. the Antichrist. When shown holding scales or balances, as we also see here, he is assuming the role of weigher of humankind's souls. It was also popular to depict him as holding both a sword and scales - suggesting that he had subdued the demon - a victory over evil in the conflict over souls. Size: 15.75" H (40 cm)
Saint Michael is described in Revelation 12: 7-9 as leading his band of angels against the dragon, "That old serpent called the Devil and Satan." Hence, he is always depicted dressed in battle attire or mail and helmet and subduing a demon-like creature or trampling him underfoot as we see here. As Chief Commander of the Heavenly hosts, Saint Michael bravely challenged the Devil. Satan, after all, was Michael's opponent in the battle for Heaven. The figures' gestures and motion are characteristically pantomime-like and dramatic. Archangels like Michael are understood to be helpers and allies who offer dedicated protection through life's trials and travails. Their names usually end in the suffix "ael" or "iel" meaning “Shining One” in Hebrew, e.g. Michael, Rafael, Gabriel, Ariel, Ezekiel, Barachiel, Uriel, etc.
Provenance: private California, USA collection
All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.
A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.
We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
The hand holding the sword was carved separately and intended to fit the right arm as shown. Serpent was also carved separately, and Saint Michael is attached to it via dowels, though a tad wobbly. Four partial perforations to back collar. Some tangling and losses to threads from which scales are suspended, but many remain. Expected surface wear with some fading and pigment loss. Some touch up paint to face. Nice craquelure to remaining pigment. Age crack to right foot.