New World, Spanish Colonial Period, ca. 19th century CE. A wonderful gathering of five hand-carved wooden santos, four of which represent soldiers taking part in the biblical "Massacre of the Innocents" and one depicting a standing female holding an infant in her arms. Each of the male santos are shown in a different stance: one holding a sword and a severed head; one holding a sword and a swaddled infant; one holding only an infant; and the last with a raised arm used to wield a sword. Each male figure wears traditional Spanish armor with red sashes and skirts as well as military boots atop a mounded platform, and the woman stands with one upraised arm and wearing a cream-hued gown and an olive skirt. Despite the massacre taking place roughly 2,000 years ago in the Holy Land, its importance to the Christian faith has perpetuated throughout the centuries. These figures represent a Spanish interpretation of the events surrounding the massacre. Size of largest (man holding baby): 4.125" W x 12.3" H (10.5 cm x 31.2 cm).
The "Massacre of the Innocents" was a biblical account of mass infanticide at the hands of the tyrannical ruler King Herod the Great. According to the Gospel of Matthew, the Magi had announced the birth of Jesus Christ, the future King of the Jews, much to the dismay of the current King Herod. Upon receiving this news, King Herod ordered his soldiers to slaughter each young male child within the vicinity of Bethlehem to eliminate any eventual chance that he would be usurped. Hundreds of Herod's troops then swarmed the streets, mercilessly killing every young boy they were able to find. Despite the children being of the Jewish faith, the Christian church anointed every murdered child as a martyr of the Christian faith.Santos played a key role in bringing the Catholic Church to the New World with the Spanish colonists. These religious figures were hand-carved and often furnished with crowns, jewels, and other accessories, usually funded by religious devotees, and were used as icons to explain the major figures - Mary, Christ, and the saints - to new, indigenous converts. Likewise, they served as a connection to the Old World for Spanish colonists far from home. They became a folk-art tradition in the Spanish New World, from modern day Guatemala to as far north as New Mexico and Colorado. Many of them were lovingly cared for over the years, with repairs and paint added as they aged, and played an active part for a long time in the religious life of their communities.
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.
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Female has stable fissure on verso near base. Man holding nothing has missing fingers and repairs to base, one leg, and one arm. Man with sword and head has repairs to base and both arms. Man holding sword and baby has repairs to base, one arm, and helmet. All figures have surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, fading and chipping to pigmentation, and wear to some finer details. Light earthen deposits throughout.