Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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Bulto (St. Christopher or St. Joseph)
  • unknown maker from the United States
  • Bulto (St. Christopher or St. Joseph), 1800s
  • Where object was made: New Mexico Territory (present-day New Mexico), United States
  • wood, paint
  • Object Height/Width: 34.3 x 22.8 cm
    Object Height/Width: 13 1/2 x 9 in
  • Source unknown
  • Not on display
  • 0000.0197

Consisting of several separate pieces of wood joined and covered by a layer of white plaster or gesso. The largest single piece is the body of the figure, running from the hem of its skirt up to a point just below the shoulder line where a crack in the paint and its supporting plaster indicates that the upper part of the shoulders, the neck and the head are carved from another piece of wood. The arms are compound; the upper arms and lower arms are separate pieces of wood joined at the elbows. Cracks in the paint and plaster indicate that the hands may have been carved as separate pieces and attached to the forearms by glued dowels, much in the way the feet are attached to both the bottom of the figure and base.
Hands and feet are simply carved and covered with a thin layer of plaster, which was then painted a rather pinkish flesh color. The right hand is closed and a hole has been drilled through the fist, which thus might have held a staff or even a flower. This is not unusual when santos are still used as cult images. The left hand is held palm up and extended as though it once held something, but the fingers being broken off, there is no evidence of what was once held.