Decorating with Santos Dolls – Cool or Creepy?

How to Decorate with Santos DollsI adore Santos dolls, particularly Santos cage dolls.  I have two in my home and unfortunately, these might be the only two I purchase since my husband finds them a little creepy…  But to me, they amazing works of art!  I love their serene expressions, delicate features and soft, beautiful colors.

What is a Santos doll?  Originally started as copies of 17th century carvings by priests, Santos dolls take their name from the Spanish word for Saint, and are also known as Santons (French) and Santibelli (Italian).  Typically, antique dolls have glass eyes and given that they are difficult to find and in high demand, antique dolls can be quite costly.  Reproductions also exist, although they often have painted eyes.  Versus a traditional Santos doll, a Santos CAGE doll is a doll from the torso up and an open wire cage on the bottom.  Many Santos dolls are articulated, including the cage dolls, which often have articulated arms.


Either way, antique or reproduction, Santos dolls can be a beautiful addition to a home’s decor.  If you have a collection, they look nice when grouped together to create a statement.Group of Santos Dolls


If you have just one (or even a few), it can be a nice addition when mixed with other, more traditional objects in the room.  728-santos-doll


If tall, they can be used to add height to displays.

via Blue Egg Brown Nest on Etsy

via Blue Egg Brown Nest on Etsy


Highly articulated dolls can begin to take on any shape you want, such as this one which is being used as a paper weight for decorating magazines.


Or, you can even add them to a bathroom or dressing area and drape your necklaces on them when not in use.  In fact, given this common use for Santos dolls, you can now find actual jewelry holders that were inspired by cage dolls.




I love to mix vintage pieces with newer, more traditional items, and Santos dolls are among my favorite vintage items.  So, despite that my husband finds them a little scary, I still have fun using them in my home!








1 comment on Decorating with Santos Dolls – Cool or Creepy?

  1. Rachael
    May 11, 2015 at 2:33 AM (7 months ago)

    Hi there

    I was hoping you could please help me with some more information about Santos caged dolls. I have the exact some doll as the one shown in picture number 3 above, the lady with the crown behind her head. I was wondering if you could please give me abit more info. About the history of this doll and it’s possible meaning? I know nothing about my doll, how do I know if it’s a reproduction doll? And Approx. how much is my doll valued? How do I tell how old it is? And how should I clean my doll? I just recently brought my Santo doll very cheaply online and she was not advertised as a santos doll, she was just listed as “wooden lady ornament” and in good condition but I found her intriging and unusual, so I brought her on her uniqueness. Only to find out now, after looking online she is a santos caged doll, looks exactly like you have pictured above. Anyway if you can help me with some answers that would be much appreciated, thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. Kind Regards, Rachael


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