Learn the history, the difference between a Santos doll and a Santos cage doll, ideas for decorating, and where to buy these beauties. Cool or creepy…you decide!
I adore Santos dolls, particularly Santos cage dolls. I have a few 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 Cage 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).
In Europe, small villages often did not have a priest present, and it wasn’t always possible to travel to a church. So Santos were created to use for in-home altars.
Antique vs Reproduction
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.
Santos Doll vs. Santos Cage Doll
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.
Ideas for Decorating with Santos Dolls
Either way, antique or reproduction, Santos cage 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.
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.
If tall, they can be used to add height to displays.
Highly articulated dolls can begin to take on any shape you want, such as this one which is being used on my coffee table.
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!
Where to Buy Santos Dolls
They can be hard to find, but your best bets will be:
And don’t miss out on this great Santos style Christmas tree topper!
Here are a few of my favorites: