Albeit fun and colorful, this early 20th century hand painted and sculpted animal from Mexico is neither a carousel horse or a child's toy. It is far more interesting and esoteric -- a body mask, designed to emulate Santiago's (Saint James') horse in the 'Dance of the Christians and Moors'. In Mexico, the tradition of reenacting historical events through dance can be traced back centuries, and one of the most important dances is the 'Baile de los Cristianos'.
In the beginning of the eight century (year 711) Muslim armies from North Africa entered the southern region of Spain via the Straits of Gibraltar, and over the next seven years they occupied and inhabited the Iberian Peninsula.
Under the leadership of Alfonso VI, Saint James led the Christian Reconquista. Appearing on the battlefield in full armor, riding his white charger, the Moorslayer miraculously led the Christians to victory more than 40 times, winning decisive victory after victory.
The 'Santiaguito' horse offered here represents Saint James' 'white charger', as referenced above. With the aid of a belt and shoulder harness, ceremonial dancers step inside the narrow box, strap Santiaguito to their waist and parade around the village, performing, chanting, singing - sharing the important story of 'Saint James the Greater' with the local community.
Dimensions: Measures 29 inches from nose to tail x 23 inches high x 16 inches wide.
Condition notes: in overall excellent, original condition with only minor paint loss. Excellent color, wear and patina. Unrestored.
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Colonial Arts | 151 Vermont Street Street, Suite 6 | San Francisco, CA., 94103 | www.colonialarts.com