very rare and highly unique early 20th century american hand carved "santos" folk art figure. originates from new mexico. possibly saint vincent de paul or perhaps saint francis of assisi. the intricately carved winged religious sculpture exhibits a nicely distressed gesso with polychrome paint (possibly home made pigments) finish with an allover crazing. the wings are comprised of tin with punched border. the wood base was added later (for display purposes). artist unidentified. santo (from the spanish word meaning "saint") is a traditional new mexican genre of religious sculpture. the word "santo" is also used to refer to individual works in this genre. santos are carvings, either in wood or ivory, that depict saints, angels, or other religious figures. icons and other religious images were crucial for the conversion of indigenous peoples to roman catholicism, which was itself an integral part of the spanish colonization of the americas. however, long distances, inefficient methods of transportation, and high demand for such artworks limited the ability of ecclesiastical authorities to supply parish churches, especially those in remote outposts, with "official" works of religious art from spain. the first santos are thought to have been imitations of spanish baroque statues carved by priests. later santos were influenced by native styles. they became popular items of devotion, found from home altars to churches, whence they sometimes attracted pilgrims. originally common throughout latin america and the caribbean, the tradition of santo carving was preserved as a folk art in northern new mexico, whose isolated villages remain secluded to this day. measures 18 x 14 inches.