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Salvator Mundi: It’s a Boy! An 18th Century Carving of Jesus as “Savior of the World” on Christmas Day

Jesus as “Savior of the World,” Goa, 18th century, Ivory 4.5 in. (11.43 cm.) high at Kapoor Galleries

Our friends at Kapoor Galleries recently shared with us this delightful ivory carving of a boyish Jesus as “Savior of the World” dating from 18th century Goa, India. While India is generally associated with the Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist religions, Christianity is practiced by a sizable minority making it the third-largest religion in India today (after Hinduism and Islam). According to some traditions, the Christian faith was introduced in the 1st century AD by Thomas the Apostle and is generally believed to have taken hold on the Malabar Coast (Kerala) by the 6th Century. In the early modern era, the Portuguese held sway in the enclave of Goa on India’s western coast from 1510 onward, and many of the local population became Catholic. Christian works of art were produced in Goa’s ivory carving production center, including this Catholic image of Jesus. Here, Jesus is depicted as a child in his role as Salvator Mundi (Latin for ‘Savior of the World’) identified by the orb in his left hand and his right hand raised in a gesture of blessing. He is dressed in sumptuous regalia, and has a rich, warm, deep yellow patina, enhancing the appeal of the piece.