- Image reveals eight human teeth that are preserved all the way to the root
- Similar statues have teeth but they are usually made from wood or bone
- Experts believe teeth were donated by worshipers in the 18th century
A creepy X-ray image taken of a statue of Jesus in Mexico has revealed that the 300-year-old figure contains real human teeth – and they are all in perfect condition.
The eight teeth were discovered when researchers took the X-ray as part of restoration work on the ‘Lord of Patience’ statue, believed to have been constructed in the 18th century.
The teeth, which are perfectly formed all the way to the root, are believed to have been donated by worshipers out of gratitude, or as a way to get closer to the religious figure.
They can be seen between the figure’s slightly-parted lips and are picked up in the eerie x-Ray image.
Art restorer Fanny Unikel told Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, where the restoration was being carried out, that it is common for statues to have teeth, but explained that they were normally made of wood or bone.
She said: ‘It is common for statues to have teeth, but they are normally made of wood or carved individually out of bone. In this case, he has eight adult teeth. You can even see the roots.’
The 3ft 8ins-tall icon — depicting a patient, pained Christ resting momentarily during the Passion — is seated in a church in San Bartolo Cuautlalpan, a town of 10,000 about 30 miles north of Mexico City.
Unikel, from Mexico’s National School of Conservation, Restoration and Museology, said the teeth were most likely donated out of gratitude, or as a way to get closer to the religious figure.
She added that it is historically common for parishioners to donate clothes or their own hair to make wigs for saints.
Unikel said the Lord of Patience, as the statue is known, is very well preserved.
She said: ‘The sculpture is always dressed. He only leaves the church during Holy Week, when he is paraded through the town.’
In Mexico’s rural communities it is common to carry figures through the streets on holidays, usually followed by a celebratory parade.
During restoration work, Unikel and her team also discovered tinges of green and blood-red on the statue – thought to be from the original paintwork – which was later hidden a ‘modern beige retouching’.
Unikel said: ‘The community really appreciates him, and this can be seen in the base of the sculpture, where there are different layers of multiple shades of paint. This shows that they wanted to present him with dignity.’