Jesus Statue Made with Real Human Teeth

Aug 13, 2014, by Dr. Becky Coats

Restorers working on an 18th century statue of Jesus, called the “Lord of Patience,” were surprised when an x-ray revealed that the statue actually had real human teeth in its mouth.

The statue had 8 human teeth which are perfectly preserved, right down to the tips of their roots.

A Beloved Statue

The representation of Jesus resting during the Passion is a figure that is beloved of its town and has been treated well by parishioners to maintain it during the nearly three hundred years of its existence. Crafted mostly of wood, the statue is well maintained, and protected. Art restorer Fanny Unikel said, “The sculpture is always dressed. He only leaves the church during Holy Week, when he is paraded through town.” The town is San Bartolo Cuautlalpan, with about 10,000 residents, a mere 30 miles from Mexico City (and just 19 hours south of Grapevine).

The current restoration is not the first time the statue has been touched up. Restorers found traces of green and blood-red on the statue, thought to be the original paint job. The base of the statue has been repainted many times to ensure that the statue is always presented with dignity.

Devoted Worshippers

When a statue like this is so beloved and well-cared for, it seems less unlikely that people would be prepared to donate teeth to a statue, which is what researchers think happened. It was apparently common for people to donate items to the construction of a statue, including clothes and hair. But teeth seem a completely different step again.

When you consider that there was no dental anesthesia for the extraction, and no tooth replacement options like dental implants or even dentures, it seems incredible that people would have donated their teeth. Researchers say it might have been out of gratitude or as an attempt to get closer to the religious figure. It’s also possible that people did it out of religious devotion. People in the 18th century were commonly  asked to be prepared to give their lives for Jesus, why not a tooth or two? Especially when they know they will be reuinted with their teeth in the next life.