The fake "miracle" of the crucifix
given to Dr. Hislop
This excerpt is from the online book that analyzes Sai Babas "miracles". It can be read in the "Sai EXPOSE websites" link.58 - Another Version Of Sai Baba's Remark:
In 1973, Sai Baba produced a small crucifix, gave it to his disciple named Dr. Hislop, and, according to Dr. Hislop, said, "this shows Christ as He really was at the time when He left his body. No writer or artist has imagined him this way before." Eastern View, p. 7
As for the claim Sai Baba makes that the crucifix "shows Christ as he really was at the time he left his body, not as artists have imagined him or as historians have told about him", and "no writer or artist has imagined him this way before," the following are comments from Uno Langmann, a highly reputable art, antique, and curio dealer headquartered in Vancouver B.C., and Dr. William S. Dale, Professor Emeritus in Fine Arts at the University of Western Ontario, upon inspection of the full page magnified colour photograph of the crucifix reproduced at p. xi (Plate 2) of Dr. Hislop's book, My Baba & I:
59 - Uno Langmann's Comments on the Crucifix:
Judging from the photograph, the sculpture would be an ordinary inexpensive crucifixion depiction. The material of the Christ figure would probably be of soft metal such as pewter or lead. Of course this is hard to tell from a photograph. It might be bronze or conceivably silver, but neither of these is likely. The casting is cheap and not very skillful, which supports the idea that the material would be lead perhaps. You can see little air bubbles around the feet which indicates that it was made by cheap plaster of Paris mold. The sculpture is affixed to the wood by small manufactured nails. The rendering of the feet and toes is especially coarse, which also indicates the cheapness of the piece. The wood appears to be low-grade hardwood of some sort. Finally, as to the image itself, it is a typical artistic conception of the crucifixion. I believe I have seen this sculpture image before. I would guess that it's a medieval European representation originally perhaps 12th or 13th century. At least that would be a period to check. In this miniature reproduction form it would not be a particularly interesting piece. Uno Langmann, personal communication, 1988
60 - William S. Dale's Comments on the Crucifix:
Your letter of February 8, enclosing the material on Sai Baba and the miraculously-produced crucifix, has arrived, and I have studied it with great interest.
From the photograph it is quite clear that the metal figure closely resembles those on crucifixes of the 19th and early 20th centuries (As is normal with these, the suppedaneum is cast in one piece with the figure.) Its small scale suggests that it may once have been attached to a rosary.
Contrary to Sai Baba's claim, there is nothing unusual about the iconography of the piece. The representation of the dead Christ, his body sagging, his head drooping onto his right shoulder, and his eyes closed, is frequently found in monumental crucifixes after the 10th century. From the late 12th century one foot is placed over the other, and a single nail is used to fasten both to the cross, instead of one for each foot. By the middle of the 13th century the braided crown of thorns becomes a prominent feature, and in some examples the stomach is drawn in, showing the ribs.
As for the statement that this crucifix "shows Christ as he really was at the time he left his body", it has been demonstrated that nails through the palms of the hands, as in the artistic convention followed here, could not have supported the weight of Jesus' body on the cross. Instead, it has been suggested that the nails would have to go through the wrists, as the image on the Holy Shroud of Turin seems to indicate.
With mass-produced objects such as this it would be impossible to pin down any single source of inspiration, since it draws on such a long and rich tradition. In any case it seems unnecessary.
William S.A. Dale, Ph.D.,
P.S. A good basic reference for the iconography of the crucifix is Gertrud Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art (Lund Humphries, 1972) Vol. 2. William S. Dale, personal communication
The crucifix given to John Hislop was supposed to have been materialized by the paranormal powers of Sai Baba. The question might also be raised as to the plausibility of a true materialization which reproduces such details as air bubbles identical with those caused by techniques of inexpensive mass reproduction, and standard but historically inaccurate iconographic features such as nails through palms.