When he got married to the daughter of Chico Santeiro (saint maker), José Bezerra da Silva already worked with this master craftsman. “The first thing Mr. Chico taught me was to make the oxen that pull ox carts. His wife also helped, but she didn’t know how to make the bodies. I knew, but it took me over a year to learn how to make Christ’s crown.”
José was born in 1930, and like every countryman he has had a hard life. He worked on the land and, after moving to the city, he worked as a night watchman. After getting married he started helping his father-in-law. “One day he said my work was better than his and so I have never stopped working with wood. When Mr. Chico died, his widow wanted us to carry on his work. She said I shouldn’t put his name anymore, that I should sign Zé. So I started signing Zé Santeiro, and it stuck. After my thrombosis I started working less. What I really enjoy is making the head of Christ, but pieces such as the accordion player, the lace maker and the fisherman are easier to make.” His work can be seen at the Galeria de Arte Antiga e Contemporânea, in Natal.