Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Mexico's Day of the Dead icon Catrina Calavera

I have long been fascinated with Mexico's largest religious event Dia de Muertos 'The day of the Dead' which takes place 31st October,1st and 2nd November. Although this christian tradition is celebrated universally, the Mexicans celebrate it differently. They look forward to these days, it is a time to connect with deceased loved ones in a festive spirit of remembrance and celebration rather than sadness and sorrow. And one such elegant skeleton dame called 'La Calavera Catrina' has become the famous symbol of death, common to see her embodied as part of the day of the dead celebrations throughout the country.  
The origin of Catrina was an etching created by illustrator Jose Guadalupe Posada sometime between 1910 -1913. The image is of a female skeleton wearing a glamourous hat that depicts the upper class. 'she is offered as a satirical portrait of those Mexican natives who, Posada felt, were aspiring to adopt European aristocratric traditions in the pre-revolutionary era'. 
The skeleton symbolises that death eventually happens to all of us, no matter your status and wealth. Since Jose's etching, she has become an icon of the day of the dead. Please click on the links to read all about the history. 
Painting by Sylvia Ji of Catrina Calavera. Oddly, I find these quite beautiful.

It is common to see her embodied as part of the celebrations throughout the country with handicrafts made of clay and other materials: For sale and as displays in windows.

Artistic face paintings of skeletons seen throughout the streets.

Many people dress in incredible costumes and wander through the streets. Parades and parties are organised.

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