Day of the Dead
A representation and celebration of death, the image may very well be the most recognizable icon in Mexican folklore
What is this centuries-old tradition? Who is La Catrina? And what are the customs for this festival commemorating the departed?
La Catrina is a representative image of Mexican folklore. This image of an elaborately dressed skeleton has become an art form, and one which has been made out of different materials. Typically, she is dressed in black or bright colors, wearing flowing, elegantly decorated clothes.
The word catrín (masculine) or catrina (feminine), refers to a person who puts a lot of effort into their appearance and dresses in a luxurious style.
La Catrina is a characterization of death which has been adopted as a Mexican tradition. It is far from the grotesque or strange, which could be perceived by foreigners, and some Mexicans give death a comical side. This image appears in a very particular social context in Mexican history, which is important to know to appreciate its aesthetic value, symbolism, and comical side.
At the end of the 19th century, the artist Manuel Manilla was the first person to characterize death when he drew cartoons and his characters were skeletons in different situations and professions.
Manilla’s drawings were eclipsed by the engraver José Guadalupe Posada, who worked for a newspaper and also drew skeletons in a more satirical form to criticize political and social happenings of the era. He presented, and mocked, the tribulations of the working class, the privileged, and the rich in the Porfirian era when anything European was in style, like the ladies with their big European dresses.
Nobody escaped Posada’s drawings, for whom death was a symbol of democracy, since it affects everyone, regardless of social status. For him the skeleton was representative of Mexican society.
Posada made hundreds of these cartoons; the most well known is the Calavera Garbancera - which was later made famous by the painter Diego Rivera who dressed it in elegant clothes and painted it in a mural called Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central, and who baptized her La Catrina. La Catrina was based on the women selling chickpeas, garbanzos, on the streets and who wanted to emulate European women.
This year also marks La Catrina’s 105th birthday since she was first created.
La Catrina has become an icon of Mexican folklore, in particular,
El Día de Los Muertos celebrations each November 1 and 2, shown through parades, masks, and art.
All are invited to come to the event that the Department of Culture has prepared for November 1.
There will be an exhibition of altars, contests, and the drawing of a huge Catrina at Plaza 28 de Julio, as well as a display of Catrinas in Playa del Carmen’s Cultural Center.
La Catrina was based on the women selling chickpeas, garbanzos, on the streets and who wanted to
emulate European women / Photo: elespaciodemartha.blogspot.mx