Monday, November 01, 2010

The Elegant Dead: Mexico´s catrina tradition

An ecologically conscious "catrina" with a skirt made of garbage bags.

Mexico´s Day of the Dead celebration is a mix of indigenous and Spanish cultural traditions, and in Guadalajara this year, it meant that the main street was lined with "catrinas".

The elegantly dressed skeletons (a "catrina" is an elegant woman) were designed by high school and college students and had a variety of themes.

A catrina in native dress captured an admirer.

The goddess of Death and the depiction of skulls go back thousands of years in Mesoamerican culture. There is an Aztec altar composed of hundreds of images of skulls (calaveras) in the heart of Mexico City, next to the main cathedral. Little sweets made in the shapes of skulls, called calaveritas, are part of the modern observance.

But the catrina tradition was made popular in the last century by a Mexican artist and caricaturist.

This catrina is outfitted in handkerchiefs.

The Goddess of Death is condemned by the Catholic Church but is worshiped by the lower classes and by narcotraffickers, who set up shrines to her.

Even young men want to pose with a catrina.

Some of the best catrinas were set up in the square around the cathedral so families out for a Sunday stroll could appreciate them.

The elegant dead like to garden....

...and to play with puppets.

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