What’s With All These Skeletons?

Hush, It’s A temporary thing, and all very symbolic
BY: BOB APPLE

It’s the time of the year to pull your skeletons out of your closet. No, not your drunken brother in law, we mean your Katrina figurine.

The Calavera Catrina, simply known as Catrina or sometimes spelled Katrina, was created in the early 1900’s by Mexican artist/printmaker, Jose Guadalupe Posada, satirizing pompous Mexicans who wished to adopt the traditions of aristocratic Europeans. The most familiar example of this is his flowered and feathered French couture hat.

dead copy.jpgThe skull icon was chosen to parody those of Indian descent who wore copious amounts of white make-up to make them look more European, as they were ashamed of their indigenous roots.

Originally titled Calavera Catrina (the Dapper Skeleton), Catrina does not only symbolize death, but the well-coiffed figure portrays someone with money, illustrating that death, indeed is the great equalizer.

Folk artists ran with the subject, and created representations of Catrina from papier mache, wood, ceramics, metal, paper and even sugar.

Whereas Posada created the original characterization, Mexican artist Diego Rivera is creditead with bestowing this visage with the “Catrina” moniker, and adding an elegantly outfitted body to the hatted head. Later in the century Catrina became the “face” of Day of the Dead celebrations throughout Mexico. In fact, the figure is so popular many people collect the figurines and artworks through the year and display them year-round.sil 11 trans.jpg

Mexicans treat the subject of death differently than Americans and Europeans do. Death here is celebrated as the next and natural stage of life. Hence, the activity of celebrating November 1 and 2 with intricate alters dedicated to deceased loved ones, and family meals in cemeteries. Coincidentally, the Catholic celebration of All Saint’s and All Soul’s Days are celebrated on these same two days.

Mexicans spend much money creating their family alters each year. Take time to view some of these exhibits at local restaurants and hotels in Rosarito, and throughout Mexico.