THE FESTIVAL OF DEATH IN MEXICO

Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares

“Viene la muerte luciendo, mil llamativos colores … en qué quedamos pelona, me llevas o no me llevas” Tomás Méndez

Intangible Heritage
One of Mexico’s most colorful and ancient traditions is the celebration of the Day of the Dead. Since 2003, UNESCO (United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture) has considered it a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

On November 1st and 2nd every year, towns and villages are filled with flowers and flavors to welcome the dead. Offerings are prepared. Cemeteries and family tombs are visited.

Offerings are never short of flowers, candles, decorative paper banners, bread, incense, skull-shaped sweets, pumpkins, cooked dishes, water, salt, toys, wine, cigars and everything else the deceased person used to enjoy when they were alive.

Offerings vary from one region to another. The festival can be celebrated at home, at the cemetery, on the ground, around a table, as a family or as a community.

The festival of Death
For that reason, and to communicate the cultural importance of this Mexican tradition, the Ministry of Culture, through the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares (National Museum of Popular Culture), which is managed by the Department of Popular Culture, is running an exhibition called "The Festival of Death in Mexico".

It will display the work of Mexico City's cardboard artists, for whom death is a natural process.

It is a sad one due to the loss of a loved one, but it is part of the cycle of life because, as the saying goes, “It is an honest truth that only the unborn can become a calavera."

Undeniably, one of this festival's biggest attractions is the papier-mâché offering and art.

Many artists, including Adalberto Alvarez, Raymundo Amezcua, Sergio Otero and the famous Linares family, have found creative freedom in the faceless image of death. Through it, they created an endless variety of characters: street vendors, elegant women ("Catrinas"), and old and new professions, all caught up in a dance filled with tradition, form and color.

The production
Artists have used paper, a noble and recyclable material, as a medium for expressing their creativity.

Paper, dipped in paste, is delicately placed, layer upon layer, over a wire or wicker frame, in order to shape the desired figure.

Each layer must be allowed to dry to achieve the necessary thickness and strength.

Once the figure is finished, it is decorated. Besides strength and precision, the painting and detail demand a rigorous combination of skill and expression.

Reflection of society
Each article has soul and movement, reflecting the culture of the Mexican people.
Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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