Skeletons living it up

The Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated on November 1 and 2. Since 2008 it is part of the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

There are still academic debates about the origins of the holiday. While the belief in a temporary return of the dead to their families seems to back to an Aztec festival, the modern customs and iconography have been heavily influenced by Christian traditions.

Yet, the festivities don’t revolve around the medieval memento mori (“remember that you must die”) and the solemn memory of the departed. Mexicans celebrate a joyful holiday with their family and friends, sharing food and drinks. The returning dead are a merry bunch as well. The famous prints of José Guadalupe Posada (1854-1913) depict them as dancing and singing skeletons.

Gabriele Müller’s drawing and Gerald Jatzek’s collage are responses to a call with the title el buzón de la calaca (the postbox of the skull). Both works have been part of an exhibition in the Museo de la Filatelia de Oaxaca.

Published by Marius van der Graaf

artist, musician, write & traveler

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