What’s a Catrina?

Day of the dead art, day of the dead skulls, dia de los muertos art

This is a catrina. It’s a figure of a woman skeleton usually dressed in a nice dress with a large plumed hat. A male skeleton is called a “catrin.” And why are they so prevalent during the Days of the Dead? To understand this we have to go back to the turn of the 20th century when a well known Mexican newspaper cartoonist named Jose Guadalupe Posada, satirized rich people (remember women were wearing plumed hats at the time?) who implied that death wasn’t for them–just for the little people. He mocked the perception that the rich could somehow avoid death in his black and white engravings. These cartoons were very popular with the masses and gradually his images–skeletons dressed up in clothing and doing things that the living do–spread to many corners of Mexico, became recognizable and associated with the ancient traditions of those two days in November,  “Dias de los Muertos.” Now, artists use all kinds of media (clay, paper mache, paint, wood, you name it) to make small, medium and large catrinas. They are used primarily for decorative purposes and can be humorous or stunningly beautiful.

We’ll have lots of catrinas and catrins at our upcoming Day of the Dead Pop Up Sale, October 11-22. Or check some of them out on the website!

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