On Oct. 31, Nov. 1 and 2, the Mexican celebration Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, takes place.
This holiday has been observed throughout the world in many cultures for thousands of years. Yet, only in the past 50 years has the event adopted the iconic figure from the original artwork called, ‘La Calavera Catrina’ (‘Dapper Skeleton’, ‘Elegant Skull’) by José Guadalupe Posada, circa 1913.
While the original work by Posada introduced the character, the notoriety of the iconic ‘La Calavera Catrina’ was re-popularized with a painting by artist Diego Rivera in his 1948 work, ‘Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central’ (‘Dream of a Sunday afternoon along Central Alameda’).
The original image depicts a female skeleton dressed only in a hat befitting the upper class 20th century European outfit. She is offered as a satirical portrait of those Mexican natives who, Posada felt, were aspiring to adopt European aristocratic traditions in the pre-revolutionary era.
In today’s pop culture, the importance of’ ‘La Calavera Catrina’ has become the iconic image, and it is common to see her embodied in the creation of art, handcrafts made from clay, or other merchandise.