The Day of the Dead

I have been invited to fly over to Oaxaca for the Day of the Dead.

The Day of the Dead is one of the most beautiful and spiritual events in Mexico. The idea of Death as an absolute Perfection permeates the Mexican culture.

Sadly, I’ll have to be in France until 1 November, and the celebrations in Mexico are between 1-2 November. It’s just too late for me this year.

920x920 The original image of La Catrina, the Death Lady, was created by Jose Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican artist. Today, it’s an iconic figure representing Mexico worldwide.

I began to think about the Day of the Dead and the phenomenon of La Catrina a few years back during my trip to Mexico City and Guanajuato.

If you look at it from the viewpoint of permanence, nothing lasts longer than Death. A woman won’t get any older when she is dead. When only the bones are left, this is the ultimate perfection.  The unsurpassed beauty of creation that has reached its climax.


For the Mexican people, this holiday is not about aesthetics, of course.  For me, however, it’s very much about aesthetics and art.

Unrelated to the Holiday of the Dead, there’s this exhibition of some 50-80 dead people in Guanajuato. Due to the natural climate conditions the bodies have been preserved from the early 1800-s.

The French doctor who treated some of the people is part of the exhibition now. (Yes, people tale selfies with him.)
Many childden would die young in those days
Some of the corpses are in an odd position, like there were some convulsions after death
But mostly, these are calm, beautiful bodies
With a sense of sophistication
For the display, they are positioned vertically. Which is not how they were buried and became mummified
Some of the bodies look like they were experiencing horror
This woman can remind you of Munch’s Scream but she was at peace when she died. As the body starts to decompose the mouth open up in a natural way. In the grave, unless your lips are stitched, we all look like that.

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