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Dia de Muertos.Art


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Title: Dia de Muertos.Art

Dia de Muertos.Art

The dead
Come the end of the October, it's not at all
uncommon to see scary skeletons lurking around
the neighborhoods, thanks to Halloween.
But thanks to Día de los Muertos (Day of the
Dead), friendly skeletons are just as welcome.
The Mexican holiday, Nov. 1 and 2, celebrates the
wondrous cycle of life by recognizing - but not
fearing - death. It is a day to reflect on the
warm and fuzzy memories and share happy stories,
rather than mourning the absence of the dearly
departed. We welcome them by dedicating a vari
ety of festive, colorful activities in their
honor, such as building an ofrenda that includes
that individual's favorite foods, hobbies, music,
pictures and more.
The Cemetery Days of Remembrance
Meant to be a time to remember the dead as well
as to honor the continuity of life, the
community celebrations are social and festive.
Families clean and decorate their relatives'
graves and eat picnic meals in the graveyard.
Spirits return, and are drawn by the ofrendas (a
ltars with offerings), which serve as thresholds
between this world and the next.
Days of Remembrance
Two weeks before the Day of Dead a joy atmosphere
is lived on in the markets the "marchantes" buy
by dozens the flowers of cempazúchitl,
distinguishing yellow flower of this celebration,
as well as the material which they have to
decorate the altars of each home or the food
ingredients to cook for the deceased.
On November 1st is carried out the "Vigil of the
Angels", day in which the souls of the children
return to their families to be fed and to enjoy
their company. There are some regions of Mexico
in which the children take the leaders roll in
the matutinal vigil, honoring to their passed
away little brothers. When the night falls, th
e adults maintain the guard in the cemetery
remembering the memories of their dear relatives.

On November 2nd the "Vigil for Adults" is carrie
d out, time in which the old souls besides
tasting those that were their favorite food in
their lifetime, they feel accompanied by the
incense aroma, the affection of their loved ones,
the music of their affability and the offerings
of the altar that has been dedicated to them with
so much care.  On some occasions prayers and
orations can be listened, mainly at night of
vigil in the pantheons of Mexico.
ALTARS.Day of the Dead
Altars, or ofrendas, are not for worshiping but
for offering our love and remembering our
departed family members. It is not a sad ritual.
It's a day of happiness because we will be
remembering our loved ones. It is not a careless
or fearless confrontation of death. It is a
moment to reflect upon one's life and the cycle
of life and death.
A Oaxacan Family Altar
Adorned with marigolds and other flowers,
Oaxacan-style altars have crop foods representing
the earth tissue paper cut-out decorations
called papel picado representing the wind and
candles representing not only fire, but also the
souls of those who are being remembered. Favorite
prepared foods, pan de muerto (bread of the
dead), drinks, personal items, and decorations
are placed with a dish of salt to purify the
soul, water to quench its thirst, and copal
incense and flowers to help guide it back home
and ward off evil spirits. The essence of the
incense, drink, and food will be enjoyed by
visiting souls and the food later eaten or given
Other elements of the Altar..
the salt that purifies copal so that the souls
arrive with their sense of smell up to the altar
that is dedicated to them flower of cempazúchitl
scattered on the ground, from the door to the
altar, in order to indicate the way. And finally,
the presence of the alive relatives, who waiting
for their arrival render respect and demonstrate
their loyalty and company, even though they are
no longer here.
More Altars
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Creating your Altar
One of the key elements of Dia De Los Muertos
revolves around ofrendas, or offerings, which are
created through a visual display of altar-makin
g and grave decorating. The offerings, a main
focal point of the observance, echo the
dedication and distinct love that is presented
toward the dearly departed. Altars can be created
through a wide spectrum of dedications, dependin
g on one's creative desire. The altar includes t
he four main elements of nature - Earth, Wind,
Water and Fire. Earth is represented by the c
rop The soul is fed by the various earthly
aromas. Placing fruit or favorite family dishes
on the altar provides nourishment for the beloved
souls. Wind is represented by a moving object P
aper- Mache is commonly utilized to represent
the echoes of the wind. Water is placed in a co
ntainer for the soul to quench its thirst after
the long awaited journey to the altar. Water is
also used for the means of purification.
Fire is represented by a wax candle Each lit
candle represents a loving soul, and an extra
one is placed for the forgotten soul.
Copal - Incense burned to commemorate
Pre-Columbian history. The Cempasuchitl-Marigold
known as The flower of the dead blossoms in
the valleys of Mexico during the months of Octob
er and November with a bright yellow color and is
central to altar decorating. This flower aids th
e spirits to wander back. Pictures are widely us
ed in honor of the individual you are paying
homage to. The Skull - The common symbol of the
holiday is the skull which is celebrated and
represented by decorative masks called calacas.
In addition sugar skulls are also tastefully
created and inscribed with the names of both the
honored and living recipients on the forehead as
a means to remind us of our own mortality.
Candles, flowers, wax decorations
Flowers, candles and incense are indispensable
to any lovingly adorned altar. Wax flowers,
fruits, and cherubs decorate hand-dipped beeswax
candles. As the candles burn non-stop, the wax
decorations are set aside to be melted for the
next batch of candles.
Art History
The iconographic image of the living and dead
sharing a single body or head remains a common
visual theme in Mexican folk art. The reason is
simple for the Mexican, life and death are part
of the same linear process. Birth leads into
life, and life leads to death. Join the ends of
the process and the cycle of life is created.
The roots of this duality are ancient and deep.
The Borgia Codex depicting pre-Hispanic life
shows two gods Quetzalcoatl, the god of life who
governs the earth and sky and Mictlantlecuihtl,
the god of the underworld and keeper of the dead.
They appear in profile, joined at the spine. At
first glance, they seem a single form. Two
distinct shapes then define themselves, one
complementing the other and the two together
forming a complete whole. Each, we learn, needs
the other to justify its existence.
Masks Calavera

Characters, Cartoons, Posada
Newspapers dedicate calaveras to public figures,
with cartoons of skeletons in the style of José
Guadalupe Posada. Theatrical presentations of Don
Juan Tenorio by José Zorrilla (18171893) are
also traditional on this day.
Those with writing talent sometimes create "cala
veras" short poems mocking epitaphs of friends,
sometimes with things they used to do in life.
This custom originated in the 18th-19th century,
after a newspaper published a poem narrating a
dream of a cemetery in the future, "and all of us
were dead", proceeding to "read" the tombstones.

THE SPIRIT OF POSADA 1 The name Posada and liv
ely skeletons are linked as few other icons of
contemporary Day of the Dead culture. Jose
Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) popularized Mexico's
life of the dead in bitingly satiric,
mass-produced etchings and lithographs that have
enthralled Mexicans for generations.
By depicting social and political personalities
as calaveras, Posada's posters achieved lasting
and unrivaled popularity. By caricaturing his
targets in their bare bones, his scathing and
often risky political satire became funnier and
thus more acceptable. In his posters, priests,
politicians, farmers and streetsweepers share the
same destiny - death, an end neither money nor
power can outwit. For a country living in extreme
social inequality during the Porfirio Díaz
dictatorship, the idea of the rich and poor alike
one day rubbing elbows (if only bone to bone) was
attractive to the masses.
THE SPIRIT OF POSADA2 Posada's handprinted cal
averas, accompanied by witty social commentary in
rhyming verse, reached the farthest corners of
the Mexican Republic. To this day, his work
pervades the image and spirit of Mexican folk
artists. The Catrina, an upperclass lady of the
turn-of-the-century always depicted in her
broad-brimmed hat, has become a classic in
Mexican folk art and is displayed prominently in
many store windows. The images can be found in
everything from fine ceramic and artistic paper
mache figures, to inexpensive papel picados and
plaster miniatures. Nothing is static about Posad
a's calaveras (mischievous skeletons). They are
always up to something, going somewhere or, as in
the Calavera Oaxaquena, just raising hell.
The Calavera Oaxaquena
The valiant calaveraHas just arrived today.Take
off your hat and greet him.Don't look at him
that way! In Oaxaca they pay for braveryWith a h
ooter of mezcal.And without a single rivalAre
their beautiful young gals. No one ever scares me
.At them all I do is guffaw.
And to prove this I danced a two-stepUpon a
dandy from Guadalajar. The Oaxaca calaveraHas ju
st arrived today.Take off your hat and greet
himBecause he's here to stay.
A thriving tradition of toymaking plays a central
role in the Oaxacan Day of the Dead. Among such
diverse themes as the Nativity, bullfights and
carnival rides, the skeleton is by far the most
popular image. Mariachi calaveras in the form of
puppets made of painted plywood and string are
special favorites among small children. Who knows
what makes skeleton toys funnier than toys
depicting the living? Maybe it's the surprising
juxtaposition of the dead doing something lively
and spirited that brings a chuckle to the most
sober face. Perhaps by making death more
approachable through friendly images, like a
dancing skeleton playing a guitar, Mexicans begin
to lose their fear of death at an early age.
Papel picados
Papel picados are intricately cut tissue paper
banners depicting scenes of skeletons dancing,
drinking and otherwise celebrating - are strung
along the edge of altars, creating a lacey
border. Non-Mexicans often ask how to preserve
them. "You shouldn't," I say, "because they were
never made for that." Such emphemera celebrate
other events and fiestas as well. White tissue
paper is used for weddings. Red, white and green
commemorate Independence Day. A riot of color
surrounds the Day of the Dead. When fiestas end,
papel picados are left to fly in the open air
until rain reduces them to nothing.
MARIGOLDS According to legend, spirits of the d
ead are drawn to the smell of marigolds. Since
ancient times, the flowers have been scattered in
villages throughout Mesoamerica on "Dia de los
Muertos," Day of the Dead, to lure the souls of
departed family members and friends.
Easy Paper Flowers
If you are into handmade decorations, paper
flowers are the way to go. Non-crafty types can
even get into the spirit because it only involves
simple accordion folding - a la kindergarten
class. There are more elaborate, artistic ways to
create paper flowers, but for starters this
method is just right for adding a splash of
vibrant color to a table centerpiece or place
setting. Supplies1 package of multicolored tis
sue or crepe paper1 package of green pipe
cleanersScissors Directions Take four to five s
heets of the tissue paper and layer them (if you
want multicolored flowers, use different colors).
Cut into 8-inch squares. Keeping the sheets
layered, take one set of squares and fold it like
an accordion so it looks like a thin rectangle.
At the center of the rectangle, cut a small
v-shaped notch on both sides. Take the end of a
pipe cleaner and twist it around the notch. With
the stem pointing straight down, gently pull up
one layer of tissue into the center. Pull up the
remaining layers, one by one. Repeat for the
other side of the flower. Once all the layers are
pulled up, fluff them in place to look natural.
Continue making more flowers with the remaining
stacks of squares. Tips and variations For sturd
ier stems, wrap two pipe cleaners together. Cut
smaller or larger squares to change the size of
your flowers. Add more layers for thicker flowers
or less layers for thinner ones. For a shiny
effect, dip the top edges in white glue and then
dip in loose glitter. Glue a pin on the back of a
flower for a fluffy lapel decoration. Make
smaller flowers and string them together as
Reverse glass painting
While everyone else uses the same old
decorations, you can add a distinctive touch to
your altar by whipping together one of these
cheery calaca frames. Visit the local dollar
store to pick up a batch of small frames and some
paint. Give them as gifts or use them at your
next fiesta's table setting. You'll be the life
of the Day of the Dead party! Supplies1 small f
rameAcrylic paints in assorted colors (most
importantly, black and white)Thin, liner
paintbrush DirectionsTake apart the components
of the frame. Set the piece of glass on a flat
surface. Using the liner brush and black paint,
draw a skull on the glass. Let dry. Now paint on
flowers and other decorations and let dry. Paint
the entire face with white paint. Let dry and put
the frame back together.
Día de los Muertos Pin Part one
Supplies Gumball-size chunk of Sculpey clay
Liner brush Craft knife Black and whi
te acrylic paints 2 jump rings Miniscissor
s Snippets of fuchsia, teal, green, purple and
yellow party streamers Glue gun Colored s
eed beads Small pin back Milagro Water
-based varnish
Día de los Muertos Pin Part two
Directions Flatten the ball of clay into the
shape of a quarter. Use the opposite end of the
liner brush to make indented eyeholes and
cheekbones. Make a blunt cut for the chin with
the craft knife. Bake in oven according to direc
tions to harden clay. Paint base coat in white,
then add thin black facial accents. Turn over so
backside is up and glue one jump ring to the
Use miniscissors to cut 2-inch by half-inch of
party streamers. Take one piece at a time and
scrunch it, then apply it around the outside edge
of the pin. Continue lining until the paper goes
all the way around the pin. Glue one seed bead i
n each eyehole for color. Attach pin back. Loop
the milagro onto the jump ring and connect to the
other jump ring. Add a layer of water-based
varnish to the skull. Tip Milagros (a k a "li
ttle miracles," tiny silver prayer charms) can be
found at local Mexican import shops.
Poster ideas.
No exploration of the Day of the Dead would be
complete without a discussion of the empheral
creations used in its celebration. Most of the
elaborate Day of the Dead altars are adorned with
works of art meant to last no longer than the
fiesta itself. To Western culture oriented to
preserving everything as long as possible, it may
seem strange to expend so much labor on objects
having no other purpose than to be consumed and
destroyed. Mexicans, especially indigenous
Oaxacans, see themselves as empheral beings in an
empheral world. To enjoy material objects, yet be
willing to relinquish them, is totally natural to
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