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Catrina (Skeletton)

Was born in 1913 as a zinc etching by Mexican printmaker Jose Guadalupe Posada. It has become an icon in Mexican culture, and Day of the Dead celebrations. She was part of a series of Calaveras (skeletons), which were humorous images of contemporary figures depicted as skeletons, usually accompanied by poems.

The word Catrina, is the feminine form of Catrin, which means ‘elegant’. The figure is depicted in a fashionable hat, intending to show that the rich and fashionable, despite their pretensions to importance, are just as susceptible to death as anyone else. Both the Catrina and the Catrin, are represented usually as upper class figures, being a parody of the Mexican upper-class.


Calaca is the colloquial name in Mexico for a skeleton, is a figure of a skull or skeleton commonly used in decoration for the Day of the Dead. They are usually shown with marigold flowers, and have it’s origin in Aztec imagery.


As with other aspects of the Day of the Dead, they are generally depicted as joyous rather than mournful figures. They are often showing festive clothing, dancing or playing instruments, to indicate a happy afterlife. This draws on the Mexican belief that no dead soul likes to be thought of sadly, and that death should be a joyous occasion. This goes back to Aztec beliefs.

Calacas come in a variety of forms, clay, paper, carton, wood, masks, sweets, etc.

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