Sunday, 10 July 2011

Corazón de México (4)

  This post is about the papier-mâché figures made by the Linares family of artists who make alebrijes and other figures in a long standing family tradition. The extended families live in a row of houses including their personal workshops on the same street.

  The figures in this exhibit at the Toronto Mexican festival were made for the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muerto) celebrations in Mexico.

  The Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd in Mexico.

The returning souls are welcomed home with an ofrenda of marigolds and other flowers, incense, candles, paper decorations, bread figures, fruits, especially prepared foods, soft drinks or alcohol, embroidered cloths and in some instances, gifts of clothing or work tools. These offerings are set out on the domestic altar – usually a table for Catholic saints and holy pictures. Flower petals are often scattered inside and outside the house to guide the souls on their annual journey. When the deceased have taken the ‘essence’ of the feast, it is enjoyed by the living. On the 2nd of November, relatives gather in cemeteries to say a fond farewell. Graves are freshly painted for the occasion, and adorned with flowers and greenery.

Celebrations vary from region to region. In some places musicians serenade the dead with songs and music, while dances are preformed in their honour. In towns and cities, market vendors sell sugar skulls, skelton puppets and other seasonal toys. Bakers make delicious panes de muertos (bread of the dead) and paint their shop windows with cavorting skeletons.

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