La Catrina

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La Catrina was originally created by Jose Guadalupe Posada and later named and painted dressed up by Diego Rivera in one of his murals. It became an iconic figure in Mexican culture representing death and the way Mexicans face it.

History
The skeleton lady was created by lithographer and printer Jose Guadalupe Posada on zinc etching around 1910 as an illustration for a calavera.

The leaflet was named by Posada La Calavera Garbancera, describing a person who was ashamed of his Indian origins and dressed imitating the French style while wearing lots of makeup to make his skin look whiter.

In 1948 Diego Rivera who considered Posada his artistic father, made the mural Sunday Evening's Dream in which he represented 400 years of Mexican history. In this masterpiece Rivera depicts the end of an era destroyed by the Revolution war, and the beginning of a new cycle as a modern and more equitable nation.

Rivera not only painted the Garbancera dressed up but also named her "La Catrina". Catrin(a) is slang for elegant or well dressed and it refers to rich people. Thanks to Diego Rivera the skeleton lady became an iconic image in Mexico's culture and is traditionally used in the Day of the Dead, especially in urban celebrations. Posada and Rivera captured in this figure the comfortable and intimate relationship Mexicans have with death.
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Those garbanceras who today are coated with makeup will end up as deformed skulls

La Catrina and Folk Art
In 1982 sculptor and painter Juan Torres from Morelia, Michoacán reproduced the skeleton lady in clay for the first time.

Painter and sculptor Juan Torres

Torres established his workshop in Capula, a town near Morelia with a pottery tradition dating from pre-colonial times. People from Capula soon learned from the painter and so they created a folk art style that has been imitated in many other pottery centers in the country.

The calavera garbancera has been depicted in many other Mexican folk art styles such as the Oaxacan wood carvings, papier mache sculptures, mayolica pottery and black clay.

                Wood Catrina Papier mache catrina
                                          Wood              Papier Mache


       Black Clay Catrina Mayolica Catrina
                                     Black Clay                     Mayolica

In the last years the image of Frida Kalho and her self-portraits have become a subject in Mexican folk art due to the popularity the Hollywood movie gave her in the USA and Canada.

The use of Frida's image has also been combined with the Garbancera, creating an item often called the Frida Kahlo Catrina depicting a skeleton women resembling of Frida's self-portraits.




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