Every year during the annual celebration of the Day of the Dead in Mexico, La Calavera Catrina resumes her celebrity status. This is especially so in the state of Oaxaca, where the cultural significance of the Day of the Dead is especially strong. Usually referred to simply as La Catrina, “La Calavera Catrina” translates into English as the “elegant or dapper skeleton.” She began life in the early twentieth century as the creation of José Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican illustrator. Posada’s intent was to satirize Mexico’s upper classes who imitated European styles and manners during the presidency of Porfirio Díaz in the late nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth.
La Catrina was relatively unknown, however, until she took center stage in Diego Rivera’s famous 1947 mural, Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon en the Alameda Central). In the painting La Catrina is featured along with a number of famous persons from Mexican history.
Nowadays La Catrina has become emblematic of the playful aspects associated with the annual Day of the Dead celebration. She is a celebrity in her own right and everyone wants to photograph her or be photographed with her wherever she shows up.
In the gallery below, an elegant La Catrina appeared in a Jewelry store window in Oaxaca. Although she said nothing, her mere presence drew many admirers.