Day of the Dead Skulls

Day of the Dead Skulls
Day of the Dead Skulls

Day of the Dead skulls are the main form of art that relates to one of Mexico’s most curious holidays. Being that the holiday is primarily meant to honor deceased friends and family members, such a form of art seems reasonable, even if it’s a little on the spooky side. Full skeletons are also major symbols of the holiday, and both the skulls and the skeletons come in many different forms.

Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls
Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls

Skulls, or calaveras, as they are colloquially known in Mexico, are undoubtedly the main symbol of the holiday and appear in many pictures of the Day of the Dead. Many Mexicans don skull masks during the celebrations, and it’s not uncommon to see skulls that are fashioned out of food. Chocolate and sugar skulls with the deceased person’s name on the forehead are popular examples, and often, they are presented to a fallen friend or relative upon visits to grave sites. They can also be consumed by friends or relatives of the deceased.

Over the course of Day of the Dead history, skulls and skeletons made their ways into various kinds of artwork and other decorations. Catrinas, which are skeletons that originally aimed to poke fun at well-known figures of the day, are just one example. Most often elegantly clad, catrinas can appear in etchings, as dolls, and in numerous other forms.

Day of the Dead Art
Day of the Dead Art

Day of the Dead art is also linked to small shrines and altars that are meant to honor a specific person who has passed away. Rare is the shrine or altar that doesn’t feature at least one skull or skeleton, and there’s no telling what else might help to comprise the honorary offering, as various items that reflect the deceased person in question are often added. These items can include things that the deceased took a liking too while in the living world.

Whether you find yourself in Mexico, Guatemala, or any other destination around the world where Day of the Dead celebrations are taking place, the art that you will come across will most usually have one similar trait. That is its creepy, artistic appeal. The decorations aren’t always spooky, however. Many Day of the Dead art pieces have a comical edge to them, and it’s not uncommon for flowers and candles to accompany the skulls and the skeletons. It basically comes down to how the creator of the artwork in question decides to execute their tribute.

Top image: humanstatuebodyart (flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0

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