Frida Kahlo, Dia de los Muertos

Calavera de Azúcar: Painted Sugar Skulls on Dia de los Muertos


Mexico’s traditional celebration of Dia de los Muertos embraces the inevitability of death. Painting faces in the style of Santa Muerte (Saint Death), Calavera Catrina (Dame Skeleton), or another loving tribute to the counter-Guadalupe icon Frida Kahlo pays homage to the beauty in death, offering eye-candy sugar skulls in tribute to the ancestors.

Frida Kahlo, Dia de los Muertos
Frida Kahlo – Girl With Death Mask (She Plays Alone) – 1938 – Nagoya City Art Museum, Nagoya, Japan

“I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality.”  — Frida Kahlo

Before the Spanish conquest, the Aztecs dedicated most of the month of August to their goddess of death, Mictecacihuatl. As part of the overarching suppression of indigenous religion, the Catholic Church exorcised Mictecacihuatl and moved the date to coincide with All Saints Day (November 1), which is also known in Mexico as Day of the Innocents as it focuses on deceased infants and children, and All Souls Day (November 2), which centers on departed adults. Visits to the cemetery to bring offerings to the dead, such as candles, flowers and food, are common, along with offerings left at home altars, and accompany more festive celebrations including the striking sugar skulls, calaveras de azúcar, which have become a familiar icon of the tradition. Adorned with the name of a deceased relative, the skulls are eaten as a reminder that death is not a

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In most Indian villages, beautiful altars (ofrendas) are made in each home. They are decorated with candles, buckets of flowers (wild marigolds called cempasuchil & bright red cock’s combs) mounds of fruit, peanuts, plates of turkey mole, stacks of tortillas and big Day-of-the-Dead breads called pan de muerto. The altar needs to have lots of food, bottles of soda, hot cocoa and water for the weary spirits. Toys and candies are left for the angelitos, and on Nov. 2, cigarettes and shots of mezcal are offered to the adult spirits. Little folk art skeletons and sugar skulls, purchased at open-air markets, provide the final touches.  From

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Make-up Sandra E. Artist
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DP // Editor // Director: Phillip Jimenez
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Updated 21 July 2018

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