The Mexican Catrina

Mexican skull painting

The Mexican catrina makeup or calavera garbancera is one of the most copied and elaborated that can be seen anywhere in the world, but, does everyone know about its origin and meaning? Join us in these lines to learn about its history and how it has evolved over the years.

The Garbancer Skull

This representative Mexican icon comes from the mockery or criticism of chickpea sellers during the 19th century.

These merchants of humble origin wanted to appear wealthy, and tried to hide their indigenous roots by dressing like European citizens, with ostentatious clothes and large feathered hats.

Garbancera skull of caricaturist José Guadalupe Posada

José Guadalupe Posada was the creator of the calavera garbancera or also known as La catrina, which has been modified from that initial image against the garbanceros vendors.

The metal engraving that became world famous was published in 1873, and it features an illustration of a bony woman, a skull dressed flamboyantly in a large feathered hat in keeping with the European fashion of the time.

The author was the chronicler José Guadalupe Posada, who lived between the 19th and early 20th centuries, creator of satirical and critical texts about a large part of Mexican society at the time and even against the government.

These texts, known as ”calaveras”, were usually published on dates close to the Day of the Dead, and represented typical and common situations, but at the same time denounced the hypocrisy and inequalities between classes of the time.

History of the catrina in Mexico

It was the muralist Diego de Rivera who was in charge of renaming the term calavera garbancera for catrina after the inauguration of one of his famous murals entitled ”Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central”, which shows, among other great characters, the Catrín. This name in Mexican dialect would mean that a person has class, money, dresses in elegant clothes and is upper middle class, practically aristocracy.

Catrinas in Mexico

Catrinas are one of the most representative symbols of Mexican culture, a reminder that death is for everyone, a kind of mockery of the dead and the living alike. The skull representation of a woman (although there are also representations of a man) has a positive meaning, unlike in other parts of the world where this symbolism could have another type of meaning.

On the eve of the Day of the Dead, celebrations are usually organized in which citizens, both from Mexico and other parts of the world, dress up as catrinas to remember the deceased.

About the Author
Patu Soto | Me gradué en Periodismo por la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Durante estos años, he podido desarrollarme como periodista y fotógrafa amateur en el periódico El Ibérico ubicado en Londres. También he colaborado y publicado tanto artículos escritos como reportajes fotográficos en varios medios digitales. Tuve la oportunidad de desempeñar labores de Community Manager en el centro cultural japonés Sakigake en Madrid. Actualmente colaboro como Redactora SEO para Oasis Hoteles & Resorts, con sede en Cancún. En mis ratos libres sigo formándome, aprendiendo y conociendo más acerca del mundo digital en general y de los RRHH en particular. Si quieres conocer mi trabajo un poco más, conecta conmigo en mi Linkedin.

Leave a Reply