Who is La Catrina?

Who is La Catrina? She is the elegant and well dressed representation of a skull. The figure of the Catrina has more than 100 years of history, which was created as a mockery of people who had become rich and despised their indigenous origins.
La Catrina Dibujo

La Catrina Day of the Dead

De José Guadalupe Posada – ArtDaily.org, Dominio público, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1485430

La Catrina History?

The figure of La Catrina was created by the Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada, however, Diego Rivera gave it the name of La Catrina.

La Catrina José Guadalupe Posada

La Catrina Posada

De José Gudalupe Posada – Periódico de la época revolucionaria, Dominio público, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9395755

La Catrina’s original name was “Calavera Garbancera”. The creation of the name and figure of “La Catrina” was the result of the combination of four factors.

First. Her figure was inspired by the Aztec Goddess of Death. Reason why its representation is important during the celebration of the Day of the Dead, which also is from Aztec origin.

Second. At the end of the 19th century, publications were made with Calaveras to criticize the government and aristocracy of that time.
Third. People who denied their indigenous origins were called Garbanceras.

Fourth. The final name of La Catrina was taken from the masculine “Catrín” which is how an elegant and well dressed man was defined at the end of the 19th century. The “Catrines” were from a high social class and were characterized by wearing striped pants, a cane and a hat.

La Catrina Diego Rivera

La Catrina Diego Rivera

De momo from Hong Kong – The Kid – Diego Rivera, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6013002

Detalle del mural Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central. A la izquierda de La CatrinaDiego Rivera (niño) y Frida Kahlo; a la derecha, José Guadalupe Posada.

Beyond what she represents to Mexicans today, two of Mexico’s most famous characters, Posada and Rivera, are involved in its creation.

At the end of the 19th century and until his death in 1913, José Guadalupe Posada, who created La Catrina, captured the life of Mexico through his drawings and illustrations. Posada was one of the most famous critics and cartoonists during the Porfiriato era, for many, the most famous cartoonist in Mexico. In his work are scenes of customs, folklores, as well as social and political life.

Diego Rivera, who also reflected life and social problems in his works, is considered the best muralist in the history of Mexico. However, outside of Mexico he is best known for his marriage to Frida Kahlo.

Nowadays, La Catrina is a symbol of Mexican culture and during the celebration of the Day of the Dead is an important figure, so it is represented in different ways. A clear example of what the “Calavera Garbancera” means to Mexicans is the movie “Coco”, where the female characters are inspired by La Catrina.


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