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José Guadalupe Posada: The immortal legacy of La Catrina on the Day of the Dead

By Tribune Travel

November 02, 2023

On Mexico’s Day of the Dead, the country pays tribute to one of its greatest artists: José Guadalupe Posada. Born on February 2, 1852, this master of illustration left an indelible mark on Mexican culture and the world. His most iconic creation, “La Catrina,” has become an indisputable symbol of the Day of the Dead and Mexican identity in general.

Jose Guadalupe Posada’s life

José Guadalupe Posada was born in the picturesque city of Aguascalientes, Mexico. He showed his love for art at an early age, and throughout his life he honed his skills in illustration and graphics. He worked as an illustrator for several Mexican publications, specializing in engravings of popular and satirical subjects.

The creation of La Catrina

Posada’s masterpiece, “La Catrina,” is an elegantly dressed skeletal figure that symbolizes death. This iconic creation was originally known as “La Calavera Garbancera” and was a subtle critique of the upper class who, despite their indigenous origins, had adopted European customs. The message behind La Catrina is that we are all ultimately equal in the face of death, regardless of our social position or wealth.

A catrina in the middle od a marigold field


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The legacy of the Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead, celebrated on November 2, is one of Mexico’s most symbolic celebrations, honoring deceased loved ones. José Guadalupe Posada and his creation, La Catrina, play a fundamental role in this tradition. During this holiday, it is common to see sugar skulls, decorated altars, and people dressed as La Catrina, paying tribute to the character Posada immortalized.

Posada’s legacy is not limited to Mexico; his influence has spread throughout the world. Artists, designers, and art lovers have embraced La Catrina as a timeless icon. The figure has inspired numerous interpretations in painting, sculpture, fashion, and more. La Catrina has become an emblem of Mexican culture, a symbol of life, death and tradition.

On the night of November 2, Mexico is lit with candles and ofrendas and filled with colorful altars in memory of loved ones. But it is also an opportunity to pay homage to the man behind La Catrina, José Guadalupe Posada. His creativity and artistic vision have transcended time and space, reminding us of the beauty and value of Mexican tradition.

José Guadalupe Posada, the creator of La Catrina, is a treasure of Mexican culture. His legacy lives on in every ofrenda, every sugar skull, and in every corner of the country during the Day of the Dead. This plastic artist achieved what few others have: he immortalized a figure that transcends death itself, and whose elegance and simplicity remind us of our common humanity.


You can read the original text in Spanish by Hugo Lynn here.





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