Talatelolco, Mexico, b. 1983Ofrenda
Tuesday, October 28, 2008Tuesday, November 11, 2008
First Level Foyer
Betto Limón, Mexican, b. 1983, has constructed a Day of the Dead ofrenda, made from mixed mediums, in the foyer of the MIA just outside the Museum Shop.
More than 500 years ago, when the Spanish came to what is now Mexico, they encountered a 3,000-year-old native ceremony that seemed to mock death. Known today as Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, it is still celebrated in Mexico and certain parts of the United States. The modern version includes aspects of the Christian faith, and uses skulls to symbolize death and rebirth, and to honor the dead, who are believed to return to visit their loved ones.
To the early Meso-Americans, life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake. The conquering Spaniards, however, found the practice to be sacrilegious, and attempted to eradicate it. When this failed, the Spaniards moved its date from August to coincide with All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day (November 1 and 2), which remains its dates today.
Day of the Dead is now celebrated in a variety of ways.
In rural Mexico, people visit the cemetery where their loved ones are buried. They decorate gravesites with marigold flowers, candles, and the departed's favorite objects and foods. In Mexico's larger cities, families build at-home ofrendas (altars) dedicated to the dead. The ofrendas are decorated with offerings like those mentioned above, and a photo of the departed soul.
Mexicans react to death with both mourning and joy. While they may fear death, they deflect their fear with mocking humor and images of skulls and skeletons.