Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Día de Muertos: San Fernando Pantheon and Cloister of Sor Juana

While Jeff was here, we took a tour called La Catrina viaja en tranvía, or the Catrina travels in trolley car. La Catrina is now a famous Mexican character/image, based on the print made by Mexican printmaker José Guadalupe Posada in 1913. She represents death and is usually depicted as a skeleton dressed in elegant, early 20th century clothing. 

José Guadalupe Posada's La Catrina
source: Wikipedia

Our first stop was the Panteón de San Fernando (San Fernando Pantheon), one of the oldest cemeteries in Mexico City. 

Bienvenidos (Welcome)

Throughout the Pantheon, there were various works of cartonería (paper-mache sculptures), which is a popular art form associated with Día de Muertos. The figures are generally depicted doing every-day tasks.

Below, a the cartonería shows a woman gently laying down a skeleton. Our guide said that death is represented as a woman because if life is given/represented by a woman, then death should be as well. 
(The figure here looks like La catrina to me from the way she is dressed, though that was not mentioned on the tour). 


cartonería in the San Fernando Pantheon


cartonería in the San Fernando Pantheon

Below is the tomb of Benito Juarez, former President of Mexico (served 5 terms) and the first Mexican president of indigenous descent. He was the last person buried in the San Fernando Pantheon. 

Benito Juarez's tomb

Benito Juarez's tomb, surrounded by cartonerías representing
children playing various traditional Mexican games 



Benito Juarez's tomb. The sculpture represents
la madre patria (the motherland/ the nation)
holding Benito Juarez 



papel picado

once again, cartonerías "doing every-day activities" 






Cartonería representation of the two lovers. The
woman died of a heart-attack the day of
their wedding while her fiancé was
waiting at the altar



Ignacio Zaragoza's tomb (famous for leading
the victorious battle in Puebla on
May 5, 1862) 


cartonería of a woman making tortillas


cartonería of a mariachi band




cartonería of Frida Kahlo



Our next stop was the Claustro de Sor Juana, or the Cloister ("a place of religious seclusion, as a monastery or convent) of Sor Juana. Sor (Sister) Juana Inés de la Cruz was a self-taught scholar and writer and a nun of New Spain (when Mexico was still part of the Spanish Empire). She entered this Claustro when she was about 16 (having transferred from a different convent) and lived there until she died of cholera in 1695 (during a massive cholera outbreak). She is an important literary figure.


Sor Juana's tomb, decorated for Día de Muertos 




This shows the combination of the Catholic and pre-hispanic
influences, with the religious figures, the indigenous clothing,
the wall of skulls, etc. The nun has a crown of flowers-- which they
only received when they make their promise and when they die



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