Download Skulls to the Living, Bread to the Dead: The Day of the Dead in Mexico and Beyond PDF

TitleSkulls to the Living, Bread to the Dead: The Day of the Dead in Mexico and Beyond
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size6.0 MB
Total Pages248
Table of Contents
                            FIGURES AND PLATES
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
PART 1 INTRODUCTION
1 THE DAY OF THE DEAD, PROBLEMS AND PARADOXES
PART 2 HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS
2 THE SWEETNESS OF DEATH
3 SKULLS AND SKELETONS
PART 3 CONTEMPORARY TRANSFORMATIONS
4 TOURISM AND THE STATE
5 THE POETICS OF DEATH
6 THE DAY OF THE DEAD AND HALLOWEEN
PART 4 NORTH OF THE BORDER
7 TEACHING THE DAY OF THE DEAD
8 CREATIVITY AND COMMUNITY
PART 5 CONCLUSION
9 MEXICAN VIEWS OF DEATH
REFERENCES
INDEX
Colour Plates
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 1

SKULLS TO THE LIVING, BREAD TO THE DEAD

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Page 2

To my Jane, a poetic soul, very much alive

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Page 124

112 Contemporary Transformations

In mixed-up confusion
Will be the skulls,
And even the straw mat makers
Will enjoy the occasion.

It will be a great equality
That levels big and small
There will be neither poor nor rich
In that society.

In this widening world
Gold perverts everyone
But after death
There are neither classes nor rank.

The same message comes across in a moving calavera published nearly a cen-
tury later in El Imparcial (October 31, 1996), an Oaxaca newspaper:

Toditos los que hoy están
en este apretado osario
ya vivieron su calvario;
iguales ahora serán
el lego y el sacristán
el sardo y el comandante
el reportero y el director
todos en este instante
llegaron a su panteón
con las patas por delante,
calaveras del montón.

No importa que fuera ministro
magistrado o presidente
todos pelaron el diente
y llegaron a lo mismo:
el que vivió con cinismo
o en una cueva de fieras,
señoritas o rameras
dieron el azotón
y ahora son calaveras,
calaveras del montón.

All those who today are
in this crowded ossuary
already lived their calvary;
will now be equal.

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Page 125

The Poetics of Death 113

The layman and the sacristan
the guardsman and the commander
the reporter and the director
all at this moment
will arrive at the cemetery
with their feet stretched out in front
piled-up skulls.

It doesn’t matter if he were minister
judge or president
All smiled fawningly
and arrived in the same place:
he who lived with cynicism
or in a cave of wild beasts,
young maids or whores
fell over dead
and now they are skulls
piled-up skulls.

By advertising the personal weaknesses of the rich and powerful, calavera
verse symbolically situates these public figures on the level of the common man.
Through poetry, the satirical epitaphs in effect bring about the equality that
death will seal once and for all.

Although printed calaveras generally emphasize the common human condi-
tion, they occasionally highlight social inequality, including a portrayal of the
Day of the Dead as an occasion for ostentatious display. The dead might all be
equal, and all men and women share eventual mortality. But the living must
endure an unequal distribution of rank and privilege. The best example of this
message comes from La Opinion (November 4, 1913), a Veracruz newspaper
printed in the early years of the Revolution (1910–20).

NO VOY
¿Ir al Cementerio? ¿a qué?
necedad en mí sería
ir a ver tanta viuda
enlutada y compungida,
frente a otros tantos sepulcros
donde moran sus fosillos
adornándolos con flores . . .
poniéndoles siemprevivas,
moco de pavo, gardenias,
flor de muerto y margaritas
Compradas Dios sabe cómo
y qué clase de pastilla,

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Page 247

Plate 8.3 Revelers protesting junk food at the San Francisco Mission Day of the Dead
parade, November 2, 1989. Photograph courtesy of Janet Delaney.

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Page 248

Plate 9.1 Day of the Dead grave, Ihuatzio, Michoacán, November 2005. Photograph
courtesy of Cristina García Rodero

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