El corazón de la muerte: altars and offerings for days of the dead
Heyday Books, 2005 - Art - 143 pages
Este es un texto bilingüe. Recomendado para lectores de los idiomas inglés y español. En él se ofrece una mirada interior de los antiguos rituales y nuevas expresiones que reclama la tradición en los países cuyas culturas celebran hoy el tradicional Día de los muertos. Devoción popular donde se entremezclan lo religioso y lo pagano, el miedo y la burla; un pintoresco evento cultural que se cultiva desde hace ya mucho tiempo y en el que se ve involucrada toda la energía histórica y lo más auténtico de la sensibilidad popular. Aquí se habla de todos los matices que visten de colores ese acontecimiento.Se nos explica, además, el tono contrastante y sencillamente profundo con que se asume a la Muerte, ridiculizada en caricaturas y calaveras para en definitiva comérsela como dulce o pan. Todo un ritual cargado de simbolismos y alegorías al que se suman hermosos altares como tributo y homenaje al inevitable destino final que pesa sobre nuestras vidas.
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I saw the 17th annual Días de los Muertos exhibition, entitled "Love and Loss", at the Oakland Museum of California when I was in San Francisco last month, and I bought this book from the museum shop afterward. The book, which was written for the 10th annual exhibition in 2003, provides a short introduction to the holiday, which dates back to pre-Hispanic Mexico. It began with Micailhuitontli, the Small Feast of the Dead, which lasted for 20 days and honored the dead children of the populations of ancient Mexico. This was followed by Huey Micailhuitl, the Great Feast of the Dead, in which the adult dead were honored. These rituals were both mournful and joyous, and consisted of the blessing of a tree cut down in honor of the dead children, and the creation of a large bird god made of amaranth seed dough, which was placed on the end of the tree trunk, forming a mythical Tree of Life around which offerings, sacrifices and bloodletting took place. Young men in the community then climbed the tree pole just before sunset, took down the bird made of bread, and broke off pieces, which were distributed to members of the community, as the "flesh of the god." After the Spaniards conquered Mexico and its ancient peoples, elements of Christianity were incorporated into the ritual. Some of these were similar, yet many were different, most notably the conception of Heaven and Hell as places where people went after death. The rituals of Micailhuitontli and Huey Micailhuitl were replaced by All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, and ofrendas, altars which consisted of offerings that were individualized based on the interests and influences of the dead person, became the essential core of Los Días de los Muertos, which continues to the present day. The annual exhibitions at the museum, and the book based on it, consist largely of ofrendas created by Mexican-American artists and private citizens in the Bay Area, which consist of similar elements. The amaranth dough of the bird god is represented by pan de muerto (bread of the dead), which is placed on the altar, along with marigolds, the deceased's favorite foods, photographs, other objects that were dear to the departed person. Sugar-candy skulls are also featured in many of the ofrendas, along with miniaturized skeletons, which are often displayed as caricatures who sing, dance, drink and mock the powerful people who ruled their lives. The book was an excellent companion to this wonderful exhibition, which permitted me to appreciate the history and importance of Los Días de los Muertos. I would highly recommend this book, but I would even more highly recommend attending this exhibition, and/or any Días de los Muertos celebrations in your area.
Mia González Juana Briones Tapia
Grupo Maya Qusamej Junan Continuation of Life
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