Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sierra Gorda - Altars from Dia de los Muertos

Altars, altars everywhere! It didn't matter the size or location of the villages, somewhere and everywhere we saw altars. Some were part of competitions called "concursos" in the village squares and others were in stores or as in the case of the first photo in the regional museum in Jalpan. Oh my gosh, I would have loved to have brought this skeleton home to add to my folkart collection. And, if you click on this photo you can see the decorated skulls at the base. There was a huge altar display in the jardine next to the Mission of Jalpan. Noticeably to me, was the fact that many of these altars were being created by teenagers - aaah, the traditions being handed down. There were probably 20 to 25 altars in this display and as it got dark all the candles were lit and the square filled up with families strolling by and looking at the altars. Then a band began to play and as I was leaving at about 10PM it was getting really, really crowded. So different from Patzcauro and the State of Michoacan where it is more solemn and spiritual. The cemetaries closed at 6PM so this was THE celebration of the night.
This altar was in the lobby of the hotel we stayed in in Jalpan. It was close to the sign welcoming us to Jalpan. The cross is made out of salt which is one of the "key" ingredients that must be on the altar as well as water and light (candles). The symbolism is fascinating. Notice how they took cactus and sliced them and made a hole to turn them into candle holders! Clever isn't it?

Then as we traveled away from civilization, literally, and arrived in Tilaco, right near the Mission again, young teenage girls were making altars for a competition that night. I was amazed to see that they were making the altars out of banana leaves, marigolds and WILD ORCHIDS. IT WAS A SIGHT! I can remember as a little girl the first time I saw this exotic flower in a corsage that my big sister had for a prom. And I never tire of being somewhere where orchids are prolific and wild..............magnificent

The tradition of altar making is so different from one region to the next and in many instances it is using the indigenous materials that are available - palms, banana leaves, reeds from the river or whatever and then the other natural materials....................salt, water and light!

1 comment: said...

Beatiful are getting really good!