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Day of the Dead

October 5, 2012 , , , ,

death photo

All Souls Day in the Catholic tradition is a time to honor and remember the dead. In native belief systems of the Americas death played a central part. Making fun of death, or mocking the fanciest parts of life have gone together forever, everywhere. In Basel Switzerland I saw a collection of art from the middle ages portraying the same dancing skeletons used in Mexico to show death as a fiesta. Being mindful of mortality is known as memento mori. Skulls and other reminders of the transience of life were used in churches and religious settings. Ancestors graves have been a place of reverence for almost all peoples. Art depicting death in a whimsical or dramatic way has been with us in many cultures around the world. To remember mortality is essential to living a full life.

If there are rituals in the entire culture that honor the souls of departed there is a continuity. Fear of of death is made comical when portrayed as the dance of death or the fancy dressed skeleton. The folly of amassing worldly goods seems obvious when the fiddler and the dancers have nothing but bones and clothing. In 1839 the possibility of capturing the image of a dead person became very popular. I have seen quite a few graves embellished with photos.  Others use symbols.  Have you ever given any thought to your own death, your own grave and epitaph?

Tucson celebrates All Souls Weekend in a mixed tech cultural expression of art and celebration.  By building personal or community altars, by artful masquerade, and by watching or participating in the procession Tucsonans have the opportunity to bring mortality to life.  Come on down to the Old Pueblo for an old time custom revived.

dance macabre

marigold offering

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I would love to see the collection of art you saw in Switzerland. I have been fortunate enough to visit a number of museums in the U.S and find the exhibits on Native American culture fascinating,




October 6, 2012

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