Even though I announced last year that I was officially retiring from making day of the dead threads, it is such a compellingly photogenic time of the year here in Oaxaca that it's hard to resist fetching forth the camera. Accordingly, I took myself off to Parque El Llano this past Friday afternoon to snap the big kick-off parade forming up.
I obviously wasted time & money going to Venice, when I could have seen the same thing here at home ~
Thanks so much, LaGatta! It seemed like a much smaller group and more sedate than the same forming-up last year. Someone who was at the terminus of the parade also commented that it was good, but not as good as last year. The pooches were fine until the fireworks started going off when it was time for the parade to move. At that point, Oliver deployed his full nine pounds to haul the rest of us toward home.
The jingle-bell devils from San Agustín Etla have picked up a camp follower. I swear I've seen this same guy drunkenly shambling along at every parade I attend ~
Crisp black and white ~ it just suits the dead, doesn't it?
Except for the young women in the neat rows above, it may not look like the parade participants were forming up at this point, but they were. Bands were playing, fireworks were bursting in air, and the little boy in the second picture here was dancing his heart out while twirling a giant cloth globe atop that stick he's holding ~
Well, that was lots of pictures, plus I had to take pity on the dogs. We headed over to Parque Conzatti, which is only a block away & is sort of "their" park where they can be off-leash. But what's this? It's a whole other contingent which, far from seeming pressured by the sounds of their big parade calling them, are positively lolling about ~
Seeing my camera, Pinky-boy struck this pose saying, "Enero", then faced his bosom the other way saying, "Febrero" ~
It seems as though the costumes and the makeup become more and more sophisticated every year. I imagine that when the economy is doing well, people can devote more time and money to something like this. If so, the economy must be booming in Oaxaca. The people with rubber masks almost seem to be celebrating a totally different rival event. I suppose that people who don't have the time or the talent to do makeup might this to be an acceptable alternative, though.
The bronze space zombie is excellent, but I bet that some of these people get into a trap. When you go all out on some of these outfits, you can't decently wear them year after year or people will say "oh, that's just the same thing again." Do you know if there is some sort of costume exchange service on the internet so that people can keep renewing their originality without going broke?
Your pictures seem to get better and better every year, Bixa. Of course, you've had a lot of practice now!
Being a party pooper, I don't really like the rubber masks and other gruesome-looking things inspired by horror movies. They don't seem very "traditional" for an ancient traditional festival. Of course, I realize that those participating annually might actually want to be more up to date, but that's just me.
I really like the photograph of the baskets of flowers all lined up.
I am on the same wavelength: the worst of the make up is better than the best of the masks. And some make ups are are stunning. I esp love the Ines with half a face. And some women are really beautiful. Men I don't know - not that much interested 😏
We are glad you reneged on your promise. There is some magic here that I can't put my finger on. Some cultural quality that we from Northern cultures lack. A celebration like this would literally be impossible to occur up here in the land of Dutch and Swedish immigrants. We could try, and the result might be cool, but it wouldn't be anything like the same. Love the pictures except the one with the silly, gimmicky color effect added to it (last thing Oaxaca will ever need is color effects applied!), the people seem to be enjoying themselves and it looks quite authentic, not just some show put on for the tourists.
Re: face paint vs. masks ~ ironically, masks are closer to true, old tradition than the face painting is. Many features now associated with Mexican day of the dead date from the early 1900s, but back then skull masks would have prevailed, not the skull face painting that has been seized upon with zeal in the US as well. Masks have a very long and varied history in Mexico, going back into the mists of history and there are untold different examples all over the country. The very plain molded masks the cross-dressing boys are wearing in the Conzatti Park pictures above are some that I think of as very typically Mexican. They're plastic, but modeled after older papier mache ones.
Yes, obviously many of the costumes have nothing to do with day of the dead, but it's equally obvious that young people are eager for any opportunity to costume and play-act. It's all in good fun.
Here are a few more pictures taken over the past three days. The full-bore decorating is not yet in effect, although late this afternoon I saw evidence that it was beginning in earnest here and there.
Oh yes - I am so glad you could not resist. I was going to ask how you worked your charm to get so many poses but then you answered the question. Stunning photos yet again. And ...dare I say it again ? Yes I dare ..... the colours!!! Despite that I love the image in black and white with just the colour of the flowers and the balloons...just fab
Ha ha, it does look that way! I tapped one of the heads, & it's baked clay. There's a grouping of figures by the big folkcraft tent that look as though they were made by the same artisan. Maybe the local government commissioned them?
You have to ask?! Actually, it wasn't too bad at the parade forming-up area until the bands & fireworks started. And so far it's been pretty quiet around town. And thank you for the welcome compliments, dear Cheery.
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Yesterday Charlie and I went to Mitla, which was to be part of a larger excursion that got derailed by torrential rains. Why Mitla, you ask? Well, it's name is derived from the Nahuatl name Mictlán, which was the place of the dead or underworld. It is an important archaeological site, established as a sacred burial site long before the Christian Era, probably by the Zapotecs, whose influence was predominant until about ad 900. The town and its ruins would merit a separate report, but since our visit was curtailed what I do have fits nicely and appropriately into this day of the dead report, I think.
We first walked around the town square with a view to finding a place to have lunch. All the women doing their marketing were carrying different versions of the market baskets shown on the right side of this photograph. As far as I know, the baskets are made in the nearby town of San Francisco Lachigolo ~
The municipal building had a bunch of large and cheerful figures of the dead ~
This was Charlie's favorite, as she pointed out how appropriate it was that even the cactus pads on the skirt were dead ~
... it must take a bit of determination to eat one of the big ones, even with a large family.
Kerouac, some of those great big ones might get put on an altar, so never get eaten by the living. Also, Mexican gatherings can be very large, in which case one of the big ones might not be big enough.
Are those pan de muertos sweet like a brioche or are they like bread?
Bjd, they are most often compared to brioche or challah. To be perfectly honest, I usually find them too dry and boring. When Htmb & Kerouac were here, we got some pan de muertos in Puebla & I thought it was much better than the Oaxaca version. Here's a recipe wherein the author says "is a little richer than most of the buttery egg breads that are created in Oaxaca". One would hope. www.rickbayless.com/recipe/day-of-the-dead-bread/
... until I can pressurize Mrs M's company to transfer us there. Some hope though.
You don't have to wait that long, Mark. My house is in an excellent spot for visiting Oaxaca and you and Mrs. M are welcome anytime.
Thanks to all of you for your attention to this thread. I still have more pictures of Mitla to show, plus there are things going on that I'll be checking out. It's starting to look as though this may be a DofD report.
Some of the face painting looks almost professional. I'm sure anybody wanting to do Muertos up right could find inspiration on youtube, but executing it neatly is another matter. I like the black and white half-faces with the purple eye zone.
That little boy twirling the pole catches how exciting the day is for the littlest participants. He's really into it.
I'm sure the local organisations get together and run this spectacle just for Bixa's (and our) benefit. As a collection of incredible portraits it is brilliant. I tried to find a favorite...maybe the chap with camera and everyone striking a pose, including the dog.
From portrait to ambience...colour upon colour from all directions, noise and dust and wide eyed babies.
Can't wait for the next bit.
Travel! Set out and head for pastures new[br] Life tastes the richer when you’ve road worn feet.[br]Ibn Battuta[br]
Breeze, I swear Mexicans have more patience in general than the rest of the world and one way you can see that is in the excellence of the fancy makeup.
Questa, the amazing thing to remember is that of all I show here, there is SO much more going on that I never even get around to seeing. This is truly an immersive event I continue to enjoy.
Right now we'll see a little bit more of the market before heading off to the famous ruins ~
You all know that I have mentioned tasajo various times in the food boards here. It is a piece of beef that is thinly cut back and forth and back and forth to make a long piece that is then folded back up like a fan for display on the meat vendor's table ~
Cooking up meat to eat on the spot ~
Smoked fish and boiled semi-dried shrimp from the coast of Oaxaca along with two kinds of incense for the home altar ~
We set off to the official entry site of the ruins, passing a couple of other ruins along the way. They just set right there in town, in between some businesses and are testament to the size and grandeur of old Mitla. Here is some background history which will bring home why pictures of Mitla fit well into a day of the dead report: historicalmx.org/items/show/51
Thanks! If you think about it, ask your butcher where he's from.
Onward to the ruins. I'm giving you all that I have, but the picture-taking was severely curtailed by the rain. We were being very leisurely, poking into stores and deciding which ones to hit on the way back. Ha ~ that didn't happen! We also took forever finding the public potties. And when the rain hit, it hit in torrents. All hail to the taxista who got us back to our homes, as the the highway couldn't even be seen through the curtains of the rain. I swear, I got wetter yesterday at Mitla than I get when I take a shower.
The next two pictures are not even inside the ruins site proper, but were as far as we got before having to take cover ~
We got beer from that little shop under the green umbrella, then huddled in this empty commercial space waiting for the rain to ease up ~
Trying again ~
Amazingly, the red color on the wall is original ~
This is the best I could do with one of the most iconic sights of Mitla before hiding my camera from more rain ~
There are four chambers around a large interior courtyard, each one with the characteristic striking mosaic designs. This is not the original ceiling and the picture is blurry because the chamber is unlighted ~
Some of the walls ~
Closeup showing how perfectly the unmortared stones fit together ~
Sorry, but the rain drove us off to look for a way home, so no more pictures of this magnificent archeological site nor its great little town.
There are bunches of pictures still on my camera that I took today in Oaxaca, plus you'll be treated to some of the >shopping< available during festival time.
Kerouac, I remember with great fondness the fabulous candy store display the cacti would put on in the Spring where I lived on the Texas/Mexico border. Alas, if it happens here I have never seen it, nor have I heard of it happening.
These pictures were taken today, all fairly close to my house ~
The entrance to the long pavilion selling the handicrafts of the state of Oaxaca ~