Nook: Los Calaveras by Jose Posada

Saturday

Los Calaveras by Jose Posada


There's a dark, comic magic in los calaveras, the animated skeletons who drink, dance, dress up, sweep the streets, race their bikes and basically carry on like there's no ma├▒ana.

El Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead (Nov. 2) is always associated with Calavera de la Catrina (above), a zinc etching made by Mexican illustrator Jose Posada in the late 19th century.

Nowadays, she's emblematic of the Mexican holiday to honor dead loved ones, but that wasn't originally the case. Catarina, along with the rest of Posada's merry skeletons, were once newspaper cartoons designed to poke fun at the rich and satirize the politics and class struggles of Mexican society.

As a man of the people, Posada published his politically charged illustrations as booklets or 'penny chapbooks,' to rouse the literate but poorly educated lower and middle classes. Today, examples of his chapbooks have been republished and are available at Amazon. Aren't his drawings amazing? Cheers to Posada and todos los muertos.

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