El Panteon (the Cemetery)
Pre-hispanic roots of Dia de los Muertos
Ometeotl, the god of duality. This deity had both male and female attributes and was the creator of the cosmos and all other gods. In fact, Aztec priests at the highest level believed there was only one god, and all the others were simply facets or expressions of Ometeotl. The god of duality was so unknowable that no sculptures, paintings, or other representations of Ometeotl have ever been found. Only one temple was ever built for this deity, but it contained no images or statues.
Aztec terracotta sculpture contained in the unique Museum of Death, located in Aguascalientes. The ancient people of Mesoamerica believed that everything in the universe operated on a recurring cyclical basis. Youth turns to old age, which moves into death and re-birth as the cycle continues. Everything in the pre-hispanic world seemed to confirm this: the seasons; the movement of sun, moon, and stars; the life cycle of animals and plants. Some of the ancient civilizations created sophisticated calendars based on cyclical movements of the stars and planets. They were particularly fascinated by Venus which was seen as a symbol of death and rebirth since it appears in the evening and reappears in the morning.
Shaft Tomb tradition comes from artifacts found in these burials. They include beautiful, realistic sculptures of people playing with children, making meals, chatting with friends, playing music, and circle dancing. There were also models of the homes they lived in, some containing a dog house with a pet peeking out. Archaeologists call these objects "grave goods".
Los altares familiares (the family altars)
José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) was a young man who was born and raised in Aguascalientes. His older brother was a school teacher who taught him to draw. Posada eventually got a job as a cartoonist with an Aguascalientes newspaper called El Jicote (the Bumblebee).
This completes my posting on the 2016 Dia de los Muertos. I hope you'e enjoyed it and, if so, that you will leave any questions or thoughts in the Comments section below, or email me directly. If you leave a question in the Comments section, PLEASE leave your email address so I can respond.
Hasta luego, Jim