Day of the Dead Skeleton Calavera Art Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Dead Skeleton (Calavera) Art

Anthropology is the study of objects in terms of their positioning and existence. It is an ethnographic approach for tracing things or people. Through the concept of 'follow the thing', it is possible to study varying aspects of an art object through different contexts. This helps in the finding out of initial perceptions about an object through ethnographic study. It also helps in the study of world systems through the originality and chain of a commodity. Through the commodity chain, there comes specific ethnographic sensibility for multi-sited research. The concept of follow the thing technique is used within the framework of political economy in the colonialism and capitalism contexts (Brandes 85).

The study of things can also take social contextual where tracing of the object follows its circulation (Brandes 85). In the efforts to follow the thing, ethnographic study can also take multi-faceted research methods, which assist the study of objects through and in the context. That is relevant in the tracing of cultural practices in line with their origins, influences, impacts, and constructs within a society. Looking at the Day of the Dead Skeleton art, it is a practice with a long history, and significance to the lives of Mexicans. There are different aspirations, which influence the creation of objects.

Examples of such studies are in the tracing of the infiltration of African curios into the western markets (Marcus 95-117). Although the art was a conception in contemporary Mexico, the popularization of the Day of the Calaveras circulated throughout Mexico, and stretched past its boundaries through time. This is just the same way, which the Mexicans have practiced the Day of he Dead ceremony from a local perspective. The preparations of the ceremony spread to other societies making it a popular celebration in the global arena. The skeletons satirizing the high society is an icon of the widely celebrated Day of the Dead by Mexicans. Mexicans respect the celebrations of the day of the dead, and this culture has gone a long way creating a unique recognition in the global perspective (Brandes 181 -- 218).

The Day of the Dead has artistic representations, and commemorations from different aspects. Just like its global perspective through the Day of the Dead skeleton, there are popular locations where people can have their celebrations in an acceptable, and memorial capacity in respect to the dead. One of the places where Mexicans celebrate, and enjoy giving respect to the dead is at the Day inn. The day of the Dead is the most famous holiday inn in Mexico. It has many visitors mostly in October flocking in to witness its beauty.

The visitors get attracted to, unique artistic, displays and ritual performances. There is a display of the theme of death displayed through plastic toys, paper cutouts, decorated breads, and harmonious thematic play of death (Brandes 85). The Day of the Dead is a manifestation of a unique practice of the Mexicans way of viewing death. This is evident through Octavios Labyrinth of Solitude chapter presentation of the Day of the Dead. According to the author, Mexicans have no clear placement of death. They love it and at the same time loath it. The view of Paz has intellectual and artistic reproduction to an orthodox representation of Mexico and united Sates (Stavans 55 -- 71).

The practice of the rituals about death shows that Mexicans do not fear death, and that they embrace it in an attempt for conquering their fears. Every Mexican man aims to be a real macho through boldness and no fear of death. This is because as believed by Mexicans, death is most of the time feared, and venerated but it is always present in our lives meaning that there is no way that man can live without the presence of death. In philosophical studies, it is found that the only way of displaying bravery against death is through display of scorn and triumph to conquer the defined character of death. The relationship that Mexicans hold with death is one that has elevated it to the position of national identities because there is no other country anywhere on earth that people relate to death like Mexicans (Brandes 85).

It is on some occasions thought that Mexicans do not fear death but through confirmations from some prominent Mexicans speaking on the relationship maintained by Mexicans and death, contrary input arises. It is not that Mexicans love death and always wants to be close to it. In fact, the contrary is the result and Mexicans just as other people fear death. The reason for the relationship with death, therefore, is just an effort for accepting the fate described by death, and welcomes it as a phenomenon that it cannot avoid (Frank 26).

Cultural context

In the Mexican culture, there is the belief that dead people watch over the living. This calls for decorations on tombs during December 1 and 2nd when Mexicans decorate tombstones with sculptures sugar candies. These look like skeletons, skulls, and caskets suggesting an attachment with immortality with the dedication to cleaning of burial sites, and maintenance of vigil on the graves adorned with flowers, food and candles (Brandes 85). His cultural practice maintained by the Mexicans is a long lived one for the honor of the dead. All Mexicans must observe this culture, and those who fail risk facing punishment in this life or after their death. The significance and importance of the two-day ceremony is a strict cultural observation and can be proven through the incurred expenses in food, energy and money spent to crown the ceremony. The Day of the Dead is a term used in the contemporary era representing Roman Catholic holidays as the 'All Souls Day' set for November 1.

Structural context

There is a symbolic representation of the Day of the Dead in its historic context, represents perplexing paradoxes as believed by the Mexican community. There is the considerable reduction in the death rates largely related to the power of the celebrations. As a mortuary ritual, the expectation on Mexicans is that they stay humorous, and for the locals, despite the commonly associated remorse ambiguously maintain that during death. Finally, there is a mystic connection of death and sweets. According to scholars, there exists an ideological connection of the rituals and events. There is vast citation of the ritual as a peculiar practice by both Mexican and foreign researchers giving an outstanding Mexican connection to death (Frank 26).

Functional context

There is functional placement of the Day of the Dead within a date that corresponds with the religious celebration of saints and for honoring souls in purgatory. The Catholic Church dedicates the Saints day for prayers to seek mercy for souls in purgatory. The masses celebrated by the church for the honor of the dead corresponds with the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead embraced in two feast days in the Roman Catholic church. The Mexicans may not recognize the significance of the masses but have their celebrations artistically designed with special activities.

There were incalculable changes, and anguish during periods of wars as well as the onset of civilization. So, as a reminder of the inevitability of death, the artistic presentation of the day of the dead skeleton in fancy, just functions as a reminder of the start of civilization. The art can also act as an invocation to the enjoyment of life to its fullest point because once death comes along only skeletons remain in memory. The sweetness of life remains but in death, it is not easy enjoying that sweetness only possible to the living.

Cultural interpretation of the art within the framework of power and politics

The Calaveras are artworks that were satirical presentation of famous people through skull images or animated skeletons (Frank 26). These social satires made comments on the political and social lives of the way Mexicans in the late nineteenth century, and early twentieth century lived. The artworks have connections to the political atmosphere of the time of their creation. Through satire, the artist creates an ethnographic presentation of his feelings and society. This has connection to the Mexican practices and the way the lived, their lives in a showcase of the struggles they faced. There were practices only possible in Mexico, and people faced influences from a variety of occasions perceived from experiences the society went through in the ancient times.

There existed numerous social facts and political differences in the society, and in all aspects; something always reminded people of the equality of humankind. Death always comes and regardless of the social class or political position of an individual there always exists a unity through death (Milotes 77). Everyone destines to the end and it is paramount for the enjoyment of life when it lasts instead of waiting until one dies. The elite never appreciated the presence of equity, which existed in the society and all that happened left the poor and lowly oppressed. The…

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