Day of the Dead altar

The Marbella Ralli Museum brings Mexico’s Day of the Dead to Marbella, and invites you to experience the true meaning of this tradition with an authentic “Altar of the Dead”, created exclusively for the museum by artists of Mexican origin, in collaboration with the Lamanai XS Gallery.

This installation, located in Room 1 of the museum within the Contemporary art in Oaxaca. Vanguard, myth and tradition exhibition, comprises pieces from crafts and folk art. The works, on loan from the Lamanai Gallery, come from various craft workshops and artists currently working in Mexico, including the workshops of Jacobo and María, Efrain and Silvia Fuentes, Roberto Rodríguez, and the artist Felipe Espinosa.

Among the pieces that make up the altar we find figurines and animals carved from copal wood, known as alebrijes, tonas and nahuales; sculptures of Catrinas in different sizes; golden crosses with the heart of Jesus; angels and virgins; niche boxes; Roman crosses; hearts, boxes and candleholders with miracles; handmade tapestries; prints and oil paintings with various motifs; the altar is then decorated with candles, flowers and offerings for the deceased.

For more information on the pieces, their creators and their meanings, visit the Lamanai XS Gallery website here.

More about the tradition

The Day of the Dead is one of Mexico’s most important traditions, giving the country a unique identity worldwide. In truth, however, it isn’t just about one day, but rather it takes place over a period of weeks. This is a time of year when we remember our loved ones who are no longer with us in their physical form.

The origin of celebrating the dead in Mexico dates back to pre-Hispanic times. According to historians, the Mexica people had several periods throughout the year when they celebrated their dead, the most important of which took place at the end of the harvest between the months of September and November.

Today, however, we can see a strong relationship with the Christian calendar. Celebrating the Day of the Dead did not disappear with the arrival of the Spaniards on Mexican soil, as was the case with other religious festivals, due to the fact that the dates coincided with Catholic saints days like All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. The tradition therefore adapted and managed to survive.

The altar is used to honour loved ones by offering them things they loved in life, along with candles, flowers and other decorations. This is why the offerings often include food, drink and other references to the deceased’s tastes and habits, which might even have been harmful to them, such as alcohol and cigarettes. This reminds us of the triumph of the spirit over the flesh, celebrating the fact that none of this can harm them any longer.

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