La Calavera Catrina (Elegant Skull) is a 1910–1913 zinc etching by the Mexican printmaker, cartoon illustrator and lithographer José Guadalupe Posada. La Catrina has become an icon of the Mexican Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
The Mexican Revolution gave birth to La Catrina, an image created by the talented engraver Jose Guadalupe Posada that satirized the government, the governing, and the ruling class. The original name for "La Catrina" was actually La Calavera Garbancera, a name that the working class and poor used to refer to Mexicans who held their native heritage in contempt and made every attempt to pass as Europeans. The skeletal resemblance came from the propensity to wear very pale makeup, in an effort to whiten the skin. Posada's creation was the simple head shot with an ornate aristocratic French hat. Credit for changing her name is given to Diego Rivera, who took the hat-adorned head of Garbancera and gave her a full body, completely dressed in elegant clothing.
Her debut can be seen today in Mexico City on the preserved mural Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central ("Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park") at the Museo Mural Diego Rivera. This revered display of Rivera's art is laden with much symbolism, innuendo and legend.
La Catrina has always represented the disparity between the classes of Mexico and as much as there are those who claim things have changed, the reverence to this symbol only succeeds to point out how things have truly remained the same. Before the revolution, the rich enjoyed many privileges completely unavailable to those with less money. Though there is much more visibility of the lower classes in current times, poverty is still a huge political issue and daily wages remain at amazingly low levels.
Source: Banderas News