The mysterious Catrina, who is she?

calavera, calavera garbancedra, catrina -

The mysterious Catrina, who is she?


We see her everywhere, especially with Halloween coming. La Catrina, a female skeleton wearing elegant hats and long European bourgeois dresses, is increasingly popular in North America, especially in tattoos. But who is she? What does she mean?


Origins and history


We have to go back to 1912 to find her origins and her first appearance. The Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada was its creator, the one who drew her for the first time and named her La Calavera Garbancera. The art piece of the La Calavera was an engraving inspired both by European traditions - such as medieval macabre art - and pre-hispanic natives. It should be noted that the term Calavera means human skull or death's head in Spanish.


Over time, La Calavera was taken over by many other artists, such as the painter Diego Rivera, and gradually became an emblematic figure for the Mexican Day of the Dead (celebrated on November 2nd of each year) and the Mexican culture in general. It was then named La Catrina, the title we now use for it.


A long time ago, when Mexican women were selling corn, which was the most important ingredient in Mexican culture, some of them began to shift away from the sale of corn to the sale of chickpeas, much more noble since until then they were only sold by the Europeans. Those women literally pretended to be European, denying their own race, culture and heritage. Posada's work was then a criticism of these indigenous women, the "Garbancas" (chickpeas are called garbanzos in Spanish), perceived as traitors wanting to appropriate a style and way of life that went against their origins by copying European fashion and customs by wearing, for example, large hats and dresses filled and decorated with multiple ornaments.


The term Catrina turns out to be the feminine version of the Spanish word Catrin, which generally refers to an elegant, tastefully dressed individual who projects an image of class, cachet and coquetry. However, it should be noted that in Mexico, more specifically, the term Catrin represents a lazy man of exaggerated, even grotesque elegance. It is therefore understandable why the skeleton lady is used as criticism of Mexicans who are insulted by seeing their counterparts renounce their culture, local customs and despise their social class.




By exploring the history surrounding the origin of La Catrina, one can better understand its current meaning and the reasons surrounding its popularity, both in terms of emblematic  figure and as a picture shown on clothes or tattoos. Literally a simple mockery of the rich who tend to forget their roots, the image of La Catrina summarily means that in the face of death, all races, cultures and social status are equal. Regardless of our origin, wealth, values ​​or prestige, we will all end up the same way, in ashes, without anything to differentiate ourselves from one another or to demonstrate our superiority.


Nice philosophy isn’t it? Will you now be tempted by the idea of ​​a future tattoo of the beautiful and dark Catrina?


Don’t hesitate to comment this article and to insert photos of your tattoos of La Calavera, I’d love to see them!


Veronica Jones

Here's some Catrina related items on our store :

Catrina, Calavera, wall decor
Catrina Calavera Top Shirt


Main source for the article : Wikipedia

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published