Several years my husband and I were in Oaxaca, Mexico during the Day of the Dead celebration. And Oaxaca celebrated this holiday in a big way!
Dia de los Muertos was originally an Aztec celebration of the lives of those who had died. The Spanish conquerors tried to put an end to the holiday, but were not successful, (thank goodness). Over time el Dia de los Muertos merged with the Catholic All-Saints day and All-Souls day on November 1st and 2nd. The contemporary celebration melds aspects of Aztec ritual with Christian traditions and contemporary life.
Sugar Skulls and Marigolds
Sugar Skulls in Oaxaca
We started seeing sugar skulls in the markets about a week or 2 before the Day of the Dead celebration. Apparently the Catholic friars taught the Mexicans how to make decorations from an ingredient that was abundant and affordable: sugar. Sugar Skulls and other items are often used to decorate the ofrendas on Dia de los Muertos. As in the picture below, marigolds also decorate small home altars like this, as well as large public displays. The bright orange marigolds are said to guide the spirits of the deceased, back to their earthly homes, as they visit their loved ones.
Oferendas with sugar skulls
Day of the Dead Necklace
I wanted to design a Day of the Dead necklace that would reflect these traditions, with respect and authenticity. So I started with an awesome, bronze clay sugar skull by my friend Staci Smith.
I needed some beads to represent the marigolds and these were perfect!
Day Of the Dead Necklace with Marigold beads.
I wired a “marigold” beneath the chin of the sugar skull and dangled 7 other from a strand of black, gray and silver “peanut beads”.
I topped the sugar skull with a dark lilac handmade ceramic bead by Mary Hubbard, of White Clover Kiln and then added a strand of purple, recycled sari silk.
Here’s some additional information of the Day of the Dead, that you might find interesting: http://www.firstpost.com/tag/day-of-the-dead
The Skull Sugar Necklace is available on my website.
I am always delighted to read your comments! Hope to hear from you.
Linda Landig Jewelry