Dia de los Muertos Collectibles


As Dia de los Muertos grows in popularity in the U.S. (especially in southwestern regions and cities with large Latino populations), we'll undoubtedly start to see it become more commercialized. At this point, however, the best Dia de los Muertos collectibles are all artist-made items, most centering on the skull and skeleton imagery that's at the heart of the holiday. Here are a few of my personal favorite items.

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Candy skulls are probably the single item most associated with Dia de los Muertos. Typically made from a spun sugar called alfenique, these little skulls might have a name written on them, or be decorated with glitter or sequins. They come in a variety of sizes, from about ping pong ball-sized up to about the size of grapefruits, and you can also purchase molds and instructions to make your own. These were purchased at the 2011 Olvera Street Dia de los Muertos celebration. Skulls are available in ceramics and plastics as well, and are often painted in bright colors - like this one, also purchased at the 2011 Olvera Street event (although similar skulls can be found in the Olvera Street shops throughout the year).
Here's a little skeleton doll, made from papier mache and with a wobbly head on a spring. This handsome little fellow is mounted on a stick with a handle that lets you move his jaws.
Dia de los Muertos folk art often depicts little skeleton figures going about their daily tasks. Here's a skeleton widow visiting her late husband's grave (this is smaller than my fist). This is the first major piece of Dia de los Muertos candy marketing I've seen: Russell Stover released four different little chocolate bars in 2011.
Friends brought me this amazing mask back from a visit to Mexico City, and they said it was a Day of the Dead mask, although the mentions I've found of masking at Dia de los Muertos didn't mention Mexico City. But this hand-carved and painted wooden mask is still amazing - the hairs are supposedly porcupine quills. Another mask that supposedly was used for Dia de los Muertos. I'm sure there's some meaning to the lizards on the face, but I haven't yet deciphered it. This wooden mask is about the size of an eight-year-old child.