Día de los Muertos---The Day of the Dead---is an annual holiday celebrated in Mexico and by Hispanic people in other countries. Skeletons are a logical choice and an important symbol of the holiday; in pre-Columbian times, skeleton art appeared on wall paintings and pottery, representing the transition into the afterlife. Today, skeletons, called calacas in Spanish, are whimsical and funny, like the señorita skeleton on the plate holding her full skirts and dancing to the tunes. The señor, on the other hand, is quite serious despite his grin; he is holding a large scythe, the traditional symbol of death carried by the grim reaper, obviously appropriate.
These wall plates are hand made of rough tan clay, finely painted in a wonderfully Mexican folk art manner. The female skeleton is dancing on a curtained stage in her turquoise skirt, hair braids flying. Her plate is striped white and green on the rim. The male is pictured outside, with flowers underfoot, so to speak, a blue sky above and a large cactus for company. His plate's rim is striped white and terracotta.
Each plate measures 9 1/4 inches across and 1 inch high; they are dished, with a well, and weigh just under 1 1/2 pounds each. Both have a raised, pierced lump of clay on the back with a knotted piece of plastic fishing twine for the hanger.
The colors on these plates are fresh and vibrant, showing little wear. Both have a glossy clear top coat. The clay is clean and undamaged, except for a 1/4 inch chip on the lower right of the back, shown by our arrow, on the female plate. They're a pair of spectacularly decorative examples of Mexican folk art.