Sugar Skulls and Day of the Dead

Sugar Skulls and Day of the Dead

Art celebrating Day of the Dead depicts skeletons – both human and animal – engaging in everyday activities, affirming there is indeed life after death. One of the most fascinating forms of this art is the sugar skull. Brought to Mexico in the seventeenth century by Italian missionaries, sugar art was originally used year-round as altar offerings and decorations. Now associated most often with Day of the Dead, artists create these symbols in various mediums. The sugar skull motif can be found on clothing and in tattoos, jewelry, and murals.

Whether in paint or frosting, the elaborate designs of sugar skull art are symbolic of life in death. Flowers bloom around empty eye sockets and sunbeams radiate from skeletal brows. The sugar skull’s juxtaposition of sweetness and death is at the heart of Día de los Muertos – we laugh and we grieve, and we laugh again.

Image from our Day of the Dead 2022 wall calendar. Artwork by Lydia Hess

Posted by Amber Lotus Publishing on 30th Oct 2021