One of the most popular tattoo themes in recent times has been La Catrina.
Originating in Mexico, she is the patron of the Día de Muertos, the Day of the Dead, a magnificent Mexican festival which brings the entire population together and links the idea of death with the pleasures of life, joy and happiness.
The skull woman used in tattoos is inspired by a typical mask that Mexican women paint on their faces for the Day of the Dead. She’s such a beautiful and aristocratic woman that her appeal has even charmed tattoo lovers.
La Catrina has a wonderful face, as white as her bones, and with the image of a skull showing on her mouth, nose and eyes.
So which are the essential features for a perfect La Catrina tattoo?
Embroidered circles around the eyes
These decorative elements outline the eye sockets and are inspired by sugar skulls, the typical sweet of the Mexican festival and in itself a popular tattoo subject.
A black tip to the nose
La Catrina Tattoos often have their nostrils painted black or even substituted by the ace of spades which is a perfect symbol to represent the ambivalence between life and death as it is considered both a symbol of good luck and the opposite.
A line along the mouth crossed by short vertical lines
This feature recalls the teeth of the skull and reaches the middle of the cheek where there is a coloured, often black, circle or a decoration that highlights the dip between the jaw and the cheekbone.
To be complete, La Catrina tattoo must have red roses in the hair and decorations on the forehead – these are often spider’s webs, floral ornaments, crosses or rosaries.
La Catrina is very frequently tattooed in a realistic style, either in black and grey or in colour or else with watercolour or avant-garde elements. La Catrina is also portrayed as a tattoo in other very popular styles such as traditional or dotwork.
Why the name “La Catrina”?
The name is taken from a female character created in 1800 by José Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican engraver who used satire to portray bourgeois figures who were then linked to the Mexican festival of the Day of the Dead.
The popularity of La Catrina and the spreading of the name are down to the Mexican artist Diego Rivera, husband of Frida Kahlo, who painted her on a mural in Mexico City, giving her a new body and identity. La Catrina can still be seen today at the Diego Rivera Mural Museum.
Have a look at our gallery dedicated to Catrina.