Museum of Mummies in Mexico: Panopticon of Death
The mummy museum in the Mexican city of Guanajuato is a tourist attraction that causes conflicting emotions. The main exhibits of the museum are the bodies of people who died in a 100-year period (from the 30s of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century), displayed under glass windows. Mummification of corpses occurred naturally, due to the arid climate and soil composition. The museum’s fund consists of 111 mummified bodies, but only half are displayed in the halls.
In 1865, the city authorities issued a decree under which each grave was taxed. Relatives of the deceased were required to pay a certain amount for extending the stay of the dead in the cemetery. In those cases when relatives refused to pay or were absent in principle, the cemetery workers opened the graves and exhumed the corpses. Many of the bodies were well preserved – there were hair, teeth and nails, and some even had clothes and shoes, and therefore were demolished in a separate room.
At first, corpses appeared to people who wanted to illegally, but in 1958 the law on the cemetery collection was canceled, and nine years later a museum was opened, erected on the site of the burial grounds. Historians believe that some bodies may belong to those who died during the cholera epidemic in 1833. There are versions that patients at that time could be buried still alive to prevent the spread of infection. This theory arose due to the terrible grimaces that made mummies on their faces. But experts explain the distortion of faces as a result of post-mortem processes.
The museum has opened the Hall of Angels, which houses the mummies of children. Boys and girls are dressed in festive clothes in the manner of angels as prescribed by the traditions of that time. Nearby are mummies of a newborn baby and his mother. Both died during childbirth. In a separate room, the mummies of people who died by violent death are also stored – a drowned man, a woman buried alive, and a man with a head injury. According to the history of the museum, a woman suffered from cardiac arrest. When she fell into a lethargic dream, once again, relatives organized a funeral. But after opening the grave, the undertakers found the body of the deceased inverted and with a hand bitten by her teeth, which left traces of blood in her mouth.
Death in mexico
The Mummy Museum in Guanajuato perfectly illustrates the local culture, which has Native American roots. Mexicans have no fear of death. Hence the peculiar attitude to the dead – not to grieve, but to rejoice for them, turning a funeral into a sad holiday. Having inherited from their ancestors the belief that the end of life is the beginning of a more important path, the Mexicans treat death with reverence, but are not afraid to flirt amicably, despite the cyclical nature of life and death with philosophical optimism. In Mexico there is a frightening, as if revived horror movie, Island of the Dead Dolls with the legend of a half-mad old man collecting dolls for a ghost girl. In the city of Playa del Carmen, there is a cemetery memorial “Bridge to Paradise”, where the remains of ancient Mayans are turned into a fun and colorful religious town in miniature.
And every year Day of the Dead is celebrated – a festival of folk festivals when Mexicans participate in carnivals, treat themselves to sweets in the shape of skulls, decorate cemeteries with elegant ribbons and flowers, and also hang skeleton figures in women’s clothing. The latter are a symbol named Katrina and a reminder that before death, both rich and poor are equal. In Mexico, Day of the Dead is a favorite holiday – locals believe that on this day the souls of their loved ones return home.
Day of the Dead and the Mystery of Coco
By the way, based on the Day of the Dead holiday, even the famous cartoon studio Pixar, which once belonged to Stephen Jobs and was sold to Disney in the mid-2000s, shot a wonderful animated film, The Secrets of Coco.
The Mummy Museum is located next to the Pantheon City Cemetery in northern Guanajuato. Signs from the city center to the museum are easy to navigate. You can get there by bus or take a walk, which takes about half an hour. Entrance fee is $ 85, but discounts are provided for children, students, disabled people and senior citizens. Guided tours and permission to photograph exhibits are provided for a fee.