PAPEL PICADO

When I see them I immediately feel warm inside and I feel like dancing: the Mexican colourful little flags! Here I am not talking about THE Mexican flag, I am talking about the traditional flags made of silk paper. They are called papel picado.

Traditionally seen papel picado is handmade by artisans. They are made of brightly coloured paper and are cut (often with 40 or 50 sheets at a time) and used during festivities. Thus a decorative skills, that results in a little flags.

Papel picado used during the Day of the Dead

Papel picado used during the Day of the Death
Papel picado used during the Day of the Death

The Ministry of Tourism and Culture in Mexico has officially nominated papel picado as a way of Mexican folk art, and yes – it is definitely art! Often craftsmen work with themes such as flowers, birds and skeletons. When assisting a traditional Mexican party for no matter which reason, you will find these flags. They make the place look colourful and cheerful. Parties might be weddings, quinceañera or the Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead). The latter shows papel picado as decorating for the altars, where the colours that are being used have a deeper meaning.

Papel picado symbolises the wind and is therefore often used outside. Besides the colours that are being used have special meanings. As far as I have been told, these meanings are the following. Please let me know if you have different or additional information!

Some colours are specifically related to the proces of mourning and death and are used a lot during the Day of the Dead. White symbolises children and black is normally not used because it symbolises the underworld. Besides you will often find the following colours:

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 5.04.32 PM

What feeling do you get when you see papel picado? For you, is this a moment of experiences Mexican culture?

 

© 2015 by Debbie Vorachen – Ahorita YA. All rights reserved.
Photos © 2015 by Debbie Vorachen – Ahorita YA. All rights reserved.

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