Sunday, October 31, 2010

all hallows' e'en

To mark Halloween, All Hallows' Eve, Samhain, ghosting through considers La Isla de las Muñecas (The Island of Dolls) among the Xochimilco canals south of Mexico City.

The local folklore goes something like this: that three young girls were playing in a canal and one drowned.  The island was deserted for years until the 1950s, when a loner, Don Julian Santana, moved there and began to place discarded dolls and toys on the trees to honour the spirit child said to haunt the area.  Locals began bringing him old dolls in trade for fresh vegetables.  Eventually Don Santana also drowned in the canal.

The island now has an amazing collection of thousands of dolls in various stages of macabre disintegration.

The extreme contrast between childish, playful innocence and disintegration and death, as embodied in the dolls, is fascinatingly creepy and the stuff of horror films...  Their empty staring eyes, the corpse-like torsos - why do these provoke fear?

It's a curious practice - hanging dolls, teddy bears, stuffed toys in trees and bushes, and it happens in my part of the world as well, although I'm not sure what the motivation is... I found this one in a graveyard:

So cute!  Sleep well - Happy Halloween!

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