Monday, October 8, 2018

LA PASCUALITA




Now that October has arrived and Halloween is clearly on the horizon, I figured it's time to start unleashing my penchant for things macabre.

I'll begin with the story of La Pascualita (little Pascuala), commonly known as the Corpse Bride. It is based on truth, but has been infused with a generous dose of legend and enshrouded in mystery - to the point where it is nearly impossible to extract clear facts. 
Perhaps that's what makes the story so intriguing.

There is a bridal shop in Chihuahua, Mexico located on the corner of Ocampo y Victoria Street. The shop now goes by the name of La Popular: La Casa de Pascualita.

In the shop window is a mannequin commonly known as La Pascualita. She wears a bridal gown and has been in the window for nearly ninety years.

The mannequin looks so realistic, and has been connected with so many bizarre stories and rumors, that many people still believe it is not a mannequin at all, but rather the embalmed corpse of a woman who died long ago.

It all began on March 25, 1930 when the owner of the shop, Pascuala Esparza, placed a mannequin in the window. The mannequin was wearing a spring-seasonal bridal gown. 

Some people around town thought that the dummy resembled the shop owner. Others quickly began spreading a rumor that the mannequin was the carefully-preserved body of the shop owner's dead daughter.

 Shop owner Pascuala Esparza
and the mannequin

Pascuala Esparza's daughter (whose name remains a mystery) had recently died under tragic circumstances. While making preparations to be married, she was bitten by a black widow spider and died on her wedding day.

Despite making public announcements that the mannequin had nothing to do with her dead daughter, Pascuala Esparza was never able to stop the rumors. By the time Esparza died in 1967, the rumors had become established legend.

The origin of the mannequin is uncertain, but some maintain that it could possibly have been created in Paris. The life-like features still inspire many to believe it's a well-preserved corpse.

The crystal eyes have a mesmeric gaze that seems to follow customers in the shop. The hair and eyelashes are real. The hands are incredibly realistic.
Sonia Burciaga - a present-day worker who had changed the outfits on the mannequin - maintains that it has varicose veins on it's legs.
The outfits are reportedly changed twice a week - behind closed doors.



It has been said (at different times through the years) that the window bride is sometimes warm to the touch,  changes positions late at night, grins, and cries real tears.

No one is allowed in the shop after work hours, and none of the employees would dare to go there even if they could. The workers also have a non-disclosure policy.

Realistically, it would be impossible to embalm a corpse and have the flesh remain that perfectly for nearly ninety years - yet many still believe that the window bride is indeed the dead daughter. And people still flock to gaze at the bride in the window.

Dummy or mummy?
Who knows. 

Note:
I forgot to mention in this post that the mannequin is reportedly made of wax. 





21 comments:

  1. The hands are really the creepiest for me. But it couldn't be a real body and be around for almost 100 years. Those hands, though... *shudders* ;)

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    1. The hands are extremely creepy - they have an incredible amount of detail that's never seen on store mannequins. I think this must have been created by a doll-maker.

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    2. Hey Jon, I also think it was made by a clever doll maker. There's a great documentary on YouTube about several lonely men that actually have "relationships" with life-like dolls they paid as much as three thousand dollars for.

      And it's not just about sex: The men talk to their dolls, take them out on dates, celebrate the holidays with them, etc. But the dolls DO look real as hell! What I find so amazing about "The Corpse Bride" is that it was made almost 100 years ago. Yet it looks so real. Perfect post for October!

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    3. That sounds like an interesting documentary, Dylan, and I'll look for it - even though life-like dolls tend to give me the creeps.

      The La Pascualita mannequin certainly does look in great shape for being nearly ninety - and it has an ageless appearance about it. I would definitely consider it to be a doll rather than a mannequin. A lot of craftsmanship went into it and I'm sure it must have cost a lot of money.

      I'm surprised that there are so few existing details about this story. A lot of unanswered questions remain.

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    4. Jon, I think this is a really awesome post! Not sure why you're not getting more comments? But don't feel too neglected: I've posted essays and poems that I worked on for hours - and did not receive a single comment. So you're actually way ahead of me :-)

      Anyway, I was looking forward to commenting on your Q and A post, but now it seems to be gone? So I'm leaving you a comment here instead.

      By the way, I got to watch a pristine version of COME AND GET IT on YouTube last night. I have not seen it in more than ten years, so it was a real treat. There's never gonna be another Frances Farmer. She was so beautiful and gifted. Life can be so cruel...

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    5. Dylan's comment brings to mind "Cynthia" a household name. In very short order she became an A-list celebrity; was given her own television talk show and starred on the silver screen; was sent jewels and dresses by top fashion houses; was briefly engaged to one of radio's biggest stars; and became one of the most recognizable faces in the fashion world. There was just one minor catch: Cynthia was a mannequin. Her creator, Lester Gaba, was a Hannibal, Missouri, shopkeeper's son with dreams of a grand life in the big city. He achieved it through his uncanny skill at one of the Great Depression's quirkier national crazes — soap sculpting. Buoyed by the fame he earned as a soap sculptor, Gaba moved first to Chicago, then to New York City in 1932, where he went into fashion and retail and pioneered the design of department-store windows. Gaba hates the mannequins and started designing his own.Gaba boasted that his mannequins were nearly indistinguishable from well-dressed human women.ut the undisputed magnum opus of Gaba's career came in the form of a 5' 6", 100-pound doll he dubbed Cynthia. He brought her with him to nightclubs and social events. She became something of a New York nightlife fixture. Meanwhile, the country's finest stores lavished Cynthia with attention — and free gifts of dresses, shoes, furs and jewelry. Saks Fifth Avenue even issued her a credit card. I did a whole post on her, but worry not Jon, even though I do visual display I don't see me getting into this lol.

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    6. I've never heard of Cynthia - but you've inspired me to learn more about her (and Lester Gaba) and I'd definitely like to read your post. Any mannequin who can get a credit card from Saks Fifth Avenue has my undying admiration.

      Hannibal, Missouri seems to inspire creative minds....

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    7. DYLAN - I removed my Q and A post because I really wasn't too fond of the questions (or my answers). Upon reading it again I thought it was kinda boring.

      I was rather surprised that this La Pasqualita post didn't get many comments.
      Ironically, my crappy posts usually get the most comments.

      I haven't seen any Frances Farmer movies in a long time, so I'll definitely look for "Come and Get It' on YouTube.

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    8. I had a hell of a time finding it. but here it is.Where Art Thou Cynthia

      I hope the link works, I need did a insert before.

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    9. Maddie, the link worked and it's a fantastic post! I've put it in my files so I can read it again.
      Cynthia's features remind me slightly of Garbo.

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  2. Oh my word! That is the most life-like mannequin/doll/what have you I've ever seen. Yes, the hands! Even the eyes. (If I didn't hate to travel, I'd love to see it personally.) Might it have been formed by wax (i.e., Mme.Tussads)?

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    1. The mannequin is unnervingly realistic and - you are right on target - it is made of wax. I failed to mention that in my post so I'll add a footnote.

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  3. Now that is creepy. Was Vincent Price involved with the making of this mannequin?

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    1. Those eyes are unnerving - and the hands are realistically weird. I think Vincent Price would have approved.

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    2. For sure! Or at least his director. I think Vincent Price never got the respect he deserved. He made Shakespeare fun (especially the tragedies). Not such an easy thing to do.

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  4. Ahh La Pasqualita! You are far more endearing in mythical lore than in reality. You appear as haunting as true believers want you to be! I'd never heard of her before this Jon, and grateful to have clicked in to read about it. When a tragic story becomes part of a culture's folklore, it's hard to separate fact from fiction but who cares, this is as charming as it is unnerving. Reminds me of the art of "memento mori", the art of photographing a dead person posed as if alive. This was done with deceased children alot, better to ease the suffering of parents.

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    1. I didn't hear about La Pasqualita until very recently and I was really intrigued. I'm surprised (and perhaps annoyed) that there aren't many concrete details (such as the name of the daughter) but legend and rumor is much more delicious.
      Thanks for stopping by, Cathy!

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  5. Jon, I was touring Mexico with my family in 1963, and distinctly remember seeing Obrigon's arm in a jar of formaldehyde. It was blown off by Villa's forces in 1915. The forearm had collapsed without bones but had a distinct resemblance to that of the mannequin in your picture. The head is clearly waxwork, but the hand brings back frightening memories.

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    1. Wow, that is amazing (not to mention creepy).
      Ironically, I had your same thoughts about La Pascualita - the head does look like wax, but the hands are too frighteningly realistic.

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  6. the hands are indeed creepy for their realistic look.

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  7. In my opinion, the face and hands don't really match. The face is more doll-like and the hands look very creepy and much too real. It's weird!

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