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El Arte Folklórico del Sur de Arizona en espagñol

Piñatas

Piñatas are another class of object that is created in order to be broken at parties. Hollow figurines made of papier mache and covered with cut, fringed tissue paper, they are filled with candy and other goodies, and suspended from a rope outdoors. Children (adults too) are blindfolded, spun around three times, and given three hits at the piñata, which all the while is being jerked up and down by someone pulling at the rope. When the piñata is finally broken, there is a mad scramble for the candy.

There are in Tucson a number of professional piñata makers, who turn out these large paper sculptures. They make their creations in an almost limitless variety of shapes. The most traditional shape seems to be a star, which is used at Christmastime, but a certain timeliness seems to be a built-in aspect of the piñata-maker's craft. So a few years ago, one could find Darth Vader, Popeye, Superman, and Sesame Street characters, all in piñata form. Nowadays it's Bart Simpson and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Even adults might have trouble resisting the temptation to whack Bart with a baseball bat!

Piñatas for sale outside the El Regalo store, Tucson, February, 1983
Piñatas for sale outside the "El Regalo" store, Tucson, February, 1983
[images courtesy James S. Griffith]

This tiny store, no bigger than an average living room, sold over 2,000 piñatas in 1983 alone. This selection is typical of contemporary piñatas, with figures from comic books, cartoons and movies.

Michael Jackson piñata by Ernesto and Gloria Delgadillo. June, 1984
Michael Jackson piñata by Ernesto and Gloria Delgadillo. June, 1984
[images courtesy James S. Griffith]

Piñatas by Ernesto and Gloria Delgadillo. Tucson, November, 1983
Piñatas by Ernesto and Gloria Delgadillo. Tucson, November, 1983
[images courtesy James S. Griffith]

This close-up shows the kind of careful workmanship that goes into these articles whose destiny is to be beaten to bits with a stick.

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