Today Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato (Guanajuato Mummies Museum) in Mexico houses over a hundred mummies exhumed between 1865 and 1989. All of them have been conserved through a natural dehydration process and are in their natural state as they were buried, unlike the mummies of Egypt which were wrapped up and embalmed. Mummies in this museum never underwent any process of embalmment. All the mummies are kept in glass casing under controlled temperatures. The collection, though fascinating, is at times scary. The exhibits have details mentioned both in English and Spanish. Read more details of the museum including its history on my previous blog.
At the start of the museum, there is an introductory video mentioning the way Mexicans celebrate death. This is followed by the mummy of Dr. Remigio Leroy. In the next hall, there is a collection of over a dozen
mummies which create a kind of creepy environment. Mummy of Ana Maria with traditional Guanajuato clothing is showcased. It was buried in 1903 and exhumed in 1909. There is a mummy of a woman clad in a white and smooth nightgown, accompanying her in the eternal dream. Next, we were staring at the so-called ‘China Girl’ mummy with its original clothing. This is the only mummy in the museum that has its original coffin.
There is also a series of baby mummies or ‘Little Angels’ in the museum. One of the infant mummies has a small broom and sandals in its legs. Since Mexicans believed in the power of resurrection, it is assumed that these babies were dressed up traditionally at the time of their death. Seeing them, I could not stop sympathizing with their parents who might have undergone tremendous pain at the untimely death of their children. Heart wrenching it must be for them.
Then you enter the hall with a group of 10 mummies, all placed together behind the glass. One of them has its socks on. As I walked past them, my mind could not resist gathering strange thoughts.
Next we were looking at the smallest human mummy of the world, in the form of a fetus, approximately 8 inches in size. This is one of the main attractions of the museum. Displayed in the center of the hall, are the mummies of a mother and her six month old fetus. When the mummy of the mother was discovered, she had with her the mummified corpse of a fetus, her son. Seeing her condition then, it was concluded that she had died due to the lack of necessary nutrients to support her pregnancy and must have come from a poor background.
This museum has a somewhat mysterious atmosphere. After seeing the first few exhibits, my wife was squeamish and not ready to proceed further. I had to convince her by saying that death is the reality of life and everyone has to die some day. Hence, there is no point running away from seeing ‘death’, though in a different form. To me, these mummies are a sort of realization that everyone who is born in this world has to die one day. And that is life. Unless and until, one dies, he or she cannot be born in a new life. (Read my poem on similar topic Death, The New Life)
Since the museum is not big, we got sufficient time to visit the cemetery – Santa Paula Municipal Pantheon – which is behind the museum. Despite being a place for the dead, it was very colorful and nicely decorated, true to the Mexican traditions. When we were done, we came out and clicked the amazing view of Guanajuato city.
This visit made us appreciate the life given to us by the Almighty. One day, we all have to die and become part of the soil. And let me quote James Shirley here, “Only the actions of the just / smell sweet and blossom in their dust” (Death the Leveller).
What are you thinking – Life and Death? Wanna visit mummies? Or they scare you? Let me know through your comments below.
Read: How to Plan a Mexico Trip?