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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Doña Mechita Puts Her Special Twist on Christmas Piñatas

This 94-year-old artisan has been working nearly all year to sell them

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María Mercedes Canul Dzul (best known as Doña Mechita), a 94-year-old piñata maker, portrayed at her home in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico on October 21, 2023. Photograph by Bénédicte Desrus

Doña Mechita, 94, has been making piñatas for nearly 30 years, but she became famous when, a little over 10 years ago, she started fashioning her piñatas as turkeys.

A painting by Campeche artist Isaac May depicts Doña Mechita and the type of piñata for which she is known. Photograph by Bénédicte Desrus

She produces around 150 turkey piñatas from her home each year. She gets an early start, beginning production in January and selling them for MX$350 (US$18) in the front room of her home each November, ahead of Christmas festivities.

This income helps her cover her living costs and medical bills not covered by her government pension.

Doña Mechita makes 150 such piñatas each year in Mérida, Yucatán. Photograph by Bénédicte Desrus

A piñata is often made solely of papier-mâché, and nowadays, rarely uses a clay pot as a container. It is decorated with shiny paper and colored tissue, then filled with candy, fruit, and small toys, to be broken during Mexican celebrations, particularly on birthdays, during posadas, and at Christmas and other festive occasions.

María Mercedes Canul Dzul, a 94-year-old piñata maker, has breakfast at her home in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico on October 28, 2023. Photograph by Bénédicte Desrus

To purchase Doña Mechita’s unique piñatas, visit Calle 18 número 105e x 23 y 25, Colonia Chuburná de Hidalgo, Mérida. Call ahead by contacting Doña Mechita’s daughter, Mercedes. WhatsApp: 999-746-2677

Bénédicte Desrus
Bénédicte Desrushttp://www.benedictedesrus.com/
Bénédicte Desrus is an award-winning French documentary photographer based in Mérida, Yucatán. Her work is distributed by Sipa USA. She has worked throughout Europe, East Africa and the Americas.
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