Sawdust carpets or alfombras de aserrín are one or more layers of colored sawdust and/or other materials laid on the ground as decoration. The tradition of decorating streets in this fashion began in Europe and was brought to the Americas by the Spanish. The tradition is still found in Mexico especially during Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Traditional carpets in Mexico and Central America are done with colored and uncolored sawdust; however, various other materials are used with it and sometimes in place of it. These include flowers and flower petals, pine needles, rice, fruit, colored earth, ashes and other usually organic materials.
The Dia de los Muertos events in Pozos included the building of a beautiful alfombra de assurín that ran from the Parroquia all the way to the smaller cathedral at the top of the hill. There were many young people from Pozos who created the designs along with guidance from the older residents. I photographed as they carefully poured the sawdust onto stencils and lightly sprayed it with water to prevent it from blowing away. They also had to keep an eye on the local street dogs to keep them from walking on the sawdust and undoing what they had completed. It’s a lot of work, but the result is worth it! It was beautiful.
Here’s a short video that I shot to give you a sense of all the activity around building the sawdust carpet:
Day of the Dead – Building the Alfombras de Aserrín from Carol Watson on Vimeo.
mawJanuary 21, 2016 at 10:36 pm
Loved it! I have fond memories of visiting the parochia & the old church ruins on the hill.
Fred PerryJanuary 22, 2016 at 5:09 am
What a wonderful and beautiful tradition, which also gives young people a meaningful form of expression. If only North American traditions were so simple and so artistically rewarding: sure beats the sort of mindless “texting” that young people north of the Rio Grande indulge in!
ClaudiaOctober 11, 2017 at 6:49 am
Thank you! Your work is so beautiful!