Sand tapestries, known as tapetes de arena
in Spanish, are common in Day of the Dead celebrations, but they're also part of Oaxacan mortuary customs. When a person dies, after the burial, a sand tapestry is made in their home. The tapestry depicts a religious image such as a saint that the person who died had a devotion for. For nine nights family members and friends gather to pray in the family home. On the ninth day, the tapestry is swept up and the sand is taken to the cemetery. The sand from the tapestry is poured onto the grave as part of a special ceremony.
For Day of the Dead sand tapestries are also made, but these are usually whimsical images depicting skeletons and other themes related to death and Day of the Dead. While wandering around Oaxaca during Day of the Dead, you're sure to find many of these on the street, and in certain shops and public buildings.
Next: Day of the Dead Installation at the Palacio de Gobierno in Oaxaca