Pascualita, A Mannequin That Inspires Terror And Devotion
For decades, this mannequin that resembles a real woman has been the protagonist of many legends and myths.
In La Popular’s main window display, a bridal shop in the city of Chihuahua in northern Mexico, is Pascualita, a mannequin that for over eighty years has been at the center of many terrifying legends and myths.
According to legend, on March 25th, 1930 —the Day of Incarnation in the Mexican religious calendar— a new mannequin was acquired by Pascualita Esparza Perales de Pérez for her bridal shop. The doll, which to this day remains in the same spot, is terrifyingly realistic: the veins in her hands, wrinkles, knuckles trespassing the skin and fingernails that resemble those of flesh and bone are all visible.
The mannequin, known today as “la Pascualita”, is made of wax, has crystal eyes (which have tiny veins that emphasize improbable yet living memories), natural eye lashes and hair which were inserted individually. The doll, acquired in Mexico City, was brought from Paris and soon drew the crowd’s attention because of her chilling realism.
Mrs. Pascualita was known for confectioning the most coveted bridal dresses in Chihuahua and soon her new mannequin inspired her clients’ curiosity. According to stories still told today, when the owner died in 1967, strange things began to happen inside the store. They say that the doll began to move, to turn on the lights and to walk through the establishment’s halls. Other people swear that they have seen her smile, sweat and cry at night.
One of the most popular legends says that Pascualita is, in fact, Chonita, Mrs. Esparza’s only daughter, who died on her wedding day poisoned by a scorpion hiding in her bridal crown. After this, Pascualita embalmed her daughter and placed her in her shop’s window so that she could be the most beautiful bride forever —hence her nickname: “Chihuahua’s most beautiful bride”. Other stories suggest that, after her death, the spirit of Mrs. Pascualita inhabits the doll.
The different versions of the legend are countless and it is possible to find all sorts of variations. What is still true today is that most of the brides that visit La Popular in search of a dress pick the one worn by the famous mannequin, since they believe this guarantees a long and happy marriage. There are also those who believe Pascualita is a type of saint, capable of granting miracles, and they take candles to ask for help or find the love of their life, while many of them fear her and prefer not to pass by the store at night.
Nobody can come close to the doll or see her when they change her dress, and on more than one occasion, she has been attacked by the women who visit the store. Once, Pascualita was inspected by the local police, since exhibiting a corpse within a store is a crime. They say that they only found wax and plastic.
This doll’s spine-chilling resemblance to a real woman —product of a supreme artisanal work— is one of the possible explanations to all the myths that surround this mannequin: her eyes seem to see those who approach her and her detailed hands are always ready to spring into action. In a way, Pascualita embodies one of man’s greatest desires: meticulously reproducing nature, in this case in the form of a perfect doll. This mannequin is also a cult object, an open expression of fetishism and our tendency to weave myths around the objects we create. Perhaps we are all micro-gods.
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