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Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology


Late 19th century
Morella, Mexico
Z 39906

"These little guys' heads are made of chickpeas! Collected in Mexico 124 years ago, this model funerary procession was part of the Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead celebrations. Since working with this model, I now always see chickpeas as they should be, dressed in their robes."

- Louise Puckett

Death-defying chickpeas

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I’ve chosen this object because, when I first looked at it, I was surprised by how much joy I got from a quite morbid scene. It is essentially eight figures carrying a coffin to a funeral. And yet the colours and whimsical use of chickpeas as heads, somehow made it light-hearted. After researching this object and going to Mexico myself, I realised that this is because the celebration of Dia De los Muertos is just that, a celebration. It is a celebration of life and death in a way that I have never known, and in a way that can be seen through this object.


I now think of this object every time I use or eat chickpeas, firstly because I feel bad that I am depriving the chickpeas of an eternal life in a museum collection. But also because they are so disposable. I love to think of the person who made this model, what did it mean to them? Why did they use these materials? Why the humble chickpea? MAA has roughly 150 Day of the Dead objects in its collections, some others can be seen on display in the Maudslay Gallery.

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Louise Puckett - Collections Assistant (Stores Move)


Louise has a background in History and Archaeology with a particular interest in the study of Material Culture. She has previously worked at MAA as an Inventory Assistant and has been working in conservation and collections care for the National Trust. In her current role as part of the Stores Move team at MAA, Louise is documenting and packing our off-site collections for their transfer to the new Centre for Material Culture.

Two million years of human history. One million artefacts. Countless astonishing stories.