2016 47c Colorful Celebrations
A uniquely Mexican art form, papel picado (perforated paper) is a common and enjoyable sight at Mexican celebrations. Though it is now created by skilled artists, it was invented by laborer-artists 200 years ago.
In the 1800s, workers on large estates, known as haciendas, came across a thin, light-weight paper they called papel de China. Also known as tissue paper, it proved to be an inspiring new art medium. The workers collected sheets of the paper, layered them, and drew a design on top. They used various chisels to carve the design through the stack of paper, creating many identical copies at once. Each sheet is strung alongside others to make a colorful banner.
These vibrant designs soon became a staple at celebrations – birthdays, weddings, holidays, and more. The workers taught the craft to younger generations who perfected the technique, creating increasingly intricate designs of people, skeletons, flowers, birds, and even words. While a rainbow of colors are suitable for some occasions like Christmas and non-religious festivities, other colors are specific to the occasion. On Independence Day, papel picado are exclusively red, white and green. While on Easter, they are shades of purple. During Day of the Dead festivities, papel picado are vibrant pink, orange, and purple.
From humble beginnings, papel picado has become one of the most recognizable symbols of a Mexican fiesta. Today, they have gone beyond simple decorations to masterpieces of art.
Issued: June 3, 2016
First Day City: New York, NY
Type of Stamp: First Class Mail
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America
Method: Offset, Microprint
Quantity Printed: 100,000,000
The Colorful Celebrations stamps feature ten digitally created designs of birds, flowers, and geometric shapes. The designer was Sally Anderson-Bruce, with art director Derry Noyes.