La Pascualita or Little Pascuala is a bridal mannequin that has “lived” in a store window in Chihuahua, Mexico for the past 75 years. That is quite a long time for a bridal gown shop to retain a mannequin, but then the dummy has a rather strange history behind it. According to an urban legend, La Pascualita isn’t a dummy at all, but the perfectly preserved corpse of the previous owner’s daughter.
For years, the story of La Pascualita has been drawing loads of visitors, including media personalities, from all over Mexico to Chihuahua. Now, people from South America, the US and Europe have also started paying visits to the corpse bride. People smudge their noses up against the shop window, staring at the dummy, trying to figure out if she is real or not. They are taken in by her mesmerizing gaze and realistic-looking features. Most people walk away convinced that she has to be real.
Photo: Angel Vega
La Pascualita was first installed in the store window on March 25th, 1930, dressed in a spring-seasonal bridal gown. The effect was instantaneous. People simply could not tear their sight away from this new mannequin, with the wide-set glass eyes, real hair and blushing skin tone. Soon, they realized that the mannequin closely resembled the shop’s owner at the time, Pascuala Esparza. It didn’t take long for them to come to the conclusion that the dummy was in fact the embalmed body of her daughter, who had died recently on her wedding day after being bitten by a Black Widow spider. This revelation did not go very well with the locals, and they started to express their disapproval. But by the time Pascuala could issue an official statement denying the rumors, it was too late. Nobody was willing to believer her. The daughter’s name has been lost over time, and ‘La Pascualita’ stuck through the years.
Photo: Angel Vega
Of course, the speculated presence of a corpse must naturally be accompanied by supernatural happenings as well. Several odd incidents have been reported around the dummy, none of which have been confirmed, of course. It is said that a love-sick French magician would arrive at night and magically bring it to life, taking her out to town. A few others believe that her gaze shifts and follows them around the store. At night, she is also believed to shift positions in the window. These tales are pretty scary, perhaps most of all to the shop workers who have to see Pascualita every single day. The ones to leave the shop last are definitely not a happy lot. The dummy’s outfits are changed twice a week behind closed curtains. Sonia Burciaga, a shop worker says, “Every time I go near Pascualita my hands break out in a sweat. Her hands are very realistic and she even has varicose veins on her legs. I believe she’s a real person.” Now, an account like that coming from a person who has actually changed the mannequin’s clothes seems very believable. Could Pascualita really be a 75-year-old corpse? I’m terribly curious to see it for myself.
But although most Chihuahua locals are convinced La Pacualita is actually a well preserved corpse, the Internet is full of explanations as to why that couldn’t possibly be true. The Museum of Hoaxes, for example, states that “ it would be impossible to embalm someone and have their flesh be preserved that perfectly. For some reason, people tend to think that it’s easier to preserve a body than it actually is”, while one commentator adds “Yeah, bodies really go bad pretty darned fast unless you take some rather heroic measures to keep them from doing so. Both Lenin and Mao have basically been renedered to a state much like rubber, and are kept under extrodinarily monitored conditions. Most of the stuff that undertakers and whatall do is with the aim of making the corpse look good until burial. Anything over a couple weeks, and things start going very, very bad. A taxidermist might manage something, but it ain’t gonna be pretty.” What do you think?