13-Foot Muñeca Lele Brings Otomi Culture to Chicago for ‘Mexico Week’
If you’re in Chicago this week, there’s a character you can’t miss making its way through the city: a 13-foot muñeca Lele.
The doll, displayed at Daley Plaza on May 9 by the Mexican consulate, honors indigenous Otomi culture and its artisans.
In fact, “Lele” actually means “baby” in hñähñú and some claim that the Otomi people made these rag dolls for spiritual protection. Women from Amealco de Bonfil in Querétaro handcrafted the giant muñeca Lele that will tour Chicago all week.
As if she couldn’t get more chingona, she’s also a globe trotter. Her Chicago appearance comes after stops in Sydney, Shanghai and Madrid.
Lele is in Chicago for “Mexico Week”
The city unveiled the muñeca Lele for “Mexico Week,” an event hosted by the Mexican consulate until May 14. However, the giant doll is only one of the exhibitions honoring Mexico. Attendees can glimpse bailes folclóricos or attend art classes to paint their own Nahual.
Additionally, if they’re hungry for a taste of Mexico, they can indulge in the Mexican Food Route celebrating dishes from Jalisco. Si, por favor.
Still, the giant Lele doll is a visual celebration of Mexico. She is dressed in handmade clothes similar to those worn by the women of Amealco de Bonfil that helped craft her.
As per Querétaro’s government website, the state designated the doll as a piece of cultural heritage in 2018. The doll “represents the tradition, customs and roots of [their] native peoples,” and is considered an “unrepeatable and special craft” made by hand.
Women from the San Ildefonso Tultepec and Santiago Mexquititlán communities created the art piece. Since then, it has toured Los Angeles’ Santa Monica Pier, London’s Potters Fields Park and now several corners of Chicago.
Where the muñeca is heading next
Need to see Lele’s two long braids, ribbons, and ruffled garments in rosa Mexicano in person? If you’re in the Windy City, you can view Lele at the O’Hare International Airport on May 10, Jane M. Byrne Plaza on May 11, Palmer House Hilton Hotel on May 12 and Manuel Pérez Jr. Plaza on May 13 for a closing ceremony.
According to a Mexican Foreign Affairs press release, Lele symbolizes the “efforts of thousands of Mexico’s women artisans.” By touring places from Chicago to London, the doll brings Mexican artisans and Querétaro, to the forefront.
We don’t know about you, but we think Lele is more than equipped to do just that. We can’t wait to catch her in person!