Note: The pictures used on this page were not taken by me and fall under Fair Use.
Imagine you are walking down the streets of Chihuahua, Mexico when you happen to notice a mannequin in the window of a bridal shop called La Popular. You can tell that she is old… not at all like the mannequins you see at department stores today, but something beyond that scratches at the back of your head. There’s just something… off about her.
You are drawn to the bride. Her face is smiling and warm, nothing chilling about it at all and yet… her gaze. It’s like she’s looking right at you.
Almost as if she is a real person.
But that’s impossible.
She is known as La Pascualita or “Little Pascuala” and she has graced the window of La Popular for over eighty years, her fashionable gowns changing with the decades, but her oddly life-like face staying the same as time marches ever by.
Ever since she was first placed in the window on March 25th, 1930, she has been drawing a crowd. First, from all over Mexico but, more recently, her fame has spread to South America and the United States where the curious come to see her for themselves.
What is so fascinating about this mannequin? According to the rumors that have surrounded her for years, La Pascualita is not a mannequin at all, but rather… a mummified human being.
The story began not long after La Pascualita was installed. Passersby noted how lifelike she appeared and how intriquie the detailing was on, not only her face, but her hands as well which bore wrinkles, realistic fingernails, and veins.
According to the story, it wasn’t long until someone noted the similarity between the mannequin and the daughter of the store’s owner, Pascuala Esparza, who had tragically died on her wedding day from the bite of a black widow. The store owner, distraught at losing his daughter, had her body preserved and mummified and placed in the window so that she could be the bride in death that she could not be in life.
The store vehemently denies the story saying that La Pasualita is simply an intricate store mannequin, but the rumors persist and the curious continue to press their noses to the window to get a look.
It is said that, although her dresses are changed frequently, only the store owner and a few close and trusted employees are allowed to dress and undress her and this is never done in public view.
There have even been stories of supernatural hauntings involving La Pascualita . The first of which involved a magician who would bring the mannequin back to life every night, the two of them dancing around the town until the sun came up — which could have been the inspiration of the movie, Mannequin.
Others insist that the mannequin shifts her position every night while others say that her soft gaze will follow people who pass her on the sidewalk. There have also been tales of lights in the store after closing, moving shadows, and strange noises like footsteps and whispering when no one is supposed to be in the store.
Needless to say, La Pascualita might be lifeless, but she has taken on a life of her own anyway. Some locals and brides-to-be pray to her or leave gifts for her with the shop workers, considering La Pascualita to be a saint.
Is there more to La Pascualita than meets the eye? Is she the lovingly preserved body of a bride cut down on her wedding day?
It’s extremely difficult to preserve a human body and make it look like a living person. Even today, it is difficult as mummification processes rob the body of moisture making the skin brown and the body shrink and wrinkle. In addition, if it were possible to preserve a body in such pristine condition, maintenance would also be equally difficult. It’s a common misconception that mummified bodies don’t decay when, as a matter of fact, there are countless numbers of microbes, fungi, and insects that would happily feast on a mummy. Remember, La Pascualita is on full display in a store window! Most mummies displayed today are in climate controlled containers.
The more likely case is that La Pascualita is actually a highly detailed wax dummy. The entire story of her being a real body might have even been started by the store itself for the publicity and, if that’s not the case, I’m sure that the store has been only too happy to indulge the story as it has grown over the years. After all, if it’s not true, all they would have to do is allow it to be x-rayed, but they never have. It’s also notable that the store, although denying that the mannequin is a mummy, proudly displays the words “La Casa De Pascualita” on the window…. “The Home of La Pascualita.”
After all, if the mystery ended… so would the crowds outside the window.
Of course, the very small possibility that La Pascualita is the long-lost daughter of the original store owner is enough to fuel the imagination and will probably be sufficient to insure that the legend of the real Corpse Bride lives for another eighty years.