Monday, April 18, 2011

Goddesses in the Dirt: Eva Peron and The Tale of a Traveling Corpse

Unearthing the Divine Feminine, one archetype at a time.......
Issue # 8: Eva Peron and the Tale of a Traveling Corpse


Most of you have heard of Eva Peron through the wildly popular musical Evita, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice. It tells the tale of her life as a young Eva Duarte, trying to make it as an actress in 1940s Buenos Aires, who eventually becomes a political organizer capturing the attention of powerful General Juan Peron.

They eventually married and she became the first lady of Argentina - a complex women who worked to make life better for the country's poor and disaffected. Yet the actress side of her personality was never far away, evident in the dramatic gestures when she gave speeches, and in her fashion sense during a tour of Europe where she was received like a rock star.


When Eva died from ovarian cancer at the age of 33, Juan Peron ordered her body embalmed, a process that took over a year to accomplish. Because of her illness she had lost a lot of weight and the process restored her body to her pre-illness youthful looks. 


At the time of her death, plans were made to construct a monument in her honor, dedicated to the descamisados, or to the nation's workers and the poor. Soon afterwards the government was taken over by a military coup in 1955, running Peron into exile. The new regime removed her body from public view and hid it, where it officially went 'missing' for 16 years as the nation placed a ban on Peronism from 1955 - 1971. 


This is the beginning of a long series of strange journeys for Eva's body, which went traveling to a variety of locations; at one point even being hidden within a piece of furniture in the office of a military major. Eventually it was put on a ship and sent to Milan, Italy, where she was buried under an assumed name. The body was discovered in 1971 and flown to Peron's home in Spain, where he was living in exile with his third wife, Isabel. It is said that Juan and Isabel actually displayed the corpse on their dining room table. Peron returned to Argentina as president for the third time in 1973 and died in office in 1974.

His wife reportedly arranged to have Eva's body returned to Argentina from Spain where it was briefly put on public display alongside Juan's. Arrangements were later made for her to be buried in the Duarte family tomb in Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, a fact that Eva probably would have hated, as this is the final resting place of the country's elite. As a dedicated Peronist, Eva's heart was with her beloved descamisados to the death. 


The following photographs were taken at the Evita Museum in Buenos Aires. It is a small museum in a beautiful old building, filled with memorabilia from Eva's childhood and clothing from her years as Argentina's first lady.

Children praying for Evita

Eva as a pinup girl

One of the First Lady's iconic suits,

 footwear......

and fabulous gowns.

Eva in the guise of the Virgin Mary


Eva's death mask


These words were printed on the wall of the final gallery, presumably to evoke the characteristics which defined this remarkable woman's life:

Top three photos courtesy of Google images 

20 comments:

  1. What an impact she made in 33 years! Her body being moved about so much is a little creepy....She must have had some amazing charisma!

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  2. i once saw (partially), on A&E maybe, and there was segment about moving her from Italy and the power that she still had over the people. I knew nothing about her until that point... I think i will google and read more. You post, as always, gives fuel for good thought.

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  3. I read that she had incredibile collection of shoes!

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  4. A fascinating and complex woman, in life and in death

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  5. I remember in the 70s when her body was moved and displayed. I enjoyed seeing these shots of some of her fabulous clothes and shoes!

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  6. What a journey she had...in life AND death! How awful to have a corpse shuttle around from one place to another, only to end up where she'd never want to be. Its seems so unjust.

    It had escaped me, the fact that she was only 33 when she died. Tragic.

    I hope her spirit has found peace.

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  7. She had a rough time both living and dead. Politics is a dirty world.

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  8. Eva Peron - such a legend and there are so many stories about her that it is hard to decide what is fact and what is not. BUt that's the stuff legends are made of.

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  9. Such an impact she had on so many people. Odd that her body traveled around so much after her death.

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  10. Really interesting series here. I didn't know very much about this woman. She seems fascinating.

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  11. what an incredible story - it seems she was as interesting and controversial in death as she was in life. that first one in hidden in the office of a military major is the strangest. but then..........
    thanks so much for this fascinating piece of history

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  12. What a great legend! Wonderful and informative article.

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  13. Wow, she is beautiful. I hadn't seen some of these images before and she is just striking.

    Can we just pause for a moment and imagine what it would be life to have the corpse of your husband's dead wife in your dining room? Even it if were Evita, I might have a problem with that!

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  14. susan - you are right - i think evita had stratospheric levels of charisma. and the whole body moving thing is just plain weird...

    glenn - and some people's charisma carries over with them into death, like lady diana, president kennedy, marilyn monroe, evita was similar in that way.

    ola - did she? sort of like imelda marcos!!

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  15. r-bear - complex is the operative word in her case...

    tess - it was strange to tour the museum and see her personal effects - a bizarre dichotomy between her socialist leanings and couture gowns.

    jo - i certainly hope so too. no one deserves to be shunted around like that.

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  16. paul - you said it!!

    loree - when it comes to legends, maybe it's always a mixture of both?

    farmchick - she was revered by folks, and not only in argentina. yesterday's first lady, today she would be have rock star status.

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  17. halcyon - thanks, glad you like the series!

    val - that one made me think.......what is up with that, hiding her in your office?

    philip - so glad you enjoyed reading ;-)

    marion - yet another item in the category of things that make you go hmmm - not only did juan want her displayed, but his wife...really weird!

    thanks so much for visiting!

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  18. Amanda, please note that I always enjoy your writings as well as your beautiful pictures which always have something interesting to show. Kind regards, Philip

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  19. philip - how kind♡ thank you for this lovely comment - i always appreciate your visits and supportive words!

    xx

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  20. A fascinating blog about a fascinating woman! Thank you! I hope you don't mind but I've sent you an e-mail about a project you might be interested in, Amanda :)

    Anna (@TheEvitaProject)

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Thank you for visiting♡