La Pascualita

La Pascualita: Mummy or Dummy?

Amazingly, since 1930, La Pascualita (or Little Pascuala) has been standing at a store window in a wedding gown shop in Chihuahua, Mexico. People from all around the world have traveled many miles to visit the shop just to see her. Why would anyone actually care to see a lifeless mannequin? Well, according to legend, La Pascualita is not a dummy, but a well-preserved mummy. They believe she is the perfectly preserved corpse of the previous owner’s daughter.

The Bizarre Story Of A Mannequin Believed To Be An Embalmed Body

embalmed body

Screenshot of Pascualita’s realistic hand (Ripley’s.com).

It all started on March 25th, 1930. To attract visitors to the wedding gown shop, La Pascualita was installed in the store window. Her incredibly realistic face, hair and hands made her look more like a mummy than a dummy. People began to wonder why she looked so realistic.

They also realized she closely resembled a woman by the name of Pascuala Esparza, which was the owner of the shop at the time. People quickly came to the conclusion that the dummy was actually the embalmed body of her daughter, who died on her wedding day after being bitten by a black widow spider. Although Esparza denied the mannequin was her deceased daughter, people did not believe her. From there, this urban legend started to spread around the world.

Various Claims That Little Pascuala Is A True Corpse Bride

#1 A love-struck French magician would come in the middle of the night to the window and bring her to life. He would then take her out on the town.

#2 Some people say her eyes follow them around the store. 

#3 Others claim she will change positions in the window during the night.

A Shop Worker Who Believes The Dummy Behind The Window Is A Real Person 

Sonia Burciaga is a shop worker who has to change the dummy’s outfits twice a week. She is convinced that she is not changing the clothing of a man-made dummy, but an actual person.

Burciaga 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.”

So is La Pascualita a true corpse bride, or just the work of a spectacular artist?

How Long Does It Take The Body To Decompose To A Skeleton?

rotted corpse

According to sources around the Web, it is impossible for a corpse to be preserved as perfectly as Pascualita’s. The time it takes for a body to decompose depends on various factors.

With an embalmed body in a coffin and buried several feet underground, it could take up to 50 years for every tissue to completely disappear. However, without a coffin, the corpse would be exposed to air or water, which would cause bacteria to quickly cause decomposition. Of course, a dead body that is exposed to hungry animals and insects will also decompose much quicker.

Interestingly, according to one source, a unembalmed adult who is buried six feet under, without a coffin, in ordinary soil, normally decomposes to a skeleton in eight to twelve years.

When Do Bones Turn To Dust?

bones to dust

Within 40 to 50 years after death, bones will become dry and brittle. However, they can last for hundreds of years (or even thousands), depending on the type of climate the body is buried in.

For information on cremating a human body, check out our post The Cremation Process, Explained.

Vladimir Lenin: The Embalmed Russian Leader 

Vladimir Lenin dead

Screenshot of Vladimir Lenin’s corpse (DailyMail.co.uk).

He has been gone for over 90 years. Of course, Vladimir Lenin was the founder of the Russian Communist Party, a politician, and also a political theorist. Today, Lenin’s corpse still looks like it did the day he passed away. Besides lots of research and money spent, it has also taken a team of 200 scientists, and decades of fine-tuning to help this corpse continue to look this great.

Despite all of the time, money, and experts needed to preserve Lenin’s body, what you see in the above screenshot is not all biological tissue. The reality is that it is a corpse that’s partially made from plastics and other materials. The embalmers used various materials such as plastic to substitute parts of flesh. Fungus stains on the face of the communist leader is corrected with mild bleach. Every couple of years, Lenin’s body is covered in glycerol and potassium acetate. The goal of the Russians was to preserve the body’s shape, weight, color and flexibility.

Even Lenin’s corpse doesn’t look as good as La Pascualita. Of course, it has obviously taken extreme measures to keep him well-preserved. If only 100% of his corpse maintained its biological tissue. Regardless, Lenin is an example of  “as good as it gets.” At least, for now.

Vladimir Lenin is not the only world leader to have their corpse this well-preserved. Check out these fascinating photographs of several other embalmed world leaders on Washington Post.


After reading this story, you may think it is nothing but people and their strange superstitions. Perhaps a simple X-ray would quickly solve the mystery behind the store window. Do you think she really is the perfectly embalmed body of the ex-owner’s daughter? Regardless of how crazy it all sounds, people will still keep flocking to Mexico just to get a good look at La Pascualita.

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About Joseph Caltabiano

Joseph Caltabiano is a blogger, oddities lover and a former surgical technologist. He left the field of surgical technology to pursue a career in blogging and internet marketing. As clearly shown in his posts, Joseph is very passionate about unusual topics. His two most favorite topics are medical and weird science.