The Huichol Indians of the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico are known for their beautifully intricate yarn paintings and bead work. When producing a yarn painting they take peyote so that they can travel and talk with the spirits. It is important to see the reindeer in their travels because this means that they are in contact with the Gods and their communication is sacred. The artist uses what was seen to make these paintings.
The Huichol Indians are a group of Native Americans living in central Mexican region of Nayarit, Durango, Zacatecas and Jalisco. There are over 18,000 Huichol people currently in existence. Descended of the ancient Aztecs, the Huichol indians are a family-oriented people. In fact, it is common for several generations of Huichol to live under the same roof. The Huichol people are recognized for their elaborate artwork and paintings.
The Huichol Language
The Huichol language is a Uto-Aztecan language that is categorized by a harmonic tone and elongated verbs. It is spoken by over 20,000 people. The Huichol Indians refer to their language as Wixarika in lieu of the Huichol, which they no longer wish to be called. They are also known as Tecual, Vaniuki, and Guisara by those in surrounding areas.
The Religion of the Huichol Indians
The Huichol people are extremely spiritual which is often illustrated in their artwork. The four major deities are the trinity of Corn, The Eagle, The Blue Deer and the Peyote cactus. The mara’akame, or shamman, is an extremely important person, as he is the intermediary to the Gods. Visions dictated from the mara’akame are often displayed in Huichol artwork and jewelry. The Huichol people staunchly adhere to their religion and attempts to convert them to Christianity and other religions have met with extreme protest.
The Huichol Indian Culture
The Huichol people have survived by tobacco farming and mining. The pesticides used to produce tobacco has created many health problems among the Huichol people. The lack of viable work has also caused many Huichol to migrate out of the common areas. Land invasion by neighboring Mexican cities has caused the displacement and increased poverty of many Huichol people. Marriages are arranged between distant relatives in each district. Districts are determined by the location of the temple.
The Huichol people work diligently to preserve their heritages and resist changes from outside cultures. The Center for Cultural Survival, Dance of the Deer Foundation, and Wixarika Research Center have all been established to promote and protect the heritage of the Huichol people.
The Art of the Huichol Indians
Huichol Art are often illustration of mara’akame visions. The Huichol people are known for their beautiful Nieli’kas which are created for display in their holy temples and religious caves and temples. Beaded eggs, jaguar heads and intricate yarn paintings are a hallmark of Huichol artwork. Ceremonial bowls, and hand-painted figurines are also a celebrated part of Huichol artwork. Celestial events such as solar and lunar eclipses are often depicted on Huichol artwork using bright colors and traditional handcrafted techniques. Colorful masks are a beautiful aspect of Huichol Indian art developed to mirror the face-paint during religious ceremonies.
|This intricately beaded bowl is made by the Huichol Indians of Mexico. The bowl is made from a gourd which is then lined with tiny glass beads pressed into beeswax. Huichol art is considered sacred, with the designs relating to the tribes religious symbology. It measures 6 3/4″ in diameter and is 2″ deep. It was purchased from the Indian mother and child.|
These small clay pots are covered with beads set into beeswax in the traditional Huichol fashion.
|3″ x 2 1/2″||2 3/4″ x 3″||2 1/2″ x 2″|
|2 1/2″ x 2″||2 /42″ x 2″||2 3/4″ x 3″|
These turtles beaded on a wooden base.
|Approx. 4″ x 3″.||Approx. 4″ x 3″, this turtle is more three dimensional.|
These three-dimensional Huichol eggs are made of wood and covered with beads. They can be used as Christmas ornaments or to decorate any time of the year.
|Approx. 2 1/2″ tall.||Approx. 2 1/2″ tall.|
|Approx. 2 1/2″ tall.||Approx. 2 1/2″ tall.|
Huichol Man Dolls
The Huichol man dolls are traditionally dressed with woven bag, beaded necklace and straw hat with pom poms ad metal hat ornaments. The Huichol women dolls also feature hand embroidery, a woven bag, and a beaded necklace. The large dolls are 11 to 12 inches tall and the smaller ones are approx. 4 inches tall.
Yarn painting is one of the most well-known aspects of Huichol Indian art. These paintings can take weeks to complete and are constructed of modern and ancient materials. They are designed to be an illustration of the visions of the mara’akame, and are typically displayed in Mexican museums.
|11 3/4″in diameter||11 3/4″ in diameter|
|12″ x 12″||8″ x 8″|
Photos property of Hands Around the World.
The Huichol Indians of Mexico
The Huichol Page
The Huichol Center
Indian Tribe Takes Deer To Heart – Storybook Captures Huichol Stewardship by Cheryl Wittenauer
The Huichol Page – Centro Cultural
So Sings the Blue Deer by Charmayne McGee
The Huichols: A Culture in Transition by Susana Valadez
The Huichol of Mexico – Their Culture, Symbolism and Art
Huichol Indians & Shamanism
Huichol legend about the origin of maize
The Huichol Culture of Mexico
Visions That The Plants Gave Us. Huichol Designs.
A Brief History of Peyote
Nayarit Online – Huichol Myths Tales – Tepic, Nayarit Mexico
Huichol flood myths