/Huichol Art

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Huichol Art

Huichol Bead Art

The Huichol people are an indigenous tribe living in secluded settlements within Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains. They are known for their beautiful Huichol art — animal figures, jaguar heads, masks and ceremonial bowls coated with beeswax, then covered in tiny, glass beads. Hundreds of beads, set in place one at a time, produce dazzling patterns derived from their ancestry and spirituality. The creation of this Huichol bead art requires a great deal of inspiration, patience and concentration, all characteristics of the Huichol Indian outlook on life.

There are said to be only about 18,000 Huichol Indian people today. In addition to their native costumes and ritualistic ceremonies, they are known for their colorful beadwork -- handmade objects covered with colorful, tiny glass beads.

Who are the Huichol?

Huichol Indians are perhaps the most storied indigenous peoples living in Mexico today. Their homeland is located in secluded regions of the Sierra Madre mountains in the states of Jalisco and Nayarit. Descendants of the Aztecs, they still maintain their pre-Columbian traditions and language. They live in communities without electricity and running water, in houses with dirt floors and thatched-grass roofs.

The Huichols, or “Wixárika” as they prefer to be called, cling strongly to their ancient pagan beliefs. Their lives revolve around elaborate religious traditions which have remained unchanged since long before the Spanish conquest. The Huichols believe that their ancestors, the “first people,” were deities who lived in the Wirikuta desert but were later driven out into the mountains to live as mortal farmers. They revere the deer, which is an integral part of their spiritual ceremonies. Huichol culture also celebrates the peyote cactus and its hallucination-inducing flesh. It provides an emotional pathway through which they can connect with their gods.


What is Huichol art?

In Huichol life, religion and art are intertwined. The tribe is renowned for its beautiful beaded artwork, created for display in their temples and religious caves. Arte Huichol includes beaded eggs, jaguar heads and ceremonial bowls. Laden with colorful Huichol bead art patterns, the Indians consider their art to be sacred, bearing colors and designs derived from their spirituality. Huichol art is made by coating the bottom of a gourd, or the wooden figure of an animal, with a mixture of beeswax and pine tar. Then, one-by-one, the artist presses into place hundreds of brightly-colored glass beads. The creation of these works of art require a great deal of inspiration, patience and concentration, all characteristics of the Huichol Indian approach to life.


The ritual sharing of Huichol peyote

The focus of Huichol religious practice is the peyote hunt. This is a month-long pilgrimage during which families travel on foot, some 300 miles to the mystical desert land of Wirikuta, located within the state of San Luis Potosí. On the journey, they immerse themselves in rituals that they believe will open themselves to the feelings and perspective of their deity ancestors. When the pilgrims arrive at Wirikuta, they look for the deer god who then leads them to the sacred peyote plant. This is a spineless cactus, native to Mexico, which contains the psychoactive drug, mescaline. Researchers believe that Native Americans have used peyote in their religious ceremonies for around 5,000 years. On the Huichol pilgrimage, the first plant found is divided up amongst the members of the group so that all may eat a piece of peyote. This moment of sharing fulfills one of the highest goals in Huichol life. They have journeyed to the ancient paradise, transformed themselves into deities and communed with other gods. After the ritual sharing, the family members look for more, eventually eating enough of the peyote to have hallucinations and visions.


The psychedelic symbolism of Huichol bead art

From the ecstasy of that peyote experience comes the unique, colorful artwork of the Huichols. They see the creation of their art as the pathway to direct communication with the deities. The peyote plant is prominently featured in Huichol art. Many of the Huichol bead art figures, from skulls to animals to bowls and plaques contain images of peyote, their plant of life. Sometimes it appears as an ear of corn, or as the antlers of a deer. Also prominent are images of the serpent, one of the most powerful animals in Huichol mythology, because it protects both corn and peyote. Serpent images represent four female deities, each a different color. For example, Kapiri, a white serpent, lives in the north. Others, corresponding to the south, east and west, are blue, red and black.

The tribe sees the creation of Huichol art as a pathway to direct communication with the deities. All of the Huichols’ colorful and unique pieces of art are laden with mystical symbols often fully understood only by the artists themselves. The ceremonial bowls, called jicaras, are made of cut-off gourds whose inner core has been coated with a mixture of beeswax and pine resin. Into this sticky material, the Indians embed hundreds of tiny, colored chaquira, or seed beads, creating a dazzling array of vibrant patterns. No two patterns are alike. In ancient times, the beaded bowls were made with bits of bone, coral, jade, seashells, and turquoise. In modern times, the artisans are using tiny, multi-colored glass beads from the Czech Republic. Their beaded animals are made in similar fashion, beginning with a base frame of wood or papier mache, that is then coated with the wax substance. This holds the tiny beads in place.


Huichol yarn painting

Intricate yarn paintings, made by pressing colorful bits of yarn into wax-coated plywood disks, are another form of Huichol Indian art. These paintings can be visually stunning. Each Huichol yarn painting tells a story from the tribe's mythology, and each creation is one-of-a-kind. This form of art did not exist in the traditional Huichol culture, but is a more recent product that has proven to be very popular with tourists.



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Beaded Gourd Bowl, 5-inch diameter, #2
Huichol bead art gourd bowl, handmade Mexican Folk Art
Bowl measures 5 inches in diameter by 1.5 inches deep.
SKU: HU_08
Huichol Art Beaded Deer, sitting
Sitting deer Huichol bead art
Deer measures 6 inch tall by 4 1/2 inches long.
Huichol Art Beaded Disk, #1
Flat, beaded disk is made by Huichol artist Rosendo de la Cruz.
Disk measures 5 1/2 inches in diameter.
SKU: HU_12
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Huichol Art Beaded Disk, #2
Huichol beaded disk, with base of plywood, is made by Rosendo de la Cruz
Disk measures 5 1/2 inches across
SKU: HU_13
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Huichol Art Beaded Eagle
Unique Huichol Indian eagle handmade by Rosendo de la Cruz
Standing eagle figure measures 6 3/4 inches tall.
SKU: HU_18
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Huichol Bead Art Deer
Beaded deer by Rosendo de la Cruz
Deer measures 7 inches tall.
SKU: HU_15
Huichol Bead Art Gourd Bowl, 6-inch
Arte Huichol beaded bowl is handmade by Rosendo de la Cruz
Bowl measures 6 inches in diameter.
SKU: HU_10
Huichol Bead Art Skeleton Mask, #1
Huichol art Day of the Dead skeleton mask made by Rosendo de la Cruz.
Beaded mask made on paper mache base, with elastic strap. Measures 9.5 inches in height.
SKU: HU_21
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Huichol Beaded Eggs (pair) #2
Huichol bead art eggs by Rosendo de la Cruz
Eggs measure 2 3/4 inches tall. Two eggs as shown.
SKU: HU_17
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Huichol Beaded Elephant
Beaded elephant figure is handmade by Rosendo de la Cruz
Elephant measures 5 1/4 inches tall.
SKU: HU_14
Huichol Beaded Gourd Bowl, 3 3/4 inch
Small Huichol beaded bowl is handmade by Rosendo de la Cruz
Bowl measures nearly 4 inches in diameter
SKU: HU_11
Huichol Beaded Gourd Bowl, 5-inch diameter
Arte Huichol beaded gourd bowl
Beaded bowl measures 5 inches in diameter.
SKU: HU_07
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Huichol Beaded Gourd Bowl, 6 inch
Huichol beaded gourd bowl is handmade by Rosendo de la Cruz
Beaded bowl measures 6 inches in diameter
SKU: HU_09
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Huichol Beaded Gourd Prayer Bowl, 5.5 inch
Huichol beaded bowl "jicara" is handmade by Rosendo de la Cruz
Gourd bowl lined with beeswax, decorated with tiny, glass beads measures 5.5 inch diameter.
SKU: HU_19
Huichol Beaded Prayer Bowl, 4-inch
Huichol beaded gourd bowl is handmade by Rosendo de la Cruz
One-of-a-kind Huichol "jicara" measures 4 inches in diameter.
SKU: HU_20
Huichol Beaded Skeleton Mask, #2
Day of the Dead beaded skeleton mask made by Rosendo de la Cruz.
Beaded mask made on paper mache base, with elastic strap. Measures 9.5 inches in height.
SKU: HU_22
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Huichol Beaded Wood Mask Wall Art
Stunning Huichol bead art mask made on wood base, by Rosendo de la Cruz.
Mask measures 8.5 inches in height, decorated with traditional symbols of sacred peyote plant.
SKU: HU_23
Huichol Yarn Art Painting, Deer and Hummingbird
Deer and hummingbird, Huichol yarn art painting. Description of scene handwritten on backside of painting
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood, measures 12 inches square.
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Jaguar Skull, Huichol Art
Huichol beaded jaguar skull is handmade by Rosendo de la Cruz
Skull measures 5 inches long by 4" tall.
SKU: HU_05
Skull with Huichol Beadwork Sun Design
Beaded skull with sun design, artesania Huichol.
Skull measures 6 inches long by 4" high. Features smiling sun design on top.
SKU: HU_03
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