Descendents of the Aztec, the Huichol or Wixáritari are an indigenous ethnic group from western central Mexico, who have lived for centuries in the Sierra Madre Occidental, primarily in the Mexican states of Nayarit and Jalisco. They are considered among the last remaining indigenous cultures remaining true to their ancestral roots.
For the Huichol community, religion is a essential and central part on their lives. Their beliefs center around four principal deities: the trinity of Corn, Blue Deer and Peyote, and the eagle, all descended from their Sun God, “Tao Jreeku”. Most Huichols retain these traditional beliefs and are resistant to change.
Like many indigenous American groups, Huichols have traditionally used the peyote (hikuri) cactus in religious rituals. These rituals involve singing, chanting and contact with ancestral spirits. Their art is closely related to these rituals, as most of their work is a attempt to capture and record the visions and the messages they experienced and received from their deities during these rituals.
In traditional Huichol communities, an important ritual artifact is the nieli’ka: a small square or round tablet with a hole in the center covered on one or both sides with a mixture of beeswax and pine resin into which threads of yarn are pressed.
In the past thirty years, about four thousand Huichols have migrated to cities. It is these urbanized Huichols who have drawn attention to their rich culture through their art. To preserve their ancient beliefs they have begun making detailed and elaborate yarn paintings, a development and modernization of the nieli’ka.
For the Huichol however, yarn painting is not only an aesthetic or commercial artform. The symbols in these paintings are sprung out of Huichol culture and its shamanistic traditions.
From the small beaded eggs and jaguar heads to the modern detailed yarn paintings in psychedelic colors, each is related to a part of Huichol tradition and belief.
The beaded art is a relatively new innovation and is constructed using glass, plastic or metal beads pressed onto a wooden form covered in beeswax. Common bead art forms include masks, bowls and figurines. Like all Huichol art, the bead work depicts the prominent patterns and symbols featured in the Huichol religion.
Throughout Punta Mita, you will see examples of Huichol art, Enrique, Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita Cultural Concierge is a great source to learn more about the Huichol culture, and for those looking for an artistic experience, you can also sign up to their Huichol Beading workshops.