Huichol Indian Art
Huichol art is created for much more than aesthetic reasons. Prayer bowls, beaded animals, masks and ceremonial objects make use of sacred symbols which represent the artist’s religious beliefs and culture.
The Huichol Indians (pronounced Hwee-chol) live in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains northeast of Puerto Vallarta, in the states of Jalisco and Nayarit. The art of the Huichols emanates from their intensely personal religious culture. In the words of legendary anthropologist Carl Lumholtz: “Religion to them is a personal matter, not an institution, and therefore their life is religious from the cradle to the grave and wrapped up in symbolism.”
Symbolism in Huichol Art
This symbolism comes through in their art; it is truly sacred art. Beautiful yarn paintings, beaded animal carvings, prayer bowls and masks all display deep symbolism of the Huichol religious belief, which is centered around their “holy trinity” of the deer (maxra), maize (iku), and peyote (hikuri). Visions are often inspired by the peyote that allow the Huichols to communicate with their gods. These visions are reflected in their art and in their offerings to the gods.
We include information on Huichol symbolism with each piece of Huichol art you purchase.
Huichol Lore and History
Many researchers have recorded Huichol lore and history. Here are some links to some of this research:
Bead Size Comparison
At Cosas Bonitas Oregon we bring you this very special beaded Huichol art from Mexico. The art and jewelry we offer is created using size 15 seed beads, which are much smaller than the size 11 beads used in most other Huichol art. The smaller beads are supplied to the artists since they are not usually available in Mexico.
The smaller beads allow the artists to include much more detail in the pieces; this art will amaze you! The designs are extremely intricate and every bead is always perfectly in place. See the comparison of Huichol beading done with size 11 (larger) seed beads on the left and size 15 (smaller) seed beads on the right. The larger sized beads fit only 9 beads per inch, while the smaller beads fit 15 beads to the inch, yielding much finer detail. All of the Huichol art we carry is created using the smaller size of seed beads, including the jewelry.
About Our Huichol Artists
The art we offer is created by a particular group of families from the Huichol indigenous group of Mexico. The families have participated in a fair trade relationship for almost two decades to produce pieces that are museum and gallery quality. In this close relationship they have been nurtured and helped to develop their high level of skill with these incredibly tiny size 15 seed beads. All the while they have had steady employment and are compensated to a degree that their economic situation is continuously improved. Because of the stability that comes from this relationship, the families are able to stay in their villages in the mountains and their culture is maintained.
The colorful and intricate designs reflect the Huichol culture and religion. Rich in tradition and mysticism, each piece of art is a unique treasure. The beads, wooden carvings, gourd bottoms (in the case of prayer bowls) and beeswax mixture are all supplied to the artists.
We offer this art at very reasonable prices as part of our commitment to creating a sustainable market for the artists and their families.
Huichol Use of the Beeswax
A beeswax mixture is used as the adhesive in both the beaded art and yarn paintings. A very thin coating of beeswax mixture is applied to the surface of a wooden carving, to a board (for yarn paintings) or to the inside of a gourd (for prayer bowls). Beads are then applied using a needle full of beads in the colors that the artist needs for an area. The beads stay in place permanently with gentle care.
NOTE: Keep the piece out of direct, hot sunlight and use a gentle touch on the surface so as not to press the beads, causing a “bruise.”