The Huichol, or Wixáritari as they prefer to be called (meaning “the people”), are an indigenous tribe who mainly live in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range in the states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas, and Durango in Mexico. Huichol art is one of the most beautiful representations of Mexican folk art and is considered highly collectable.
Huichol Art Techniques
Wixáritari artwork can take many forms, although popular techniques include a kind of embroidered painting that uses colorful yarns, beadwork, carving and jewelry making. Beads, yarns and wood feature prominently in Huichol art, with masks, bowls and animal figures popularly found, all packed with profound symbols and spiritual meanings.
Huichol art dates back hundreds of years and is more than a just a creative pastime; it is a spiritual connection and a way of honoring their gods and the elements. The visions received by shaman and the experiences of initiated members of the tribe are depicted in the many carvings, embroidered paintings, jewelry, bead-encrusted sculptures and textiles that form the canon of Huichol art. The idea is that the shaman acts like a conduit for the spirit world to enter each community bestowing the gift of creativity, which is returned in the form of art, in honor of the gods. Thus, each piece of Huichol art is sacred and carries a specific spiritual meaning.
Captivating and Vibrant
What distinguishes Huichol art is the intricate designs and vibrant colors used to depict the sacred stories and symbols of the Huichol spiritual heritage. Each color and shape that you see in Huichol art is symbolic. For example, white represents the cloud spirits, red refers to fire and masculinity and the East, green represents the earth, healing, the heart and growth and so on. Likewise, you will also notice distinct shapes to represent elements such as the sacred peyote cactus plant, the sun, deer, the turtle and other revered animals, which are repeated throughout the Huichol artworks.
Art for the Huichol people is a religious act, it is a form of channelling sacred information. Preparing a work of art is a form of prayer where the artist is in direct communication with divinity. Therefore, choosing a piece of Huichol art carries a deeper significance, and it is worthwhile taking the time to select your piece by listening to your intuition rather than your head, selecting from the heart.