Huichol indians, their art and symbols

Huichol indians – the proud Indigenous people seen around Puerto Villarte in their colorful embroidered clothing. The Huichol indians live in virtually inaccessible areas of the states of Nayarit and Jalisco, straddling the Sierra Madre Occidental in an inhospitable region of about 15,000 square miles in scattered kinship settlements (ranchos).

In the past thirty years, about four thousand Huichols have migrated to cities, primarly to Tepic, Nayarit, Guadalajara and Mexico City, because of the need of money have drawn attention to their rich culture through their art – they began making detailed and elaborated yarn paintings. The Huichols have only oral tradition and no written language.

From the time they are children, they learn how to communicate with the spirit world through symbols and rituals and create beautiful art works related to their spirituality. One sees their fine art work for sale at many locations of Puerto Vallarta. From the small beaded eggs and large jaguar heads to the detailed yarn paintings, each is related to a part of Huichol tradition and belief. For exepmle, one of the most popular art works of Huichols is Nierika – a small square or round tablet with a hole in the center, this is a sacred magical offering.

The first large yarn paintings were exhibited in Guadalajara in 1962, a direct outgrouth of the Nierika. Realism, based on mythology, is the basis of yarn paintings.

Beaded bowls and beadwork of Huichol indians originated as an art form long before the Spanish Conquest of the Indigenous peoples.

Originally the beads defined the waxen figures pressed into gourd prayer bowls to be used as offerings. The Huichol believe that the gods drink up the petitions in the bowls and subsequently understand the prayer better.

Peyote cactus is much revered by the Huichol, a veritable gift from the Gods. It symbolizes the essence, the very life, sustenance, helth, accomplishment, good fortune of the Huichol. Through it's hallucinogenic effects, enlightment and shamanic powers can be achieved. Peyot Mandalas or Neakilas symbolize the entrance to the spiritual world.

With this introduction one can better understand the Huichol, their art and their constant communication with the spiritual realm.