2015 MAR – HUICHOL INDIANS

Notice the man's elaborately embroidered clothes.

Notice the man’s elaborately embroidered clothes.

HUICHOL INDIANS
I have been trying to find a Huichol (wee-choll) Indian community since arriving in this area, but it seems they are a very reclusive tribe and don’t encourage tourists. In fact, they actively discourage them.

Placing the beads one by one into the beeswax base

Placing the beads one by one into the beeswax base

This ancient tribe has lived deep in the Mexican mountains for at least 15,000 years, according to carbon dating of their ashes from their sacred fireplaces (Wikipedia). According to their oral history there has never been any conquest or domination of them. The Huichol are mostly an artistic people, not a warrior tribe, however during the late 1580-1590’s the tribes banded together to war on the Spaniards who had invaded their territory.

Table of beaded artwork for sale

Table of beaded artwork for sale

More goods for sale - stunning detail on each piece

More goods for sale – stunning detail on each piece

The Huichol are known for their use of the Peyote drug.  May is the huge annual festival where Huichol return to their mountain villages and partake in the Peyote Festival. The hallucinations from swallowing a peyote cactus seed makes LSD seem a pathetic non-starter!

The Huichol are also known for their exquisite beadwork and elaborate embroidery, both of which are executed with painstaking detail. All the tribe wear white clothes covered in beautiful embroidery. Because of their distinctive clothing, Huichol stand out in a crowd.

Beaded gecko

Beaded gecko

Frog

Frog

Armadillo

Armadillo

Today we stopped in Bucerias to walk the little city’s malecon and have lunch on the beach. As we strolled the plaza I stopped to admire the beadwork of a Huichol man who had his gorgeous bead animals displayed for sale, while he worked on a new beaded gecko. His work was so lovely that I stopped to buy a wolf.

Francisco and the Huichol man, Louis, started chatting and Francisco told Louis that for weeks I had been trying to find a Huichol community to visit. The tribe lives in very isolated communities deep in the Sierra Madre mountains and every website that advertised a visit to their village had “Tour no longer available” stamped over their web page. Tour company after tour company had all cancelled their tours.

Beaded Necklaces

Beaded Necklaces

In the city of Tepic they claimed to have a tour, but I found that the bus just climbed the local hill to the top where a few Huichol had some stalls set up to sell their not very attractive wares.

No one seemed to know how to find the Huichol…! And the Internet was no help either.

Beaded bracelets and earrings

Beaded bracelets and earrings

Louis said that he faced the same problem. He wanted to return home to his mountain community in May for the Peyote festival but couldn’t find transport. Actually he had to return because the community control their citizens and Louis only had permission to leave for one year, and then he has to return. So going back in May was mandated by the tribe.

I was keen to watch the Peyote Festival so we took Louis phone number and said we would contact him late April – perhaps we would rent a car and give him a lift, if he would show us the way and gain us access to the festival under his protection.

Meanwhile I bought the little beaded wolf. Their art is related to their ancient traditions and culture with Huichol icons in evidence in their art. Louis explained that the back of the wolf represented the corn growing through the season. The 2 flowers on its side represented the red and the blue peyote seeds. The face icon on the leg actually represents the deer icon, and similarly the marking on its forehead.

Little wolf left side- red and blue peyote seeds

Little wolf left side- red and blue peyote seeds

I took some other photos of his exquisite work just for the pleasure of looking at the pics. Notice that each bead is individually placed on the artifact. First they carve the shape of the animal from a piece of wood. Then they cover it with beeswax. Then they press each bead one by one into the wax skin making up the bead design as they go along. Just gorgeous!

 

Little wolf aerial view - corn along its back.   Blue icon with red dot is the deer symbol

Little wolf aerial view – corn along its back. Blue icon with red dot is the deer symbol

Box and bowl - painstaking detail

Box and bowl – painstaking detail

 

Note the different designs which are unique to each set of clothes.  This man has his clothes covered in lovingly embroidered deer

Note his clothes are embroidered with deer

Note his clothes are embroidered with deer

Another man, another design

Another man, another design

 

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