The Wixarika, or Huichol as they are more widely known outside Mexico, are native Mexicans who live mainly in the Sierra Madre mountains of Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas and Durango. The Wixarika are one of the few ethnic groups that has managed to remain "pure" since the time of the Spanish conquest.
Art is an integral part of every day life, and a deeply spiritual process. The artists make hand-beaded sculptures and hand-beaded paintings, and yarn paintings decorated with many different symbols, and in every colour imaginable. The artists leave hidden messages in their art, and the figures are the inspiration of journeys that the Wixarikas' make to the spiritual world during shamanic religious rituals.
Huichol beaded figures are incredibly intricate, deeply spiritual and fantastically colourful and vibrant pieces of art. The sculptures are firstly handmade either from wood or thick papier-mâché, then covered in either wax or resin. Then vividly colourful beads are pressed into the wax individually, in a variety of patterns and shapes and symbols. Each symbol in the design has a significance and symbolism attached to them according to Wixarika culture.
Wixarika ~ Huichol Difference
Although the words wixárika and huichol are both ethonyms (a name applied to an ethnic group) that refer to the same indigenous group of people that populates the Sierra Madre Occidental range of the Mexican states of Jalisco, Durango, Zacatecas and Nayarit and parts of the southwestern United States, it is important to note the difference between these two words.
Years ago, the word wixárika was rarely used among non-Wixarika people; the common denomination for this group was (and still is, largely) Huichol. The prevalent explanation behind the emergence of the word huichol is that it originated from a very early colonial adaptation of the Nahuatl ethonym wixárika. In more recent years, the word wixarika has gradually taken the place of the word huichol in political, scholarly, and (to a limited extent) common speech.
Wixarika ~ Huichol Artists
At its core, Wixarika art is mysticism. For the Wixarika artist, the meaning behind their work is to capture the stories, the coexistence or the encounters they have with their deities. The Huichol artist is thought to be born with the creative gifts that they develop naturally as they grow up.
Huichol crafts are a representation of their deities’ messages which are captured in each piece; in each bead, each stitch, and each stroke - through these, they tell their stories. It is through the intricate and awe-inspiring work of these indigenous beadwork artists, sculptors, embroiderers and painters that Wixarika culture is made known to the world. One of our artists said,
"The work that we do making our creations is not a job, but instead a way of capturing our history, our worldview, our experiences. For us it is not work, it is life. Wixarika art is mysticism. Our feelings go into every piece of art that we make. We incorporate our connections with our gods. I was not taught, it was something around me from before I was born and when I was born, and everyday since, surrounding me in everyday life. We are so proud to be Wixarika, and to continue the heritage left by the generations before us."
History, Religion and Mythology
Although it is uncertain exactly how long ago the Wixarika people originated, it is known from historical accounts and from oral history that the Wixarika took refuge in the mountains when the Spanish arrived to what is now Mexico in the 16th century.
The Wixarika worship four main gods who are all direct descendants of their Sun God, "Tao Jreeku": the trio of Corn, Blue Deer and Peyote, and the Eagle. The majority of Wixarika uphold traditional ideas and maintain their beliefs across many generations.
The deer is the most important figure in Wixarika culture, since it is considered a messenger of the gods and the creator of peyote and corn, which are also very significant Huichol symbols.
This is a small, spineless cactus that grows in some areas of Mexico that contains psychoactive properties when consumed. For the Wixarika it is the mythical portal between gods and men, it also symbolizes the source of life and the world’s balance.
Corn is the most relevant source of livelihood and nutrition in the Huichol world; the measuring of time revolves around this crop’s cycle. It is a constant symbol in all Wixarika rituals and their main source of food.
Similar to the symbolism attached to peyote, the eagle is considered a bridge between the gods and men. It is believed among the Wixarika that in its feathers resides the power to see and hear everything, to provide healing and to make the sun and rain appear.
Wixárika ~ Huichol Beaded Figures
The Huichol have a long tradition of making beads out of materials like clay, shells, coral, seeds, and more. They use these beads to make jewelry, as well as to adorn bowls and other objects. Masks and wooden sculptures covered in tiny, vividly colored beads individually attached with wax and resin constitute the majority of "contemporary" Mexican beadwork.
Though the Huichol animals represented in their beaded animal sculptures vary, it is more common to find figures of animals that have significance and symbolism attached to them according to Wixarika culture. These Mexican beaded animals are incredibly intricate, deeply spiritual and fantastically colorful and vibrant. ArtMexico has a great variety of beaded animals for sale.
Wixárika ~ Huichol Jaguar Heads
The beaded jaguar head is world-renowned and recognized among Huichol art. These come in a variety of sizes, and consist of wooden sculptures of jaguar heads decorated by individually-placed beads that depict Wixarika symbols and imagery. The Huichol beaded jaguar head is without a doubt one of the most extraordinary examples of Mexican beaded animal art.
Mexican Beaded Sugar Skulls
Similar to the jaguar head, Mexican beaded skulls are a commonly recognized figure among Wixarika art. Although Mexican skulls are commonly associated with the Day of the Dead and are widely depicted through the art of different indigenous communities, the Huichol skull is particularly beautiful and unique. Wixarika skulls are also available in a variety of sizes.
Wixarika ~ Huichol Wall Art
Beaded Huichol art is known for its vivid imagery as well as its variety of patterns and designs that contain deep spiritual and cultural significance, and Wixarika beadwork paintings are no exception. Huichol folk art is sometimes also inspired by the visuals the artists experience during traditional peyote rituals. Some artists consider their work to be a form of gratitude, an offering to the deities that blessed the artists with these gifts. Wixarika Huichol beadwork wall art is Mexican beaded art at its grandest.
ArtMexico and the Wixarika Community
Wixarika Art For Sale Wholesale Only
We only sell wholesale for resale, please contact us if you are interested in placing an order for your store. We sell a variety of different sizes: Small, Small/Medium, Medium, Medium/Large, Large. And some of the many figures available are: sitting deer, standing deer, jaguar heads, jaguars, cactus, skulls, owls, turtles, wolves, elephants, giraffes, dolphins, and more...
ArtMexico and the Wixarika community thank you for supporting the Wixarika culture and helping to keep their beautiful and precious traditions alive. We only sell wholesale for resale, please contact us if you are interested in placing an order for your store.