Huichol Yarn Paintings

The Huichol are an indigenous tribe of about 40,000 members living in the canyons and mountains of west central Mexico in the states of Nayarit and Jalisco. They are the only tribe in Mexico that were not subjugated by the Spanish Conquistadores.They developed this art form in the 1950s to depict their deep communication with and reverence for their ancestor and nature deities and animated spirits of the natural environment.

Peyote, a small cactus native to Northern Mexico is at the center of their religious beliefs. Ceremonial ingestion of Peyote brings on visions of non-ordinary reality and connection to the natural world. These visions are the inspiration of their art. Their holy trinity is peyote, deer, and corn which are most often depicted in their art. The deer spirit come to them when they ingest peyote and leads them into the spiritual realms.

Yarn paintings are made by pressing yarn into a mixture of pine resin and bees wax that is spread on a board. Usually designs are not predrawn but spontaneously applied to the board. It takes 1 to 4 weeks to make a yarn painting. There are about 40-50 active yarn painters and fine examples are in museums around the world, including a huge painting in the Denver Art Museum.


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