Deer and wolves speaking to man, arrows carrying prayers, serpents bringing rain, pumas acting as messengers of the Gods, are all part of the Shamanic Huichol belief system. These surreal images are the focus of the wildly electric yarn art of the Huichol Indians of the Sierra Madre Mountains of western Mexico. The powerful juxtaposition of vivid color, enhanced by the ability to achieve colors through dyes that are not obtainable in paint, make these “yarn paintings” the “pop art” of the Pre-Columbian Era.
The Huichol Indians, believed to be the direct descendents of the Aztecs, still survive in the remote Sierra Madres Mountain ranges of western Mexico and continue to live a life based on strong ceremonial traditions and sacred mythology. Believing themselves to be that part of creation which entertains the Gods, the Huichol are sustained by the land around them and rely on a keen physic belief to guide them through their lifetime. As a act of gratitude the Huichol create the ceremonial artwork known as yarn art, as part of their daily ritual, recording their beliefs, rituals, and visions.
Usually squares approximately two feet by two feet, the yarn paintings are personal interpretations of some aspect of their relationship to the Gods. Through the laborious application of brightly colored yarn, pressed into a beeswax and pine tar mixture on board, a vibrant record to the belief that we all make our own realities is manifest.
The town of Puerto Vallarta has been a destination for the Huichol, who have begun to emerge from their mountain confines to make these absolutely scintillating pieces available to the buying public. Shops of various sizes now carry the work that has become renowned through out the world. Upon entering a room containing thirty or forty images, you become mesmerized, not only by the color which is accentuated when bathed in spot light, but by the sensation of an ethereal bond to the message that is being passed on to you.
For a culture stemming from the sixth century before Christ, whose art was intended to entertain the Gods, the Huichol are now enjoying a commerce that will preserve their way of life so that we may be gaze upon their visionary creations well into the twenty first century.
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