Visions That The Plants Gave Us

Huichol Designs

Peyote is a source for many Huichol designs. The geometric patterns that so vividly adorn clothing, bags, and belts mirror the visions that flash before one's field of sight under the influence of this revered cactus. After ingesting peyote, women and men look forward to receiving beautiful designs, and consume peyote as a kind of vision quest to reach the gods. These brilliant luminous designs are understood by Huichols as visual forms of communication that come directly from the gods, and, as such, are to be duplicated in material form.

Embroidered bags with endlessly repeated intricate mandalas, arabesques, spheres, cubes, triangles, zigzags, and spirals are made in intensely bright hues by women who believe these designs are gifts from the gods and must be duplicated to share with their families.

Over the last 25 years Huichols have drawn upon traditional sacred objects, transforming them into commercial art. Yarn paintings, made by applying beeswax as an adhesive to wood boards and then pressing yarn onto the boards, most likely evolved as tourist art from the small offerings Huichols make to leave in sacred places for the gods. Yarn paintings have evolved into a story-telling device by which the artist depicts a traditional myth or some aspect of Huichol life to outside consumers. From its early origins as simple paintings, the medium has undergone a metamorphosis from folk craft to fine art.

Votive gourds are used as prayer bowls and offerings. The interiors of the gourd bowls are completely covered with beeswax and beads in pulsating mandala designs. Called ônierikaö in Huichol, these mandalas represent the doorway to the other world.

-- Dr. Stacy B. Schaefer,
McAllen, Texas

In the exhibition:

Cristalina Carrillo

Trinidad Carrillo Estela Hernandez Maria Clara Mijares Mariano Valadez Unknown makers Return to Visions That The Plants Gave Us

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Last updated: Tuesday, May 15, 2001