One of my favorite things I did when we were down in Mexico was to spend some time walking through the local vendors to see what kind of beading and jewelry I could find.
What I found was an astonishing amount of handmade beadwork pretty much everywhere I looked. And the colors were vibrant!
There is a culture of beadwork throughout Mexico, and the more prominent work comes from the Huichol. The Huichol are indigenous people of Mexico who live in the Sierra Madre Occidental range. They refer to themselves as Wixaritari, or "the people" in their native language. The bags shown here (made entirely from beads) are a common item that the Huichol make, but they are known for their bead sculpture. One group even beaded an entire car. I cannot even image how it takes to bead a car?
Huichol art dates back millennia and represents their spiritual connection to their gods and ancestors. Their art is full of symbols that have been encode into their stories. They use vibrant colored beads, yarn and wood in their imaginative work with each piece carrying heavy symbolism. In Huichol culture, art and religion are inextricable; each piece is personal and holds the deep spiritual beliefs of its creator.
Two primary figures are the Jicuri (the peyote plant) which is considered the plant of life and promotes harmonious relations with the gods. And the other is the serpent, which is highly revered for its protection of peyote by eating the pests that would harm the harvest.
At the core of their religion is a pilgrimage of 600 miles (round trip) to re-enter the sacred land of the Wirikuta desert. During their trip they perform a series of rituals and ceremonies to transform themselves into deities. When properly performed the peyote will be found, and 'slain' with a bow and arrow. Everyone is given a slice of the peyote to have their own personal visions. This moment of sharing the peyote is fulfilling their quest: to travel to paradise and transform themselves into deities and commune with the gods.
Since we were not near the Sierra Madre range, I can't be sure that what we were looking at was from the Huichol, but they do seem to be a beading superpower in Mexico!
At one shop there were just tables and tables of beaded bracelets. I pulled out a few of them to take individual pictures. I love how they use basic stitches and play on variation, after variation. I got a bit 'click happy' taking pictures of all these pieces to use as inspiration. And so now it is a matter of actually giving them a try.