Huichol Art Reinterpreted II

Here are two more illustrations in the series of Huichol-inspired designs that explore the symbols behind the Mexican indigenous group’s spiritual beliefs, deities, significant forces of nature and important themes such as the concept of nierika, the gift of sight.

Animals & Sun God

Animals & Sun God

Fundamental to Huichol rituals, ceremonies and daily life are numerous spiritual beliefs, for example, that the Sun God (Tayau) rules the heavens and brings warmth and illumination to the world, and that his wife, the Mother Goddess (Tatei Werika—the eagle) rules the sky and all living things. Huichols also believe that they descended from “wolf-people,” that two serpents surround the world, and that deer serve as spirit guides for shamans. This illustration is a tapestry interweaving various symbols of Huichol spiritual beliefs.

Creation of Peyote & Corn

Creation of Peyote & Corn

Corn (ikuri), deer (maxa) and peyote (hikuli) are important symbols that transcend mere subsistence for the Huichol people and enter the realm of the spiritual and the divine. One Huichol belief is that Grandfather Fire (Tatewari) helped the deer create peyote and corn. The snakes in the center represent Grandfather Fire.

Huichol Art Reinterpreted

This series of decorative illustrations was inspired by the art of the Huichol (Wixaritari) indigenous group who inhabit a small mountainous area in western Mexico. Huichols depict their mythology using bright colors and sacred symbols including peyote, corn, deer, snakes, eagles, bees, scorpions, flowers, the sun, stars and other abstract shapes that represent deities, important themes and significant forces of nature. The eyes I use on most of the living beings (as well the prominent Sun God figures) throughout these illustrations represent the central Huichol theme of nierika, which can be thought of as the gift of sight, deep visionary wisdom, or the ability to see the inner form of the world.

Pilgrimage to the Sun

Pilgrimage to the Sun

Every year, some Huichols undertake a sacred pilgrimage east to Wirikuta, the place in San Luis Potosí near Real de Catorce where they believe life began. Huichols travel more than 550 km to gather peyote (hikuli), the hallucinogenic cactus that they consider one of their primary deities and that they ingest as a sacrament to induce visions and attain nierika. This illustration weaves images of the Huichols’ journey with symbols of peyote (the small green circular forms) and corn plants along with the Sun God as a central creator figure and assorted animals important in their mythology.

Vision Quest 1

Vision Quest

Leading the sacred pilgrimage to Wirikuta and the circular peyote dance (hikuli neixa) are shamans, who practice sacrifice and austerity in addition to ingesting peyote order to attain nierika. In this illustration, two advanced shamans carrying feathered healing wands (muwieri) lead the ceremonial dance, their central objective being the gift of sight. The two-headed eagle at the top of the image represents the shaman’s ability to see in all directions, and to reinforce this idea of nierika I have placed an eye in the center of a rhombus (tskuri), which is often thought of as a god’s eye but to the Huichols symbolizes the world. Below are additional variations of this design:

Vision Quest 2

Vision Quest 3

Vision Quest 5

Vision Quest 4