It is one of the ethnic groups that has managed to remain "authentic" since the time of the conquest. The Wixaritari (singular: Wixarika) or Huichol (in Castilian) is one of the four indigenous groups that inhabit the region known as Gran Nayar, in the southern part of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The Huichols call themselves Wirrarika, which means "the people". This is a word from their own language: wixaritari or vaniuki, also known as Huichol. The term Huichol was introduced by the Mexicans, so it is a Spanish version, and for this reason the Huichols prefer to call themselves Wirrárika.
The language spoken by the Wixaritari belongs to the branch known as Corahuichol, within the Yuto-Nahuas language family.
Located on both sides of the Chapalagana River canyon, its traditional territory includes parts of four states: Jalisco, Nayarit, Durango and Zacatecas. The main municipalities they inhabit are: Mezquitic, Bolaños, Jalisco, El Nayar, Tepic, La Yesca, Nayarit, Mezquital and Durango.
The typical Huichol clothing is very striking. In the case of the men, the suits are made of a cotton blanket decorated with multicoloured embroidery. Women often prefer industrial fabrics with patterns. The wide-brimmed hats worn by the men are made of soybeans and are almost always decorated with feathers, flowers or squirrel tails. Backpacks, usually woven on a backstrap loom, show representations of plants or sacred animals (such as the peyote, deer or eagle). The style of the textile designs varies slightly from community to community.
Around 1850, the construction of the Catholic temples came to an end along with many pre-Hispanic ceremonial centres or callihueyes. This "triumph" of evangelisation provoked an uprising of the indigenous groups of the region who, together with the Huichols, fought and defended their beliefs. Thus, 17 years later, the ceremonial centres of the pre-Hispanic tradition were rebuilt and a complex ritual was established. This ritual incorporated some elements of popular Catholicism (such as the celebration of Carnival and Easter) into an indigenous cultural matrix.
Currently, the main economic activities are the cultivation of coamil, i.e. milpa worked with a plantation cane or coa, livestock, wage labour during seasonal migration and the sale of handicrafts. Coamil cultivation is a subsistence activity, as its product is not intended for trade. Originally, it is a religious practice: only those who plant the sacred varieties of maize can participate in parental or community ceremonies, and only those who participate in these ceremonies have the right to usufruct the land. Maize, squash and beans grow together in the same area. The pumpkin leaves protect the soil from erosion, the beans entangle themselves in the reeds of the maize plants and provide nitrogen for the soil. Cempasuchil flowers, a natural pesticide, and amaranth are planted on the banks of the coamil. Coamil" is a method similar to or belonging to the ancient Mesoamerican planting method "milpa".
Another ritual activity practised by the Wixarritari is hunting, in particular the hunting of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus).
Over the past few centuries, the Huichols have successfully reproduced their ancestral culture. Open to interaction with the outside world, they have been extremely zealous in preserving their lands and traditions.
Corn, deer and peyote are three elements that are constantly referenced in mythology, and around which a series of festivals and ceremonies are built. Moreover, these also reflect their worldview and are constantly represented in the art they produce. It is said that much of the aesthetics of the works are influenced by the visions they have during the peyote rituals. The first two represent the provisioning of the Huichol man, while the peyote, the hallucinogenic cactus is the meat and food of the gods, the intermediary between man and the gods. Peyote is a magical and mysterious cactus with more than five thousand years of existence. It is a plant with mystical properties valued by the Huichol culture, which serves as its guardian. Since the 1970s, the Real de Catorce has become a tourist destination for people from all over the world who seek an encounter with the spiritual world and revelations about their destiny. Due to the irresponsible and unsustainable consumption of the cactus, the Mexican government has banned its use by non-members of the community.
The Huichol world is divided into three universes: that of Huichol mythology which states that life began in the sea, the reference to corn where daily life is lived and the mysticism which reveals the world of Huichol art and its rituals which give them an identity as a Huichol community.
Handicrafts have become an important economic activity since the counter-cultural movement of the 1960s, which led to a massive interest in Huichol art and its aesthetics inspired by "psychedelic" experiences. Visits to the various urban and tourist centres are usually combined with visits to various sacred sites and presentations of Huichol handicrafts. On the other hand, the international fame acquired by the Huichol people has led to a nascent "ethnotourism" in some communities of the Sierra.
However, this does not usually meet with the approval of the latter, which do not allow for photography or audio/video recording. Two types of crafts are made: one for personal use and one that is marketed.
As for the textiles, most are for personal use and are made on a backstrap loom.
All non-commercial pieces are created to tell the story of the authors' diverse religious experiences, creating fantastic pieces of beautiful colour and unimaginable patterns that can only be conceived in the mind of the Huichol artist.
Huichol art is a form of writing because it tells its stories and myths. In each piece, the Huichol leaves a part of his life. At present, it can be said that no other ethnic group in Mexico has such profound beliefs, religions and traditions as the Huichols.
In his illustrations, we can see figures bordered with chaquira representing a large number of shapes and animals, paintings of threads that give us a window on the mysterious world, as well as magical accessories made of "chaquira and microchaquira" that are surprisingly beautiful. These images tell a wonderful story full of mystery that brings us closer to the beginning of time.
The Huichol religion was established through the "gift of sight". or nierika. The Nierika are cheesecloth tables in which each artist and craftsman transcribes the path he has taken and his personal research.
After taking peyote (hallucinogenic cactus) and other rituals, they express their dreams through accessories (necklaces, bracelets or backpacks) which they also sell and use for themselves.
The Huichols still find it difficult to keep away from outside influences, as they live in ancestral conditions where wood is still the most important fuel, and water is still extracted from wells.
THE EYE OF GOD
The Eye of God, or Tzicuri as it is also called, is a symbol of power and protection, which serves to see and understand the unknown. However, its roots hide a deeper meaning.
According to legend, one of the gods who formed the world saw through a god's eye all that was within and above the earth.
On the other hand, the reason for its shape is due to the fact that it represents the five cardinal points, the directions of the Wixárika cosmogony.
In ceremonies, this amulet is used as an offering to ask the gods for the healthy growth of infants. According to tradition, it is the parents who make the eye of God that their children will take to the drum festival, in which the children are presented before the gods and initiated into the ceremonial life of their people.
The variety of colours used for fabrics is associated with certain beliefs, for example, black signifies life while white is associated with clouds and blue with the colour of rain and water.
There is also another meaning to the development of theEye of God by the Wixarika community, discover here.
Today it has become popular to give a Huichol eye to the birth of a child, also as a gift to the owners of a new house to attract positive energy or to a newly married couple to wish them a good relationship.
The tukipa or callihuey is a ceremonial centre of pre-Hispanic tradition dedicated to the worship of the community's ancestors. The architecture follows the Huichol ranch model: several buildings are grouped around a circular plaza.
There is also the traditional pilgrimage to Wirikuta, one of the sacred places of the Huichols: dressed in a special outfit consisting, among other things, of a hat adorned with white turkey feathers, the jicareros, who on this journey are called peyoteros (hikuritamete), head towards the desert of Wirikutato the east, where they collect the peyote (Lophophora williamsii), a psychotropic cactus called Huichol hikuli. Afterwards, the peyoteros climb the Cerro del Amanecer (Paritek + a or Reu'unari) in the Sierra de Real de Catorce, which is considered to be the place where the sun rises after defeating the nocturnal animals and monsters of the underworld.
To enter the Huichol community is to be at the gateway to a It is to reach a dimension where the divine and the profane find perfect harmony. It is to reach a dimension where the divine and the profane find a perfect harmony.
As for the traditional clothing, their clothes are very colourful. The men wear trousers and a blanket, which are embroidered with colourful lines and symmetrical patterns that can be animals or embroidered flowers, and of course the traditional hat is decorated with colourful beads on the edge. Women wear embroidered blouses and a shawl with coloured flowers to cover their heads.
It is prepared several days in advance and can be expensive, but it is very important because the Huichols "give thanks for the gift given by Mother Earth" so that the maracames (shamans), which apply to all kakauyars (gods), continue to help them harvest food and prevent childhood and adult illness.