This post is also available in: Español
One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to shop for a piece of art from the city or region I’m visiting. In the process, I usually learn something about the region’s history, culture and art, and when I return home, everytime I walk by the art in my house, I’m transported back to my travel experience. The art gives me a real sense of joy because of the memories associated with it.
Puerto Vallarta is rich with art from all parts of Mexico but one of my favorite types of art from this region is Huichol art which originated in the states of Jalisco and Nayarit. Wixáritari, the indigenous people who create the art, mostly live in the mountainous areas of the region. Huichol is derived from the word Wirriarika, which means soothsayer or medicine man in the Huichol language.
The faith of the Huichol people very much influences the art with the foundation based on a “trinity” of veneration of the deer, corn and peyote. The origin of Huichol art lies in an ancient tradition involving the transcription of images displayed by the shamans after ingesting peyote (hikuri), a sacred cactus.
Huichol art is hard to miss as you walk around the streets of Puerto Vallarta because of the vibrant colors in the yarn, beaded pieces and textiles. Originally, the art was created with natural items such as clay, stone, shells, coral, seeds with color dyes made from vegetables. A bit of history, the glass beads used in beaded art were first introduced in the 1700’s as a way to introduce Christianity to the Wixáritari people. The glass beads were adopted but Christinanity wasn’t. Today, wax is still used to adhere the glass beads to wood carvings, similar to how the art was created in the 1700’s.
Many stores and galleries in Puerto Vallarta display and sell Huichol art. Two of my favorite shops/galleries for Huichol art are Peyote People in Zona Romantica and Centro and the Tierra Huichol stores on Olas Altas street and the Malecon.
Peyote People is a special place for many different types of Mexican art. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Max Simpson, an art curator for Peyote People. Max Simpson has a wealth of information about the art as his parents are the owners of the stores and gallery.
Max has visited the Wixáritari people with his father in the mountains where they live. He is extremely passionate about preserving the history of the art as well as continuing to elevate it as a truly beautiful, unique art form representing the culture of Mexico as well as benefit the Wixáritari people.
At the shops you can sometimes watch artists create pieces. It’s amazing to watch the concentration, intensity and patience needed to create one of these magnificent pieces.
Over the years, I’ve purchased both Huichol beaded and yarn art for myself and as gifts. The beauty of this art is that it’s available in many different forms, both large and small, including items you can wear. My favorite pieces are the beaded shapes of animals. At first glance, you notice the amazing colors but with a closer look, you see the intricate designs each telling a story and representing an aspect of the Wixáritari people and their beliefs.
So next time you are shopping in Puerto Vallarta for a gift for yourself or others, consider purchasing a piece of Huichol art and the Mexican culture and history it represents. You won’t be disappointed.
Information to know:
Location: Juarez #222 Centro between Libertad and Gurrero, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Telephone: 322 222 1007