Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Beautiful Piece of Art by Two Huichol Families

The Denver International Airport has an unique piece of art on display, a Volkswagen Beetle adorned with 2,777,000 glass beads.  This is the work of two Huichol families from Mexico, the Bautista family from the state of Jalisco and the Ortiz family from the state of Nayarit.  
The name, The Vochol, for the VW Bug came from a combination of Vocho (slang in Mexico for the popular Bug) and Huichol.

The Huichol Indians is an indigenous group living high in the Sierra Madre Mountains of central-west Mexico in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Durango and Zacatecas.   The Huichols are deeply religious and spiritual.  The original name for the Huichol people is Wirrarika, meaning medicine man or soothsayer.  And their art is their direct communication with the gods.  Because they have lived in such remote locations, access to these areas was extremely difficult and the Spaniards never ventured into their territories.  It was not until recently that their culture has been influenced and altered by western civilization.  
Traditional symbols and icons are used in the Huichol bead workCommonly used symbols are corn, peyote and deer as well as candles, arrows, serpents, scorpions and the eye of God.
The Bautista family is responsible for the beautiful work on the back, the top and the front of the car.
 It took 9,408 hours (seven months) to decorate the The Vochal!
 A close up of the hood illustrates some of the Huichol symbols, the deer and the candle.
Even the dashboard and steering wheel were adorned with beads.
Don't you just love the hub cap?
A different interpretation of a deer head.  The sides of the car are the work of the Ortiz family. 
The sage color leaves represent the sacred Peyote Cactus (the Jicuri), their symbol of wisdom, knowledge and a harmonious relation with the gods.

In the market in San Miguel de Allende you can find little stalls selling various beaded works by a few of the Huichol Indians that live in town.  I have several bracelets that I have bought over the years.   My Mom has a few of the decorated eggs that she has hung on the Christmas tree.  One can also find beaded masks, beaded little pigs, beaded deer...  It truly is beautiful art!  I will have to bring some of the photos of The Vochal down with me to San Miguel and show some of the artisans.  I think they will be astonished.  I know I sure am.  Make sure you get a chance to see it, unfortunately it is only in Denver until August 31. 

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