Indigo Arts Gallery
Return To Indigo Arts Gallery Return To
Main Gallery

Contact/Visit Us Contact/
Visit Us

H U I C H O L
I N D I A N   A R T

Nierika Yarn Paintings from the
Huichol Indians of Mexico



Peyote Ceremony in the Sacred Land of Wirikuta (#MRC11)
Huichol yarn painting by
Maximino Renteria de la Cruz,
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2006
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(48" x 48")

SOLD 12/07

Our Huichol Indian Art Gallery features a collection of visionary artworks from the Huichol Indians of Mexico’s remote Sierra Madre Occidental region. It centers on the nierika yarn paintings by the celebrated shaman/artist, José Benitez Sanchez, as well as other Huichol artists.
Benitez was the subject of Mythic Visions: Yarn Paintings of a Huichol Shaman, the dazzling 2003 exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The paintings reflect the visions of Huichol shamans - Huichol history and mythology and especially the peyote-inspired visions through which they believe they can communicate with the deities to heal themselves and their world. At Indigo Arts we have featured the work of José Benitez Sanchez and other Huichol artists for many years. In October and November 2005, Indigo Arts showcases this work with the exhibition Visions to Heal the World (October 7th to November 27th, 2005).
Thanks to their isolation in the mountains and canyons of the state of Nayarit, the Huichol, alone among the indigenous peoples of Mexico, were able to largely resist conversion to Christianity by the Spanish conquistadors. They have maintained their pre-conquest religion and traditions nearly intact. The Huichol practice a nature-based religion guided by shamans, which the anthropologist Peter Furst calles “a powerful everyday spirituality that seemed to owe nothing to the religion of the conquistadores.” The religion and the sacred arts which serve it are directed toward communication with a pantheon of “numberless male and female ancestor and nature deities” and in so doing finding the causes and cures of illness. 19th century ethnographer Carl Lumholtz called the Huichol a “nation of doctors”, for an extraordinary number of Huichols (an estimated third of adult men) are mara’akámes or shamans. Furst adds that an even greater number of the Huichol, male and female, are also artists.
A central aspect of the religious life of the Huichol, and an essential rite of every shaman, is the peyote pilgrimage to Wirikuta, a remote desert region 300 miles away in the state of San Luis Potosi. After the twenty day walk (now sometimes shortened by a ride on a truck or bus) to Wirikuta the Huichol pilgrims “hunt” for the sacred hikuri or peyote cactus. They shoot arrows into the first peyote they find, just like the sacred deer with which it is associated. The pilgrims consume some of the peyote in rituals in Wirikuta, and the rest is brought back for the consumption of the community.
The yarn paintings shown at Indigo Arts are the continuation of a variety of ritual arts long practiced by the Huichol. The Huichol are known for the symbolic patterns of plants and animal spirits, which they lavish on their cross-stitch embroidery, xukuri beaded gourd votive bowls, and a variety of prayer objects and crosses woven of sticks, feathers, yarn and other materials, which they called nierika.
What arose in the 1950’s and 1960’s was the application of many of the same rich Huichol iconography and the same materials and skills to a flat surface. To make these paintings the artist spreads beeswax on a board, sketches out a design and fills it out by carefully pressing brightly colored yarns into the wax. The first paintings were largely decorative. Sold in government crafts shops they could bring in some needed income to community. But it was not long before the shaman-artists realized the paintings’ potential to tell the stories and myths of the Huichol, and to record their sacred visions.

The shaman/artist who pioneered this style in the mid-1960’s was the late Ramon Medina Silva. Using this yarn ”canvas”, Medina told traditional stories of the creation, the peyote/deer hunt, the journey of the soul after death, and the origins of Father Sun and Tatewari, Grandfather fire. Stylistically
these early yarn paintings now seem quite primitive, the characters often similar to the stick figures in petroglyphs, in relatively static compositions. The artist who carried this art to its current level was Medina’s cousin and one-time apprentice, José Benitez Sanchez.

Huichol Artist/Shaman José Benitez Sanchez
from Mythic Visions: Yarn Paintings of a Huichol Shaman courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

José Benitez Sanchez was born in 1938 in the settlement of San Pablo, where his father was a famous mara’akáme. Benitez credits his own path as a shaman to a revelation following an illness when he was fifteen, after which he set off on his first pilgrimage to Wirikuta. Benitez pursued the dual paths of shaman and artist almost from the start, and has been recognized as a master since the 1970’s. He pioneered a style of fluid figures in compositons which are dynamic, complex, and colorful to the point of being psychedelic. His success as an artist coincided with his growing stature in his own community. He helped found the indigenous community of Tsitákua, and was elected its first tatoani, or governor. Benitez’ work has been exhibited world-wide, and is included in many private and public collections. In addition to the substantial collection which was exhibited at the University of Pennsylvania his work is included in the collection at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History.
We regret that José Benitez Sanchez passed away on July 2nd, 2009. He had been ill for some time, and recently suffered some serious injuries.

Huichol Artist/Shaman José Benitez Sanchez (photo courtesy of Enrique Peraza).

Many of the other artists exhibited at Indigo Arts are Benitez’ students or peers, including two of his wives, Josefina Benitez and Maria de Jesus Rivera Hernandez de la Cruz, his son Eliseo Benitez, and his compadre Maximino Renteria de la Cruz.
Another important artist who emerged in the 1970's was Cresencio Perez Robles.
We recently obtained a number of fine examples of his work from the 70's, shown below.

Huichol Artist Cresencio Perez Robles



Visions of a Huichol Shaman
Peter T. Furst
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, 2003, 2007
107 pages

This excellent book was published in conjunction with the University of pennsylvania Museum exhibit Mythic Visions: Yarn Paintings of a Huichol Shaman. It focuses on the work of José Benitez Sanchez, with a good introduction to Huichol culture and art as well.

$24.95 (paperback)




Huichol Art and Culture:
Balancing the World
Edited by Melissa S. Powell; and C. Jill Grady

Featuring the Robert M. Zingg Collection of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/ Laboratory of Anthropology
Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe, 2010
166 pages

$45 (Paper)



Arte Huichol (Huichol Art)
Artes de Mexico Numero 75
Text in Spanish with complete English translation.
Edited by Johannes Neurath with essays by Margarita de Orellana, Johannes Neurath, Tutkila, Olivia Kindl, Guadalupe Gonzalez Rios, Juan Rios Martinez, Juan Negrin F., Jose Benitez Sanchez and others.
Published by Artes de Mexico, Mexico City , 2005
116 pages

$36 (softcover)

Out of Stock


The Gods Give Life to the Sacred Places of the Earth(#JBS08)
Huichol yarn painting by
Jose Benitez Sanchez (1938-2009)
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2000
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(24" x 24")

SOLD 10/05


The Deer God (#HC0802)
Huichol yarn painting by
unknown artist
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2007
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(12" x 12")

$175


Cauyumarie Offers his Life which is the Peyote which Gives Vision and Energy (#JBS26)
Huichol yarn painting by
Jose Benitez Sanchez (1938-2009)
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2007
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(12" x 12")

$375


La Madre Aguila (##HCC1102)
Huichol yarn painting
Hilaria Chavez Carrillo (viuda de José Benitez Sanchez)
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2010
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(24" x 24")

$575


The Hunting of the Deer (#ADR01)
Huichol yarn painting
Alejandro de la Rosa
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 1970's
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(24" x 24")

This 24 X 24 yarn painting is by another master artist of the 1970's, Alejandro de la Rosa. It came from the same collection as the ones by Cresencio Perez Robles.

This picture was made in the 1970's of wool yarn pressed onto wax spread on a wooden board. Today yarn paintings are made of acrylic yarn. On the back the artist wrote the meaning of the piece in both Huichol and in Spanish and it is signed by the artist.

$675


Untitled (#CPR07)
Vintage Huichol yarn painting by
Cresencio Perez Robles
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 1970's
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(24" x 24")

This 24 X 24 yarn painting is by master artist Cresencio Perez Robles. Perez's work was included in book Art of the Huichol Indians, which accompanied an exhibition of Huichol Indian Art, organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The exhibition traveled from San Francisco in 1978 to Chicago and New York. It was this show and the accompanying catalogue that first introduced Huichol yarn painting to the general public.
Cresencio Perez Robles work was also featured in the exhibit Living Traditions Mexican Popular Arts in 1992 at the University Art Museum at Albany State University of New York and the accompanying book of the same title.
This picture was made in the 1970's of wool yarn pressed onto wax spread on a wooden board. Today yarn paintings are made of acrylic yarn. On the back the artist wrote the meaning of the piece in both Huichol and in Spanish and it is signed by the artist.

$775


Untitled (#CPR08)
Vintage Huichol yarn painting by
Cresencio Perez Robles
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 1970's
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(24" x 24")

This 24 X 24 yarn painting is by master artist Cresencio Perez Robles. Perez's work was included in book Art of the Huichol Indians, which accompanied an exhibition of Huichol Indian Art, organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The exhibition traveled from San Francisco in 1978 to Chicago and New York. It was this show and the accompanying catalogue that first introduced Huichol yarn painting to the general public.
Cresencio Perez Robles work was also featured in the exhibit Living Traditions Mexican Popular Arts in 1992 at the University Art Museum at Albany State University of New York and the accompanying book of the same title.
This picture was made in the 1970's of wool yarn pressed onto wax spread on a wooden board. Today yarn paintings are made of acrylic yarn. On the back the artist wrote the meaning of the piece in both Huichol and in Spanish and it is signed by the artist.

$775


Untitled (#CPR09)
Vintage Huichol yarn painting by
Cresencio Perez Robles
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 1970's
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(24" x 24")

This 24 X 24 yarn painting is by master artist Cresencio Perez Robles. Perez's work was included in book Art of the Huichol Indians, which accompanied an exhibition of Huichol Indian Art, organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The exhibition traveled from San Francisco in 1978 to Chicago and New York. It was this show and the accompanying catalogue that first introduced Huichol yarn painting to the general public.
Cresencio Perez Robles work was also featured in the exhibit Living Traditions Mexican Popular Arts in 1992 at the University Art Museum at Albany State University of New York and the accompanying book of the same title.
This picture was made in the 1970's of wool yarn pressed onto wax spread on a wooden board. Today yarn paintings are made of acrylic yarn. On the back the artist wrote the meaning of the piece in both Huichol and in Spanish and it is signed by the artist.

$775


Untitled (#CPR10)
Vintage Huichol yarn painting by
Cresencio Perez Robles
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 1970's
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(24" x 24")

This 24 X 24 yarn painting is by master artist Cresencio Perez Robles. Perez's work was included in book Art of the Huichol Indians, which accompanied an exhibition of Huichol Indian Art, organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The exhibition traveled from San Francisco in 1978 to Chicago and New York. It was this show and the accompanying catalogue that first introduced Huichol yarn painting to the general public.
Cresencio Perez Robles work was also featured in the exhibit Living Traditions Mexican Popular Arts in 1992 at the University Art Museum at Albany State University of New York and the accompanying book of the same title.
This picture was made in the 1970's of wool yarn pressed onto wax spread on a wooden board. Today yarn paintings are made of acrylic yarn. On the back the artist wrote the meaning of the piece in both Huichol and in Spanish and it is signed by the artist.

$775


Untitled (#CPR11)
Vintage Huichol yarn painting by
Cresencio Perez Robles
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 1970's
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(24" x 24")

This 24 X 24 yarn painting is by master artist Cresencio Perez Robles. Perez's work was included in book Art of the Huichol Indians, which accompanied an exhibition of Huichol Indian Art, organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The exhibition traveled from San Francisco in 1978 to Chicago and New York. It was this show and the accompanying catalogue that first introduced Huichol yarn painting to the general public.
Cresencio Perez Robles work was also featured in the exhibit Living Traditions Mexican Popular Arts in 1992 at the University Art Museum at Albany State University of New York and the accompanying book of the same title.
This picture was made in the 1970's of wool yarn pressed onto wax spread on a wooden board. Today yarn paintings are made of acrylic yarn. On the back the artist wrote the meaning of the piece in both Huichol and in Spanish and it is signed by the artist.

$775


Untitled (#CPR14)
Vintage Huichol yarn painting by
Cresencio Perez Robles
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 1970's
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(24" x 24")

This 24 X 24 yarn painting is by master artist Cresencio Perez Robles. Perez's work was included in book Art of the Huichol Indians, which accompanied an exhibition of Huichol Indian Art, organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The exhibition traveled from San Francisco in 1978 to Chicago and New York. It was this show and the accompanying catalogue that first introduced Huichol yarn painting to the general public.
Cresencio Perez Robles work was also featured in the exhibit Living Traditions Mexican Popular Arts in 1992 at the University Art Museum at Albany State University of New York and the accompanying book of the same title.
This picture was made in the 1970's of wool yarn pressed onto wax spread on a wooden board. Today yarn paintings are made of acrylic yarn. On the back the artist wrote the meaning of the piece in both Huichol and in Spanish and it is signed by the artist.

$775


Untitled (#CPR15)
Vintage Huichol yarn painting by
Cresencio Perez Robles
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 1970's
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(24" x 24")

This 24 X 24 yarn painting is by master artist Cresencio Perez Robles. Perez's work was included in book Art of the Huichol Indians, which accompanied an exhibition of Huichol Indian Art, organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The exhibition traveled from San Francisco in 1978 to Chicago and New York. It was this show and the accompanying catalogue that first introduced Huichol yarn painting to the general public.
Cresencio Perez Robles work was also featured in the exhibit Living Traditions Mexican Popular Arts in 1992 at the University Art Museum at Albany State University of New York and the accompanying book of the same title.
This picture was made in the 1970's of wool yarn pressed onto wax spread on a wooden board. Today yarn paintings are made of acrylic yarn. On the back the artist wrote the meaning of the piece in both Huichol and in Spanish and it is signed by the artist.

$775


Nierika de Real de Catorces (#HCC1202)
Huichol yarn painting
Hilaria Chavez Carrillo (viuda de José Benitez Sanchez)
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2010
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(6" x 6")

$48


Peyote Mandala (#SHR1201)
Huichol yarn painting
Santos Hernandez Ramirez
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2010
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(12" x 12")

$250


Mariposa Mandala (#LBR1301)
Huichol yarn painting
Luciana Benitez R.
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2012
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(24" x 24")

$575


Takutsi Nakawe (#HCC1301)
Huichol yarn painting
Hilaria Chavez Carrillo
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2012
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(24" x 24")

$575


Untitled (#JBS33)
Huichol yarn painting by
Jose Benitez Sanchez (1938-2009)
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2008
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(24" x 24")

$1275


Hunting the Sacred Deer
(#JBS34)
Huichol yarn painting by
Jose Benitez Sanchez (1938-2009)
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2008
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(24" x 24")

$1275


El Cambio de Vara
(#RMB1301)
Huichol yarn painting by
Ramon Medina Bautista
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2012
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(12" x 12")

$175


Los Peyoteros
(#RMB1302)
Huichol yarn painting by
Ramon Medina Bautista
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2012
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(12" x 12")

$175


Cuatro Puntos Cardinales 1
(#HCC1401)
Huichol yarn painting by
Hilaria Chavez Carrillo
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2013
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(12" x 12")

$195


Cuatro Puntos Cardinales 2 (#HCC1402)
Huichol yarn painting by
Hilaria Chavez Carrillo
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2013
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(12" x 12")

$195


Ceremony of the Shaman
(#HCC1403)
Huichol yarn painting by
Hilaria Chavez Carrillo
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2013
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(12" x 12")

$195


La Jicara Magica
(#RDM1401)
Huichol yarn painting by
Rogelio Diaz M.
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2013
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(12" x 12")

$195

SOLD 4/2015


Una Mujer Chaman
(#RDM1402)
Huichol yarn painting by
Rogelio Diaz M.
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2013
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(12" x 12")

$195


Los Peregrinos
(#RCC1401)
Huichol yarn painting by
Roberta Chavez Carrillo
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2013
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(6" x 6")

$68

SOLD 5/2015


Hunting the Deer
(#HC1401)
Huichol yarn painting by
Anonymous Huichol Artist
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2013
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(6" x 6")

$68


Shaman
(#HC1402)
Huichol yarn painting by
Anonymous Huichol Artist
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2013
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(6" x 6")

$68


El Venado Sagrado
(#HC1501)
Huichol yarn painting by
Anonymous Huichol Artist
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2014
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(6" x 6")

$68


El Peyote
(#HC1502)
Huichol yarn painting by
Anonymous Huichol Artist
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 2014
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(6" x 6")

$68

The Sacrifice of the Deer
(#HC1503)

Huichol yarn painting by
Anonymous Huichol Artist
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 1975
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(31 1/2" x 31 1/2")

$450



The Suicide
(#HC1504)
Huichol yarn painting by
Anonymous Huichol Artist
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 1970
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(24" x 24")
The extensive description on the back (translated into English) reads as follows:

"The two figures in the form of a scorpion on the upper right side indicate, according to the Huichol who made the painting, the thinking and the determination that this man had taken: suicide. They indicate the evil that took root and blinded the man to propel him to suicide. They indicate the black obsession that was growing and was closing all the gaps to light and to reason. Evil is a poison that is killing slowly.

The two figures that are between the man and the tree are a cornfield and a pumpkin. When the man decided to commit suicide he also decided to leave his cornfield already sown. The corn and pumpkins were left at the mercy of crows and badgers, squirrels and coyotes. The man no longer lit a fire in the cornfield or shouted to hear his echo in the ravine.

The two vertical stripes that are on the head of the dead body indicate that life has left the body. The other figure with the three points below is the heart with dropsof blood. The figure in the shape of a cross next to the feet is the soul, his itari. The vital body parts separated from the body indicate death. And finally, a tall and strong tree, a taut string, a rigid body and a black horizon without air."

$900 (Framed)


Yellow Man, Red Heart
(#HC1505)
Huichol yarn painting by
Anonymous Huichol Artist
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 1970
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(22" x 22")

$550 (Framed)


The Drum
(#HC1506)
Huichol yarn painting by
Anonymous Huichol Artist
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 1970
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(22" x 22")

$550 (Framed)


Black Bird and Scorpions
(#HC1507)
Huichol yarn painting by
Anonymous Huichol Artist
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 1970
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(20 1/4" x 20 1/4")

$525 (Framed)


The Shaman, the Snake and the Lake
(#HC1508)
Huichol yarn painting by
Anonymous Huichol Artist
Nayarit, Mexico, c. 1970
Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood
(16 1/2" x 20 1/4")

$525 (Framed)



When Animals Were People:
A Huichol Tale
Cuando Los Animales Eran Personas: Un cuento huichol
Children's book illustrated by Huichol Yarn paintings
Retold by Bonnie Larson
Based on a story told & illustrated by Modesto Rivera Lemus
Published by Clear Light Publishers,
Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2002
32 pages

$16.95 hardcover

Out of Stock



Watakame's Journey: The Story of the Great Flood and the New World
Children's book illustrated by Huichol Yarn paintings
Text by Hallie N. Love
A Huichol tale retold by Hallie N. Love and Bonnie Larson
Published by Clear Light Publishers,
Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2002
84 pages

$14.95 hardcover
PREVIOUS PAGE NEXT PAGE
Huichol Masks


Huichol Beaded Sculpture

BACK TO OAXACA GALLERY PAGE

BACK TO LATIN AMERICAN ART GALLERY PAGE
1400 North American St., #104 • Philadelphia, PA 19122
Phone: (215) 765-1041 • Toll Free: (888) INDIART • Fax: (215) 765-1042
E-Mail: indigofamily@indigoarts.com

Al l photographs and text Copyright Indigo Arts Gallery, LLC., 1998-2015. Use without permission prohibited.

Indigo Store News And Events About Us Main Menu Indigo Arts Publications
Indigo
Store
News &
Events
About
Us
Main
Menu
Indigo Arts
Publications