Saturday, May 28, 2011

Learning About Huichol Yarn Paintings

The Huichol (pronounced Wee-chol) people inhabit the most remote parts of north central Mexico.  These people are nomadic descendents of the Aztecs and their pre-hispanic culture still survives in their difficult mountainous homeland of the Sierra Madre ranges. 

Huichol girl

The Huichol create beautiful designed yarn paintings called Nearika, that were originally intended as ceremonial offerings to the Spirits to ensure a bountiful harvest.  Now these yarn paintings continue today representing the religious and cultural beliefs of the Huichol people. The yarn paintings are filled with iconography and symbols which represent the life of the Huichol people and their spiritual relationship with the world.  In simple terms, the yarn paintings document the life of the Huichol people. 

Huichol Yarn Painting

Traditionally, Yarn Paintings are created when softened wax and pine resin is spread evenly over a wooden board.  The artist then presses the strands of coloured yarn onto the wax.  Over 60 different colours of yarn can be used in any one yarn painting.  Other objects can be decorated such as gourd bowls which are full of symbols with bright contrasting colours and patterns. 

Vovite Gourd Bowl


What is a Symbol: 
Something that stands for or suggests something else. A visible sign of something invisible (The lion is a symbol of courage, for example.)

Further Information:
Art, Culture and History of Ancient Mexico
Discovering Mexico for Kids

Ancient Mesoamerica Map
3D Ancient Wonders
Ancient Aztec Games
BBC World History:  Mexica (Double-Headed Serpent)

Lesson Plans:
Nearika, Huichol Art @ Kids & Glitter
Mexican Yarn Card @
Huichol Yarn Painting @ Dick Blick Art Materials
Boise Art Museum

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