Monday, September 15, 2008

Beaded art and peyote

Deep in western central Mexico, hidden away in the Sierra Madre Occidental Range, a tribe of indigenous Indians called Huichol (pronounced Wettchol) produce beautiful beaded art like these two examples. Through the use of peyote, a hallucinatory, chewable cacti (I’m thinking similar to chewable vitamins here, but I’m probably wrong), the artists create elaborate designs on skulls, shapes, and gourd bowls.

I saw these two pieces of Huichol art on display at a local bead shop some years ago and knew I just had to try my hand at this art form. The Indians utilized bone, clay, coral, jade, shell, turquoise, and seeds, but I decided to stick to glass seed beads, jewelry glue, and a powerful magnifying glass. I already had a cow skull from the El Paso area that someone had used for target practice. The way I figured it, both the cow and I were done with it in its present form anyway.

So I started gluing beads in my spare time. I didn’t have any design in mind. I just let the skull “talk to me.” It took FOREVER! (I guess it was a slow talker.) I’m not a perfectionist, but I did glue and unglue several hundred beads before I understood the medium I was working with. Plus little tiny beads ended up under seat cushions, in back of the couch, across the room, and in my bra and panties. I don’t know how, but they did. I also went through two new prescriptions for my glasses.

It was almost a shock to my system when the skull was done. I felt lost, with nothing to do with my time. THAT’S when I could have used the peyote!

The-Dog-From-Hell-That-Hates-Me sniffing my art work!


  1. This is totally cool. I love it! Your bra and panties, huh? That made me laugh! ~Mindy

  2. That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.

  3. I also appreciate Huichol art and think you did a beautiful job with your skull. Here's to your adventurous spirit and perseverance. The deity you mentioned is Kayuamari, the Blue Deer, their highest deity.If you'd like see the documentary I made about their art check visions of the ancestors in video google at:

  4. Thank you, Mara, for sharing that interesting video. It made me appreciate their art even more. The video even showed a cow skull! I think I was born in the wrong place.

    The Texas Woman

  5. That's really beautiful. I actually prefer your asymetrical design. There was a young man named Danny that worked for me who grew up on a Navajo reservation in Arizona. He happened to be married to the Chief's daughter and his brother-in-law was the local medicine man. I got to meet the brother-in-law and he showed me his credentials. Yes, he had a very official laminated medicine man card issued by the Navajo nation. Seriously. Danny told me of chewing peyote on the reservation and that the grass started grabbing hold of his legs and trying to pull him down. It frightened him so badly that he never tried peyote again.

  6. You did it! I am impressed with such perseverance!


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