Nierikas, or intricate Huichol patterns and designs depicting shamanic journeys and visions, are created by pressing wool or silk yarn into bee’s wax melted onto a wooden base. They illustrate the Huichol belief that humans are connected to all things in the natural world, and therefore must serve as nature’s protectors. It is believed that Nierikas allow the Huichol people to communicate and connect with the spirit world. Often, they are made after ceremonies to capture the messages and images from the shamanic journeys. When they are finished, the yarn paintings are left in sacred places.
Measures 6 x 6 inches
This yarn painting depicts a deer, a candle, and a peyote button.
The inscription reads: “In this painting the stories of the older brother, the white-tailed deer as well as what is indispensable to the flesh and the blood, and in ceremonies and festivals of the corn and the drum, since with it the two offerings are blessed and the fruits are distributed in traditional ceremonies.
FIRE – Considered a very valuable gift from the gods, fire is called Tai. Tai is believed to enable the Huichol to have visions. The fire god, Tatewari, is always honored at Huichol ceremonies, and receives many offerings such as corn meal, sacred water and much of the art that they make.
DEER – The spirit guide Kauyumari, who leads the shamans on their visionary pathways and teaches them how to gain their special knowledge. One of the most commonly seen motifs, the deer, maxa, in Huichol, often appear in male and female pairs, symbolizing the unity between men and women on their spiritual journey. Legends about the deer abound in Huichol culture. The deer mother is the guardian spirit, the important animal in Huichol shamanism. She holds tobacco gourds and corn plant, both of utmost importance for Huichol survival. The Huichols believe that deer give their lives willingly to those who hunt them in a sacred manner. After a deer hunt, the hunters have to perform purifying rituals for many days to insure that the animals are properly thanked for giving their lives to the benefit of the people.
CANDLES – Represent the illumination of the human spirit, Catira, candles hold the sacred gift from the sun and fire gods. Along with flowers and ribbons, attached candles serve as offerings and payment to the deities who have granted special wishes to a Huichol.
PEYOTE CACTI – Symbol for life, sustenance, health, success, good luck, and acquisition of shamanic powers, the peyote appears in practically all Huichol art and is considered a gift from the gods to the people to enlighten their lives and bring them into the mystical realm.
White: Cloud Spirits.
Red: The East, fire, masculinity.
Blue: The South, Pacific Ocean, water, rain, femininity.
Green: The Earth, the Heavens, healing, the heart, grandfather, growth.
Yellow: A special root from Wirikuta used for face paint in ceremonies.
Orange: “Wirikuta,” the sacred land where the Huichol believe life began and also where they gather peyote.