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 8 x 8 inches
This yarn painting depicts the deer god Kauyumari, who is considered the primary protector and ancestor of the Hiochol, a peyote button, corn, a candle and gourd, and other healing shamanic tools. This Nierika is an extraordinarily powerful blessing and prayer.
The inscription on the back reads: “This is a deer who is needed in all ceremonies to give a better life to the family and health to the children that need it.”
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.
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.
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.
Used by shamans as containers filled with important symbols, such as corn, animals and images of family members. Colorfully decorated, they are carried during ceremonies and prayer for protection, health and abundance. The symbols themselves represent attributes of different gods and goddesses. They are placed in shrines and sacred sites throughout the Huichol homeland.
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.
Used to express gratitude or requests to the gods, called Urus, prayer arrows, like gourd bowls, are ceremonial objects through which the gods are believed to give their blessings. Special prayer arrows have crystals attached to them, representing the spirits of departed ancestors
Called Muvieri, each shaman carries a wand in their medicine basket. They are made of pairs of eagle or hawk feathers attached to ceremonial arrows, and are used in rain making ceremonies and other divinations.
Path of Life
Wavy lines represent the “vine of life,” which the Huichol Goddess of Life gives to every soul (plant, animal, human) at birth. This vine is the soul’s spiritual connection to the breath of the goddess in the ethereal realm. When people chose to follow her “path of flowers,” they receive her blessings: prosperity, abundance, creativity, health and their hearts’ desires.
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.