Mingei International Museum: “Mingei Away” Huichol Art Exhibition

Mingei International  Museum off-site installation
“Mingei Away”  Huichol Art Exhibition
is on loan  to the
Escondido Arts Partnership Municipal Gallery

Iguana- Rosendo Carrillo de la Rosa (detail )1996, wood,glass beads, beeswax – Mingei International Museum Purchase

The Wixáritari people, also known as Huichol, are one of the most ancient and best-preserved indigenous cultures in the world, dating back over 15,000 years. When the Spanish invaded Mexico, the Huichol successfully escaped to the rugged mountains of northern Jalisco and Nayarit; their culture survived relatively unscathed.  Their religion is close to a Pre-Columbian form of Shamanism with spiritual leaders or ambassadors to the Gods called marakame. Huichol art originated as offerings to the gods in religious ceremonies, and even today many Huichol artists are also marakame. The psychedelic cactus peyote is central to Huichol religion and culture.  The colors, designs, and symbolism in Huichol art are traditionally influenced by visions experienced as part of a peyote ritual. Previously, beaded art was made with bone, seeds, jade, and ceramics but in the 20th century the Huichols gained access to glass beads of multiple colors.  Tiny beads are stuck to a pre-carved wooden figure, using wax as “glue.” This wax is mixed and spread on the carved piece of wood surface onto which beads are placed one by one.  Animals, such as those on display here, are popular subject matter and imbued with symbolism.  For instance, the deer symbolizes the spirit guide for the shamans; the deer hunt remains an important and highly ritualized ceremony. Serpents are middlemen between men and the spirit world and are associated with rain, clouds, lightning, and fertility. Iguanas and other lizards symbolize healing.  The jaguar represents bravery, strength and intelligence.


The Mingei International Museum is embarking upon a major renovation of its Balboa Park facility. Their doors are now closed to the public for the next year. But don’t worry, you will be able to find them elsewhere over the next year, including at Liberty Station.


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