pictorial representation

um 1980

About the object

This Huichol yarn painting depicts the goddess Nakawé with a yellow peyote flower instead of a heart. In the cosmology and worldview of the Huichol, nature is animated by divine beings. Art means a direct communication with divine beings and ensures a good and beautiful life. Deer, corn and peyote are the central symbols of religious Huichol art. They form the basis of the ritual annual cycle.
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The Huichol people, who call themselves Wixáritari, inhabit the eextremely barren lands in northwest Mexico. In contrast, their art is rich and highly colourful: yarn paintings, ritual objects and traditional costume. Yarn paintings have their roots in traditional votive bowls and discs. They depict visions, evoked by the ritual consumption of the peyote cactus, a key component in Huichol religion. Since the 1950s, they have been manufactured for sale and collected internationally. Beeswax is applied to a plywood panel; the artist uses woollen thread to outline the motif initially, then proceeds to fill in the detail. The earth goddess Nakawé, "Grandmother Growth", the oldest female deity in the pantheon of the Huichol people, occupies the centre of this painting. Her long hair indicates her age, her spirit radiates from her crown (kupuri). Her heart takes the form of a yellow peyote blossom - this is also seen in the double-headed eagle, a symbol of heaven. Nakawé sits on a drum, in the way shamans use them to communicate with the gods. The red opening in the body of the drum represents the entrance to the underworld. A nearika (cult object made of wood, stone or wool), in this instance symbolising the male wind god hovering above Nakawé. Two peyotes next to a candle and green tortillas nestle in the sacrificial bowl, opposite to it, an image of the vision that was asked for. Author: Eva Gerhards, Translation: Timothy Connell

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