The Suitcase Lady

Beads (Part One)

July 24, 2018, 9:50 pm

(This one is for Jenny)

Bead work is a beloved art form of people all around the globe, and the Huichol, an indigenous culture from the Sierra Nevada mountains of west-central Mexico, are among the most amazing practitioners of this art.

Descendants of the Aztecs, the Huichol strive to keep their culture alive with highly symbolic bead work and yarn paintings. Although each Huichol artist develops his or her own personal style, recurring symbols are maize, peyote, deer, candles, arrows, serpents, eagles and god’s eyes that point to the four cardinal directions.

The intricate artworks they create are petitions to their gods and links to the natural world around them. Sale of some of their work is also a means of economic survival.

The Huichol typically cover objects such as gourds, masks, bull horns, wooden jaguar heads and animal shapes with minuscule beads set in a special wax. However, in 2010, the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico initiated and sponsored a more contemporary version of this traditional art form with the aim of promoting more recognition for the Huichol artisans. Eight artists from two different families were hired to cover an entire Volkswagen Beetle with their stunning bead designs.

Called the “Vochol” a combination of “Vocho”, a popular name for VW’s in Mexico, and “Huichol”, the car was covered with 2,277,000 beads. The project took seven months and 4,760 hours of work to complete. After being displayed in museums in Mexico, the Vochol went on a world tour for several years. Currently, it is back home in Mexico.

Here are images of this fabulous car. For those of you who drive VWs, bet you didn’t realize you owned a potential piece of fine art!

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