For the Huichol, who live in Mexico and call themselves Wixáritari (Huichol pronunciation: /wiˈraɾitaɾi/), life and religion are intertwined. Their deities are honored in their ceremonies and represented in their art and are part of daily life. As Carl Lumholtz, the original ethnographer and explorer who studied the Huichol society, said, “All phases of their lives are prayer – the planting, harvesting, peyote pilgrimages – all art, weaving, bead work, face painting, and yarn paintings embody prayer within symbols.” They ask the deities for rain and sun for the crops, successful deer hunts, healthy children and protection from natural and supernatural dangers. Here we introduce the Jaguar and Turtle and show them in Huichol art pieces.
Huichol Deity Mayetse (Jaguar)
Mayetse, the Jaguar, is the messenger of Tatawari, the god of Fire. Mayetse is the guardian of the sacred vows the Huichol shaman take during initiation. Carved wooden jaguar heads are beaded by using a beeswax mixture calling campeche as a natural glue. Each bead is carefully placed into the wax. The artist uses the beads to form sacred symbols on the jaguar. Click on one of the heads to go to the description of the symbols on this jaguar head.
The tortuga assists the rain goddess. It protects the water quality of the springs and replenishes underground water sources. Here is a young turtle on its mother’s back. It is a fine wooden carving covered with beads as described above. Click on one of the images to go to the description of the symbols on this turtle-on-turtle.