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Yarn painting

The Huichol people inhabit the most remote parts of north central Mexico. They began making yarn paintings about 30 years ago to preserve their ancient beliefs and ritual ceremonies. They also create artworks with beads pressed into wax, as well as embroidery on cloth.

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Prayers to the Sea Goddess

Yarn painting, by Francisco Carillo
North America: Mexico, Nayarit; Huichol people
Late 20th century
Wool yarns pressed into wax on plywood
60 cm x 60 cm
Gift of Penny Bateman
TS03.23.124 Textile Museum of Canada

To make this picture, Huichol artist Francisco Carillo inlaid yarn into beeswax, which was warmed and softened by the sun. It shows a man and woman making an offering to the sea goddess. They offer a pot of chocolate and, in the centre of the picture, a blooming arrow. The sea serpent is a guardian of the sea god. On the right, three coloured squares – white, black and green – signify prayers to the gods of fire, sea and corn.

The art of the Huichol people reflects their deeply held religious beliefs. These include a shamanic tradition based on the use of peyote, a hallucinogenic drug. Shamanism is a belief in the ability to communicate with the spirit world through a trance state, and is common to religions in many parts of the world.

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