Pubdate: Wed, 22 Dec 2004
Source: Duncan News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Duncan News Leader
Author: Peter Rusland, staff reporter


Forget hippies tripping out on peyote for kicks.

The Mexican desert cactus holds supreme cultural significance to the
Huichol people who depict sacred imagery gained from peyote
hallucinations in their colourful art.

More than 200 pieces of intricate Huichol bead and yarn art are on
display at The Big E-Zee cafe in Mill Bay's Pioneer Square.

That's also where importer Sunny Farrar offers an educational
experience to viewers about the people who still lead traditional
farming lives in the Sierra Madre area of Mexico's rugged Occidental

"When people come in they can get a bit of a flavour of their culture
here," says Farrar who has filmed Huichol artists at work.

"So many people haven't been down there so this opens up ideas and

"Any Huichol I've met are wearing traditional clothing," he adds.

"Visitors here really appreciate the intricacy of Huichol work and any
artist realizes how it's done and what it depicts," says Farrar who
runs his video all day showing Huichol and other Mexican artisans
creating and repairing work.

He says their peyote (called hikuri) tradition sounds exotic "but it
allows them to pay attention in a different way and experience the
world around them."

"They can express their thoughts and visions to each other through
their art."

Those creations include yarn paintings, depictions on flat pieces of
wood usually first covered in bees wax and pitch.

"The yarn is intricately done in strands with symbols related to
animals, insects, deer, corn, wolves, snakes and spineless peyote buttons.

"Each symbol signifies a belief."

The Huichol also make various sizes of beaded gourds and wooden bowls,
plus masks and rattles.

Beadwork often portrays snakes, armadillos, coyotes, deer, and other
wildlife found in their homeland.

"It's quite a melting pot," says Farrar.

"The Huichol are an ancient people, one of the oldest surviving tribes
in the world still practising their own religious beliefs and
depicting it in their art.

"They don't worship gold so they were protected from the Conquistadors
because didn't have much to take."

Farrar buys Huichol art in Mexico's Yelapa area of Jalisco state from
American Isabel Jordan rather than directly from the natives. He plans
to import more art by May. Prices start at $9.

"I prefer to buy from her because she supports the Huichol," he says
of Jordan who helps preserve and promote their art by purchasing their

Farrar aims to take a wooden mask of a cougar in Coast Salish style
down to Mexico and have it beaded as a cross-cultural

"The Huichol have jaguars, frogs, and deer like up here," he

"They're very Earth oriented."

He's also tickled about Huichol customs of public service.

Huichol officers who run their community have ceremonies when their
tenure's done.

"When they leave political service they have to give everything back
they received during office.

"They leave poorer than when they came; there's no payola."
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