If a Huichol encounters a stranger, he will address him as "Tata." It's a sign of respect as
if to say "you are greater than I am." A Huichol, if addressed diminutively, "Huicholito,"
will feel insulted.
I looked at the designs. Each one teased my sight with a notion of symmetry that did not
I was astonished to learn that Huichol beadwork, based on textile designs, was a major art
form and had been inspired by a European. The museum room was dedicated to Enrique
I asked José about the huge mural over the staircase. It could have been the Mad Hatter's
checkerboard. It covered the wall and was made up of eighty individual panels, ten panels
across and eight high, each about a foot square. A sign said that the artists used over two
million beads in the mural. It was titled: "Visión de un Mundo Místico (Mystic World
From a distance, the mural looked like a tapestry exploding in color, as if the artist was
inspired by a picture of a supernova or wished to create a symbolic view of the Big Bang.
It appeared to be a random mosaic of millions of scrambled, scattered beads acting as the
background for childlike stick-figure drawings of animals, plants, flowers and snakes. But
a closer view brought the chaos into a new focus. Like peering into a microscope and ad-
justing the lens, it became clear that the art was intentional and organized. José said, "It's
the Huichol Bible."
“The mural was both a religious and cultural record, like Genesis and the topic of Chron-
icles,” I thought.
José pointed out the Supreme Vital Force, the Creation, the Flood and the Mystery of
Three Sacred Spirits coming from one Supreme Force. A line of deer, the equator of the
mural divided the composition, horizontally. "Deer are messengers," José said. "Christi-
ans would call them angels." My eyes followed the two serpents, which looked like trails
passing through different mosaic squares. "That's the story of the Flood, a new beginning
(re-creation)." Huichols believed that after the Flood, Huichols and sustenance (beans,
corn and squash) were created.
The center, which at first looked like one mosaic, was made of four squares, balanced light
and dark. José said, "The Bible is divided into two parts, left and right, good and evil,
drought and abundance, birth and death. Each side has forty panels." One needed to fo-