Accepted paper:

Carrying hand gestures: spiritual souvenir in Wixarika jewelry

Authors:

Ingrid Arriaga (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales)

Paper short abstract:

The most precious material left after Wixarika (Huichol) ceremonies is the jewelry produced by this indigenous group. Purchased and then carried by participants of these ceremonies, the pearl objects seem to crystallize and disseminate diverse spiritual expectations and understandings.

Paper long abstract:

Surrounded by a renewal of indigenous spiritualities linked to ecological conscience, the Wixaritari (Huichols) have increased their spiritual activity for foreigners in the last decade. This Mexican indigenous group possesses an animated and robust communitarian traditional culture, thought today almost half of their population has migrated to urban centers. However, Wixarika mobility is motivated by more than mere economic reasons. Movement is as well an essential part of Wixarika spirituality and ritual practice. Every year, selected community members become pilgrims to visit their sacred sites and prepare handmade offerings rich in symbolic and sacred content. Among many other practices related to circulation, spiritual services and art commerce for foreigners have been a pillar of economic support for Wixaritari since the 1950s. Spiritual ceremonies, commonly known as "limpias" have become very popular in big and touristic cities where indigenous spirituality is perceived as a vibrant product. After the ceremonies take place, the shaman or his helpers offer "artesania" to the participants. Often with the hope of extending their experience, participants become clear customers and purchase souvenir jewelry. Today, Nativism and New Age networks seem to be an important economic niche for Wixarika Jewerly. Life of necklaces, bracelets, earrings and miniature sculptures seem to be analog to Wixarika individuals. Moreover, iconography weaved within these pearled objects narrates Wixarika Mythology and in its circulation builds bridges between distant cosmogonies. What can the circulation of this jewelry reveal about the probable and pragmatic links between contemporary nomadic spirituality, commerce and aesthetics?

panel P098
Art and nativism [Anthropology and the Arts Network]