Hiuchol art and traditions: The story of Micaela

Mexico is peculiar in its cultural richness due to its variety of ethnical groups, in history there have been among 60 diverse indigenous people that speak about 100 different native languages. A particular group that has transcended and managed to preserve its traditions and essence are the Waxaritaris, commonly known as Huicholes. They are originally from the state of San Luis Potosí but migrated towards the North of Mexico, locating themselves today in Jalisco, Nayarit and Durango.
During my visit in Nayarit, I met Micaela whom had recently built a new house for her family with a loan she received from Kiva via Habitat for Humanity Mexico.
Micaela is married and has 4 sons; she used to live with his father Pablo, a very important member of the Huichol community in that region. A few years ago she and her husband decided to become independent and dreamt about having her own house. She started her own jewelry business selling beautiful and colorful pieces that reflect Waxitari religious beliefs and symbolism.
Before my visit to Micaela’s community I used to be familiar with Huicholes, but after it I dug more into their customs and history and now I can tell they have marvelous traditions, full of meaning and history. Every pattern, every figure and every color is related to a particular god or has a specific significance. I’ve noticed people are very attracted to their art and jewelry designs but usually are not aware that this Huichol patterns have a religious and cultural significance.
Their religious rituals are generally held in each community district in ceremonies. An adult man called kawiterutsixi, whom might also be a shaman, guides these ceremonies. Huicholes use peyote cactus’ effects to connect to their gods and Huichol souls.
Even thought we chatted briefly, that was enough to spark my interest in the Huichol customs. She explained that her biggest concern is preserving their traditions and passing them to her children. When I asked if she would allow me to publish a post about her, she happily accepted because she wants people to know that the Huicholes still remain their customs in Taimarita (her locality at Nayarit) and that are very proud of them.
Micaela is very grateful with the Kiva lenders that made her family’s dream come true!

Huichol bracelets and sandals

Beautiful Micaela

Ready to sell!

About the author

Ana Paula Gil Armendariz

Ana Paula is a Mexican economist from ITAM who graduated in 2013. During the last year at ITAM she took an economic development class that raised her interest in social and economic issues. After graduating, she worked for two years at “Mario Molina Center”, an NGO founded by the Mexican Nobel laureate Mario Molina where she served as an environmental economic researcher. Having spent her entire life in Mexico provided her with a deep understanding of social issues such as income inequality, limited opportunities and lack of access to capital markets. She decided to quit her job to finish her thesis on pesticide taxation and then applied to Kiva. She truly believes microfinance and social entrepreneurship can make a fundamental change in developing countries and wants to be part of that change. Prior joining Kiva, she worked 3 months in a public transport microfinance startup, which prepared her for Kiva. She is convinced that getting closer to people and better understanding their problems will enhance her academic and professional skills so she can continue helping others in the future. When she’s not working she likes reading, traveling and meeting people from other cultures, attending music festivals and exercising.