Indigenous Mexican people aim to a break Guinness record with beaded mosaic
A group of 15 Wixáritari (or Huichol) people have been working around the clock during the last seven weeks to finish the 32 pieces of an 882-square foot mosaic that will weigh two tons.
Only two months ago, the Wixáritari people (better known as the Huichols) were blocking the roads and closing the schools and medical facilities of San Sebastián Teponahuaxtlán in the Western Sierra Madre, in Jalisco, Mexico, where they live. The protests lasted 50 days. They were demanding the national government enforce the judicial decision of the agrarians lawsuits they had won from the ranchers of Huajimics. Nearly 2,000 hectares of their ancestral lands had to be returned to them. The Huichols didn't even allow the recent presidential elections to be conducted in their territory, where more than 7,000 of these currently live.
Today a group of them are trying to break a Guinness World Record with their traditional craft by creating an 882-square-foot (81 square meters) mural of 32 assembled pieces with thousands of colorful beads.
According to EFE, 15 Wixárica have been working around the clock during the last seven weeks to finish the pieces of the mosaic that will weigh two tons. Maurilio Rentería Guzmán told the news agency that this is the first time a mosaic this size is being made and that the hardest part of the job was transferring the design to the plywood sheets that are the bases of each piece.
"It has all been quite a challenge for us. We thought about it for almost half a day to see how we would be able to accomplish that and it took us two days. We have had to put it together piece by piece like a jigsaw puzzle and then we had to thread the lines to match," Rentería explained.
According to the Cultural Survival magazine, the Wixáritari have very much preserved their Mesoamerican religion roots, which are animated by their history and surroundings.
"For the Huicholes, the land is the fundamental point of reference for everything, from the religious to the productive and the political. In recent times, the land has become the axis around which a territorial organization has been created, which has made it possible to confront external forces that stand in the way of their continued existence as a distinct culture,” the article states.
“The Wixáritari are artistic people,” writes Javier Ignacio Martínez on Arte Marakame, a web page focused on Huichol arts. According to Martínez, their families organize in a way that at least one of their members helps to maintain the tradition for all.
"If any member of the family is assigned a task, the rest of the members will contribute to pay the expenses connected to the activity,” he explains.
As a matter of fact, the only award Guinness World Record breakers receive is acknowledgment, so the creators of the mosaic are bearing the costs of making it.
Around 40% of Huichols have migrated to other cities to look for jobs. Their art has drawn attention.
"Maybe this is how many Wixáritari women and men have become consummate artists, as they have migrated to the main cities of the country and have dedicated almost exclusively to do their work and to find the means to sell it," Martínez said.
According to EFE, the world record mosaic is indeed "a source of employment for the local families" and "a chance to showcase their art and culture to the world."
"Whether at a national or international level, this is a very large project that will put both the Wixáritari and Jalisco on the map," Rentería added.
All the pieces of the mosaic will be finished in a few days. The mural will be mounted and presented as a single piece during the International Mariachi Festival in Jalisco on August 20.