Beads of Beauty, sustainable art of the Huichol tribe

What do the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market and Swankety Swank have in common?  Supporting cultural sustainability. I recently came across an article about the annual Santa Fe International Folk Art Market in Sante Fe, New Mexico.   In its seventh year, the Folk Art Market features arts and crafts from around the world.  Artists are selected for the mastery of their craft, and 90% of profits from the sale of their work goes directly to the artist and their community. A member of the Clinton Global Initiative, the 501c3 organization  “provides a venue for master traditional artists to display, demonstrate, and sell their work.  By providing opportunities for folk artists to succeed in the global marketplace, the Market creates economic empowerment and helps improve the quality of life in the artists’ communities.”    Inspired and refreshed by the stories of the Folk Art Market, I was reminded of Beads of Beauty, Swankety Swank’s only non-local artists.

Beads of Beauty is the output of The Huichol Center for Cultural Survival, founded by Anthropologist Susana Eger Valadez.   The Huichol “or Wixáritari are an indigenous ethnic group of western central Mexico, living in the Sierra Madre Occidental range in the Mexican states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas, and Durango.”  The Huichol have spent many years fighting to maintain their language and way of life.    The artwork of this now endangered shamanic culture is a reflection of their native spirituality, which dates back to Aztec times.  While Swankety Swank supports local artists, we also have alot of love for the rest of the world’s artists and offer our solidarity and support in empowering them to survive in the modern world on their own terms.

Not only does their work support a good cause, it’s also incredibly beautiful, and a perfect way to summerize any ensemble.  One of the outstanding features of the Huichol’s art is the fine detail of their work.   Every flower in this multi-color lariat is masterfully executed, creating a chain of tiny, glistening blooms.

Beaded Flower Lariat, $224

According to their website, “Beads of Beauty jewelry is hand-woven with size 15/0 Japanese and Czech glass seed beads (the smallest glass beads made in the world), using two needles and durable Nymo nylon beading thread. Each piece takes anywhere from a half day to an entire week to create. The tiny beads and the fact that they are not made on a loom create a lightness, smoothness and suppleness not found in other beadwork.”

Detail of Beaded Flower Lariat, $224

You can see more beautiful detail in this beaded flower bracelet.   Flowers play a part in all Huichol rituals.

Beautiful White and Green beaded flower bracelet, $98

For something more simple, but equally as beautiful, we have this turquoise crystal bracelet.

Turquoise Crystal Bracelet, $84

These Dusty Rose Tassel earring are exquisite.

Dusty Rose Tassel Earrings, $50

We have  many more beautiful jewelry pieces in the store.   Proceeds from the sales “funds the operational support of the project. These jobs benefit many families, who are able to make a living with their traditional art forms while at the same time bringing the beauty of Huichol symbolism and spirituality to the world.”  Equally as nice is the feeling of wearing something so beautiful, that empowers artists and their families to maintain their freedom and culture.

Photographs and writing by Aurelie Sandrine

3 thoughts on “Beads of Beauty, sustainable art of the Huichol tribe

  1. I acquired a magnificent golden beaded bracelet from these amazing artists and it is astonishing what beautiful work they do. Yes, I’m pullin’ out the bigboys in the adjective department here because the work they do is worth every penny.


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