huichol art (yarn and bead) is now legal to export from mexico. the huichol people live high up in the sierra madres and their art reflects their religion, which is mainly comprised visually of maize, the blue deer and peyote. traditionally, shamans go on vision quests aided by peyote and then try to put into art the visions they saw. i've bought a couple of pieces so far for myself from a group that practices fair trade with the mountain huichol and helps them to maintain their autonomy. below is a picture of a yarn painting i just bought for my father on his 81st birthday.
it is non-traditional in the sense that it was made for trade and it doesn't depict maize, blue deer or a peyote button. but it is a celestial equinox and that plays a large role in the lives of the huichol. some day i will win the lottery or get a kickass work bonus or find a creaky, leather tanned, botoxed sugar mommy and i will purchase some of the more intricate work i've seen done. some day, perhaps, i will be able to actually visit the huichol to watch their work and their ways and witness a 3000 year old way of life that has managed to maintain its integrity and dignity in the face of unstopped encroachment by younger and hungrier cultures whose sole intent has always seemed to be that of total conquest. the mexican government was the one that stepped in to protect the huichol from outside interference by labeling them a living historical artifact. it was only when the huichol began to suffer at the hand of drought (or something, i'm making this up as i go) that fair trade co-ops asked to be let in to trade with the huichol (money, seed, flour, whatever it was the huichol might need) for their art.
below is the yarn painting i own. absolutely amazing. drawn by hand with yarn 1/16" wide and laid onto a beeswax/resin compound, it must take amazing patience to create.