Check out the Vochol, a Volkswagen Beetle covered with 2,277,000 Huichol beads
There's n doubt that vintage Volkswagens can be quirky. This one might just take the cake. It's a 1990 Volkswagen Beetle adorned with over two million carefully placed glass beads.
Its name is "Vochol", which is a portmanteau of "vocho", a common term for Beetles in Mexico, and "Huichol" another name for the Wixárika indigenous group in the western states of Nayarit and Jalisco, Mexico. The Huichol people are separated from modern Mexico by the Sierra Madre mountains, a location they've called home for hundreds of years.
Over that time, Huichol artists have preserved many of their pre-Columbian traditions through the centuries, including their decorative beadwork. Their artistry originally consisted of seeds, shells, and other natural materials. They used these to adorn jewelry, animal skulls, bowls, and masks. The beadwork, using glass or modern plastic beads, depicts geometric patterns and scenes of animals and crops.
Ten years ago, the Vochol was commissioned by a ground of public and private organizations. The goal of the project was to create artwork using folk techniques on a modern canvas, demonstrating the ongoing traditions of Mexico's indigenous communities.
The Beetle was made in Puebla, Mexico for 65 years before production ended in 2019.
It took eight artists from two Huichol families eight months to decorate the chassis and interior of the Beetle. They covered sections of the car with resin before applying the beads by hand.
The design that was chosen is exclusive to the car and features symbols of Huichol spiritual beliefs. On the hood are two snakes in the clouds to represent rain. The sides depict deer, scorpions, birds and peyote flowers, which are all important symbols in Huichol culture and spirituality. On the roof, a large sun symbolizes the union between humans and gods, and four two-headed eagles offer protection to the passengers inside. An image of a shaman steering a canoe adorns the back of the car. The phrases "200 years of Independence" and "100 years since the Mexican Revolution" are spelled out in the Wixárika language along the fenders to mark the bicentennial of the start of the war of independence from Spain in 1810 and the centennial of the Mexican Revolution in 1910.
In total, the artisans used about 2,277,000 beads in their finished product and totaled over 9,000 hours of work. The car is might just be the largest individual piece of Huichol beadwork ever created.
The masterpiece was unveiled at a museum in Guadalajara, Mexico. It was then featured in Mexico City for exhibition, and later embarked on an international tour at museums across the United States, Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East. When it is not on loan, the Vochol resides at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City.
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