Today there are over 20,000 Huichol spread out in the Sierra, but believe it or not only a handful have ever gained international recognition for their artwork. Jacinto Lopez Ramirez is an elder Huichol probably best recognized for his pictures that appear on page 125 in the book “Art of the Huichol” ed. Kathleen Berin 1978, or his photo on the cover of “Huichol Symbolism” by Ramon Mata Torres, or his photo in the book “The Huichol of Mexico” by Peter Collings; but what most people don’t know is that Jacinto was one of the biggest influences in the commercialization of the bead art in the late 1960’s.
In 1967 Jacinto Lopez Ramirez was chosen to be governor of San Andres Cohamiata by a council of elders known as the Kawiteros. At that time there was an airstrip in San Andres but for those who could not afford to fly out of the Sierra, it was an 8-day hike to the first road. It was Jacinto who successfully petitioned the Mexican Federal Government to put a road into the Sierra connecting San Andres Cohamiata with the rest of the world for the first time. Born in the early 1930’s in a cave just outside of San Jose, Jacinto has spent more than half of his life serving his community as shaman and spiritual advisor. At age 20, Jacinto married 15-year-old Angelita Carrillo from Mesa del Venado. They lived for a few years in San Jose before moving to another ranch in the state of Durango, Mexico. Jacinto always liked living in Durango, but the 3day hike to San Andres was overbearing so they settled between San Jose and San Andres on a ranch they called ‘Rosas de San Juan’. Jacinto has served his community as cantador or singing shaman in the temple of San Jose for 5years, 10 years as cantador in the temple of Cohamiata, and 5 years as cantador in the temple of Las Guayabas. He has been Aguacil or judge of San Andres, as well as Commissario or Sheriff just to mention a few of the more important positions that he has held in the community. Today at just over 75, he is still a well-respected shaman and participates in all family ceremonies and rituals.
Jacinto and Angelita had 6 daughters and one son. Maria, Cecelia, Leonarda, Ramona, Yolanda, Teresa, and Florencio have all taken on important roles in the community and continue to dazzle us with their fantastic yarn painting and intricate bead art. Today we are very, very proud to be able to say that we market their art for the money they need to host the rituals and ceremonies that keep their cultures traditions alive!!