Vochol, Herbie the Love Bug’s Mexican cousin

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There’s just something about the VW Beetle that says “get creative with me!”  It is one of few car models that looks good with innovative paint jobs, both in terms of color and design.

While the concept of an “art car” has produced some… well… interesting decoration schemes, let’s be frank, most are just ugly collections of junk.

The same can definitely NOT be said about the Vochol, a VW Beetle (newer version), which was decorated with over 2,277,000 tiny plastic beads, sponsored by the Museo de Arte Popular (Folk Art Museum or MAP) in Mexico City.

Vochol11MAP

To create the work four artisan families noted for their bead work were hired to design and carefully place each bead. By far most cover the exterior of the car where they were affixed with a special high temperature adhesive. This means that the car can be driven, but this has never been done. Bead work can be found in the interior as well, such as the dashboard and the seat covers, but it is the outside work that is the most eye-catching because here is where the main imagery is.

800px-Vochol06MAP

These represent the religion and culture of the Huichol people (more properly called the Wirrárika), an indigenous group which live in western Mexico, primarily in the states of Jalisco and Nayarit. The car’s hood has two snakes above clouds, which represent rain. the back has images of offering and a canoe steered by a shaman. On the sides there are images of the gods of the sun, fire, con, deer and peyote. The roof has a large sun and four eagles, representing the union between man and the gods. As the project was set to be completed in time for Mexico’s 2010 anniversaries of its independence and the Mexican Revolution, the front fenders contain the phrases “200 years of Independence” and “100 years since the Mexican Revolution” in the Wixarika language.

The of the piece, Vochol, comes from “vocho” (Mexican Spanish slang for VW Beetle) and “Huichol.”

2012_11_Paris_(128)_Branly_coccinelle_Vochol
Vochol in Paris 2012 by Branly coccinelle

The project was originally meant to be on display for the anniversaries, then to be set for auction as a fund raiser for the Museo de Arte Popular. But the popularity of the piece with the public was such that the museum changed its mind and instead has used the piece to promote Mexican handcrafts and Huichol culture. The car has exhibited nearly constantly since 2010, and has toured the United States, Canada and Europe, along with Mexico.

The piece has its own website and Wikipedia article (in five language versions), quite possibly the only individual Mexican handcraft piece to have such honors.

(All photos courtesy of the Museo de Arte Popular, unless otherwise indicated)

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