Its for-sale collections of Huichol art provide an excellent reason for stopping in Tepic. While at the downtown main plaza, be sure to make a shopping stop beneath the portal in front of the Tepic Presidencia Municipal (City Hall). Here a small village of Huichol vendors in their bright native dress offer a trove of both traditional ceremonial and latter-day for-tourist (but nevertheless both fetching and handmade) crafts.
Afterwards you can continue to at least four downtown shops that both specialize in Huichol goods and act as agents for more than just the commissions they receive. They have been involved with the Huichol for years, helping them preserve their religion and traditional skills in the face of ever-insistent modernization and development.
Starting near the Plaza Principal, the Casa Aguet (132 Amado Nervo, tel. 311/212-4130, 9 a.m.–2 p.m. and 4–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Sun.), a block behind the Presidencia Municipal (look for the second-story black-and-white “Artesanias Huichol” sign) has an upstairs attic-museum of Huichol art. The founder’s son, personable Miguel Aguet, knows the Huichol well. Moreover, he guarantees the “lowest prices in town.” His copy of Art of the Huichol Indians furnishes authoritative explanations of the intriguing animal and human painting motifs. He sells wholesale to dealers.
The small government handicrafts store, Tienda de Artesanías Wereme, on the corner of Amado Nervo and Mérida, next to the Presidencia Municipal (9 a.m.–2 p.m. and 4–7 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Sat.), stocks some Huichol and other handicrafts. The staff, however, does not appear as knowledgeable as the private merchants.
If you can manage only one stop in Tepic, make it one block north of the plaza at Casa Aguiar (Zaragoza 100 Pte., corner of Mérida, tel. 311/212-0694, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. and 4–7:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat.), where elderly Alicia and Carmela Aguiar carry on their family tradition of Huichol crafts. In the parlor of their graceful old ancestral home, they offer a colorful galaxy of artifacts, both antique and new. Eerie beaded masks, venerable ceremonial hats, votive arrows, god’s eyes, and huge yarn cuadras, blooming like Buddhist tankas, fill the cabinets and line the walls.
Several blocks south on Avenida México, Artesanías Cicuri (140 Sur, just past Plaza Constituyentes and across from the Hotel Real de Don Juan, tel. 311/212-3714 or 311/212-1466, 9 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) names itself after the renowned cicuri, the “eye of God” of the Huichol. Its collection is both extensive and particularly fine, especially the beaded masks.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition