Following the Volkswagen tradition of creating expressive and artistic vehicles, like the Volkswagen Light Bus and the Wedding Beetle, comes the “Vochol,” a 1990 Beetle covered in over 2 million glass beads.
“The name ‘Vochol’ is a combination of ‘vocho,’ a common term for Volkswagen Beetles in Mexico, and “Huichol,” another name for the Wixárika indigenous group in the western states of Nayarit and Jalisco, Mexico. Separated from modern Mexico by the Sierra Madre mountains, Huichol artists have preserved many of their pre-Columbian traditions through the centuries, including their decorative beadwork,” according to Volkswagen news release.
The Vochol was commissioned back in 2010 with a goal of demonstrating the ongoing traditions of Mexico’s indigenous communities using “folk techniques on a modern canvas,” stated Volkswagen.
A team of eight artists from two Huichol families was tasked with the job of meticulously decorating the chassis and interior of the ’90 Beetle by hand.
The Huichol beads found on the vehicle are made from colorful glass or plastic and artistically places to depict geometric patterns and scenes of animals and crops. Originally, the beads the Huichol people used were made from seeds, shells, and other natural materials and used on jewelry, animal skulls, bowls and masks.
The artists covered the entire Beetle from the rims and side mirrors to the seats and steering wheel in colorful designs that express the Huichol spiritual beliefs.
“On the Vochol’s hood, two snakes in the clouds represent rain. The sides depict deer, scorpions, birds and peyote flowers, which are all important symbols in Huichol culture and spirituality,” explained Volkswagen.
“On the hood, 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 Vochol is covered in about 2,277,000 beads and took the team of artists over 9,000 hours to complete.
The masterpiece was first unveiled in Guadalajara, Mexico and then featured in Mexico City for exhibition. It eventually went on a museum world-tour across the US, Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East. The Vochol calls the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City home when it’s not on loan.
“By combining the Volkswagen Beetle – a pop culture icon in Mexico and around the world – with the Huichol traditional craft, the Vochol is a unique display of the persistence of folk art in a modern world,” said Volkswagen. “The car is perhaps the largest individual piece of Huichol beadwork ever created.”