Approximately 9000 Huicholes who live in and around Nayarit have been able to retain many of their traditions because of the remoteness of their territory. The tribe belongs to the large Uto-Aztec language family but its exact origins are obscure. The Huicholes probably migrated from the north of the present state of San Luis Potosí, a region which they consider as their sacred land of Wirikuta.ReligionEach year between October and February the Huicholes travel 500km/311mi into this desert area to obtain the Peyotl cactus which represents for them the body of the deer god. A cult has grown up around this sacred plant which causes a feeling of euphoria. The Indians "hunt" (pierce with arrows) the cactus in complicated ceremonies. They then languish intoxicated with mescalin, the hallucinogenic active substance found in the Peyotl, believing they are receiving messages from their gods.Although mainly converted to Christianity, the Huicholes are polygamous and usually pray to deities of nature, such as the sun, fire, water and fertility. Their celebrations include the local change of headman around January 1st, Carnival, Holy Week and various festivals connected with the harvest. They are all linked by special rituals, including particular foods, drinks, music, dances, sacrifices, etc.Area of SettlementToday these people are settled in the east of Nayarit beween La Yesca and Guadalupe de Ocotán; in the north of Jalisco in, among other places, Santa Catarina, Mexquitic, San Andrés Cohamiapa, San Sebastián and Tuxpan de Bolañas; in Zacatecas in Colotlán and in Durango in Huazamote.Within their five politico-geographical districts the Huicholes practise extensive self-administration.Although costumes vary from village to village, the Huicholes typically wear cotton shirts colourfully embroidered with cross-stitch with geometric and stylised patterns. Over these they wear a row of brightly-embroidered belts and bags hanging on colourful ribbons. The broad-brimmed hats, woven from palm fibres, are decorated with bright felt and wool.Handicraft produced by the women usually comprises embroidered blouses, bags, belts, skirts and ribbons; for their religious ceremonies they make paper flowers, symbolic arrows, pockets, pearl-decorated pumpkins, miniature reproductions of objects used in their everyday lives or of animals or ritual objects in numerous shapes and colours. Of most interest are undoubtedly the "thread paintings", created by sticking multi-coloured threads on to a piece of wood smeared with beeswax. These thread pictures depict deer, Peyotl, corn and other religious and symbolic motifs.