Renovations Reveal Rare Maya Murals Hidden in Guatemalan Home
by Alex Fox/Smithsonianmag.com
In 2003, home renovations in a Guatemalan mountain village unearthed what researchers describe as “unparalleled” Maya murals. Now, reports broadcast network RT, a new analysis published in the journal Antiquity has revealed additional insights on the wall paintings, which date to the 17th or 18th century and blend Spanish colonial influences with local indigenous culture.
Local historian and study co-author Lucas Asicona Ramírez found the murals while renovating his kitchen in Chajul, a rural town in Guatemala’s highlands, reported Mike McDonald for Reuters in 2012. Several houses in Chajul, including Asicona’s, date to the colonial era (1524 to 1821); other locals have discovered similarly historic artworks behind the plaster in their homes.
The majority of Guatemala’s colonial-era murals are found in houses of worship. Centered on Christian themes, these religious artworks were used by the Spanish to assert their dominance over the Maya people, writes Tom Fish for Express. In contrast, the Chajul wall paintings appear inside private homes—and, most tellingly, contain distinct flourishes of indigenous culture.
“We consider these murals to be very unique,” Ivonne Putzeys, an archaeologist at the University of Guatemala in San Carlos, told Reuters. “It’s tangible heritage that represent[s] real scenes from history.”