Visual Archaeology Interpretation



Painted Mural, Bonampak

He spoke with the Sovereign Plumed Serpent, and they talked, then they thought, then they worried, they agreed with each other, they joined their words, their thoughts.

Mayan poetry

Grade Level 3-6
Art • Language Arts

Bonampak is a Classic Period Maya site, located in the modern state of Chiapas, along the Usumacinta river. It is most notable for the magnificent murals discovered in structure 1. Discovered in 1946, the paintings at Bonampak reveal the rich court life enjoyed by the Maya during the eighth century. The murals are among the finest to survive. The Maya excelled at mural painting using a vivid palette of blue, green, red, orange, and brown to great effect. Flat color was applied to sculpted or smooth surfaces, with variation usually achieved by diluting the pigment, as in thin washes of codex-style pottery painting rather than mixing pigments. Maya color was often translucent, so overlapping strokes would cause changes in hue. Paint was applied to fill in shapes, usually defined by the outlines. Colors were bright pigments from mineral sources, such as iron oxides, and were rarely mixed to produce different colors, with the exception of the mixing of yellow and blue to produce green. Color was used naturalistically as in the clothing of a king, but it also had symbolic value. Sometimes the color that appears on monuments and murals bears no relationship to the actual objects.

Mesoamerican Photo Archives: Bonampak

Bonampak Documentation Project Yale University

Ancient Mexico: The History Art and Culture of Ancient Mesoamerica

Bonampak Maya Murals Lesson Plan




Bonampak Murals











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Copyright ©2004 Linda Kreft