These walls have eyes. An entire procession of eyes, noses, and ears belonging to the painted figures dressed in traditional Maya and Spanish fashion that a Guatemalan family found in their home five years ago, according to National Geographic News.
Lucas Asicona Ramirez and his family discovered the Maya Murals in their kitchen while renovating their home. Jarosław Źrałka, the archaeologist who recently reported his finds to National Geographic, said the images had been covered under plaster for centuries.
CHECK OUT IMAGES OF THE MAYA MURALS BELOW
(Click here to view the entire gallery at NationalGeographic.com)
The discovery came from a house in the Guatemalan village of Chajul and experts say these murals most likely belonged to a prominent figure in the past.
"There's 500 years of history in this town," Boston University archaeologist William Saturno told National Geographic News. "See whose [house] it was. It's unlikely to be just Joe Schmo's house—it's probably an important person's house."
It seems that failing to put the past behind you can be quite illuminating.
Read more about the find at NationalGeographic.com If these walls could talk, they'd solve a Maya mystery. Five years ago Lucas Asicona Ramírez (far right, pictured with family) began scraping his walls while renovating his home in the Guatemalan village of Chajul. As the plaster fell away, a multi-wall Maya mural saw light for the first time in centuries, according to archaeologist Jarosław Źrałka, who recently revealed the finds to National Geographic News. The paintings depict figures in procession, wearing a mix of traditional Maya and Spanish garb. Some may be holding human hearts, said Źrałka, who was working on the other side of Guatemala when a colleague tipped him off to the kitchen murals. The recent exposure has faded the art considerably, leaving precious little time to unlock their secrets, he added. That the paintings endure at all is "a fairly remarkable thing," according to Boston University archaeologist William Saturno, who examined pictures of the murals at National Geographic News's request and believes the art to be authentic. "We don't get a lot of this type of artwork; it's not commonly preserved in the New World," said Saturno, a National Geographic grantee. "It'd be neat to see who the folks were who painted on the wall and why." Read more about the find at NationalGeographic.com
Read more about the find at NationalGeographic.com Just to the left of the Ramírez family's wood stove, a mural of ancient incense-burning vessels warms the wall, Źrałka said. As a whole, the murals "probably represent the so-called conquest dance," Boston University's Saturno said. Performed even today by some Maya, the ritual reenacts the Spanish invasion and Maya conversion to Christianity. In this context, Saturno said, the mixed-up garb isn't that surprising—they may have been costumes to mark the occasion. Read more about the find at NationalGeographic.com
Read more about the find at NationalGeographic.com "From the waist up" these figures are "typical Maya," with long capes, Źrałka said. "But they also have Spanish clothes"—pants and European-style shoes, for example. The figure on the left may be holding a human heart, aorta protruding, Źrałka said. Saturno isn't so sure. "It looks to me like the dancers hold masks in their hands, a common practice in highland dances." Read more about the find at NationalGeographic.com
Read more about the find at NationalGeographic.com Źrałka's colleague Katarzyna Radnicka documents the murals at the home of Lucas Asicona Ramírez. Ramírez hopes to convert the room into a small museum but lacks funds, Źrałka said. Meanwhile, "people live and cook in the same room where the murals are," and it shows. In 2008 the now yellowed background was completely white, he said. It would've been best if Ramírez had stopped scraping as soon as he noticed the Maya murals, Saturno said. Given the situation, though, he argued for a balance of preservation and respect for property rights. "It'd be great if they weren't covering it with smoke, but at the same time, this is probably not the first time there has been smoke in this room," Saturno said. "You can't go crazy in terms of, 'This needs to be hermetically sealed, and these people need to be out of here.'" Read more about the find at NationalGeographic.com