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Bonampak – Colourful History Preserved

What a thing differentiates Bonampak from the other cities listed above: coloured murals. The first and earliest city exists as a unique and intricate example of find stonework carving. The second adds a new type of artwork and freestanding stelae scattered about the grounds. This city offers richly coloured and unique painted frescoes that show off everything from life in the royal palace to battle scenes and bloody rituals.

The appropriately named Temple of the Paintings contains three large murals that graced the inner protected walls of three stone chambers. Archaeologists figure that they survived the long centuries between their creation and now because they were shut away from the weather. No other examples of Mayan artefacts give so much information about the colours they commonly used on their carvings and what went on in their civilization so long ago.

The three murals tell the story of a king who married the daughter of another king around 790 CE. This was undoubtedly a common way for the city states to declare their intentions to live peacefully and cooperate with each other.

One mural has highly stylized depictions of gods at the top, a line of intricately dressed nobility standing in the middle, and someone presenting an infant to them from a raised platform on the right while the King and Queen look on from the other side. It is interesting to see the intricate costuming that nobles of the time most of worn. They were roped with jaguar skins, decorated with colourful feathers, and had unique and varied headdresses. Also included on that wall are a collection of musicians and ceremony watchers in masks.

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