During pre-Hispanic times in Latin America, the people indigenous to the land used colorful murals as a way to depict important events in their lives, which would later serve as a window to an unknown world. These murals help us understand how Mesoamerican civilizations practiced religion, socialized within their community, and fought wars against their enemies.
For example, in Cholula, Puebla, a mural was discovered in the 60s, that showed many figures drinking “pulque” in religious ceremonies. The mural has bright colors and symbolic motifs, making this beautiful piece of art that clearly shows the connection between alcohol and religion.
In Tepoztlan, Morelos, another mural was recently discovered after an earthquake damaged the walls of a convent. A red circle containing plume of feathers, and other pre-Hispanic symbols were found and it is believed to represent Tepoztecatl, the Aztec god of pulque.
Many of these murals found are often painted with the color red, covering tombs and walls of great buildings. Red is chosen because it is associated with many meanings such as blood, life, and the rebirth of the sun.
In Teotihuacan, where the Aztec people ruled, many murals depicting processions to war have been discovered. This was because the Aztec people were known to be some of the best and most gruesome warriors of their time. More recently, well preserved murals were found in a chamber of tombs, in Oaxaca, that depicted another procession to war, similar to the ones found in Teotihuacan. As you can see, Murals were used to depict difficult times of war for great civilizations, which eventually led to their decline.
War is not the only theme in these murals. In Chiapas, you can find a mural that showcases musicians, dating back to 580–800 CE. In Chichen Itza, another mural has been analyzed by archaeologists and they believe it is proof that merchants influenced in establishing major long distance trading. Through these murals, you can see how societies connected and grew before the Spaniards arrived.
Murals from the pre-Hispanic times are more than art. They were tools used for storytelling that preserved a history we still have much to learn about. Using distinct characteristics, stylizing of figures and hieroglyphics, these murals have preserved a glimpse of the way of life for the indigenous peoples of Latin America.