Artifact Gallery - Wall Painting

Walls of room plastered white on the top and red below. Red murals are painted on the white plaster.
Wall Painting in a Tower at Cliff Palace. At left, Thomas McKee Photograph Collection, c. 1890-1900. At right, recent park photo of same mural.

Much like we paint and plaster our own houses today, Ancestral Pueblo people used layers of colorful plaster to decorate their walls. Designs were often painted with a fibrous yucca brush or with fingers using paint made from a combination of colored pigments from soil, minerals, or plants.

This wall mural (painting), found inside a room at Cliff Palace, includes white plaster covering each wall with a red plastered border below that is lined with red triangles. These and other geometrical designs were common in Ancestral Puebloan wall murals. The red lines and dots on the right wall are believed by some researches to be a type of calendar.

Here is a challenge – do some research and form your own theories about what these designs might have represented to the Ancestral Pueblo people. Although we may never know for sure, this is a good exercise to help us remember that these were real people with hopes, dreams, a love of art, ingenuity, and desire to communicate just like people today.

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Last updated: May 9, 2020

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