The Bonampak archaeological site features open plazas that are surrounded by several platforms, moderately sized pyramids and several carved stelae.
The scene in Stela 2 portrays ruler Chan Muwan (left) standing in front of his wife or mother who is assisting him in a painful bloodletting ritual. She holds a stingray-spine penis perforator and a bowl with bark-paper strips onto which the sacrificial blood will drip.
Building 1, seen in the background under the protection of a thatched roof, houses the famous painted murals. The murals are painted on the walls and ceiling of three adjacent rooms.
Room 1. Several noblemen witness the presentation of a royal child, perhaps the heir to the throne. Their white robes are adorned with precious spondylus shells, blood-red at their centers, and bright green jade jewelry dangles from earlobes and necks. The names of the noblemen, which should appear in the blue boxes above them, were never painted.
Room 1. A celebration scene showing a procession of musicians. Various instruments are shown, such as rattles, drums, turtle-shells, and trumpets. The procession is headed by three gourd-rattle players, followed by a drum player, and then three turtle-shell players. The drummer stands still playing his heavy drum, and watches the procession go by behind him. The three turtle-shell players strike their instruments using a deer antler.
Room 2. This room depicts the greatest battle scene in Maya art. At least 100 figures were originally cast in this mural. King Chan Muwan appears on the upper right of this scene, his rigid posture mirrored by another victorious warrior on the upper left.
Room 2. The triumphant noblemen of Bonampak. Three captains of the winning army, dressed with capes and carrying weapons. All three wear headdresses of supernatural animals. The feather cape of the personage on the right side of the scene would indicate his higher rank.
Reproduction of mural in Room 2. Members of King Ahau Chan Muwan's court display their power over the defeated rivals in a brutal battle scene. Up above, two Maya constellations bear witness to the event and may link the battle scene to the Maya creation story. The Peccaries (Pleiades) and the Turtle (Orion) would have been visible in the late night sky on the date of the battle.
Patricia Margarita Martín Morales
Room 3. In an act of self-sacrifice through bloodletting, women of the royal family give gratitude for Bonampak's success in battle. The ancient Maya used spines from stingrays and cacti, as well as obsidian knives, to pierce their ears, tongues, and genitals to spill their own blood for sacrifice. The woman on the upper right is probably Chan Muwan's wife, Lady Rabbit.
Lacandon Maya families from nearby communities are the only ones allowed to drive visitors in and out of Bonampak. The Lacandon still use the site for ceremonies. Linda Chanabor Chank'in and younger brother Akim from nearby Lacanjá Chansayab pose for a photograph.