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Region  [[]]
Cultures  Olmec
Type  rock shelter
Oxtotitlán wwwfamsiorgresearchgroveimagesFig03B2jpg
Location  Chilapa de Álvarez, Guerrero
Periods  Mesoamerican Preclassical, Approx. 900 years BCE

Oxtotitl n gro

Oxtotitlán is the name of a natural rock shelter and archaeological site in Chilapa de Álvarez, Mexican state of Guerrero that contains murals linked to the Olmec motifs and iconography. Along with the nearby Juxtlahuaca cave, the Oxtotitlán rock paintings represent the "earliest sophisticated painted art known in Mesoamerica", thus far. Unlike Juxtlahuaca, however, the Oxtotitlán paintings are not deep in a cave system but rather occupy two shallow grottos on a cliff face.


The paintings have been variously dated to perhaps 900 years BCE or 800 to 500 years BCE. It is not known what group or society painted them. It is also not known how Olmec-influenced art came to be painted hundreds of kilometers (or miles) from the Olmec heartland, although caves are prominent on many Olmec-style monuments, including La Venta Altars 4 and 5.

Santiago apostol venerado en oxtotitl n guerrero


The Paintings cover an area of about 200 m2 (2,200 sq ft) There is restoration work in 10 walls, it is expected to complete scientific investigation and establish the origin of the paints used in the designs.

The best-known samples of Oxtotitlán paintings are those part of the core group. These are two Polychrome murals, one of which represent a sitting character on a mythological Olmec serpent, wearing a mask, according to Grove, could be a representation of an Owl. The other mural of the central group has been severely damaged by time and the environment, making it difficult to identify. Internal murals are monochrome (black and white), or bi-chromos, combining elements of red and black.

Unlike Juxtlahuaca, it is possible that Oxtotitlán contained a housing area, because ceramic materials have been found in the vicinity of the Quiotepec Hill.


The paintings are distributed in three areas with a separate type of painting assigned to each area.

North grotto

The paintings are smaller, were created using black pigment, and feature animals, humans, and fantastic creatures.

South grotto

The paintings here, by contrast, are in red and generally feature geometric designs.

Central grotto

Between the north and south grottos are two large polychrome murals, over the cave entrance.

Mural 1

This Mural is situated above the mouth to the south grotto, and portrays what is most likely a ruler seated upon a throne similar to La Venta's Altar 4 or 5. The eyes of a primal cave monster, showing Olmec iconic crossed-bars, can be seen on the top edge of the throne (note that the ruler is also wearing a crossed-bars pectoral, perhaps linking him directly with the monster). The ruler, painted in vibrant reds, greens, and browns, is wearing a bird mask, generally identified as that of an owl, as well as a green-feathered costume. Seated on the throne, his left leg is tucked underneath him while the right dangles down, similar to a pose found on the fragmentary Laguna de los Cerros Monument 9.

Mural 2

This Mural, at 3 by 2 m (9.8 by 6.6 ft), is even larger than Mural 1 but this exposed painting has been largely worn away over the intervening millennia and is now almost impossible to recognize.

It seems to picture a human in jaguar clothing or otherwise associated with a jaguar.

Also of particular note is the north grotto's "most striking creation", Painting 1-D, which features an ithyphallic man standing behind what appears to be a rearing jaguar. The man is painted in black outline, with a headress. His exaggerated genitals that point to the jaguar have led to speculation that this is a scene of a man copulating with a jaguar.Western historians & anthropologists always misinterpret such images as a sexual act - the human is NOT copulating with the jaguar the mans spiritual energy is merging with the animals spirit , thus the body  :- Definition of the KA= The Ka was the part of the soul believed to be life-force of a person that survived after death. The Ka was a spiritual twin born with every man and lived on after he died. The Ka was confined to an existence in the tomb until it could rejoin the Ba and travel to the afterlife. The tomb was therefore the temporary dwelling-house of the soul * Definition of the BA=The Ba was the part of the soul believed to be able to fly and was able to leave the tomb and revisit the dead person's haunts in the mortal world and journey in the Underworld. The Ba kept returning to the tomb until, following the judgement of the earthly life, the Ka and Ba could be reunited in the afterlife.

Preservation and visitation

In the 30 years following its re-discovery, the site was the object of graffiti and poor maintenance. This was addressed in the 2002 by the restoration work of Sandra Cruz, under the auspices of the National Coordination of Conservation of the Cultural Patrimony, INAH-Churubusco.

Although the paintings can still be viewed, visitors must first register with the local caretakers in the nearby village of Acatlán.


Oxtotitlán Wikipedia

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