Cerámica Wiki

Maya Blue (#73C2FB)

Maya Blue
About these coordinatesAbout these coordinates
— Color coordinates —
Hex triplet #73C2FB
sRGBB (r, g, b) (115, 194, 251)
HSV (h, s, v) (210°, 96%, 87%)
Source Internet
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)

A warrior with Azul Maya on the background

Maya Blue (Plantilla:Lang-es) is a unique bright blue to greenish-blue pigment manufactured by cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, such as the Maya and Aztec.


The Maya blue pigment is a composite of organic and inorganic constituents, primarily indigo dyes derived from the leaves of añil (Indigofera suffruticosa) plants combined with palygorskite, a natural clay.[1] Smaller trace amounts of other mineral additives have also been identified.[2]

Historical use[]

"Maya blue" first appeared around the 800 A.D. and it was still used in the 16th century in several Convents of Colonial Mexico, notably in the paintings of the Indian Juan Gerson in Tecamachalco. These paintings are a clear example of the combination of Indian and European techniques sometimes known as Arte Indocristiano. After that, the techniques for its production were lost in Mexico but in Cuba there are examples from 1830.[3]

Resistance to weathering[]

Despite time and the harsh weathering conditions, paintings coloured by Maya Blue have not faded over time. What is even more remarkable is that the colour has resisted chemical solvents and acids such as nitric acid. Recently, its resistance against chemical aggression (acids, alkalis, solvents, etc.) and biodegradation was tested, and it was shown that Maya blue is an extremely resistant pigment, but it can be destroyed using very intense acid treatment under reflux.[4]

Research on chemical composition[]

Archivo:Mic bonampak.gif

A microscopic image of a mural in Bonampak.

Archivo:Mic teotihuacan.gif

A microscopic image of a mural in Teotihuacan.


A Mexican Colonial Painting by Juan Gerson where Maya Blue was used. The technique disappeared in the early colonial period.

In 1993, a Mexican Historian and Chemist, Constantino Reyes-Valerio,[5] discovered the secret of the chemical composition of the compound, which was formed by a series of clays: palygorskite, montmorillonite, together with the use of the leaves of the añil. Reyes-Valerio's contribution was possible due to his combined background of History and Chemistry, through a thorough revision of primary texts (Sahagun, Hernandez. Jimenez and others, Chapter 2), microscopic analysis of the mural paintings and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (Appendix of the book, in collaboration with Lila Palacios-Lazcano of the Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Mexico), and later a long series of experiments with the leaves and clays through which he replicated the pigment. The 'recipe' is described in Chapter 8 of his book.

After the formula for the production was published in the book "De Bonampak al Templo Mayor: Historia del Azul Maya en Mesoamerica"[6] there were many developments in the chemical analysis of the pigment in collaborations between Reyes-Valerio with European Scientists.[7]

Uses in cultural contexts[]

Pre-Columbian American Culture

  • In the continent of America, Maya blue was used as a colorant in pre-Columbian artworks, sculptures, murals, textiles (probably) and to illuminate Mesoamerican codices. Recent research also suggests that Maya blue may have played an important role in human sacrifices to Chaak at Chichén Itzá, both produced at the sacrificial site and used to paint the bodies of the victims.[8]

See also[]


  1. Arnold (2005); Haude (1997).
  2. Haude (1997); Reyes-Valerio (1993).
  3. Chiari(2000)
  4. Sanchez del Rio(2006)
  5. Azul Maya / Maya Blue Pigment
  6. (Siglo XXI Editores, 1993)
  7. notably, Giaccomo Chiari [1] and David Ajo from the University of Torino, and Manuel Sanchez del Rio [2] from ESRF [3] in France
  8. Greg Borzo's press release, 26-Feb-2008 [4] (update when the actual study comes out)


Arnold, Dean E. (2005). "Maya Blue and Palygorskite:A second possible pre-Columbian source". Ancient Mesoamerica 16: pp.51–62. DOI:10.1017/S0956536105050078.
Arnold, Dean E.; and Bruce F. Bohor (1975). "Attapulgite and Maya Blue: an Ancient Mine Comes to Light". Archaeology 28 (1): pp.23–29.
Sanchez del Rio, Manuel; P. Martinetto, C. Reyes-Valerio, E. Doriyee, and M. Suarez (2006). "Synthesis and Acid Resistance of Maya Blue Pigment". Archaeometry 48 (1): p.115. DOI:10.1111/j.1475-4754.2006.00246.x.
Chiari, Giaccomo; and R. Giustetto, C. Reyes-Valerio, G. Richiardi (2000). "Maya Blue Pigment: A Palygorskite-Indigo complex". XXX Congresso Associazione Italiana di Cristallografia 48 (1): pp.115.
Haude, Mary Elizabeth (1997). "Identification and Classification of Colorants Used During Mexico's Early Colonial Period". The Book and Paper Group Annual 16. ISSN 0887-8978. Retrieved on 2007-03-14.
Reyes-Valerio, Constantino (1993). De Bonampak al Templo Mayor: El azul maya en Mesoamérica. Mexico D.F.: Siglo XXI editores. ISBN 968-23-1893-9. http://www.azulmaya.com/bonampak/index.php. Retrieved 2007-03-16.  español

External links[]

  • Azul Maya, descriptive site by Reyes-Valerio español English

de:Maya-Blau eo:Majaa bluo