The Chumash people poked bits of psychoactive plants into cave ceilings next to their paintings.
- Mysterious pinwheel paintings in a California cave are probably representations of the hallucinogen Datura wrightii.
- The paintings were made by the Chumash people 400 years ago.
- This is the first definitive connection between cave painting and hallucinogens.
A suspicion confirmed<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0MzQ3My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTgwMjk5NH0.S3cHxTWA0-NnEZE2Pc2wWEvTjbKGINKAEy7gaI0_nxE/img.jpg?width=980" id="44b2f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a8b2cdbfb20dd669a639aa6467f5ff09" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="913" />
Robinson in Pinwheel Cave
Credit: Rick Bury/PNAS<p>About 50 clumps, or "quids," of chewed <em>Datura</em> plant fibers were found tucked into the stone alongside the swirls. It's believed they were painted sometime between 1530 and 1890 by members of the Chumash tribe, linked to today's Tejon people. This is the first time traces of hallucinogens have been found in proximity to cave art. It strongly suggests a connection.</p><p>The discovery was made by archaeologist <a href="https://www.uclan.ac.uk/staff_profiles/dr_david_robinson.php" target="_blank">David Robinson</a> of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in the U.K. Robinson has been excavating the cave since 2007.</p><p>As for what those red-ochre pinwheels represent, Robinson asserts that they depict <em>Datura</em> itself and the way that it unwinds at dusk as seen at the top of this article.</p>
Datura wrightii<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0MzQ4MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzA1ODM5Mn0.4AU3TZ6B0gntCK45Fkm0_UdMbSXnrQSvAHua0bsj4ec/img.jpg?width=980" id="c3c55" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a3c10957305244183fe3b5f5656a64d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="1440" />
Credit: Dlarsen/Wikimedia Commons<p>Chemical analysis revealed that 15 quid samples contained traces of two hallucinogenic alkaloids found in <em>Datura</em>, scopolamine and atropine. Microscopy revealed that a majority of the quids contained remnants of <em>Datura</em>, and further 3D scrutiny found that the quids exhibited properties consistent with having been chewed.</p><p>Says co-author <a href="https://www.strath.ac.uk/staff/bakermatthewdr/" target="_blank">Matthew Baker</a> of the University of Strathclyde, "The combination of chemistry and archaeology in this project has truly shown the power of a multidisciplinary approach to uncover new knowledge."</p><p>The Chumash people are known to have used <em>Datura</em> in adolescent rites of passage and for shamanic vision quests. The plant was considered part of the tribe's spiritual family, personified as an old woman named "Momoy." The plant is classified today as an <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entheogen" target="_blank">entheogen</a>, which are plants used for spiritual purposes.</p><p><em>Datura</em> was often ingested after being processed into liquid form, it was also chewed, as seen in the cave's quids. The Chumash knew how much <em>Datura</em> to ingest — it can be lethal when the dosage is too high.</p>
Bringing the past to the present<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0MzQ5My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNzg4NTI1MH0.0e6H1ImLOQvOlpO9MloBjvUDCC3jWfyk37voCQU64E0/img.jpg?width=980" id="1bc7e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="173dc2bfcfe6f12ee6c3e89bdfa29d97" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="456" />
Credit: Devlin Gandy/University of Central Lancashire<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The link between hallucinogens and rock art has long been suspected," says Robinson, "and this research shows that it was not only a source of creative inspiration for these prehistoric groups of people, but a core tenet of important rituals and community gathering."</p><p>He adds, "These findings give us a far more in-depth understanding of the lives of indigenous American communities and their relationships, from late prehistoric times right up until the late 1800s. Importantly, because of this research, the Tejon Indian tribe now visits the site annually to reconnect to this important ancestral place."</p><p>Co-author <a href="https://www.southampton.ac.uk/archaeology/about/staff/fcs22.page" target="_blank">Fraser Sturt</a> of the University of Southampton, lauds the partnerships that made the findings possible:</p><p>"The results of this project spring from a high interdisciplinary, open and collaborative approach to research. In this way, new and improved recording and analytical techniques have helped to reconnect material remains, art, narrative and people across space and time. Thus, while the focus is on the hallucinogenic properties of Datura and its role in rock art and community generation, this work also shows that it is one facet of a complex suite of relationships between people, place and the environment."</p>
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From animated umbrellas to polite-but-violent turtle-people, Japan's folklore contains some extremely creative monsters.
- Compared to Japan's menagerie of creatures, Western folklore can feel a little drab.
- The collection of yōkai—supernatural beasts or spirits—has a staggering amount of variety.
- Although there are many more creative folkloric creatures, here are nine that caught our attention.
1. Tanuki<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTEzNjQyOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMjcyOTg3MH0.GlE6jeIoq_ksmZM6W_2WjvmOk2PjTgh2-WbCYnqnzAQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="6a7f3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="38b615251bfb3cbb17770a0e4df98b23" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Tanuki" />
A bake-danuki uses it's, um, special skill set to fashion a boat.
Kazusa-ya Iwazô, 1842<p>Starting the list off strong are the <em><a href="https://www.tofugu.com/japan/tanuki/" target="_blank">tanuki</a></em>, or raccoon dogs. Tanuki are real animals native to Japan that look, as their name would suggest, like a cross between a raccoon and a dog. But the folkloric version of tanukis, <em>bake-danuki</em>, are much more mischievous and powerful. If you have ever been or go to Japan, you have or will undoubtedly run across <a href="https://www.google.com/search?biw=1280&bih=530&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=TP1SXPfZHqLv5gKUtqSQCg&q=tanuki+statue&oq=tanuki+statue&gs_l=img.3..0l5j0i5i30l3j0i8i30l2.353.1196..1534...0.0..0.314.1157.0j2j2j1......0....1..gws-wiz-img.......35i39j0i67j0i10.B3cMvuxupHE" target="_blank">statues </a>of wall-eyed, chubby, friendly-looking creatures.</p><p>These are tanuki, but they're a much more modern, friendly reincarnation. Tanuki in the past were tricksters who possessed the ability to shapeshift and stretch their massive scrotums (yes, really). Depictions of tanuki show them using their scrotums for anything from makeshift watercraft to making giant, comical faces.</p>
2. Jorogumo<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTEzNjQzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MDU1Njk1NH0.T0yCuEAGDEhfUWwUN8tSgwhghAJrCk91Q060mR-W1bE/img.jpg?width=980" id="97266" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9d75a038a16efbe58c4303f24bb3aa03" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Jorogumo" />
Wikimedia Commons<p>A decidedly less delightful <em>yōkai</em><em></em> is the <em><a href="https://www.japanpowered.com/folklore-and-urban-legends/jorogumo-the-whore-spider" target="_blank">jorogumo</a></em>. When an orb-weaver spider turns 400 years old, it grows horrifically large and becomes capable of transforming into a beautiful woman to lure men to later eat. Since the jorogumo's origin story involves real spiders, the word is also used to refer to several species of spiders, who, if they could live to be 400 years old, would ostensibly become this unpleasant creature.</p>
3. Kappa<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTEzNjQzNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2ODk4ODY2Nn0.1e7Ez-80PFmgXsLSJYKamgho32oTS6xINpQv3fup9RE/img.jpg?width=980" id="219ec" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="21e698434c0a317d58af056d88d2d339" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Kappa" />
Wikimedia Commons<p>Humanoid reptiles named <em><a href="https://mythology.net/japanese/japanese-creatures/kappa/" target="_blank">kappa</a></em> are said to inhabit Japan's ponds and rivers. They are short and scaly, have beaks for mouths, and have a bowl on top of their heads that contains water. If a kappa's bowl is emptied on dry land somehow, they're said to lose their magical powers. Although they're generally malevolent, kappa are supposed to be very polite. If a passer-by bows to them, they'll have to bow back, losing the water in their bowls. If that passer-by refills the bowl, they'll have made a friend and ally for life.</p><p>Kappa drown children, drink their victim's blood, or sexually assault woman, but they also have three obsessions. The first are cucumbers, which they apparently can't resist. The second is sumo wrestling. And the third is obtaining <em>shirikodama</em>, jewels that contain the soul, located—where else?—in people's anuses.</p>
4. Kamaitachi<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTEzNjQ0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjQ2MTQ4NX0.Uh1QQeAj9uiPUc5pfNHkWjPmYgrHQ9AOs3iQuNQrrjo/img.jpg?width=980" id="176b9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f1238b328adbdcb57980115b565eeeaf" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Kamaitachi" />
Wikimedia Commons<p>The <em><a href="https://www.japanpowered.com/folklore-and-urban-legends/kamaitachi-the-sickle-weasel" target="_blank">kamaitachi</a></em> are weasels with sickle-like nails on their paws. When they attack people, they ride on whirlwinds, knocking their victims down before giving them a quick slash on their ankles or calves. Allegedly, the creatures' sickles contain a kind of medicine that stops the wound from bleeding or hurting, which is at least the polite thing to do after knocking somebody down and cutting them up. The pain is said to set in later, however, after the numbing medicine has worn off. For some unknown reason, only men get attacked by kamaitachi.</p>
5. Nuribotoke<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTEzNjQ0Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTY4Mzc4OX0.8iAcTeC9iduUYyuau0gYB6FdNQAxTAWKMvU5tt-65ic/img.jpg?width=980" id="83e75" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fd7201b907030c1b96b526e65ea1f40b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Nuribotoke" />
Brigham Young University via Wikimedia Commons<p>The word <em><a href="http://yokai.com/nuribotoke/" target="_blank">nuribotoke</a></em> means 'lacquered Buddha' or 'painted Buddha' due to the creature's black skin and minor resemblance to the Buddha, mainly because of its large stomach. Their eyeballs dangle out of their sockets, and they have a long tail that resembles a catfish's tail. They also stink.</p><p>Japanese homes and temples often contain a Buddhist shrine called a <em>butsudan</em>, a kind of ornate cabinet containing a small shrine within. Butsudans stay open during the day but are closed at night since it's believed that spirits can use it to enter the material world. When a butsudan is poorly maintained or left open at night, nuribotokes can enter homes, sometimes appearing as Buddhas who give false prophecies or dance around at night.</p>
6. Tsukumogami<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTEzNjQ1Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzgyMzk0NH0.ZzXspdbg6Du6Helhj1X5GlyapTAmRSOhiiSgFbIj7gg/img.jpg?width=980" id="4a7f4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5d55eb51b433531b0d6b158763a4044e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Tsukumogami" />
A lantern that's become a tsukumogami.
Wikimedia Commons<p><em><a href="http://jpninfo.com/3549" target="_blank">Tsukumogami</a></em> is an umbrella term for tools or household objects that, after their 100th<sup></sup> "birthday," gain a soul. Generally, they're depicted as friendly, but tools that were thrown away or misused are thought to become vengeful toward their previous owners. You could have a possessed futon (with the delightful name of a <em>boroboroton</em>), lantern (<em>chōchin-obake</em>), umbrella (<em>kasa-obake</em>), or any number of items. </p>
7. Nuppeppo<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTEzNjQ2NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTE1ODkzN30.DP1Pq1T2Rajzxe3Syd5k9HOT2nkdYceh2c_qL70OA4U/img.jpg?width=980" id="0f041" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="790e9da8900812f6c2f5222b5569189e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Nuppeppo" />
Wikimedia Commons<p>The word <em>nupperi</em> is a slang term used to refer to a woman who applies too much makeup, which is the likely origin for this creature's name. <em><a href="http://yokai.com/nuppeppou/" target="_blank">Nuppeppo</a></em> are blob-like creatures with the suggestion of a face beneath their amorphous fat. Folklore describes them as being mostly harmless aside from their disgusting odor, which smells like rotting flesh. Generally, they appear at night near graveyards and temples. Some sources say that if a human can catch the quick-moving creature, kill it, and manage to eat the <em>nuppeppo</em>'s disgusting flesh, they might gain eternal youth or cure a serious disease.</p>
8. Ashinaga-tenaga<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTEzNjQ2Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNzQyNjQzOH0.bNtyp28H_Se8hk-Cm6HppTdxNxbb7iArsZbXHwhuh-0/img.jpg?width=980" id="b65d0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="00eb62da3e79dc8b02217752ea8a6425" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Ashinagatenaga" />
Wikimedia Commons<p>These are actually <a href="https://libmma.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15324coll10/id/90893" target="_blank">a pair of <em>yōkai</em></a>: <em>ashinaga</em> ("long legs") and <em>tenaga</em> ("long arms"). As their names would suggest, these creatures resemble men with either long legs or long arms. The pair work together to catch fish: <em>ashinaga</em> wades into deep waters, and <em>tenaga</em> uses his long arms to catch the fish below.</p>
9. Futakuchi-onna<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTEzNjQ3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTg0Mjc4N30.9M7TmcrQTz_a-BsCeMb7R8920_Z1W3PFa8BM0gzLUiI/img.jpg?width=980" id="17f30" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="549b065009f27a9feaf010465da33903" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Futakuchi-onna" />
Wikimedia Commons<p><em><a href="http://yokai.com/futakuchionna/" target="_blank">Futakuchi-onna</a></em> appear as regular woman, although they have a concealed mouth on the back of their heads. The <em>futakuchi-onna</em> uses her hair, which act as tentacles, to grab nearby food and feed her second mouth. In most folkloric tales, the <em>futakuchi-onna</em> was the wife of a miser who rarely supplied her with food. Eventually, the wife sprouted a second mouth that demanded food, spitting obscenities and screaming otherwise, thereby transforming into a <em>futakuchi-onna</em>.</p>
Towards the end of his life, Francisco Goya began painting terrifying scenes directly onto the walls of his house.
- The Black Paintings stand out in art history for their dark composition and themes.
- The biggest mystery, though, is that Goya painted them directly onto the walls of his home and never told anybody about them.
- With such little information, all we can do is speculate about the 14 horrifying Black Paintings.
The tenebrous meaning of the Black Paintings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODk3NTIwNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MTA1MjAxMn0.BY7Phc2pwiTTwzCYZMEE1fS1peBBnvyn5LXs9rPt0tc/img.jpg?width=980" id="868e5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="64b2ef56970431154658a499f46b1be0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Two Old Men
Image source: Wikimedia Commons<p>The 14 Black Paintings are almost invariably painted with dark colors — they're not called the Hot Pink Paintings after all. The human figures are painted in an expressionistic style that depicts humans as <a href="http://hekint.org/2017/01/26/francisco-goyas-black-period/" target="_blank">pseudo-monsters</a>, like the blurred, deformed faces in <em>Women Laughing</em> or the whispering goblinoid in <em>Two Old Men</em>. Goya had seen the cruelty that human beings inflicted on one another, and the faces of his human subjects reflect this interior monstrosity.</p><p>Aside from this, interpreting many of the Black Paintings is challenging. Goya hadn't intended to display them publicly and offered no explanation of their subjects. Many of the paintings' backgrounds are morphing shades of black or brown, lacking details we could use to orient ourselves, and even the titles are the inventions of art historians.</p>
Duel with Cudgels
Image source: Wikimedia Commons<p>The painting with the clearest meaning, <em>Duel with Cudgels</em>, shows two peasants fighting each other with their legs stuck in a quagmire, unable to escape from one another except by beating their opponent to death. Most <a href="https://www.academia.edu/3769678/Goyas_Black_Paintings" target="_blank">scholars agree</a> that this represents Spain's violent civil war at the time: stuck in their home country, the only way forward for each side was victory.</p><p>But to understand the meaning behind <em>The Witches' Sabbath</em>, where a group stares in horrified fascination at a demonic goat-man, or <em>Atropos (the Fates)</em>, where four jet-black figures hover above a landscape, you would have to ask Goya.</p>
Goya's most horrific painting<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODk3NTIyNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMDU0OTA3OX0.4n1QmO4xUSJBuZr-i_rtPuci86Hy3wHWhkxxPyJ5zV4/img.jpg?width=980" id="6d6f2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="19a3909a16604580737f5670f7847f9d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Saturn Devouring His Son (detail)
Image source: Wikimedia Commons<p>The most famous of the Black Paintings is, without a doubt, <em><a href="https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/saturn/18110a75-b0e7-430c-bc73-2a4d55893bd6" target="_blank">Saturn Devouring His Son</a></em>. For the unfamiliar, Saturn was a Roman god, one of the titans that came before the traditional gods who lived on Mount Olympus. He had come to power by overthrowing his father, Caelus, but it had been prophesied that one of his children would do the same to him. To avoid this, he consumed his children after they were born.</p><p>Roman mythology say that Saturn swallowed his children whole — later, they spring from his stomach after Jupiter (or Zeus in the Greek equivalent) escaped being eaten and fed his father a poison to make Saturn vomit up his siblings. Most paintings of this scene depict Saturn greedily swallowing his children whole.</p><p>In <em>Saturn Devouring His Son</em>, however, Saturn viciously chews on his partially eaten child — there's blood everywhere, and his child is clearly dead. The most striking detail, however, is Saturn's distress. Prior paintings of this subject show Saturn unsympathetically. But in Goya's version, he is crouched in the dark with a crazed, anguish look on his face. In <em>Saturn Devouring His Son</em>, the titan seems devastated to be eating his children to survive and looks as though he's gone mad.</p><p>It's easily the most terrifying painting in the collection. We can speculate that it deals with Goya's own fear of madness and death, but again, there's no record of what the painter truly intended. The mystery of what this meant to Goya is part of what has captured art historian's attention for a century.</p>
Controversy<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODk3NTIzMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNjg4NTI5OH0.XdOXMz1C-CKEjODG3s-bLdXf16-Js00SmTSF9vcsV4c/img.jpg?width=980" id="3f3f9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a0189027ad4997ada520c1ef7042a352" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Atropos (The Fates)
Image source: Wikimedia Commons<p>Despite the macabre attraction of this story, some scholars <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/27/magazine/the-secret-of-the-black-paintings.html" target="_blank">don't believe</a> that Goya was truly the original artist of the Black Paintings. First, there is a stark difference between the Black Paintings and Goya's previous art. This can be explained away by the idea that the Black Paintings were private, experimental work; since they were not commissioned by the aristocracy, Goya was free to experiment.</p><p>But there are additional details that suggest Goya did not paint these images. La Quinta del Sordo was originally a one-story home, though the Black Paintings covered the walls of the first floor and a second floor that was added later. Historians have recovered renovation documents from Goya's time in the villa, none of which mention the addition of a second story. It's possible that the second floor was added after Goya's death — meaning the second-story Black Paintings would have been added afterwards as well.</p><p>Some theorize that this means Goya's son Javier created the Black Paintings. Javier's son, Mariano, would later inherit the house. Mariano had money problems, so its feasible that he attributed the Black Paintings to the famous Goya rather than to Javier to get a better price when he sold the villa.</p><p>This is a hotly contested theory, however. The artistic merit of the paintings makes them valuable regardless of the creator, and whoever that was — whether Goya or Javier — had no intention of making them public. Ultimately, they are dark, private ruminations whose murky history adds to, rather than subtracts from, their power.</p>