The Mysterious, and Creepy Faces of Belmez
The world of the paranormal is a fascinating field to explore, even though it could be fake. Remember that Dear David story? And with modern technology, it is so easy to doctor old photos to make them look spooky.
Nevertheless, it will take more than hard science to erase our obsessions with ghosts and the paranormal. Most people got a strong belief in the afterlife, and for them, the possibilities of ghosts are hard evidence of life beyond death. At least for some, existing as ghosts means that they cheated death, or death is just another start of a new form of existence as an intangible spirit.
Nevertheless, my friends suggested that some alleged paranormal phenomenon do not need to be real to be scary. I never grasped what they meant, until I saw a case somewhere in the web that gave me sleepless nights.
I really hope that this is not real. For if it is, then there is a possibility that it could appear on your home, probably near your bed as you sleep. Because somewhere in Spain, inside a private home, ghastly looking (and somewhat, badly draw) faces began to appear.
The Belmez Faces
1971 was the date when it all began, and Belmez de la Moraleda, Andalusia, Spain was the place. In the home of the Pereira family at Calle real 5, Maria Gomez Camara reported something strange. There is something on the kitchen floor.
There are faces there!
The face just formed from nowhere, and her husband Juan Periera and their son Miguel grabbed a pickaxe and destroyed the images. They then laid out new concretes over the wrecked floor. But that never stopped the image from reappearing, and new faces popped out soon. This reached the mayor of Belmez, and the portion of the floor where the face appeared was cut out and taken for study.
At least, that’s how the Pereira family’s version of the story goes.
There are several theories on how the face got there, and some thought that it was a hoax. Some proposed a more supernatural and paranormal origin, like the thoughtographic hypothesis (which will be discussed later). But for the next 30 years, the Pereira family claimed that faces continued to form, in different shapes and sizes. They could be male, female or having different expressions. Nevertheless, the house became a tourist attraction for those who wanted to be scared, and it became The House of Faces (La casa de las Caras).
The Faces Themselves
As what is mentioned before, the faces come in different expressions and shapes, and they even got male and female forms. Through closer look, the creepy portraits could be described as badly drawn. Cartoonish is how others might see it particularly for the critics, though the bad representation of the images is what made some so ghastly.
There are faces that got details like eyes, nose and mouth like the La Pava, the first and most famous of these cases. Some are mere fuzzy patches that lacked any describable human characteristics. They do not have complex details and the facial features are hardly discernible. A good example is the blurry portrait of a so-called woman (pictured above). Pareidolias might be at play here when it comes to other faces, where spots will be translated as faces by the human brain. Or the bad representation of the image could mean that it is man-made, as anyone could sketch such a bad figure.
Critics might point out that in the nutshell, the Belmez faces are mere stains on concrete that formed something like a face, or stains that our brain translated as faces through pareidolia. Or hoaxes fabricated by the Periera family. Yet some people see this as an indication of something else beyond practical understanding.
Hans Bender and German de Argumosa collaborated to study the phenomena in Belmez, if they are caused by thoughtography. Thoughtography is simply projecting image into a surface using one’s mind. It was thought that Maria Gomez Camara is capable of thoughtography, where she subconsciously produced those ghastly faces. The problem is, they do not publish any reports regarding the case.
There are also words that the site where the first face was seen was excavated, and human bones were discovered. Researchers conclude that the bones dated back to the 13th century. Could it be that the faces are the owner of those human remains? There are also reports of faint sobbing and wailing recorded through a microphone.
And just in case you are wondering, it was claimed than when the faces are tested for traces of paint, none was found which reinforced the belief on the paranormal origin of the faces. In 2004, at the age of 85, Maria Gomez Camara died. But long after her death, new faces continue to appear.
It seems that we are looking at the hard evidence of a genuine haunting here, but skeptics are not convinced. They did their own investigations to uncover whether this creepy phenomenon is a hoax or not.
Original tests on the faces are inconclusive, yet there are tests that showed that the faces got brush strokes when shined under infrared light. Then there also analyses that indicated the presence of pigmentation compounds as opposed to earlier claims that no paint was shown here. Stuffs used in paint such as zinc, lead and chromium were detected in the faces.
The problem here is that when the test was redone, the result tends to be inconsistent, with some resulting with negative results when it comes to paint presence. In one instance, chemical engineer Jose Javier Gracenea tried unsuccessfully to reproduce the faces, and he arrived at the conclusion that no external manipulation was involved here. It could be that acid was used here, but the question is how Maria pulled it off?
But then, after Maria’s death, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo managed to expose how psychic researcher Pedro Amoroso teamed up with the village government to fake new faces. Do note that new faces are said to appear, which turned out to be not real. All a hoax, for financial gain. And do note that back in the 1970s, the city banned any further tourist business in the place, after Maria was caught charging entrance fee to see the faces. And as Brian Dunning of Skeptoid suggested, Maria could have produced the face first with paint, then with acid.
1. Tort, César (1995). "Bélmez Faces Turned Out to Be Suspiciously Picture-like Images". Skeptical Inquirer.
2. Dunnings, Brian (16 February 2010). "The Faces of Belmez". Skeptoid.