What were the main gods of the Mayans?

What were the main gods of the Mayans

Mayan mythology is one of the most mysterious, both because of its origin and because of the meaning of its rituals, based on offering various sacrifices to their deities. The origin of the Mayans dates back to 2,500 BC in the Sierras Cuchumatanes, located in Guatemala. There they evolved until they managed to structure society and expand until they reached Mexico.

In addition, they based their development on a polytheistic belief in which figures of different gods were erected. Through them, the Mayans could explain the creation of the cosmos, life, death and what goes beyond creation, destruction or meteorological phenomena and natural balance. We want you to learn a little more about the Mayan culture and discover what the main Mayan gods are.

Hunab Ku: Father of the Gods

What is the most important Mayan god? The most relevant deity for the Mayans is Hunab Ku (also known as Hunab), who is considered the father of all gods.

Through his own name, whose meaning is “one god,” the Mayans gave this deity the first place in the world of gods, the highest importance and relevance. This is the only god that has life for them and through him come not only the rest of the deities but also the construction of everything around them. Therefore, it represents everything and nothing.

Hunab Ku is the Mayan creator god of the world, the one who designed the heavens and who is represented by the Sun. The Mayans considered him the center of the universe. According to Mayan mythology, it is believed that Hunab Ku created the world three times. The first time the god created the world, he inhabited it with wise men, the second time, he included the Dzolob, a malevolent and dark race, and finally, he created the world and life, the place where the Mayans would be born.

Itzamná: God of the Sky

Itzanmá, also known as Itzam Na or Zamná, is one of the most multifaceted deities of the Mayan culture. He is the ruler of heaven, the true master of day and night. Although Hunab Ku was considered the father of all gods, for the Mayans of the Yucatan Peninsula, Zamná was the true creator of everything, which is why he has always been considered one of the main gods of their mythology.

This deity can be seen represented as a winged dragon with two heads, which pours water on the earth from the sky. However, she can also be seen as a bird-like figure with serpentine features or, even in his humanoid form, as an old man with large eyes and nose, sunken cheekbones, a beard, and no teeth.

But that’s not all. He is also considered the god of wisdom for the following powers and creations attributed to him:

The protection of science in all its branches, especially astrology, one of the areas, along with writing, in which the Mayans stood out.
The invention of writing and the Mayan calendar.
The creation and care of medicine and agriculture, since, in addition, Zamná symbolizes water and energy.
The balance between life and death.
The creation of chaos so that new and important creations could exist.

Chaac: God of lightning and rain

Chaac, also written as Chac, is the main deity for the Mayans. It is one of the most popular gods in this culture, as it was one of the most praised in the Mayan pantheon. Through the rain, it provides abundance and prosperity, as well as fertility.

The Mayans believed that when it rained, the deity came down to Earth to visit the Mayans and provide them with bountiful harvests. For this reason, in dry areas such as Yucatan, it is where this god was most venerated. Likewise, many Mayans related to Chaac as a reference and symbol of the four cardinal points.

Their representation has always been diverse. Sometimes with feminine features, others with masculine features, but always with one point in common: a reptilian aspect.

Ixchel: Goddess of love

As in any self-respecting polytheistic belief, the Mayan goddess of love cannot be missing. That is Ixchel for the Mayans, wife of Itzamná, god of wisdom. If her husband is represented through the sky and the sun, she is the goddess of the Mayan moon, of fertility, of pregnancies and births, but she is also associated with vegetation, manual work and medicine.

It is the most important female deity for the Mayans and therefore is among the main gods of this culture. While Itzamná was seen during the hours of sun, Ixchel was only seen at night, when the moon rose.

But in addition to love, Ixchel is also related to water in its most destructive form, such as floods and other natural disasters caused or related to this element.

The representation of the goddess of the moon was made through an old woman with symbols related to death (crossed bones on her skirt, twisted snake on her head…) and with water as a pitcher that is poured onto the earth.

Kauil: God of fire

Kauil, the god of fire, is described by the Mayans as the father and mother of humans. For their culture, fire is a basic element with a transcendental role. This civilization believed that he who was able to dominate fire was able to control his inner violence.

There are numerous rituals dedicated to this god that is still carried out today through campfires and bonfires, since the belief says that, after interacting with them, one comes out renewed: the bad is burned and positive energy is generated to receive all the good.

The Mayan god of fire is represented as an ambiguous figure with a long nose and a serpent’s mouth.

Yum Kaax: God of corn

Yum Kaax, also known by names like Itzam Na Kuil, Kauil, Ah Nun or Ah Mun, is the Mayan god of corn. His main name means “lord of the woods,” and he is considered the main deity of agriculture. He is a benevolent god and the Mayans were forbidden to refer to death in front of him.

It is the most vital and fundamental god for the Mayans, who based their diet on the ear of corn. This god is represented as a strong young man, handsome and always with an ear of corn on his head, as well as a vessel in his hands with three ears of corn in it.

Ek Chuah: God of Cocoa

In this list of the most important Mayan gods, Ek Chuah, the Mayan god of cocoa, could not be missing. This deity is very relevant and popular among street vendors since they worshiped him day after day so that their sales would be optimal and successful.

In addition, Ek Chuah is a Mayan deity that has two basic abilities:

Promote and favor the planting and development of cocoa on the land.
Promote conflicts, as he is considered the patron of war.
Buluc Chabtan: god of war
Buluc Chabtan is not only the Mayan god of war but is also associated with destruction, human sacrifice, and sudden and violent death.

It is a deity also known under the name of Achuykaak and closely related to the god of death Yum Cimil. To represent him, the Mayans used a line of black dots over their eyes and cheeks, like a mask.

Kinich-Ahau: God of the Sun

Kinich-Ahau is one of the Mayan deities that generates the most debate since it is believed that he is the fruit of two different gods, but it has never been clear which deity he actually comes from, so each region that worships him may differ in its origin.

For some, the considered Mayan god of the sun comes from Itzamná. For others, it comes from Kinich Kakmó. Be that as it may, and far from the dilemma of its origin, Kinich-Ahau (also written as Kinich Ajaw or Ahau Kin), in addition to being the Mayan god of the sun, is related to life, prosperity and fertility of the earth as well as with music.

Kinich-Ahau is usually depicted as an old man with square, somewhat cross-eyed eyes, worn incisor teeth, and also holding a four-petaled flower.

Yum Kimil: god of death

What is the name of the god of the Mayan underworld? Yum Kimil, also known as Yum Cimil or Kizin, is the Mayan god of death. It is the sovereign of the underworld and hell, because he resides there. For the Mayans, it is a malevolent deity, although its mission is to give shelter to the dead, except those chosen by the goddess Xtabai, his wife.

According to Mayan mythology, the god of death prowled in the homes of the sick to hunt down his new victims and be able to take them with him to hell. So in order to scare it away, the Mayans believed that the best option was to scream as loud as possible to scare it away and free the sick from death.

For the Yucatecans, Kizin is a stark deity, the patron of death, which is why he is usually represented with a skull as his head and his ribs are exposed. Likewise, it has served as inspiration for current illustrations that represent death since it is related to the skeleton.

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