Mayan god Itzamna

Mayan God of Creation, Writing and Divination
October 3, 2020 – 03:44 pm
The Mayan god Itzamna

Itzamná (pronounced Eetz-am-NAH), also known as God D, is one of the most important Maya gods. His name in the Mayan language means caiman, lizard or large fish, and in some cases he appears in codices with the semblance of a caiman. According to Maya mythology his wife was the goddess Ixchel.

Itzamná was considered the god of creation and the inventor of writing, and divination, and he is often portrayed as a scribe in Classic period vessel scenes. He was considered the creator of the world and the other deities. For this reason he is sometimes depicted as an enthroned king, overseeing minor gods. In Yucatan, during the Postclassic period, Itzamná was also worshiped as the god of medicine.

In his human form, Itzamná is portrayed as an old, wise priest with a hooked nose and large square eyes. He is often wearing an elaborate headdress with a beaded mirror on his brow.

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One of the manifestations of Itzamna is the Bird of Heaven, a bird often portrayed standing on top of the World Tree. This bird is usually identified with Vucub Caquix, the mythical monster killed by the hero twins Hunapuh and Xbalanque (One Hunter and Jaguar Deer) in the Popol Vuh.


This glossary entry is a part of the guide to Maya Civilization, and the Dictionary of Archaeology.

Grube, Nikolai (Ed.), 2001, Maya. Divine Kings of the Rain Forest, Konemann, Cologne, Germany

Miller, Mary and Karl Taube, 1993, An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya, Thames and Hudson.

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