Mayan gods and Goddesses names and pictures
The Mayan civilization flourished in Mesoamerica from around 300 b.c. until the Spanish conquest of the early a.d. 1500S. The mythology of the Maya had many elements in common with those of other civilizations of the region. But the Maya developed their own variation of the Mesoamerican pantheon of gods and goddesses, the stories about them, and the image of the universe and the place of humans in it.
In Mayan mythology, the gods and heroes had many different names and appearances, stories occurred in varying forms, and scenes and figures changed and shifted with confusing rapidity. Beneath this seeming confusion, though, lay a sense that the universe was an orderly, structured place and that proper behavior toward the gods played an important role in maintaining its harmony and balance.
Background and Sources. The earliest known images of Mesoamerican gods were created by the Olmec civilization of Mexico. Emerging sometime after 1400 b.c., the Olmecs lived along the southern coast of the Gulf of Mexico for roughly a thousand years. They built pyramids that were sacred places where the human realm touched the realm of the gods. They also carved enormous stone heads as images of their leaders and created a long-distance trade network across Mesoamerica to obtain valued items such as jade.
The Olmec pantheon probably included deities of rain, corn, and fire, as well as a feathered serpent god. These figures reappeared in the myths of later Mesoamerican peoples. Olmec art included images of jaguars and of creatures that were part jaguar, part human. People of the region believed that magicians could turn themselves into jaguars.
The Zapotecs, Toltecs, and Aztecs were among the Mesoamericans who inherited and built upon Olmec traditions. So did the Maya, who were concentrated in the lowlands of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula and in a highland region that extends from the present-day states of Tabasco and Chiapas into Guatemala. The Maya enjoyed their greatest wealth, power, and success from around a.d. 300 to 900. Historians call this their Classic period. During this time, the Maya built vast stone cities and ceremonial centers such as Tikal and Palenque. After the Classic period, Toltecs from central Mexico arrived in the Yucatán and eventually merged with the Maya. Their influence shaped late Mayan civilization at Chichén Itzá and Mayapán.
Mesoamerica cultural region consisting of southern Mexico and northern regions of Central America
pantheon all the gods of a particular culture
deity god or goddess
divination act or practice of foretelling the future
ritual ceremony that follows a set pattern
The Maya shared in a common Mesoamerican culture. The peoples of the region believed in the same gods and myths, built temples in the form of pyramids, practiced divination, and had an interest in astronomy. They also had a ball game in which teams competed to pass a ball of solid rubber through a stone ring or hoop. Only certain men and gods could play this game. Sometimes it was simple sport, sometimes a sacred ritual. Scholars do not know the full meaning of the Mesoamerican
|Ah Puch (Yum Cimil)||god of death and destruction, brought disease and was associated with war|
|Cizin (Kisin)||god of death, linked with earthquakes|
|Hun-Hunahpú (Ah Mun)||god of maize and vegetation|
|Hunahpú and Xbalanqúe||twin sons of Hun-Hunahpú, tricked the lords of the underworld|
|Itzamná||chief god, ruler of heaven, of night and day, and of the other deities|
|Ixchel||goddess of fertility, pregnancy, and childbirth|
|Kinich Ahau||sun god, sometimes considered an aspect of Itzamná|
|Kukulcan (Quetzalcoatl)||Feathered Serpent, god of learning and crafts|
ball game, but it may have represented the movement of the heavenly bodies or a symbolic kind of warfare that ended in human sacrifice.
The Maya also shared the elaborate calendar system used across much of Mesoamerica. One part, called Haab by the Maya, was a 365-day calendar based on the sun's annual cycle. The other, called Tzolkin, was a 260-day sacred calendar. The two calendars meshed in a cycle known as the Calendar Round, which repeated every 52 years. The Maya used the calendar both for measuring worldly time and for sacred purposes, such as divination. Each day in the Calendar Round came under the influence of a unique combination of deities. According to the Maya, the combination that occurred on a person's date of birth would influence that person's fate.