How Many Mayan Gods Were Worshiped? – There Were Hundreds! Over 250 to be exact.
Mayans had a tradition of worship of various deities, and probably they had the most number of deities to pray. They worshiped gods as per their imagination and there were no limits of worshiping. All the gods and goddesses had duel nature and they were changeable with time and situation. The most common forms of the deities were animals, plants, and humanoids. Some of the main Mayan gods were Hunab Ku, Chaac (god of rain), Itzamná (wisdom), Pawahtún (loader of the cosmos), Ixchel (love), Kinich Ahau (sun), Yum Kaax (maize) or Kauil (from fire). The Mayans worshiped more than 250 gods.
The interpretation came in many ways
The Maya pantheon was made according to the way of society. The Mayans were not able to integrate their entire culture into a single state. The civilization was a mixture of political entities and each Maya community was free to make their religion the way best suited them. As a result, the names and the nature of the Maya gods changed with time and space.
Someone brings it into the light
Paul Schellhas was the first scholar who compiled the iconography of the Maya deities in 1910. Still, the names of the Maya deities were unknown, but Paul Schellhas identified some deities and he designated a letter for each of them. Later, when the Maya writing was decoded, the names of those deities came into the light.
Did the Mayans worship just one supreme deity?
They had a lot of gods and goddesses, but it is unclear if they had one supreme deity. One of the deities was god B according to Schellhas. Later it was found out the name of the god was “Chak” who was one of the oldest gods in the Maya religion. He was the god of rain, lightning, and fertility of the land. So, he was a very important one. It could happen that gods who played the most important roles were considered the supreme ones.
The list of 8 most important Mayan gods:
01. Hunab Ku
|Symbol of Hunab Ku – Wikimedia commons|
Hunab Ku is the most important god of the Mayan tradition. Being considered as the father of all the gods, he is the only true and living god. all things are born from Hunab Ku. His figure covers the dual things, the opposite elements with those that made the universe. This god represents himself as everything as well as nothing at the same time. The Mayans considered Hunab Ku as the center of the universe, the mind, heart, and creative existence.
|Chaac – Wikimedia commons|
Associated with lightning, rain, and water, Chaac is also one of the main figures in the Mayan pantheon. This god was worshiped for good harvests. In the Mayan culture, Chaac was represented as an old man, with reptilian attributes and a long nose tilted upwards. He is one of the most honorable figures in the Yucatan Peninsula, an area defined by drought, where he pleaded for water. So, he became the main god for those people who got water after so long.
|Itzamná – Wikimedia commons|
Itzamná is also known as Zamna, is mainly the Mayan god of wisdom. He is considered the creator of science and knowledge. Also known as the Sun God, Lord of Heaven, day and night. Zamna is one of the most worshiped gods in the Mayan pantheon as he speaks of the path, work, and sacrifice of the true man. He is the universal spirit of life. Itzamná is mainly represented as an elder figure but also in the forms of various animals depending on the area he is found. So, it can be a bird when he is in his celestial form or a crocodile when he is on earth. He always carried his hands in the form of a container and rings in his ears.
|Pawahtun – Wikimedia commons|
According to the Mayans, this god represents four in one as his four parts hold each corner of the universe. For this feature, the god is called the charger of the cosmos. His figure as a toothless old man with a turtle shell contradicts his image with his arms holding the vault of the earth. As we already know, the Maya pantheon had many forms of one god, so it is quite possible that Pawahtun was worshiped in two or more forms. This god is the patron of painters and writers and he controls the nefarious five days of the solar calendar. The Mayans used to worship and adore the shell of the turtle because it was where the moon and the sun took shelter before the doom of the world.
|Ixchel – Wikimedia commons|
Ixchel is another important goddess in the Mayan pantheon. She is the deity of love, vegetation, medicine water, and textile works. This deity was associated with various components such as water and fertility and even sometimes with a rabbit and known as the queen mother. She is the wife of one of the best gods Itzamna, the god of wisdom. This deity is represented as an old lady emptying a pot on earth. Her figure comes with a snake on the head sometimes depending on the veneration one wants to do.
06. Kinich Ahau
|Kinich Ahau – Wikimedia commons|
This god has some contradiction as it is considered one of the Invocations of Itzamná but also linked to Kinich Kakmó. Ahau is the god of the Sun, music, and poetry. The name represents the Lord of the Solar Eye. In the Mayan pantheon, this god was pictured with two large eyes, big T-shaped teeth, jaguar ears, a sharp edge in his fangs, and sunbeams in his beard. Kinich Ahau was seen as the ruler among the gods and his purpose was to solve all the problems between different divinities. He had the responsibility to distribute the lands among the people and he is also considered as the god of war.
07. Kauil or K’awiil
|Kauil or K’awiil – Wikimedia commons|
As the god of fire, Kauil is one of the most popular and honored gods in the Mayan culture. He is considered one of the 13 creators of humanity so the rituals were huge for him.
The fire had a cardinal place for the Mayans, it is considered as a spiritual force to be surmounted in order to overthrow the violence. Kauil is also patron of the abundance of human seed crops, which in the Mayan culture represents prosperity, and is described as the parents of the humankind.
With the wrath of fire, he healed diseases and was a source of veneration for a successful birth. His rites are prominent among the Mayans and are represented in the culture with a long nose and snake-like mouth that protrudes. The veneration of his figure is maintained until this time with rituals of fire, in which it is considered that the person leaves as a renewed one. The importance of his cult in the Mayan culture was recorded in the sculptures of him that were found.
08. Yum Kimil
|Yum Kimil – Wikimedia commons|
Also called Ah Puch (which means stark), Kisin (smelly), or Kimil (death). His name means Lord of the Dead. Yum Kimil is the main deity of the Xibalbá, the underworld, and Mayan hell, and therefore is the god of death. The image of death today as a skeletal has a great connection with the image the Mayans made of Yum Kimil. Always accompanied by a rope, which he used to take the lives of others, this god also had an owl, which is a sign of bad luck. The Mayans believed that this god roamed the house of the sick in search of new prey for their dwelling. Still today, some rites are maintained.
These are only some of the main gods of the Mayans. There are more than 250 gods that they used to worship. The figure of the gods can be found especially in paintings, drawings, and engravings, in which these people left their veneration settled. But also architectures, writings, and sculptures are representations of their beliefs. The Mayan civilization was present in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras, but with influence in many other territories, it continued from the year 2000 BC until the end of the 17th century.