top of page

Who Were The Maya Gods? An Easy Guide

Like many ancient civilisations, the Maya people worshipped many different gods. Some historians believe there could have been up to 250 different Maya gods. Others think there could have been as few as twelve, where each individual god might have many different looks or be called by many different names. The confusion probably comes down to the fact that the Maya weren’t one unified country, but were instead broken up into many smaller city-states, each with their own different versions of the same gods. One thing all historians can agree on is that each Maya god represented something different and would be worshipped for different reasons.

 

We’ve put together a list of some of the most awesome Maya gods right here for you to feast your eyes on.

 

Who Were The Maya Gods - Bacab

Bacab


Other names:

Pawahtuun


God of:

The Earth & sky


Features:

The Maya believe that the Earth was a giant sea turtle floating through the skies. So Bacab was often shown as an old man wearing the shell of a turtle.


Fun fact:

Bacab’s job is to stand at the four corners of the sky and hold up the world (or is it to stand at the four corners of the world and hold up the sky? Historians can’t quite seem to agree on that one!). That means Bacab needs to be in four places at once, so he can often be shown in four different ways, with four different names (and even four different personalities!). Things must get very noisy in his head!

 


Who Were The Maya Gods - Chaac

Chaac


Other names:

Chaak, Chac


God of:

Rain, water, thunder and lightning


Features:

Chaac is frequently shown wearing shells over his ears, he had tendrils curling from his mouth and can often been seen with an axe in hand.


Fun fact:

The Maya believed Chaac would thwack the clouds with his awesome lightning axe to make thunder and rain! He was a pretty popular god and the Maya people would give lots of offerings and sacrifices to him. After all, if there’s no rain, there’s no water for the crops. With no crops, the Maya people would starve.

 


Who Were The Maya Gods - Itzamna

Itzamna


Other names:

Itsamnaaj


God of:

Creation. That’s a pretty big job!


Features:

Itzamna is mostly shown as an old man, with toothless gums and everything!


Fun fact:

Itzamna is quite rightly known as the “supreme creator”. The Maya believed he created pretty much everything, including books, writing and even human beings! Being a creator also comes with extra bonus benefits. It was thought that Itzamna could heal people and even bring the dead back to life!



Who Were The Maya Gods - Ixchel

Ixchel


Other names:

Chak Chel, Lady Rainbow


God of:

Childbirth and medicine


Features:

Ixchel is commonly shown as an old woman with jaguar ears, carrying a water jug. She also sometimes has a live snake on her head! What an awesome hair accessory!


Fun fact:

Ixchel was a very popular god, particularly with women who would worship her if they were hoping to have children. The name Ixchel translates as “Lady Rainbow”.



Who Were The Maya Gods - Kinich Ahau

K’inich Ahau


Other names:

Kinich Ajaw


God of:

the sun (hot stuff, eh!)


Features:

K’inich Ahau is shown to have large square eyes and a broad nose. But if that’s not enough to pick him out from the crowd, he’s often depicted with the sign for the sun on his head. Pretty sure that’s similar to walking around with your own name tattooed on your forehead.


Fun fact:

His name means “sun-faced” and he’s often associated with rulers and jaguars (I mean, who wouldn’t want to be associated with jaguars, huh?).



Who Were The Maya Gods - Yum Kaax

Yum Kaax


Other names:

So. Many. Names. Even brainy historians seem to be confused about the name of this god, so we’ve gone with Yum Kaax to keep it simple.


God of:

Maize (yep, that's corn. Like corn on the cob. Nom, corn on the cob!)


Features:

Yum Kaax is sometimes shown wearing an ear of corn on his head (poor guy!). Or, worse, shown with a really long bonce so his head actually looks like a corn on the cob. I wonder who he offended to get that kind of punishment!


Fun fact:

Historians think that the Maya believed humans beings were created from corn. So although Yum Kaax may have looked a bit silly, he would have actually been a really important god.

 


Who Were The Maya Gods - Hunaphu and Xbalanque

Hunaphu and Xbalanque


Other names:

The Hero Twins


The escapades of this heroic pair are too awesome to contain in one tiny paragraph. So luckily for you, we dedicated an entire blog to them! Check it out here.

Comments


bottom of page