Mayan Gods and Art List

National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Figure of a Maya priest.
National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Figure of a Maya priest. | Source

Mayan Prince in Chiapas

Palenque ( Chiapas ) - Museo del sitio. Relief of a Maya prince.
Palenque ( Chiapas ) - Museo del sitio. Relief of a Maya prince. | Source

Legacy of Mayan Kings

Mayan art, as in other parts of the ancient world was commissioned by Mayan kings as a means to ensure their legacy long after their death. Ancient pyramids and palatial cities have been discovered all over southern Mexico and Central America. Many stelae were erected with images of kings and glyphs depicting their lineage. Lineage was important in establishing the right of kings to rule. Only the kings, scribes, and wealthy could read the glyphs and the lower orders were not taught to read and write. There were many cities of the Maya and thus many kings and dialects. Even today many ancient dialects such as, Qhuche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, and Mam are spoken by the Indians across Central America . The majority of the descendants of the Mayan civilization speaks Spanish today.

Gods of the Maya

Hunab Ku: The Supreme Deity

The Mayans believed in one god who appeared with many names. The name of the supreme deity god was Hunab Ku. Hunab Ku was invisible, all powerful and omniscient. He knew everything. He wanted to be the only god in the universe. It is believed that those who created Hunab Ku were trying to change their civilization from polytheism to monotheism.

The Feathered Serpent: Kukulkan

Evidence of the Feathered Serpent god is found everywhere in the religious temples. Called Kukulkan by the Mayas, Quetzalcoatl by the Aztecs and Viracocha by the Incas, there are many questions about this serpent god. Kukulcan was also known as the wind god. The Mayans were skilled astronomers and the study of Venus was part of their religion. The Feathered Serpent temple is the third largest pyramid at Teotihuacan located at a site in Central America.

The Maize God

According to anthropologists, the corn god was Yum K'aax, shown as a young man with long, silky tresses; much like the silt on the cobs. He was beautiful with classic Maya profile, His headdress was made of a cornstalk surrounded by leaves. Glyphs reveal that his name was Kan. However, there is disagreement among researchers who mention a second earlier maize god known as Kauil, Ah Uaxac Yol Kauil, and Itzam Na Kauil. Uil means sustenance and Kaa means excess or abundance so this may be reason for this naming of the maize god. Corn was a plant food cultivated by the Maya and was a necessity for the sustenance of their civilization.


National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Reproduction of a Maya stela from Quiriguá, Guatemala.
National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Reproduction of a Maya stela from Quiriguá, Guatemala. | Source
Source
National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Figure of a rich Maya man.
National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Figure of a rich Maya man. | Source
Source
Terra cotta image of Mayan Sun God at San Francisco's de Young museum,
Terra cotta image of Mayan Sun God at San Francisco's de Young museum, | Source
 Appears to be the feathered serpent
Appears to be the feathered serpent | Source
Terra cotta image of Mayan Rain God Chaac at San Francisco's de Young museum,
Terra cotta image of Mayan Rain God Chaac at San Francisco's de Young museum, | Source
Maya maize god statue. Object 9 of 100. AD 175. Honduras. Stone. Am 1923, Maud 8. British Museum.
Maya maize god statue. Object 9 of 100. AD 175. Honduras. Stone. Am 1923, Maud 8. British Museum. | Source
Mexico, Campeche, Jaina, Maya Masked Male Figure, A.D. 700-900 Sculpture
Mexico, Campeche, Jaina, Maya Masked Male Figure, A.D. 700-900 Sculpture | Source
Maya relief of royal blood-letting (Yaxchilan lintel 24), Mexico, about AD 600-900. British Museum
Maya relief of royal blood-letting (Yaxchilan lintel 24), Mexico, about AD 600-900. British Museum | Source
Stucco Maya glyphic cartouche from Palenque (Mexico). Late Classic Period (600–900 CE).
Stucco Maya glyphic cartouche from Palenque (Mexico). Late Classic Period (600–900 CE). | Source
Maya stela from Toniná, Chiapas, Mexico, representing the 6th century king Jaguar Bird Peccary.
Maya stela from Toniná, Chiapas, Mexico, representing the 6th century king Jaguar Bird Peccary. | Source
Seated divinity. Maya Culture, Rio Bec (?) or Chenes region, Mexico, Classic period.
Seated divinity. Maya Culture, Rio Bec (?) or Chenes region, Mexico, Classic period. | Source
Chac Mool was one of the most common figures in Mayan sculpture. It was used to receive human sacrifices.
Chac Mool was one of the most common figures in Mayan sculpture. It was used to receive human sacrifices. | Source
Mayan warrior figurine found on Jaina Island. It is located in the Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Brussels (Belgium).
Mayan warrior figurine found on Jaina Island. It is located in the Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Brussels (Belgium). | Source
Ceramic burial vessel (10) found at Tikal in Guatemala known as the Old Man Deity. This was the Mayan sun god in his night form.
Ceramic burial vessel (10) found at Tikal in Guatemala known as the Old Man Deity. This was the Mayan sun god in his night form. | Source

Mayan Artists

Mayan artists were allowed to freely create their products. This is particularly visible in the ceramic vessels that were mostly not on public display. These products were generally created as gifts or for sale to the royalty of other cities. Mayan vase paintings are quite similar to modern art than any of the other artists of the period and earlier. Interestingly enough many of the Mayan sculptors and painters signed their work giving us an insight into the lives of the artists. This work spoke of a person’s product. Signed art was highly prized and sought after by the elite classes. The most well known is Aj Muwan from Naranjo, maker of the 7 and 11 god vases among other fine pieces.

Mayan Vessels

Lidded vessel used for drinking cacao (chocolate). The glyphs on the vesses reveal the cup’s owner and his father Chakjal Mukuuy, "Reddening Do.
Lidded vessel used for drinking cacao (chocolate). The glyphs on the vesses reveal the cup’s owner and his father Chakjal Mukuuy, "Reddening Do. | Source
The codex-styled vessel reveals two scenes of Pawahtun instructing scribes. It was created between 550-950 in the Common Era.
The codex-styled vessel reveals two scenes of Pawahtun instructing scribes. It was created between 550-950 in the Common Era. | Source
Cylindrical vessel with sacrificial scene; Maya, Guatemala or Mexico, c. A.D. 600 - 850.
Cylindrical vessel with sacrificial scene; Maya, Guatemala or Mexico, c. A.D. 600 - 850. | Source
Double Chambered Vessel, 5th century Mexico/Guatemala; Maya Ceramic; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefelle
Double Chambered Vessel, 5th century Mexico/Guatemala; Maya Ceramic; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefelle | Source
Late Classic Maya bowl from Suk Che', now in the Museo Regional del Sureste del Petén in Dolores, Peten, Guatemala.
Late Classic Maya bowl from Suk Che', now in the Museo Regional del Sureste del Petén in Dolores, Peten, Guatemala. | Source

Lost Gods of the Maya

Ancient Aliens: Nine Gods of Egypt and the Mayan

More by this Author


Comments 2 comments

hockey8mn profile image

hockey8mn 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Cool hub. Based on a few of your hubs, it is obvious you have an interest in the Maya. If you are ever given a chance, go down to Mexico City and visit the National Museum of Anthropology. It is awesome and anyone with an interest in Mesoamerica should visit. voted up and interesting.


raymond seferino naranjo 4 years ago

The story And the lives Of our ancestors Is something of extreme beauty 4 all natives throughout our mother earth had such enlightenment of creation may the seeds grow in our hearts so that all your temples may be strong & that we may pass on a better world 4 our children and future generations sincerely Raymond s naranjo

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working