General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 24 Feb 2018/10 Monkey
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Pantheon of Maya gods from Codex Dresden

RESOURCE: Ancient Maya gods - 1) Itzamná (‘God D’)

The ancient Maya pantheon consisted of a large number of deities - some shared with other Mesoamerican peoples, others gods from other cultures added to the Maya pantheon. The main sources of information for these are the codices, early colonial documents, ceramics and mural paintings. In the 19th century a scholar called Paul Schellas studied the gods in the three codices known at the time. In those days Maya hieroglyphs couldn’t be read, and he named the gods with a letter from the Roman alphabet - a system still in use today. We’re most grateful to our friend Clara Bezanilla, author of the excellent little British Museum Pocket Dictionary of Aztec and Maya Gods and Goddesses, for permission to use here her outlines of some of the most important Maya deities...

Pic 1: Itzamná is a creator god. He is a wise deity who rules over the heavens and other Maya gods
Pic 1: Itzamná is a creator god. He is a wise deity who rules over the heavens and other Maya gods (Click on image to enlarge)

One of the most important gods, Itzamná is a creator god, associated with writing and divination. Lord of the Heavens and Earth, and associated with creation and birth, he was credited with the invention of writing and ‘books’, and is often portrayed painting or as a scribe. His counterpart is the old goddess Ix Chel.
Also known as God D, he is always shown as an old man, with a large square eye and a hooked nose. He shares some attributes with the Sun God. In the codices he appears repeatedly with the Malze God or seated on a throne, facing other deities, such as God N or God L.
The sign Akbal (meaning night and darkness) usually appears on his headdress and in his name glyph. This sign represents a mirror, a device used in divination. A mirror always features in shape of a beaded disc that sits prominently on his brow (can you spot this disc in pictures 1 & 2...?) Itzamná was a wise god, with esoteric [rarified, specialist] knowledge, and he was believed to have the power of healing. He was therefore invoked as a god of medicine.

Pic 2: The aged god Itzamná with a bowl of maize tamales - detail from a Late Classic Maya vase
Pic 2: The aged god Itzamná with a bowl of maize tamales - detail from a Late Classic Maya vase (Click on image to enlarge)

Image sources:-
• Main pic: compilation scanned from our own copy of the ADEVA (Villacorta) facsimile edition of the Codex Dresden, Graz, Austria, 1975 (pp. 6-7)
• Pic 1: Graphic of Itzamná scanned from our own copy of The Ancient Maya by Sylvanus G. Morley, Stanford University Press, California, 1947 (p. 241 - graphic based on Codex Dresden, p. 5)
• Pic 2: Image from Wikipedia (Itzamná).

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Jan 27th 2018

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