General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 29 Nov 2020/5 Flower
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The Maya Maize God ‘E’

RESOURCE: Ancient Maya gods - 4) Maize God ‘E’

The ancient Maya pantheon consisted of many deities - some shared with other Mesoamerican peoples, others ‘add-ons’ from other cultures. Our main sources of information are the codices, early colonial documents, ceramics and mural paintings. A 19th century scholar, 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 quote here from the excellent little British Museum Pocket Dictionary of Aztec and Maya Gods and Goddesses, in the fourth of a short series featuring some of the most important Maya deities...

The Maya Maize God ‘E’ - illustration by Teresa Fajardo
The Maya Maize God ‘E’ - illustration by Teresa Fajardo (Click on image to enlarge)

The Maize God is associated with abundance and prosperity. He is widely represented in Maya art. With his delicate facial features and vibrant youth, he represents the Maya ideal of beauty. He is usually portrayed with a lavish headdress, representing a stylised ear of corn; his hair is the silk of the cob.
Maize had an important role in Maya creation myths. According to the Popol Vuh, a sacred book of the Quiché Maya from the colonial period, gods created humans out of yellow and white corn. Originally the gods had tried to make humans with clay and wood but their attempts were unsuccessful.

The Maya maize god, representing human beings, is born out of the turtle of the earth; he is aided by his two sons, the Hero Twins. Kerr database K1892
The Maya maize god, representing human beings, is born out of the turtle of the earth; he is aided by his two sons, the Hero Twins. Kerr database K1892 (Click on image to enlarge)

The main characters in this account are the Hero Twins and their father Hun Hunahpu, a maize god. In one episode, Hun Hunahpu and his brother were called by the lords of Xibalba, the Maya Underworld, because they were disturbed by their constant ball playing. Having failed all the tests given by these lords, they were sacrificed. The Maize God’s head was cut off and placed on a tree.

Picture sources:-
• Main: photos by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore
• B/W line drawing courtesy of Teresa Fajardo
• Maize god resurrection image, courtesy of and © Justin Kerr (mayavase.com).

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Sep 12th 2020

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