General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 20 Apr 2021/4 Wind
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Maya Smoking God L at Palenque

RESOURCE: Ancient Maya gods - 3) ‘Smoking God’, ‘God L’

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 third of a short series featuring some of the most important Maya deities...

Pic 1: God L, with black markings on his face and body. Codex Dresden p. 14
Pic 1: God L, with black markings on his face and body. Codex Dresden p. 14 (Click on image to enlarge)

God L is one of the principal gods of the Underworld. He is associated with rain and lightning and he is a patron of merchants.
Most representations of this god appear during the Classic period, always as an aged man. He can be recognised by his large square eye and he has jaguar markings on his body. His headdress represents the Moan bird (an owl) associated with the Underworld; sometimes only the feathers of this bird are shown. He often appears smoking a cigar, hence his nickname ‘Smoking God’.
Although he is associated with the Underworld he also has attributes related to life-giving rain and agricultural fertility. In the codices he is often painted black. Modern Maya use black soot from copal smoke for ceremonies related to rain.
God L is a patron of merchants for the Maya of the Classic period. He is often represented carrying bundles, sometimes showing precious goods, such as quetzal feathers.

Image sources:-
• Main pic: image from Wikipedia (‘God L’) of God L at Palenque, Temple of the Cross
• Pic 1: image scanned from our own copy of the ADEVA (Villacorta) facsimile edition of the Codex Dresden, Graz, Austria, 1975 (accompanying book).

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Jul 07th 2019

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