Friday, October 12, 2012

Itzamná (God D)

Author's note: The aspects of Itzamná are a source of ongoing research for me. I will update this post when I have created a sub-section to satisfaction.

A creator deity of the ancient Maya is classified in the Schellhas system as God D.  Also called Itzamná -- "reptile house" in Yucatecan Maya, --, this god was seen as a god of several aspects and functions. Possibly the son of Hunab Ku, he was married to God O (also known as Ix Chel).

In the codices, Itzamná looks like an old man with a large nose, hollow cheeks, wrinkled skin and no teeth. Like Chac (God B) Itzamná is understood to have four aspects -- evidence of this is in the book Ritual of the Bacabs--, each being connected to a color and a compass direction.

A common way the ancient Maya drew Itzamná is in costume of a scribe. One thing that helps identify Itzamná is a beaded disk on his forehead that is combined with his name glyph. This disk sometimes has a sign called an akbal sign in it, which is connected to darkness and may be related to the idea of an obsidian disk -- a divining tool.

Information on Itzamná says that he helped form creation: in a creation myth he placed the third stone of what was known as the Cosmic Hearth. This stone is called the Waterlily Throne Stone in Classic period writings.

Other than being a creator, archaeologists understand that Itzamná was believed to be the first shaman who was the god of rulers as well as the god -- not to mention the inventor -- of writing and the god of knowledge. He also was the god of the sky as well as day and night, and was the patron of the day Ahau (also spelled Ahaw), a day whose name translates as "lord".

Archaeologists also currently understand that Itzamná would sometimes be prayed to as a healer god. In the month of Sip (or Zip), prayers went to Itzamná to heal people's illnesses.

Beyond these things, Itzamná was seen as a god who granted k'uhul, the sacred life force and divinity. For the spiritual leaders of the ancient Maya -- the priests and the kings --, Itzamná was the god they turned to to bring k'uhul into this world.


"Handbook to Life in the Ancient Maya World"; Lynn V. Foster; 2005

"Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and Calendars"; Susan Milbrath; 2000

Missouri State University: MAYA GODS AND GODDESSES


California State University LA: Aspects of the God Itzamna

Long Beach City College: Itzamna

Santa Fe College: Popol Vuh Notes

Boston University: The Mayans: Religion

College of the Sequoias: Precolumbian Glossary


  1. Thank you, excellent info. I am on my way to Izamal in two days.

  2. Super I will be there today and I want a symbol of the likeness of Itzamna for my helpful use for natural medicinal when home.