Monday, November 26, 2012

God P

Author's note: for the overview post on ancient Maya gods and goddesses, go here

God P is a god who so far has only been found in the Madrid Codex. He is much debated upon, with various theories connected to his function -- and in fact his existence as a god.

Appearance
God P's notable feature is his fingers, which look frog-like, and he wears a headdress that incorporates a 360-day sign. Schellhas called it the Frog God, which is another name still used for the god.

Function
In the Madrid Codex he is drawn making furrows and planting seeds, and this has been used as evidence of of the god being related to agriculture. However, there is a variance in how this is specifically interpreted. Two of my three sources with information on God P state that he is a god of agriculture. However, my third source South and Meso-American Mythology A to Z, states that God P is a water god related to agriculture.

 Consideration: Only An Aspect?
God P may not be a god in his own right. He may just be an aspect of Pauahtun (God N) -- a god with at least four aspects ( known as Bacabs or Bakabs) who were thought to hold the sky.

Identity Theory
There is a theory which states that God P is somehow Kukulkan/Quetzalcoatl (the Aztec version of Kukulkan), and several theorists on this are Tedlock, Seler and Taube. In particular Taube thinks that God P is a form of Kukulkan/Queztalcoatl known as Ehecatl Quetzalcoatl -- an aspect of the god connected to the wind --, and is an aspect of Sak Nik (God H).



References:

"South and Meso-American Mythology A to Z"; Ann Bingham, Jeremy Roberts; 2010

"A Dictionary of Non-Classical Mythology"; Lewis Spence; 2005

Missouri State University: MAYA GODS AND GODDESSES

University of Kansas: "Quetzalcoatl's Fathers A Critical Examination of Source Materials"; Brant Gardner; 1997

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pauahtun (God N)

Author's note: for the overview post on gods and goddesses of the ancient Maya, go here.

Pauahtun (Pawahtun) is God N of the Schellhas classification. Currently known to have four aspects, he has been connected to an earth god known as Mam described as a god still being worshiped today in Exploring the Life, Myth, and Art of the Maya.

Appearance

Drawn as an old man with missing teeth, images depict Pauahtun with a turtle shell or a conch shell on his back. He also wears a headdress -- most sources this author has found say it is a netted headdress, though The Ancient Maya: New Perspectives states that it is a crocodile headdress (the book also state that he has a "cut-out shell nose").

The god is also commonly drawn with one hand raised above his head, and is drawn either as a scribe or teaching scribes. In a few Classic period images on ceramics, Pauahtun is drawn with an accompaniment of women.


Functions
Pauahtun was the patron of scribes and of group of 5 unlucky days known as the Uayeb (Wayeb), which came at the end of the Haab calendar.

The four aspects of Pauahtun -- called Bacabs (Bakabs) -- each were thought to stand at one of the four main compass points and hold up the sky. Each Bacab was connected to a color as well, like the aspects of Chac (God B).



Uayeb Dance
Pauahtun may be connected to a dance known as the Uayeb (Wayeb) Dance. A scene in the Lower Temple of the Jaguars at Chichen Itzá depicts a ruler and ritual participants taking part in a dance, with Pauahtun being a notable figure. It is conjectured that this dance may have taken place during the Uayeb.

Consideration
Sources conflict concerning Pauahtun's name. The Ancient Maya states that Pauahtun was known as Bacab during the Postclassic period, while Handbook to Life in the Ancient Maya world states that it is Pauahtun's four aspects that are known as Bakabs. A third source,The Ancient Maya: New Perspectives, states that Pauahtun at the time of contact with the Spanish was known as the four Bacabs.

 References:

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

"Exploring the Life, Myth, and Art of the Maya"; Timothy Laughton; 2011

"The Ancient Maya"; Robert J. Sharer, Loa P. Traxler; 2006

"The Ancient Maya: New Perspectives"; Heather Irene McKillop; 2004

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

Missouri State University: MAYA GODS AND GODDESSES



Friday, November 16, 2012

Ek Chuah (God M)

Author's note: To go to the overview post on the ancient Maya gods and goddesses, go here.


God M of the Schellhas classification system was a god of merchants known to us as Ek Chuah (also Ek Chauah, and Ek Chuwah or Ek' Chuwah), a name that might really be his though it is not known for sure. He is somewhat close in appearance and function to God L, a god that Ek Chuah may have supplanted.

Appearance
Ek Chuah had a black body (some sources say face), a long and narrow nose and a big lower lip. Some images of Ek Chuah show him holding a spear.

Function
Like God L, Ek Chuah was a god of merchants. The spear he is sometimes drawn with possibly connects him with fighting in connection to attacks on merchants. Some sources such as Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage and Explorer's Guide Mexico's Aztec & Maya Empires say that Ek Chuah was also the god of cacao. 

Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage  also quoted a translated section of Bishop Diego de Landa's Relación de las cosas de Yucatan:

      "Wherever they came they erected three little stones, and placed on each several grains of the incense; and in front they placed three other flat stones, on which they threw incense, as they offered prayers to God whom they called Ek Chuwah [Ek' Chuwah] that he would bring them back home again in safety." **

Consideration
During the Postclassic period, it is thought that Ek Chuah became more popular than God L. There are fewer images of God L in the Postclassic period than in the Classic, where most of his images are found.



** The book's reference for this quote is as thus: "Tozzer, A.M. Landa's relación de las cosas de Yucatan. Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Volume 18. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University , 1941 (original. 1566, Landa, D. de); P. 107."

References:

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

"The Ancient Maya: New Perspectives"; Heather Irene McKillop; 2004

Missouri State University: MAYA GODS AND GODDESSES

"Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage"; Louis E. Grivetti, Howard-Yana Shapiro; 2011

"Maya Conquistador"; Matthew Restall; 1999

"Explorer's Guide Mexico's Aztec & Maya Empires"; Zain Deane; 2011

Sunday, November 11, 2012

God L -- A God of Xibalbá

Author's note: To go to the overview post on the ancient Maya gods and goddesses, go here.

God L was a god connected to trade and the underworld, Xibalbá,  (and was was one of the Lords of Death that the Hero Twins defeated.)Another merchant god (God M, known as Ek Chuah or Ek Chuwah) may have become more popular than God L as time passed.


Appearance
Often drawn with a black colored body, God L is an old-looking god who has square eyes and a big nose. He wears a black cape and in his mouth is a cylinder -- described in books as a cigar. At times he is drawn with a merchant's pack and a walking stick.

Another distinctive part of God L's appearance is headdress with a wide brim that has a bird with black tipped feathers on it (thought to be a screech owl, sometimes called a muan-bird). At times this headdress is drawn with a jaguar ear, making it look like the ear is attatched to it.

The material of God L's clothing varies somewhat, it seems. The depiction of God L on both the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Cross includes his cape being a jaguar pelt. In the Vase of Seven Gods, God L wears a jaguar kilt and his throne is a jaguar (describe alternately as jaguar skin) throne.

Function
God L was the patron of merchants (The Ancient Maya states he was also the god of tribute). He was connected to jaguars, wealth and power. Depending on the source he is either a one of the gods in Xibalbá (such as Trees of Paradise and Pillars of the World: The Serial Stelae Cycle of "18-Rabbit-God K," King of Copan) or the ruling god of Xibalbá (such as The Ancient Maya).

It's possible that God L was more than this. According to Dr. John F. Chuchiak IV's site, God L wasn't just a merchant god, but was also a creator god.

Possible Function
According to Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and Calendars by Susan Milbrath, in the Dresden Codex's "Venus pages", God L is shown as the dry-season Morning Star (connected to war). This may connect him to war. The book states a man named Michael Closs says that God L could be an aspect of Venus.


Consideration
There is a site known as Cacaxtla ("place of the merchant pack") that has colorful murals. In these murals, one of the figures depicted holds a pack containing jaguar pelts, cacao and quetzal feathers. This figure could be God L, and he may be the referent in Cacaxtla's name.


References:

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

"The Ancient Maya"; Robert J. Sharer, Loa P. Traxler; 2006

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

"Icons of Power: Feline Symbolism in the Americas"; N. Saunders; 1998

Precolumbian Art and Art history: Cacaxtla

"Archaeology of Ancient Mexico and Central America: An Encyclopedia"; Susan Evans; 2000

"Trees of Paradise and Pillars of the World: The Serial Stelae Cycle of "18-Rabbit-God K," King of Copan "; Elizabeth A. Newsome; 2001

"Chocolate: Pathway to the Gods"; Meredith L. Dreiss, Sharon Edgar Greenhill; 2008

Missouri State University: MAYA GODS AND GODDESSES

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

K'awil (God K)

Author's note: As has been found when researching other gods, the functions and appearance of God K vary somewhat by source. And also, to go to the overview post on the gods and goddesses of the ancient Maya, click here.

God K in the Schellhas list of gods is also known as K'awil (or K'awiil), a name found for the god in Classic period inscriptions. Possibly a god of both certain natural sources and of royalty, he may also be somehow connected to Chac -- also spelled Chaac and Chaak -- (God B). I've split K'awil's Function section into two sections, for clarity.

Appearance
There are multiple notable features of K'awil's appearance. These include his upturned snout, his one snake foot and the smoking axe blade (sometimes tube) protruding from his forehead.

In Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklores and Calendars by Susan Milbrath, the depiction of K'awil's snout also included "branching elements". The book also says that sometimes his snout was drawn with an inset mirror.

Functions: Just A Lightning God?
 According to the site run by Dr. John F. Chuchiak IV, K'awil was a god of both fire and lightning.  While The Ancient Maya: New Perspectives by Heather Irene McKillop says exactly the same thing, other sources disagree somewhat on the god's functions.

In  The Ancient Maya -- by Robert J. Sharer and Loa P. Traxler -- it states that K'awil may have been a lightning god -- personification of lightning. This is due to the smoking axe (or tube) in his forehead, which may be related to Chac, who had an axe.

Trees of Paradise and Pillars of the World:The Serial Stelae Cycle of "18-Rabbit-God K," King of Copan  backs up The Ancient Maya somewhat, as well as Dr. Chuchiak. It states that K'awil was mostly a god of lightning, and was connected to Chac.

The Decipherment of Ancient Maya Writing says that K'awil was "probably closely related" to Chac. It sites images in which K'awil and Chac are seen together.

Finally, the National Gallery of Art States that K'awil was a god of lightning.

Functions: Royal Rites
The ancient Maya used the image of K'awil in their royal accession ceremonies. Scepters made to look like K'awil  -- known today as Mannikin Scepters -- were important in rituals concerning ascending the throne. Also, "eccentric flints" (stone chipped into designs, and not for practical reasons) of K'awil have been found. It is thought that these flints used to be part of scepters.

Dr. Chuchiak's site states K'awil was a god of dynastic descent. As with his function as a lightning god, the National Gallery of Art corroborates this, and says K'awil is a god for protection royal lines.

The Ancient Maya is a bit more conservative in the connection between K'awil and ancient Maya rulers. It talks about Mannikin Scepters, and states that from this it is "assumed" he was a patron of rulers.

The Decipherment of Ancient Maya Writing -- published by the University of Oklahoma Press -- like other sources talks about K'awil in terms of royalty (as well as about Chac and K'awil being connected). It states that in the Classic period, K'awil was connected to royal lineage as well as royal power.

Consideration
K'awil may also be another god, known as Bolon Tz'akab, or vice versa. Sources are not clear.

References:








Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ix Chel (Goddesses I and O)

Author's note: It is not entirely clear what Ix Chel was like before the arrival of the Spanish. The Early Colonial period version of Ix Chel is more understandable. Also, to see the overview post on the gods and goddesses of the ancient Maya, go here.

 A female deity of the ancient Maya was a goddess known as Ix Chel, (also known as Lady Rainbow), who was either the companion or wife of Itzamná (God D). So far as it is understood, Ix Chel seems to have two forms: one that is also known as the old (or aged) moon goddess (Goddess O) -- called either Chac Chel (Chak Chel) or Chakal Ix Chel -- and one that is known as the young moon goddess.


Appearances
The apperance of Ix Chel varies depending on the aspect. Maya scribes drew the young aspect of Ix Chel was a young and beautiful woman who has a large nosepiece, and was seen with a rabbit and a crescent moon. The aged aspect of Ix Chel was depicted as an old woman with snakes in her headdress and jaguar paws for hands, who often is pouring water out from a jar.

Function
Ix Chel seems to have both positive and negative functions. Her positive functions included being the goddess of divination and weaving as well as a medical goddess of healing, childbirth and medicine. Her negative functions included being a goddess of floods and destruction (and at times war), as well as of snakes. However she does not bring sickness.

This goddess was important along the Carribbean coast. A shrine to Ix Chel can be found on Cozumel Island, in which a statue may have been designed so that a priest could make it seem like the statue "talked".

 Moon Goddess?
Sources including Handbook to Life in the Ancient Maya World (published by Oxford University Press) and Dr. Chuchiak -- say that Ix Chel was a moon goddess. However, in Mesoamerican Mythology:
A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs of Mexico and Central America (also published by Oxford University Press) states that Ix Chel may have been a moon goddess.

Goddess I and the Tonsured Maize God
Goddess I may have been connected connected to the Tonsured Maize God. There are images that show her looking somewhat like the Tonsured Maize God, wearing his costume, hairstyle and having his facial markings. Another possible piece of evidence for the connection is an image showing a crescent moon in connection to the Tonsured Maize God.
 
Who was Ix Chel Really Married To? 
In Yaxchilán there is a depiction of a ruler's parents in which an image of his father has a sun glyph in it while an image of the ruler's mother has a lunar sign in it. This is what, according to Handbook to Life in the Ancient Maya Word, gives evidence to a theory that Ix Chel was the wife of the sun god.

Other Possible Aspects
Dr. John F. Chuchiak IV -- the Assistant Professor of Colonial Latin American History at the Department of History at SMSU -- states that Goddess I was confused with another goddess (who he designates as I'). This other goddess, named Sakal Ix Chel that was was similar in appearance with Chac Chel. Though he is not entirely sure, he thinks it is possible that Sakal Ix Chel is the same as Chac Chel.

Also, there is a theory that states that Blood Woman -- or Blood Moon -- (called Xkik in Handbook to Life in the Ancient Maya World) could be an aspect of Ix Chel. Blood Woman was the mother of the Hero Twins.

References: 

Missouri State University: MAYA GODS AND GODDESSES 

"Mesoamerican Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs of Mexico and Central America"; Kay Almere Read, Jason J. Gonzalez; 2002

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

"The Ancient Maya: New Perspectives"; Heather Irene McKillop; 2004