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Mayan Religion

Powerful Essays
In the Central America, most notably the Yucatan Peninsula, are the Maya, a group of people whose polytheistic religion and advanced civilization once flourished (Houston, 43). The Maya reached their peak during the Classic Period from around CE 250 to the ninth century CE when the civilization fell and dispersed (Sharer, 1). Although much has been lost, the gods and goddesses and the religious practices of the Classic Maya give insight into their lives and reveal what was important to this society. The major Mayan gods and goddesses all have common characteristics and, according to “features which they share in large part with the gods of neighboring people of Middle America” (Thompson, 198). One of these characteristics is that Mayan gods and goddesses have “features which they share in large part with the gods of neighboring people of Middle America” (Thompson, 198). The majority of the gods and goddesses take a form that combines animal and human features. For example, rain and earth deities often have characteristics derived from crocodiles and snakes (Thompson, 198). The Mayan deities also have a duality complex in which they could be both benevolent and malevolent, but this duality could also apply to age and sex such as a god or goddess being portrayed as youthful or aged or a masculine god sometimes being portrayed as feminine (Thompson, 199). Worship of animals, such as the Jaguar, was present (Thompson, 200) and numbers were seen as deities as well (Thompson, 239). Each deity corresponds to a number. For example, the sun god is the god of the number four as well and the moon goddess is the goddess of the number one. Inanimate objects had spirits, like animals and numbers, which had the ability to achieve the rank of de... ... middle of paper ... ...nt crops like maize. Religious officials and their roles in Mayan society reflect on how seriously the Mayans took religion and how organized it was. Ceremonies, such as sacrifices, are evidence of how the Mayans honored their gods and how they believed the world worked. All are important to understanding Mayan religion. Works Cited Chase, Diane Z. and Arlen F. Chase. Changes in Maya Religious Worldview. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2009. Print. Houston, Stephen. “Classic Maya Religion: Beliefs and practices of an Ancient American People.” BYU Studies 38.4 (1999): 43-64. Print. Sharer, Robert. The Ancient Maya. 6th ed. Stanford, 2006. Print. Taube, Karl. “The major Gods of Ancient Yucatan.” Studies in Pre-Columbian Art & Archaeology 32 (1992): 11-27. Print. Thompson, J. Eric. Maya History and Religion. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970. Print.
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