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Title: Representation of Deities of the Maya Manuscripts - Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Vol. 4, No. 1
Author: Schellhas, Paul, 1859?-1945
Language: English
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Transcriber's Note:

      A number of typographical errors have been maintained in
      this version of this book. A complete list is found at
      the end of the text.

Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology,
Harvard University
Vol. IV.--No. 1




Second Edition, Revised
With 1 Plate of Figures and 65 Text Illustrations

Translated by Miss Selma Wesselhoeft and Miss A. M. Parker

Translation revised by the Author

Cambridge, Mass.
Published by the Museum
December, 1904.


In order to make more widely known and more easily accessible to American
students the results of important researches on the Maya hieroglyphs,
printed in the German language, the Peabody Museum Committee on Central
American Research proposes to publish translations of certain papers
which are not too lengthy or too extensively illustrated. The present
paper by one of the most distinguished scholars in this field is the
first of the series.

                                         F. W. PUTNAM.
Harvard University
           September, 1904.


Since the first edition of this pamphlet appeared in the year 1897,
investigation in this department of science has made such marked
progress, notwithstanding the slight amount of material, that a revision
has now become desirable. It can be readily understood, that a new
science, an investigation on virgin soil, such as the Maya study is,
makes more rapid progress and develops more quickly than one pertaining
to some old, much explored territory.

In addition to numerous separate treatises, special mention should be
made of Ernst Förstemann's commentaries on the three Maya manuscripts
(Kommentar zur Mayahandschrift der Königlichen öffentlichen Bibliothek zu
Dresden, Dresden 1901, Kommentar zur Madrider Mayahandschrift, Danzig
1902, and Kommentar zur Pariser Mayahandschrift, Danzig 1903) which
constitute a summary of the entire results of investigation in this field
up to the present time.

The proposal made in the first edition of this pamphlet, that the Maya
deities be designated by letters of the alphabet, has been very generally
adopted by Americanists, especially by those in the United States of
America. This circumstance, in particular, has seemed to make it
desirable to prepare for publication a new edition, improved to accord
with the present state of the science.

Warmest thanks are above all due to Mr. Bowditch, of Boston, who in the
most disinterested manner, for the good of science, has made possible the
publication of this new edition.

January, 1904.                             P. SCHELLHAS.


The three manuscripts which we possess of the ancient Maya peoples of
Central America, the Dresden (Dr.), the Madrid (Tro.-Cort.) and the Paris
(Per.) manuscripts, all contain a series of pictorial representations of
human figures, which, beyond question, should be regarded as figures of
gods. Together with these are a number of animal figures, some with human
bodies, dress and armor, which likewise have a mythologic significance.

The contents of the three manuscripts, which undoubtedly pertain to the
calendar system and to the computation of time in their relation to the
Maya pantheon and to certain religious and domestic functions, admit of
the conclusion, that these figures of gods embody the essential part of
the religious conceptions of the Maya peoples in a tolerably complete
form. For here we have the entire ritual year, the whole chronology with
its mythological relations and all accessories. In addition to this,
essentially the same figures recur in all three manuscripts. Their number
is not especially large. There are about fifteen figures of gods in human
form and about half as many in animal form. At first we were inclined to
believe that further researches would considerably increase the number of
deities, but this assumption was incorrect. After years of study of the
subject and repeated examination of the results of research, it may be
regarded as positively proved, that the number of deities represented in
the Maya manuscripts does not exceed substantially the limits mentioned
above. The principal deities are determined beyond question.

The way in which this was accomplished is strikingly simple. It amounts
essentially to that which in ordinary life we call "memory of persons" and
follows almost naturally from a careful study of the manuscripts. For, by
frequently looking attentively at the representations, one learns by
degrees to recognize promptly similar and familiar figures of gods, by
the characteristic impression they make as a whole, or by certain details,
even when the pictures are partly obliterated or exhibit variations, and
the same is true of the accompanying hieroglyphs. A purely inductive,
natural science-method has thus been followed, and hence this pamphlet is
devoted simply to descriptions and to the amassing of material. These
figures have been taken separately out of the manuscripts alone,
identified and described with the studious avoidance of all unreliable,
misleading accounts and of all presumptive analogies with supposedly
allied mythologies.

Whatever cannot be derived from the manuscripts themselves has been wholly
ignored. Hypotheses and deductions have been avoided as far as possible.
Only where the interpretation, or the resemblance and the relations to
kindred mythologic domains were obvious, and where the accounts agreed
beyond question, has notice been taken of the fact so that the imposed
limitations of this work should not result in one-sidedness.

Since, for the most part, the accounts of Spanish authors regarding the
mythology of the Mayas correspond only slightly or not at all with these
figures of gods, and all other conjectures respecting their significance
are very dubious, the alphabetic designation of the deities, which was
tentatively introduced in the first edition of this work, has been
preserved. This designation has proved to be practical. For the plate at
the end of this pamphlet, examples as characteristic as possible of the
individual figures of gods have been selected from the manuscripts.

It is a well known fact that we possess no definite knowledge either of
the time of the composition or of the local origin of the Maya
manuscripts. The objection might, therefore, be raised that it is a
hazardous proceeding to treat the material derived from these three
manuscripts in common, as if it were homogeneous. But these researches
themselves have proved beyond a doubt, that the mythologic import of the
manuscripts belongs to one and the same sphere of thought. Essentially
the same deities and the same mythologic ideas are, without question, to
be found in all the manuscripts.

The material of the inscriptions has been set entirely at one side,
because the style of representation contained in them, both of the
mythologic forms and of the hieroglyphs, renders comparison exceedingly
difficult. In this field especial credit is due to Förstemann and Seler,
for the work they have done in furtherance of interpretation, and mention
should not be omitted of the generosity with which the well known
promoter of Americanist investigations, the Duke of Loubat, has presented
to the Berlin Museum of Ethnology costly originals of reliefs and
inscriptions for direct study. The representations on the reliefs from
the Maya region, it is true, give evidence of dealing with kindred
mythologic conceptions. Figures and hieroglyphs of gods, made familiar by
the manuscripts, can also be found here and there. But on the whole so
little appears in support of instituting a comparison with the
manuscripts, that it seems expedient to leave the inscriptions for
independent and special study.


A. The Death-God.

[Illustration: Figs. 1-6]

God A is represented as a figure with an exposed, bony spine, truncated
nose and grinning teeth.[10-1] It is plainly to be seen that the head of
this god represents a skull and that the spine is that of a skeleton. The
pictures of the death-god are so characteristic in the Maya manuscripts
that the deity is always easily recognized. He is almost always
distinguished by the skeleton face and the bony spine. Several times in
the Dresden manuscript the death-god is pictured with large black spots
on his body and in Dr. 19b a woman with closed eyes, whose body also
displays the black spots, is sitting opposite the god. While the Aztecs
had a male and a female death-deity, in the Maya manuscripts we find the
death-deity only once represented as feminine, namely on p. 9c of the
Dresden manuscript. Moreover the Dresden manuscript contains several
different types of the death-god, having invariably the fleshless skull
and (with the exception of Dr. 9c) the visible vertebrae of the spine.
Several times (Dr. 12b and 13b) he is represented apparently with
distended abdomen. A distinguishing article of his costume is the stiff
feather collar, which is worn only by this god, his companion, the
war-god F, and by his animal symbol, the owl, which will both be
discussed farther on. His head ornament varies in the Dresden Codex; in
the first portion of the manuscript, relating in part to pregnancy and
child-birth (see the pictures of women on p. 16, et seq.), he wears on
his head several times a figure occurring very frequently just in this
part of the Dresden Codex and apparently representing a snail (compare
Dr. 12b and 13b), which among the Aztecs is likewise a symbol of
parturition. In view of these variations in the pictures of the Dresden
Codex, it is very striking that in the Codex Tro.-Cortesianus, there is
only one invariable type of the death-god.

    [10-1] See Plate for representations of the gods, A-P

A distinguishing ornament of the death-god consists of globular bells or
rattles, which he wears on his hands and feet, on his collar and as a
head ornament. As can be distinctly seen in Dr. 11a, they are fastened
with bands wound around the forearm and around the leg; in Dr. 15c these
bells are black.

Among the symbols of the death-god a cross of two bones should be
mentioned, which is also found in the Mexican manuscripts. This cross of
bones seems to occur once among the written characters as a hieroglyph
and then in combination with a number: Tro. 10.* The figure [Death-god
symbol] is also a frequent symbol of the death-god. Its significance is
still uncertain, but it also occurs among the hieroglyphs as a death-sign
and as a sign for the day Cimi (death).

The hieroglyphs of the death-god have been positively determined (see
Figs. 1 to 4). Figs. 1 and 2 are the forms of the Dresden manuscript and
Figs. 3 and 4 are those of the Madrid manuscript. God A is almost always
distinguished by two hieroglyphs, namely Figs. 1 and 2 or 3 and 4.
Moreover the hieroglyphs are always the same, have scarcely any variants.
Even in Dr. 9c, where the deity is represented as feminine, there are no
variations which might denote the change of sex. The hieroglyphs consist
chiefly of the head of a corpse with closed eyes, and of a skull. The
design in front of the skull in Figs. 2 and 4 and under it in Fig. 3 is a
sacrificial knife of flint, which was used in slaying the sacrifices, and
is also frequently pictured in the Aztec manuscripts. The dots under Fig.
1 are probably intended to represent blood.

The death-god is represented with extraordinary frequency in all the Maya
manuscripts. Not only does the figure of the god itself occur, but his
attributes are found in many places where his picture is missing. Death
evidently had an important significance in the mythologic conceptions of
the Mayas. It is connected with sacrifice, especially with human
sacrifices performed in connection with the captive enemy. Just as we find
a personification of death in the manuscripts of the Mayas, we also find
it in the picture-writings of the ancient Mexicans, often surprisingly
like the pictures of the Maya codices. The Aztec death-god and his myth
are known through the accounts of Spanish writers; regarding the death-god
of the Mayas we have less accurate information. Some mention occurs in
Landa's Relacion de las cosas de Yucatan, §XXIII, but unfortunately
nothing is said of the manner of representing the death-god. He seems to
be related to the Aztec Mictlantecutli, of whom Sahagun, Appendix to Book
III, "De los que iban al infierno y de sus obsequias," treats as the god
of the dead and of the underworld, Mictlan. When the representations of
the latter, for example in the Codex Borgia, and in the Codex Vaticanus
No. 3773, are compared with those of the Maya manuscripts, there can be
hardly a doubt of the correspondence of the two god figures. In the Codex
Borgia, p. 37, he is represented once with the same characteristic head
ornament, which the death-god usually wears in the Maya manuscripts, and
in the Codex Fejervary, p. 8, the death-god wears a kind of breeches on
which cross-bones are depicted, exactly as in Dr. 9 (bottom).

Bishop Landa informs us that the Mayas "had great and immoderate dread of
death." This explains the frequency of the representations of the
death-god, from whom, as Landa states, "all evil and especially death"
emanated. Among the Aztecs we find a male and a female death-deity,
Mictlantecutli and Mictlancihuatl. They were the rulers of the realm of
the dead, Mictlan, which, according to the Aztec conception, lay in the
north; hence the death-god was at the same time the god of the north.

It agrees with the calendric and astronomic character of the Maya deities
in the manuscripts, that a number of the figures of the gods are used in
connection with specified cardinal points. Since, according to the Aztec
conception, the death-god was the god of the north, we might expect that
in the Maya manuscripts also, the death-god would be always considered
as the deity of the north. Nevertheless this happens only _once_, namely
in the picture at the end of Codex Cort., pp. 41 and 42. Elsewhere, on
the other hand, this god is connected with other cardinal points, thus
Dr. 14a with the west or east (the hieroglyph is illegible, but it can
be only west or east), and in Dr. 27c with the west. It is interesting
to note that once, however, in a series of cardinal points, the
hieroglyph of the death-god connected with the numeral 10 stands just in
the place of the sign of the north; this is on Tro. 24* (bottom).

In regard to the name of the death-god in the Maya language, Landa tells
us that the wicked after death were banished to an underworld, the name
of which was "Mitnal", a word which is defined as "Hell" in the Maya
lexicon of Pio Perez and which has a striking resemblance to Mictlan, the
Aztec name for the lower regions. The death-god Hunhau reigned in this
underworld. According to other accounts (Hernandez), however, the
death-god is called Ahpuch. These names can in no wise serve as aids to
the explanation of the hieroglyphs of the death-god, since they have no
etymologic connection with death or the heads of corpses and skulls,
which form the main parts of the hieroglyph. Furthermore, the hieroglyphs
of the gods certainly have a purely ideographic significance as already
mentioned above, so that any relation between the names of the deities
and their hieroglyphs cannot exist from the very nature of the case.

The day of the death-god is the day Cimi, death. The day-sign Cimi
corresponds almost perfectly with the heads of corpses contained in the
hieroglyphs of the death-god.

A hieroglyphic sign, which relates to death and the death-deity and
occurs very frequently, is the sign Fig. 5, which is probably to be
regarded as the ideogram of the owl. It represents the head of an owl,
while the figure in front of it signifies the owl's ear and the one
below, its teeth, as distinguishing marks of a bird of prey furnished
with ears and a powerful beak. The head of the owl appears on a human
body several times in the Dresden manuscript as a substitute for the
death-deity, thus Dr. 18c, 19c, 20a and 20c and in other places, and
the hieroglyphic group (Fig. 5) is almost a regular attendant hieroglyph
of the death-god.

A series of other figures of the Maya mythology is connected with the
death-god. This is evident from the fact that his hieroglyphs or his
symbols occur with certain other figures, which are thus brought into
connection with death and the death-deity.

These figures are as follows:

1. His companion, god F, the god of war, of human sacrifice and of
violent death in battle, apparently a counterpart of the Aztec Xipe, who
will be discussed farther on.

2. The moan bird. See beyond under Mythological Animals, No. 1.

3. The dog. See the same, No. 3.

4. A human figure, possibly representing the priest of the death-god (see
Dr. 28, centre, Dr. 5b and 9a). The last figure is a little doubtful.
It is blindfolded and thus recalls the Aztec deity of frost and sin,
Itztlacoliuhqui. A similar form with eyes bound occurs only once again in
the Maya manuscripts, namely Dr. 50 (centre). That this figure is related
to the death-god is proved by the fact that on Dr. 9a it wears the
Cimi-sign on the middle piece of the chain around its neck. Furthermore
it should be emphasized that the Aztec sin-god, Itztlacoliuhqui, likewise
appears with symbols of death.

5. An isolated figure, Dr. 50a (the sitting figure at the right). This
wears the skull as head ornament, which is represented in exactly the
same way as in the Aztec manuscripts (see Fig. 6).

6. Another isolated figure is twice represented combined with the
death-god in Dr. 22c. This picture is so effaced that it is impossible
to tell what it means. The hieroglyph represents a variant of the
death's-head, Cimi. It seems to signify an ape, which also in the
pictures of the Mexican codices was sometimes used in relation to the

The symbols of the death-god are also found with the figure without a
head on Dr. 2 (45)a, clearly the picture of a beheaded prisoner. Death
symbols occur, too, with the curious picture of a hanged woman on Dr.
53b, a picture which is interesting from the fact that it recalls
vividly a communication of Bishop Landa. Landa tells us, the Mayas
believed that whoever hanged himself did not go to the underworld, but to
"paradise," and as a result of this belief, suicide by hanging was very
common and was chosen on the slightest pretext. Such suicides were
received in paradise by the goddess of the hanged, Ixtab. Ix is the
feminine prefix; tab, taab, tabil mean, according to Perez' Lexicon of
the Maya Language, "cuerda destinada para algun uso exclusivo". The name
of this strange goddess is, therefore, the "Goddess of the Halter" or, as
Landa says, "The Goddess of the Gallows". Now compare Dr. 53. On the
upper half of the page is the death-god represented with hand raised
threateningly, on the lower half is seen the form of a woman suspended by
a rope placed around her neck. The closed eye, the open mouth and the
convulsively outspread fingers, show that she is dead, in fact,
strangled. It is, in all probability, the goddess of the gallows and
halter, Ixtab, the patroness of the hanged, who is pictured here in
company with the death-god; or else it is a victim of this goddess, and
page 53 of the manuscript very probably refers, therefore (even though
the two halves do not belong directly together), to the mythologic
conceptions of death and the lower regions to which Landa alludes.

7. Lastly the owl is to be mentioned as belonging to the death-god,
which, strange to say, is represented nowhere in the pictures
realistically and so that it can be recognized, although other mythologic
animals, as the dog or the moan bird, occur plainly as animals in the
pictures. On the other hand, the owl's head appears on a human body in
the Dresden manuscript as a substitute for the death-deity itself, for
example on Dr. 18c, 19c, 20a and 20c and elsewhere, and forms a
regular attendant hieroglyph of the death-god in the group of three signs
already mentioned (Fig. 5).

Among the antiquities from the Maya region of Central America, there are
many objects and representations, which have reference to the cultus of
the death-god, and show resemblances to the pictures of the manuscripts.
The death-god also plays a role, even today, in the popular superstitions
of the natives of Yucatan, as a kind of spectre that prowls around the
houses of the sick. His name is Yum Cimil, the lord of death.

B. The God With the Large Nose and Lolling Tongue.

[Illustration: Figs. 7-10]

The deity, represented most frequently in all the manuscripts, is a
figure with a long, proboscis-like, pendent nose and a tongue (or teeth,
fangs) hanging out in front and at the sides of the mouth, also with a
characteristic head ornament resembling a knotted bow and with a peculiar
rim to the eye. Fig. 7 is the hieroglyph of this deity. In Codex
Tro.-Cortesianus it usually has the form of Fig. 8.

God B is evidently one of the most important of the Maya pantheon. He
must be a universal deity, to whom the most varied elements, natural
phenomena and activities are subject. He is represented with different
attributes and symbols of power, with torches in his hands as symbols of
fire, sitting in the water and on the water, standing in the rain, riding
in a canoe, enthroned on the clouds of heaven and on the cross-shaped
tree of the four points of the compass, which, on account of its likeness
to the Christian emblem, has many times been the subject of fantastic
hypotheses. We see the god again on the Cab-sign, the symbol of the
earth, with weapons, axe and spears, in his hands, planting kernels of
maize, on a journey (Dr. 65b) staff in hand and a bundle on his back,
and fettered (Dr. 37a) with arms bound behind his back. His entire myth
seems to be recorded in the manuscripts. The great abundance of symbolism
renders difficult the characterization of the deity, and it is well-nigh
impossible to discover that a single mythologic idea underlies the whole.
God B is quite often connected with the serpent, without exhibiting
affinity with the Chicchan-god H (see p. 28). In Dr. 33b, 34b and 35b,
the serpent is in the act of devouring him, or he is rising up out of the
serpent's jaws, as is plainly indicated also by the hieroglyphs, for they
contain the group given in Fig. 10, which is composed of the rattle of
the rattlesnake and the opened hand as a symbol of seizing and
absorption. God B himself is pictured with the body of a serpent in Dr.
35b and 36a (compare No. 2 of the Mythological Animals). He likewise
occurs sitting on the serpent and in Dr. 66a he is twice (1st and 3d
figures) pictured with a snake in his hand.

God B sits on the moan head in Dr. 38c, on a head with the Cauac-sign in
Dr. 39c, 66c, and on the dog in Dr. 29a. All these pictures are meant
to typify his abode in the air, above rain, storm and death-bringing
clouds, from which the lightning falls. The object with the cross-bones
of the death-god, on which he sits in Dr. 66c, can perhaps be explained
in the same manner. As the fish belongs to god B in a symbolic sense, so
the god is represented fishing in Dr. 44 (1). His face with the large
nose and the tongue (or fangs) hanging out on the side in Dr. 44 (1)a
(1st figure) is supposed to be a mask which the priest, representing the
god, assumes during the religious ceremony.

Furthermore the following four well-known symbols of sacrificial gifts
appear in connection with god B in the Dresden manuscript; a sprouting
kernel of maize (or, according to Förstemann, parts of a mammal, game), a
fish, a lizard and a vulture's head, as symbols of the four elements.
They seem to occur, however, in relation also to other deities and
evidently are general symbols of sacrificial gifts. Thus they occur on
the two companion initial pages of the Codex Tro.-Cortesianus, on which
the hieroglyphs of gods C and K are repeated in rows (Tro. 36-Cort. 22.
Compare Förstemann, Kommentar zur Madrider Handschrift, pp. 102, 103).
God B is also connected with the four colors--yellow, red, white and
black--which, according to the conception of the Mayas, correspond to the
cardinal points (yellow, air; red, fire; white, water; black, earth) and
the god himself is occasionally represented with a black body, for
example on Dr. 29c, 31c and 69. This is expressed in the hieroglyphs by
the sign, Fig. 9, which signifies black and is one of the four signs of
the symbolic colors for the cardinal points.

God B is represented with all the _four cardinal points_, a
characteristic, which he shares only with god C, god K, and, in one
instance, with god F (see Tro. 29*c); he appears as ruler of all the
points of the compass; north, south, east and west as well as air, fire,
water and earth are subject to him.

Opinions concerning the significance of this deity are much divided. It
is most probable that he is Kukulcan, a figure occurring repeatedly in
the mythology of the Central American peoples and whose name, like that
of the kindred deity Quetzalcoatl among the Aztecs and Gucumatz among the
Quiches, means the "feathered serpent", "the bird serpent". Kukulcan and
Gucumatz are those figures of Central American mythology, to which belong
the legends of the creation of the world and of mankind. Furthermore
Kukulcan is considered as the founder of civilization, as the builder of
cities, as hero-god, and appears in another conception as the rain-deity,
and--since the serpent has a mythologic relation to water--as serpent
deity. J. Walter Fewkes, who has made this god-figure of the Maya
manuscripts the subject of a monograph (A Study of Certain Figures in a
Maya Codex, in American Anthropologist, Vol. VII, No. 3, Washington,
1894), also inclines to the belief that B is the god Kukulcan, whom he
conceives of as a serpent-and rain-deity. This view has been accepted by
Förstemann (Die Tagegötter der Mayas, Globus, Vol. 73, No. 10) and also
by Cyrus Thomas (Aids to the Study of the Maya Codices, Washington,
1888). The same opinion is held also by E. P. Dieseldorff, who, a
resident of Guatemala, the region of the ancient Maya civilization, has
instituted excavations which have been successful in furnishing most
satisfactory material for these researches (see Dieseldorff: Kukulcan,
Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 1895, p. 780). Others have considered god B
as the first parent and lord of the heavens, Itzamná who has a mythologic
importance analogous to that of Kukulcan. Itzamná is also held to be the
god of creation and founder of civilization and accordingly seems to be
not very remotely allied to the god Kukulcan. Others again, for example
Brasseur de Bourbourg and Seler, have interpreted the figure of god B to
represent the fourfold god of the cardinal points and rain-god Chac, a
counterpart of the Aztec rain-god Tlaloc. The fact that this god-figure
is so frequently connected with the serpent and the bird is strongly in
favor of the correctness of the supposition, that we should see in god B
a figure corresponding to the Kukulcan of tradition. Thus we see the god
represented once with the body of a serpent and with a bird near by
(Cort. 10b), while B's hieroglyph appears both times in the text. God B
is also pictured elsewhere repeatedly with a serpent body, thus for
example on Dr. 35b, 36a. On pages 4-6 of the Codex Cortesianus he is
pictured six times and each time in connection with a serpent.

The accounts we have received concerning the mythology of the Maya
peoples are very meagre and owing to the uncertainty respecting the
origin of the Maya manuscripts, it cannot even be determined which of
these accounts are applicable to the Maya manuscripts, or, indeed,
whether they are applicable at all. For it is by no means positively
proved that these manuscripts did not originate in regions of Maya
culture, regarding which we have received no accounts at all. As our
present purpose is purely that of description and determination, it
remains quite unimportant which of these recorded figures of gods shall
be regarded as god B.

God B is nearly allied to, but in no wise identical with, the deity with
the large ornamented nose, designated by K, who will be discussed farther
on. God K is an independent deity designated by a special hieroglyph, but
like C he stands in an unknown relation to God B (for details see K).

Finally it should be mentioned, that god B never appears with death
symbols. He is clearly a deity of life and creation, in contrast to the
powers of death and destruction.

His day seems to be Ik (aspiration, breath, life). (Compare Förstemann,
Die Tagegötter der Mayas, Globus, Vol. 73, No. 10).

C. The God with the Ornamented Face.

[Illustration: Figs. 11-16]

This is one of the most remarkable and most difficult figures of the Maya
manuscripts, and shows, at the same time, how imperfect must be the
information we have received in regard to the Maya mythology, since from
the frequency of his representations he is obviously one of the most
important deities and yet can be identified with none of the
representations of gods handed down to us. His hieroglyph is definitely
determined (Figs. 11, 12). The circular design in front of the forehead
of the hieroglyph head seems, as a variant from the Codex Tro. (Fig. 12)
leads us to suppose, to denote the ideographic representation of pouring
out or emptying a vessel, the contents of which flow into the mouth of
the god. Another variant of this prefix occurs in Tro. 13*b; Fig. 15,
the symbol of the sacrificial knife, and instead of the prefix the
numeral 13 occurs in one instance! (Tro. 12*c). The head alone, without
any accessory symbol whatever, is also found a few times, not in the
text, however, but only in the pictures, for example Cort. 10 (bottom)
and Tro. 13* (bottom). This deity does not occur very often in the
Dresden manuscript, the places where it is depicted are: Dr. 5a, 6c,
13b, 35a, 68a, and as a subordinate figure on 8c, 42a. His
hieroglyph occurs alone a few times, as in Dr. 4; it is more frequent in
the Madrid manuscript. It appears on pp. 15 to 18 of the Paris

In regard to the significance of this deity, he doubtless represents the
personification of a heavenly body of astronomic importance, probably the
polar star. In Codex Cort. 10 (bottom), his head is represented
surrounded by a nimbus of rays, which can only mean a star (see Fig. 13).
On the lower part of the same page, the third picture from the left, we
again see the deity hanging from the sky in a kind of rope. Furthermore
it appears in Codex Tro. 20, 22 and 23 (centre) Fig. 14, in the familiar
rectangular planet signs. Tro. 17* (at the top) the head surmounts the
cross-shaped tree of god B, which denotes the lofty, celestial abode.
Indeed, these passages prove positively that a heavenly body underlies
the idea of this deity.

Furthermore, the head of this god recurs in entire rows in the calendric
group of tabular form on the so-called initial page of the Codex Tro. 36,
with its continuation in the Cort. p. 22, and in exactly the same manner
in the allied passage of Tro. 14 (middle and bottom). In addition, his
head is contained in the symbol for the north (Fig. 16); the head
contained in this sign is in fact nothing else than the head of god C.

Brinton also accepts this interpretation of god C. According to
Förstemann (Die Mayahieroglyphen, Globus, Vol. 71, No. 5), the fact that
the figure of god C in the Tonalamatl in Dr. 4a-10a occurs on the day
Chuen of the Maya calendar, which corresponds to the day Ozomatli, the
ape, in the Aztec calendar, seems to indicate that the singular head of C
is that of an _ape_, whose lateral nasal cavity (peculiar to the American
ape or monkey) is occasionally represented plainly in the hieroglyph
picture. Hence it might further be assumed that god C symbolizes not the
polar star alone, but rather the entire _constellation of the Little
Bear_. And, in fact, the figure of a long-tailed ape is quite appropriate
to the constellation, at any rate decidedly more so than the Bear;
indeed, it suggests the prehensile tail by means of which the ape could
attach himself to the pole and in the form of the constellation swing
around the pole as around a fixed point.

These astronomical surmises seem to be contradicted by the fact that god
C, as already stated, is represented with all the four cardinal points
(compare for example Cort. 10 and 11, bottom), which would certainly seem
to harmonize ill with his personification of the north star, unless we
assume, that in a different conception of the polar star he is ruler of
the cardinal points, which are determined from him as a centre.

It has already been remarked of B, that the deity C appears to stand in
some sort of relation to him. In fact, we find on those pages of the
Dresden manuscript, where B is represented with the four cardinal points,
that the hieroglyph of C almost always occurs in the text also (for
example Dr. 29, et seq., especially Dr. 32c). Indeed, C's hieroglyph is
connected even with the signs of the symbolic colors of the cardinal
points, already mentioned in connection with B.

Finally, it should be borne in mind, that god C also seems to be
connected in some way with the serpent (compare Dr. 36b, 1st and 3d

According to Förstemann, the day ruled by C seems to be Chuen.

D. The Moon- and Night-God.

[Illustration: Figs. 17-20]

This is a deity who is pictured in the form of an old man with an aged
face and sunken, toothless mouth. He is frequently characterized by a
long, pendent head ornament, in which is the sign Akbal, darkness, night,
which also appears in his hieroglyph before the forehead of the deity,
surrounded by dots as an indication of the starry sky. His name-hieroglyph
is Fig. 17, and a second sign almost always follows (Fig. 18) which
evidently serves likewise as a designation of the god, just as god A also
is always designated by _two_ hieroglyphs. The second sign consists of
two sacrificial knives and the sign of the day Ahau, which is equivalent
to "king".

The head of this deity appears in reduced, cursive form as the sign of
the moon (Fig. 20). This character also has the significance of 20 as a
number sign in the calendar. The association of these ideas probably
rests upon the ancient conceptions, according to which the moon
appearing, waxing, waning and again disappearing, was compared to man,
and man in primeval ages was the most primitive calculating machine,
being equivalent, from the sum of his fingers and toes, to the number 20.
Twenty days is also the duration of that period during which the moon
(aside from the new moon) is really _alive_. Moreover the sign (Fig. 20)
appears in many places as a counterpart of the sign for the sun.

God D occurs once as feminine in the same passage mentioned above, in
which the death-deity is also pictured as feminine (Dr. 9c). In a few
other places the god is, curiously enough, depicted with a short beard,
as Dr. 4c, 7a, 27b. He seems to stand in an unknown relation to the
water-goddess I (see this deity) with the serpent as a head ornament,
compare Dr. 9c, where apparently this goddess is represented, though the
text has D's sign; still it is possible that god D is pictured here with
the attributes of goddess I.

God D is not connected with the grim powers of destruction; he never
appears with death symbols. In Dr. 5c and 9a he wears the snail on his
head. He seems, therefore, like god A to be connected with birth. In Dr.
8c he is connected with god C, and this is quite appropriate, if we look
upon these gods as heavenly bodies. The aged face, the sunken, toothless
mouth are his distinguishing marks. In the Madrid manuscript, where god D
occurs with special frequency, his chief characteristic, by which he is
always easily recognized, is the single tooth in his under-jaw (see Fig.
19), compare too Dr. 8c, where the solitary tooth is also to be seen. In
Dr. 9a (1st figure) the god holds in his hand a kind of sprinkler with
the rattles of the rattlesnake, as Landa (Cap. 26) describes the god in
connection with the rite of infant baptism (see also Cort. 26, Tro. 7*a
and 13*c)

A very remarkable passage is Tro. 15*; there a figure is pictured carving
with a hatchet a head, which it holds in its hand. Above it are four
hieroglyphs. The first shows a hatchet and the moon; the second probably
represents simply a head, while the third and fourth are those of god D,
the moon-god. This passage, the meaning of which is unfortunately still
obscure seems to contain a definite explanation of god D.

J. Walter Fewkes has made god D the subject of a special, very detailed
monograph (The God "D" in the Codex Cortesianus, Washington, 1895) in
which he has treated also of gods B and G, whom he considers allied to D.
He believes D to be the god Itzamná, as do also Förstemann, Cyrus Thomas
and Seler, and sees sun-gods in all three of these deities. Whether god D
is to be separated from G and B as an independent deity, Fewkes thinks is
doubtful. Brinton again holds that god D is Kukulcan. These different
opinions show, at all events, on what uncertain grounds such attempts at
interpretation stand, and that it is best to be satisfied with
designating the deities by letters and collecting material for their
purely descriptive designation.

According to Förstemann the calendar day devoted to D is Ahau.

E. The Maize-God.

[Illustration: Figs. 21-27]

This god bears on his head the Kan-sign and above it the ear of maize
with leaves (Fig. 23); compare Dr. 9b (left figure), 11b, 12a, etc.
The hieroglyph is definitely determined (Fig. 21). The god is identical
with the figures recurring with especial frequency in the Madrid
manuscript, the heads of which are prolonged upward and curved backward
in a peculiar manner; compare Cort. 15a, 20c, 40 (bottom), Tro. 32*b
(Figs. 25-27) and especially the representation in Dr. 50a (Fig. 24),
which is very distinct. This head was evolved out of the conventional
drawing of the ear of maize; compare the pictures of the maize plant in
the Codex Tro., p. 29b (Fig. 22) with the head ornament of the god in
Dr. 9b (Fig. 23), 9a, 12a; what was originally a head ornament finally
passed into the form of the head itself, so that the latter appears now
as an ear of maize surrounded by leaves. Compare the pictures, Figs.
25-27. That these gods with elongated heads are, in point of fact,
identical with E is plainly seen from the passage in Dr. 2 (45)c (first
figure). There the figure represented, which is exactly like the pictures
in the Madrid manuscript, is designated explicitly as god E by the third
hieroglyph in the accompanying writing.

The hieroglyph of this deity is thus explained; it is the head of the god
merged into the conventionalized form of the ear of maize surrounded by
leaves. When we remember that the Maya nations practised the custom of
artificially deforming the skull, as is seen in particular on the reliefs
at Palenque, we may also regard the heads of these deities as
representations of such artificially flattened skulls.

God E occurs frequently as the god of husbandry, especially in the Madrid
manuscript, which devotes much attention to agriculture. He seems to be a
counterpart of the Mexican maize-god Centeotl. The passages in the Madrid
manuscript (Tro. 29a and Cort. 39a, 40a) are very remarkable, where
the deity E is represented in the position of a woman in labor with
numerals on the abdomen; perhaps the underlying idea is that of

In the Codex Cort., p. 40, this grain-deity is pictured with a tall and
slender vessel before him, which he holds in his hands. It is possible
that this is meant to suggest a grain receptacle; to be sure, in the same
place, other figures of gods likewise have such vessels in their hands.
At any rate, it is interesting to note that in the passage already
mentioned (Dr. 50a) god E also holds a similar tall and slender vessel
in his hands.

According to all appearances the scene pictured in Dr. 50a has reference
to the conflict of the grain-god with a death-deity. The latter, the
figure sitting on the right, is characterized by a skull as a head
ornament (see Fig. 6) and seems to address threats or commands to god E,
who stands before him in the attitude of a terrified and cowed

Furthermore god E has nothing to do with the powers of the underworld; he
is a god of life, of prosperity and fruitfulness; symbols of death are
never found in connection with him. Brinton calls this god Ghanan,
equivalent to Kan; it is possible, too, that he is identical with a deity
Yum Kaax who has been handed down to us and whose name means "Lord of the
harvest fields".

According to Förstemann the day dedicated to this god is Kan.

F. The God of War and of Human Sacrifices.

[Illustration: Figs. 28-34]

This is a deity closely related to the death-god A, resembling the Aztec
Xipe, and may, I think, without hesitation be regarded simply as the god
of human sacrifice, perhaps, even more generally, as the god of death by
violence. His hieroglyph is Figs. 28-30; it contains the number 11. A
variant of this occurs on Dr. 7b, where instead of the 11 there is the
following sign: [Hieroglyph]

The characteristic mark of god F is a single black line usually running
perpendicularly down the face in the vicinity of the eye. This line
should be distinguished from the parallel lines of C's face and from the
line, which, as a continuation of god E's head resembling an ear of
maize, frequently appears on his face, especially as in the variants of
the Madrid manuscript (compare Figs. 25-27). These pictures of E can
always be unfailingly recognized by the peculiar shape of the head and
should be distinguished from those representing F. The black face-line is
the distinguishing mark of god F, just as it is of the Aztec Xipe. It
sometimes runs in a curve over the cheek as a thick, black stripe, as
Cort. 42. Sometimes it encircles the eye only (Dr. 6a) and again it is a
dotted double line (Dr. 6b). The hieroglyph of god F likewise exhibits
this line and with the very same variants as the god himself. See the
hieroglyphs of the god belonging to the pictures in Dr. 6a, 1st and 3d
figures, in which the line likewise differs from the other forms (Figs.

In a few places god F is pictured with the same black lines _on his
entire body_, which elsewhere he has only on his face, the lines being
like those in Fig. 31, namely Tro. 27*c. Indeed, in Tro. 28*c, the
death-god A likewise has these black lines on his body and also F's line
on his face; a clear proof of the close relationship of the two deities.
These lines probably signify gaping death-wounds and the accompanying
rows of dots are intended to represent the blood.

Since god F is a death-deity the familiar sign (Fig. 5), which occurs so
frequently with the hieroglyphs of A, also belongs to his symbols. F is
pictured in company with the death-god in connection with human sacrifice
(Cort. 42); an exactly similar picture of the two gods of human sacrifice
is given in Codex Tro. 30d; here, too, they sit opposite one another.
The identity of this attendant of death with the deity, designated by the
hieroglyph with the numeral 11, is proved by the following passages:
Tro. 19, bottom (on the extreme right hand without picture, only
hieroglyph, see Fig. 29), Dr. 5b, 6a, b, and c and many others. In
some of the passages cited (Dr. 5a and b) he is distinguished by an
unusually large ear-peg. His hieroglyph occurs with the hieroglyph of the
death-god in Dr. 6c, where he is himself not pictured.

As war-god, god F occurs combined with the death-god in the passages
mentioned above (Tro. 27*-29*c), where he sets the houses on fire with
his torch and demolishes them with his spear.

God F occurs quite frequently in the manuscripts and must therefore be
considered as one of the more important deities.

According to Förstemann his day is Manik, the seizing, grasping hand,
symbolizing the capturing of an enemy in war for sacrificial purposes.

F's sign occurs once, as mentioned above, in fourfold repetition with all
the four cardinal points, namely in Tro. 29*c. In ancient Central
America the captured enemy was sacrificed and thus the conceptions of the
war-god and of the god of death by violence and by human sacrifice are
united in the figure of god F. In this character god F occurs several
times in the Madrid manuscript in combat with M, the god of travelling
merchants (see page 35). Spanish writers do not mention a deity of the
kind described here as belonging to the Maya pantheon.

G. The Sun-God.

[Illustration: Figs. 35-36]

God G's hieroglyph (Fig. 35) contains as its chief factor the sun-sign
Kin. It is one of the signs (of which there are about 12 in the
manuscripts), which has the Ben-ik prefix and doubtless denotes a month
dedicated to the sun. There is, I think, no difference of opinion
regarding the significance of this deity, although Fewkes, as already
stated, is inclined to identify G with B, whom, it is true, the former
resembles. It is surprising that a deity who from his nature must be
considered as very important, is represented with such comparative
infrequency. He occurs only a few times in the Dresden manuscript, for
example 22b, 11c, and in the Codex Tro.-Cortesianus none can be found
among the figures which could be safely regarded as the sun-god; in no
manuscript except the Dresden does a deity occur wearing the sun-sign Kin
on his body. But once in the Codex Cort. the figure of D appears with the
sun-sign on his head, as pointed out by Fewkes in his article entitled
"The God 'D' in the Codex Cortesianus". G's hieroglyph, to be sure, is
found repeatedly in the Madrid manuscript, for example Codex Tro. 31c.

God G seems to be not wholly without relation to the powers of death; the
owl-sign (Fig. 5) occurs once in connection with him (Dr. 11c). Besides
the sun-sign Kin, which the god bears on his body, his representations
are distinguished by a peculiar nose ornament (Fig. 36) which, as may be
seen by comparison with other similar pictures in the Dresden manuscript,
is nothing but a large and especially elaborate nose-peg. Similar
ornaments are rather common just here in the carefully drawn first part
of the Dresden manuscript. Compare Dr. 22b (middle figure), 21 (centre),
17b, 14a, b; occasionally they also have the shape of a flower, for
example 12b (centre), 11c (left), 19a. Lastly it is worthy of note,
that god G is sometimes represented with a snake-like tongue protruding
from his mouth, as in Dr. 11b and c.

H. The Chicchan-God.

[Illustration: Figs. 37-40]

The figure of a deity of frequent occurrence in the Dresden manuscript is
a god, who is characterized by a skin-spot or a scale of a serpent on his
temple of the same shape as the hieroglyph of the day Chicchan (serpent).
Moreover the representations of the god himself differ very much, so that
there are almost no other positive, unvarying characteristic marks to be
specified. His picture is plainly recognizable and has the Chicchan-mark
on the temple in Dr. 11a, 12b and 20b.

The hieroglyph belonging to this deity likewise displays the
Chicchan-sign as its distinguishing mark. Furthermore several variants
occur. The Chicchan-sign has sometimes the form of Fig. 37 and again that
of Fig. 38. The prefix likewise differs very much, having sometimes the
form of Fig. 37, and again that of Fig. 38 or of Figs. 39 and 40. Thus
there are, in all, four different forms of the prefix. It is to be
assumed that all these hieroglyphs have the same meaning, notwithstanding
their variations. Taking into consideration the frequency of the
variations of other hieroglyphs of gods and of the hieroglyphs in the
Maya manuscripts in general, it is quite improbable from the nature of
the case, that a hieroglyph, which displays so great an agreement in its
essential and characteristic elements, should denote several different
gods. The dissimilarity which Seler thinks he finds between the forms of
the Chicchan-sign in Figs. 37 and 38 and which leads him to assume that
Fig. 37 is not a Chicchan-sign at all, but that it denotes another face
ornament, cannot be satisfactorily proved, and must be regarded as an
arbitrary assumption. The Chicchan-mark in the sign of the day Chicchan
also differs very much from that on the bodies of the serpents pictured
in the manuuscripts, so that variations of this kind by no means make it
necessary to assume that the hieroglyphs actually denote different
things. Observe, for example, the different Chicchan-spots on the
serpent's body in Tro. 27a. The crenelated, black border of the
Chicchan-spot in Fig. 38 passes in rapid cursive drawing almost of itself
into the scallops of Fig. 37, a transition to which there are distinct
tendencies on the serpent's body in Tro. 27a. Nor does the fact, that
under H's hieroglyph different personages are very often pictured, whom
we cannot positively identify, compel the assumption that we have here
not _one_, but two or more mythical figures, for the same is true of
other hieroglyphs of gods. There are many places in the manuscripts where
the text contains a definite well-known hieroglyph of a god, while the
accompanying picture represents some other deity or some other figure not
definitely characterized, perhaps merely a human form (priest, warrior,
woman and the like). Thus in Dr. 4a we see H's hieroglyph in the text,
but the picture is the figure of god P while in other places we miss the
characteristic Chicchan-spot on the figure represented, for example Dr.
4c, 6a, 7b, 7c, 14a, 21c. In the Madrid manuscript, it is true, H's
hieroglyph also occurs often enough, but _not in a single instance_ is a
deity represented displaying the Chicchan-spot. This fact is, I think, to
be explained by the coarser style of the drawing, which does not admit of
representing such fine details as in the Dresden manuscript. In the Paris
manuscript H's hieroglyph occurs but once (p. 8, bottom).

Seler thinks he recognizes in some of the figures represented under H's
hieroglyph in the manuscripts, a so-called "young god". Such a deity is
unknown and the assumption is entirely arbitrary. Apparently this "young
god" is an invention of Brinton. The purely inductive and descriptive
study of the manuscripts does not prove the existence of such a
personage, and we must decline to admit him as the result of deductive
reasoning. In this so-called "young god", we miss, first of all, a
characteristic mark, a distinct peculiarity such as belongs to all the
figures of gods in the manuscripts without exception and by which he
could be recognized. Except his so-called youthfulness, however, no such
definite marks are to be found. Furthermore there is no figure of a god
in the manuscripts which would not be designated by a definite
characteristic hieroglyph. No such hieroglyph can be proved as belonging
to the "young god". The figures, which are supposed to have a "youthful
appearance" in the Madrid manuscript, often convey this impression merely
in consequence of their smallness and of the pitiful, squatting attitude
in which they are represented. Furthermore real _children_ do occur here
and there, thus, for example, in the Dresden manuscript in connection
with the pictures of women in the first part and in Tro. 20*c in the
representation of the so-called "infant baptism."

That god H has some relation to the serpent must be conjectured from what
has been said. Thus, for example, on Dr. 15b, we see his hieroglyph
belonging to the figure of a woman with the knotted serpent on her head,
in Dr. 4a to the god P, who there bears a serpent in his hand, and in
Dr. 35b in connection with a serpent with B's head. What this relation
is, cannot now be stated.

The day dedicated to god H is Chicchan, and the sign for this day is his
distinguishing hieroglyph.

I. The Water-Goddess.

[Illustration: Fig. 41]

In the Dresden manuscript the figure of an old woman, with the body
stained brown and claws in place of feet, occurs repeatedly. She wears on
her head a knotted serpent and with her hands pours water from a vessel.
Evidently we have here a personification of water in its quality of
destroyer, a goddess of floods and cloud-bursts, which, as we know, play
an important part in Central America. Page 27, of the Codex Troano
contains a picture, in which this character of goddess I may be
distinctly recognized. In accordance with this character, also on Dr. 74,
where something resembling a flood is represented, she wears the
cross-bones of the death-god.

The goddess is pictured in the manner described in the following places:
Dr. 39b, 43b, 67a and 74. The figure corresponding to her in the
Madrid manuscript, in Tro. 27 and 34*c, displays some variations, in
particular the tiger claws on the feet and the red-brown color of the
body are lacking. But the agreement cannot be questioned, I think, when
we recall that the Maya manuscripts doubtless originated in different
ages and different areas of civilization, circumstances which readily
explain such variations. The goddess distinguished in the Madrid
manuscript by symbols of flood and water is doubtless the same as goddess
I of the Dresden manuscript described above; her unmistakable character
of water-goddess in both manuscripts is in favor of this. In both
manuscripts she is invariably distinguished by the serpent on her head,
which, as we know, is a symbol of the water flowing along and forming

Strange to say, a fixed hieroglyph of this goddess cannot be proved with
certainty. There is some probability in favor of the sign given in Fig.
41. The well-known oblong signs, which Förstemann (Drei Mayahieroglyphen,
published in the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 1901, pp. 215-221) interprets
as the sign for evil days, frequently occur with her. This would be
appropriate for the goddess of floods.

In the Dresden manuscript a few similar figures of women are found, who,
like goddess I, wear a knotted serpent on the head. Representations of
this kind occur in Dr. 9c, 15b, 18a, 20a, 22b and 23b. Whether they
are identical with goddess I is doubtful, since there is no symbolic
reference to water in these passages. Besides, the hieroglyphs of other
known deities occur each time in the above-mentioned places, so that
definite mythologic relations must be assumed to exist here between the
women repsented and the deities in question. Thus in Dr. 9c we find D's
sign, in 15b that of H; on 18a, 22b and 23b we see only the general
sign for a woman. In Dr. 20a the signs are effaced.

In the Codex Troano goddess I occurs on pp. 25b and 27; there is also a
woman with the knotted serpent on her head in Tro. 34*c. In the Codex
Cortesianus and in the Paris manuscript these forms are wholly lacking.

K. The God with the Ornamented Nose.

[Illustration: Figs. 42-43]

This god, as already mentioned in connection with B, is not identical
with the latter, but is probably closely related to him. His hieroglyph
is Fig. 42; Fig. 43 is the form in the Madrid manuscript. He is closely
related to god B. He is represented in Dr. 25 (centre) where he is
perhaps conceived of as a priest wearing a mask with the face of the god,
also in Dr. 7a, 12a (with his own hieroglyph and that of E!), 26
(bottom) with a variant of the sign. His figure without the hieroglyph
occurs in Dr. 3. Very frequently the well-known group, 3 Oc, is given
with him and in connection with his hieroglyph (in Dr. 3, 7a, 10b
(right); without picture, 12a). Förstemann (Drei Mayahieroglyphen,
Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 1901. pp 215-221) sees in this the sign for
good days, a proof that we have to do here with a benevolent deity well
disposed to mankind, his kinship with B being also in favor of this
interpretation. His hieroglyph alone without his picture occurs in Dr.
10b, 49 (middle and bottom), 58 (bottom, left), and Tro. 8*b; with a
variant of the attribute in Dr. 24 (third vertical row). A slight
variation appears also in Dr. 69 (top, right).

In Dr. 65a (middle) B is pictured. But in the text we see K's hieroglyph
presented by a hand. The next figure on the same page at the right
represents god B with the head of K on his own and the same head once
more in his hand. Agreeing with this, we find in the accompanying text
the signs of B and K, the latter in a hand. K seems to be pictured again
in Dr. 46 (bottom); the passage, however, is somewhat obliterated. The
hieroglyph is lacking in this place; it is found, however, on the
preceding page 45 (middle).

In addition to the passage already mentioned, which represents god K
together with B, such double deities again occur in the Paris manuscript,
p. 13, where B holds K's head in his hand; in Dr. 34b, where he carries
this head on his own and in Dr. 67a where he appears to carry it in a
rope. Once, how ever, a variation of these plainly synonymous
representations occurs, namely in Dr. 49 (at the top), where we see a
_feminine_ form above whose head rises the head of god K. In the Paris
manuscript, so far as its defaced condition permits us to recognize the
representation, K occurs very frequently, as for example, in Per. 3, 4, 5,
6, 7 and 9 (in part only his head is given, presented by god B, as in the
Dresden manuscript).

Brinton considers this figure simply as a special manifestation of B and
identical with that god. Förstemann thinks that god K is a storm-deity,
whose ornamental nose, according to the conventional mode of drawing of
the Central American peoples, is intended to represent the blast of the

Apparently, however, the deity has an _astronomic significance_ and seems
to symbolize a _star_. In favor of this is the fact, that on the
so-called initial pages of the Madrid manuscript (Cort. 22-Tro. 36) a
row, composed of repetitions of his sign, occurs below the signs of the
cardinal points and parallel to a row composed of signs of god C, the
god of the polar star and the north. The hieroglyphs of C and K are the
only hieroglyphs of gods, which are repeated 13 times on these pages with
the 13 days enumerated there. The two gods must, therefore, have either a
parallel or an opposite astronomic and calendric meaning. The fact that
in Dr. 25 and 26 K appears as regent of the year, is an argument in favor
of his astronomic significance.

According to Förstemann, Muluc is the day dedicated to god K.

In the head of god K we recognize the ornament so common in the temple
ruins of Central America--the so-called "elephant's trunk." The peculiar,
conventionalized face, with the projecting proboscis-shaped nose, which is
applied chiefly to the corners of temple walls, displays unquestionably
the features of god K. The significance of god K in this architectural
relation is unknown. Some connection with his character as the deity of a
star and with his astronomic qualities may, however, be assumed, since, as
we know, the temple structures of Central America are always placed with
reference _to the cardinal points_.

L. The Old, Black God.

[Illustration: Fig. 44]

God L's features are those of an old man with sunken, toothless mouth.
His hieroglyph is Fig. 44, which is characterized by the black face.

God L, who is also black, must not be confounded with M whose description
follows. L is represented and designated by his hieroglyph in the
accompanying text, in Dr. 14b and 14c and Dr. 46b; the figure has the
characteristic black face. He appears entirely black in Dr. 7a. The
hieroglyph alone occurs in Dr. 21b and 24 (third vertical line in the
first passage) with a variation, namely without the Ymix-sign before the
head. This deity does not occur in the Madrid and Paris manuscripts.

The significance of god L does not appear from the few pictures, which
are given of him. In Dr. 46b the god is pictured armed and in warlike
attitude. Both in Dr. 14b and 14c he wears a bird on his head and has a
Kan in his hand.

According to Förstemann, his day is Akbal, darkness, night.

Cyrus Thomas (Aids to the Study of the Maya Codices, in the 6th Annual
Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, Washington, 1888, p. 358) thinks he is
the god Ekchuah, who has come down to us as a black deity. God M seems,
however, to correspond to Ekchuah (see the description of M).

M. The Black God with the Red Lips.

[Illustration: Figs. 45-48]

God M's hieroglyph is Figs. 45, 46; it seems to represent an eye rimmed
with black, though the figure of the god himself displays an entirely
different drawing of the eye (see Fig. 47).

The god is found in the Dresden manuscript only three times, namely in
Dr. 16b (with a bone in his hand) in picture and sign, in Dr. 13c
grouped with an animal, without the hieroglyph, and in Dr. 43a (with his
sign) while finally his hieroglyph alone appears in Dr. 56 (top, left) in
a group and of a somewhat different form.

On the other hand, god M appears with special frequency in the Madrid
manuscript, which treats of this deity with great fullness of detail.
While he is represented in the Dresden manuscript (16b) with his body
striped black and white, and on p. 43a entirely white, he is always
entirely black in the Codex Troano. His other distinguishing marks are
the following:

1. The mouth encircled by a red-brown border.

2. The large, drooping under lip. By this he can be recognized with
certainty also in Dr. 43a.

3. The two curved lines at the right of the eye.

His significance can be conjectured. He seems to be of a warlike nature,
for he is almost always represented armed with the lance and also as
engaged in combat and, in some instances, pierced by the lance of his
opponent, god F, for example in Tro. 3c, 7a, 29*a. The peculiar object
with parallel stripes, which he wears on his head is a rope from which a
package frequently hangs. By means of a rope placed around his head the
god frequently carries a bale of merchandise, as is the custom today
among the aborigines in different parts of America. On 4b and 5a in the
Cod. Tro. this can plainly be seen. All these pictures lead us to
conclude, that we have here to do with a god of _travelling merchants_. A
deity of this character called Ekchuah has been handed down to us, who is
designated explicitly as a _black_ god. In favor of this is also the
fact, that he is represented fighting with F and pierced by the latter.
For the travelling merchant must, of course, be armed to ward off hostile
attacks and these are admirably symbolized by god F, for he is the god of
death in war and of the killing of the captured enemy. The god is found
in the Codex Troano in the following places and on many pages two or
three times: pp. 2, 3, 4, 5, always with the hieroglyph, then without it
on pp. 6, 7, 19, 4*c, 14*b, 17*a, 18*b and again with the hieroglyph
on pp. 22*a, 23*a, 25*a; finally it is found again without the
hieroglyph on pp. 29*a, 30*a, 31*, 32*, 33*, 34*. In the Codex
Cortesianus god M occurs in the following places: p. 15, where he strikes
the sky with the axe and thus causes rain, p. 19 (bottom), 28 (bottom,
second figure), 34 (bottom) and 36 (top). M is always to be recognized by
the encircled mouth and the drooping under-lip; figures without these
marks are not identical with M, thus for example in Tro. 23, 24, 25, 21*.
Tro. 34*a shows what is apparently a variant of M with the face of an
old man, the scorpion's tail and the vertebrae of the death-god, a figure
which in its turn bears on its breast the plainly recognizable head of M.
God M is also represented elsewhere many times with the scorpion's
tail, thus for example on Tro. 30*a, 31*a.

Besides his hieroglyph mentioned above, Figs. 45 and 46, another sign
seems to refer to god M, namely Fig. 48 (compare for example Tro. 5a and
Cort. 28, bottom). The head in this sign has the same curved lines at the
corner of the eye as appear on the deity himself. Förstemann mentions
this sign in his Commentary on the Paris Manuscript, p. 15, and in his
Commentary on the Dresden Manuscript, p. 56. He thinks the hieroglyph has
relation to the revolution of Venus, which is performed in 584 days. A
relation of this kind is, I think, very possible, if we bear in mind that
all the god-figures of the manuscripts have more or less of a calendric
and chronologic significance in their chief or in their secondary

It should be mentioned that God M is represented as a rule as an old man
with toothless jaw or the characteristic solitary tooth. That he is also
related to bee-culture is shown by his presence on p. 4*c of the Codex
Troano, in the section on bees.

Besides gods L and M, a few quite isolated black figures occur in the
Codex Troano, who, apparently, are identical with neither of these two
deities, but are evidently of slight importance and perhaps are only
variants of other deities. Similar figures of black deities are found in
the Codex Tro. 23, 24 and 25 (perhaps this is a black variant of B as god
of the storm?) and on 21*c we twice see a black form with the aged face
and the solitary tooth in the under jaw (perhaps only a variant of M). In
the Codex Cortesianus and in the Dresden manuscript no other black
deities occur, but in the Paris manuscript a black deity seems to be
pictured once (p. 21, bottom).

According to Brinton (Nagualism, Philadelphia 1894, pp. 21, 39), there is
among the Tzendals in addition to Ekchuah, a second black deity called
Xicalahua, "black lord".

N. The God of the End of the Year.

[Illustration: Figs. 49-51]

We have here a deity with the features of an old man and wearing a
peculiar head ornament reproduced in Fig. 50, which contains the sign for
the year of 360 days. The god's hieroglyph is Fig. 49, which consists of
the numeral 5 with the sign of the month Zac. Förstemann has recognized
in god N the god of the five Uayeyab days, which were added as
intercalary days at the end of the original year of 360 days, and were
considered unlucky days. N is, therefore, the god of the end of the year.
Förstemann has discussed him in detail under this title in a monograph
published in Globus, Vol. 80, No. 12. It is still open to question
whether god N actually occurs in all the places of the Dresden
manuscript, which are mentioned by Förstemann. He can be recognized
positively on Dr. 17a, 21c (grouped with a woman) and 37a; also on
12c, but in this latter place with pronounced deviations from the usual
representations. The figures in Dr. 23c (first group) and 43a (third
picture) are doubtful, especially since the hieroglyph of the god is
lacking in both instances. The third group in Dr. 21c is equally
dubious. Here a woman is pictured sitting opposite a god. The latter
seems to be god N, yet in the text we find instead of his sign the
hieroglyph given in Fig. 51. It is not impossible that this sign likewise
denotes god N.

God N is found a few times in the Paris manuscript, for example on p. 4,
where he holds K's head in his hands, and on p. 22.

O. A Goddess with the Features of an Old Woman.

[Illustration: Fig. 52]

This goddess occurs only in the Madrid manuscript and is distinguished by
the solitary tooth in the under jaw, as a sign of age, the invariable
characteristic of aged persons in the manuscripts. She is pictured in the
following places: Tro. 5*c, 6*b, and 11*b, c and d, Cort. 10b,
11a, 38a. In Tro. 11* she is represented working at a loom. She does
not appear at all in the Dresden and Paris manuscripts. The figures of
women mentioned under I with the serpent on their heads, are especially
not to be regarded as identical with goddess O, for she never wears the
serpent, but a tuft of hair bound high up on her head and running out in
two locks.

Her hieroglyph is Fig. 52; it is distinguished by the wrinkles of age
about the eye. Owing to the limited number of her pictures, there is
little to be said concerning the significance of this goddess.

P. The Frog-God.

[Illustration: Fig. 53]

We call him the frog-god because in the Codex Tro. 31, he is pictured in
the first and second lines with the club-shaped fingers of a frog, which
occur only on this figure. The blue background, which is his attribute
twice in the same passage, likewise points to a connection with water,
and that the god also has something to do with agriculture may be deduced
from the fact that he is pictured sowing seed and making furrows with the
planting-stick. The two black parallel stripes at the corner of the eye
seem to be folds of skin or marks on the skin, which may represent a
peculiarity of this particular species of frog. His head ornament is very
characteristic and contains the sign for the year of 360 days. He
therefore bears some unknown relation also to the computation of time. It
should be recalled in this connection that one of the Maya months is
called Uo, frog. The god is pictured again in Tro. 30a and b, Tro. 22
(top, scattering seed) and Cort. 5 (at the very bottom, the figure lying
down). Finally his neck ornament must be mentioned, which, as a rule,
consists of a neck-chain with pointed, oblong or pronged objects,
probably shells.

In the Dresden manuscript he occurs but once, Dr. 4a (first figure),
with some variations it is true. The text at this place contains H's
hieroglyph. God P does not occur in the Peresianus.

His hieroglyph is Fig. 53. It occurs in Tro. 31 (top) and can be
unerringly recognized by the two black parallel stripes at the corner of
the eye; which correspond exactly to the same marks on the face of the
picture of the god himself.

This is all that can be said respecting this deity from the pictures in
the manuscripts. Its meaning is obscure. Seler's assumption that god P is
Kukulcan (Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 1898, p. 403) has certainly very
slight foundation, and in view of the material from the manuscripts
described in the preceding pages, it is in the highest degree improbable.

           *       *       *       *       *

The foregoing is an almost complete enumeration of the god-figures proper
in the Maya manuscripts. Whatever other figures of gods occur in the
manuscripts are details of slight importance. This is especially true of
the Dresden manuscript, which is well nigh exhausted by the types
enumerated here; there may be, I think, a few figures still undescribed
in the Madrid manuscript, the careless drawing of which renders the
identification very difficult. An isolated figure of the Dresden
manuscript still remains to be mentioned, concerning which it is doubtful
whether it is intended to represent a deity or only a human personage.

This is the figure characterized by a peculiar head ornament in Dr. 20b.
It is designated in the text by two hieroglyphs, which belong together,
Figs. 54 and 55, the latter occurring once with K (Dr. 7a). It seems to
represent blowing from the mouth, screaming or speaking.

[Illustration: Figs. 54-55]



[Illustration: Figs. 56-59]

This bird[41-1] belongs to the death-god as his symbol and attendant. Its
hieroglyph (Fig. 56) contains the numeral 13; other forms are Figs. 57-59.
It is pictured in Dr. 7c, 10a, 11a, 16c, 18b, and its hieroglyph
without the picture is seen in Dr. 8b. A realistic representation of the
whole figure of the moan as a bird, occurs on the head of the woman in
16c (1st figure) and 18b. God B sits on the head of the moan in Dr.
38c; the third hieroglyph of the accompanying text refers to this
representation. Just as in Dr. 16 and 18, the moan bird appears in Tro.
18*c on the head of a woman. Its character as an attribute of the
death-god is expressed by the Cimi-sign, which it wears upon its head
(_e. g._, Dr. 10a), and also by the regular occurrence of symbols of the
death-god in the written characters, which refer to the moan bird. In the
same manner the sign of the owl, Fig. 5, also occurs frequently with it.

    [41-1] See plate for representations of the Mythological Animals,

The moan confers name and symbol alike on one of the eighteen months of
the Maya year, and thus, as Förstemann conjectures (Die Plejaden bei den
Mayas, in Globus, 1894), has an astronomic bearing on the constellation
of the Pleiades.

According to Brinton the moan is a member of the falcon family and its
zoological name is _Spizaetus tyrannus_.


This is one of the most common and most important mythological animals,
and is closely related to different deities, as has already been more
fully discussed in connection with the individual cases. Apparently it
has no _independent_ significance as a deity. Its most important
personification is that in god B, Kukulcan, the feathered serpent. Hence
a fixed hieroglyph designating the serpent as a deity, as a mythologic
form, does not occur, though there are numerous hieroglyphs which refer
to serpents or represent individual parts of the serpent, as its coils,
its jaws, the rattles of the rattlesnake, etc. The serpent appears in the
mythologic conceptions of the Mayas chiefly as the symbol of water and of
time. In the great series of numbers of the Dresden manuscript, certain
numbers occur which are introduced in the coils of a large serpent
(compare in regard to this, Förstemann, Zur Entzifferung der
Mayahandschriften, II, Dresden, 1891). The serpent is very frequently
represented in all the manuscripts, sometimes realistically and sometimes
with the head of a god, etc. In the Dresden manuscript it occurs in the
following places: 1a, 26, 27, 28c, 35b, 36a, 36b, 37b 40, 42a, 61,
62, 65c 66a and 69. It is prominent also in the Madrid manuscript,
occurring for example in Cort. 4-6, 12-18, Tro. 25, 26, 27 and elsewhere.


[Illustration: Fig. 60]

Fig. 60 is its hieroglyph. It is the symbol of the death-god and the
bearer of the lightning. The latter follows quite clearly from the
picture in Dr. 40b where the god is distinguished by its hieroglyph.
This animal is again represented in Dr. 7a, 13c on the right, 21b with
its hieroglyph, 29a, 30a (forming a part of 31a, where god B holds the
bound dog by the tail), and 39a without the hieroglyph, 47 (bottom) with
a variant of the hieroglyph.

In Dr. 36a the dog bears the Akbal-sign on its forehead. The writing
above it contains a variant of the hieroglyph for the dog; this is the
third of the rubric. It shows (somewhat difficult of recognition) the
Akbal-sign on the forehead of the dog's head occurring in it, and on the
back of the head the Kin-sign, as symbols of the alternation of day and
night. The same sign occurs again with adjuncts in Dr. 74 (last line, 2nd
sign) and once with the _death-god_ in Dr. 8a. The dog as
lightning-beast occurs with the Akbal-sign in the eye instead of on the
forehead in Codex Tro. 23*a; here again its hieroglyph is an entirely
different one (the third of the rubric).

That the dog belongs to the death-god is proved beyond a doubt by the
regular recurrence in the writing belonging to the dog, of the
hieroglyphs, which relate to this deity, especially of Fig. 5. According
to Förstemann his day is Oc.


[Illustration: Fig. 61]

This bird is distinctly pictured as a mythological figure in Dr. 8a. It
appears again, in feminine form, together with the dog, in Dr. 13c and
also in 19a. In the first passage, its hieroglyph is almost effaced; the
hieroglyph is very striking and occurs nowhere else in the whole
collection of manuscripts. The body of this animal-deity is striped black
and white; in Dr. 38b it is almost entirely black. The same passage
displays a second hieroglyph for this figure (Fig. 61); this hieroglyph
also occurs with the numeral 4 in Dr. 56b. In Dr. 36b this bird of prey
is pictured fighting with the serpent; its hieroglyph occurs in the
second form; the serpent is designated by the Chuen, the gaping jaws of
the serpent (first character of the rubric).

Finally it should be mentioned that the head of this bird occurs
frequently as a head ornament, thus in Dr. 11a, 11b, 12b and 14b.
Mention should also be made of the realistic representations of the
vulture, eating the eye of a human sacrifice (Dr. 3, Tro. 26*a and

According to Förstemann his day is Cib.

5. The Jaguar.

[Illustration: Fig. 62]

The jaguar is likewise an animal with mythological significance. It is
represented in Dr. 8a, where its hieroglyph is the third sign in the
writing; it also occurs in Dr. 26 (at the top). It occurs in Tro. 17 (at
the end) with a hieroglyph which represents the jaguar's head and
contains the numeral 4 (Fig. 62); again it appears without a hieroglyph
on p. 20 (bottom) and on 21 and 22 (bottom).

Its day is Ix, and hence it also relates occasionally as year regent to
the Ix years, for example in Dr. 26a.

6. The Tortoise.

[Illustration: Figs. 63-65]

This animal, like the dog, appears as a lightning-beast (see Dr. 40b,
middle). Its hieroglyph is Figs. 63, 64. This sign also is connected with
the numeral 4, which occurs so often with animals (but not alone with
quadrupeds) as to be worthy of attention. The sign of the tortoise
without the numeral is seen in Cort. 17a, where the tortoise itself is
also represented. It must have reference to the 17th month of the Maya
year, for the month Kayab (and apparently also Pop) contains the head of
the tortoise (compare Fig. 65). It occurs several times in the
Cortesianus, thus on pp. 13, 19, 37, 38; on p. 19 with the hieroglyph (on
the top of the lower half of the page, 1st line and at the right of the
margin). In Dr. 69 (at the top) we see the sign of the tortoise with the
Kin-sign as its eye and the numeral 12; under this group B, with a black
body, is seated on the serpent; on the same page the sign occurs again;
each time, moreover, apparently as a month-hieroglyph.

According to Förstemann the tortoise is the symbol of the summer
solstice, as the _snail_, which occurs only as a head ornament in the
manuscripts and not independently, is the symbol of the winter solstice;
both, as the animals of slowest motion, represent the apparent standstill
of the sun at the periods specified. This explains why the month Kayab,
in which the summer solstice falls, should be represented by the head of
a tortoise, which has for its eye the sun-sign Kin (Förstemann, Zur
Entzifferung der Mayahandschriften III, Schildkröte und Schnecke in der
Mayaliteratur, Dresden 1892).

According to Förstemann its day is Cauac.

       *       *       *       *       *

Finally the _owl_ and the _ape_ (or monkey) must be mentioned as animals
of mythologic significance, of which we have already spoken in connection
with gods A and C. The _scorpion_ also seems to have an important
mythologic significance, and appears in the manuscripts in connection
with figures of gods, as, for example, in Cort. 7a and Tro. 31*a,
33*a, 34*a (god M with a scorpion's tail). In addition to those
discussed in this paper, there are a few animals in the manuscripts,
which probably also have a partial mythologic significance, but which
have been omitted because they are represented in a naturalistic manner,
thus, for example, the deer on Tro. 8, et seq., while idealization (with
human bodies, with torches, hieroglyphic character on the head, etc.)
should be considered as an unmistakable sign of mythologic meaning.

A mythologic significance also seems to belong to the _bee_ which plays so
prominent a part of the Codex Troano. Probably the section in question of
the Madrid manuscript (1* et seq.) treats of bee-keeping, but incidentally
it certainly has to do also with the mythologic conceptions connected with
the culture of bees.

The _bat_ which is found as a mythological figure on pottery vessels and
inscriptions from the Maya region (compare Seler, Zeitschrift für
Ethnologie, 1894, p. 577) does not occur in the manuscripts. It is true,
however, that hieroglyphic signs, which seem to relate to the head of the
bat, occur in isolated cases in the manuscripts.


An enumeration of the most important deities in the manuscripts gives the
following results, in connection with which it is to be noted that, of
course, the numbers cannot be absolutely correct, because one or another
of the pictures occasionally remains doubtful. As far as possible,
however, only the _positively_ determined representations have been

The deity occurring most frequently in the DRESDEN MANUSCRIPT is god B,
who is pictured there 141 times. Following him in point of number in the
same manuscript are the death-god A pictured 33 times, god D 19 times,
and gods C and E 17 and 14 times respectively.

In the MADRID MANUSCRIPT, god D, with 84 pictures, is of most frequent
occurrence. He is followed by the maize-god E with 76 pictures, god B
with 71, god A with 53, C with 38 and M with 37 pictures.

In the PARIS MANUSCRIPT, god E's picture can be verified 8 times, those
of C and B 6 times each and that of god A twice; N and K are also
frequently represented.

An enumeration of all the pictures in all the manuscripts shows that the
following deities occur most frequently and are therefore to be
considered the most important:

  1.  God B: pictured 218 times.
  2.   "  D:  "       103  "
  3.   "  E:  "        98  "
  4.   "  A:  "        88  "
  5.   "  C:  "        61  "
  6.   "  M:  "        40  "
  7.   "  F:  "        33  "

Furthermore, interesting conclusions can be arrived at, by means of a
list of those deities, who occur in the representations of the
manuscripts, so _united_ or _grouped together_ as to make it evident that
they must stand in some relation to one another. _Mythologic
combinations_ of this kind occur among the following deities and
mythological animals:

1. In the DRESDEN MANUSCRIPT: D and C, B and C, dog and vulture, bird and
serpent, B and K.

2. In the MADRID MANUSCRIPT: F and M, B and M, C and M, E and M, A and E,
A and D, A and F, B and C, D and C, D and E.

3. In the PARIS MANUSCRIPT: N and K, B and K.

The most common of these combinations are those of the deities A and F, M
and F, A and E, D and C. These groups are entirely intelligible,
consisting of death-god and war-god, god of the travelling merchants and
war-god, death-god and maize-god (as adversaries: meaning famine),
night-god and deity of the polar star.

[Illustration: I. Gods.




II. Mythological Animals.

1 2 3 4 5 6]

     *     *     *     *     *     *

Transcriber's Note:

Typographical errors:

  10   Footnote 1 missing final period
  17   serpent-and rain-deity should read serpent-and-rain-deity
  23   Sentence ending with "and 13*c)" does not have a period
  29   manuuscripts should read manuscripts
  32   repsented should read represented
  33   pp 215-221 should read pp. 215-221
  42   comma missing following 37b
       comma missing following 65c


The placement of punctuation at the end of a word or phrase surrounded
by quotation marks is inconsistent, usually it is placed outside the
final close quotation mark but occasionally is found inside the mark.

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