Itzamna, Mayan God

Itzamna, Mayan God

With all the prevailing shamanic culture, ever wondered who was the maya people’s first Shaman? And before it all began, who had created the earth in the pantheon of the Maya? Who was the ruler of fire in ancient Mayapan? What is the ancient Itzamna the god of? And according to the scriptures, who was Itzamna?

I am author Pourandokht Mazaheri, a snake enthusiast, a historian researcher and a correspondent writer of the Snake store Team. throughout years of cultural studies, I have been following the traces of the divine snakes throughout various cultures. Each culture around the world has worshiped at least one serpent deity; although the ancient South American societies had given a special place to these divine reptiles- with cultural connotations that last even today. 

Itzamna was an equivalent for the creator, or the sky father found in all religions. Itzamna also revealed several sciences to mankind from medicinal plants, to agriculture, to weaving crude fibers into fabrics. He ruled over conflicting realms; day and night, heaven and underworld, and the earth.

You will find the following subtexts in this article;

  • Kinship of Itzamna to other deities in the pantheon of the Maya
  • Manifestations of Itzamna in different forms such as snake, bird and human forms
  • His powers, affinities, and positions among the Mayan deities
  • Ceremonial tributes to Itzamna

Let’s have a look at the complete accounts of the ethereal deity, Itzamna.

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The Mayan culture is solely based on their religious beliefs. They believed in many deities. One of their beliefs is centered around one of their pantheon gods, the most famous god called Itzamna. The name Itzamna means 'lizard house'. In Mayan mythology, it is believed that the god Itzamna lives in heaven and he is the ruler of day and night. He is the chief sky god.

The god Itzamna exemplified all the power. He is the god of fire who created the universe. He took very important roles such as healing in the Mayan religion. Apart from exhibiting so much power, god Itzamna ruled in wisdom.

Itzamna was also referred to as Kukulcan by the Mayan people which meant 'feathery serpent'.

There are various facts about the Itzamna deity as one of the pantheon gods of the Mayans.

 

1- Family of Itzamna

Although god Itzamna is believed to have a close relationship with other deities, not so much is known about this nor the information that can prove that Itzamna is related to other Meso-American sky deities.

Hunab Ku, also considered as the sun deity, is believed to be the father of the god Itzamna. It is understood that Hunab Ku was a very powerful deity who had the power to bring floods to destroy humankind.

Itzamna was married to the elderly element of Ix Chel.

In some stories, it is believed that god Itzamna had thirteen sons. Not much is said about eleven of his sons but it is believed that two of them are important deities, responsible for the creation of the earth.

In some stories, god Itzamna is believed to be the father of Bacab who is the deity responsible for the structure of the world and the sky.

Hachakyum is believed to be the successor of god Itzamna.

itzamna

 2- Description of Itzamna deity

He took different forms that accompanied his characteristics as the most powerful deity among the Mayan pantheon gods.

a) Human form

Itzamna appeared as an old man without teeth with square eyes and a large nose. He also had saggy cheeks.

b) Bird with a two-headed snake in the mouth

He also assumed the form of a bird, which the Mayan people would call a ' bird of heaven'. He appeared as a huge bird whose head looked similar to that of a falcon. The wings had the name day and night on them. The mouth of the bird had a two-headed snake.

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 c) Two-headed caimans

He appeared in the form of a two-headed caiman as well.

d) Skeletal crocodile

His underworld form was that of a skeletal crocodile.

e) A priest wearing a headdress with the sacred bird

Itzamna god also assumed his form when giving blessings to the Mayan leaders through the representation of a priest who wore a headdress with the sacred bird. 

mayan ceremony

3- Powers and abilities of Itzamna god

God Itzamna was a very important deity among the Mayan pantheon gods. He played very important roles and had so much strength and power as a ruler.

a) Primary Creator

The Maya believe that Itzamna is the primary creator responsible for creating the earth, sky, and underworld.

b) Ruler

He ruled over the earth, sky, and the underworld. He ruled with wisdom rather than using his strength. He is also believed to be the ruler of day and night.

c) Healing power

Itzamna deity had the power to heal as well. He was the inventor of all medicines that could heal all diseases that the Mayans suffered from. He had a vast knowledge of trees and plants to be used in inventing medicines.

d) The inventor of calendar and writing

Itzamna played an important role in ensuring that what he invented would be used for the benefit of humankind even in future years. He taught the Mayans how to write and he was the one responsible for inventing days of the calendar. It is for this reason that the Maya community set up days that were meant to specifically worship Itzamna for coming up with such inventions.

mayan calendar

4- How did the Maya worship the god Itzamna?

The Maya worshipped the Itzamna deity according to the powers he possessed. They paid their tribute to Itzamna in the following ways.

  • Setting up days in the calendar to Mark the inventions brought about by Itzamna:

God Itzamna was believed to be the one responsible for inventing writing and the invention of the calendar. He was also the inventor of various medicines which helped in healing people. It is from this power that the Maya set up days in the calendar to pay respect and worship god Itzamna for the inventions he brought.

Apart from writing, Itzamna was also the one that invented drawing according to the Maya community.

  • Priest wearing a headdress with the sacred bird to represent Itzamna's presence when giving blessings to Mayan leaders:

Priests wore headdresses with the sacred bird deity when giving blessings to Mayan leaders. This was a way of showing their respect to the Itzamna god and it also acted as a representation of god Itzamna in their midst. By doing this, it was a way of them honoring and worshiping him. 

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5- Other facts about Itzamna

  • Among the Mayan pantheon gods, Itzamna was considered the chief, most powerful, and most famous deity by the Mayans. He is known to be the primary creator of the earth and sky and he embodied all power that distinguished him from other deities.
  • Itzamna had a vast knowledge about trees since he used them in the making of the medicines he invented. He knew which type of medicine was required to heal a particular ailment.
  • Apart from healing the sick, Itzamna had the power to bring the dead back to life. It is said that he brought several Mayans back to life.
  • He is considered the moon god who brought about the civilization that would benefit generations to come. His invention of writing and drawing is believed to be the beginning of all civilization by the Maya community.
  • He is also said to have been a good god who provided adequate water supply and fertility rather than bringing calamities such as famine and floods. Itzamna ensured that the Mayans had enough food and water.
  • Itzamna is also associated with agriculture and farming. He is the one that taught Mayans how to practice livestock keeping together with crop cultivation. This is in addition to the fact that he had made their land fertile therefore making it easier to carry out agriculture. He had also provided an adequate water supply to help crops flourish.
  • God Itzamna is also related to the colors and points of the compass that include; east, red, north, white, south, yellow, and west, black.

mayan temple

  • He guided the Mayans on the issue of land division. He helped them solve cases that involved ownership of land among the people thus helping the people live harmoniously without disputes.
  • The Mayans believe that Itzamna is responsible for teaching mankind about science and medicine. Itzamna is considered the most knowledgeable god apart from being the most powerful deity. His possession of knowledge in science also played an important role in his inventions.

 

6- Itzamna The Pinnacle Of Mayan Spiritualism

After reading this article, you now a confidant of the sacred allegory of Itzamna, his kinship to other deities based on familial roots in the pantheon of the Maya. You are no longer unfamiliar to the powers of this Mayan deity; instead, you can now interpret the temple drawings of Itzamna in a variety of forms- who manifested from an old man to glorified sky serpent to a skeleton crocodile.

The next time you see the Itzamna- inspired cultural connotations in a motion picture or visual art, or even cultural ceremony, not only you can pinpoint the original inspiration but also share your knowledge with your friends and family. 

While weaving fabric has been denoted to Itzamna by the natives, modern culture yet draws influence from these figurative keynotes. In the same context, explore the realm of snake-inspired clothes that are both mysteriously alluring and carry the authentic serpentine elegance.

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