Mayan Mythology (Myths and Legends of the World)
The Mayan civilization flourished in from around 300 B.C. until the Spanish conquest of the early A.D. 1500S. The mythology of the Maya had many elements in common with those of other civilizations of the region. But the Maya developed their own variation of the Mesoamerican pantheonall the gods of a particular culture of gods and goddesses, the stories about them, and the image of the universe and the place of humans in it.
In Mayan mythology, the gods and heroes had many different names and appearances, stories occurred in varying forms, and scenes and figures changed and shifted with confusing rapidity. Beneath this seeming confusion, though, lay a sense that the universe was an orderly, structured place and that proper behavior toward the gods played an important role in maintaining its harmony and balance.
Background and Sources. The earliest known images of Mesoamerican gods were created by the Olmec civilization of Mexico. Emerging sometime after 1400 B.C., the Olmecs lived along the southern coast of the Gulf of Mexico for roughly a thousand years. They built pyramids that were sacred places where the human realm touched the realm of the gods. They also carved enormous stone heads as images of their leaders and created a long-distance trade network across Mesoamerica to obtain valued items such as jade....
(The entire section is 2156 words.)
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