Gods and Goddesses of the Mayan civilisation

Like the majority of civilizations that have existed on out planet, the Mayans were polytheist. Their Gods derived directly from their relation with nature and the stars, which the Mayan used to observe in detail.

Although the type of beliefs was more or less constant during the Mayan history, we have observed that some researchers of the Mayan religion establish a period previous to the influence of the Toltec and a subsequent one.

But, generally speaking, it can be said that the most important god would be Hunab Kú (which means in Mayan language “only god”), a powerful god that governed the planet and was helped by several secondary deities. This is apparently a contradiction a unique god accompanied by a cohort of gods. Hunab Kú built the world three times. The first time it was inhabited by genies; the second time by an evil and dark race called dzolob; and the third and last one by the Mayan. There are proofs that they believed in other creator gods such as Tepeu and Gocumaz, surely related to the first one.

But the most well known name of this god is, undoubtedly and surely due to the archaeological discoveries, that of Kukulkán, which in Maya “plumed snake”. This caused to relate him to the Quetzalcoatl of the Aztecs. They started using this name under the strong influence of the Toltec. Apart from the name, it is believed that the faith in this god is previous to the Mayans and can be found in other cultures of Central America. The Mayans believed that his heart and his mind were in the center of the universe and that he was the creator of the universe and the human beings.

The names of other gods of this era were derived from the stars: the sun, Kin; the moon, Uh; Venus, Noh Ek; the star of the north Xaman Ek…; and other of less importance. Natural phenomenons also gave their names to new gods: Chaac, the god of the rain; Ik, the god of the wind; or Yum Kak, the god of fire. Human activities also had their own gods such as Yum Kax the god of agriculture; Ek Chuah, the god of war; Itzamná the god of wisdom; Ix Tab the goddess of suicide, which curiously refers to the sacrifices, since it was thought that those who committed suicide when directly to heaven; and Ah Puch the god of death. Maybe apart from Kukulkán there were other two important gods. Itzam Ná, the son of Hunab Kú, was the god of the sky, the night and the day and was represented by an elderly kind-hearted and toothless man. It was said that he invented the books and writing and is considered to be the first priest. Ix Chel or Ixchel was the wife of the previous one and was closely related to the moon and was venerated by women and on isla Mujeres there are remains of a temple where women went on pilgrimage to celebrate the passage from teenage to youth.

But, despite she was given positive attributes, she was represented by an angry old woman surrounded by symbols of destruction and death; what is more, she is considered as the goddess responsible of floods.

Francisco Cenamor

Coba, located about 100 kilometres of Playa del Carmen. A new archaeological centre to be visited

Coba, a photo of Mayan city. Riviera Maya, Mexico. By The Fives Resort.

The first news of the discovery of the ruins of the Mayan city of Coba dates back to 1842. From then on, researchers have been recovering its marvels little by little. Presently, it is one of the many archaeological centres that can be visited on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Coba is located at only 62 miles of Playa del Carmen, which makes it easy to be reached from there. The means of transportation are the usual ones: van or bus from the station of Fifth Avenue, or by a rented car. Hotels and agencies also organise all in one package tours. Once in Playa del Carmen, it is very easy to get there. The entrance fare is 45 pesos (about 3 dollars).

It is situated east of Tulum which gives us a good excuse to stay there for at least two and visit both places and spend the night in the modern Tulum. Coba in Mayan language means “the place of ruffled waters”.

It is possibly one of the Mayan cities to have reached its maximum magnificence quite early. There are vestiges that in the years 200 and 600 A.D., this city-state had an influence over all the northern part of the Peninsula of Yucatan, due to its location which made it the crossroad of countless commercial routes. Its power even reached some commercial ports such as Xel-Há. The result of this wide network, today we can enjoy the pictorial remains of Coba which clearly show the influence of the Teotihuacán’s, who came from the central part of Mexico.

But this supremacy of Coba will start decreasing with the rise of the area of Chichén Itzá. After a first period of confrontation, the supremacy of the latter Mayan city started from the year 900 or 1000 A.D. following territorial and commercial disputes between the two cities. When the Spanish people arrived in the area, the city of Coba was uninhabited. The consecutive necessities of the city throughout its history have left a set of areas very different chronologically as well as functionally, up to a perimeter of 43 square miles packed with archaeological remains. All the zones discovered cannot be visited, due partly to deterioration and partly to the fact that the discoveries are quite recent and there is still more to be investigated.

The visit starts by Grupo Coba, is composed by residences and palaces. The most important is the building devoted to cult, which in the zone is called Iglesia, (church) and is 82 feet tall. Another group that can be visited it the Nohoch Mul, which is older than the previous one. The height of its buildings is quite surprising especially the tallest of all those found in the several Mayan cities, is also called Nohoch Mul (which in Maya means “large hill”); the lowest plinth and the temple is about 138 feet height. Other two groups can also be visited: the Grupo de las Pinturas (Temple of the Paintings), in reference to the remains of mural paintings that are still preserved in some structures; and the Macanxoc, with remarkable steles in remembrance of the achievement some of the queens who governed Coba.

One of the added interests of the visit to Coba is that all the buildings are in the middle of luxuriant jungles where we can delight in the marvellous flora and fauna.

Francisco Cenamor

The Fives USA blog about Playa del Carmen & the Riviera Maya, Mexico

Archaeological excavations of El Meco, an antique and important port of the ancient Riviera Maya

At approximately 37 miles from Playa del Carmen there are the archaeological excavations of El Meco, which, even tough they are not open to the public, can be visited requesting a permit from the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History.)

Therefore, this is the perfect place for lovers of Mayan history and archaeology since there are no guided tours and we must go on our own. It is not difficult to get there, we only have to get to Cancun and from there travel some miles to Punta Sam. The transportation options are the usual ones: bus, van, taxi or rented car. And there is also an air taxi service between Playa del Carmen and Cancun.

If you wish to stay there for some days this is not a problem since there are many hotels in Cancun as well as in Puerto Juárez. Most adventurers can use the camping site.

El Meco is the current name of this region, since (as with many other towns) the Mayan name of this city is unknown. It is believed that the current name comes from an inhabitant who, during the XIX century, had a coconut ranch on the coast and the place was named referring to his limp.

Located in the continental zone of Isla Mujeres, it has the highest building of the archaeological excavations near Cancun. This building is known as The Castel, a quadrangular basis with four sections and a temple in the higher part. This building is surrounded by two smaller buildings that seem to have been a temple and an administrative building.

The central park of excavations has many other buildings. One of them has a long string of columns inside. The best preserved building of the lot is a little temple north of the park.

The road from Puerto Juárez to Punta Sam has divided the antique Mayan city in two and the zone near the coast is practically unexplored. There we can see the remains of a pre-Hispanic dock.

 

And precisely this dock is the one that gave importance to this city since it was a shipping area for the important religious and commercial activities of Isla Mujeres.

Recent studies have shown that in this area there was a primitive fisher’s town which apparently disappeared in the year 600 A.D. and that was uninhabited until 1000 or 1100, when a new city emerged, possibly for the service of Chichén Itzá, and one hundred years later it became the head bridge of Isla Mujeres.

Francisco Cenamor

The Fives USA blog about Playa del Carmen & the Riviera Maya, Mexico

Note: Feel free to visit our sponsor: The Fives Resort & Private Residences in Playa del Carmen

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Enjoying Gastronomy in Playa del Carmen by The Fives Resort

The main food in the whole Peninsula of Yucatan and the Riviera Maya and, of course in Playa del Carmen, is the tortilla de maíz, the equivalent of bread or pasta in the European cuisine. We recommend you not overdo the enchiladas as they may cause you some stomach discomfort.

Corn originally comes from America. Archaeological discoveries have shown evidence that it was grown in the Maya area 4,600 years ago. European conquerors brought it to their countries of origin.

Frijol, a variety of black beans, is the other abundant food which the Mayan cuisine shares with the other Caribbean people. It is believed that it came to this culture from Asia through Alaska thousand of years ago. It is served mainly with rice. And, with rice and pork, it is a delight for the people of the area, especially when served in a tomato sauce, radish, cilantro and onion base. The same way Spanish restaurants serve paella on Thursdays, frijol and pork is served on Mondays.

Another delicious dish, this time with chicken, is the lime soup, made with chicken stock to which fried strips of tortilla de maíz and shredded chicken (which was used to make the stock) are added, so the chicken breast is used in the cooking. To make it tastier, some people also add the liver. And, you mustn’t forget lime juice, the exotic touch that gives its name to this dish.

To continue with chicken, you can taste chicken pibil, pieces of chicken, marinated in achiote, sour orange juice, cumin, garlic, salt and peppercorns, wrapped in banana leaves and baked. It is very delicious, indeed. This dish can also be made with pork, and then it is called cochinita pibil, one of the most successful among the visitors of Playa del Carmen. Those who have tasted it recently say that it adjusts to Western people’s taste and it is not as hot as the other dishes.

The poc-chuc is made of tender slices of baked pork in marinated sour orange juice and served with several sauces and chopped onion.

And, since this a coastal zone, dishes made with seafood couldn’t be missing. One of the characteristic dishes is the ceviche de caracol, made with snails, not the small snails we have in Spain, but very big ones, of about 0.9 lbs of meat each. It is a very elaborate dish, made with mashed and boiled snails, which are frozen and marinated later in lemon juice for some hours. Be careful, they are served with chile habanero, one of the hottest.

The chocolomo, is an exquisite food because it is not common to use veal. It is a dish of cooked veal and viscera, served in a base of chili peppers and several sauces and wrapped in the famous tortillas.

For dessert, it is better to let yourself surprise by the abundant, colourful delicious tropical fruits each restaurant has on offer.

Francisco Cenamor

The Fives USA blog about Playa del Carmen & the Riviera Maya, Mexico

Note: Feel free to visit our sponsor: The Fives Resort & Private Residences in Playa del Carmen