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The Mayan religion influenced subsequent civilisations such as the Aztecs who included some of their gods in their own pantheon. However, it was transformed into a fully developed religious system during the Classic Period between AD and AD.
It was during this period that hieroglyphic texts were written and religious inscriptions are found in abundance on temples and pyramids in the region.
Further, there are abundant signs of sacrifice, including human sacrifice, during the Classic Period. The religion survived the collapse of the Mayans during the Post-Classic Period and also influenced other civilisations of Mesoamerica.
There were a lot of Mayan gods and goddesses in the pantheon, although some gods were the most powerful. For instance, one of the most powerful Mayan gods was Chac who was the god of rain, thunder, fertility, and agriculture.
Further, there was the Mayan maize god called Yumil Kaxob who was equally important considering that maize was the staple grain of the Mayans.
Various kinds of sacrifice, including human sacrifice, were offered for all these gods. Priests had very important function in Mayan religion since they were considered intermediaries between Mayan gods and goddesses and the common people.
Religious festivals and rituals were performed by the priests who were often dressed as gods. The ritual of human sacrifice was also performed by Mayan priests.
Thus the central role of priests in Mayan religion raised their status which was more or less equal to that of the nobility. Given his immense power and chaotic origins, Huracan was often associated with lightning, wind, and storms — with the former often perceived as a manifestation of both fire and fertility.
Interestingly enough, in some tales, Huracan is the one who split opens the mountains by his lightning to reveal the hidden maize seed, thereby leading to the agricultural prowess of the Maya people.
To that end, the very connection of the act of suicide and a Mayan deity was probably first made by 16th-century Spanish bishop Diego de Landa.
He went on to hint at how in Mayan circles, suicide committed due to depression, sickness or pain was seen in a relatively positive light, and as such, the deceased person was allowed to the gloria heaven , often accompanied by Ix Tab, the goddess of the gallows.
As for another hypothesis, Ix Tab might have been the female version of Ah Tab or Ah Tabay — a minor Mayan god of hunting associated with snaring or deceiving.
Often associated with alcoholic brews, Acan or Akan was regarded as one of the Mayan gods who reveled in the boisterous celebrations and drinking.
Unsurprisingly, he was the patron of balche , a Mesoamerican cocktail made from fermented honey and the bitter bark of Blache tree.
In some cases, Acan was also represented as a close friend or aspect of Cucoch , the Mayan god of creative endeavors, thereby also underlining how artistic flair was seen as an extension of recreational activities.
Also known as the Feathered Serpent Quetzalcoatl in Aztec mythology , the origins of Kukulkan go back to the Late Preclassic Period, as is evident from the representation of the serpent god found at the Olmec site of La Venta.
The stela, dating from some time between — BC, portrays a serpent rearing its head behind a person possibly a priest. Incredibly enough, given the diversity of cultures in Mesoamerica and the ever-evolving nature of myths and lore, Kukulkan was also portrayed in forms that went beyond the morphology of serpents.
For example, dating from circa — AD, there are a few representations of Kukulkan, especially from the site of Xochicalco a pre-Columbian site that was settled by Mayan traders that are distinctly human in form.
A few of them were possibly even inspired by human rulers who were carved their legacy by influence and conquests. Its center of worship probably pertained to Teotihuacan, the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas, by circa 1st century AD.
The question can be raised — why was the deity particularly associated with a serpent. Well, according to some scholars, the snake in its most basic form in Mesoamerican culture might have represented the earth and the vegetation.
However, in Popol Vuh, Camazotz is the name attributed to humanoid bat-like creatures or rather vampire-like entities that are downright dangerous and vicious — so much so that one of them lops off the head of a mortal hero, which is then played with, in a gruesome ball game.
Interestingly enough, in terms of conventional zoology, all of the three known species of vampire bats are actually native to the New World.
In that regard, some narratives do describe Camazotz as a purely evil entity with the sole aim to cause terror. Kinich Ahau is the sun god of the Mayans, sometimes associated with or an aspect of Itzamna.
During the Classic period, Kinich Ahau was used as a royal title, carrying the idea of the divine king. He is also known in the Mayan codices as God G and is shown in many carvings on Mayan pyramids.
Ix Chel is the goddess of medicine and midwifery, also known as the goddess of making children. She is represented as an aged woman.
Chaac is the goggled-eyed rain god, of prime importance to the Mayans. Chaac has a four-fold aspect, with each aspect representing the cardinal directions and colors.
Chaac brought clouds, thunder, lightning and most importantly, rain. Kukulkan is the feathered serpent god of the Mayans. Kukulkan was worshipped by other Mesoamerican cultures such as the Aztecs, where the god was known as Quetzalcoatl.
A Mayan cult grew up around Kukulkan, the priests of which helped peaceful trade and communications among the Mayans. Human sacrifices were offered to Kukulkan.
Much of the Mayan religion is not clearly understood today because of its complexity and rich pantheon of deities. Scholars have been able to decipher some of the major elements of Mayan religion, but other elements may never be known.
To the Mayans, the world was flat with four strong gods at each of the corners representing the cardinal directions. Feathered Snake god and creator.
A hunting god of the Yucatec Maya arguably corresponding, in the Classic period, to an elderly human with deer ears and antlers. A sky god and one of the creator deities who participated in all three attempts at creating humanity.
A bird being, whose wife is Chimalmat and whose sons are the demonic giants Cabrakan and Zipacna. The god of travelers and merchants, who gave offerings to him on the side of roads while traveling.
One of the Hero or War Twins and companion to Hunahpu. A creator god couple which helped create the first humans. They are also the parents of Hun Hunahpu and Vucub Hunahpu.
They were called Grandmother of Day, Grandmother of Light and Bearer twice over, begetter twice over and given the titles midwife and matchmaker.
She was the daughter of Cuchumaquic, one of the lords of the underworld, Xibalba. She is noted for being the mother of the Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque and is sometimes considered to be the Maya goddess associated with the waning moon.
God of the woods, of wild nature, and of the hunt; invoked before carving out a maize field from the wilderness. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Wikipedia list article.