OR, ANOTHER MAGNIFICENT GOD OF MANY ATTRIBUTES.
Alert: I’m having trouble in finding images so some will be of other gods just to enjoy the art! This will be corrected when I get back to the UK. I think that’s why others aren’t mentioned because they are so difficult to identify!
OR, LORD OF HEAVENS NIGHT AND DAY, OR GOD D.
Before deciphering the codices the gods were all given just a letter to name them. Now however we have their glorious and exotic definitions but they usually are referred to by their letters too hence God D (Mayan: “Iguana House”)
Itzamná was the lord of the heavens as well as night and day, could be called upon in hard times or calamities. Itzamná was also a culture hero who gave humankind writing and the calendar and was patron deity of medicine. He was another portrayed as a nice big hooked nosed toothless old man with a cylindrical hat (why were they so keen on the big nose? Chaac the rain god also has a big nose?). The moon goddess Ixchel, patron of womanly crafts, was possibly a female manifestation of the god. He also represented the four cardinal points. A lot of coverage for this old man. he was venerated by the very old on a par with the Chaacs, the rain deities.
You see now the problem with these very complex deities, they merge and mix and overlap in a very confusing way. That’s why I’m trying to serve them up in bite size pieces. Bare in mind that they morphed over the huge Mayan territories of not just Mexico but Guatemala and Belize.
Counted among one of the most popular of Mayan gods and goddesses in the pre-Columbian pantheon was designated as the king of heaven and night and day. In the mythical narrative, his rulership over these vast domains is borne by innate and even arcane knowledge, as opposed to supernatural strength and unquestioned royalty.
In some instances, he is perceived as the son of Hunab Ku – the mighty creator god who brought about floods to end the race of humans. Contrastingly, Itzamná poses as an antithesis of his father, since he aids the Maya people by inventing writing, calendar systems, agriculture, sciences, and medicines. Simply put, he is perceived as a cultural figurehead who lays down the foundations of a civilization that is to flourish later. And talking of relations, Itzamná was also identified as the husband (counterpart) to Ix Chel, Goddess O and together they were venerated as the couple that gave birth to thirteen children, an entire generation of Mayan gods. Itzamná means ‘lizard’ or ‘big fish’ in the Mayan language, with prefix Itz also alluding to divinity, foretelling, and even witchcraft in other associated Mesoamerican languages so he was indeed perceived a magician.
To confuse things more he also had a bird avatar, an falcon like bird that holds the word for a day and a night on its wings and holding a double headed snake in its beak, an insignia seen on kings headdresses or crowns (the Egyptians have a serpent on their crowns too) As an old bird I too feel I carry the weight of the word on my shoulders.
Importantly, Itzamná also has some connection to the Mayan world trees. His precise role is unclear, but he is generally pictured in his aspect of the bird as being a creature who dwells either on or within these sacred world trees.
Facts about Itzamna
- Itzamna is one of the primary creator deities of the Mayan pantheon.
- He is responsible for teaching humans about science, the calendar, writing, and medicine.
- He frequently takes the form of a pleasant old man, a two-headed reptile, or of a sacred bird.
- Itzamna is associated with several other Meso-American sky deities, including Kukulcan.
- He is frequently associated with his wife Ix Chel and the creator deity Hunab Ku, as well as the Bacabs.
Too much info? Yes for me too so I’m going in the rain to take some pics for you at my favourite Archaeological museum in Oaxaca. Maybe some pictures might get your juices flowing for my Mayan Gods lessons. (you’re a tough crowd)
Mission aborted, museum closed which they neglected to write on their front door or amend on Google. This problem I have moaned on about constantly, when I rang their bell in a very insistent way, a guard finally eyed me suspiciously through a peephole in the door. I explained it says that it’s open to which he replied it wasn’t. I said why don’t you put up a sign on the door then? He said that’s a good idea. Not fucking rocket science and fucking change your details on Google, it had been open up to two weeks ago hence me having hope.
Good news is that I went to Monte Alban instead and it was awe inspiring. However it pissed down on my return so I got drenched restaurant hunting, yes my friends the restaurant had closed down too. Monte Alban and rainy season in next post my friends.