K’inich Janaab Pakal
The Maya believed that their king was given the right to rule by the gods. They believed that the king worked as an intermediary between the people and the gods. The leaders of the Maya were called the “halach uinic” or “ahaw”, meaning “lord” or “ruler”.
Responsibilities . A Mayan king was expected to be an excellent military leader. He would often carry out raids against rival city-states. The Mayan kings also offered his own blood to the gods.
Scholars have suggested a number of potential reasons for the downfall of Maya civilization in the southern lowlands, including overpopulation, environmental degradation, warfare, shifting trade routes and extended drought. It’s likely that a complex combination of factors was behind the collapse.
Blood was viewed as a potent source of nourishment for the Maya deities, and the sacrifice of a living creature was a powerful blood offering. By extension, the sacrifice of a human life was the ultimate offering of blood to the gods, and the most important Maya rituals culminated in human sacrifice .
The Maya had a system of serfdom and slavery . Serfs typically worked lands that belonged to the ruler or local town leader. There was an active slave trade in the Maya region, and commoners and elites were both permitted to own slaves .
The ancient Maya never used coins as money . Instead, like many early civilizations, they were thought to mostly barter, trading items such as tobacco, maize, and clothing.
The Maya believed that when people died, they entered the Underworld through a cave or a cenote. When kings died, they followed the path linked to the cosmic movement of the sun and fell into the Underworld; but, because they possessed supernatural powers, they were reborn into the Sky World and became gods.
As a result of the states’ jealousy, the Mayans were very eager to go to war with the other lands. And when they fought the other lands, they had increased their power so much that they were effortlessly victorious over these Yucatan states.
While there is little evidence of monarchies in early Maya cities, the Classic period saw the rise of one legendary revered king. The rule of K’inich Janaab ‘ Pakal the Great , or Janaab’ Pakal I , of the Late-classic city of Palenque was one of great acclaim.
The Maya believe that the soul is bound to the body at birth. Only death or sickness can part the body and soul, with death being the permanent parting. To them, there is an afterlife that the soul reaches after death .
Archaeologists have uncovered what may be the largest royal tomb found in more than a century of work on Maya ruins in Belize, along with a puzzling set of hieroglyphic panels that provide clues to a “ snake dynasty” that conquered many of its neighbors some 1,300 years ago.
Maya mythology describes serpents as being the vehicles by which celestial bodies, such as the sun and stars, cross the heavens. The shedding of their skin made them a symbol of rebirth and renewal. They were so revered, that one of the main Mesoamerican deities, Quetzalcoatl, was represented as a feathered serpent .