Mayan Symbols – Decoding Them

Posted in North America | June 24, 2010 | 0 Comments

Mayan culture has been, for a long time, the matter of many discussions and debates. Scholars and researchers have been conducting extensive research in the field, and have come up with a number of interesting facts and figures for us to deal with. The most fascinating part (arguably) of the Mayan culture is that of the Mayan symbols.

The Mayas were rich in the knowledge of the universe. They had a much wider and co-ordinated system of concepts than what modern day countries can even imagine. Their symbolism, however, was a closely guarded secret. Anyone who tried to give out the meaning of these concepts discussed via the symbols would be penalized by death.

Some of the demystified Mayan Symbols

The Venus Glyph
According to the myths of the Mayas, Venus is said to be the companion of the Sun. The Venus Glyph is a star with four points (like a cross). It is representative of Venus or of other lesser stars. With a prefix of ‘chak’ added to it, however, it is said to denote Venus. Generally, there would be a point withing the circles that surround the ‘chak’ek’ and these are symbolic of the ‘circle of heaven’. Venus, thus, must have been honored and held in high regard by the Mayas.

The World Tree

The figure of the ‘world tree’ in Mayan culture is perhaps, one of the most pervasive symbols. It represents the creation of the world and its subsequent ordering. It is considered the axis of the ‘earth and sky’. In doing so, it becomes responsible for the association of the principal elements that there are of the Galaxy.

The Galaxy itself (which is denoted using a galactic center)
The solar system (manifested by the sun)

The earth (element of the solar system)

Note : The cross and the tree have been noticed to have identical meanings in the world of Mayan symbols. Due to this observation, it has been easier to unlock a number of other interpretations.

The Celestial Bird
Both the world trees that have been depicted at Palenque are crowned with figures of celestial birds. There is a tree trunk, which is covered with ten fruits. The male and female birds, perched on the branches, are ready to pluck them. The branches shoot out horizontally from each end of the trunk, making for a perfect ‘T’. The concept of the ‘bird of immortality’ can also be attached to this meaning here. These 10 fruits, plus the 2 birds make up for the number 12, which according to the Mayan culture, stands for the ‘Dodecahedron of the Universe’.

The Serpent

The serpent is perhaps one of the most ancient Mayan symbols. The serpents were always associated as the names that were given to the old and the wise ones amongst them. The ‘wise men’ who were represented by the highest angels, were often given names like the ‘serpents of wisdom’ and ‘dragons’. The serpent, also, is said to be symbolic of a type of serial rejuvenation – or in other words, it could be linked to the concept of ‘Immortality’.

Most of these symbols can be seen at Palenque, in Mexico.

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