In the Mayan culture, much of it revolves around traditions, special colors and of course, the symbols that have been handed from generation to generation for centuries. The Mayan script consists of approximately 700 characters and the Maya actually have invented the script in today's Central America. The symbols of the Maya are certainly not forgotten. Especially on the colorful textiles from the highlands of Guatemala you can always find symbols that are associated with the Maya. But what do they mean?
Objects and Living Things: The Living Mayan Symbols
In fact, most Mayan symbols have a deep meaning and are traceable to animals, nature, and other objects. To understand the meaning for the Maya, people's beliefs are very important. For example, corn plays a central role in faith and can be found again and again on textiles. Other symbols stand for protection, freedom, the connection to the mother earth and to the elements or fertility. Here a short presentation of the most important symbols that can be found again and again on the textiles in Guatemala:
Corn: According to the beliefs of the Maya, people were created from Corn. This makes Corn one of the most important symbols and is much more than just an important food source. White corn was used for the bones according to mythology, yellow corn for the muscles, black for eyes and hair, and red corn for the blood.
Diamonds:One of the most important symbols of Mayan textiles. The diamonds stand for the arm of the weaver.
Cup:Symbolizes the importance of sharing with others and in the community.
Serpent:The serpent stands for protection of human life. In addition, the snake is to be understood as a kind of guide on the path of life and therefore is very often used as a symbol on Mayan textiles.
Bats:The Keepers of the Dark should protect from the enemies.
Flowers:Symbols of life and fertility. Flowers from Guatemala appear on numerous textiles.
Butterfly:The butterfly stands for freedom. The freedom of the butterfly to fly from flower to flower can also be transferred to humans.
Lion:The Lion of Wealth stands for luck, strength and richness in life.
Sun:The sun symbolizes the energy of life and also stands for the god of corn, because without the sun, the corn could not grow.
Not only the pictured symbols themselves are very important for the Maya textiles. The colors also have a meaning too. Brown is assigned to the earth, yellow to the sun and black to sunset and death. The color blue is the sacred color of the Maya and stands for the vital rain. For example, all the victims of the rain god Chaak were painted blue.
The faith of the Maya and the spiritual meaning
The spiritual meaning of the symbols on the textiles is therefore not to be underestimated. The unique woven fabrics tell many stories to someone who knows the meaning of it. Where a fabric was made, who was the weaver and the symbols contained are also full of statements. Very important and always to find on textiles are also the characters that are associated with the Mayan calendar. The Mayan calendar is very complex. In the ritual calendar, a cycle has 260 days and all days always consist of a number from 1 to 13 and a symbol. But there is also the long count and the days were counted continuously. The date of birth of each person is associated with a day and a symbol. The Nahual or Nawal are also referred to as spirit animals and emerge as symbols repeatedly on the textiles.
There exists a total of 20 Nahuals, which are assigned to four directions. The number 20 was a basic number among the Mayas, since all 10 fingers and toes of a human together gave the number 20. Each person is assigned to a specific Nahual and according to the beliefs of the Maya, they can be assigned as properties to humans. The textiles from Guatemala are therefore far more than just beautifully woven fabrics. They speak a very own, traditional language and it is always exciting to find out, which symbols can be found on the individual fabrics.