About Mayan symbols
The earliest known shorthands found in the Mayan script dates back from 250 BC, but the writing is believed to have developed earlier than that. The Mayans are known for their sophisticated culture in which many hieroglyphics are included. Mayan symbols are considered a rich source of material culture, especially for the Central American civilization. They are within the most important archeological finds that have helped their farming methods, economics, politics, and various social practices.
The Mayan symbols carry the "heart" of every culture, and each culture's characters represent and stand for its inner reality to the individuals of that culture. The Mayan symbols can be anything, s song, a gesture, an image, or a phrase. They carry multiple layers of meaning that everyone in the Mayan culture understands intuitively.
Hundreds of Mayan symbols were found carved on stone, allowing many researchers and archeologists to understand the Mayan culture. Mayan writing consists of characters called "glyphs." Out of the hundreds of Mayan symbols, some of them appear more often on the carved temple walls and stelae in Mayan cities. These signs reveal the importance of their culture. As known, animals' glyphs were the most powerful symbols to the Mayans, particularly the jaguar and the eagle signs. Below you will find a shortlist of the most common Mayan symbols with their definitions.
The Mayan symbol "feathered serpent deity Kukulkan" was famous for other Mesoamerican cultures such as the Olmecs and Aztecs, who worshipped the god under multiple names.
The feathers in this symbol signify the god's ability to soar in the heavens, while as a serpent, the god is capable of traveling around the Earth. The post-classical era holds Kukulkan cult temples that now can be found in Uxmal, Chichen Itza, and Mayapan. The serpent cult represented peaceful trade and good communication between the different cultures. Also, a snake can shed its skin. Hence it also symbolizes rebirth and renewal.
To the Mayans, the jaguar was a powerful symbol of strength, ferocity, and bravery. Since the big cats can see at night, the jaguar symbolizes foresight and perception too. As a god of the Mayan world, the jaguar ruled the divine forces both day and night. This sign also represents leadership, control, and confidence. As known, Mayan warriors wore jaguar skins in battle as a sign of courage and honor. The Mayans held the jaguar 2nd only to Kukulkan in religious importance.
The Eagle for Mayans was a symbol of focus, contemplative thought, mental acuity, sharp awareness, keen judgment, foresight, inspiration, and assertive communication. It was believed to facilitate clear thinking, encourage action that takes one to greater heights in life, and give one's inner wisdom access. The Eagle is a ruler of the sky; hence, it is associated with mental liberation, freedom, and detail-oriented vision.
The Eagle's Mayan symbol represents protection, control, authority, cooperation, or unity among the diverse groups.
In the local Yucatec Mayan language, "Hunab Ku" means "one god" or "the only god." The word appears in the 16th-century in texts like the "Book of Chilam Balam," written right after the Spanish conquered the Mayans tribes. Hunab Ku is related to Itzama, which is the Mayan creator god. Some Mayan scholars consider the concept of a supreme god over the others was a significant belief that Spanish friars used to convert the polytheistic Mayans to Christianity.
Hunab Ku was brought into vogue by a modern Maya day-keeper, Hunbatz Men, who believed the sign of being a potent symbol connected with the number zero and the Milky Way. Hunbatz calls it "the sole giver" of measurement and movement. Moreover, scholars of the Mayan tribes say that there was no pre-colonial representation of the Hunab Ku symbol. Still, new-age Mayans have later adopted the sign to signify universal consciousness.
Caban is the ancient Mayan symbol that means the Earth keeper who sanctifies the whole Earth and respects all life. The sign motivates people to be patient, flexible, and observant. Besides, it also symbolizes the synergistic work of destiny, bringing everyone together for shared spiritual events. When one focuses on the Caban symbol, the sign itself helps one become experienced and centered spiritual unfolding.