The ancient Maya people had a diverse pantheon of deities that were worshiped and often offered human blood. The rulers of the Maya believed that they were the direct descendants of Mayan gods and that blood was the ultimate sacrifice.
The Maya’s vision of the cosmos is one that is split into various levels, both above and below the earth. Upon death they believed that the soul would be transported to the underworld (Xibalba), a place of turmoil and fright were gods tested and punished unfortunate visitors.
One of the most important gods worshiped by the Mayan people was the being known as Quetzalcoatl. Also referred to as the Great Feathered Serpent Quetzalcoatl brought teachings of peace to the Maya. He is depicted as being a white deity with a long beard. It has been suggested that the carvings and drawings created by the Maya of Quetzalcoatl bear a striking resemblance to the god Enki in the ancient Sumerian culture.
Scholars disagree as to whether Quetzalcoatl and Thoth were worshiped as the same entity or different deities. The pyramid of the sun located in Teotihuacan seems to back up the former suggestion.
Another important Mayan god was Chac. Chac was worshiped as a benevolent god who could bring the rain. The ancient Maya people would often pray to Chac when they required water to help irrigate their fields. Chac is associated with the god of wind Kukulcan. Debate continues today as to whether Chac and Kukulcan were simply different forms of the same deity.
The sun god was known to the Maya as Kinich Ahau. Kinich Ahu was associated with the city Itzamal, were it was believed that he traveled to at midday each day disguised as a macaw. Kinich Ahu is usually depicted as having jaguar like features. This god was also called Ah Xox Kin, though this form was mostly associated with music and poetry and not the sun.
Agriculture was of fundamental importance to all ancient cultures. Yumill Kaxob was the Mayan god that represented agriculture. Yumill Kaxob is usually shown wearing a headdress of maize and is more youthful in appearance than other deities.
The god associated with death was known as Yum Cimil, though sometimes Ah Puch. He is represented in images as having a skeletal frame covered in black spots and adorned with ornamental bones. Yum Cimil is also depicted as having eyeless sockets, which was a typical symbol of the underworld.