Itzamná was one of the most important deities of Mayan mythology. The ruler of the heavens and of day and night, he was often shown in Mayan art as a pleasant, toothless old man with a large nose. He was also identified as the son of the creator god Hunab Ku.
In various myths, Itzamná appears as a culture hero who gave the Maya the foundations of civilization. According to legend, he taught them to grow corn, to write, to use calendars, and to practice medicine. He also introduced a system for dividing up the land, and he established rituals for religious worship.
deity god or goddess
culture hero mythical figure who gives people the tools of civilization, such as language and fire
ritual ceremony that follows a set pattern
Itzamná is sometimes linked with the sun god Kinich Ahau and the moon goddess Ixchel. The goddess may have been Itzamná's wife or a female form of his deity. Like Itzamná, she gave people many useful skills, such as weaving. However, Ixchel had a destructive nature and could cause floods and other violent events, while Itzamná was always kind and protective toward humans.
See also Mayan Mythology .