Why Did Mayans Wear Masks?

Mask -- 3/6/09Creative Commons License courtesy of NCReedplayer

Mayans existed from 1000 BC to AD 1697. No one clearly knows why their ancient civilization was wiped out. Descendants of the Mayans still live in Guatemala and parts of Southern Mexico, Belize, and Northern Honduras and El Salvador.

It is well known that the Mayans, who used no metal tools, were able to create art from very dense materials such as jade. The most sacred of ritualistic masks were made out of jade and delicate forms of mosaics.

Connection to the Spiritual World

Most of the Mayan masks were symbols of their gods. Some masks were used for ceremonies, such as those worn by the Shaman. Many Shamans wore four kinds of mask, but others wore eight of them. Each of these masks represented a spirit. The masks may be human in form, but the design is attributed to personal spirits such as sharks, etc. Thus, the masks were a physical method of representing the spirit world.

Intimidate Enemies

It is also clear that many of these masks were used to intimidate their enemies, like those that have faces that look like snakes and similar kinds of animals. Those who believed in the powers of this mask because of its “spirit”, believed that it protected the wearer through spiritual power.

Ceremonies and Festivals

Masks were also used for wedding ceremonies and for other festivities - just like present-day masquerade ballroom events.

When Christianity was introduced to the Mayan world by the Spanish conquistadors, the Mayans merged the Christian beliefs with their own pagan traditions. Consequently, Mayan towns today are represented by different Christian saints. In many towns, on the day of the saint, several of the villagers will perform a masked dance. Some men will wear masks with pink faces and dark mustaches (the Spanish conquistadors) while others will wear dark-faced masks (the Mayans) and occasionally, a monkey and a fair-haired woman will be thrown into the mix for fun.

For more information, I would like to refer you to a website that posts Mayan masks and other artwork: Galeria Contici.

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.

92 Comments:

  • Vale: When we were talking about collections - I forgot to mention, I actually have a mask collection! How much does an average authentic Mayan mask cost?
  • Marra M: The price for the Mayan masks depends on what kind of mask it is and how rare it is. On eBay it sells from $59.95 to $540.
    On Masks Novica here are the prices for different types of Mayan masks:
    Mayan Nobleman $49.99
    Mayan King Pacal $269.99
    Jade Mask Lord Calakmul $272.99
    Jade Mask Lord of El Naranjo $269.99
    Mayan Duality $129.99
    Mayan Jaguar Priest $38.49
    Mayan Orange Deer $52.99
    If you want you can look at the rest of the Mayan mask that they sell or send them an email inquiry regarding your collection and its value.
  • Vale: Thanks for the info!
  • Marra M: Your welcome.
  • Julie: Which Direction should the Mayan Mask be facing? East?
  • Marra M: Hi Julie :)
    Some of these masks are worn facing where the sun rises from the Caribbean in the East.
  • Julie: Thank you, we weren’t sure where to hang it.
  • Marra M: Your welcome :)
  • Chelsea: Who wore the Mayan masks ???
  • Marra M: Hi Chelsea :)
    That’s a good question. Masks are worn by warriors during battle. This is because they believe that the mask resemble their ancestors and other ancient spirits. Mayans were said to think that these masks possesses certain powers.
    Mask were also use when its time to tell a story about ancient spirits and during celebrations of important life events such as a wedding. Masks were also worn by them when they are buried because they would believe that it would help the spirits identify them.
  • Chelsea: Thank you so much how do u know all these facts ur the best 💝💋
  • Marra M: Your welcome Chelsea, its because I love reading and searching for answers. I guess you can call me Lady Curious :) Haha
  • Brandon Gordon: why did they put the mayan masks in museums
  • Marra M: Hi Brandon
    It is a good way of preserving it for present and future generations to enjoy. When people visit the museum they get the chance to learn about what Mayan culture is all about.
  • Brandon Gordon: did they ask the Mayan to out it there
  • Brandon Gordon: THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH I LOVE THIS SITE
  • Marra M: Thanks Brandon, hope you sign up as new member here. Member registration is free.
  • Brandon Gordon: o.k thanks
  • christian: love this website has lots of notes about mayan masks and i say thanks to the person that made this website
  • christian: i have a question did mayan people wear mask to catch prey to eat or they wore it to scare of predators
  • Marra M: Hi Christian :)
    Thanks for the appreciation, yes the owners of this site are wonderful people, not me though, I only wrote the blog. They use it to scare their enemies. I am curious why you are interested in Mayan masks, can you share why?
  • christian: yes i can because when i first started to learn about mayan people i wanted to learn so much more about mayan mask culters and more to Marra M
  • Marra M: I see, its more of an interest on your part and curiosity as well. Best regards to you Christian and God Bless!
  • christian: thanks and god bless you to marra m!
  • Marra M: @Christian :)
  • christian: hello have you ever read one of the last mayan books there are 4 more left
  • Marra M: Hi Christian, are you referring to the Maya codices? If not can you share the titles with us ? Are they available in Google Books?
  • Brandon Gordon: They maaybe is
  • christian: thank for the tip i can always count on you Marra M
  • Brandon Gordon: I am a member now and live the website
  • christian: thanks for the helpful tips
  • Marra M: @Brandon, what nickname did you use for registering on this site?
    @Christian, your welcome, I just love finding new things about how people live in the past.
  • christian: @ marra also love things about people now and then thanks again
  • shirley: how many Mayan masks would they make in one year?
  • Marra M: @Shirley, Since these were not mass produce there is not statistics available for the number of mask made per year.
  • christian: the total mask they would make is about 490 mask’s
  • Marra M: @Christian, can you share where you got these figures?
  • christian: @ marra how i got those figures from reading books and reasch
  • Marra M: @Christian, what I mean is, can you share the links for that research or the specific book? It could help anybody who is interested in the Mayan culture and particularly the Mayan Mask.
  • rakan radman: love this website how can i become a member
  • rakan radman: how did mayans use the masks
  • Marra M: Hi Rakan :) You are always welcome in joining this wonderful site. You can use Sign Up and register as member instead of simply clicking Sign In. The directions are easy to follow and member registration is free. Can you re-phrase the question regarding how Mayans use the masks because as far as using them is concern that was already mentioned in this blog. The same thing was already mentioned by the questions posted by those who are asking these in the replies made and answers contributed as well.
  • Brandon Gordon: My username is Pegeusis12 i am a member
  • Brandon Gordon: Do you see my user Marra M
  • christiang501: Hay marra I’m a member now check out my profile
  • Pegeusis12: i am too and again love website P.S did you make the site marra
  • Marra M: @Brandon, glad that you were able to join us Brandon, I am happy you give in to my invites. No, I do not own this site. I am just one of the old time members here.
    @ Christian, wow, I will definitely check your profile.
  • christiang501: thanks love your profile to lovely.
  • Marra M: @Christian, that’s so sweet of you
  • christiang501: @marra thanks i can be a gentalmen sometimes
  • Pegeusis12: marra m how long have you been part of the site- from Brandon Gordon P.S you profile is so sweet i love it
  • Pegeusis12: hi christian why are you texting when you are right next to me in class
  • Marra M: @Brandon I think almost 3 years now. Thanks for the comments regarding my profile. Are you classmates with Christian for real?
  • Pegeusis12: Yes and ask him he is with me now
  • Marra M: What kind of course are you both taking? Mayan culture any of these?
  • Pegeusis12: Social studies
  • Pegeusis12: @MarraM this is Brandon How fast is the coral snake
  • christian: @ marra what kind of course are you taking.
  • christiang501: can i take a guess on what course you are taking please pretty pretty please
  • Marra M: @Christian, sure go ahead :) Although it might surprise you and it was actually several years ago
  • Jason Miller: Christain said you are ugly and hate your profile
  • Guest: Wow1 I learnt lots about Mayan Masks!!
  • christiang501: thanks marra the course you are taking is social studies and jason miller be quiet
  • Marra M: @Christian, I love social studies, but, I am no longer a student anymore since I have been working for quite some time, desk job. I do love researching and has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Life is about continuous learning either from personal experience or from others. Thanks for being such a gentleman.
    @Guest, yes, I was able to learn as well and still learning something new as far as Mayan Mask and culture is concern.
  • christiang501: Thanks and i hope you are good at a desk worker
  • Marra M: @ Christian501, That’s so sweet of you
  • christiang501: your welcome marra m
  • christiang501: hay marra i updated my profile it is better than ever
  • Saira: Thanks a lot it helped me with my homework.
  • Marra M: @ Christian
    That’s an interesting pic, I cannot see it clearly though. What is it? God Bless!
    @Saira
    Thanks for the appreciation. It looks like there are a lot of people interested in anything Mayan :) Looking forward to hearing from you or future postings. God Bless!
  • puppylove15: This is so informational i love this.
  • Marra M: @Puppylove15, thanks for loving the information from this blog and the exchange or more information from the rest of those who are Mayan culture fans.
  • Robert Caldwell: Unfortunate that for a page on Mayan masks, that the mask illustrated is not Mayan at all.
  • Marra M: @Robert, can you make a suggestion on where to get royalty free photo downloads that can be use by the public? I can make a suggestion to the Admins since they are responsible for photos posted on the blogs.
  • Tasnim I: Thank you, this really helped me for my homework about the Mayans.
  • Marra M: @Tasnim I, I am glad that this article that I have written continuous to help students like you in learning more about the Mayans. I was surprise that it has manage to reach 17,000 readers in 2 years time. God Bless!
  • leona: Very useful
  • leona: Thank you
  • Marra M: @Leona, I am glad that you and others find it useful. It is nearly 20,000 readers at this stage.
  • bob123123: it was quite useful but some of it is too scientificy xD
  • bob123123: Why doesn’t this website not talk about other stuff about the mayan mask thingys?
  • bob123123: Ⓢeriously? No one is answering me -.- ✪=Have some sort of staff on here to answer people’s questions!
  • bob123123 (plz answer): Also, I want to know stuff about the mayan headresses
  • bob123123: bob123123 (plz answer) is bob123123 xD
  • bob123123:
  • bob123123: ♪ ♩ ♫ ♬abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz♪ ♩ ♫ ♬
  • bob123123: ♪ ♩ ♫ ♬abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz♪ ♩ ♫ ♬
    *sings the alphabet*
  • bob123123: lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooolllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll
  • Kieran:
  • poooooo: learning about mayans in school #BORING
  • jeff: it was great lots of facts
  • Marra M: @Jeff, thanks

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