The Mayan numeral system was the system to represent numbers and calendar dates in the Maya civilization. It was a vigesimal (base-20) positional numeral system. The numerals are made up of three symbols ; zero (shell shape, with the plastron uppermost), one (a dot) and five (a bar).
Many Mayan buildings feature stone carvings that were frequently based upon their religion. Divine beings and animals were often depicted on stelae. Many carvings were dedicated to royalty. Various carvings reflected Mayan rituals and activities like everyday life, battle, and even human sacrifice.
Eagle : The eagle represents contemplative thought. When focused upon, this Mayan symbol assists in accessing inner wisdom. Known for its power of clarity – this symbol facilitates clear mental focus.
The Maya counting system required only three symbols : a dot representing a value of one, a bar representing five, and a shell representing zero.
Both Mayan men and women got tattoos , although men put off tattoos until they were married. Mayan women preferred delicate tattoos on their upper bodies although not on their breasts. Men got tattoos on their arms, legs, backs, hands and face. Getting a tattoo was painful.
In Mayan mythology, the jaguar was seen as the ruler of the Underworld, and as such, a symbol of the night sun and darkness. The jaguar is representative of power, ferocity, and valor; he is the embodiment of aggressiveness. For some, the jaguar represents the power to face one’s fears, or to confront one’s enemies.
Most Maya today observe a religion composed of ancient Maya ideas, animism and Catholicism. Some Maya still believe, for example, that their village is the ceremonial centre of a world supported at its four corners by gods. When one of these gods shifts his burden, they believe, it causes an earthquake.
Although much of the Maya life was spent doing hard work, they did enjoy entertainment as well. A lot of their entertainment was centered around religious ceremonies. They played music, danced, and played games such as the Maya ball game.
Mayan masks were representations of Mayan gods , as well as part of a very sacred funeral ritual in the Mayan Classic Period from 250 to 900 AD. These were placed over the face of an important ruler when he died. Mayan masks endowed the rulers with the status of a divine being as the “Tree of the Universe”.
The turtle is the one that had a fundamental role as the origin of life for this culture. The sea turtle was not only important within the Maya cosmogony but also for other cultures in Mesoamerica that related its shell to the celestial vault and the animal’s body was the axis that united both heaven and earth.
Maya mythology describes serpents as being the vehicles by which celestial bodies, such as the sun and stars, cross the heavens. The shedding of their skin made them a symbol of rebirth and renewal. They were so revered, that one of the main Mesoamerican deities, Quetzalcoatl, was represented as a feathered serpent .
The first recorded zero appeared in Mesopotamia around 3 B.C. The Mayans invented it independently circa 4 A.D. It was later devised in India in the mid-fifth century, spread to Cambodia near the end of the seventh century, and into China and the Islamic countries at the end of the eighth.
Blood was viewed as a potent source of nourishment for the Maya deities, and the sacrifice of a living creature was a powerful blood offering. By extension, the sacrifice of a human life was the ultimate offering of blood to the gods, and the most important Maya rituals culminated in human sacrifice .
The Maya used an advanced form of writing called hieroglyphics. In Mayan hieroglyphics, they used symbols (also called glyphs) to represent words, sounds, or objects. By putting several glyphs together the Maya wrote sentences and told stories. Only the wealthy Maya became priests and learned to read and write .