Maya Beliefs and Social Structure Compared to the Spanish

Topics: Maya civilization, Slavery, Jesus Pages: 2 (735 words) Published: August 25, 2013

The Maya were a unique culture with unique beliefs of the world. They were a people in South America that was divided between nobles, commoners and serfs/slaves. Compared to the Spanish, the Maya were significantly less advanced in technology and agriculture. Unlike the Maya, the Spanish were a single nation under a Pope and a King. Spain believed in Christianity and although the Maya had beliefs, they varied through their different spread out kingdoms.

The Mayan beliefs were straightforward. They believed the world was a flat plain with four corners, each represented by a colour. East was red, west was black, yellow was south and white represented north. In the centre was a fifth vertical coordinate and the colour was blue-green. A giant Ceiba tree grew at the centre, uniting the cosmos. According to Phillip Martin, ‘All of the men, but none of the women, used mirrors. In the ancient Maya world, looking into a mirror was an act of courage. The Maya believed that monsters from the Place of Awe could reach through the mirror, and yank you into the Otherworld.’ (Phillip Martin, 2012). It was believed that the caves and mountains were the transitions between the spiritual world and the physical world.

The religion of Spain was Christianity – believing in Jesus Christ. They were strong believers with many churches and monasteries. The head of the church was the Pope, whose main role was to speak Jesus’ words. To them, Jesus Christ was the son of God who came down to earth from the heavens, conducted miracles, died on the cross, and came back to life. Priests’ at times threatened that bad things would come to those who committed evil.

Maya society was rigidly divided between nobles, commoners, serfs and slaves. The highest of the society were nobles, whose roles were complex and specialised. Noble status and occupations were passed on through family. Nobles were literate and wealthy, and typically...

Bibliography: 2012. The Rise and Fall of the Maya Empire. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 21 Aug 2013]. 2012. The Maya Empire for Kids. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 21 Aug 2013]. 2011. The Beliefs and Religion of the Maya. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 21 Aug 2013]. n.d.. Mayan Social Classes. [online] Available at:‎ [Accessed: 21 Aug 2013]. 2009. Tarlton Law Library - Aztec and Maya Law - online exhibit. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 21 Aug 2013].
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