The underworld in Maya mythology and their relationship with sinkholes (cenotes).

Xibalba is described in the Popol Vuh as a court below the surface of the Earth associated with death and with twelve gods or powerful rulers known as the Lords of Xibalba.

The Mayans believed that it was the place where their ancestors lived with the gods and other mythological beings such as the Ave Moan; which was the manifestation of the God of Death represented by a dog bird.

The royal court of Xibalba hosted 12 deities. The head of the pantheon is Hun-Came (“One Death”) followed by Vucub-Came (“Seven Death”) and the remaining ten Lords are demons, who given commission and domain over various forms of human suffering: to cause sickness, starvation, fear, destitution, pain, and ultimately death.

There were three ways for the living to enter Xibalba, the world of the dead: through deep caves, through competition in the Maya ball game, and through the sacred cenote (sinkholes).

To get there the people who left this land traveled a long way to the world of the dead through the cenotes, which were the portals or the windows to the underworld. The route was filled with obstacles, including rivers filled with scorpions, blood and pus and houses shrouded in darkness or swarming with shrieking bats.

The cenotes were places where Mayan sacrifices took place so that the chosen one could reach the underworld and begin a new stage of their existence. They were the link between the underworld and the Earth, the most important to the ancient Maya religion, for through these underground caverns people rose after death.

The Maya were very concerned with appeasing the inhabitants of Xibalba. The temple of the Chichen Itza is believed to have been a means to facilitate sacrificial offerings to the gods, including human sacrifices. When the cenote beneath the Pyramid of Kukulkan was dredged, a whole manner of objects were found including wooden objects, tools, and idols as well as large selection of jewelry and precious metals such as gold, silver, copper, and most of all, jade. Excavations have also revealed many human bones that show wounds indicating human sacrifice.

If you want to know more about the Mayan culture, we can help you. Plan your dental vacations and our staff will suggest you some tours to go to archaeological sites, museums and underground caves (cenotes).

You might also be interested in: Day of the Dead, The Mexican Tradition.