Saturday, June 5, 2010


Chaac is the name of the Maya rain deity. With his lightning axe, Chaac strikes the clouds and produces thunder and rain.

Like other Maya gods, Chaac is both one and manifold. Four Chacs are based in the cardinal directions and wear the directional colors. In 16th-century Yucatan, the directional Chaac of the east was called Chac Xib Chac 'Red Man Chaac', only the colours being varied for the three remaining ones.

Contemporary Yucatec Maya farmers distinguish many more aspects of the rain and the clouds and personify them as different, hierarchically-ordered rain deities. The Chorti Maya have preserved important folklore regarding the process of rain-making, which involved rain deities striking rain-carrying snakes with their axes.

The rain deities had their human counterparts. In the traditional Mayan (and Mesoamerican) community, one of the most important functions was that of rain maker, which presupposed an intimate acquaintance with (and thus, initiation by) the rain deities, and a knowledge of their places and movements. According to a Late-Postclassic Yucatec tradition, Chac Xib Chac (Rain deity of the east) was the title of a king of Chichen Itza, and similar titles were bestowed upon Classic rulers as well (see below).

About Chaac's role in Classic period mythological narrative, little is known. He is present at the resurrection of the Maya maize god from the carapace of a turtle representing the earth. The so-called 'confrontation scenes' are of a more legendary nature. They show a young nobleman and his retinue wading through the waters and being approached by warriors. One of these warriors is a man personifying the rain deity. He probably represents an ancestral king, and seems to be referred to as Chac Xib [Chac][5] Together with the skeletal Death God (God A), Chaac also appears to preside over an initiate's ritual transformation into a jaguar.

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