Art & Culture

Chaac: The God of Rain

During hard times of drought, the Maya turned to the rituals of this particular deity to help them moisten the land

He was known as Chaac to the Mayas, and Tlaloc to the Aztecs. This god is depicted in the facades of the ancient buildings of the pre-hispanic Maya world, with a long nose, fangs and large eyes. He is also represented with a type of axe in his hand, shaped like lightning or thunder. This god appears more than 200 times in Maya codices such as the Madrid and the Dresden. For the Aztecs, he was the bat god.

Chaac is not the only god of rain and natural phenomena related to water. There are five chaac gods or representations called “Chaques”, one for each cardinal point. As I mentioned in previous articles, in addition to north, south, east and west, there was a fifth point that was the center. Each point is marked by a color: red Chaac for the east, white Chaac for the north, black Chaac for the West, yellow Chaac for the south and green Chaac for the center. The center is where the sacred tree is born, the Yax ché (green wood), which is unlike other trees as its trunk is green.

This god is also related to the Maya underworld, crops, abundance, and life; he was and is one of the most spoiled gods in the Yucatan because of the droughts. Even today, in the month of July, rituals called Chaac Chac are performed in his honor. These rituals are performed in Maya communities and consist of prayers, accompanied by dance and music to invoke the rain for good harvests. The villagers mount an altar made of sticks and palms, where they place food to serve as an offering. This ritual, like many others, has elements of Spanish Catholicism and the Mayan religion. If you attend one of them, prepare yourself to see rain almost immediately.


Soustelle, Jacques. The Maya


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