Yum Kaax is the Mayan god and protector of wildlife. A few examples of wildlife he oversees include forests, agriculture, animals and hunters. Many sources state that he is the same god as Ah Mun, while others say they are separate deities. If they are separate deities, Yum Kaax would lean towards being the protector of the forests and wildlife, and Ah Mun would lean towards being the god of maize, corn and agriculture.
It should be noted that Ah Mun (and therefore possibly Yum Kaax) is the same god as god E in the Mayan codices. The Mayan codices are a collection of folding books that were written on bark paper by scribes in the Mayan culture.
Yum Kaax does not look entirely different from many other Mayan gods. He is often depicted as a human in a sitting position and wearing Mayan headdress and clothing. There are some unique features to this deity, however. In statues, paintings and engravings, he is usually shown as a young and beautiful person, which personifies the birth of the life cycle in plants and wildlife.
He is often seen holding three ears of corn. It is in this particular depiction where Yum Kaax and Ah Mun may be perceived as being the same deity or could be discerned as different. Ah Mun may have a corn plant growing from his head, where Yum Kaax may be holding ears of corn.
Yum Kaax was a kind deity and was not associated with fear or death. In fact, it is likely that he battled Mayan gods of death. He was associated with gratefulness and thankfulness.
The main symbol to be related to Yum Kaax would be an ear of corn, giving additional weight to the equivalence between him and Ah Mun.
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While Yum Kaax was the protector of wildlife, he was also the protector of hunters. Before going on a hunt, hunters would say a prayer to Yum Kaax and ask him for permission and protection. Hunters who acted irresponsibly or were cruel while hunting would potentially invoke the wrath of the deity.
Yum Kaax was also associated with and protected by the Mayan god of rain, Chac. As rain is essential to the life cycle, the two deities would have been intrinsically linked in the Mayan pantheon.
The most well-known worship of this deity were the rituals and prayers that took place prior to hunts.
Facts about Yum Kaax
- He is often associated with and may be the same god as Ah Mun and god E in the Mayan codices.
- He was the protector of wildlife as well as hunters.
- Yum Kaax was often portrayed as being youthful, and was one of the most youthful Mayan deities.
- Rituals to the deity included praying to the deity before going on hunts.