Chac

Chac is the Mayan god of Rain. He is very similar to the Aztec god Tlaloc.

At times, Chac could manifest into four different gods, or parts. Each god had a cardinal direction and color, as well as a unique name. These manifestations are as follows:

  • Sac Xib Chac, North, White
  • Chac Xib Chac, East, Red
  • Kan Xib Chac, South, Yellow
  • Ek Xib Chac, West, Black

These four gods, or parts, are sometimes referred to as The Chacs. These four could also be seen as assistants to the god Chac.

Appearance

Chac had a very unique and distinct appearance in Mayan mythology. The deity was known for his long, hooked nose, fangs and long tongue. His nose was turned up, much like an elephant’s nose.

Chac Mask at Kabah, Yucatan

Chac Mask at Kabah, Yucatan

He was also portrayed with animal attributes as well. He could be depicted as having scales, like those of a fish or reptile. This was likely due to his affiliation with rain.

Powers & Abilities

Rain gods had a couple of different ways of making it rain. They would use jade or stone axes to hit rain-carrying snakes, or throw the axes or snakes at the clouds, causing rain, lightning and thunder.

Worship

There are several known rituals associated with Chac. One of these is known as Burner periods and rituals. A Burner period lasted 65 days, or a quarter of the 260 day religious Mayan calendar.

Note – The Mayans had two calendars. One was similar to ours, and had 360 days. The other was a religious calendar, and had 260 days.

Each of the four Chac gods was associated with one of the four Burner periods. Not a lot is known about Burner rituals and periods, but they are mentioned in several Mayan texts. It is possible that a sacred fire was constantly lit and tended to by a priest for the duration of a 65 day Burner period. After a given Burner period ended, a new priest would tend to the fire.

Sadly, in later Mayan times, another ritual involving child sacrifice became associated with worship of Chac. These sacrifices became more numerous in periods of long droughts.

Facts about Chac

  • He is sometimes referred to as god B. This is due to Paul Schellhas’ classification of the Mayan gods around the turn of the 20th century as he examined the four Mayan codices.
  • His name can also be spelled Chaac, Chaak or Chaack.
  • Depictions of this deity can be found at Mayan sites including Chichen Itza, Copan and Peten.
  • According to Mayan mythology, he created lightning, rain and thunder by throwing his stone or jade ax at the clouds.
  • He is one of the major gods of Mayan mythology, and is depicted more than any other Mayan god.
  • Chac is also the name for the Mayan color red.

References

  • Mercatante, Anthony S., and Down, James R. The Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend. Second Edition, 2004. Pages 227 and 228.
  • Jones, David M. Mythology of the Aztecs and Mayam, 2007. Anness Publishing Limited. Page 23.
  • Luxton, Richard N. The Book of Chumayel: The Counsel Book of the Yucatec Maya 1539 – 1638. Aegean Park Press, 1995. Page 279.
  • Wikipedia contributors. “Chaac.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 5 Feb. 2020. Web. 19 Feb. 2020.

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