Mayan Directional Color Diagram Explained

Mayan Directional Color Diagram Explained

The Mayan culture, which flourished in what is now Mexico and Central America, was highly advanced in various aspects of art, architecture, mathematics, and astronomy. One of the lesser-known yet fascinating aspects of Mayan culture is the Mayan directional color diagram. This diagram represents the four cardinal directions and their associated colors, elements, gods, and other elements of Mayan cosmology.

Origins and Significance

The Mayan directional color diagram can be traced back to the Classic period of Mayan civilization (AD 250-900) when the Mayans developed a sophisticated understanding of the movements of the sun, moon, and stars. They used this knowledge to create a calendar system for both practical purposes, such as planting and harvesting crops, and religious purposes, such as determining the proper ritual times.

The Mayans also associated the four cardinal directions with specific colors, elements, and gods. For example, red was associated with the east and the rising sun, while white was associated with the north and the god of maize. These associations were not arbitrary but based on the Mayans’ observations of the natural world and their beliefs about the relationships between the gods and the elements.

Components of the Diagram

The Mayan directional color diagram consists of four squares, one for each cardinal direction, arranged in a cross pattern. Each square is divided into four smaller squares representing a sub-direction. The colors of the squares vary according to the direction they represent, with red in the east, white in the north, black in the west, and yellow in the south.

In addition to the colors, the diagram also includes other symbols and elements associated with each direction and sub-direction. For example, the east is associated with the rising sun and the north with maize. The west with death and the underworld, and the south with jaguars. These symbols are often depicted in drawings, carvings, or hieroglyphs. Providing important information about the Mayan worldview and their beliefs about the universe.

Diagram of the Mayan Directional Color

The diagram is also a cross pattern of four squares, each square representing one of the four cardinal directions. The east square is colored red, the north square is colored white. The west square is colored black, and the south square is colored yellow. Each square is divided into four smaller squares representing the sub-directions. The smaller squares may include symbols or images associated with each direction and sub-direction.


The Mayan directional color diagram is a fascinating aspect of Mayan culture that provides insight into their beliefs about the world and their relationship with the natural elements and gods. While it may seem like a simple design. It is a complex symbol representing the intricate relationships between the four cardinal directions, the elements, and the gods. Today, the diagram is still studied and appreciated for its beauty and historical significance. And it continues to provide a glimpse into the rich and fascinating culture of the ancient Mayans.

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