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Animals Illustration

Maya Empire for Kids
Animals & Feathers

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The Maya region teemed with mosquitoes and biting flies. There were iguanas and lizards and all kinds of poisonous things. There were pumas and snakes and crocodiles and mischievous monkeys. There were also breathtakingly beautiful birds like macaws, parrots, and quetzals.

The ancient Maya trapped birds for their feathers. They used these colorful feathers to decorate hats, fans, clothing, spears, hair bands, knee bands, collars, necklaces, wristlets, anklets, and other jewelry.

The most important bird was the quetzal. Quetzal tail feathers can be three feet long. Only royals could use the gorgeous iridescent green tail feathers of the quetzal bird.

The most feared animal was the jaguar. Many Maya gods had something to do with the jaguar because of this. Warriors wanted jaguar teeth and claws to decorate their bodies, shields, and spears. Priests wanted jaguar fur for masks and cloaks so they would look fierce and powerful when they communicated with their gods.

Many animals were sacred to the ancient Maya.

Field Guide to Sacred Animals of the Maya Culture

Jaguar - Lord of the Forest

Quetzal Bird

Birds and the Maya

Animals of the Maya Region

Interactive: Mayas Q&A

Mayas for Kids