Buluc Chabtan: Mayan God of War

Black and white illustration of Huitzilopochtli god of sun and war depicted as warrior holding shield and staff, wearing headdress of hummingbird feathers
Dorling Kindersley Getty Images

While much of the Mayan religion has been lost to antiquity, archeologists have uncovered many things about this fascinating religion. Following the traditions of many Mesoamerican tribes, the Mayan were polytheistic. They believed in a rotating cycle of creation and destruction. These cycles matched up with the many calendars the Mayans used. They had one with 365 days, based on the earth's solar year, one based on the seasons, a lunar calendar and even one based on the Planet Venus. While some indigenous communities in Central America still practice Mayan rituals the culture collapsed sometime around 1060 AD. What reminded of that once vast empire would be colonized by the Spaniards.

As with many polytheistic religions, some gods were loved and others feared. Buluc Chabtan was the latter.  Buluc Chabtan was the Mayan god war, violence, and sudden death (not to be confused with regular death which had its own deity). People prayed to him for success in war, to avoid sudden death, and just on general principles because you don't want to be on his bad side. Blood was seen as nourishment for the gods and a human life was the ultimate gift to a deity. Unlike the majority of movies which portray supple young virgins as being the best for human sacrifice, prisoners of war were much more commonly used for this purpose. It's thought that the Maya decapitated their human sacrifices until the postclassic period when heart removal was favored.  

Religion and Culture of Buluc Chabtan

Maya, Mesoamerica

Symbols, Iconography, and Art of Buluc Chabtan

In Mayan art, Buluc Chabtan is usually portrayed with a thick black line around his eyes and down one cheek. It's also common for him to be in images where he's setting fire to buildings and stabbing people. Sometimes, he is shown stabbing people with a spit which he uses to roast them over a fire. He's often pictured with Ah Puch the Mayan god of Death.

Buluc Chabtan is God of

Human sacrifices
Sudden and/or violent death

Equivalents in Other Cultures

Huitzilopochtli, god of war in Aztec religion and mythology
Ares, god of war in Greek religion and mythology
Mars, god of war in Roman religion and mythology

Story and Origin of Buluc Chabtan

It was common for people to make human sacrifices to various gods in Mesoamerican cultures; Buluc Chabtan is a bit unusual, however, in that he was actually a god of human sacrifices. Unfortunately, the majority of stories about him have been lost to the ages along with most information about the Mayans. What little information that remains comes from archeological studies and the writings of 

Temples and Rituals Associated with Buluc Chabtan

Buluc Chabtan was one of the "bad" gods in Mayan culture. He wasn't so much worshiped as he was avoided.

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Cline, Austin. "Buluc Chabtan: Mayan God of War." Learn Religions, Sep. 24, 2021, learnreligions.com/buluc-chabtan-buluc-chabtan-god-of-war-250382. Cline, Austin. (2021, September 24). Buluc Chabtan: Mayan God of War. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/buluc-chabtan-buluc-chabtan-god-of-war-250382 Cline, Austin. "Buluc Chabtan: Mayan God of War." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/buluc-chabtan-buluc-chabtan-god-of-war-250382 (accessed June 5, 2023).