This is what the physical appearance of the Maya was like

Broadly defined, the pre-Hispanic Mayas met these characteristics of the physical type.

This is what the physical appearance of the Maya was like
Pakal mask. Photo: INAH

Among the characteristics of the ancient Maya were a robust build and a height of about 1.60 m for men and 1.50 m for women. The head was relatively broad with dark brown straight hair, an aquiline nose, and protruding cheekbones. The custom of body modification had social and religious values. Certain body adornments, such as skin painting, were applied daily or on festive occasions.

Ornaments were used on the nose, lips, forehead, and ears. Artificial deformation of the head was an integral part of life and, in some groups, was elevated to an art form. Techniques and instruments were used to give the desired shape to the child's head. In the case of dental ornamentation, the diversity of shapes, produced by filing and partial perforation, stands out.

The Mayas used to deform their skulls by placing a board on the forehead of newborns and another on the occipital bone tied tighter and tighter. They did not have beards, since the children's faces were burned with a hot cloth so that they would not grow.

The Maya drilled their teeth and then inlaid them with semi-precious stones such as jade or obsidian. The most common items of clothing were light cotton cloth suits, feather blankets, or animal skins. On the head, they wore helmets or feather headdresses representing the faces of animals. Men and women wore their hair long and sometimes braided and gathered.

Pakal mask

Mosaic mask made of jade, shell, and obsidian. It was part of the funerary trousseau of the ruler of Palenque K'ihnich Janaab' Pakal. The mask shows features of a young character with cranial deformation and incisors filed in the form of T or "ik".

It represents the Young Maize God, who is related to the rulers as a metaphor for sustenance and welfare for the community, but also as a promise of its rebirth. The mask is composed of about 340 jadeite tesserae, while the eyes are made of shell and obsidian applications.