Musical Instruments of the Maya

  • Victoria Cartwright Trent University


When one mentions the ancient Maya, it is usually in relation to warfare, traditional sacrificial ceremonies and a 'play to the death' ball game.à However, there are many other important aspects that make up the ancient civilization of the Maya, including pottery, art and music.à These three topics were all important to the ceremonies and traditions that occurred during the period of the Maya.à Through extensive excavations at sites such as Pacbitun and Bonampak, it has become apparent that musical instruments played a significant role within the life of the Maya.à Evidence of musical instruments found in the archaeological record proves that music was being played by the Maya and being included in their day to day lives.à Elaborate murals found at the site of Bonampak in Mexico, show the extensive use of musical instruments for sacrificial purposes.à Ancient Maya traditions were important to their culture; many of these ceremonies were completed in hopes of creating a better afterlife for themselves by praying to the gods.à Indeed, it is apparent that the use of musical instruments was important to the Maya.à They made sure that it became a part of their history by including them in their paintings and burials.