The origins of the Maize God was born from a Mayan myth that goes back to the Classic Period of Mesoamerican history. The story of the reincarnation of the Baby Jaguar as the Maize God shows the importance of maize in the Mesoamerican society. The value of the maize is shown throughout history as the symbol of the maize grain is represented as a mystical God and as a part of the staple diet of the Mexican region for thousands of years.
The Baby Jaguar was conceived by the God N, also known as the Old God, and Lady Wayaab. As a result of an affair between these two, it is believed that three offspring were produced. Two of the three babies were believed to always appear to be bundled, but Baby Jaguar was the exception. The place of birth, known as Nah Ho’ Chan, is located in the northern mountains of Yucatan, a humid region linked to maize and fertility. Soon after birth, the Baby Jaguar is presented to his alleged father but his jaguar-like features exposed Lady Wayaab’s infidelity to the Lord, as a result the Lord sends the baby jaguar away for sacrifice. The baby jaguar is taken to Pa’axiil by his brothers to dispose of him by witness of an underworld deity. The baby jaguar was casted into a mountain and reincarnated as the Maize God born from maize seed. In Mayan art, the Maize God appears with both K’awiill and God N, attached to turtle’s carapace under the feet.
The importance of the Maize God for the Mesoamerica civilization is displayed in Pakal’s sarcophagus lid. The lid was discovered in 1949 by Mexican archeologist Alberto Ruz Lhuiller and is one of the greatest discoveries in Mesoamerican history. The lid was placed inside the Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque. The carvings on the lid are important for researchers and is crucial for the understanding of death and rebirth in the Mayan society. The lid showcases Pakal emerging from a maize seed, associated with fertility and abundance.
Maize has an important culinary aesthetic dimension among different cultures in the world. There are more than forty-five types and three general forms of maize agriculture in Mesoamerica. Still today, maize is the staple diet in Central American communities and has expanded throughout North and South America. The existence of the maize can be traced back to the Mesoamerican Classic Era. The Classic Mayan diet consisted mainly in maize based foods such as the tortilla, though there is little to no evidence of the consumption of the tortilla during the Mayan Classic era. The tamale makes an appearance during the Classic period and is portrayed in Classic Mayan art.