Maya Houses, a Man’s House is his Ajawil

For the most part, the architectural splendor of the Maya civilization can be accredited to that of the common man.

Their building ingenuity started at the lowest level with the construction of their very own homes. The Maya built their houses with very steep roofs that were made of thatch or palm leaves. This prevented the rain from getting through and into the house.

Their roofs were also made to drop very low in the fronts in order to protect the inhabitants inside against the hot sun and rains. These low dropped roofs also helped the inhabitants to better defend themselves from enemies as well.

They also built a wall that ran lengthwise, dividing the whole house. They also placed doorways in the back of the house, where they had their beds and slept. Their beds were made of small rods that were covered with weaved grass mats and mantles of cotton that was used as covering. During the summer time when it was hot, they sleep on mats in the front part of the house. This was especially true with the men in the household.

The front half of their houses were whitened with a very fine whitewash. There is no known reason for this other than the assumption of for looks, but may have also been to help strengthen the front of the house walls, which were probably wattle and daub styled walls.

The front whitewashed portion of the house also served as the reception and lodging area for guests and visitors. The were no doors on the fronts of the houses. There was no real fear of crimes being committed with the houses being door-less, open and unsecured. Maya society held it as being a grave offense to do any wrong to another’s house.

maya houses
Thatched roof building, Source: William Gates, p32. 1937.

The ruler or noble’s house was usually built at the expense of the common man or subject (nothing has changed for thousands of years anywhere in humankind). These houses that the commoners had built for the noble class, or chiefs of their village, were often equipped with beautiful frescoes as well.


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written by Njord Kane © 2016 Spangenhelm Publishing


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