The Maya king and his nobles lived an easy life. They had their every need provided for by the commoners. They were even carried from place to place in litters by slaves.
Life as a Maya Commoner
Life as a Maya commoner was full of hard work. The typical peasant worked as a farmer. At the start of the day, the wife would get up early and start a fire for cooking. Then the husband would leave to go work at the fields. After a hard day working at the fields, the farmer would come home and bathe. Bathing was an important part of the day for all the Maya people. The men spent evenings working on crafts such as tools, while the women wove cloth to make clothing.
What were their clothes like?
The clothing worn by the Maya depended on the region they lived in and their social status. The wealthy wore colorful clothing made from animal skins. They also wore feather headdresses and fancy jewelry.
Commoners wore simpler clothing. The men often wore loincloths while the women wore long skirts. Both men and women would use a blanket called a manta to wrap around their shoulders when it was cold.
Clothing for a Maya woman by Daderot
Men and women both wore their hair long. Once they were married, both men and women often got tattoos.
What did the Maya eat?
The most important food that the Maya ate was maize, which is a vegetable like corn. They made all types of food from maize including tortillas, porridge, and even drinks. Other staple crops included beans, squash, and chilies. For meat the Maya ate fish, deer, ducks, and turkey.
The Maya introduced the world to a number of new foods. Probably the most interesting was chocolate from the cacao tree. The Maya considered chocolate to be a gift from the gods and used cacao seeds as money. Other new foods included tomatoes, sweet potatoes, black beans, and papaya.
What were their homes like?
The nobles and kings lived inside the city in large palaces made from stone. The commoners lived in huts outside the city near their farms. The huts were usually made from mud, but were sometimes made from stone. They were single room homes with thatched roofs. In many areas the Maya built their huts on top of platforms made from dirt or stone in order to protect them from floods.
Although much of the Maya life was spent doing hard work, they did enjoy entertainment as well. A lot of their entertainment was centered around religious ceremonies. They played music, danced, and played games such as the Maya ball game.
Maya ball court by Ken Thomas
Interesting Facts about Maya Daily Life
The Maya considered crossed eyes, flat foreheads, and big noses to be beautiful features. In some areas they would use makeup to try and make their noses appear large.
The Maya loved to wear large hats and headdresses. The more important the person, the taller the hat they wore.
The farmers of the Maya did not have metal tools or beasts of burden to help them farm. They used simple stone tools and did the work by hand.
Sometimes the ball games that the Maya played were part of a religious ceremony. The losers were sacrificed to the gods.
The Maya had hundreds of different dances. Many of these dances are still practiced today. Some examples of the dances include the Snake dance, the Monkey dance, and the Dance of the Stag.