Yum Kaax (Mayan pronunciation: , 'lord of the forest') is a Yucatek name for the god of the wild vegetation and guardian of its animals.
In the past, this character has wrongly been described as an agricultural deity, or even as the Maya maize god (god E of the codices), which has become a popular and still existing misconception. In ethnographic reality, Yum Kaax is a god of wild plants and of animals that are important to hunters. As such, he grants protection of the fields against the incursions of the wild nature he himself represents. For the same reason, his name is invoked by traditional farmers, who present him with the first fruits of their fields, carved out from the forest.
This type of deity is also found among indigenous peoples of North America. Invoked by hunters, he is owner of all the game. He can appear to hunters in an instant, and possesses songs that will warrant a hunter success, and allow his arrows to come back to him.
- Thompson 1970: 289
- cf. Thompson 1930: 107-108, 173
- Thompson, J.E.S., Ethnology of the Mayas of southern and central British Honduras. Chicago 1930.
- Thompson, J.E.S., Maya History and Religion. Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press 1970.