The Mayan Trumpet – Music of the Gods

The Maya culture of Mexico and Central America (250-900 CE) can be described as one of high prosperity and power in ancient Mesoamerica. This age was a time of intense urbanization, construction, and agricultural advancement. The Mayans created a hieroglyphic writing system and sophisticated calendars.

The Mayans have performed music for over 2,000 years. Music assumed importance in military settings as well as in forging communication with gods, ancestors, and other spiritual entities.

Perhaps the most noticeable instrument in Maya vase paintings is the trumpet. Trumpets, called hom-tahs, could be made of wood, clay, or gourd and were shaped like the modern didgeridoo with large bells on the end.

Ancient Maya painting depict the use of the trumpet.

Music was important in military settings and to communicate with gods, ancestors, and other spiritual entities.

When European explorers arrived in the Colonial period, Maya musicians were the first ones killed, followed by the dancers. The conquistadores destroyed all musical instruments they could find because “they were from the devil.” 1

But the Maya culture continues through the centuries! One of the largest groups of modern Maya can be found in Mexico’s Yucatán State and the neighboring states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, and in Belize.

And, the ancient tradition of the Maya trumpet continues.

Carlos Vega Cuellar is one of several modern-day Maya trumpet players. He is a frequent guest at Eco-Tiangius Organic Market in Zihuatanejo.


Música Maya Aj – Renacer de los Nawales


Luis Mendez: Trompeta Maya México


  1. Anna Stacy,”Of the Same Stuff as Gods: Musical Instruments among the Classic Maya.” Collegiate Journal of Anthropology (Fri, Apr 11, 2014)

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