What Were The Mayan Facial Features? (2023)

mayan man

There have been many popular tribes in the olden days, who are known for their distinct characteristics. One amongst them are the Mayans, also collectively called The Maya. They lived in South-eastern Mexico and Northern Central  America from around 250 CE to 900 CE. Today, the Maya have descendants to a total of six million people, who live mostly in Mexico. They also form the largest group of indigenous people.

Now, coming to what the facial features of Mayans were? The Maya tribe is particularly known for their vague beauty standards, especially when it comes to their facial features. This article will give you an understanding of what the Mayans considered beauty to be.

Mayan Facial Features

The Mayans are characterized with being squint-eyed, having a dark skin tone, beaked nose, straight hair and high cheekbones and fleshy lips. Some of these features were their natural physical traits, while some features were not natural, but rather artificially modified. 

In this era, you find people getting plastic surgeries, laser treatments done with the aim of achieving their beauty goals. Heaps of make-up is applied to get that perfect glamorous look. But things don’t mean the same for everyone. Beauty, according to the Mayans meant enduring a great amount of pain to get the perfect look. Their obsession with beauty was beyond bounds. Let’s unleash their modified facial features:

1. Head resembling an EAR OF CORN 

Backing-up their belief that all humans were created from corn, the Mayans signified it by modifying their head’s shape like that of an ear of corn. They idealised an elongated head, rather than a round one. The reshaping of the head took place after a few days of the birth of the baby. Since the baby’s skull is soft, it would be easier to elongate it. 

How’d they do that? They followed a technique, wherein two boards would be attached to the baby’s head. One underneath his head and the other above his head. These boards were tied together at one end. Consequently, the exertion of force made the head deformed and elongated. Sadly, many infants lost their lives during this process. But no matter what, this practice continued even at the cost of young lives. However, it is believed that this didn’t affect the mental ability of the children. 

2. Mayan Eyes

While we prefer eyes that are aligned, the Mayans liked the opposite. They found crossed-eyes attractive. This sounds strange, but cross-eyed individuals were considered beautiful by the Maya, and it was a symbol of beauty. 

Mayan Cross-eyed

The parents left no stone unturned to artificially make the children cross-eyed. And surprisingly, in order to do so, they used a stone. Yes, a stone is hanged in between the eyes of the children, which is held by a string. The string is tied around the head like a headband. As the stone keeps interrupting the eyesight, the focus of the eyes shifts towards it every now and then, causing the eyeballs to become squinted. This is a strange practice which the children have to go through so that their eyes are misaligned.

3. Beaked Nose

The Mayans were fond of a perfectly hooked nose. If not naturally, then they had their invented methods of attaining it. In this case, they even went to the extent of using an artificial nose bridge to give their nose the eagle-like beak shape. That’s what the Mayans want, a Big Beaked Conk! What else can a person do in the name of beauty?

4. Pointed Teeth (Mostly ‘T’ shaped)

In the Mayan society, when children were grown-up, and had a perfect set of permanent teeth, they had to file them. Since sharp, pointed teeth were also a form of beautification, the Mayans filed their teeth in the shape of the letter ‘T’ or most of the times into a shape resembling the kernel of a corn. No doubt corn was greatly revered amongst the Maya. They made the teeth sharp and pointed at the ends. The reason being, in the ancient times, filing of teeth was from a means of tribal identity or a part of rituals.

Alongside, the women would inlay their teeth with precious stones. Holes would be drilled in the teeth to make place for the luxurious stones to be inlaid. The most commonly used precious stones were jade, obsidian and turquoise. Some wealthy women would also carve different forms of art within them to make them look intricate and fancy.


The Mayan beauty standards are not just limited to shapes and sizes of the physical facial parts, but they also love to adorn them. They often pierce their eyes, ears and nose with ornaments. Piercings of several kinds are seen in almost every tribal community, so is the case with the Maya.

Apart from these key facial features that standouts the Mayan Community from others, there is another gruesome practice. This is where the children’s faces are burnt with a hot cloth, which, as a result leads to a halt in the growth of beard. And hence, the males do not see any traces of beard even when they reach adulthood. Being a part of Mayan society wasn’t easy. 

The face, being the most attractive and dignified part of the human body, is subject to various alterations. And these sometimes reach the peak of extremes. 

Final Thoughts

As opposed to the popular saying, “Beauty isn’t about having a pretty face. It’s about having a pretty mind, a pretty heart and a pretty soul,” the Mayan civilization seems to hold beauty as it’s most treasured element. The Mayan facial features are an epitome of how a person can go to extremes to meet his desired beauty level. Though artificial means of modification can cause permanent damages, the Maya did what not to look perfect according to what they referred to as “beautiful.” 

Nevertheless, it also gives a clear insight of how the definition of beauty differs in relation to different perspectives. In conclusion, whatever facial beauty might mean to you or the Mayans, true beauty lies within you! 


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