7 Beauty Trends From Mayan Culture That We Still Follow

Each culture has its own standards of beauty and it was around the 3rd century, in the heyday of the Mayan civilization, that many of the beauty procedures we know and love today were invented. The Mayans are not only remembered for human sacrifices, but also for their devotion to beauty, and although these practices may seem extreme at first glance, we share similar trends today — just adapted to new standards.

1. Jewelry on their teeth

Shimmering teeth were a thing but not as usual. Mayan people used to go to the dentist to place carved stone inlays in their front teeth. Picture turquoise, hematite, quartz, and jadeite inlays incrusted in your teeth.
Although, it was an ancient practice we can still see it as a trend in a similar form on many rappers. Gold teeth, anyone?

2. Mayan tattoos

Getting a tattoo in the Mayan era was a painful experience that not many dared to do. The procedure consisted of carving into the skin, giving the tattoo a 3D look. Unsurprisingly, getting a tattoo was a symbol of bravery and gave a more beautiful look to those who chose to get one.

3. Complex hairstyles

© Apocalypto / Icon Productions and co-producers, Elizabeth Goodenough / Everett Collection / East News

During the height of the Classical Mayan Civilization (250 AD-900 AD), hair was used to denote rank. Ordinary people cut their hair short, while elite women styled it into braids, woven with ornaments and ribbons on special occasions. All this was done to create a more elongated profile, something that for the ancient Mayan people was the height of beauty. Head-bindings pulled tight and weighed down with ornaments could have caused hair loss due to mechanical stress on the hair follicles.

Mayan men took the drastic step of burning the hair of their fringe. This was done to change their own receding hairlines, permanently damaging the follicles to create the effect of a higher forehead.

4. Paper earrings

Many different types of earrings were worn by members of Maya society, but a particular style made from bark paper show how jewelry could be used to perform uncomfortable social gestures. Paper for these earrings was made from the bark of mulberry or fig tree branches. One end of a long strip of the plain bark paper was used to pierce the earlobe, and the strip would then be worn hanging from the ear as a gesture of penance.

5. Crossed eyes

True beauty is said to be based on the eyes, and the Mayans had a peculiar translation of this saying. They considered crossed eyes to be a symbol of beauty. To achieve this feature, parents used to hang a small toy between their toddler’s eyes. The child would look at it and, over time, their eyes would grow to be permanently crossed.

6. Facial piercings

Piercings are popular accessories in modern culture and were once popular in Mayan culture as well. Just like today, the most common body part to pierce was the ears, followed by the nose and lips. For the Mayans, wearing piercings symbolized honor to their gods, in addition to highlighting their beauty.

7. Artificial nose bridge

Nose jobs were a thing in Mayan times. The main difference is that instead of looking to get a turned-up tip, they preferred beaked noses just like their gods. For those who weren’t born with a curved nose, they used artificial bridges made of clay to simulate a naturally beaked nose.

Which of the Mayan trends would you dare to try or maybe have already tried in their contemporary version? Share them here with us!

Preview photo credit Apocalypto / Icon Productions and co-producers, Invision/Invision/East News
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