As in other cultures, Maya códices recorded crucial information. They were considered sacred manuals documenting the workings of the universe, used by priests to interpret and influence unseen forces, as well as to conduct religious ceremonies believed to be essential for the well being of the people. The achievements of the Maya in astronomy and mathematics were inextricably tied to their religious beliefs, bringing together science and ritual to reveal the patterns and cycles of the universe. The once-rich body of Maya códices also documented astrology, divinatory practices, history, crafts, and other activities. Maya códices were written on fig bark paper and bound in jaguar skin.
Unfortunately, only four Maya códices have survived. Three are
in European libraries: the Dresden, the Madrid, and the Paris. The fourth, the
Grolier Codex, is in Mexico City; not all scholars agree that it is of Maya origin.