Link to enlarge Masculine head from Palenque Chiapas after Michel Zabé WHO'S WHO IN THE CLASSIC MAYA WORLD
Peter Mathews

Classic Maya Names: Calendar Names

In Mesoamerica outside the Maya area, calendar names were often the most commonly recorded component of an individual's name. Quite simply, these names recorded the position within the ritual 260-day calendar on which the individual was born-rather like our naming a baby 'Tuesday'. Rulers like the Mixtec Lord 8 Deer are among the most famous of all Mesoamerican individuals. And his calendar name Yya Nacuaa (Pohl 1994:49), or '8 Deer' as we transcribe it, is better known (and probably was in his own time too) than his personal name, which we translate as 'Jaguar Claw'.

Among the Classic Maya, however, we have very few recorded calendar names. Most of the calendar names that we do have, in fact, tend to be associated with locations on the fringes of the Classic Maya world. For example, there are several calendar names recorded in texts from Palenque and its environs, but all are plausibly associated with the coastal lowlands to the north of the site: the ruler Wak Kimi Janab' Pakal III, Ho' K'an Yitz'in, and Chan Ajaw ?? Itz'at are all named in inscriptions from Palenque itself, and another Chan Ajaw, Chan Ajaw Aj Ux Te' K'u, is named on a panel from the (probable) nearby site of Pomoy. Wak Kimi is the calendar name '6 Kimi', Ho' K'an is '5 K'an', and Chan Ajaw is '4 Ajaw' (it is possible that the two Chan Ajaw names refer to the same individual).

Other calendar names, such as ones recorded on Ucanal Stela 4, are recorded in square cartouches to highlight their 'foreign-ness'. If the Maya used Calendar names in their daily life, there is very little evidence for it from their inscriptions.


Pohl, John M. D.
1994 Notebook for the Mixtec Pictographic Writing Workshop at Texas, March 14-19, 1994: Codex Zouche-Nuttall.
Austin: Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Austin.

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