MAYAN LANGUAGE - DICTIONARY OF MAYAN WORDS
MAYAN DICTIONARY - GLOSSARY OF ANCIENT MAYAN WORDS & MAYAN CALENDAR TERMS
ajaw - (also "ahau" or "ahaw" in older orthography) highest ranking status in Mayan society; inherited from one's ancestors. It includes the ruler (commonly interpreted as "lord", "king", or "leader") and a larger group of elites consisting of both male and female members; women are prefixed "Ix" to note gender.
alautun - the largest cycle or unit of time measured in the Mayan calendar system. It is equivalent to 20 kinchiltuns or 23,040,000,000 kins (days) or nearly 63,123,288 years; rarely used except by high priests.
baktun - (also "b'ak'tun") the largest & last common unit of time measured in the Mayan long count dating system. It's equivalent to 20 k'atun cycles or 144,000 kins (days), and is roughly the same as 400 years.
galactic alignment - a pseudoscientific term denoting an astronomical event which re-occurs approximately once every 26,000 years in which the path of our Sun (seen from earth) lines up with the galactic equator in the dark rift (Xibalba to the Maya) of the Milky Way.
galactic butterfly - a Mayan symbol (from Toltec or Zapotec origins) with an indigenous Mayan name of "Inla Kex" used to represent the consciousnes and/or origin of all things in our universe. See symbol image
calabtun - (also "kalabtun") a cycle or unit of time in the Mayan calendar system. It is equivalent to 20 pictuns or 57,600,000 kins (days) or 157,808 years.
Calendar Round - a 52 year period of time in the Mesoamerican calendar systems consisting of 18,980 distinct dates derived from the interlacing of dates from the 260-day calendar cycle (Tzolk'in for the Maya) with dates from the 365-day calendar cycle (Haab' for the Maya); based on a principle that the least common multiple of 260 and 365 is 18,980.
Haab - a major cycle count of the Mayan calendar system recording 18 named units (winals) of 20 days (kin) with the addition of 5 nameless days (wayeb) at the end of its count. This 365 day period of time is occassionally referred to as the "Vague Year" with a span of time corresponding roughly to the true solar (tropical) year which is shorter than a sidereal year (motion of the Sun against a background of fixed stars). It is the rough equivalent to our Gregorian year but with the Mayan calculation of 365.2422 kin being more accurate. Being based on the solar cycle, the Haab was used primarily in conjunction with the seasons of earth for agriculture and civic occassions. Also known as the "Xiuhpohualli" to the Aztecs.
Hunab Ku - the name or concept translated to mean "Sole God" or "One God". It is the name for God widely believed to be an invention of Catholic
missionaries in an attempt to convert polytheistic Mayas into monotheistic Christians. Its earliest known usage comes from the 16th century "Diccionario de Motul" and also in the "Book of Chilam Balam"
found in Chuyamel and written after the Spanish Conquest. Prior to this, it is not referenced in the remaining pre-
Conquest Mayan writings but is closely associated with the Mayan creator god known as "Itzamna".
Itzamna - a deity in the pantheon of Mayan gods, Itzamna is said to have brought knowledge of the Mayan calendar system, writing, and other seminal aspects of Mayan culture to the ancient Maya.
katun - (also "k'atun") the fourth cycle or unit of time measured in the Mayan long count dating system. It is equivalent to 20 tuns or 7,200 kins (days). It is the 2nd number of the Mayan long count calendar date.
kin - (also k'in") the first measured unit of the Mayan long count dating system; common name for "day".
kinchiltun - a cycle or unit of time measured in the Mayan calendar system. It is equal to 20 calabtuns or 1,152,000,000 kins (days) or 3,156,164 solar years.
Kukulkan - (also "K'uk'ulkan" in Yucatec and "K'uk'ul-
chon" in Tzotzil) is a god depicted as the plumed or feathered serpent in the large pantheon of Mayan mythology. Kukulkan is associated with the god(s) "Gukumatz" of the K'iche' Maya and "Quetzalcoatl" of the Aztecs. Major cults were formed around this deity.
Long Count Calendar - a long non-repeating linear permutation count in Mesoamerica calendar systems denoting both the amount of time passed since
the creation date of humanity and a 5 cycle period count recorded in intervals of roughly 5,125 years (a base equivalent of 13 x 144,000 ÷ 365.25). In the astro-
numerics and mythology of the Maya, the creation date corresponds to August 11, 3114 B.C. with the cycle count increasing by one every 13 b'ak'tuns.
See image reference: Mayan Long Count Calendar
Mayan numbers - a vigesimal (base-twenty) numeral system of the Maya civilization which used three main symbols: a 'shell' to represent 'null or zero', a 'dot' to represent 'one', and a 'bar' to represent 'five', for numeric values. See image: Mayan Number System
pictun - (also "piktun") a cycle or unit of time measurement in the Mayan calendar system. It is equivalent to 20 baktuns, 2,880,000 kins (days), or 7,890 years. Current debate amongst Mayan scholars are discussing whether a pictun should be viewed alternatively to represent 13 baktuns instead of 20.
Popul Vuh - a post-Columbian Mayan text written in the K'iche' (Guatemalan Mayan) language by a Mayan author or authors using Spanish letters sometime between the years 1554 and 1558. It chronicles the creation of man, actions of the Mayan gods, the origin and history of the K'iche' Maya, and the chronology of their kings up to 1550. It is often referenced by Mayanist scholars and proponents of the New Age Movement as an invaluable source of information on the ancient Mayans, their customs and beliefs; but, is also suspect to some Roman Catholic propaganda.
transit of Venus - a rare astronomical phenomena in which the observable path of Venus (as viewed from earth) is seen passing across the Sun; the Maya tracked this passing of Venus between the Sun and the earth with a precision that matches modern astronomy; this rarity occurs in a repeating pattern every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart, and also separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years between (227 + 16 = 243).
trecena - a 13-day period of time used in many Mesoamerican calendars. The Tzolk'in calendar was divided into 20 trecenas. The word is derived from Spanish with trecena meaning a 'group of thirteen'.
tun - the third cycle or unit of time measured in the Mayan long count dating system. It is most commonly referred to as 18 months of 20 days (more correctly specified as 18 winal periods of 20 kin each), creating a mathematically and spiritually important 360 day period of time. One tun combined with the Wayeb creates the 365 day period of time used for the Haab calendar cycle. From this extremely important unit of time many of the other succeeding cycles of Mayan time measurements were made, i.e.: katun, baktun, pictun, calabtun, kinchiltun, and alautun.
Tzolk'in - (also "Tzolkin" in older orthology) a major cyclical count in the Mayan calendar system which recorded a 260 day (kin) period of time used mainly for sacred ceremonies. It consisted of 20 trecenas, with each trecena representing a 13-day period. Each trecena is also associated with it's own Mayan deity.
Wayeb - (also called "uayeb") a period of 5 nameless days (kin) used at the end of each cycle of the Haab
winal - (also "uinal") the second cycle or unit of time measured in the Mayan long count dating system. It is equivalent to 20 kins (days). It's the fourth number of the Mayan long count calendar date; and closest measure to 1 month of the Gregorian calendar.
Xibalba - (also "Xibalba be") roughly translated as the "Place of Fear", in Mayan mythology it is described in the Popol Vuh as the underworld, a place where the spirits of death and disease exist. In K'iche' Mayan cosmology, it's viewed as the "Black Path" or dark rift seen in the center of the Milky Way. In some Mayan accountings, the Orion Nebula is the actual physical location of Xibalba, in others it's the caves of Belize.