Mayan civilisation was the most important and longest lasting civilisation of the Mesoamerican region. The civilisation took birth in its Pre-Classic Period and flourished during the Classic Period between 250AD and 900AD, during which the Mayans founded many large urban centres and made impressive advancements in the domains of art and architecture.
Due to the unique culture and indigenous languages of the Mayans, they also had distinct names of people, gods, and places, which almost always had symbolic meaning. Even the Maya people today use a lot of names that were prevalent during the ancient Mayan civilisation.
Mayan followed a polytheistic religion in which more than 150 gods were worshipped. These gods were named in such a manner that their names symbolised their particular powers. Thus, for instance, the Mayan god of wine was known as Acan which means “belch”. Similarly, the name of Maya goddess of fertility and childbirth was Akna which literally means “our mother”. The patron god of warriors and merchants was called Ekchuah which means “black war chief”. Other Mayan names for gods include Kinich Ahau who was the sun god, Chac who was the god of rain and thunder, Yumil Kaxob who was the god of maize, Yum Cimil who was the god of death, Ixtab who was the goddess of suicide, Yum Kaax who was the god of agriculture and nature, and others.
Mayan names for cities were likewise associated certain relevant meaning to their cities. However, since the names of a lot of Mayan cities were unknown when they were rediscovered, they have been named only recently. For instance the name Calakmul, one of the most important Mayan cities during the Classic Period, means “city of the two adjacent pyramids”. Similarly, the name Chichen Itza, also one of the most important Mayan urban centres, means “at the mouth of the well of the Itza”. The name of the most important Mayan city during the Classic Period, Tikal, is thought to have been derived “ti ak’al” in the Yucatec Maya language. Literal translation of this name is “at the waterhole”. Other Mayan names for cities include Tulum, Yaxha, Uxmal, Yaxha, and others.
Most of the time, there are different Mayan names for males and females. However, sometimes the same name can be used for both sexes. Just like the Mayan names for cities and gods, Maya names for people also have specific meanings attached with them. The name could point to some quality of the person or simply a quality that his parents desired to see in him. For instance, a common Mayan male name is Aapo which means “father of many nations”. Some other Mayan names for males along with their meaning include Eadric which means “wealthy monarch”, Hagen which means “the highest son”, Tadeas which means “gift given by god”, Taavi which means “adored”, and others.
There is not a very strict distinction between Mayan male and female names. It is true that most of the times there are separate Mayan names for males and females. However, sometimes a specific name could be used for both sexes. For instance, the name Xiang meaning “good luck” is used for both males and females. Various other examples of Mayan names used for both sexes include Hadley which means “meadow of heathers”, Hai which means “coming from the sea”, Zan which means “providing support”, Kaelan which means “thin”, Fa which means “to send”, Nakia which means “chaste and faithful”, and others.
Just like Maya names for males, Mayan names for females also have specific meanings attached with them. Most of the times, these names are different from Mayan names for males but sometimes overlapping of names does take place. A common Mayan name with its meaning is Abarrane meaning “mother of multitude”. Abi is the Mayan female name which means “my father’s delight”. Some other common Mayan names for females along with their meanings include Abha which means “brightness”, Fabia which means “lovely bean”, Fairuza which means “woman of triumph”, Hadassah which means “from the myrtle tree”, Halle which means “living in a manor”, Handan which means “full of joy”, Lachina which means “land filled with lakes”, and others.
Mayan names for kings have a peculiar Mayan ring to them and are often accompanied with their titles. The first ruler of perhaps the most famous Mayan city Tikal was Yax Ehb’ Xook who founded the Tikal dynasty in around the 1st century AD. Other rulers from Tikal include Ix Une’ B’alam, K’inich Ehb’, Ma’Kin-na Chan, and Kaloomte’ B’alam etc. Mayan names for rulers from Copan include K’inich Popol Hol, Wil Ohl K’inich, K’ak’ Chan Yopaat, and K’ak’ Yipyaj Chan K’awiil etc. Similarly, names of a few Mayan rulers from the arch-rival of Tikal, Calakmul, are Tajoom Uk’ab K’ahk’, Tuun K?ab? Hix, Wamaw K’awiil, and Yuknoom Ti’ Chan etc. Some other Mayan names for rulers include Janaab? Pakal, B’utz Aj Sak Chiik, and B’alaj Chan K’awiil etc.
Various Mayan city states were ruled by female rulers during different times. Mayan names for some of these female rulers have come down to us. One such female ruler was Lady Yohl Ik’nal who ruled the city state of Palenque in the 6th century AD. Another female ruler was Ix Sak K’uk’ who took the throne of Palenque after the death of her father, Janaab’ Pakal. Yet another female ruler was Lady Ik’ Skull who governed the city of Yaxchilan in the 8th century.
Mayan Civilisation was the most important civilisation of Mesoamerican region and had a lasting impact on the peoples from different cultures. The civilisation has a rich culture and heritage and even today there are millions of ethnic Maya people following the ancient Mayan culture and traditions. Mayan names always have specific meaning associated with them. Most of the times, there are different Mayan names for males and females, although sometimes the same names could be used for both sexes.