Ancient Mayan Names

Parents took their newborn children to the paal kaba or priest, who would make a child's horoscope and give it the first name. For boys the paal kaba invariably began with the prefix ah; for girls he used Ix. These prefixes were appended to the names of mammals, reptiles or birds.

Mesoamerican priests and kings would sometimes take the name of a deity they were associated with, so Quetzalcoatl and Kukulcan are also the names of historical persons.

The Ah Canul used nicknames. Even powerful men were better known by their sobriquets than by their given names.

Chaan-muan - Ruler of Bonampak in the 8th century A.D.
Chan Bahlum - "Snake Jaguar" - son of Pacal, ruled 683 to 702 A.D.
Cocom - A late Mayapan ruler
Cu Ix - Ruler of Copan
Kan-Bahlum-Mo - Father of Pacal
Kan Boar - Ruler of Tikal
Pacal - "Shield" - Ruler of Palenque who ruled for 68 years, from 615 to 683 A.D. and who was buried in an underground tomb.
Pacal Balam - "Shield Jaguar" - Ruler of Yaxchilan

Quetzalcoatl ("feathered snake") is the Aztec name for the Feathered-Serpent deity of ancient Mesoamerica, one of the main gods of many Mexican and northern Central American civilizations The name "Quetzalcoatl" literally means quetzal-bird snake or serpent with feathers of the Quetzal (which implies something divine or precious) in the Nahuatl language. The meaning of his local name in other Mesoamerican languages is similar.

Mat Head - Ruler of Copan
Moon Jaguar - Ruler of Copan
Moon Zero Bird - Ruler of Tikal
Smoke Jaguar - Ruler of Copan from 628 to 695 A.D.
Smoke Monkey - Ruler of Copan
Smoke Skull - Ruler of Copan

Names for the Rain God in other Mesoamerican cultures include Cocijo (Zapotec) and Tlaloc (Aztec).

Here are a few rules for correct pronunciation of mayan names-

X is pronounced like English SH.
LL is pronounced like the L of Long.
TL counts as a single consonant, never as a full syllable. The consonant sounds like the TL in FAINTLY without the e sound of the Y.
CU and UC are both pronounced KW as in KWIKLY (quickly).
HU and UH are both pronounced W as in WIN not WHEN.


This site covers several articles on ancient mayan, aztec histoty and Inca civilization. It also covers the differences and similarities between these cultures.
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