How to Write Your Name In Mayan Glyphs

This is one of the questions I get a lot of email about, and since there's so much interest, I thought I'd put up a list of instructions to help people out. This page will lead you on a guided tour in steps to show you how you can put together your own name glyph, and finishes with an example.

If you use these instructions to create an new image that you want to put on your own page, please acknowledge the source.

If you want to automatically write dates Mayan style, see the Datemaker.
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Read the Note on the Writing System, paying particular attention to the Principle of Synharmony, the Example, Ah and Na, and Putting It All Together sections. You'll need to use this information later.


Next, figure out what syllables make up your name.

Here's how vowels are pronounced:
A is like the a in all
E is like the e in grey
I is like the ee in see
O is like the o in no
U is like the oo in moon.

Also, keep in mind that the consonant written as "X"
is actually pronounced "SH".

If you want to hear the vowels,
there is a sound file in wav format available (102K). There is also the Talking Syllabary Page.

Unfortunately, not all names can be easily "Mayanized". English has consonants that don't exist in Maya, and vice versa. If you have a D, F, G, J, R, or V in your name, you may have to substitute another sound (Malia for Maria, say). You'll have to decide which combination of syllables is best for you.

Be careful about using the special Mayan consonants. For example, K and K' are pronounced differently and give totally differnt meanings, as in kab (earth) and k'ab (arm and hand). If you are puzzled about any of these special consonants, visit the Talking Syllabary or the Sound page.


Next, visit the Syllabary. This will show you what symbols are available for each syllable. You might also check the logographs to see if any of these might be used.


Choose the combination of syllable symbols you like best and construct a glyph block according to the rules given in the Note on the Writing System. If you're female, remember that the first character in your name is always the profile of a woman's head (OK, this might not be PC, but then neither were the classic Maya).

Symbols can overlap as long as they're in the correct order (they should read top to bottom and left to right).

Let'sTry It

OK, let's try a name, say, Thomas. This is pronounced Tahmas, and from the vowel chart above, we know that it would start with TA followed by a MA. But we need an S to finish, and the Principle of Synharmony tells us that it should end with the same vowel as the syllable before it. So what comes last must be SA.

Next we look up the these syllables in the syllabary to find out what our choices are.

And finally, we try putting the syllables together in the proper order until we find the combination we like best. Here are three possible versions of Thomas:

And that's how it's done.

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