Re: Does anyone know the Mayan Calendar?

Len Piotrowski (
Fri, 16 Aug 1996 18:32:52 GMT

In article <4v2d69$> lfast@newshost (Larry Fast) writes:

>I recently learned the Mayan base 20 number system
>and I'd like to know about their calendar.
>In particular, I'd like to be able to translate
>people's birthdays into Mayan.
>This is a project I've taken on for Science World
>in Vancouver BC.

>I can already translate 1996 into: 4-19-6 OR
> ....

> ....
> ----
> ----
> ----

> .
> ----

>What I'd like is to add the day of the year to this,
>AND if possible, translate to a Mayan year.

>Any help appreciated.

This is a repost of something I dropped recently into sci.arch:
Check out the following link:

"The Maya Calendar

The Maya developed a sophisticated calendar. The ritual calendar that developed in
Mesoamerica used a count of 260 days. This calendar gave each day a name, much
like our days of the week. There were 20 day names, each represented by a unique
symbol. The days were numbered from 1 to 13. Since there are 20 day names, after
the count of thirteen was reached, the next day was numbered 1 again. The 260-day
or sacred count calendar was in use throughout Mesoamerica for centuries, probably
before the beginning of writing.

Maya Day Names & Approximate Meanings
Imix Waterlily Chuwen Frog
Ik' Wind Eb Skull
Ak'bal Night Ben Corn stalk
K'an Corn Ix Jaguar
Chikchan Snake Men Eagle
Kimi Death head Kib Shell
Manik' Hand Kaban Earth
Lamat Venus Etz'nab Flint
Muluk Water Kawak Storm cloud
Ok Dog Ahaw Lord

The Maya also tracked a vague solar year in which they counted 365 days per year.
Because they could not use fractions, the "quarter" day left over every year caused
their calendar to drift with regard to the actual solar year. The 365-day year
contained months were also given names. numbers 0-19 before they changed, so that
the count goes Zero Pohp to 19 Pohp, then continues with Zero Wo.

Month Names and Approximate Meanings
Pohp Mat Yax Green ??
Wo ?? Zak White ??
Sip ?? Keh Red ??
Sotz' Bat Mak ??
Sek ?? K'ank'in ??
Xul Dog Muwan Owl
Yaxk'in New Sun Pax ??
Mol Water K'ayab Turtle
Ch'en Black ?? Kumk'u ??

To the eighteen regular months the Maya appended a special five-day month called
Wayeb composed of 5 days which were considered unnamed and unlucky. Thus the
days were counted: One Imix, Zero Pohp, Two Ik, One Pohp. When the thirteenth
day was reached the next day was Thirteen Ben, Twelve Pohp; then One Ix, Thirteen
Pohp, Two Men, Fourteen Pohp. After Seven Ahaw, Nineteen Pohp, the next day
was Eight Imix, Zero Wo.

In addition, the Maya used special glyphs to indicate time periods, the kin
represented one day. Winals are periods of 20-days which we now call a month. The
Tun was a year of 360 days and the K'atun was a time period of 20 years of 360
days each. As we will see later, the K'atun ending was a special time period
celebrated by the Maya. It has its parallel in the modern world, the period of time
which we call a decade. The Maya also counted 400-year periods called Baktuns.
The Maya used these time periods in a special day count which is now called the
Long count. Today a typical long count date is written thus: This
represents 9 baktuns, 14 k'atuns, 12 tuns, 2 winals and 17 k'ins. [Special note: All
names given here are in the new orthography developed by native Maya of
Guatemala. Their system is being accepted by many various organizations of Maya
and similar forms of this orthography are being adopted by other Maya groups. In
reality, this system probably makes it easier for English speakers to pronounce the
actual words. Given the Maya propensity for words and language it is only a natural
development.] "

The page also contains a Java widget to convert Gregorian Dates to the
corresponding Maya calender date.

Hope this helps!