Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mayan Hieroglyphs, Part II

Last time [1] I showed you the hieroglyphs that I designed to represent the meaning of my name. To be honest, it seems rather pretentious and self-centered to do just my name—especially given its meaning. So I decided to design hieroglyphs for Leann's name, too.

Leann's name is a combination of the Old English leah, which means "meadow" [2] and the Hebrew חַנָּה (Channah), which means "favor", "mercy", or "grace".[3] Much to my chagrin, "meadow", "favor", "mercy", and "grace" all failed to appear in the English–Mayan dictionary I've been consulting.[4] That dictionary seems pretty comprehensive so I decided not to go searching for the translation of those words elsewhere. Instead, I decided to pick words that were close enough and use those instead.

First, I learned that in Mayan the name of a woman must always be preceded by the hieroglyph for "lady" (ix-, spelled 'i-xi), which is T1000b.[5] The hieroglyph itself isn't very flattering, but I don't mind calling my wife a lady.

Second, in place of "meadow" I chose the Mayan word te'el (spelled te'-e'-le), which means "wild" (literally, "of the tree"). I figured this was appropriate since she loves wildlife.
  • For te'- I chose T514
  • For -e'- I chose T542a
  • For -le I chose T188
Third, in place of "favor", "mercy", or "grace" I chose the Mayan word pitzil (spelled pi-tzi-li), which means "beautiful" or "well-adorned".
  • For pi- I chose T177
  • For -tzi- I chose T507b
  • For -li I chose T83
For added emphasis, I incorporated the rainbow symbol (which can be seen on the lower right corner of T528) into T177.

And this is the final result:

The meaning would be "the Wild and Beautiful Lady"—my wife!

Read Part III here.


[3] See Channah or Hannah became Anna and then Anne in English.

[5] Remember that I'm using John Montgomery's drawings, which are available here. This link includes both a syllabary (where you can see the different syllable hieroglyphics) and a dictionary (where you can see actual words constructed using hieroglyphics).
      You can also find overlapping, but non-identical sets of Mayan hieroglyphics in this .pdf, in this .pdf, or at this website (scroll down to Step 3 and follow the links).
     Interestingly, the Mayan word for "lady" (ix, pronounced ISH; mouse over for IPA) is similar to the Hebrew word for "woman" (אִשָּׁה 'ishshah, pronounced ih-SHAH).


  1. Hi! I loved your series on the Mayan names for your wife and yourself. I was wondering, how did you make the glyphs so big? I really want a larger version of the "jun tan" glyph, but can't seem to find one. The one on this page gets really blurry if I try to enlarge it.

  2. Thanks for your praise! I redraw the hieroglyphs using a program called Inkscape. You can download it for free at It is similar to the program Adobe Illustrator.

    1. Awesome!! Thank you so much for the help!!