Today, I want to give you the possibility to write your name in Mayan glyphs, or simply mess around with glyphs. It’s a fascinating thing to do and it raises your understanding of glyphs in general, even though you don’t have to learn one word of a Mayan language. For that purpose, I want to present to you “Writing in Mayan Glyphs” by Mark Pitts, hosted on the wonderful friends over at famsi.org. You can find all the resources here: http://www.famsi.org/research/pitts/index.html. I will come back to Mark Pitts later again.
Now, if you downloaded book 1 – The complete Writing in Maya Glyphs Book 1 – Names, Places, and Simple Sentences – you will be confronted with a big paper. It’s really worth reading it, however, I want to point you to the important part for writing your names.
Following the steps starting at page 34, you first have to divide your name into syllables, cause the single glyph parts stand for syllables. Mayan syllables always end in a vowel, which means, that you have to improvise a with. If your name would be Thomas, the second syllable obviously doesn’t end in a syllable, so you have to make it end, by adding a syllable with a silent vowel.
Thomas -> To – ma – s(a)
Thomas, congratulations, you just gained a syllable!
If you have split your name into syllables, now you move to the charts starting at page 18. There you try to find the glyphs, that represent your syllables. Finding the correct symbol is very easy. On the left side, you see a consonant, the columns show the vowels. “To” we can find on page 22 for example, in the line for T and the column for O. Simply sort out your symbols, copy them from the file, if you want to try it digitally. Otherwise simply draw them somewhere. There might be several possible symbols in the field of the syllable you look for. You can choose one, which makes in a wonderful, artistic work. Find out which one you like most and try around.
Now that we sorted out all the single syllables, we have to order them. There are fixed ways to do that. In the end, someone has to read it again – and you don’t want to end up being called “Masato” instead of “Thomas”. Those fixed orders you can find on page 31. Look for a glyph design that fits the number of syllables you have, three in our example. There are three different ways to write three syllables. You are free to pick the style you like most. And don’t worry, readers with long names. You can easily order up to nine syllables.
Now begins the artistic part. You have to draw or digitally align the glyphs in that order. Digitally it might be a bit tricky to add transparency first, so you might want to draw it first. When you have aligned all the symbols in the proper way, you can see your name in a Mayan Glyph. If Thomas would go to Guatemala and present his glyph to a Maya, he would say “Welcome Tomas!”, which is great.
To show you, how a quick and dirty digital result could look like, I prepared the glyph of my first name and also the one of someone else. Can you guess the names?
It’s really just quick and dirty and done in MSPaint, just to show you, that it’s really easy to do. If you want to show me or discuss your results, please feel free to mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m also open for guessing names.
There are other fascinating facts and information on glyphs in this paper. You might also want to visit the page of The Aid and Education Project, Inc., for which Mark Pitts is active. They’re mission is to promote education in Guatemala, a place where nowadays, many Maya live.