The Four Directions in Maya World View

Posted on August 23, 2011

The words and hieroglyphs used by the Classic Maya, the Colonial Maya, and the modern Maya for the “Four Directions” have been a subject of interest for a long time. Sixteenth-century sources provided the words used by the Yucatec Maya for the directions. The terms were;

East, lik’in or lak’in;

North, xaman;

West, chik’in;

South, nohol (Martínez Hernández 1929).

These are still the terms used by Mayas of the Yucatecan branch of the Mayan family (Barrera Vásquez et al. 1980; Bricker et al. 1998; Hofling & Tesucún 1997). As far as the glyphs were concerned, epigraphic research in the nineteenth century identified the hieroglyphs used to represent the directions. However, it was a long time before scholars knew how to put these two lines of evidence together, and there are still unresolved questions.

Click the link below to read more about the Directions and Partitions in Maya World View, by Nicholas A. Hopkins and J. Kathryn Josserand.

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