Blinking snake

The G and F Glyphs of the Lunar Supplementary Series

Constellation band

The nine lords of the underworld, in Maya religion, were known as the Bolon ti ku (“Nine of them,” or “Nine in Holiness”). We do not know the Maya names of these gods, but the glyphs corresponding to these deities are well-known, and were worked out by Thompson in the late 20’s (Thompson, 1929). In the absence of proper names, these lords of the underworld were assigned G designations. We can make some attempts at identification, though: there is good evidence that G4 G4 is Wuk Ah, an agricultural deity (Frumker, 1993). G7 G7 may be identical to the patron god Night sun god of the month Pax Pax, and G9 G9 is almost certainly a pauahtun (Taube and Miller, 1993).

These glyphs are nearly always used with Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F, which Linda Schele believes to be the Headband/Jester God, and are frequently combined with F into a single glyph block, as in G3f G3 combined with glyph F. G Glyphs are usually the very first glyphs seen on monuments after the tzolkin, and form a continuous 9-day cycle. G9 operates as G0 would if there were such a thing, which is why they’re shown in the sequence they are.

“It now seems fairly clear that Glyph F and G record a series of nine headdresses worn by the patrons of the particular day.” (Schele, Grube and Fahsen, 1992). Perhaps a clearer way to say this might be that Glyph G records the patron of the day or night, and that Glyph F is a verb meaning something like “wears the Jester Headband.”

  G9 G1 G2 G3 G3f G4 G5 G6 G7 G8
  G9 G9 G9 G9 G9
G1 G1 G1 G1
G2 G2 G2 G2 G3 G3 G3 G3
G3 combined with glyph F G3 combined with glyph F G3 combined with glyph F G3 combined with glyph F
G4 G4 G4 G4
G5 G5 G5 G5
G6 G6 G6 G6
G7 G7 G7 G7
G8 G8 G8 G8
Nahuatl Name, as reported by Thompson or Bowditch Quiauitecutli, Tlaloc, Quiahuitl Xiuhtecutli, Xiuhtecuhtli tletl/tetl Itztli, Tecpatl Piltzintecutli, Xochitl Piltzintecutli, Xochitl Centeotl, Centeotl Mictlantecutli, Miquiztli Chalchihuitlicue, Atl Tlazolteotl, Tlazolteotl Tepeyollotl, Tepeyollotli
English Lady [Lord] of the Rain
Rain, Tlaloc
God of Fire, Year or Grass
Lord of the Year, Fire
God of Flint
Flint
Lord of the Youths, or Youthful Lord
Flower
Lord of the Youths, or Youthful Lord
Flower
God of Maize, Ears of Corn, and Bread
Goddess of Maize
God of Infernal Regions
Death
Lady with Skirt of Jade
Water Goddess
Goddess of Love
Goddess of Love
Heart of the Mountains
Deity Who Lived in the Mountains
Michel Davoust’s proposed glosses G9, Chah Kin: Darkened Sun, Night Sun G1, Bolon Ch’ul: 9 divinities G2, Hoy Abac: Spreader of Ink G3, Hanab Ch’ahon: Maize Flower G3, Hanab Ch’ahon: Maize Flower G4, Wuk Ah: 7 Maize Stems G5, Ho’ Nen: 5 Mirrors G6, Nal: Ear of Corn G7, Nah: unknown, Nach: “to seize between the teeth”, Ah Zac: Lord White, or Lord Brilliant G8, Ol: Heart
  F F F F F F   G6?footnote    
  Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F Glyph F   Proposed G6 Proposed G6 Proposed G6 Proposed G6 Proposed G6 Proposed G6    
                Glyph Y as proposed G6 Glyph Y as proposed G6    

Mathematics

The mathematics of Glyph G are pretty simple. If you have the last two digits of a long count, then

G = ((2 · LC[1]) + LC[0]) % 9

As an example, for LC 12.19.4.11.9   11 Muluk 7 Sak, the last two digits are:

LC[1] = 11
LC[0] = 9

thus,

G = ((2 · 11) + 9) % 9
G = (22 + 9) % 9
G = 31 % 9
G = 4
G = G4

Long Count 12.19.4.0.0   3 ’Ahaw 3 Kumk’u:

LC[1] = 0
LC[0] = 0

therefore

G = ((2 · 0) + 0) % 9
G = (0 + 0) % 9
G = 0 % 9
G = 0
G = G9

Another way to find the same answer is to just take the MDAY % 9, where MDAY is the Julian Period Day (2450754 in the case of our first example, above) minus the Correlation Constant (CC), or 584285:

MDAY = JPDAY - CC
MDAY = 2450754 - 584285
MDAY = 1866469

G = MDAY % 9
G = 1866469 % 9
G = 4
G = G4

References

  1. Aveni, Anthony, Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico, University of Texas Press, 1980.
  2. Davoust, Michel, L’Écriture Maya et son Déchiffrement, CNRS Éditions, Paris, 1995.
  3. Frumker, Bruce, “Wuk Ah, The Fourth Lord of the Night,” Texas Notes on Precolumbian Art, Writing and Culture, No. 51, March, 1993.
  4. Frumker, Bruce, “Nights Errant:  A Look at Wayward Lords of the Night,” Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing 43, Center for Maya Research, Washington DC, 1999.
  5. Schele, Linda, Workbook for the 1991 Workshop on Maya Hieroglyphic Writing, with Commentary on the Inscriptions of Bird-Jaguar of Yaxchilan, Art Departmant, University of Texas, 1991.
  6. Schele, Linda, Nikolai Grube and Federico Fahsen, “The Lunar Series in Classic Maya Inscriptions: New Observation and Interpretations,” Texas Notes on Precolumbian Art, Writing and Culture, No. 29, October 1992.
  7. Taube, Karl and Mary Miller, The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya, Thames and Hudson, 1993.
  8. Thompson, J. Eric, “Maya Chronology: Glyph G of the Lunar Series,” American Anthropologist n. s., 31, 1929: p. 223-31.
  9. Thompson, J. Eric S., “Observations of Glyph G of the Lunar Series,” Notes on Middle American Archaeology and Ethnology, No. 7, July 25, 1942.
  10. Thompson, J. Eric S., Maya Hieroglyphic Writing: An Introduction, Third edition, University of Oklahoma Press, 1971 (first edition 1950).
  11. Yasugi, Yoshiho and Kenji Saito, “Glyph Y of the Maya Supplementary Series,” Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing 34, Center for Maya Research, Washington DC, 1991.

footnote The upper set of glyphs for G6 is, at best, speculative. Thompson (1971) put forth the idea in his discussion of the 819 Day Cycle, but he said then that there was no real evidence supporting it; the situation, as far as I know, has not changed. The lower pair of glyphs has been suggested for G6 by Yasugi and Saito. See The Z and Y Glyphs of the Lunar Supplementary Series for details.

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