The Maya civilisation first surfaced around 2000 BC until it was conquered by the Spanish colonists in the 16th Century. And yet, much of Mayan culture and influence remains in modern society.
Not least through names. Although some might consider them strange - particularly in the Western world - many Mayan names are still very popular today, especially in Spanish-speaking countries.
We've put together this guide to explain why Mayan names are still popular, and of course, bring you 102 of our favourite Mayan names.
Who were the Mayans?
The Maya civilisation was a Mesoamerican civilisation known for its incredible culture - where art and architecture, astronomy, and maths were particularly prominent. The pyramids are arguably the best known element of its history and culture.
The Mayans are also recognised as having not just the first, but the most sophisticated, fully developed written language in the 'Pre-Columbian Americans' prior to the 1500s.
On today's map, the Maya region would sit in Central America, spanning southeastern Mexico, the whole of Guatemala and Belize, and sections of Honduras and El Salvador. In the present day, more than six million people are understood to speak more than 28 Mayan languages.
Although 'Maya' and 'Mayans' are used to refer to the people and civilisations that resided in this region, they did not have any sense of collective identity, and it not call themselves Maya.
Mayan Baby Naming Tradition
One of the reasons Mayan names are so popular is because of the way in which the Mayan people named their children.
Ancient Mayan culture is steeped in Mayan languages, Mayan mythology, art and architecture, religion, astronomy. You may well have heard of the Mayan calendar, even if you don't necessarily know anything about it. The names they gave their babies were closely linked to elements of this culture.
When a baby was born, their parents would take them to their leader or elder so that they could perform a Mayan baby naming ceremony. Although other elements of their culture would be considered, the leader would often look to the Mayan calendar as a source of inspiration to name the child.
The calendar spanned 260 days, made up of 13 months of 20 days. The Mayans believed each day and each year had their own energy, which played a vital role in the naming of a baby.
Mayan baby naming tradition dictated that baby boys would often be given a prefix of the alphabetic translation of the day of his birth. Baby girls, on the other hand, were given the prefix 'IX', meaning 'nine'. That's why you will often see Mayan girl names start with 'Ix', 'I', or 'X' (and also why there is much more variation with Mayan boy names.
46 Mayan names for girls
Abarrane is one of several Mayan baby names that references motherhood, meaning “mother of many".
A baby girl brightens up our lives, so Abha could be one of the best Mayan girl names. It means "brightness".
A very common girl's name in Western society (with various spelling), Abi is one of the sweetest Mayan girl names, recognising the special bond between a father and his daughter. Abi means "my father's delight".
Above all, we want our children to be happy and healthy. So this name, meaning "smiling girl", could be the perfect choice for your daughter.
Akna is a particularly rare name but has a strong meaning. In Mayan myths, Akna is a Mayan Goddess represents fertility and childbirth. As a result, Akna is taken to mean ‘our mother'.
You may have been able to guess from the start of the name - Aquetzalli means “precious water”.
This name has links to the terms "wealth" and "fortune".
Not to be confused with the actor Timothée Chalamet, Chimalmat is the mother of giants Cabrakan and Zipacna and therefore holds the meaning "mother of giants".
Colel takes inspiration from the Mayan Goddess of Bees.
Given the importance of astronomy in Mayan culture, Eek is a particularly special name meaning "star".
Eztli is perhaps one of those names that sounds more beautiful than its meaning, unless you want your daughter to grow up to be a murderer or a tyrannical leader - it means "blood".
Like Eek, Itza also means “star”.
One of the many names meaning "gift of God" (or similar).
Surprisingly, these Itza and Itzameni aren't linked. In fact, Itzameni means "bride of the water sorcerer".
We often think of our daughters as our little princess, and "princess" is exactly what this name means.
One of the more favoured ancient Mayan names, Itzel means "rainbow Goddess". So you can see why this is so popular.
Itzy is actually a shortened version of Itzayana, a name meaning "rainbow lady", and naturally has close links with the meaning "rainbow Goddess" give its similarity in name and meaning to Itzel.
Izchel, or Ix Chel, was the Mayan goddess of midwifery and medicine. She is said to have taken the form of a jaguar, which carried some of the most religious symbolic meaning in Maya.
This is the Mayan version of the Arabic name 'Zahra'. While the Arabic version carries meanings like "bright", and "beautiful", the Mayan name means "dawn", making it a great choice for girls born at... dawn.
Another very similar name, Izel actually means "unique" or "only one", making it a great choice if you want your daughter to grow up with independence and individuality.
Kookay means "firefly", which features heavily throughout Mayan art.
Kuxtal means “life”. A perfect name for a long-awaited baby girl.
Loolbeh means the “flower of the road”.
Maya is one of the most evergreen Mayan girl names for obvious reasons. However, it also has Greek origins, meaning "good mother".
The name Mactzil describe a newborn baby perfectly. It means "miraculous thing".
Naay is one of the more modern-sounding Mayan female names, and simply means "dream".
Naré is a lovely name that means “the one who receives”.
Nicté is a sweet Mayan name for a baby girl that means “mayflower", the sacred flower of Maya.
Nymphaea is a water lily and is the original source of the Yucatec name Nikte-ha.
Ideal for parents who want their daughter to grow up helping and healing others, Patli means "medicine".
Payaan will have a life filled with love thanks to the meaning, "woman who is loved".
One of the more recognisable Mayan baby names in modern Mediterranean culture, Rigoberta means "bright fame".
This Mayan name takes its popularity from Sak K’uk’, who was known as a powerful Queen in Maya.
Still used in Central America today, Sugey is often associated with sunlight.
Tecumbalam was the name of a mythological Mayan thunderbird, a legendary creature believed to possess supernatural strength and power.
Tikal was the name of an ancient rainforect city in Maya and translates to "waterhole".
Also spelled 'Shaman', Xaman means "astrologer".
Xareni was the Goddess of Love, and Princess of the Forests.
A perfect name for couples who live near the ocean or have a strong affinity with the sea. Xeelja means "sea breeze".
The name Xoc derives from Lady K'ab'al Xook, better known as Lady Xoc - a major figure in Mayan mythology. She is considered to be one of the most respected and powerful woman in Mayan history.
Alongside Ixpyiacoc, Xpiayoc is understood to be one of the original creators of humanity.
Yalit is a sweet-sounding name meaning "flower of the corn". Corn was a staple food in Maya.
Yatzil is another of the Mayan female names meaning "loved one" or similar.
Taking inspiration from another female leader, Lady Yohl Ik’nal ruled over the city state of Palenque.
Yuritzi is a powerful Mayan female name. She was the Goddess of Strength and Moon.
Zyanya is a gorgeous name with an equally gorgeous meaning behind it - "forever".
46 Mayan names for boys
Aapo is such a popular Mayan boy name that that it has also become popular for a baby girl. However, its meaning - "father of many nations" suggests it should remain a boy name.
Abund means "war chief", making it a strong and bold choice for a baby boy.
Much like in the Western world, place names make for a very popular Mayan name. Acalan is a name of a former region of Maya that now sits in southeastern Mexico.
Acan is the Mayan God of wine and celebration
Both of these spellings carry the meaning of a strong leader. They are the words used by the Mayan people to describe their kings and leaders.
Apoxpalon is the name of a key figure in Ancient Mayan history. Apoxpalon was a merchant but became an elected leader of Maya.
Meaning "father is coming", Babajide is a sweet name for a baby boy that offers plenty of flexibility when it comes to giving nicknames. You could call him "Baba" or "Jide" for short.
Balam means "jaguar" in Mayan language, which as we already know, is a hugely important symbol.
Laced in Mayan mythology, this boy's name means "son of prophecy".
Ideal for parents looking for Mayan baby boy names that signify nature and strength, Cabrakan is the Mayan God of Earthquakes and Mountains.
Cadmael is another name meaning "war chief".
Chaac is the name of the Mayan God of Rain who wielded a lightning axe.
Often shortened to 'Chan', Chichan is one of the cuter Mayan baby boy names. It simply means "small".
particularly common Mayan name, Eadrich (sometimes spelled 'Eadric') means "wealthy monarch".
Eloy is a name of Mayan origin that appears to have been long-forgotten despite it's powerful meaning. Eloy means "renowned warrior".
Certainly a Mayan name that has maintained popularity to the modern day throughout the Mediterranean and Latin America, Fabio means "farmer" in Mayan language.
James Bond fans might recognise this name from The World is Not Enough as the name of Elektra King's head of security. It was an apt choice of name for the role, given that it means "God's bravest man".
A popular name throughout French-speaking countries, but with Mayan origin, Hadwin means "to be strong".
If you're hoping to remind your baby boy of his divinty and loyalty to God, Hagen might make a great name. It means "highest son".
Still a relatively common Mayan name in Hispanic countries, Horado means "timekeeper".
Regularly in the top 50 boy names in the UK, the name 'Hugo' in known for its intelligence.
Similarly to Hugo, Humberto is a Mayan name meaning "intelligent, bright and big".
Carrying connotations of brightness and warmth, Hunaphpu is the name of a Mayan sun God.
I'll admit, I was surprised to see Ian pop up in Mayan mythology and history. While it has roots in Scottish Gaelic, the Mayan version also carries the same meaning. It is the Mayan version of 'John', and so means "Jehovah has been gracious" along with variations such as "the Lord is gracious" and "God is gracious".
Itzamna was the Sun God, and therefore a hugely significant figure.
A vital figure of ancient Mayan myths, Izamna was a Mayan God and credited with being the inventor of writing.
Not to be confused with the female Xpiayoc, Ixpiyacoc is Mayan God who is said to have helped give birth to humanity.
Almost every civilisation or empire throughout history has a key figure recognised as its heroic leader, either leading great armies or leading rebellions against tyranny and oppression. Jacinto Canek is the Mayan revolutionary who led the fight back against Spanish colonists.
This name takes its popularity from the prominent Mayan ruler, Jasaw Chan K-awiil.
If you want your son to grow up with a close bond and love of wildlife and nature, Kaax is a great Mayan name. Yum Kaaz was one of the youngest Mayan Gods and ruled the forests and wildlife of Maya.
Kan comes from 'Kani', the Mayan astrological sign for the feathered serpent. Snakes and serpents are incredibly important to ancient Mayan culture because there were seen to be the vehicles that transported the sun and the stars across the heavens. The Mayan people believed that the shedding of their skin represented rebirth and renewal. It can also be the shorted version of Kukulkan.
Kinich comes from the Yucatec name of the Mayan Sun God, Kinich Ahau.
Sometimes used as a the full version of the name 'Kan', Kukulkan is the Mayan name for the feathered serpent that features so heavily in Maya culture.
Junjaw is a rare Mayan name that means "only king".
Muun is one of the softer, sweeter Mayan names, and may be the perfect Mayan name is you want your son to grow up focusing on loving others. It means "tender".
The name Pakal comes from the prominent Mayan ruler, K’inich Jannaab’ Pakal, who ruled for 68 years and was known as "Sun Shield".
Pixan is a charming Mayan name meaning "soul".
Popol is the Mayan word for "community" or "council", giving it links to leadership.
Smoke Imix is an inspirational figure in Maya culture, as the longest reigning ruler of the city-state Copán.
The perfect name for parents who wanted to thank God for providing them with a child, Tadeas means "gift of God".
One of the more rare Mayan names, will grow up wanting to help people. The name simply means "kind".
Wayak has an air of spirituality and ambition about it. It is understood to have two close meanings; "dream" and "something/someone that is dreamed of".
Xbalanque is the name of a heroic figure from Mayan mythology.
A simple yet beautiful Mayan name, Yaamail "to be loved".
Yaxkin is an ancient Mayan zodiac sign symbolising "Sun God" or "new sun".
Remember how elders would consider the energy of the days and years in a naming ceremony? Yaxkin was often used for boys born between 23 November and 12 December.
Although it's certainly up there with the top cool Mayan names, Zipacna perhaps doesn't have the best of meanings. It's linked closely to a Mayan myth in which Zipacna is a devious character.
10 Mayan names for boys and girls
These beautiful Mayan names work brilliant for boys and girls.
Atziri is a common Mayan name, varying the Yuctac meaning of "moonflower".
A UNESCO World Heritage site in Mexico, Calakmul is considered to be one of the most powerful of the ancient Mayan cities. It was the seat of what has been dubbed 'Kingdom of the Snake' or 'Snake Kingdom'.
Cualli is a beautiful Mayan name that means "good".
Dacey means "adored" in Yucatec, one of the indigenous languages of the Mayan people. People of Irish ancestry may also recognise Dacey as a name meaning "from the South".
This short and simple Mayan name means "to send".
If you have aspirations of having your baby grow up to be a dancer, Itotia might be the perfect Mayan name for them. It simply means "dance".
Perhaps one that it sounds nicer than its meaning, Kaelan is a unisex name meaning "thin".
No, not the indestructible mobile phone manufacturer. Nakia is a lovely name with an equally lovely meaning behind it - “faithful.”
This Mayan name is more commonly associated with China now. Xiang means "good luck".
Our babies steal our heart from the moment they're born. So this gender-neutral Mayan name, meaning "heart", could be a great choice.
Why should I pick a Mayan name?
Although many Mayan names might look 'odd' and difficult to pronounce to many people in English speaking countries or the rest of Europe, they have incredible meaning behind them.
The meanings of Mayan names are steeped in art, the beauty of our world and beyond, mythology and history.
Which Mayan names are popular now?
There are several Mayan names that have grown in popularity outside of the Maya region in the centuries since its downfall. The likes of Abi, Maya and Rigoberta are fairly common female names in the Western world. While male names such as Hugo, Ian, Fabo, Horado and Humberto are also quite common now.
Why do so many Mayan girl names start with 'I' and 'X'?
Traditionally, girls in Maya were given the prefix 'IX' at the start of their name, which means 'nine'. As a result, a lot of girls names begin with either 'Ix', 'I' or 'X'.
Why is the Mayan calendar so important to their names?
The Mayans believed that the days and the years carried their own special energies. And so many babies were given a name linked to the time of year, and the year, in which they were born.
Where was Maya?
Maya was a vast region in what we consider to be Central America today. Large portions of it existed in the southeastern corner of Mexico, parts of Honduras and El Salvador, as well as the whole of Guatemala and Belize.