The Maya were the first, and only, Native American people to invent a complete system of writing. They wrote their symbols were also carved on buildings, painted on pottery and inscribed on precious stones. Maya writing used glyphs and also picture-signs that represented sounds. The sound-signs could be joined together – similar to the letters of our alphabet – to spell out words and to make complete sentences.
Names of Days
These symbols represent some of the names of the 20 days from the farmers’ calendar. The 20 days made one month, and there were 13 months in a year. These symbols were combined with a number from one to 13 to give the date, such as “Three Vulture.” Days were named after familiar creatures of everyday things, such as the lizard or water. Each day also had its own god. Children were often named after the day on which they were born.
METHODYOU WILL NEED
Thin card, ruler, pencil, scissors, white acrylic paint, large paintbrush, water pot, eraser, tracing paper, acrylic paints, palette, selection of paintbrushes.
If you went to a Maya school you would find out how to recognize thousands of different picture-symbols. You would also be taught to link them together in your mind, like a series of clues, to find out what they meant.
The Maya number system used only three signs – a dot for one, a bar for five and the shell symbol for zero. Other numbers were made using a combination of these symbols.