Blinking snake

Mayan Numbers

Constellation band

The table below shows only some of the possible glyphs for numbers used by the Mayan civilization. They come in several varieties.

Mayan numeration is base, or radix, 20. The numerical glyphs can be seen on monuments and codices as normal-form (bar-and-dot) glyphs, or as glyphs known variously as head-variant glyphs or portrait glyphs.

Bar-and-dot, or normal-form, notation is the more common form of numeric notation and is much simpler than head-variant glyph representation, being composed of just three basic items:

  1. a bar 5, 5, 5 or 5 for five;
  2. a dot 1, 1, 1 or 1 for 1 (note the extra decoration sometimes used to fill space); and
  3. a shell zero, a lobed symbolzero, a hand zero, or other glyphs seating or zero for zero.

Portrait glyphs are just that; portraits of the gods that are the integers. They’re also called head variants, because only the head is shown. In the vast majority of cases, only a portion of the head is shown, although full heads do exist. A couple of samples include 9 (the glyph for nine) and 1 (the glyph for fifteen).

In addition to the normal and portrait forms, however, we also have a very, very few samples of what are known as full-figure glyphs. These represent the logical conclusion of the portrait glyphs, as they also show the bodies and their accoutrements. A table showing a few full-figure glyphs can be found at the bottom of this page.

The following table lists the Mayan numbers 0-20, in both normal and portrait glyph form.

Number Mayan name Portrait Glyphs Normal Form Glyphs Diagnostic Traits of the Head Variants
0 mih
(reconstructed)
completion or zero completion or zero seating or zero completion or zero
seating or zero seating or zero 0 zero
zero 0 0 0
zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero
zero zero
Hand clasping the lower jaw
1 hun 1 1
1 1
1 1 1 1
1 1
1 1
Forehead ornament composed of more than one part, IL on cheek
2 kaa 2 2
2 2
2 2 2 2
2 2
2 2
Oval in upper part of head; fist headdress
3 ox 3 3
3 3
3 3 3 3
3 3
3 3
Banded headdress; Doctor’s reflector
4 kan 4 4
4 4
4 4 4 4
4 4
4 4
Bulging eye with square iris, snaglike front tooth, fish barbel from back of mouth
5 hu, ho 5 5
5 5
5 5 5 5
5 5
5 5
“Tun” headdress
6 wak 6 6
6 6
6 6 6 6
6 6
6 6
Hatchet, or crossed-bands, in eye
7 wuc 7 7
7 7
7 7 7 7
7 7
7 7
Large scroll passing under eye and curling up in front of forehead
8 waxac 8 8
8 8
8 8 8 8
8 8
8 8
Forehead ornament composed of only one part
9 bolon 9 9
9 9
9 9 9 9
9 9
9 9
Dots on lower cheek or around mouth or in some cases beard
10 lahun 10 10
10 10
10 10 10 10
10 10
10 10
Fleshless lower jaw and in some cases other death’s head characteristics, truncated nose, etc.
11 buluk 11 11
11 11
11 11 11 11
11 11
11 11
Curly “do;” head is not at all similar to head for one
12 lahka 12 12
12 12
12 12 12 12
12 12
12 12
Fleshless lower jaw, but with fish-gill markings
13 oxlahun 13 13
13 13
13 13 13 13
13 13
13 13
“Ik” sign on cheek
14 kanlahun 14 14
14 14
14 14 14 14
14 13
14 14
Head for 4 with a fleshless lower jaw
15 hulahun 15 15
15 15
15 15 15 15
15 13
15 15
Head for 5 with a fleshless lower jaw
16 waklahun 16 16
16 16
16 16 16 16
16 13
16 16
Head for 6 with a fleshless lower jaw
17 wuklahun 17 17
17 17
17 17 17 17
17 13
17 17
Head for 7 with a fleshless lower jaw
18 waxaklahun 18 18
18 18
18 18 18 18
18 13
18 18
Head for 8 with a fleshless lower jaw
19 bolonlahun 19 19
19 19
19 19 19 19
19 13
19 19
Head for 9 with a fleshless lower jaw
20 hun kal (one twenty) 20 20 20 20 20 20 20
1zero 1completion or zero
20 20  20 20  20 20 A goofy grin; easily confused with the codicil form of kimi

0 kin F
winal tun
katun baktun

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