Haabʼ

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The Haabʼ (Mayan pronunciation: [haːɓ]) is part of the Maya calendric system. It was a 365-day calendar used by many of the pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica.

Description[edit]

Haabʼ months: names in glyphs[1] in sequence
No.
Seq.
Name of
month
Glyph
examples
glyph meaning No.
Seq.
Name of
month
Glyph
examples
glyph meaning
1 Pop Pop Maya months - 0 - Pop.svg mat 10 Yax Yax Maya-months-09-yax.svg green storm
2 Woʼ Wo Maya months - 1 - Wo.svg black conjunction 11 Sakʼ Sak Maya-months-10-sak.svg white storm
3 Sip Sip Maya months - 2 - Sip.svg red conjunction 12 Keh Keh Maya-months-11-kej.svg red storm
4 Sotzʼ Sotz' Maya-months-03-sotz'.svg bat 13 Mak Mak Maya-months-12-mak.svg enclosed
5 Sek Sek Maya months - 4 - Sek.svg death 14 Kʼankʼin K'ank'in Maya-months-13-k'ank'in.svg yellow sun
6 Xul Xul Maya-months-05-xul.svg dog 15 Muwan Muan Maya-months-14-muwan.svg owl
7 Yaxkʼin Yaxk'in Maya months - 6 - Yaxk'in.svg new sun 16 Pax Pax Maya-months-15-pax.svg planting time
8 Mol Mol Maya months - 7 - Mol.svg water 17 Kʼayabʼ K'ayab Maya-months-16-k'ayab'.svg turtle
9 Chʼen Ch'en Maya-months-08-ch'en.svg black storm 18 Kumkʼu Kumk'u Maya-months-17-kumk'u.svg granary
        19 five unlucky days

The Haabʼ comprises eighteen months of twenty days each, plus an additional period of five days ("nameless days") at the end of the year known as Wayeb' (or Uayeb in 16th-century orthography).

Bricker (1982) estimates that the Haabʼ was first used around 500 BCE with a starting point of the winter solstice.[2]

The Haabʼ month names are most commonly referred to by their names in colonial-era Yucatec (Yukatek). In sequence, these (in the revised orthography[3]) are as seen on the right: Each day in the Haabʼ calendar was identified by a day number within the month followed by the name of the month. Day numbers began with a glyph translated as the "seating of" a named month, which is usually regarded as day 0 of that month, although a minority treat it as day 20 of the month preceding the named month. In the latter case, the seating of Pop is day 5 of Wayebʼ. For the majority, the first day of the year was Seating Pop. This was followed by 1 Pop, 2 Pop ... 19 Pop, Seating Wo, 1 Wo and so on.

Inscriptions on The Temple of the Cross at Palenque shows clearly that the Maya were aware of the true length of the year, even though they did not employ the use of leap days in their system of calculations generally. J. Eric Thompson[4] wrote that the Maya knew of the drift between the Haabʼ and the solar year and that they made "calculations as to the rate at which the error accumulated, but these were merely noted as corrections they were not used to change the calendar."

5 unlucky days[edit]

The five nameless days at the end of the calendar, called Wayebʼ, was thought to be a dangerous time. Foster (2002) writes "During Wayeb, portals between the mortal realm and the Underworld dissolved. No boundaries prevented the ill-intending deities from causing disasters." To ward off these evil spirits, the Mayans had customs and rituals they practised during Wayebʼ. For example, the Mayans would not leave their homes and wash their hair.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Kettunen and Helmke (2005), pp.47–48
  2. ^ Zero Pop actually fell on the same day as the solstice on 12/27/−575, 12/27/−574, 12/27/−573, and 12/26/−572 (astronomical year numbering, Universal Time), if you don't account for the fact that the Maya region is in roughly time zone UT−6. See IMCCE seasons Archived 2012-08-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Again, per Kettunen and Helmke (2005)
  4. ^ p.121, J. Eric Thompson, Maya Hieroglyphic Writing. University of Oklahoma Press. (1971) ISBN 0-8061-0958-0

References[edit]