Mayan “Ix-” Names

Temple at Chichen Itza
© 2019 Nancy’s anonymous husband

During the colonial period (and probably earlier), Mayan children were given personal names that began with either of two gender prefixes: the masculine prefix “Ah,” or the feminine prefix “Ix” (pronounced eesh).

You can see the “Ix” in the name of the Mayan goddess of midwifery and medicine, Ix Chel. Other examples of feminine Mayan names include Ix Chan, Ix Cahum, Ix Can, Ix Cakuk, Ix Kan, Ix Kauil, Ix Kukul, Ix Nahau, and Ix Titibe.

Out of all of these traditional names, though, only Ixchel and variants (Ixel, Ixcel, and Ixtzel) have been used often enough in the U.S. to appear in the baby name data.

The data also includes two more Ix-names: Ixayana and Ixareli. These might be modern takes on the Mayan Ix-names, and/or they might be variants of Itza-names (like Itzayana, Itzamar and Itzael)…which themselves may have evovled from Ix-names.

What do you think of the name Ixchel (pronounced ee-shel)?

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