FIGURE 5. Lady 10 Eagle (left) and Lord 10 Eagle (right), from pages 1 and 5 of the Codex Selden.
FIGURE 6. Lady 6 Monkey receives a new personal name, from page 8 of the Codex Selden.
FIGURE 7. Lord 5 Reed “Warband Flint” (left) and Lord 5 Reed “Twenty Jaguars” (right), from pages 24 and 32 of the Codex Nuttall.
FIGURE 8. Lady 3 Jaguar “Jaguar Spiderweb” (left) and Lord 5 Flower “Warband Ballcourt” (right), from pages 11 and 5 of the Codex Selden.
If a first function of the calendar system was to record the passage of time, a second function was to provide names for individuals. People were named after the day on which they were born. If Americans used such a system, George Washington’s name would have been “22 February” and Benito Juárez’s name would have been “21 March.”1 Ñudzavui calendar names were depicted using the same dot-and-glyph system used for actual dates, and were not gender specific. Calendric names would be drawn next to the appropriate person. Figure 5 shows a woman (left) and man (right) both named 10 Eagle.
Because the ritual calendar only allowed for 260 possible names, individuals were given a “personal name” to differentiate them. In the screenfolds, these personal names were usually represented by a small drawing near—or worn or held by—the person in question. The Spanish chronicler Antonio de Herrera, writing in 1601, stated that personal names were given to a child by a priest on his or her seventh birthday, but he did not specify how such names were chosen.2 The one known depiction of a personal name-giving ritual is shown in Figure 6. The name-giving priest, Lord 2 Flower, stands on the left, holding a bunch of plants as he speaks. The name receiver, Lady 6 Monkey, sits on the right.
Her new personal name is “Warband Quechquemitl,” indicated by the chevron-patterned triangular cape she wears. This name giving ceremony is unusual, because in this picture Lady 6 Monkey is not a child of seven. She is an adult, and she is receiving her second personal name (perhaps as a result of her victories in battle). Her previous personal name—presumably the one she was given at age seven—was “Serpent Quechquemitl,” and it is indicated by the drawing to her right of a v-shaped quechquemitl marked with a serpent’s head and flint and feather tail.
Lady 6 Monkey is one of the few individuals in the screenfolds with more than one personal name. Most people in only have one, and it is used consistently from page to page, and even from screenfold to screenfold. This regularity is very useful in recognizing different people. Consider Figure 7. Although both men are named Lord 5 Reed, their personal names are different. The man on left is Lord 5 Reed “Warband Flint” (with the personal name held). The man on the right is Lord 5 Reed “Twenty Jaguars” (with personal name drawn to the side).
Unlike calendar names, personal names do have a few gender-specific forms. Only women have personal names using spiderwebs and quechquemitls (the triangular garment that Lady 6 Monkey wore). Only men’s names incorporate ballcourts (Figure 8). Most other personal name elements, like flowers, smoke, birds, and jaguars, are used by both men and women.
1 Analogy in Smith 1973, 27.
2 Herrera 1947, 321.