Re: Mayan numerals (again)

From: Frédéric Grosshans <>
Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2013 10:26:01 +0200

Le 23 juin 2013 21:37, "Jameson Quinn" <> a écrit :
> Last year, I started a discussion about proposing the Mayan numerals for
inclusion in Unicode. Several people on the list supported this idea, and
encouraged me to submit a proposal. I did not manage to do so last year,
but I am ready to now.
> I have access to dozens of different books with their page numbers,
tables of contents, and publication dates in mayan numerals. Several of
them use the numerals in other ways, such as numbered lists or century
numbers (ie, "siglo 16", 16th century, with 16 in Mayan numbers). All of
these are from a single publishing house, and I know of 2 other publishers
who use similar practices. None of the samples I have are textbooks, and it
is common for math textbooks here in Guatemala to have a section on Mayan
numerals, typically with a few simple addition problems or the like.

The more diverse your examples are, the better. By the way, I recall the
post I wrote last year with examples of those numerals in non-Mayan
precolumbian context :
I really think these examples strengthen the case for encoding these
numerals before and separately from the Mayan glyphs. The encoding of the
Mayan writing system will be a complex endeavour, and the encoding model
clearly cannot be chosen now. This means that the numerals you propose may
or may not be used a few years (decades ?) down the line, for the encoding
of Mayan. If they are "naturally" useful for other scripts, it's not an
unsolvable problem. If they are only for Mayan writing, it is a show

That's also why I think that "Mesoamerican bar and dots numerals" are a
better name than "Mayan numerals".
> The publisher of the books I have is interested, and would probably sign
on to my proposal, though it would take about a month for them to get full
consensus on this.

A month is quite short compared to the typical encoding delay (a few
years). And you can submit their support letter separately from your

> I can also provide photos of Guatemalan currency notes, which have mayan
as well as arabic numerals on them.
> I'd like to propose 40 glyphs: the vertical and horizontal versions of
the digits 0-19. The zero glyph would be in it's "shell" form; the several
minor variants of this form would be considered as the same base glyph.


>This initial proposal would not include head variants or the petroglyphic
"flower" zero, nor would it include petroglyphic marginal decorations on
the glyphs for 1, 6, 11, and 16, as all of those are generally used in a
context of fully glyphic writing, which has a number of difficult technical
issues to resolve before it's ready for unicode. (Although I could provide
at least one modern example of a glyphic text; this is at least to some
degree a living art today, though it was dead for centuries.)

To me these examples are part of the real Mayan writing system and will
have to wait at least until the encoding model of Mayan is decided (ie a
long time)
> I'd like to know what should be my next step, and if anyone who's more
experienced with unicode procedures would like to advise me more closely.

I'd be interested to wprk with you on this proposal, but you should know
that, contrarily to man6 readers of this list, I have no experience in
Unicode procedures beyond what I could guess by reading archived proposals
available on Internet.

  Frédéric Grosshans
Received on Mon Jun 24 2013 - 03:33:09 CDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Mon Jun 24 2013 - 03:33:12 CDT