Could Mayan Flowers Really Be Vaginas?

Illustration of mayan character for Water Lily and Jaguar

Picture from Michael D. Coe’s Breaking the Maya Code (New York, Thames and Hudson, 1992), page 257.

Is this really a Water Lily? Especially considering the package this jaguar is sporting? (See reddened circle.) The bisymmetry of the “u uay” character, third down, also bespeaks women.

Michael Coe quotes a “young epigrapher” on page 272 of Breaking the Maya Code: “Shouldn’t we be looking at how other scholars deal with other literate civilizations, such as those of Mesopotamia and China? There might be important lessons here.”

Indeed, if we look at Sumerian cuneiform, there are many incidences of vaginas in all forms of words, such as “spouse,” “sluice, waterfall,” “merchant,” etc. If we look at Chinese characters, there are many incidences of women as conceptual underpinnings of major ideas, “boggy,” “adultery,” “jealousy,” etc. So it seems odd that when I search the Maya dictionary for “vagina,” “breast,” “milk,” “genitalia,” nothing comes up. Could we be misinterpreting a character, “flower” perhaps, for “vagina” or a women signifier?

image of the Maya glyph for "flower, son"

image of the Sumerian cuneiform for “child, son, daughter.”The above character is a Maya glyph for “flower, son.” Is that a mouth this flower/son has, or is this glyph showing a breast at the face of the son? Left is the Sumerian cuneiform for “child, son, daughter.” I have rotated it 90° cw to match the Maya depiction above. The Sumerian depiction, though a “cruder” drawing of a child, still depicts a face with eyes, and what would seem to be two breasts at the bottom of the cuneiform. Considering that both of these depictions mean “child,” comparing them for similarities is not unreasonable.

The “dumu” child cuneiform is from the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary (

A Table of Penises

from the Dictionary of Maya Hieroglyphs.

images of penises-from-mayan-dictionary


A Table of Flowers

from the Dictionary of Maya Hieroglyphs.

images of flowers-from-mayan-dictionary

Jennifer Ball

Jennifer Ball

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