Mayan vs Aztec Calendar: Difference and Comparison

Calendars play a very important role in our daily lives. They help us keep track of several important dates (from birthdays to various festivals). Calendars are of different types.

Two of the most renowned types of calendars are the Mayan and Aztec calendars. Both of these calendars are pretty different from each other and share different qualities.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Mayan calendar is a complex system with three interlocking cycles, while the Aztec calendar has two primary cycles.
  2. The Mayan calendar includes the Long Count, which tracks large periods, whereas the Aztec calendar does not have an equivalent component.
  3. The Aztec calendar has a more significant emphasis on ceremonial and religious aspects than the Mayan calendar.

Mayan vs Aztec Calendar

‘The Mayan calendar consists of several cycles, including theTzolk’inn and Haab’, and a Long Count calendar used to track historical events. The Aztec calendar was a 260-day ritual calendar divided into 20 periods, 13 numbers, and a 365-day solar calendar used to track agricultural cycles.’The Mayan calendar consists of several cycles, including the Tzolk’in and Haab’, and a Long Count calendar used to track historical events. The Aztec calendar was a 260-day ritual calendar divided into 20 periods, 13 numbers, and a 365-day solar calendar used to track agricultural cycles.

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The Mayan calendar was initially used in Mesoamerica. The calendar has several cycles designed on it. These cycles represent a 260-day count, which is referred to as Tzolkin.

Apart from a Tzolkin, the calendar also includes a Haab. Haab refers to a vague solar year of approximately 365 days.

Aztec calendar is majorly or mainly used in Mexico. An Aztec calendar consists of two cycles. One depicts the year count, and the other shows the day count.

The year count refers to a 365-day cycle, while on the other hand, the day count refers to a 260-day process.

Comparison Table

Parameters Of ComparisonMayan Calendar Aztec Calendar 
Significance The Mayan calendar was famous amongst the Mayan community and consisted of three other calendars.The Aztec calendar is used by the Aztecs and Mexicans.
 
OriginThe calendar originated and developed along with the Olmec Civilization.The Aztec calendar initially originated in the valley of Mexico.
 
Date Of Invention The Mayan calendar was established in the 1st century BC.The Aztec calendar was founded in the year 1710.
Used by The Mayan community and Olmec community used the Mayan calendar.The The Aztecs and Mexicans use Aztec calendar.
 
  Also calledThe Mayan calendar is also known as Tzolkin and Haab.Aztec calendar is also referred to as Tonalpohualli.
 

What is Mayan Calendar?

The Mayan calendar is heavily used in the Mayan community and the Mesoamerican civilization. According to the Mayan calendar, the world’s existence began in the year 3114 BC on the 11th of August.

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The calendar has several cycles (also called counts) that are of different lengths. These cycles refer to either year count or day count. 

There are three calendar systems under the Mayan calendar. These are the long count, the divine calendar or Tzolkin, and the civil calendar or Haab. The qualities of each calendar system are given below:

  • The Long Count – It directs to the number of days. According to the long count system, “kin” refers to days. For example, 20 kin refers to 20 days. Terms like “unial”, “tun”, “katun” and “baktun” are used in this system. 
  • The Divine Calendar or Tzolkin – Under this calendar system, two weeks are included. The first represents a week of 13 days, whereas the second represents a week of 20 days. It doesn’t consider the year.
  • The Civil Calendar or Haab – This calendar system comprises 18 months. Each month consists of 20 days. Apart from these 360 days, there are 5 extra days called Uayeb. Hence there are a total of 365 days. 
mayan calendar

What is Aztec Calendar?

The Aztec calendar is used mainly or majorly by the Aztec community and the Olmec civilization. The calendar is also famous among the Mexicans.

The Aztec calendar originated in 1710 and is divided into two calendar systems. The two calendar systems include cycles or counts of several lengths. 

Tonalpohualli and Xiuhpohualli are the two systems that come under the Aztec calendar.

Tonalpohualli refers to the counting of the days, while on the other hand, Xiuhpohualli refers to the counting of years. Both calendar systems work or function or run simultaneously.

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The Aztec calendar kept an account of several auspicious dates and events. These auspicious events greatly impacted a person’s personality, harvest success, and the prosperity of a ruler.

The calendar also keeps track of various artworks and monuments. 

Tonalpohualli refers to the number of days and includes 260 days. This system is broken down into 20 days. Each day is assigned a unique name. 

Xiuhpohualli means counting or numbering the years. It includes a 365-day cycle and is divided into 18 groups or months.

All these eighteen groups or months are made of 20 days. This calendar system helps keep track of various festivals and religions. 

aztec calendar

Main Differences Between Mayan and Aztec Calendars 

  1. Mayan community uses the Mayan calendar, while on the other hand, the Aztec community uses the Aztec calendar.
  2. Mayan calendar initially originated in the year 3114 BC, whereas the Aztec calendar initially originated in the year 1710.
  3. The Mayan calendar is also referred to as Tzolkin and Have, while on the other hand, the Aztec calendar is named Tonalpohualli.
  4. Mayan calendar celebrates or performs many rituals related to gods and humans, while on the other hand, the Aztec calendar celebrates certain rituals based on sacrifices.
  5. Three calendar systems are involved in a Mayan calendar, while on the other hand, two calendar systems are present in the Aztec calendar.
Difference Between Mayan and Aztec Calendar
References
  1. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=N1ooDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT9&dq=info:wpQjXB7HG7wJ:scholar.google.com/&ots=u3x6mq4fxm&sig=kQXjfxHK78L6r3NJMkb2cGku8go&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
  2. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Ytra43jFSJIC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=info:qnnrNX2nRyMJ:scholar.google.com/&ots=yBBzTeNvCj&sig=tsAwPFYV3c8xujcAXhxxcgYBkhc&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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6 thoughts on “Mayan vs Aztec Calendar: Difference and Comparison”

  1. Very informative. I have never come across such a detailed explanation of the Mayan and Aztec calendars. I appreciate the effort put into the article.

    Reply
  2. The details and the information provided about the Mayan and Aztec calendars are truly fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely want to learn more.

    Reply
  3. Hilarious, there are actually people who find information about these old calendars useful. I guess people’s interests differ greatly.

    Reply
  4. I’m impressed by the detailed information about the Mayan and Aztec calendars but I don’t think I will ever have a use for such knowledge.

    Reply
  5. I’m surprised to see the details and the vast differences between the Mayan and Aztec calendars. Now I have a much clearer understanding of both.

    Reply

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