Know Your ‘Nangos

We all know (or think we know, or got told by some guy) that Quetzaltenango means “place of the Quetzales” but then like any good historical theory, there’s a counter theory that says that, as the possibly semi-mythical Mayan warrior Tecún Umán was killed here, it actually means “resting place of the gods”.

So having almost cleared that up, we move on to the other tenangos… who for example knows what a Momos is? Or a Maza? And while we all know what a Huehue is, is it really possible that they named a whole city after the process of double coloring?

The questions are confusing because “tenango” and all its prefixes come from the Nahuatl Aztec language, being that mass murderer and real estate baron Pedro de Alvarado decided to eschew local guides and instead brought a Mexican with him, who went around naming stuff at whim.

So to clear the whole mess up, XelaWho decided to allot the entire 7 minutes of its annual research budget to finding out what the dango petango is going on with all these tenangos.

Momostenango: There are various versions about this – the most popular being that a momoztli is an altar, making it place of the idols. A close runner up is that “momo” means every day, making it “the place that is watched everyday”

Chichicastenango: From the word “Tzitzicastli” (nettles), making it place amongst the nettles.

Chimaltenango: In Nahuatl “chimali” means shield, making this “a fortified settlement”.

Cuyotenango: Taken from the Nahuatli “Coyotl” for coyote, this name means “place protected from coyotes”.

Huehuetenango: Named after the abundance of Sabino trees (ahuehuetes in Nahuatl) in the region, this town was previously known as Ahuehuetlenanco, Vevetenango and Güegüetenango before getting its current name.

Mazatenango: In Nahuatl, “Mazatl” means deer, so this one means – you guessed it, place of the deer.

Jocotenango: “Xocotl” is the Nahuatl word for fruit and Jocotes are the little red plums you see in markets everywhere. In English they’re sometimes called Hog Plums.

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