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p. 88

II. Chapter 11

Immediately he [Xbalanqué] called all the animals, the coati, the wild boar, all the animals small and large, during the night, and at dawn he asked them what their food was.

"What does each of you eat? For I have called you so that you may choose your food," said Xbalanqué to them.

"Very well," they answered. And immediately each went to take his [own food] and they all went together. Some went to take rotten things; others went to take grasses; others went to get stones. Others went to gather earth. Varied was the food of the [small] animals and of the large animals.

Behind them the turtle was lingering, 1 it came waddling along to take its food. And reaching at the end [of Hunahpú's body] it assumed the form of the head of Hunahpú, and instantly the eyes were fashioned.

Many soothsayers came, then, from heaven. The Heart of Heaven, Huracán, came to soar over the House of Bats.

It was not easy to finish making the face, but it turned out very well; the hair had a handsome appearance and [the head] could also speak.

But as it was about to dawn and the horizon reddened: "Make it dark again, old one!" the buzzard was told. 2

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"Very well, said the old one, 3 and instantly the old one darkened [the sky]. "Now the buzzard has darkened it," the people say nowadays.

And so, during the cool of dawn, the [Hunahpú] began his existence.

"Will it be good?" they said. "Will it turn out to look like Hunahpú?"

"It is very good," they answered. And really it seemed that the skull had changed itself back into a real head.

Then they [the two boys] talked among themselves and agreed: "Do not play ball; only pretend to play; I shall do everything alone," said Xbalanqué. 4

At once he gave his orders to a rabbit: "Go and take your place over the ball-court; stay there within the oak grove," 5 the rabbit was told by Xbalanqué; "when the ball comes to you, run out immediately, and I shall do the rest," the rabbit was told, when they gave him these instructions during the night.

Presently day broke and the two boys were well and healthy. Then they went down to play ball. The head of Hunahpú was suspended over the ball-court.

"We have triumphed! [said the Lords of Xibalba].You worked your own destruction, 6 you have delivered yourselves," they said. In this way they annoyed Hunahpú.

"Hit his head with the ball," 7 they said. But they did not bother him with it; 8 he paid no attention to it. 9

Then the Lords of Xibalba threw out the ball. Xbalanqué went out to get it; the ball was going straight to the ring, but it stopped, bounced, and passed quickly over the ball-court and with a jump went toward the oak grove.

Instantly the rabbit ran out and went hopping; and the Lords of Xibalba ran after it. They went, making noise

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and shouting after the rabbit. It ended by all of the Lords of Xibalba going.

At once Xbalanqué took possession of the head of Hunahpú; and taking the turtle he went to suspend it over the ball-court. And that head was actually the head of Hunahpú and the two boys were very happy.

Those of Xibalba ran, then, to find the ball and having found it between the oaks, called them, saying:

"Come here. Here is the ball. We found it," they said, and they brought it.

When the Lords of Xibalba returned, they exclaimed, "What is this we see?"

Then they began to play again. Both of them tied.

Presently Xbalanqué threw a stone at the turtle, which came to the ground and fell in the ball-court, breaking into a thousand pieces like seeds, before the lords.

"Who of you shall go to find it? Where is the one who shall go to bring it?" said the Lords of Xibalba.

And so were the Lords of Xibalba overcome by Hunahpú and Xbalanqué. These two suffered great hardships, but they did not die despite all that was done to them.


90:1 p. 220 Ri tiz coc, literally, "the turtle squeezed or compressed" (inside its shell).

90:2 This passage is very difficult to understand in Brasseur de Bourbourg's transcription. The text may be read as follows: Are cut ta chi r'ah zaquiric chi cactarin u xecah, "¡Ca zaquinu chic, ama!," x-u chax ri vuch, since farther on, one reads x-u chax umul, which is said to the rabbit. When transcribing the primitive text, Ximénez wrote chux and not chax, but in his literal translation it is "was said to the buzzard."

It seems to me that those who in this place have translated the verb xaquin as "to open the legs" have also erred. Xaquin in Quiché means to darken, to stain, to soil with soot or coal. Ximénez Wisely translates it here as "darken."

Note, also, that following Ximénez, I have translated vuch as "buzzard" (vulture), and not as a fox bitch or tacuatzin as do Brasseur de Bourbourg and others. "Vulture" in Quiché is cuch or kuch, that the Spanish clerics sometimes wrote guch, which has the same sound of vuch or uuch. The meaning in this passage corresponds more nearly to "vulture" or "buzzard," a bird of black plumage. The picture of the buzzard spreading its wings in order to darken the sky and to hide the secret fashioning of the artificial head of Hunahpú belongs to the most genuine expression of aboriginal American mythology.

90:3 "ve," x-cha ri mama. The Quiché call the male buzzard mama cuch, "old buzzard." p. 221 The identity of the creature mentioned here, however, is of no importance. The ancient Indians made use of objects and beings in nature with which to represent imaginary ideas and immaterial things, by means of the similarity of their names. In the present case they were trying, without doubt, to represent the idea of the darkness which immediately precedes the dawn, which they called vuch. Father Thomas Coto thus explains the significance of the word vuch: "It signifies that darkening of the sky when it is about to dawn." In order to represent this idea, the Indians traced the figure of the animal whose name sounded like the word they were trying to suggest.

90:4 The text here should read: Mana qui c'at chaahic, xaqui ch'a yecuh avib. Xa in hun qui qui banouic, x-cha xbalanqué chire.

90:5 Chupam pixc. Ximénez translates "in the tomato patch," taking pixc for pix. Brasseur de Bourbourg translates entre les glands de la corniche. Villacorta and Rodas say, "Inside the hole of the roof." Schultze Jena says "cornice." Pixc, in Quiché and Cakchiquel, is the evergreen oak and its fruit, the acorn, gland in French.

90:6 Mi-x-y bano qui yan, in the original.

90:7 Ch'a caca ri holom chi quic. Brasseur de Bourbourg interprets this sentence fancifully, according to his whim. Cac means "to stone," "to hit."

90:8 In the original: Ma cu chi qui ca caxou chic.

90:9 Chi yecoub quib, literally, to "pretend" or "dissimulate."

Next: II. Chapter 12