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p. 100

II. Chapter 14

Immediately [the boys] told their names and they extolled themselves before all the people of Xibalba.

"Hear our names. We shall also tell you the names of our fathers. We are Hunahpú and Xbalanqué; 1 those are our names. And our fathers are those whom you killed and who were called Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú. We, those whom you see here, are, then, the avengers of the torments and suffering of our fathers. 2 That is the reason why we resent all the evil you have done to them. Therefore, we shall put an end to all of you, we shall kill you, and not one of you shall escape, "they said.

Instantly all the people of Xibalba fell to their knees, crying.

"Have mercy on us, Hunahpú and Xbalanqué! It is true that we sinned against your fathers as you said, and that they are buried in Puchbal-Chah," they said.

"Very well. This is our sentence, that we are going to tell you. Hear it, all you of Xibalba:

"Since neither your great power nor your race any longer exist, and since neither do you deserve mercy, your rank shall be lowered. 3 Not for you shall be the ball game. 4 You shall spend your time making earthen pots and tubs and stones to grind corn. 5 Only the children of the thickets and

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desert shall speak with you. The noble sons, the civilized vassals shall not consort with you, and they will foresake your presence. 6 The sinners, the evil ones, the sad ones, the unfortunate ones, those who give themselves up to vice, these are the ones who will welcome you. No longer will you seize men suddenly [for sacrifice]; remember your rank has been lowered."

Thus they spoke to all the people of Xibalba.

In this way their destruction and their lamentations began. Their power in the olden days was not much. They only liked to do evil to men in those times. In truth, in those days, they did not have the category of gods. Furthermore, their horrible faces frightened people. They were the enemies, the owls. 7 They incited to evil, to sin and to discord.

They were also false in their hearts, black and white at the same time, 8 envious and tyrannical, 9 according to what was said of them. Furthermore, they painted and greased their faces.

In this way, then, occurred the loss of their grandeur and the decadence of their empire.

And this was what Hunahpú and Xbalanqué did. 10

Meanwhile, the grandmother was crying and lamenting before the reeds which they had left planted. The reeds sprouted, then they dried up when [the boys] were consumed in the bonfire; afterward [the reeds] sprouted again. Then the grandmother lighted the fire and burned incense before the reeds in memory of her grandchildren. And the grandmother's heart filled with joy when, for the second time, the reeds sprouted. Then they were worshiped by the grandmother, and she called them the Center of the House, Nicah [the center] they were called.

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"Green reeds growing in the plains" [Cazam Ah Chatam Uleu] was their name. And they were called the Center of the House and the Center, because in the middle of the house they planted the reeds. And the reeds, which were planted, were called the plains, Green Reeds growing on the plains. They also were called Green Reeds because they had resprouted. This name was given them by Xmucané [given] to those [reeds] which Hunahpú and Xbalanqué left planted in order that they should be remembered by their grandmother.

Well, now, their fathers, those who died long ago, were Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú. They also saw the faces of their fathers there in Xibalba and their fathers talked with their descendants, that is the ones who overthrew those of Xibalba.

And here is how their fathers were honored by them. They honored Vucub-Hunahpú; they went to honor him at the place of sacrifice of the ball-court. 11 And at the same time they wanted to make Vucub-Hunahpú's face. They hunted there for his entire body, his mouth, his nose, his eyes. They found his body, but it could do very little. 12 It could not pronounce his name, this Hunahpú. 13 Neither could his mouth say it.

And here is how they extolled the memory of their fathers, whom they had left there in the place of sacrifice at the ball-court: "You shall be invoked," their sons said to them, when they fortified their heart. "You shall be the first to arise, and you shall be the first to be worshiped by the sons of the noblemen, by the civilized vassals. Your names shall not be lost. So it shall be!" they told their fathers and thus consoled themselves. "We are the avengers of your death, of the pains and sorrows which they caused you."

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Thus was their leave-taking, when they had already overcome all the people of Xibalba.

Then they rose up in the midst of the light, and instantly they were lifted into the sky. One was given the sun, the other, the moon. Then the arch of heaven and the face of the earth were lighted. And they dwelt in heaven.

Then the four hundred boys whom Zipacná had killed also ascended, and so they again became the companions of [the boys] and were changed into stars in the sky.


103:1 p. 222 Xhunapú, Xbalanqué, in the original. The initial X denotes the diminutive p. 223 in Quiché. Here it serves to establish the relationship of father and son between Hun-Hunahpú and Xhunahpú.

103:2 Oh cu pacol re vae qui rail, qui caxcol ri ca cahau, in the original.

103:3 X-zaquin chic ch'y quic holomax. I believe I give an approximate interpretation of this expression. In another place I have explained that both quic and holomax have the meaning of "blood." Here, says Brasseur de Bourbourg, there is a mysterious play on words which escapes translation.

103:4 Mavi chahom quic yve, in the original. It is to be remembered that the ball game was reserved for the important people.

103:5 These were occupations of the common people.

103:6 Xa noh chi tzaco rib ch'y vach. This sentence is very difficult to understand and has been translated in many different ways. The verb tzaca has, among other meanings, that of fleeing, frightening away, or chasing.

103:7 Ah-Tza, "those of the war." Ah-Tucur," the owls. "As Brasseur de Bourbourg indicates, there may be a relation between these names and those of the Itzá, a Maya tribe which lived in the northern part of Guatemala, in the region called Petén-Itzá, and the settlers of Tucurú, people of Verapaz. Undoubtedly the Quiché and Cakchiquel. emigrated from the north, fleeing from the tyranny of these tribes, in order to live in freedom in a new land.

103:8 E quecail, zaquiil, with the appearance of blacks and whites, double appearance, symbol of their duplicity.

103:9 Ahmoxvach, Ahlatzab. Other synonyms which mean originators of evil, wicked, evildoers, oppressors.

103:10 Among the legends which Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas gathered in Verapaz, there is one of a god who had been born in that province and who was called Exbalanquén. "They say of him, among other tales," says the chronicler, "that he went to the inferno to make war, fought with all the people there, overcame them, and seized the king and many of his army. On his return to earth, Exbalanquén brought the king of the inferno with him, but when they were a few steps from the surface, he [the king] begged not to be taken up and giving him a kick he [Exbalanquén] said to him: 'Go back and let yours be all that is rotten and cast away and stinks.'" Las Casas adds that "in Verapaz, Exbalanquén was not received with the feasting and songs which he wished, and he therefore went to another kingdom, where he was received in a manner pleasing to him, and they say that this vanquisher of the inferno began to sacrifice men." Apologética Historia de las Indias, Chap. CXXIV, p. 330. It is too bad that this historian has not transcribed in his work the "other fables" which the people of Verapaz told, and which p. 224 possibly coincided with the legends contained in the Popol Vuh, judging from this version of the deeds of Exbalanquén or Xbalanqué.

103:11 Pucbal-Chah.

103:12 Xa cu zcaquin chic x-cha tah vi xere, in the original.

103:13 Hunahpuil in the original, probably by a lapsus calami. Brasseur de Bourbourg thought that this was a plural form and that it meant the union of the Hunahpú, but it is evident that the text refers to Vucub-Hunahpú, that is, the second of the Hunahpú. As will be seen, the two young heroes found only the head of Vucub-Hunahpú buried in the ball-court, and spoke only with it. It must be remembered that the head of Hun-Hunahpú was taken from his body and fastened in the branches of the calabash tree where it was confused with the fruit of the tree.

Next: III. Chapter 1