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III. Chapter 9

Here, then, is the dawn, and the coming of the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam were very happy when they saw the Morning Star. It rose first, with shining face, when it came ahead of the sun.

Immediately they unwrapped the incense 1 which they had brought from the East, and which they had planned to burn, and then they untied the three gifts which they had planned to offer.

The incense which Balam-Quitzé brought was called Mixtán-Pom; the incense which Balam-Acab brought was called Cavixtán-Pom; and that which Mahucutah brought was called Cabauil-Pom. 2 The three had their incense and burned it when they began to dance facing toward the East.

They wept for joy as they danced and burned their incense, their precious incense. Then they wept because they did not yet behold nor see the sunrise.

But, then, the sun came up. The small and large animals were happy; and arose from the banks of the river, in the ravines, and on the tops of the mountains, and all turned their eyes to where the sun was rising.

Then the puma and the jaguar roared. But first the bird called Queletzú 3 burst into song. In truth, all the animals

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were happy, and the eagle, the white vulture; 4 the small birds and the large birds stretched their wings.

The Priests and the sacrificers were kneeling; great was the joy of the priests and sacrificers and of the people of Tamub and Ilocab and the people of Rabinal, the Cakchiquel,

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those from Tziquinahá, and those from Tuhalhá, Uchabahá, Quibahá, from Batená, and the Yaqui Tepeu, all those tribes which exist today. And it was not possible to count the people. The light of dawn fell upon all the tribes at the same time.

Instantly the surface of the earth was dried by the sun. Like a man was the sun when it showed itself, and its face glowed when it dried the surface of the earth.

Before the sun rose, damp and muddy was the surface of the earth, before the sun came up; but then the sun rose, and came up like a man. And its heat was unbearable. 5 It showed itself when it was born and remained fixed [in the sky] like a mirror. Certainly it was not the same sun which we see, it is said in their old tales.

Immediately afterward Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz were turned to stone, together with the deified beings 6 the puma, the jaguar, the snake, the cantil, and the hobgoblin. Their arms became fastened to the trees when the sun, the moon, and the stars appeared. All alike, were changed into stone. Perhaps we should not be living today 7 because of the voracious animals, the puma, the jaguar, the snake, and the cantil, as well as the hobgoblin; perhaps our power would not exist if these first animals had not been turned into stone by the sun.

When the sun arose, the hearts of Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam were filled with joy. Great was their joy when it dawned. And there were not many men at that place; only a few were there on the mountain Hacavitz. 8 There dawn came to them, there they burned their incense and danced, turning their gaze toward the East, whence they had come. There were their mountains and their valleys, whence had come Balam-Quitzé,

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[paragraph continues] Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam, as they were called.

But it was here where they multiplied, on the mountain, and this was their town; here they were, too, when the sun, the moon, and the stars appeared, when it dawned and the face of the earth and the whole world was lighted. Here, too, began their song, which they call camucú9 they sang it, but only the pain in their hearts and their innermost selves they expressed in their song. "Oh pity us! In Tulán we were lost, we were separated, and there our older and younger brothers stayed. Ah, we have seen the sun! but where are they now, that it has dawned?" so said the priests and the sacrificers of the Yaqui.

Because, in truth, the so-called Tohil is the same god of the Yaqui, the one called Yolcuat-Quitzalcuat. 10

"We became separated there in Tulán, in Zuyva, from there we went out together, and there our race was created when we came," they said to each other.

Then they remembered their older brothers and their younger brothers, the Yaqui, to whom dawn came there in the land which today is called Mexico. Part of the people remained there in the East, those called Tepeu Olimán, who stayed there, they say.

They felt much grief in their hearts, there in Hacavitz; and sad, too, were the people from Tamub and Ilocab, who were also there in the forest called Amac-Tan. 11 where dawn came to the priests and sacrificers of Tamub and to their god, who also was Tohil, because one and the same was the name of the god of the three branches of the Quiché people. And this is also the name of the god of the people of Rabinal, for there is little difference between that and the name of Huntoh, as the god of the people of Rabinal

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is called; for that reason, it is said, they wanted to make their speech the same as that of the Quiché.

Well, the speech of the Cakchiquel is different, because the name of their god was different when they came from there, from Tulán-Zuyva. Tzotzihá Chimalcan was the name of their god, and today they speak a different tongue; and also from their god the families of Ahpozotzil and Ahpoxa, 12 as they are called, took their names.

The speech of the god was also changed when they were given their god there, in Tulán, near the stone; 13 their speech was changed when they came from Tulán in the darkness. And being together, dawn came to them and the light shone on all the tribes, in the order of the names of the gods of each of the tribes.


134:1 p. 233 The Maya and Quiché Indians give the name Pom to the incense or white aromatic resin which oozes from a tree, and they used it in their religious ceremonies. This resin is commonly known as copal, from the Náhuatl copalli (Protium copal, Engl.).

134:2 These names have a marked Mexican flavor and seem to come from the Aztec tongue. Mixtán-Pom might be the copal, or incense, which they burned to Mictán Ahau, and Caviztán-Pom that which they offered to Cavestán Ahau. Father Guzmán (Compendio de nombres en lengua Cakchiquel) mentions as gods of this tribe, among other minor deities, Mictán Ahau and Cavestán Ahau. The Aztec word Mictlán serves to designate the inferno. Cabauil-Pom is clearly the incense of the Quiché divinity in general, which is expressed with the word Cabauil, probably derived from the Maya Kauil, "god." The variety of incense of the offerings seems to be explained by the fact that the Quiché liked to offer "incense of a certain fragrance" to their gods.

134:3 A climbing bird of the parrot family; quel in Quiché is a kind of parrot or magpie known in Guatemala as the chocoyo.

134:4 Zaccuch, literally a vulture or white buzzard, "white-breasted buzzard," says Father Coto. The one called king buzzard, Gypargus papa, is larger than the ordinary vulture. It is also distinguished by the combination of its black and white feathers.

134:5 p. 234 Ma cu x-chihtahic u qatanal. All the translators have followed the interpretation of Ximénez, who translates these words as: "The heat was not great." Chihtahic, however, means "to bear," "to suffer," and the negative sentence must be understood in the sense that the heat of the sun was unbearable or insufferable. If the heat of the sun had not been intense, it would not have dried the damp and muddy surface of the earth. In the recent edition of the Popol Vuh, Schultze Jena gives the correct translation of this passage in German.

134:6 U cabauilal coh, balam, etc.

134:7 Ma ta oh yacamarinac, "Perhaps we would not be standing." The transformation of the animals into stone, according to Chavero, is a symbol of the change of religion, their abandoning the old animal nature cult for the worship of the heavenly bodies.

134:8 Mana e ta quiá vinac chi qui qoheic, xa e chutin ta x-e qohe chiri chuvi huyub Hacavitz. Ximénez gives a different interpretation to this sentence, as follows: "And the men were not large then, but they were small when they were on the hills of Hacavitz."

134:9 "We see," or "our dove," mucuy in Maya.

134:10 The great civilizer was worshiped as a divinity by the ancient Mexicans, who gave him different names. They called him Ehecatl, or God of the Wind; Yolcuat, or the Rattle Snake; Quetzalcoatl, or serpent covered with green feathers. The last meaning corresponds also to the Maya name Kukulcán, and to the Quiché, Gucumatz. Here the text shows that the Quiché also identified Quetzalcoatl with their own god Tohil. Both were actually rain gods.

134:11 Pa quechelah Amac Dan ubi. This place was already named in Chapter 8 of Part III, as the residence of the tribe of Tamub.

134:12 Tzotzihá, the house of the zotzils or bats, that is to say of the Cakchiquel, who like the Zotzil of Chiapas also had the bat as a symbol. Chimalcán or Chamalcán, as explained in Chapter 6 of Part III was the name of a serpent, a sacred animal among the peoples of Middle America. Ahpozotzil and Ahpoxahil were the names of the king of the Cakchiquel and of his principal assistant and heir. The Spaniards gave the former, who was governing in 1524, the name Sinacán, from the Náhuatl Tzinacán, which also means "bat." Xahil, which may be translated as "dancer," from xah, "to dance," was the name of the second reigning house, and one of its descendants, Francisco Hernandez Arana, wrote the Memorial de Sololá, which contains the history of the Cakchiquel nation.

134:13 Chirih abah. The meaning of these words is vague. However, it becomes p. 235 clearer if one recalls the constant association of the ancient American divinity with stone. The Book of Chilan Balam of Chumayel says, describing the creation of the world, that God was hidden in the stone when there was neither sky nor earth, and that later he came from the stone and fell into a second stone, and then he declared his divinity (Kuil). The Quiché documents speak of the stone which Nacxit gave to those tribes when they left Tulán, and which "they used for their incantations. "And they add that in Qotuhá or Tzutuhá they also found a stone similar to that which Nacxit gave them, which they, the kings and the people, worshiped. As for the Manuscript of the Cakchiquel, it speaks of the obsidian stone, or Chay Abah to which that nation rendered homage.

Next: III. Chapter 10