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p. 157

IV. Chapter 6

Then they decided to go to the east, thinking thus to fulfill the command of their fathers which they had not forgotten. It had been a long time since their fathers had died, when the tribes gave them their wives, and thus they acquired many relatives-in-law, when the three took wives. 1

And starting on their journey, they said: "We are going to the East, there whence came our fathers." So they said when the three sons set out. One was called Qocaib, and he was the son of Balam-Quitzé, of the Cavec. The one called Qoacutec was son of Balam-Acab, of the Nihaib; and the other called Qoahau, was son of Mahucutah, of the Ahau-Quiché. 2

These, then, are the names of those who went there to the other side of the sea; the three went then, and were endowed with intelligence and experience, but they were not common men. They took leave of all their brothers and relatives and left joyfully. "We shall not die; we shall return," said the three when they left.

Certainly they crossed the sea when they came there to the East, when they went to receive the investiture of the kingdom. And this was the name of the Lord, King of the East, where they went. When they arrived before Lord

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[paragraph continues] Nacxit, 3 which was the name of the great lord, the only supreme judge of all the kingdoms, he gave them the insignia of the kingdom and all its distinctive symbols. Then came the insignia of Ahpop and Ahpop-Camhá, and then the insignia of the grandeur and the sovereignty of the Ahpop and the Ahpop-Camhá. 4 And Nacxit ended by giving them the insignia of royalty, which are: the canopy, the throne, the flutes of bone, the cham-cham, yellow beads, puma claws, jaguar claws, the heads and feet of the deer, dais, snail shells, tobacco, little gourds, parrot feathers, standards of royal aigrette feathers, tatam, and caxcon5 All the foregoing they carried, those who came after going to the other side of the sea to receive the paintings of Tulán, the paintings, as these were called, in which they wrote their histories. 6

Then, having arrived at their town called Hacavitz, all the people of Tamub and of Ilocab assembled there; all the tribes were assembled and were filled with joy when Qocaib, Qoacutec, and Qoahau arrived, and there they again assumed the rule of the tribes. 7

The people of Rabinal, the Cakchiquel, and the people of Tziquinahá rejoiced. Before them they showed the insignia of the grandeur of the kingdom. Great, too, were the tribes, although they had not finished showing their might. And they were there in Hacavitz, all were there with those who came from the East. There they spent much time; 8 there on the summit of the mountain they were in great numbers.

There, too, the wives of Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, and Mahucutah died.

Later they left, abandoning their country, and searching for other places in which to settle. innumerable were the places in which they settled, where they were, and

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which they named. There our first mothers and our first fathers were reunited and increased. So said the old people when they told how they left their first capital, called Hacavitz, and went to found another capital, called Chi-Quix9

They were a long time in this other town, where they had daughters and sons. There were many of them there, and there were four other places, to each of which they gave the name of their town. Their daughters and sons married; they simply gave them away [in marriage] and the presents and favors they received they considered as the price for their daughters, and, in this way, they lived happily. 10

Afterward they went through each one of the wards of the town, the different names of which are: Chi-Quix, Chichac, Humetahá, Culbá, and Cavinal. These were the names of the places where they settled. And they surveyed the hills and their towns and sought the uninhabited places, for, all together, they were now very many.

Those who had gone to the East to receive the sovereignty were now dead. They were already old when they arrived at each of the towns. They did not become accustomed to the different places through which they passed; they suffered many hardships and troubles and only after a long time did the grandfathers and fathers arrive at their town. Here is the name of the city to which they came.

Finally Qocaib returned and gave an account of his mission. "He brought the titles of Ahpop, Ahtzalam, Tzanchinamital, and many others; he showed the insignia which must accompany these titles, and they were the claws of the jaguars and eagles, skins of other animals, and also stones, sticks, etc." Seeing his wife with a newly born child in her arms, he asked whence it had come. "'It is of thy blood,' answered the woman, 'of thy flesh and thy same bones.'" Qocaib accepted the explanation, and taking the child's cradle said: "'From today on, and forever this child shall be called Balam Conaché.' And the latter began the House of Conaché and Iztayul." With respect to the second journey of the Quiché princes, the Título says that they returned satisfied to Hacavitz Chipal, and displayed the signs and symbols which they brought.}


159:1 p. 238 X qui hiah, literally, "they had fathers-in-law and brothers-in-law."

159:2 This was the second journey to the East which Diego Reynoso, author of Chapter IV of the Título de los Señores de Totonicapán, describes. According to this Indian writer, there were four princes who took part in the expedition; the two brothers Qocaib and Qocavib, Qoacul and Acutec, and a fifth was added afterward who had the title of Nim Chocoh Cavec, who later received the title of Chocohil-Tem.

159:3 Nacxit is the abbreviated name which the Quiché and the Cakchiquel gave, in their tales, to the King of the Orient, who was no other than Topiltzin Acxitl Quetzalcoatl, the famous Toltec king who, having been obliged to abandon his dominions in the north, emigrated at the end of the tenth century to the lands of Yucatán (the Orient of the ancient chronicles), and there repopulated Chichén Itzá and founded the city of Mayapán, civilized the peninsula, and, upon finishing his mission, returned to the place whence he had come. The fabulous Tlapallan, the place to which, it is said, the great monarch migrated, was the country which extended from Xicalanco toward the east, that is, the coastal region of the modern Mexican states of Tabasco, Campeche, and Yucatán.

The Chronicles, or Books of Chilan Balam, of Yucatán speak of the prophecy of the return of Kukulcán-Quetzalcoatl who, in those documents, is called Nacxit-Xuchit.

159:4 p. 239 Ahpop is the Maya word which has passed without variation to the languages of the interior of Guatemala; its literal meaning is "the mat." The mat, pop, was the symbol of royalty, and the chief or lord is represented as seated upon it on the most ancient monuments of the Maya Old Empire which had its origin in the Petén, Guatemala. The Ahpop was the Quiché king and chief of the House of Cavec; the Ahpop Camhá, also of the House of Cavec, was the second reigning prince; the Ahau Galel was the chief or king of the House of Nihaib, and the Ahtzic Vinac Ahau the chief of the House of Ahau Quiché. Another group of Quiché nobles also bore the same title as the two first, and in this place the text refers to them as Ah-popol, Ahpop-camhail, which are the plural forms.

159:5 It is extremely difficult to interpret the names of the gifts of Nacxit because they belong to the archaic Quiché and Maya tongues. I believe, however, that I have made some progress in identifying these ancient objects, decreasing in number the unknown names which the venerable first translator of the Popol Vuh left unexplained.

"Canopy" corresponds to the Quiché muh, which is also the word for the royal mantle.

"Throne," galibal, a high seat where the king or principal lord was seated.

"Flutes of bone" is the literal translation of zubac.

Cham-cham, another flute, says Ximénez; drums, according to Brasseur de Bourbourg, Seler, and Raynaud; and in this case it brings to mind the African tom-tom.

Yellow beads, titil canabah. The Diccionario Cakchiquel interprets canabah as the yellow paint with which the Indians painted their bodies. According to Ximénez, the expression of the text is equivalent to chalchihuites, or beads of stone, usually green or yellow serpentine. In Maya the selected beads, jewels, or stones which were used in divination and as ornaments are called tetil kan, "fruit pits or stones which the Indians used as money and for necklaces," according to the Diccionario de Motul.

Puma claws, jaguar claws, tzicvuil coh, tzicvuil balam, through analogy with the text of the Título de los Señores de Totonicapán which mentions "nails of the puma and the eagle, pelts of other animals, and also stones, sticks, etc." Seler gives the same interpretation here.

Holom, pich queh, literally translated, are the heads and feet of the deer.

Canopies, macutax. In Cakchiquel, macamic is a tent or pavilion; macom, mat, like a canopy; macubal, canopy. (Diccionario Cakchiquel). The Título de los Señores de Totonicapán enumerates the canopies or pavilions assigned to the lords. The Ahpop had the right to use four canopies over his head; the p. 240 Ahpop Camhá, three; etc. The newly created honors, according to the same document, were those of Galel-Tem, Atzivinaquil-Tem, Nim-Chocohil-Tem, Gale-Yamhail-Tem, Nima-Yamolah-Tem, four Ah-Tohil, three Chocobib, three Utzam-Pop, three Yacolhá, and Pop-Camhá.

Snail shell, tot, sea-shells.

Tobacco, quz; little gourds, buz, by resemblance with the Maya words of Yucatán, the country where Nacxit lived. In Maya, tobacco is cuz and kutz. Buz may be the Maya bux, little gourds for keeping ground tobacco, according to the Diccionario de Motul. The Maya used tobacco in their incantations and sorcery. In Maya, kutz is also the magnificent wild turkey, Meleagris ocellata, which may very well be another gift worthy of princes. It is interesting to recall here that, according to the Crónica Mexicana by Fernando de Alvarado Tezozomoc, the Aztec upon giving the royal investiture to Moctezuma, fastened around his neck a tecomatillo (small gourd) in which to keep piciete [tobacco] "which is strength for the roads."

Parrot feathers, chiyom. This word is found in the Vocabulario Kakchiquel by Father Francisco Barela. With the green feathers of the common parrot of the Peninsula of Yucatán, ornaments were made for the finery of the princes and warriors; but here is meant the bright red and blue feathers of the macaw, also used for the same purpose.

Royal heron, aztapulul. This word is taken from the Aztec aztapololli, a derivative of aztatl, large white herons, very white like snow, says Sahagún, who adds that the feather workers made "standards with feathers of the royal heron."

I have been unable to interpret the words tatam and caxcon.

159:6 U tzibal Tulán. The paintings which the Tolteca had brought from faraway Tula and in which they preserved the stories of ancient times. Although the paintings of the Quiché have not been preserved, there is a reliable proof of their former existence furnished by the Oidor Zorita, whom I have mentioned various times; he says that In Utatlán he found out "through the paintings which they had of their antiquities of more than eight hundred years, and by very old people, that there used to be among them, In the time of their paganism, three lords, and that the principal one had three canopies or mantles of very rich feathers on his seat, the second had two, and the third, one." Those paintings "of more than eight hundred years" in 1550 could well have been the paintings brought from Tulán.

159:7 The Título de los Señores de Totonicapán speaks of two journeys which the Quiché princes made to the East. Chapter III of that manuscript says that the same Balam-Quitzé said to his companions: "it is time now to send p. 241 ambassadors to our father and Lord Nacxit; that he may know the state of our affairs, that he give us means so that in the future our enemies shall never overcome us, so that never shall our noble birth be made light of; that he designate honors for us and for all our descendants, and, that, finally, he send public offices for those who deserve them." With this aim, the chiefs; elected Qocaib and Qocavib, both sons of Balam-Quitzé, who received their instructions and set out. "Qocaib went in the direction of the East, and Qocavib in that of the West," says the manuscript, which must be interpreted as indicating that the first went by the east coast of Guatemala and Yucatán in order to go toward Chichén Itzá, the metropolis of the northeastern part of the peninsula, which was the court of Quetzalcoatl, Acxitl, or Kukulcán; while the second probably followed the course of the Chixoy River, which flows close to Hacavitz, and the Usumacinta River, which carried him to the west coast of Yucatán. After a long journey of no less than a year, Qocaib arrived in the presence of the Emperor Nacxit Kukulcán and fulfilled his mission; but Qocavib, "encountering some obstacles on the shores of the Lake of Mexico [undoubtedly the Laguna de Términos] returned without doing anything." However, on his return to his own people and "finding a weak soul he illicitly knew [carnally] his sister-in-law, the wife of Qocaib."

159:8 Naht chicut x-qui ban, "There they lived many years," says the Título de los Señores de Totonicapán, using, it would seem, the same Quiché words. The whereabouts of the original of the Título is not known.

159:9 "In the thorns." The Título de Totonicapán, which so effectively supplements the information given in the Popol Vuh, mentions the place of Chi-Quiché, where the tribes were before establishing themselves in Hacavitz, but it does not speak of Chi-Quix, despite the fact that it names some twenty places where the Quiché stopped after they had left Hacavitz. It seems, p. 242 however, by the text which I translate, that Chi-Quix was only a suburb, or hill, which formed part of the general group of Chi-Quix, Chicac, Humetahá, Culbá, and Cavinal, and these three last names are found also in the Título de Totonicapán as Chi-Humet and Culba-Cavinal, "where they built houses and made huts," before continuing on to Izmachí.

159:10 The Quiché married their daughters--says the Título de Totonicapán--with certain ceremonies and water-jars of white batido (a drink made of corn meal to which cacao is sometimes added), and they had a basket of little avocados, a leg of wild pig, and little tamales wrapped and tied with vines. These were the gifts, and with them the marriage was agreed upon.

Next: IV. Chapter 7