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p. 164

IV. Chapter 8

AFTER THEY HAD LEFT THERE, THEY CAME here to the town of Gumarcaah, 1 as the Quiché named it when Kings Cotuhá and Gucumatz and all the lords came. There had then begun the fifth generation of men, since the beginning of civilization and of the population, the beginning of the existence of the nation.

There, then, they built many houses and at the same time constructed the temple of God; in the center of the high part of the town they located it when they arrived and settled there.

Then their empire grew. They were very numerous, 2 when they held their council in their great houses. They reunited, but later divided, because dissensions had arisen and jealousies grew up amongst them over the price for their sisters and their daughters, and because they no longer drank together. 3

This, then, was the reason why they divided and why they turned against each other, and they threw the skulls of the dead, they hurled them around among each other.

Then they divided into nine families, and having ended the dispute over the sisters and the daughters, they carried out the plan of dividing the kingdom into twenty-four great houses, as they did. It is a long time since they came here to their town, and finished the twenty-four great houses, there

in the City of Gumarcaah, which was blessed by the Bishop. Later the city was abandoned. 4

There they increased, there they installed their splendid thrones and royal seats, and they distributed their honors among all the lords. The nine lords of Cavec formed nine families; the lords of Nihaib formed another nine; the lords of Ahau-Quiché formed another four; and the lords of Zaquic formed another two families.

They became very numerous, and many also followed each of the lords; these were the first among their vassals, and each of the lords had large families. 5

We shall tell now the names of the lords of each of the great houses. Here, then, are the names of the lords of Cavec. The first of the lords was Ahpop, 6 [then] Ahpop-Camhá, 7 Ah-Tohil, 8 Ah-Gucumatz, 9 Nim-Chocoh-Cavec, 10 Popol-Vinac-Chituy, 11 Lolmet-Quehnay, 12 Popol-Vinac Pa-Hom Tzalatz, 13 and Uchuch-Camhá. 14

These, then, were the lords of Cavec, nine lords, each one of which had his great house, which afterward will appear again.

Here then are the lords of Nihaib. The first was Ahau-Galel, then Ahau-Ahtzic-Vinac, Galel-Camhá, Nima-Camhá, Uchuch-Camhá, Nim-Chocoh-Nihaibab, Avilix, Yacolatam, Utzam-pop-Zalclatol, and Nimá-Lolmet-Ycoltux, the nine lords of Nihaib. 15

And as for those of Ahau-Quiché, these are the names of the lords: Ahtzic-Vinac, Ahau-Lolmet, Ahau-Nim-Chocoh-Ahau, and Ahau-Hacavitz, four lords of Ahau-Quiché, in the order of their great houses.

And the house of Zaquic had two families, the Lords Tzutuhá and Galel Zaquic. These two lords had only one great house. 16


164:1 The word Gumarcaah means "rotten huts," according to Ximénez; translating this name into their own tongue, the Mexicans called the city Utatlán, "place of reed fields." When the Spaniards arrived, it was the most important city in Central America. In his first letter to Cortés, Pedro de Alvarado, the conqueror of Guatemala, describes it in a few words saying: "This city is well built and marvelously strong." Bishop Las Casas, who arrived in Guatemala a few years after the Conquest, says in his Apologética Historia that he saw "towns enclosed by very deep moats, as was the one called Guatemala [Iximché, capital of the Cakchiquel kingdom], and another which was indeed the head of the kingdom, called Utatlán, with marvelous buildings of stone masonry of which I saw many." Another witness of that time, Dr. Alonso de Zorita, a contemporary of Las Casas, writes in his Historia de la Nueva España: "Utatlán, which is in the Province of Guatimala, was also considered by the natives of that land as a great sanctuary, and there were in it and around it many and very large temples which they call cues, of marvelous construction, and I saw some of them when I visited that land, being there Oidor in the royal Audiencia which has its residence in Guatimala, although they were in a state of ruin."

A brief but graphic description remains from the French architect, César Daly, who visited Utatlán in 1857 and says of it that "it is one of the architectural curiosities of the world: three mounds which come from a kind of abyss or ravine and which are crowned by table-lands which support cities." Daly passed close to seven weeks in the central city and made plans and drawings of this metropolis, as well as of Iximché, the capital of the Cakchiquel. See "Notes pouvant servir à l'exploration des anciens monuments du Mexique," p. 244 in Archives de la Commission Scientifique du Mexique (Paris, 1865), I, 146-61.

D. Miguel Rivera Maestre made a reconnaissance of the site of Utatlán and published a map and some pictures of the ruins of the Quiché capital in the Atlas of the state of Guatemala (1832). In the narrative of his trip to Central America John L. Stephens says that he used the report of Rivera Maestre in his description of that ancient city, which he visited in 1840. The great English archaeologist Alfred P. Maudslay visited the cities of Utatlán and Iximché in January, 1887, and made surveys of the two sites. He describes the Quiché and Cakchiquel country and the Indian capitals in Volume II of Archaeology, of the Biologia Centrali-Americana, as well as in his magnificent book and that of his wife: A Glimpse at Guatemala (1899).

The historians of the Colonial Period have also left more or less exact descriptions of the capital of the Quiché and of the temple of Tohil. The clearest of these is that of Ximénez (Las Historias del origen de los Indios de esta Provincia de Guatemala, 165-67) which, summarized, is as follows: The temple, or place of worship, and the rest of the buildings of Gumarcaah were constructed over a hill surrounded by a large ravine. On top of the plateau which the hill forms were the twenty-four large houses of the lords, built around so as to make small courts, each one like a large room raised about two yards from the ground, with a corridor and straw roof. In these little courts the large dances which they had during their feasts were held. In the middle of one of these small courts a solid tower was erected which went up in the form of a pyramid with square base, having stairs on each one of its faces, and in the comers was a bastion which also tapered upward. The steps were very narrow and close, so that it was frightening to climb them; there were about thirty or forty steps in each stair-way, and all were made of stone.

Near the temple or tower, at one side, there was a thick wall one and one-half meters high by two meters wide, crowned with another, close to three meters in height and also two meters in width. This had many openings through which the ropes used to bind the victims, who were to be sacrificed, were passed, so that they faced toward the god. This tower dominated all the courts where the people assembled and all could see the image of Tohil.

At the other side of the temple was the ball-court which Ximénez describes as a large pool with very large sides of stone, with their coronations or pyramids which surrounded it; they were very wide and could hold many people in them to watch the ball games which were the entertainment of p. 245 the kings and the rest of the lords. All of this building, on the side opposite the houses, was closed by a wall made of stone which was called tzalam-coxtum, a name given to all those buildings because, in addition to serving as a place for ceremonies, they were also castles and forts for defense against their enemies, and for this reason they were built on the hilltops.

Fuentes y Guzmán (Historia de Guatemala, Book VIII, Chap. X) describes the palaces of Utatlán with a wealth of detail and imagination, but does not give a clearer idea of the temple or place of worship, with the exception of information relative to the existence of "the fourth step," of a smooth stone of two and three-quarter yards (2.50 meters) and five feet wide (more or less, 1.50 meters), on which dismal and unhappy place they sacrificed the men, and "with a wide knife of chay [obsidian] they opened the breast [of the victim] and tore out the beating heart to offer it to the god."

164:2 E qui chic e pu tzatz.

164:3 Rumal xa mavi chi tzacon c'uquiya chi qui vach, in the original. They no longer gathered to eat and drink as they did in Izmachí when they arranged the weddings of their daughters and sons.

164:4 Don Francisco Marroquín, the first Bishop of Guatemala, who arrived in the country in 1530 and governed the diocese until his death in 1563. The historian Ximénez (Historia de . . . Chiapa y Guatemala, I, 115) fixes the time of the blessing of the new Spanish city which was substituted for the ancient capital, saying that the Bishop gave it the name of Santa Cruz of the Quiché "when, in the year 1539, he was in that Court, and blessing the place, fixed and raised the standard of the Faith." The site of Utatlán was abandoned when the city was moved to the plains near by, where it is today still located and serves as the capital of the department of the Quiché.

164:5 Tzatz, tzatz.

164:6 The king.

164:7 The assistant to the monarch, the one designated to succeed him.

164:8 The priest of Tohil.

164:9 The priest of Gucumatz.

164:10 The Great chosen one of Cavec. "They were three, the Great chosen," says Ximénez (La Historia del Origen . . . etc.), "like the fathers of all the Lords of the Quiché." There was a Great [one] chosen by each one of the principal clans.

164:11 The counsellor Chituy, minister of the treasury.

164:12 The agent, or accountant, and collector of tributes.

164:13 The counsellor of the long ball-court.

164:14 The majordomo, according to Brasseur de Bourbourg.

164:15 p. 246 In this enumeration, which agrees with the original manuscript, the ten names of the lords of the House of the Nihaib appear. Brasseur de Bourbourg reduces the number to nine, combining the names of Yacolatam-Utzam-pop-Zaclatol.

164:16 These were the two large branches of the Zaquic-Cotuhá, according to the Título de los Señores de Totonicapán. The honors and functions of the Court were divided among the lords of each family, according to its category. First was the Ahpop, or king, after whom in the legal order of succession, the Ahpop Camhá followed. Writing about the middle of the sixteenth century, Las Casas (Apologética Historia de las Indias, Chap. CCXXXIV, p. 616) says: "That supreme king had certain principal men of counsel, who had charge of justice and advised about what should be done in all business affairs. It is said today by the Indians who saw it, that they were like the Oidores which are in Guatimala in the Royal Audience. They saw the tributes which were collected from the kingdom and they divided and sent to the king what was assigned for the support of his person and estate."

Next: IV. Chapter 9