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p. 173

IV. Chapter 11

WE SHALL NOW TELL OF THE HOUSE of the God. The house was also given the same name as the god. The Great Edifice of Tohil was the name of the Temple of Tohil, of those of Cavec. Avilix was the name of the Temple of Avilix, of the people of Nihaib; and Hacavitz was the name of the Temple of the God of the people of Ahau-Quiché. 1

Tzutuhá, which is seen in Cahbahá, is the name of a large edifice in which there was a stone which all the lords of Quiché worshiped and which was also worshiped by all the tribes. 2

The people first offered their sacrifices before Tohil, and afterward went to pay their respects to the Ahpop and the Ahpop-Camhá. Then they went to Present their gorgeous feathers and their tribute before the king. And the kings whom they maintained were the Ahpop and the Ahpop-Camhá, who had conquered their towns.

Great lords and wonderful men were the marvelous kings Gucumatz and Cotuhá, the marvelous kings Quicab and Cavizimah. They knew if there would be war, and everything was clear before their eyes; they saw if there would be death and hunger, if there would be strife. They well knew that there was a place where it could be seen, that there was a book which they called the Popol Vuh3

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But not only in this way was the estate of the lords great, great also were their fasts. And this was in recognition of their having been created, and in recognition of their having been given their kingdoms. 4 They fasted a long time and made sacrifices to their gods. Here is how they fasted: Nine men fasted and another nine made sacrifices and burned incense. Thirteen more men fasted, and another thirteen more made offerings and burned incense before Tohil. And while before their god, they nourished themselves only with fruits, with zapotes, matasanos, and jocotes. And they did not eat any tortillas. Now if there were seventeen men who made sacrifice, or ten who fasted, the truth is they did not eat. They fulfilled their great precepts, and thus showed their position as lords.

Neither had they women to sleep with, but they remained alone, fasting. They were in the House of God, all day they prayed, burning incense and making sacrifices. Thus they remained from dusk until dawn, grieving in their hearts and in their breasts, and begging for happiness and life for their sons and vassals as well as for their kingdom, and raising their faces to the sky.

Here are their petitions to their god, when they prayed; and this was the supplication of their hearts:

"Oh, Thou, beauty of the day! Thou, Huracán; Thou, Heart of Heaven and of Earth! Thou, giver of richness, 5 and giver of the daughters and the sons! Turn toward us your power and your riches; grant life and growth unto my sons and vassals; let those who must maintain and nourish Thee multiply and increase; those who invoke Thee on the roads, in the fields, on the banks of the rivers, in the ravines, under the trees, under the vines.

"Give them daughters and sons. Let them not meet disgrace,

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nor misfortune, let not the deceiver come behind or before them. Let them not fall, let them not be wounded, let them not fornicate, nor be condemned by justice. Let them not fall on the descent or on the ascent of the road. Let them not encounter obstacles back of them or before them, nor anything which strikes them. Grant them good roads, beautiful, level roads. Let them not have misfortune, nor disgrace, through Thy fault, through Thy sorceries.

"Grant a good life to those who must give Thee sustenance and place food in Thy mouth, in Thy presence, to Thee, Heart of Heaven, Heart of Earth, Bundle of Majesty. And Thou, Tohil; Thou, Avilix; Thou, Hacavitz, Arch of the Sky, Surface of the Earth, the Four Corners, the Four

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[paragraph continues] Cardinal Points. Let there be but peace and tranquility 6 in Thy mouth, in Thy presence, oh, God!" 7

Thus [spoke] the lords, while within, the nine men fasted, the thirteen men, and the seventeen men. During the day they fasted and their hearts grieved for their sons and vassals and for all their wives and their children when each of the lords made his offering.

This was the price of a happy life, the price of power, the price of the authority of the Ahpop, of the Ahpop-Camhá, of the Galel and of the Ahtzic-Vinac. Two by two they ruled, each pair succeeding the other in order to bear the burden of the people of all the Quiché nation.

One only was the origin of their tradition and [one only] the origin of the manner of maintaining and sustaining, and one only, too, was the origin of the tradition and the customs of those of Tamub and Ilocab and the people of Rabinal and the Cakchiquel, those of Tziquinahá, of Tuhalahá and Uchabahá. And there was but one trunk [a single family] when they heard there in Quiché what all of them were to do.

But it was not only thus that they reigned. They did not squander the gifts of those whom they sustained and nourished, but they ate and drank them. Neither did they buy them; they had won and seized their empire, their power, and their sovereignty.

And it was not at small cost, that they conquered the fields and the towns; the small towns and the large towns paid high ransoms; they brought precious stones and metals, they brought honey of the bees, bracelets, bracelets of emeralds and other stones, and brought garlands made of blue feathers, 8 the tribute of all the towns. They came into the presence of the marvelous kings Gucumatz and Cotuhá,

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and before Quicab and Cavizimah, the Ahpop, the Ahpop-Camhá, the Galel and the Ahtzic-Vinac. 9

It was not little what they did, neither were few, the tribes which they conquered. Many branches of the tribes came to pay tribute to the Quiché; full of sorrow they came to give it over. Nevertheless, the [Quiché] power did not grow quickly. Gucumatz it was, who began the aggrandizement of the kingdom. Thus was the beginning of his aggrandizement and that of the Quiché nation.

And now we shall name the generations of the lords and give their names; again we shall name all of the lords.


177:1 p. 248 The houses or temples of the Quiché gods were destroyed after the abandonment of the city. The stones and other materials taken from the ruins of Utatlán were used to construct the buildings of Santa Cruz, the neighboring city founded by the Spaniards. There was scarcely left, among the ruins of the ancient Quiché capital, any remains of the place of sacrifice, or the Temple of Tohil.

177:2 Tzutuhá, "Flowery Water" or "fountain. "Cahbahá, "house of sacrifices" or "sacrificing place." The name of this place is very similar to that of the well-known town which is today called San Andrés Saccabajá, located a short distance from Santa Cruz Quiché. The Título de los Señores de Totonicapán says that the Quiché tribes were for some time in Tzutuhá, and says further that "there they also found a stone similar to the one which Nacxit had given them."

177:3 Xax qu'etaam vi qu cut ilbal re, qo vuh Popol Vuh u bi cumal. Through error, Brasseur de Bourbourg Writes qo qutibal re here. My translation agrees with that of Ximénez, which says: "and there was a place where they could see everything, and a book of all, which they called Book of the Community."

177:4 Are locbal tzac, locbal ahauarem cumal. The fast of the Quiché was absolute, according to the text. It was a general practice among the Mexicans, but less strict, for they made a light meal during the day and another at night.

177:5 Ganal raxal, "abundance of riches." Diccionario Cakchiquel.

177:6 Xa ta zac, xa ta amac. "Only may there be peace in your presence."--Ximénez.

177:7 Bishop Las Casas has also included in his Apologética Historia (Chap. CLXXVIII, p. 468) a prayer which he says the Indians of Guatemala recited during the human sacrifices, the essence of which is identical to the prayer given here. It says: "Lord God, remember us who are Thine; grant us health, give us children and prosperity so that thy people shall increase and serve thee; give us water and good weather so that we may maintain ourselves and that we may live; hear our petitions, receive our prayers, help us against our enemies; give us ease and rest."

177:8 X-ul puch raxón cubul chactic. The raxón (Cotinga) shared with the quetzal, guc, the honor of adorning with its feathers the gods and the kings; the beautiful sky blue feathers of the raxón were joined and then they were called p. 249 pixo raxón, "sewed feathers," an expression which Zúñiga (Diccionario Pokonchí-Castellano) explains, by saying that "the feathers are interwoven and [fasten] with knots of a very fine thread, with great skill, and there are some garlands of these blue feathers which they wear in their dances, and which they wear around their temples and forehead." Cubul chactic are these garlands of feathers sewed, as Zúñiga says, or stuck into a framework of light wood.

177:9 in the Títulos de la Casa de Ixcuin-Nihaib there is an interesting account of the conquests of the Quiché kings, and of the tribute which the conquered nations had to pay them.

Next: IV. Chapter 12