Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations

The Book of the People: POPOL VUH. Part II. Chapter 1-14. Translated by Delia Goetz and Sylvanus Griswold Morley from Adrián Recino’s translation

Category: Books, Popol Vuh

PART II: Chapter 1

Now we shall also tell the name of the father of Hunahpú and Xbalanqué. We shall not tell his origin and we shall not tell the history of the birth of Hunahpú and Xbalanqué. We shall tell only half of it, only a part of the history of his father.

Here is the story. Here are the names of Hun-Hunahpú [and Vucub-Hunahpú], as they are called. Their parents were Xpiyacoc and Xmucané. During the night Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú

were born of Xpiyacoc and Xmucané.

Well now, Hun-Hunahpú had begotten

two sons; the first was called Hunbatz and the second Hunchouén.

The mother of

the two sons was called Xbaquiyalo. Thus was the wife of Hun-Hunahpú called. As for

the other son, Vucub-Hunahpú, he had no wife; he was single.

By nature these

two sons were very wise, and great was their wisdom; on earth they were soothsayers of good

disposition and good habits. All the arts were taught to Hunbatz and Hunchouén, the

sons of Hun-Hunahpú. They were flautists, singers, shooters with blowguns, painters, sculptors, jewelers, silversmiths; these were Hunbatz and Hunchouén.

Well, Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú did nothing but play dice and ball A day long; and when the four got together to play ball, one pair played against the other pair.

And Voc, the messenger of Huracán, of Chipi-Caculhá, of Raxa-Caculhá came there to watch them, but Voc did not stay far from the earth nor far from Xibalba, 7 and in an instant he went up to heaven to the side of Huracán.

They were still here on earth when the mother of Hunbatz and Hunchouén died.

And having gone to play ball on the road to Xibalba, they were overheard by Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé, the lords of Xibalba.

“What are they doing on earth? Who are they who are making the earth shake, and making so much noise? Go and call them! Let them come here to play ball. Here we will overpower them! We are no longer respected by them. They no longer have consideration, or fear of our rank, and they even fight above our heads,” said all the lords of Xibalba.

All of them held a council. Those called Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé were the supreme judges. All the lords had been assigned their duties. Each one was given his own authority by Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé.

They were, then, Xiquiripat and Cuchumaquic lords of these names.

They were the two who caused the shedding of blood of the men.

Others were called Ahalpuh and Ahalganá, also lords. And their work was to make men swell and make pus gush forth from their legs and stain their faces yellow, what is called Chuganal.

Such was the work of Ahalpuh and Ahalganá.

Others were Lord Chamiabac and Lord Chamiaholom, constables of Xibalba whose staffs were of bone. Their work was to make men waste away until they were nothing but skin and bone and they died, and they carried them With their stomach and bones stretched out. This was the work of Chamiabac and Chamiaholom, as they were called.

Others were called Lord Ahalmez and Lord Ahaltocob; their work was to bring disaster upon men, as they were going home, or in front of it, and they would be found wounded, stretched out, face up, on the ground, dead. This was the work of Ahalmez and Ahaltocob, as they were called.

Immediately after them were other

lords named Xic and Patán whose work it was to cause men to die on the road, which is called sudden death, making blood to rush to their mouths until they died vomiting blood. The work of each one of these lords was to seize upon them, squeeze their throats and chests, so that the men died on the road, making the blood rush to their throats when they were walking. This was the work of Xic and Patán.

And having gathered in

council, they discussed how to torment and wound Hun-Hunahpú and

Vucub-Hunahpú. What the Lords of Xibalba coveted were the playing implements of Hun-

Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú-their leather pads and rings and gloves and crown

and masks which were the playing gear of Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú.

Now we shall tell of their journey to Xibalba and how they left behind them the sons of

Hun- Hunahpú, Hunbatz, and [Hun] Chouén, whose mother had died.

Then we

shall tell how Hunbatz and Hunchouén were overcome by Hunahpú and


II. Chapter 2

THE messengers of Hun-Camé and

Vucub-Camé arrived immediately.

“Go, Ahpop Achih!” they were told.

“Go and call Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú. Say to them, ‘Come with us.

The lords say that you must come.’ They must come here to play ball with us so that they

shall make us happy, for really they amaze us. So, then, they must come,” said the

lords. “And have them bring their playing gear, their rings, their gloves, and have

them bring their rubber balls, too,” said the lords. “Tell them to come

quickly,” they told the messengers.

And these messengers were owls: Chabi-Tucur,

Huracán-Tucur, Caquix-Tucur and Holom- Tucur. These were the names of the messengers

of Xibalba.

Chabi-Tucur was swift as an arrow; Huracán-Tucur had only one leg;

Caquix-Tucur had a red back, and Holom-Tucur had only a head, no legs, but he had wings.

The four messengers had the rank of Ahpop-Achih. Leaving Xibalba, they arrived quickly,

bringing their message to the court where Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú were

playing ball, at the ball-court which was called Nim-Xob-Carchah. The owl messengers

went directly to the ball-court and delivered their message exactly as it was given to them

by Hun-Camé, Vucub-Camé, Ahalpuh, Ahalganá, Chamiabac, Chamiaholom,

Xiquiripat, Cuchumaquic, Ahalmez, Ahaltocob, Xic, and Patán, as the lords were called

who sent the message by the owls.

“Did the Lords Hun-Camé and

Vucub-Camé really say that we must go with you?”

“They certainly

said so, and ‘Let them bring all their playing gear,’ the lords said.”

“Very well,” said the youths. “Wait for us, we are only going to say

good-bye to our mother.”

And having gone straight home, they said to their

mother, for their father was dead: “We are going, our mother, but our going is only for

a while. The messengers of the lord have come to take us. ‘They must come,’ they said,

according to the messengers.

“We shall leave our ball here in pledge,” they

added. They went immediately to hang it in the space under the rooftree. “We will

return to play,” they said.

And going to Hunbatz and Hunchouén they said

to them: “Keep on playing the flute and singing, painting, and carving; warm our house

and warm the heart of your grandmother.” When they took leave of their mother,

Xmucané was moved and burst into tears. “Do not worry, we are going, but we have

not died yet,” said Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú as they left.

Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú went immediately and the messengers took them

on the road. Thus they were descending the road to Xibalba, by some very steep stairs. They

went down until they came to the bank of a river which flowed rapidly between the ravines

called Nuziván cul and Cuziván, and crossed it. Then they

crossed the river which flows among thorny calabash trees. There were very many calabash

trees, but they passed through them without hurting themselves.

Then they came to the

bank of a river of blood and crossed it without drinking its waters; they only went to the

river bank and so they were not overcome. They went on until they came to where four roads

joined, and there at the crossroads they were overcome.

One of the four roads was

red, another black, another white, and another yellow. And the black road said to them:

“I am the one you must take because I am the way of the Lord.” So said the


And from here on they were already overcome. They were taken over the road to

Xibalba and when they arrived at the council room of the Lords of Xibalba, they had already

lost the match.

Well, the first ones who were seated there were only figures of wood,

arranged by the men of Xibalba. These they greeted first:

“How are you,

Hun-Camé?” they said to the wooden man. “How are you,

Vucub-Camé?” they said to the other wooden man. But they did not answer.

instantly the Lords of Xibalba burst into laughter and all the other lords began to laugh

loudly, because they already took for granted the downfall and defeat of Hun-Hunahpú

and Vucub-Hunahpú. And they continued to laugh.

Then Hun-Camé and

Vucub-Camé spoke: “Very well,” they said. “You have come.

Tomorrow you shall prepare the mask, your rings, and your gloves,” they said.

“Come and sit down on our bench,” they said. But the bench which they offered

them was of hot stone, and when they sat down they were burned. They began to squirm around

on the bench, and if they had not stood up they would have burned their seats.


Lords of Xibalba burst out laughing again; they were dying of laughter; they writhed from

pain in their stomach, in their blood, and in their bones, caused by their laughter, all the

Lords of Xibalba laughed.

“Go now to that house,” they said. “There

you will get your sticks of fat pine and your cigar and there you shall sleep.”

Immediately they arrived at the House of Gloom. There was only darkness within the


Meanwhile the Lords of Xibalba discussed what they should do.


us sacrifice them tomorrow, let them die quickly, quickly, so that we can have their playing

gear to use in play,” said the Lords of Xibalba to each other.

Well, their

fat-pine sticks were round and were called zaquitoc, which is the pine of


Their fat-pine sticks were pointed and filed and were as bright as bone; the

pine of Xibalba was very hard.

Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú entered

the House of Gloom. There they were given their fat-pine sticks, a single lighted stick

which Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé sent them, together with a lighted cigar for

each of them which the lords had sent. They went to give them to Hun-Hunahpú and


They found them crouching in the darkness when the porters

arrived with the fat-pine sticks and the cigars. As they entered, the pine sticks lighted

the place brightly.

“Each of you light your pine sticks and your cigars; come

and bring them back at dawn, you must not burn them up, but you must return them whole; this

is what the lords told us to say.” So they said. And so they were defeated. They burned

up the pine sticks, and they also finished the cigars which had been given to them.

There were many punishments in Xibalba; the punishments were of many kinds.


first was the House of Gloom, Quequma-ha, in which there was only darkness.


second was Xuxulim-ha, the house where everybody shivered, in which it was very cold.

A cold, unbearable wind blew within.

The third was the House of Jaguars,

Balami-ha, it was called, in which there were nothing but jaguars which stalked about,

jumped around, roared, and made fun. The jaguars were shut up in the house.

Zotzi-há, the House of Bats, the fourth place of punishment was called. Within

this house there were nothing but bats which squeaked and cried and flew around and around.

The bats were shut in and could not get out.

The fifth was called Chayim-há,

the House of Knives, in which there were only sharp, pointed knives, silent or grating

against each other in the house.

There were many places of torture in Xibalba, but

Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú did not enter them. We only mention the names of

these houses of punishment.

When Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú came

before Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé, they said: “Where are my cigars? Where

are my sticks of fat pine which I gave you last night?” “They are all gone,


“Well. Today shall be the end of your days. Now you shall die. You

shall be destroyed, we will break you into pieces and here your faces will stay hidden. You

shall be sacrificed,” said Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé.


sacrificed them immediately and buried them in the Pucbal-Chah, as it was called.

Before burying them, they cut off the head of Hun-Hunahpú and buried the older

brother together with the younger brother.

“Take the head and put it in that

tree which is Planted on the road,” said Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé. And

having put the head in the tree, instantly the tree, which had never borne fruit before the

head of Hun-Hunahpú was placed among its branches, was covered with fruit.


this calabash tree, it is said, is the one which we now call the head of


Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé looked in amazement at the

fruit on the tree. The round fruit was everywhere; but they did not recognize the head of

Hun-Hunahpú; it was exactly like the other fruit of the calabash tree. So it seemed

to all of the people of Xibalba when they came to look at it.

According to their

judgment, the tree was miraculous, because of what had instantly occurred when they put

Hun-Hunahpú’s head among its branches. And the Lords of Xibalba said: “Let no

one come to pick this fruit. Let no one come and sit under this tree!” they said, and

so the Lords of Xibalba resolved to keep everybody away.

The head of

Hun-Hunahpú did not appear again because it had become one and the same as the fruit

of the gourd tree. Nevertheless, a girl heard the wonderful story. Now we shall tell about

her arrival.

II. Chapter 3

THIS is the story of a maiden, the daughter of a

lord named Cuchumaquic.

A maiden, then, daughter of a lord heard this story. The name

of the father was Cuchumaquic and that of the maiden was Xquic. When she heard the story of

the fruit of the tree which her father told, she was amazed to hear it.

“Why can

I not go to see this tree which they tell about?” the girl exclaimed. “Surely the

fruit of which I hear tell must be very good.” Finally she went alone and arrived at

the foot of the tree which was planted in Pucbal-Chah.

“Ah!” she exclaimed.

“What fruit is this which this tree bears? Is it not wonderful to see how it is covered

with fruit? Must I die, shall I be lost, if I pick one of this fruit?” said the


Then the skull which was among the branches of the tree spoke up and said:

“What is it you wish? Those round objects which cover the branches of the trees are

nothing but skulls.” So spoke the head of Hun-Hunahpú turning to the maiden.

“Do you, perchance, want them?” it added.

“Yes, I want them,” the

maiden answered.

“Very well,” said the skull. “Stretch your right hand

up here.”

“Very well,” said the maiden, and with her right hand

reached toward the skull.

In that instant the skull let a few drops of spittle fall

directly into the maiden’s palm. She looked quickly and intently at the palm of her hand,

but the spittle of the skull was not there.

“In my saliva and spittle I have

given you my descendants,” said the voice in the tree. “Now my head has nothing on

it any more, it is nothing but a skull without flesh. So are the heads of the great princes,

the flesh is all which gives them a handsome appearance. And when they die, men are

frightened by their bones. So, too, is the nature of the sons, which are like saliva and

spittle, they may be sons of a lord, of a wise man, or of an orator. They do not lose their

substance when they go, but they bequeath it; the image of the lord, of the wise man, or of

the orator does not. disappear, nor is it lost, but he leaves it to the daughters and to the

sons which he begets. I have done the same with you. Go up, then, to the surface of the

earth, that you may not die. Believe in my words that it will be so,” said the head of

Hun-Hunahpú and of Vucub-Hunahpú.

And all that they did together was by

order of Huracán, Chipi-Caculhá, and Raxa-Caculhá.

After all of

the above talking, the maiden returned directly to her home, having immediately conceived

the sons in her belly by virtue of the spittle only. And thus Hunahpú and

Xbalanqué were begotten.

And so the girl returned home, and after six months

had passed, her father, who was called Cuchumaquic, noticed her condition. At once the

maiden’s secret was discovered by her father when he observed that she was pregnant.

Then the lords, Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé, held council with Cuchumaquic.

“My daughter is pregnant, Sirs; she has been disgraced,” exclaimed Cuchumaquic

when he appeared before the lords.

“Very well,” they said. “Command

her to tell the truth, and if she refuses to speak, punish her; let her be taken far from

here and sacrifice her.”

“Very well, Honorable Lords,” he answered.

Then he questioned his daughter: “Whose are the children that you carry, my

daughter?” And she answered, “I have no child, my father, for I have not yet known

a youth.”

“Very well,” he replied. “You are really a whore. Take her

and sacrifice her, Ahpop Achih; bring me her heart in a gourd and return this very day

before the lords,” he said to the two owls.

The four messengers took the gourd

and set out carrying the young girl in their arms and also taking the knife of flint with

which to sacrifice her.

And she said to them: “It cannot be that you will kill

me, oh, messengers, because what I bear in my belly is no disgrace, but was begotten when I

went to marvel at the head of Hun- Hunahpú which was in Pucbal-Chah. So, then, you

must not sacrifice me, oh, messengers!” said the young girl, turning to them.

“And what shall we put in place of your heart? Your father told us: ‘Bring the

heart, return before the lords, do your duty, all working together, bring it in the gourd

quickly, and put the heart in the bottom of the gourd.’ Perchance, did he not speak to us

so? What shall we put in the gourd? We wish too, that you should not die,” said the


“Very well, but my heart does not belong to them. Neither is your

home here, nor must you let them force you to kill men. Later, in truth, the real criminals

will be at your mercy and I will overcome Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé. So, then,

the blood and only the blood shall be theirs and shall be given to them. Neither shall my

heart be burned before them. Gather the product of this tree,” said the maiden.

The red sap gushing forth from the tree fell in the gourd and with it they made a ball

which glistened and took the shape of a heart. The tree gave forth sap similar to blood,

with the appearance of real blood. Then the blood, or that is to say the sap of the red

tree, clotted, and formed a very bright coating inside the gourd, like clotted blood;

meanwhile the tree glowed at the work of the maiden. It was called the “red tree of

cochineal,” but [since then] it has taken the name of Blood Tree because its sap is

called Blood.

“There on earth you shall be beloved and you shall have all that

belongs to you,” said the maiden to the owls.

“Very well, girl. We shall go

there, we go up to serve you; you, continue on your way, while we go to present the sap,

instead of your heart, to the lords,” said the messengers.

When they arrived in

the presence of the lords, all were waiting.

“You have finished?” asked


“All is finished, my lords. Here in the bottom of the gourd is

the heart.” “Very well. Let us see,” exclaimed Hun-Camé. And grasping

it with his fingers he raised it, the shell broke and the blood flowed bright red in


“Stir up the fire and put it on the coals,” said


As soon as they threw it on the fire, the men of Xibalba began to

sniff and drawing near to it, they found the fragrance of the heart very sweet.


as they sat deep in thought, the owls, the maiden’s servants, left, and flew like a flock of

birds from the abyss toward earth and the four became her servants.

In this manner

the Lords of Xibalba were defeated. All were tricked by the maiden.

II. Chapter4

Well, then, Hunbatz and Hunchouén were with their mother when the woman

called Xquic arrived.

When the woman Xquic came before the mother of Hunbatz and

Hunchouén, she carried her sons in her belly and it was not long before

Hunahpú and Xbalanqué, as they were called, were to be born.

When the

woman came to the old lady, she said to her: “I have come, mother; I am your

daughter-in-law and your daughter, mother.” She said this when she entered the

grandmother’s house.

“Where did you come from? Where are my sons? Did they,

perchance, not die in Xibalba? Do you not see these two who remain, their descendants and

blood, and are called Hunbatz and Hunchouén. Go from here! Get out!” the old

lady screamed at the girl.

“Nevertheless, it is true that I am your

daughter-in-law; I have been for a long time. I belong to Hun-Hunahpú. They live in

what I carry, Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú are not dead; they will return to

show themselves clearly, my mother-in-law. And you shall soon see their image in what I

bring to you,” she said to the old woman.

Then Hunbatz and Hunchouén

became angry. They did nothing but play the flute and sing, paint, and sculpture all day

long and were the consolation of the old woman.

Then the old woman said: “I do

not wish you to be my daughter-in-law, because what you bear in your womb is fruit of your

disgrace. Furthermore, you are an impostor; my sons of whom you speak are already


Presently the grandmother added: “This, that I tell you is the

truth; but well, it is all right, you are my daughter-in-law, according to what I have

heard. Go, then, bring the food for those who must be fed. Go and gather a large net [full

of corn] and return at once, since you are my daughter-in-law, according to what I

hear,” she said to the girl.

“Very well,” the girl replied, and she

went at once to the cornfield which Hunbatz and Hunchouén had planted. They had

opened the road and the girl took it and so came to the cornfield; but she found only one

stalk of corn; there were not two or three, and when she saw that there was only one stalk

with an ear on it, the girl became very anxious.

“Ah, sinner that I am,

unfortunate me! Where must I go to get a net full of corn as she told me to do?” she

exclaimed. Immediately she began to beg Chahal for the food which she had to get and must

take back.

“Xtoh, Xcanil, Xcacau, you who cook the corn; and you, Chahal,

guardian of the food of Hunbatz and Hunchouén!” said the girl. And then she

seized the beards, the red silk of the ears of corn and pulled them off without picking the

ear. Then she arranged the silk in the net like ears of corn and the large net was

completely filled.

The girl returned immediately; the animals of the field went along

carrying the net, and when they arrived, they went to put the load in a corner of the house,

as though she might have carried it. The old woman came and when she saw the corn in the

large net she exclaimed: “Where have you brought all this corn from? Did you,

perchance, take all the corn in our field and bring it all in? I shall go at once to

see,” said the old woman, and she set out on the road to the cornfield. But the one

stalk of corn was still standing there, and she saw too where the net had been at the foot

of the stalk. The old woman quickly returned to her house and said to the girl:

“This is proof enough that you are really my daughter-in-law. I shall now see your

little ones, those whom you carry and who also are to be soothsayers,” she said to the


II. Chapter 5

Now we shall tell of the birth of Hunahpú and

Xbalanqué. Here, then, we shall tell about their birth.

When the day of their

birth arrived, the girl named Xquic gave birth; but the grandmother did not see them when

they were born. Instantly the two boys called Hunahpú and Xbalanqué were born.

There in the wood they were born.

Then they came to the house, but they could not


“Go throw them out! “said the old woman, “because truly they

cry very much.” Then they went and put them on an ant-hill. There they slept

peacefully. Then they took them from the ant-hill and laid them on thistles.


what Hunbatz and Hunchouén wished was that they [Hunahpú and Xbalanqué]

would die there on the ant-hill, or on the thistles. They wished this because of the hatred

and envy Hunbatz and Hunchouén felt for them.

At first they refused to receive

their younger brothers in the house; they would not recognize them and so they were brought

up in the fields.

Hunbatz and Hunchouén were great musicians and singers; they

had grown up in the midst of trials and want and they had had much trouble, but they became

very wise. They were flautists, singers, painters, and carvers; all of this they knew how to


They had heard about their birth and knew also that they were the successors of

their parents, those who went to Xibalba and died there. Hunbatz and Hunchouén were

diviners, and in their hearts they knew everything concerning the birth of their two younger

brothers. Nevertheless, because they were envious, they did not show their wisdom, and their

hearts were filled with bad will for them, although Hunahpú and Xbalanqué had

not offended them in any way.

These two [last] did nothing all day long but shoot

their blowguns; they were not loved by their grandmother, nor by Hunbatz, nor by

Hunchouén; they were given nothing to eat; only when the meal was ended and Hunbatz

and Hunchouén had already eaten, then the younger brothers came to eat. But they did

not become angry, nor did they become vexed, but suffered silently, because they knew their

rank, and they understood everything clearly. They brought their birds when they came, and

Hunbatz and Hunchouén ate them without giving anything to either of the two,

Hunahpú and Xbalanqué.

The only thing that Hunbatz and Hunchouén

did was to play the flute and sing.

And once when Hunahpú and Xbalanqué

came without bringing any bird at all, they went into the house and their grandmother became


“Why did you bring no birds?” she said to Hunahpú and


And they answered: “What happened, grandmother, is that our

birds were caught in the tree and we could not climb up to get them, dear grandmother. If

our elder brothers so wish, let them come with us to bring the birds down,” they


“Very well,” the older brothers answered, “we shall go with you

at dawn.”

The two younger brothers then discussed the way to overcome Hunbatz

and Hunchouén. “We shall only change their nature, their appearance; and so let

our word be fulfilled, for all the suffering that they have caused us. They wanted us to

die, that we might be lost, we, their younger brothers. In their hearts they really believe

that we have come to be their servants.

For these reasons we shall overcome them and

teach them a lesson.” Thus they spoke.

Then they went toward the foot of the

tree called Canté. They were accompanied by their two elder brothers and they were

shooting their blowguns. It was not possible to count the birds which sang in the tree, and

their elder brothers marveled to see so many birds. There were birds, but not one fell at

the foot of the tree.

“Our birds do not fall to the ground. Go and fetch them

down,” they said to their elder brothers.

“Very well,” the latter

answered. And then they climbed the tree; but the tree became larger and the trunk swelled.

Then Hunbatz and Hunchouén wanted to come down but they could not come down from the

top of the tree.

Then they called from the treetop. “What has happened to us,

our brothers? Unfortunate we.

This tree frightens us only to look at it. Oh, our

brothers!” they called from the treetop. And Hunahpú and Xbalanqué

answered: “Loosen your breechclouts; tie them below your stomach, leaving the long ends

hanging and pull these from behind, and in this way you can walk easily.” Thus said the

younger brothers.

“Very well,” they answered, pulling the ends of their

belts back, but instantly these were changed into tails and they took on the appearance of

monkeys. Then they hopped over the branches of the trees, among the great woods and little

woods, and they buried themselves in the forest, making faces and swinging in the branches

of the trees.

In this way Hunbatz and Hunchouén were overcome by

Hunahpú and Xbalanqué; and only because of their magic could they have done


Then they returned to their home, and when they arrived they spoke to their

grandmother and their mother, and said to them: “What could it be, grandmother, that

has happened to our elder brothers, that suddenly their faces turned into the faces of

animals?” So they said.

“If you have done any harm to your elder brothers,

you have hurt me and have filled me with sadness. Do not do such a thing to your brothers,

oh, my children,” said the old woman to Hunahpú and Xbalanqué.


they replied to their grandmother: “Do not grieve, our grandmother. You shall see our

brother’s faces again; they shall return, but it will be a difficult trial for you,

grandmother. Be careful that you do not laugh at them. And now, let us cast our lot,”

they said.

Immediately they began to play their flutes, playing the song of

Hunahpú-Qoy. Then they sang, playing the flute and drum, picking up their flutes and

their drum. Afterward they sat down close to their grandmother and continued playing and

calling back [their brothers] with music and song, intoning the song, called


At last, Hunbatz and Hunchouén came and began to dance;

but when the old woman saw their ugly faces, she began to laugh, unable to control her

laughter, and they went away at once and she did not see their faces again.


you see, grandmother! They have gone to the forest. What have you done, grandmother of ours?

We may make this trial but four times and only three are left. Let us call them [back again]

with flute and with song, but you, try to control your laughter. Let the trial begin!”

said Hunahpú and Xbalanqué.

Immediately they began again to play.

Hunbatz and Hunchouén returned dancing, and came as far as the center of the court of

the house grimacing and provoking their grandmother to laughter, until finally she broke

into loud laughter. They were really very amusing with their monkey faces, their broad

bottoms, their narrow tails, and the hole of their stomach. all of which made the old woman


Again the [elder brothers] went back to the woods. And Hunahpú and

Xbalanqué said: “And now what shall we do, grandmother? We shall try once again,

this third time.”

They played the flute again, and the monkeys returned dancing.

The grandmother contained her laughter. Then they went up over the kitchen; their eyes gave

off a red light; they drew away and scrubbed their noses and frightened each other with the

faces they made.

And as the grandmother saw all of this, she burst into violent

laughter; and they did not see the faces [of the elder brothers] again because of the old

woman’s laughter.

“Only once more shall we call them, grandmother, so that they

shall come for the fourth time,” said the boys. They began again, then, to play the

flute, but [their brothers] did not return the fourth time, instead they fled into the

forest as quickly as they could.

The boys said to their grandmother: “We have

done everything possible, dear grandmother; they came once, then we tried to call them

again. But do not grieve, here we are, your grandchildren; you must look to us, oh, our

mother! Oh, our grandmother! to remind you of our elder brothers, those who were called and

have the names of Hunbatz and Hunchouén,” said Hunahpú and


They were invoked by the musicians and singers, and by the old

people. The painters and craftsmen also invoked them in days gone by. But they were changed

into animals and became monkeys because they became arrogant and abused their brothers.

In this way they were disgraced; this was their loss, in this way Hunbatz and

Hunchouén were overcome and became animals. They had always lived in their home; they

were musicians and singers and also did great things when they lived with their grandmother

and with their mother.

II. Chapter 6

Then they [Hunahpú] and

[Xbalanqué] began to work, in order to be well thought of by their grandmother and

their mother. The first thing they made was the cornfield. “We are going to plant the

cornfield, grandmother and mother,” they said. “Do not grieve; here we are, your

grandchildren, we who shall take the place of our brothers,” said Hunahpú and


At once they took their axes, their picks, and their wooden hoes

and went, each carrying his blowgun on his shoulder. As they left the house they asked their

grandmother to bring them their midday meal.

“At midday, come and bring our

food, grandmother,” they said.

“Very well, my grandsons,” the old

woman replied.

Soon they came to the field. And as they plunged the pick into the

earth, it worked the earth; it did the work alone.

In the same way they put the ax in

the trunks of the trees and in the branches, and instantly they fell and all the trees and

vines were lying on the ground. The trees fell quickly, with only one stroke of the ax.

The pick also dug a great deal. One could not count the thistles and brambles which had

been felled with one blow of the pick. Neither was it possible to tell what it had dug and

broken up, in all the large and small woods.

And having taught an animal, called

Xmucur, they had it climb to the top of a large tree and Hunahpú and Xbalanqué

said to it: “Watch for our grandmother to come with our food, and as soon as she comes,

begin at once to sing, and we shall seize the pick and the ax.”


well,” Xmucur answered.

And they began to shoot with their blowguns; certainly

they did none of the work of clearing and cultivating. A little later, the dove sang, and

they ran quickly, grabbing the pick and ax.

And one of them covered his head and also

deliberately covered his hands With earth and in the same way smeared his face to look like

a real laborer, and the other purposely threw splinters of wood over his head as though he

really had been cutting the trees.

Thus their grandmother saw them. They ate at once,

but they had not really done the work of tilling the soil, and without deserving it they

were given their midday meal. After a while, they went home.

“We are really

tired, grandmother,” they said upon arriving, stretching their legs and arms before

her, but without reason.

They returned the following day, and upon arriving at the

field, they found that all the trees and vines were standing again and that the brambles and

thistles had become entangled again.

“Who has played this trick on us;”

they said. “No doubt all the small and large animals did it, the puma, the jaguar, the

deer, the rabbit, the mountain-cat, the coyote, the wild boar, the coati, the small birds,

the large birds; they, it was, who did it; in a single night, they did it.” They began

again to prepare the field and to prepare the soil and cut the trees. They talked over what

they would have to do with the trees which they had cut, and the weeds which they had pulled


“Now we shall watch over our cornfield; perhaps we can surprise those who

come to do all of this damage,” they said, talking it over together. And later they

returned home.

“What do you think of it, grandmother? They have made fun of us.

Our field, which we had worked, has been turned into a field of stubble and a thick woods.

Thus we found it, when we got there, a little while ago, grandmother,” they said to her

and to their mother. “But we shall return there and watch over it, because it is not

right that they do such things to us,” they said.

Then they dressed and returned

at once to their field of cut trees, and there they hid themselves, stealthily, in the


Then all the animals gathered again; one of each kind came with the other

small and large animals. It was just midnight when they came, all talking as they came,

saying in their own language: “Rise up, trees! Rise up, vines!”

So they

spoke when they came and gathered under the trees, under the vines, and they came closer

until they appeared before the eyes [of Hunahpú and Xbalanqué].


puma and the jaguar were the first, and [Hunahpú and Xbalanqué] wanted to

seize them, but [the animals] did not let them. Then the deer and the rabbit came close. and

the only parts of them which they could seize were their tails, only these, they pulled out.

The tall of the deer remained in their hands, and for this reason the deer and the rabbit

have short tails.

Neither the mountain-cat, the coyote, the wild boar, nor the coati

fell into their hands. All the animals passed before Hunahpú and Xbalanqué,

who were furious because they could not catch them.

But, finally, another animal came

hopping along, and this one which was the rat, [which] they seized instantly, and wrapped

him in a cloth. Then when they had caught him, they squeezed his head and tried to choke

him, and they burned his tall in the fire, and for that reason the rat’s tail has no hair.

So, too, the boys, Hunahpú and Xbalanqué, tried to poke at his eyes.

The rat said: “I must not die at your hands. And neither is it your business to

plant the cornfield.”

“What are you telling us now?” the boys asked

the rat.

“Loosen me a little, for I have something which I wish to tell you, and

I shall tell you immediately, but first give me something to eat,” said the rat.

“We will give you food afterward, but first speak,” they answered.

“Very well. Do you know, then, that the property of your parents Hun-Hunahpú

and Vucub- Hunahpú, as they were called, those who died in Xibalba, or rather the

gear with which they played ball, has remained and is hanging from the roof of the house:

the ring, the gloves, and the ball? Nevertheless, your grandmother does not want to show

them to you for it was on account of these things that your parents died.”

“Are you sure of that?” said the boys to the rat. And they were very happy when

they heard about the rubber ball. And as the rat had now talked, they showed the rat what

his food would be.

“This shall be your food: corn, chili-seeds, beans, pataxte,

cacao; all this belongs to you, and should there be anything stored away or forgotten, it

shall be yours also. Eat it,” Hunahpú and Xbalanqué said to the rat.

“Wonderful, boys,” he said; “but what shall I tell your grandmother if she

sees me?”

“Do not worry, because we are here and shall know what to say to

our grandmother. Let us go! We shall go quickly to the comer of the house, go at once to

where the things hang; we shall be looking at the garret of the house and paying attention

to our food,” they said to the rat.

And having arranged it thus, during the

night after talking together, Hunahpú and Xbalanqué arrived at midday. When

they arrived, they brought the rat with them, but they did not show it; one of them went

directly into the house, and the other went to the corner and there let the rat climb up


Immediately they asked their grandmother for food. “Prepare our food,

we wish a chilisauce, grandmother,” they said. And at once the food was prepared for

them and a plate of broth was put before them.

But this was only to deceive their

grandmother and their mother. And having dried up the water which was in the water jar, they

said, “We are really dying of thirst; go and bring us a drink,” they said to their


“Good,” she said and went. Then they began to eat, but they

were not really hungry; it was only a trick. They saw then by means of their plate of chile

how the rat went rapidly toward the ball which was suspended from the roof of the house. On

seeing this in their chile-sauce, they sent to the river a certain xan, an animal called xan

which is like a mosquito, to puncture the side of their grandmother’s water jar, and

although she tried to stop the water which ran out, she could not close the hole made in the


“What is the matter with our grandmother? Our mouths are dry, with thirst,

we are dying of thirst,” they said to their mother and they sent her out, Immediately

the rat went to cut [the cord which held] the ball and it fell from the garret of the house

together with the ring and the gloves and the leather pads. The boys seized them and ran

quickly to hide them on the road which led to the ball-court.

After this they went to

the river to join their grandmother and their mother, who were busily trying to stop the

hole in the water jar. And arriving With their blowgun, they said when they came to the

river: “What are you doing? We got tired [of waiting] and we came,” they said.

“Look at the hole in my jar which I cannot stop, said the grandmother. Instantly

they stopped it, and together they returned, the two walking before their grandmother.

And in this way the ball was found.

II. Chapter 7

The boys returned

happily to the ball-court to play; they were playing alone a long time and cleared the court

where their parents had played.

And the Lords of Xibalba, hearing them, said:

“Who are they who play again over our heads and disturb us with the noise they make?

Perchance Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú did not die, those who wished to exalt

themselves before us? Go at once and call them!”

So said Hun-Camé,

Vucub-Camé, and all the lords. And sending the messengers to call them, they said to

them: “Go and tell them when you get there: ‘Let them come,’ the lords have said; we

wish to play ball with them here, within seven days we wish to play; tell them so when you

arrive,” thus said the lords. This was the command which they gave to the


And they came then by the wide road which the boys had made that led

directly to their house; by it the messengers arrived directly before [the boys’]

grandmother. They were eating when the messengers from Xibalba arrived.


them to come, without fail, the lords commanded,” said the messengers of Xibalba. And

the messengers of Xibalba indicated the day: “Within seven days they will await

them,” they said to Xmucané.

“It is well, messengers; they will

go,” the old woman answered. And the messengers set out on their return.


the old woman’s heart was filled with anxiety. “Who shall I send to call my

grandchildren? Was it not in this same way that the messengers of Xibalba came before, when

they came to take the [boys’] parents?” said the grandmother, entering her house, alone

and grieving.

And immediately a louse fell into her lap. She seized it and put it in

the palm of her hand, and the louse wriggled and began to walk.

“My child, would

you like that I sent you away to call my grandchildren from the ball-court?” she said

to the louse. “‘Messengers have come to your grandmother,’ tell them; ‘come within

seven days, tell them to come, said the messengers of Xibalba; thus your grandmother told me

to say,'” thus she told the louse.

At once the louse swaggered off. Sitting on

the road was a boy called Tamazul, or the toad.

“Where are you going?” the

toad said to the louse.

“I am carrying a message in my stomach. I go to find the

boys,” said the louse to Tamazul.

“Very well, but I see that you do not go

quickly,” said the toad to the louse. “Do you not want me to swallow you? You

shall see how I run, and so we shall arrive quickly.”

“Very well,” the

louse said to the toad. Immediately the toad swallowed him. And the toad walked a long time,

but without hurrying. Soon he met a large snake, called Zaquicaz.

“Where are you

going, young Tamazul?” said Zaquicaz to the toad.

“I go as a messenger; I

carry a message in my stomach,” said the toad to the snake.

See that you do not

walk quickly. Would I not arrive sooner?” the snake said to the toad.


here,” he said. At once Zaquicaz swallowed the toad. And from then on this was the food

of snakes, who still today swallow toads.

The snake went quickly and having met Vac,

which is a very large bird, the hawk, [the latter] instantly swallowed the snake. Shortly

afterward it arrived at the ball-court. From that time, this has been the food of hawks, who

devour snakes in the fields.

And upon arrival, the hawk perched upon the cornice of

the ball-court where Hunahpú and Xbalanqué were amusing themselves playing

ball. Upon arriving, the hawk began to cry: “Vac-có!

Vac-có!” it said cawing. [“Here is the hawk! Here is the


“Who is screaming? Bring our blowguns!” the boys exclaimed.

And shooting at the hawk, they aimed a pellet at the pupil of the eye and [the hawk]

spiraled to the ground. They ran to seize it and asked: “What do you come to do

here?” they asked the hawk.

“I bring a message in my stomach. First cure my

eye and afterward I shall tell you,” the hawk answered.

“Very well,”

they said, and taking a bit of the rubber of the ball with which they were playing, they put

it in the hawk’s eye. Lotzquic they called it, and instantly the hawk’s eye was perfectly


“Speak, then,” they said to the hawk. And immediately it vomited a

large snake.

“Speak, thou,” they said to the snake.

“Good,” the [snake] said and vomited the toad.

“Where is the

message that you bring?” they asked the toad.

“Herein my stomach is the

message,” answered the toad. And immediately he tried, but could not vomit; his mouth

only filled with spittle but he did not vomit. The boys wanted to hit him then.

“You are a liar, “they said, kicking him in the rump, and the bone of the

haunches gave way.

He tried again, but his mouth only filled with spittle. Then the

boys opened the toad’s mouth and once open, they looked inside of it. The louse was stuck to

the toad’s teeth: it had stayed in its mouth and had not been swallowed, but only pretended

to be swallowed. Thus the toad was tricked, and the kind of food to give it is not known. It

cannot run; and it became the food of the snakes.

“Speak,” they said to the

louse, and then it gave its message. “Your grandmother has said, boys: ‘Go call them;

the messengers of Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé have come to tell them to go to

Xibalba, saying: “They must come here within seven days to play ball with us, and they

must also bring their playing gear, the ball, the rings, the gloves, the leather pads, in

order that they may amuse themselves here,” said the lords. They have really come,’

said your grandmother. That is why I have come. For truly your grandmother said this and she

cries and grieves, for this reason I have come.”

“Is it true?” the

boys asked themselves when they heard this. And running quickly they arrived at their

grandmother’s side; they went only to take their leave of her.

“We are going,

grandmother, we came only to say goodbye. But here will be the sign which we shall leave of

our fate: each of us shall plant a reed, in the middle of the house we shall plant it; if it

dries, this shall be the sign of our death. ‘They are dead!’ you shall say, if it begins to

dry up. But if it sprouts again: ‘They are living!’ you shall say, oh, our grandmother. And

you, mother, do not weep, for here we leave the sign of our fate,” thus they said.

And before going, Hunahpú planted one [reed] and Xbalanqué planted another;

they planted them in the house and not in the field, nor did they plant them in moist soil,

but in dry soil; in the middle of their house, they left them planted.

II. Chapter8

Then they went, each one carrying his blowgun, and went down in the direction of


They descended the steps quickly and passed between several streams and

ravines. They passed among some birds and these birds were called Molay.

They also

passed over a river of corruption, and over a river of blood, where they would be destroyed,

so the people of Xibalba thought; but they did not touch it with their feet, instead they

crossed it on their blowguns.

They went on from there, and came to a crossway of four

roads. They knew very well which were the roads to Xibalba; the black road, the white road,

the red road, and the green road. So, then, they sent an animal called Xan. It was to go to

gather information which they wanted.

“Sting them, one by one; first sting the

one seated in the first place and then sting all of them, since this is the part you must

play: to suck the blood of the men on the roads,” they said to the mosquito.

“Very well,” answered the mosquito. And immediately it flew on to the dark road

and went directly toward the wooden men which were seated first and covered with ornaments.

It stung the first, but this one said nothing; then it stung the next one, it stung the

second, who was seated, but this one said nothing, either.

After that it stung the

third; the third of those seated was Hun-Camé. “Ah!” he exclaimed when it

stung him. “What is this, Hun-Camé? What is it that has stung you? Do you not

know who has stung you? “said the fourth one of the lords, who were seated.

“What is the matter, Vucub-Camé? What has stung you?” said the


“Ah! Ah!” then said Xiquiripat. And Vucub-Camé asked him,

“What has stung you?” and when they stung the sixth who was seated [he cried],


“What is this, Cuchumaquic?” asked Xiquiripat. “What

is it that has stung you?” And the seventh one seated said “Ah” when he was


“What is the matter, Ahalpuh?” said Cuchumaquic. “What has

stung you?” And when it stung him, the eighth of those seated said, “Ah!”

“What is the matter, Ahalcaná?” said Ahalpuh. “What has stung

you?” And when he was stung the ninth of those seated said “Ah!”

“What is this, Chamiabac? “said Ahalcaná. “What has stung

you?” And when the tenth of those seated was stung, he said “Ah!”

“What is the matter, Chamiaholom?” said Chamiabac. “What has stung

you?” And when the eleventh of those seated was stung he said, “Ah!”

“What happened?” said Chamiaholom. “What has stung you?” And when the

twelfth of those seated was stung, he said “Alas!”

“What is this,

Patán?” they said. “What has stung you?” And the thirteenth of those

seated said “Alas!” when he was stung.

“What is the matter,

Quicxic?” said Patán. “What has stung you?” And the fourteenth of

those seated when he was stung said “Alas!”

“What has stung you,

Quicrixcac?” said Quicré.

In this way they told their names, as they all

said them one to the other. So they made themselves known by telling their names, calling

each chief, one by one. And in this manner each of those seated in his comer told his


Not a single one of the names was missed. All told their names when

Hunahpú puffed out a hair of his leg, which was what had stung them. It was really

not a mosquito which stung them which went for Hunahpú and Xbalanqué to hear

the names of all of them.

They [the youths] continued on their way and arrived where

the Lords of Xibalba were.

“Greet the lord, the one who is seated,’ said one in

order to deceive them.

“That is not a lord. it is nothing more than a wooden

figure,” they said, and went on.

Immediately they began to greet them:

“Hail, Hun-Camé! Hail, Vucub-Camé! Hail, Xiquiripat! Hail,

Cuchumaquic! Hail, Ahalpuh! Hail, Ahalcaná! Hail, Chamiabac! Hail, Chamiaholom! Hail,

Quicxic! Hail, Patán! Hail, Quicré! Hail, Quicrixcac!” they said coming

before them. And looking in their faces, they spoke the name of all, without missing the

name of a single one of them.

But what the lords wished was that they should not

discover their names.

“Sit here,” they said, hoping that they would sit in

the seat [which they indicated].

“That is not a seat for us; it is only a hot

stone,” said Hunahpú and Xbalanqué, and they [the Lords of Xibalba] could

not overcome them.

“Very well, go to that house,” the lords said. And they

[the youths] went on and entered the House of Gloom. And neither there were they


II. Chapter 9

This was the first test of Xibalba. The Lords of

Xibalba thought that [the boys’] entrance there would be the beginning of their downfall.

After a while [the boys] entered the House of Gloom; immediately lighted sticks of fat pine

were given them and the messengers of Hun- Camé also took a cigar to each one.

“‘These are their pine sticks,’ said the lord; ‘they must return them at dawn,

tomorrow, together with the cigars, and you must bring them back whole,’ said the

lord.” So said the messengers when they arrived.

“Very well,” [the

boys] replied. But they really did not [light] the sticks of pine, instead they put a

red-colored thing in place of them, or some feathers from the tail of the macaw, which to

the night watches looked like lighted pine sticks. And as for the cigars, they attached

fireflies to their end.

All night [everybody] thought they were defeated. “They

are lost,” said the night watchmen.

But the pine sticks had not been burned and

looked the same, and the cigars had not been lighted and looked the same as before.

They went to tell the lords.

“How is this? Whence have they come? Who

conceived them? Who gave birth to them? This really troubles us, because it is not well what

they do. Their faces are strange, and strange is their conduct.” they said to each


Soon all the lords summoned [the boys].

“Eh! Let us play ball,

boys!” they said. At the same time they were questioned by Hun-Camé and


“Where did you come from? Tell us, boys!” said the Lords

of Xibalba.

“Who knows whence we came! We do not know,” they said, and

nothing more.

“Very well. Let us play ball, boys,” said the Lords of


“Good,” they replied.

“We shall use our ball,”

said the Lords of Xibalba.

“By no means, shall you use [your ball], but

ours,” the boys answered.

“Not that one, but ours we shall use,”

insisted the Lords of Xibalba.

“Very well,” said the boys.


us play for a worm, the chil,” said the Lords of Xibalba.

“No, but

instead, the head of the puma shall speak,” said the boys.

“Not that,”

said those of Xibalba.

“Very well,” said Hunahpú.

Then the

Lords of Xibalba seized the ball; they threw it directly at the ring of Hunahpú.

Immediately, while those of Xibalba grasped the handle of the knife of flint, the ball

rebounded and bounced all around the floor of the ball-court.

“What is

this?” exclaimed Hunahpú and Xbalanqué. “You wish to kill us?

Perchance you did not send to call us? And your own messengers did not come? In truth,

unfortunate are we! We shall leave at once,” the boys said to them.

This was

exactly what those of Xibalba wanted to have happen to the boys, that they would die

immediately, right there in the ball-court and thus they would be overcome. But it did not

happen thus, and it was the Lords of Xibalba who were defeated by the boys.


not leave, boys, let us go on playing ball, but we shall use your ball,” they said to

the boys.

“Very well,” the boys answered and then they drove their ball

through [the ring of Xibalba], and with this the game ended.

And offended by their

defeat, the men of Xibalba immediately said: “What shall we do in order to overcome

them?” And turning to the boys they said to them: “Go gather and bring us, early

tomorrow morning, four gourds of flowers.” So said the men of Xibalba to the boys.

“Very well. And what kind of flowers?” they asked the men of Xibalba.

“A branch of red chiptlín, a branch of white chiptlín, a

branch of yellow chiptlín, and a branch of carinimac,” said the

men of Xibalba.

“Very well,” replied the boys.

Thus the talk ended;

equally strong and vigorous were the words of the boys. And their hearts were calm when they

gave themselves up to be overcome.

The Lords of Xibalba were happy, thinking that

they had already defeated them.

“This has turned out well for us. First they

must cut them [the flowers],” said the Lords of Xibalba. “Where shall they go to

get the flowers?” they said to themselves.

“Surely you will give us our

flowers tomorrow early; go, then, to cut them,” the Lords of Xibalba said to

Hunahpú and Xbalanqué.

“Very well,” they replied. “At

dawn we shall play ball again,” they said upon leaving.

And immediately the boys

entered the House of Knives, the second place of torture in Xibalba. And what the lords

wanted was that they would be cut to pieces by the knives, and would be quickly killed; that

is what they Wished in their hearts.

But the [boys] did not die. They spoke at once

to the knives and said to them: “Yours shall be the flesh of all the animals,”

they said to the knives. And they did not move again, but all the knives were quiet.

Thus they passed the night in the House of Knives, and calling all the ants, they said to

them: “Come, Cutting Ants, come, zompopos, and all of you go at once, go and

bring all the kinds of flowers that we must cut for the lords.”


well,” they said, and all the ants went to bring the flowers from the gardens of Hun-

Camé and Vucub-Camé.

Previously [the lords] had warned the guards of

the flowers of Xibalba: “Take care of our flowers, do not let them be taken by the boys

who shall come to cut them. But how could [the boys] see and cut the flowers? Not at all.

Watch, then, all night!”

“Very well,” they answered. But the guards of

the garden heard nothing. Needlessly they shouted up into the branches of the trees in the

garden. There they were all night, repeating their same shouts and songs.

Ixpurpuvec! Ixpurpuvec!” one shouted.

Puhuyú! Puhuyú!” the other answered.

Puhuyú was the name of the two who watched the garden of Hun-Camé and


But they did not notice the ants who were robbing them of what

they were guarding, turning around and moving here and there, cutting the flowers, climbing

the trees to cut the flowers, and gathering them from the ground at the foot of the


Meanwhile the guards went on crying, and they did not feel the teeth which

were cutting their tails and their wings.

And thus the ants carried, between their

teeth, the flowers which they took down, and gathering them from the ground, they went on

carrying them with their teeth.

Quickly they filled the four gourds with flowers,

which were moist [with dew] when it dawned. Immediately the messengers arrived to get them.

“‘Tell them to come,’ the lord has said, ‘and bring here instantly what they have

cut,'” they said to the boys.

“Very well,” the [boys] answered. And

carrying the flowers in the four gourds, they went, and when they arrived before the lord

[of Xibalba] and the other lords, it was lovely to see the flowers they had brought. And in

this way the Lords of Xibalba were overcome.

The boys had only sent the ants [to cut

the flowers], and in a night the ants cut them and put them in the gourds.


the Lords of Xibalba paled and their faces became livid because of the flowers. They sent at

once for the guardians of the flowers. “Why did you permit them to steal our flowers?

These which we see here are our flowers,” they said to the guardians.


noticed nothing, my lord. Our tails also suffered,” they answered. And then the [lords]

tore at their mouths as a punishment for having let that which was under their care be


Thus were Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé defeated by Hunahpú

and Xbalanqué. And this was the beginning of their deeds. From that time the mouth of

the owl is divided, cleft as it is today.

Immediately they went down to play ball,

and also they played several tie-matches. Then they finished playing and agreed to play

again the following day at dawn. So said the Lords of Xibalba.

“It is

well,” said the boys upon finishing.

II. Chapter 10

Afterward they

entered the House of Cold. It is impossible to describe how cold it was. The house was full

of hail; it was the mansion of cold. Soon, however, the cold was ended because with [a fire

of] old logs the boys made the cold disappear.

That is why they did not die; they

were still alive when it dawned. Surely what the Lords of Xibalba wanted was that they would

die; but it was not thus, and when it dawned, they were still full of health, and they went

out again, when the messengers came to get them.

“How is this? They are not dead

yet?” said the Lords of Xibalba. They were amazed to see the deeds of Hunahpú

and Xbalanqué.

Presently the boys [entered] the House of Jaguars. The house

was full of jaguars. “Do not bite us! Here is what belongs to you,” [the boys]

said to the jaguars. And quickly they threw some bones to the animals, which pounced upon

the bones.

“Now surely they are finished. Now already they have eaten their own

entrails. At last they have given themselves up. Now their bones have been broken, “so

said the guards, all happy because of this.

But they [the boys] did not die. As

usual, well and healthy, they came out of the House of Jaguars.

“What kind of

people are they? Where did they come from?” said all the Lords of Xibalba.

Presently they [the boys] entered into the midst of fire in the House of Fire, inside

which there was only fire; but they were not burned. Only the coals and the wood burned.

And, as usual, they were well when it dawned. But what they [the Lords of Xibalba] wished

was that [the boys] would die rapidly, where they had been. Nevertheless, it did not happen

thus, which disheartened the Lords of Xibalba.

Then they put them into the House of

Bats. There was nothing but bats inside this house, the house of Camazotz, a large animal,

whose weapons for killing were like a dry point, and instantly those who came into their

presence perished.

They [the boys] were in there, then, but they slept inside their

blowguns. And they were not bitten by those who were in the house. Nevertheless, one of them

had to give up because of another Camazotz that came from the sky, and made him come into


The bats were assembled in council all night, and flew about:

Quilitz, quilitz,” they said: So they were saying all night. They

stopped for a little while, however, and they did not move and were pressed against the end

of one of the blowguns.

Then Xbalanqué said to Hunahpú: “Look you,

has it begun already to get light?” “Maybe so. I am going to see,”

[Hunahpú] answered.

And as he wished very much to look out of the mouth of the

blowgun, and wished to see if it had dawned, instantly Camazotz cut off his head and the

body of Hunahpú was decapitated.

Xbalanqué asked again: “Has it

not yet dawned?” But Hunahpú did not move. “Where have you gone,

Hunahpú? What have you done?” But he did not move, and remained silent.

Then Xbalanqué felt concerned and exclaimed: “Unfortunate are we. We are

completely undone.”

They went immediately to hang the head [of Hunahpú]

in the ball-court by special order of Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé, and all the

people of Xibalba rejoiced for what had happened to the head of Hunahpú.

II. Chapter 11

Immediately he [Xbalanqué] called all the animals, the

coati, the wild boar, all the animals small and large, during the night, and at dawn he

asked them what their food was.

“What does each of you eat? For I have called

you so that you may choose your food,” said Xbalanqué to them.


well,” they answered. And immediately each went to take his [own food] and they all

went together. Some went to take rotten things; others went to take grasses; others went to

get stones. Others went to gather earth. Varied was the food of the [small] animals and of

the large animals.

Behind them the turtle was lingering, it came waddling along to

take its food. And reaching at the end [of Hunahpú’s body] it assumed the form of the

head of Hunahpú, and instantly the eyes were fashioned.

Many soothsayers came,

then, from heaven. The Heart of Heaven, Huracán, came to soar over the House of


It was not easy to finish making the face, but it turned out very well; the

hair had a handsome appearance and [the head] could also speak.

But as it was about

to dawn and the horizon reddened: “Make it dark again, old one!” the buzzard was


“Very well, said the old one, and instantly the old one darkened [the

sky]. “Now the buzzard has darkened it,” the people say nowadays.

And so,

during the cool of dawn, the [Hunahpú] began his existence.

“Will it be

good?” they said. “Will it turn out to look like Hunahpú?”

“It is very good,” they answered. And really it seemed that the skull had

changed itself back into a real head.

Then they [the two boys] talked among

themselves and agreed: “Do not play ball; only pretend to play; I shall do everything

alone,” said Xbalanqué.

At once he gave his orders to a rabbit: “Go

and take your place over the ball-court; stay there within the oak grove,” the rabbit

was told by Xbalanqué; “when the ball comes to you, run out immediately, and I

shall do the rest,” the rabbit was told, when they gave him these instructions during

the night.

Presently day broke and the two boys were well and healthy. Then they went

down to play ball. The head of Hunahpú was suspended over the ball-court.

“We have triumphed! [said the Lords of Xibalba].You worked your own destruction, you

have delivered yourselves,” they said. In this way they annoyed Hunahpú.

“Hit his head with the ball,” they said. But they did not bother him with it;

he paid no attention to it.

Then the Lords of Xibalba threw out the ball.

Xbalanqué went out to get it; the ball was going straight to the ring, but it

stopped, bounced, and passed quickly over the ball-court and with a jump went toward the oak


Instantly the rabbit ran out and went hopping; and the Lords of Xibalba ran

after it. They went, making noise and shouting after the rabbit. It ended by all of the

Lords of Xibalba going.

At once Xbalanqué took possession of the head of

Hunahpú; and taking the turtle he went to suspend it over the ball-court. And that

head was actually the head of Hunahpú and the two boys were very happy.


of Xibalba ran, then, to find the ball and having found it between the oaks, called them,

saying: “Come here. Here is the ball. We found it,” they said, and they brought


When the Lords of Xibalba returned, they exclaimed, “What is this we


Then they began to play again. Both of them tied.


Xbalanqué threw a stone at the turtle, which came to the ground and fell in the

ballcourt, breaking into a thousand pieces like seeds, before the lords.

“Who of

you shall go to find it? Where is the one who shall go to bring it?” said the Lords of


And so were the Lords of Xibalba overcome by Hunahpú and

Xbalanqué. These two suffered great hardships, but they did not die despite all that

was done to them.

II. Chapter 12

Here is the account of the death of

Hunahpú and Xbalanqué. Now we shall tell of the way they died.


been forewarned of all the suffering which the [Lords of Xibalba] wished to impose upon

them, they did not die of the tortures of Xibalba, nor were they overcome by all the fierce

animals which were in Xibalba.

Afterward they sent for two soothsayers who were like

prophets; they were called Xulú and Pacam and were diviners, and they said unto


“You shall be questioned by the Lords of Xibalba about our deaths, for

which they are planning and preparing because of the fact that we have not died, nor have

they been able to overcome us, nor have we perished under their torments, nor have the

animals attacked us.

We have the presentiment in our hearts that they shall kill us

by burning us. All the people of Xibalba have assembled, but the truth is, that we shall not

die. Here, then, you have our instructions as to what you must say:

“If they

should come to consult you about our death and that we may be sacrificed, what shall you say

then, Xulú and Pacam? If they ask you: ‘Will it not be good to throw their bones into

the ravine?’ ‘No, it would not be well,’ tell them, ‘because they would be brought to life

again, afterward!’ If they ask you: ‘Would it not be good to hang them from the trees?’ you

shall answer: ‘By no means would it be well, because then you shall see their faces again.’

And when for the third time they ask you: ‘Would it be good to throw their bones into the

river?’ If you were asked all the above by them, you should answer: ‘It would be well if

they were to die that way; then it would be well to crush their bones on a grinding stone,

as corn meal is ground; let each one be ground [separately]; throw them into the river

immediately, there where the spring gushes forth, in order that they may be carried away

among all the small and large hills.’ Thus you shall answer them when the plan which we have

advised you is put into practice,” said Hunahpú and Xbalanqué. And when

they [the boys] took leave of them, they already knew about their approaching death.

They made then, a great bonfire, a kind of oven; the men of Xibalba made it and filled it

with thick branches.

Shortly afterward the messengers arrived who had to accompany

[the boys], the messengers of Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé.

“‘Tell them

to come. Go and get the boys; go there so that they may know we are going to burn them.’

This the lords said, oh, boys!” the messengers exclaimed.

“It is

well,” they answered. And setting out quickly, they arrived near the bonfire. There

[the Lords of Xibalba] wanted to force the boys to play a mocking game with them.

“Let us drink our chicha and fly four times, each one [over the bonfire]

boys!” was said to them by Hun-Camé.

“Do not try to deceive

us,”[the boys] answered. “Perchance, we do not know about our death, oh lords! And

that this is what awaits us here? “And embracing each other, face to face, they both

stretched out their arms, bent toward the ground and jumped into the bonfire, and thus the

two died together.

All those of Xibalba were filled with joy, shouting and whistling

they exclaimed: “Now we have overcome them. At last they have given themselves


Immediately they called Xulú and Pacam, to whom they [the boys] had

given their instructions, and asked them what they must do with their bones, as they [the

boys] had foretold. Those of Xibalba then ground their bones and went to cast them into the

river. But the bones did not go very far, for settling themselves down at once on the bottom

of the river, they were changed back into handsome boys. And when again they showed

themselves they really had their same old faces.

II. Chapter 13

On the

fifth day they appeared again and were seen in the water by the people. Both had the

appearance of fishmen; when those of Xibalba saw them, after having hunted them all over the


And the following day, two poor men presented themselves with very old-looking

faces and of miserable appearance, [and] ragged clothes, whose countenances did not commend


So they were seen by all those of Xibalba.

And what they did was very

little. They only performed the dance of the puhuy [owl or chumowl], the dance of the

cux [weasel], and the dance of the iboy [armadillo], and they also danced the

xtzul [centipede] and the chitic [that walks on stilts].


they worked many miracles. They burned houses as though they really were burning and

instantly they were as they had been before. Many of those of Xibalba watched them in


Presently they cut themselves into bits; they killed each other; the first

one whom they had killed stretched out as though he were dead, and instantly the other

brought him back to life.

Those of Xibalba looked on in amazement at all they did,

and they performed it, as the beginning of their triumph over those of Xibalba.

Presently word of their dances came to the ears of the lords Hun-Camé and


Upon hearing it they exclaimed: “Who are these two orphans?

Do they really give you so much pleasure?”

“Surely their dances are very

beautiful, and all that they do,” answered he who had brought the news to the


Happy to hear this, the [lords] then sent their messengers to call [the boys]

with flattery. “‘Tell them to come here, tell them to come so that we may see what they

do; that we may admire them and regard them with wonder,’ this the lords said. ‘So you shall

say unto them,'” this was told to the messengers.

They arrived at once before

the dancers and gave them the message of the lords.

“We do not wish to, the

[boys] answered,” because, frankly, we are ashamed. How could we not but be ashamed to

appear in the house of the lords with our ugly countenances, our eyes which are so big, and

our poor appearance? Do you not see that we are nothing more than some [poor] dancers? What

shall we tell our companions in poverty who have come with us and wish to see our dances and

be entertained by them? How could we do our dances before the lords? For that reason, then,

we do not want to go, oh, messengers,” said Hunahpú and Xbalanqué.

Finally, with downcast faces and with reluctance and sorrow they went; but for a while

they did not wish to walk, and the messengers had to beat them in the face many times, when

they led them to the house of the lords.

They arrived, then, before the lords, timid

and with head bowed; they came prostrating themselves, making reverences and humiliating

themselves. They looked feeble, ragged, and their appearance was really that of vagabonds

when they arrived they were questioned immediately about their country and their people;

they also asked them about their mother and their father.

“Where do you come

from?” [the lords] said.

“We do not know, Sir. We do not know the faces of

our mother and father; we were small when they died,” they answered, and did not say

another word.

“All right. Now do [your dances] so that we may admire you. What

do you want? We shall give you pay,” they told them.

“We do not want

anything; but really we are very much afraid,” they said to the lord.


not grieve, do not be afraid. Dance! And do first the part in which you kill yourselves;

burn my house, do all that you know how to do. We shall marvel at you, for that is what our

hearts desire. And afterwards, poor things, we shall give help for your journey,” they

told them.

Then they began to sing and dance. All the people of Xibalba arrived and

gathered together in order to see them. Then they performed the dance of the cux,

they danced the puhuy, and they danced the iboy.

And the lord said to

them: “Cut my dog into pieces and let him be brought back to life by you,” he said

to them.

“Very well,” they answered, and cut the dog into bits. Instantly

they brought him back to life.

The dog was truly full of joy when he was brought back

to life, and wagged his tail when they revived him.

The Lord said to them then:

“Burn my house now!” Thus he said to them. instantly they put fire to the lord’s

house, and although all the lords were assembled together within the house, they were not

burned. Quickly it was whole again, and not for one instant was the house of Hun-Camé


All of the lords were amazed, and in the same way the [boys’] dances gave

them much pleasure.

Then they were told by the lord: “Now kill a man, sacrifice

him, but do not let him die,” he told them.

“Very well,” they

answered. And seizing a man, they quickly sacrificed him, and raising his heart on high,

they held it so that all the lords could see it.

Again Hun-Camé and

Vucub-Camé were amazed. A moment afterward the man was brought back to life by them

[the boys], and his heart was filled with joy when he was revived.

The lords were

astounded. “Sacrifice yourselves now, let us see it! We really like your dances!”

said the lords. “Very well, Sirs,” they answered. And they proceeded to sacrifice

each other. Hunahpú was sacrificed by Xbalanqué; one by one his arms and his

legs were sliced off, his head was cut from his body and carried away; his heart was torn

from his breast and thrown onto the grass. All the Lords of Xibalba were fascinated. They

looked on in wonder, but really it was only the dance of one man; it was


“Get up!” he said, and instantly [Hunahpú]

returned to life. They [the boys] were very happy and the lords were also happy. In truth,

what they did gladdened the hearts of Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé, and the latter

felt as though they themselves were dancing.

Then their hearts were filled with

desire and longing by the dances of Hunahpú and Xbalanqué; and Hun-Camé

and Vucub-Camé gave their commands.

“Do the same with us! Sacrifice

us!” they said. “Cut us into pieces, one by one!” Hun-Camé and

Vucub-Camé said to Hunahpú and Xbalanqué.

“Very well;

afterward you will come back to life again. Perchance, did you not bring us here in order

that we should entertain you, the lords, and your sons, and vassals?” they said to the


And so it happened that they first sacrificed the one, who was the chief and

[Lord of Xibalba], the one called Hun-Camé, king of Xibalba.

And when

Hun-Camé was dead, they overpowered Vucub-Camé, and they did not bring either

of them back to life.

The people of Xibalba fled as soon as they saw that their lords

were dead and sacrificed. In an instant both were sacrificed. And this they [the boys] did

in order to chastize them. Quickly the principal lord was killed. And they did not bring him

back to life.

And another lord humbled himself then, and presented himself before the

dancers. They had not discovered him, nor had they found him. “Have mercy on me!”

he said when they found him.

All the sons and vassals of Xibalba fled to a great

ravine, and all of them were crowded into this narrow, deep place. There they were crowded

together and hordes of ants came and found them and dislodged them from the ravine. In this

way [the ants] drove them to the road, and when they arrived [the people] prostrated

themselves and gave themselves up; they humbled themselves and arrived, grieving.


this way the Lords of Xibalba were overcome. Only by a miracle and by their [own]

transformation could [the boys] have done it.

II. Chapter 14


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


“Hear our names. We shall also tell you the names of our fathers. We

are Hunahpú and Xbalanqué; 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. 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.


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. Not for you shall be the ball game. You shall

spend your time making earthen pots and tubs and stones to grind corn. Only the children of

the thickets and desert shall speak with you. The noble sons, the civilized vassals shall

not consort with you, and they will foresake your presence. 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. They incited to evil, to sin and to discord.

They were

also false in their hearts, black and white at the same time, envious and tyrannical,

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


And this was what Hunahpú and Xbalanqué did.


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.

“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. 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. It could not pronounce his name, this Hunahpú. 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.”

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


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


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