The Book of the People: POPOL VUH. Part II. Chapter 1-14. Translated by Delia Goetz and Sylvanus Griswold Morley from Adrián Recino’s translationCategory: 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.
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
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?”
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.
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
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.
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
“Very well,” said the skull. “Stretch your right hand
“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
“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
“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.
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.
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
“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
“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
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
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
“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,”
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
“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
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
“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!”
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
“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
“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 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.
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
“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.
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.
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
“Who knows whence we came! We do not know,” they said, and
“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.
instead, the head of the puma shall speak,” said the boys.
said those of Xibalba.
“Very well,” said Hunahpú.
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.
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.
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
“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.
well,” said the boys upon finishing.
II. Chapter 10
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
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
“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
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,”
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
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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
“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
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
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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