The Annals of the Cakchiquels. PREFACE, v INTRODUCTION, 9. by Daniel G. Brinton; 1885Category: Books, The Annals of the Cakchiquels
D. G. BRINTON
BRINTON’S LIBRARY OF
ABORIGINAL AMERICAN LITERATURE.
THE ORIGINAL TEXT, WITH A TRANSLATION, NOTES AND
DANIEL G. BRINTON
A number of typographical errors have been maintained
in the current version of this book. They are
and the corrected text is shown in the popup. A list of these
errors is found at the end of this book.
The following less-common characters are found in this book: ă (a with breve), ā (a with macron).
If they do not display correctly, please try changing your font.
The following words were inconsistently spelled:
anté / ante
halebal / halibal
The following words had inconsistent hyphenation:
Ahtzib / Ah-tzib
Ahuchan / Ah-uchan
calpulli / calp-ulli
honeycomb / honey-comb
kikan / ki-kan
The following errors and inconsistencies have been maintained.
Misspelled words and typographical errors:
|29||Second cacao harvest should read Second cacao harvest.|
|30||20. Hunahpu, should read 20. Hunahpu.|
|33||moroever should read moreover|
|47||Dicc. Anon should read Dicc. Anon.|
|48||Pokoman should read Pokomam|
|51||gutteral should read guttural|
|51||magic candle should read magic candle|
|58||Quikab should read Qikab|
|61||agains should read against|
|13, fn. 1||Baschmann should read Buschmann|
|38, fn. 1||Cakchiquel Anon should read Cakchiquel Anon.|
|57, fn. 1||d,the should read d, the|
|88||ahpopamahay. ha should read either ahpopamahay, ha
or ahpopamahay. Ha
|110||Baahol the h was printed upside down in the original.|
|111||youself should read yourself|
|119||without, should read without.|
|119||Caybatz.” should read Caybatz.|
|133||Vxa. should read Vxa|
|136||achiha. maqui should read either achiha; maqui or achiha. Maqui|
|139||Vucubatz should read Vukubatz|
|147||Oxlahu tzii should read Oxlahuh tzii|
|148||vinak. hucumah should read either vinak. Hucumah or vinak, hucumah|
|188||Oh should read On|
|189||litle should read little|
|190||Ig should read Yg|
|196||our should read four|
|197||etaient should read étaient|
|201||Civilisèes should read Civilisées|
|202||a xanul should read a xanul|
|204||aavitz should read aavitz|
|208||173. should read 172.|
|208||181. The second 181 should not appear, it refers to the same section as the preceding pargraph|
|209||mayor. should read mayor.”|
|209||Ah-ib, should read Ah-ib.|
|212||Anon). should read Anon.).|
|215||p, 64 should read p. 64|
|217||etc should read etc.|
|218||mountain should read mountain.|
|218||To put one should read To put to one|
|219||she it should read she, it|
|219||Tak (first listing) is out of alphabetical order|
|222||See Xa should read See Xa|
|223||Asieñto should read Asiento|
|223||ana abah is out of alphabetical order|
|224||iyaley is out of alphabetical order|
|225||a should read a,|
|225||hacbal is out of alphabetical order|
|229||106, should read 106.|
|231||194 should read 184|
Both for its historical and linguistic merits, the document which is
presented in this volume is one of the most important in aboriginal
American Literature. Written by a native who had grown to adult years
before the whites penetrated to his ancestral home, himself a member of
the ruling family of one of the most civilized nations of the continent
and intimately acquainted with its traditions, his work displays the
language in its pure original form, and also preserves the tribal
history and a part of the mythology, as they were current before they
were in the least affected by European influences.
The translation I offer is directly from the original text, and I am
responsible for its errors; but I wish to acknowledge my constant
obligations to the manuscript version of the late Abbé Brasseur (de
Bourbourg), the distinguished Americanist. Without the assistance
obtained from it, I should not have attempted the task; and though I
differ frequently from his renderings, this is no more than he himself
would have done, as in his later years he spoke of his version as in
many passages faulty.
For the grammar of the language, I have depended on the anonymous
grammar which I edited for the American Philosophical Society in 1884,
[vi]copies of which, reprinted separately, can be obtained by any one who
wishes to study the tongue thoroughly. For the significance of the
words, my usual authorities are the lexicon of Varea, an anonymous
dictionary of the 17th century, and the large and excellent
Spanish-Cakchiquel work of Coto, all of which are in the library of the
American Philosophical Society. They are all in MS., but the vocabulary
I add may be supplemented with that of Ximenes, printed by the Abbé
Brasseur, at Paris, in 1862, and between them most of the radicals will
As my object in all the volumes of this series is to furnish materials
for study, rather than to offer finished studies themselves, I have
steadily resisted the strong temptation to expand the notes and
introductory matter. They have been limited to what seemed essentially
necessary to defining the nature of the work, discussing its date and
authorship, and introducing the people to whom it refers.
The Cakchiquels, whose traditions and early history are given in the
present work from the pen of one of their own authors, were a nation of
somewhat advanced culture, who occupied a portion of the area of the
present State of Guatemala. Their territory is a table land about six
thousand feet above the sea, seamed with numerous deep ravines, and
supporting lofty mountains and active volcanoes. Though but fifteen
degrees from the equator, its elevation assures it a temperate climate,
while its soil is usually fertile and well watered.
They were one of a group of four closely related nations, adjacent in
territory and speaking dialects so nearly alike as to be mutually
intelligible. The remaining three were the Quiches, the Tzutuhils and
the Akahals, who dwelt respectively to the west, the south and the east
of the Cakchiquels.
These dialects are well marked members of the Maya linguistic stock, and
differ from that language, as it is spoken in its purity in Yucatan,
more in phonetic modifications than in grammatical structure or lexical
roots. Such, however, is the fixedness of this linguistic family in its
peculiarities, that a most competent student of the Cakchiquel has named
the period of two thousand years as the shortest required to explain the
difference between this tongue and the Maya.10-1
About the same length of time was that assigned since the arrival of
this nation in Guatemala, by the local historian, Francisco Antonio de
Fuentes y Guzman, who wrote in the seventeenth century, from an
examination of their most ancient traditions, written and verbal.10-2
Indeed, none of these affined tribes claimed to be autochthonous. All
pointed to some distant land as the home of their ancestors, and
religiously preserved the legends, more or less mythical, of their early
wanderings until they had reached their present seats. How strong the
mythical element in them is, becomes evident when we find in them the
story of the first four brothers as their four primitive rulers and
leaders, a myth which I have elsewhere shown prevailed extensively over
the American continent, and is distinctly traceable to the adoration of
the four cardinal points, and the winds from them.10-3
These four brothers were noble youths, born of one mother, who sallied
forth from Tulan, the golden city of the sun, and divided between them
all the land from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to the confines of
Nicaragua, in other words, all the known world.11-1
The occurrence of the Aztec name of the City of Light, Tulan (properly,
Tonatlan), in these accounts, as they were rehearsed by the early
converted natives, naturally misled historians to adopt the notion that
these divine culture heroes were “Toltecs,” and even in the modern
writings of the Abbé Brasseur (de Bourbourg), of M. Désiré Charnay, and
others, this unreal people continue to be set forth as the civilizers of
No supposition could have less support. The whole alleged story of the
Toltecs is merely an euhemerized myth, and they are as pure creations of
the fancy as the giants and fairies of mediæval romance. They have no
business in the pages of sober history.
The same blending of their most ancient legends with those borrowed from
the Aztecs, recurs in the records of the pure Mayas of Yucatan. I have
shown this, and explained it at considerable length in the first volume
of this series, to which I will refer the reader who would examine the
question in detail.11-2
There is a slight admixture of Aztec words in Cakchiquel. The names of
one or two of their months, of certain objects of barter, and of a few
social institutions, are evidently loan-words from that tongue. There
are also some proper names, both personal and geographical, which are
clearly of Nahuatl derivation. But, putting all these together, they
form but a very small fraction of the language, not more than we can
readily understand they would necessarily have borrowed from a nation
with whom, as was the case with the Aztecs, they were in constant
commercial communication for centuries.12-1 The Pipils, their
immediate neighbors to the South, cultivating the hot and fertile slope
which descends from the central plateau to the Pacific Ocean, were an
Aztec race of pure blood, speaking a dialect of Nahuatl, very little
different from that heard in the schools of classic Tezcuco.12-2 But
the grammatical structure and stem-words of the Cakchiquel remained
absolutely uninfluenced by this association.
Later, when the Spanish occupation had brought with it thousands of
Nahuatl speaking followers, who supplied the interpreters for the
conquerers, Nahuatl names became much more abundant, and were adopted by
the natives in addressing the Spaniards. Thus the four nations, whom I
have mentioned as the original possessors of the land, are, in the
documents of the time, generally spoken of by such foreign titles. The
Cakchiquels were referred to as Tecpan Quauhtemallan, the Quiches as
Tecpan Utlatlan, the Tzutuhils as Tecpan Atitlan, and the Akahals as
Tecpan Tezolotlan. In these names, all of them pure Nahuatl, the word
Tecpan means the royal residence or capital; Quauhtemallan
(Guatemala), “the place of the wood-pile;” Utlatlan, “the place of the
giant cane;” Atitlan, “the place by the water;” Tezolotlan, “the
place of the narrow stone,” or “narrowed by stones.”13-1
These fanciful names, derived from some trivial local characteristic,
were not at all translations of the native tribal names. For in their
own dialects, Quiche, iche, means “many trees;” Tuztuhil, utuhil,
“the flowery spot;” Akahal, “the honey-comb;” and Cakchiquel, a species
These four nations were on the same plane of culture, and this by no
means a low one. They were agriculturists, cultivating for food beans,
peppers, and especially maize. To the latter, indeed, they are charged
with being fanatically devoted. “If one looks closely at these
Indians,” complains an old author, “he will find that everything they do
and say has something to do with maize. A little more, and they would
make a god of it. There is so much conjuring and fussing about their
corn fields, that for them they will forget wives and children and any
other pleasure, as if the only end and aim of life was to secure a crop
In their days of heathenism, all the labors of the field were directed
by the observance of superstitious rites. For instance, the men, who
always did a large share of the field work, refrained from approaching
their wives for some days before planting the seed. Before weeding the
patch, incense was burned at each of the four corners of the field, to
the four gods of the winds and rains; and the first fruits were
consecrated to holy uses.14-2 Their fields were large and extremely
productive.14-3 In this connection it is worth noting, in passing,
that precisely Guatemala is the habitat of the Euchlæna luxurians,
the wild grass from which, in the opinion of botanists, the Zea Mais is
a variety developed by cultivation.
Cotton was largely cultivated, and the early writers speak with
admiration of the skill with which the native women spun and wove it
into graceful garments.15-1 As in Yucatan, bees were domesticated for
their wax and honey, and a large variety of dye-stuffs, resins for
incense, and wild fruits, were collected from the native forests.
Like the Mayas and Aztecs, they were a race of builders, skillful masons
and stone-cutters, erecting large edifices, pyramids, temples, and
defensive works, with solid walls of stone laid in a firm mortar.15-2
The sites of these cities were generally the summits of almost
inaccessible crags, or on some narrow plain, protected on all sides by
the steep and deep ravines—barrancas, as the Spaniards call
them—which intersect the plateau in all directions, often plunging down
to a depth of thousands of feet. So located and so constructed, it is no
wonder that Captain Alvarado speaks of them as “thoroughly built and
In the construction of their buildings and the measurements of their
land, these nations had developed quite an accurate series of lineal
measures, taking as their unit certain average lengths of the human
body, especially the upper extremity. In a study of this subject,
published during the present year, I have set forth their various terms
employed in this branch of knowledge, and compared their system with
that in use among the Mayas and the Aztecs.16-1 It would appear that
the Cakchiquels did not borrow from their neighbors, but developed
independently the system of mensuration in vogue among them. This bears
out what is asserted in the Annals of Xahila, that their
“day-breaking,” or culture, was of spontaneous growth.
The art of picture writing was familiar to all these peoples. It was
employed to preserve their national history, to arrange their calendar,
and, doubtless, in the ordinary affairs of life.16-2 But I am not
aware that any example or description of it has been preserved, which
would enable us to decide the highly important question, whether their
system was derived from that of the Mexicans or that of the Mayas,
between which, as the antiquary need not be informed, there existed an
almost radical difference.
The word for “to write,” is ibah, which means, in its primary
sense, “to paint;” ahib, is “the scribe,” and was employed to
designate the class of literati in the ancient dominion. Painted or
written records were called ibanic.
They had a literature beyond their history and calendars. It consisted
of chants or poems, called bix, set orations and dramas.17-1 They
were said or sung in connection with their ceremonial dances. These
performances were of the utmost importance in their tribal life. They
were associated with the solemn mysteries of their religion, and were in
memory of some of the critical events in their real or mythical history.
This will be obvious from the references to them in the pages of their
These chants and dances were accompanied by the monotonous beating of
the native drum, tun, by the shrill sound of reed flutes, xul, by
the tinkling of small metal bells, alakan, which they attached to
their feet, and by rattles of small gourds or jars containing pebbles,
known as zoch. Other musical instruments mentioned, are the chanal,
the whistle (pito, Dicc. Anon.), and tzuy, the marimba, or
something like it.
These nations were warlike, and were well provided with offensive and
defensive weapons. The Spanish writers speak of them as skilled archers,
rude antagonists, but not poisoning their weapons.17-2 Besides the bow
and arrow, ha, they used a lance, achcayupil,18-1 and
especially the blow-pipe, pub, a potent weapon in the hands of an
expert, the knowledge of which was widely extended over tropical
America. Their arrow points were of stone, especially obsidian, bone and
metal. Other weapons were the wooden war club, haibalche; the
sling, ica; the hand-axe, iah, etc.
For defense, they carried a species of buckler, pocob, and a round
shield called çeteçic chee, “the circular wood.” Over the body they
wore a heavy, quilted cotton doublet, the xakpota, which was an
They may all be said to have been in the “stone age,” as the weapons and
utensils were mostly of stone. The obsidian, which was easily obtained
in that country, offered an admirable resource for the manufacture of
knives, arrow heads, awls, and the like. It was called chay abah, and,
as we shall see on a later page, was surrounded with sacred
The most esteemed precious stones were the ual, translated
“diamond,” and the xit, which was the impure jade or green stone, so
much the favorite with the nations of Mexico and Central America. It is
frequently mentioned in the Annals of Xahila, among the articles of
Engraving both on stone and wood, was a prized art. The word to express
it was otoh, and engraved articles are referred to as otonic.
Although stone and wood were the principal materials on which they
depended for their manufactures, they were well acquainted with several
metals. Gold and silver were classed under the general name puvak, and
distinguished as white and yellow; iron and copper were both known as
hih, and distinguished also by their color. The metals formed an
important element of their riches, and are constantly referred to as
part of the tribute paid to the rulers. They were worked into ornaments,
and employed in a variety of decorative manners.
The form of government of the four nations of whom I am speaking
approached that of a limited monarchy. There was a head chief, who may
as well be called a king, deriving his position and power through his
birth, whose authority was checked by a council of the most influential
of his subjects. The details of this general scheme were not the same at
all periods, nor in all the states; but its outlines differed little.
Among the Cakchiquels, who interest us at present, the regal power was
equally divided between two families, the Zotzils and the Xahils; not
that there were two kings at the same time, as some have supposed, but
that the throne was occupied by a member of these families alternately,
the head of the other being meanwhile heir-apparent.19-1 These chiefs
were called the Ahpo-Zotzil and the Ahpo-Xahil; and their eldest sons
were entitled Ahpop-amahay and Galel Xahil, respectively, terms which
will shortly be explained.
The ceremonial distinction established between the ruler and those
nearest him in rank, was indicated by the number of canopies under which
they sat. The ruler himself was shaded by three, of graded sizes, the
uppermost being the largest. The heir-apparent was privileged to support
two, and the third from the king but one. These canopies were
elaborately worked in the beautiful feathers of the quetzal, and other
brilliant birds, and bore the name of muh, literally “shade” or
“shadow,” but which metaphorically came to mean royal dignity or state,
and also protection, guardianship.20-1
The seat or throne on which he sat was called tem, hacat, and
alibal, and these words are frequently employed to designate the
The ceremonies connected with the installation of a king or head chief,
are described in an interesting passage of the Annals, Sec. 41: “He
was bathed by the attendants in a large painted vessel; he was clad in
flowing robes; a sacred girdle or fillet was tied upon him; he was
painted with the holy colors, was anointed, and jewels were placed upon
his person.” Such considerable solemnities point to the fact that these
people were on a much higher plane of social life than one where the
possession of the leadership was merely an act of grasping by the
Of the four nations, the Quiches were the most numerous and powerful. At
times they exercised a sovereignty over the others, and levied tribute
from them. But at the period of Alvarado’s conquest, all four were
independent States, engaged in constant hostilities against each other.
There is no means of forming an accurate estimate of their number. All
early accounts agree that their territory was thickly populated, with
numerous towns and cities.21-1 The contingent sent to Alvarado by the
Cakchiquel king, to aid in the destruction of Quiche, was four thousand
warriors in one body, according to Alvarado’s own statement, though
Xahila puts it at four hundred. There are various reasons for believing
that the native population was denser at the Conquest than at present;
and now the total aboriginal population of the State of Guatemala, of
pure or nearly pure blood, is about half a million souls.
The capital city of the Cakchiquels is referred to by Xahila as “Iximche
on the Ratzamut.” It was situated on the lofty plateau, almost on a
line connecting Gumarcaah, the capital of the Quiches, with the modern
city of Guatemala, about twelve leagues from the latter and eight from
the former. Its name, Iximche, is that of a kind of tree (che=tree)
called by the Spanish inhabitants ramon, apparently a species of
Brosimium. Ratzamut, literally “the beak of the wild pigeon,” was
the name given to the small and almost inaccessible plain, surrounded on
all sides by deep ravines, on which Iximche was situated. Doubtless, it
was derived from some fancied resemblance of the outline of the plain to
the beak of this bird.
The capital was also called simply tinamit, the city (not Patinamit,
as writers usually give it, as pa is not an article but a preposition,
in or at); and by the Aztec allies of the conqueror Alvarado,
Quauhtemallan, “place of the wood-pile,” for some reason unknown to
us.22-1 The latter designation was afterwards extended to the
province, and under the corrupt form Guatemala is now the accepted
name of the State and its modern capital.
The famous captain, Pedro de Alvarado was the first European to visit
Iximche. He entered it on April 13th, 1524 (old style). In his letter
describing the occurrence, however, he says little or nothing about the
size or appearance of the buildings.22-2
Scarcely more satisfactory are the few words devoted to it by Captain
Bernal Diaz del Castillo, who spent a night there the same year. He
observes that “its buildings and residences were fine and rich, as might
be expected of chiefs who ruled all the neighboring provinces.”23-1
When the revolt of the Cakchiquels took place, soon afterwards, Iximche
was deserted, and was never again fully inhabited. The Spaniards ordered
the natives to settle in other localities, the fortifications of their
capital were demolished, and many of the stones carried away, to
construct churches and houses in other localities.
The next account we have of it dates from the year 1695, when the
historian and antiquary, Francisco Antonio de Fuentes y Guzman, wrote a
detailed description of its ruins from personal inspection. The account
of this enthusiastic author is the only one which supplies any
approximate notion of what the city must have been in its flourishing
period, and I therefore translate it, almost entire, from the recently
published edition of his voluminous work, the Recordacion
Florida.23-2 His chapter will throw light on several otherwise
obscure passages in Xahila’s narrative.
“Tecpan goathemala was a city of the ancient inhabitants, populous,
wonderful and impregnable, from the character of its position, situated
in this valley (of Chimaltenango), on an elevated and cool site. It lies
eight leagues in a straight line from New Guatemala. Around this
ancient and dismantled town, now falling into utmost decay, extends a
deep ravine, like a moat, plunging straight down to a depth of more than
a hundred fathoms. This ravine, or moat, is three squares in width from
one battlement or bank to the other, and they say that a good part of it
was a work of hands, for the security and defense of the city. There is
no other entrance than a very narrow causeway, which cuts the ravine at
a point a little north of west. The whole area of the space where are
these ancient ruins measures three miles from north to south and two
from east to west, and its complete circumference is nine miles. In the
heart and centre of this area was prominently erected that great city of
“The whole surface of the soil in this ancient city seems to have been
artificially prepared, by means of a cement or mortar, laid by hand, to
a depth of three-fourths of a yard. Close to the brink of the ravine
there are the sumptuous ruins of a magnificent and stately edifice, in
length a hundred measured paces, and in width the same, thus forming a
perfect square, all of stone and mortar, the stone accurately cut with
great skill, polished and nicely adjusted. In front of this building is
a great square plaza, of much dignity and beauty; and on its northern
side one can still recognize and admire the ruins of a palace which,
even in its broken vestiges, reveals a real magnificence. This royal
edifice also has in front of it some squares as large and spacious in
their splendor as that which has already been mentioned. Surrounding
this remarkable structure, are a vast number of foundations, which,
according to tradition, and by what is obvious by examination, were the
houses and dwellings of nobles and of the great number of ahaguaes,
besides those who gave their constant attention to the king. In this
quarter or ward of the nobility, there are several wide and capacious
streets, which, as the foundations indicate, ran from east to west.
“Through the middle of the site of the city, from north to south, runs a
trench a fathom and a half in depth, and its battlements of stones laid
in mortar rise more than half a fathom in height. This trench divided
the city into two parts, leaving the residences of the chiefs and nobles
on the eastern side; those of the common people to the west. The
principal street runs from the entrance of the city to the chief square
of the Temple, which is near the Palace; and from this main street
others run east and west, north and south, branching off from the main
street, having many dwellings upon them well arranged and located, and
displaying the high cultivation of the ancient rulers.
“Another broad street runs close to the main street, from the trench
mentioned, toward the east, for about a quarter of a league, ending at a
small hill which overlooks the town, on whose summit is a circular wall,
not unlike the curb of a well, about a full fathom in height. The floor
within is paved with cement, as the city streets. In the centre is
placed a socle or pedestal of a glittering substance, like glass, but of
what composition is not known.
“This circular structure was the tribunal or consistory of the
Cakchiquel Indians, where not only was public hearing given to causes,
but also the sentences were carried out. Seated around this wall, the
judges heard the pleas and pronounced sentences, in both civil and
criminal causes. After this public decision, however, there remained an
appeal for its revocation or confirmation. Three messengers were chosen
as deputies of the judges, and these went forth from the tribunal to a
deep ravine, north of the Palace, to a small but neatly fitted up chapel
or temple, where was located the oracle of the demon. This was a black
and semi-transparent stone, of a finer grade than that called chay
(obsidian). In its transparency, the demon revealed to them what should
be their final decision. If it was that the sentence should be
confirmed, the accused was immediately executed on the central pedestal
mentioned, which also served as a place of torture. If, on the other
hand, nothing could be seen in the transparency of the stone, the
accused was forthwith discharged. This oracle was also consulted in all
their military undertakings; and war was declared or not, as it seemed
to dictate, as is stated both by Spaniards and the oldest natives. But
in the early days of our occupation, when these facts came to the
knowledge of the Reverend Bishop Don Francisco Marroquin, of glorious
memory, he gave orders that this stone should be artistically squared,
and he consecrated it and used it as an altar stone, and at this day it
is so employed on the grand altar of the convent of San Francisco de
Tecpan goathemala, and it is considered a jewel of unusual beauty and
value. The size of the stone is a full half yard in each direction.
“The principal gate of this stronghold or citadel was upon the causeway
mentioned; and they say it was closed with two doors set in the solid
wall, the external one opening outward, the internal one inward, and
both were of the stone called chay. Thus, one of these doors backed up
against the other, as we sometimes see double doors in our prisons.
They were always guarded with double guards, one within, the other
without, and these guards were changed every seven days. In the open
country, on the other side of the ravine, there were a number of mounds,
about a quarter of a league apart, extending for a considerable
distance. On these, lookouts were constantly stationed, to give notice
of the invasions of the Quiches or of the Sotojil king.”
The site of Iximche was visited in 1840 by the eminent American
traveler, John L. Stephens. He states that its position, the steep and
profound barranca, and the plain, “warrant the description given of it
by Fuentes.” A century and a half had, however, almost erased the
vestiges of human life. “The ground was covered with mounds of ruins. In
one place we saw the foundations of two houses, one of them about one
hundred and fifty feet long by fifty feet broad.”
Mr. Stephens was also fortunate enough to see and examine the mysterious
divining stone, preserved in the church of Tecpan Guatemala. But a great
disappointment awaited him. “This oracular slab is a piece of common
slate, fourteen inches by ten, and about as thick as those used by boys
at school, without characters of any kind upon it.”27-1
A few years after Mr. Stephens’ visit, the government of Guatemala
appointed a commission to survey and examine these ruins. They completed
their labors successfully, but I have been unable to learn that the
results were published, although they were written out and placed in the
I propose, in a future work, to discuss the methods of reckoning time in
use in Central America; but a brief explanation of that adopted by the
Cakchiquels is essential to a comprehension of their Annals.
The Cakchiquels were probably acquainted with the length of the year as
365 days; there is even some evidence that they allowed an intercalary
day every four years, by beginning the reckoning of the year one day
The beginning of their year is stated, by most authorities, to have been
on the day corresponding to our January 31st or February 1st, old style
(February 11th or 12th, new style).
The year was not divided into lunar months, as was the case with the
hunting tribes, but in a manner similar to the highly artificial and
complicated system that prevailed among the Mayas and Mexicans. This
allotted to the solar year twenty months of eighteen days each, leaving
a remainder of five days, which the Mexicans called nemontemi,
insufficient; the Mayas n yail kin, days of pain or of peril, and the
Cakchiquels api ih, days of evil or days at fault; and which
were not included in the count of the months.28-2
Dates, however, were not assigned by a simple reference to days of the
month, but by days of the week; these weeks being of thirteen days each,
and including every day of the year. The week days were not named, but
As will be noted in the Annals, more importance was attached to the
day on which an occurrence took place than to the year. This is common
with untrained minds. Every citizen of the United States knows that
George Washington was born on the 22d of February; but it would puzzle a
large portion of them to be asked the year of his birth.
Names of the Cakchiquel Months.
To appreciate the bearing of these names, one must remember that this is
a rural calendar, in which the months were designated with reference to
farming and household incidents. Thus, the “winged ants” referred to,
are a species that appear in March and April, shortly before the first
of the rainy season; the fourth month is cloudy or misty, from the
frequent rains; the first and second grandsons refer probably to the
“suckers,” which must be plucked from the growing corn; in the eighth
month the earth is moist, and must be kept, by tillage, “soft to the
hand;” the others have obvious rural allusions, down to the last, when
the natives went “in the woods” to gather fuel. The names appear to be
all in the Cakchiquel dialect, except the first, Tacaxepual, the
resemblance of which to the name of the second Mexican month,
Tlacaxipehualiztli, is too striking to be a coincidence, and perhaps
the seventeenth, Itzcal, which is very like the eighteenth of the
Mexican calendar, Izcalli; but if borrowed from the latter, two
Cakchiquel words, of similar sound but different meaning, have been
substituted for the original by the familiar linguistic principle of
otosis or paronomasia.
Names of the Cakchiquel Days.
|1. Imox,||11. Batz,|
|2. I,||12. Ee,|
|3. Abal,||13. Ah,|
|4. Kat,||14. Yiz,|
|5. Can,||15. Tziquin,|
|6. Camey,||16. Ahmac,|
|7. Queh,||17. Noh,|
|8. Kanel,||18. Tihax,|
|9. Toh,||19. Caok,|
The calendars in use were of two different kinds, the one called hol
ih, literally “the valuer or appraiser of days,” which was employed
exclusively for astrological and divining purposes, to decide on which
were lucky and unlucky days; and may ih, “the revolution or
recurrence of days,” which was for chronological purposes.31-1
It will be noticed that in Xahila’s Annals, every year ends on a day
Ah, and that each such closing day is numerically three less than the
day Ah terminating the preceding year. There are also obvious
inconsistencies in his identification of native dates with the Christian
calendar; but these, and the numerous difficult questions they suggest,
would take me too far afield to enter upon in the present introductory
paragraphs. The object of this volume is rather to furnish material for
study than to undertake the study itself.
The brief description of their reckoning of time, given by Sanchez y
Leon, may be quoted: “They divided the year into 18 months, and each
month into 20 days; but they counted only by nights, which they
mentioned as dawns (alboradas); the movements of the sun in the ecliptic
governed their calendar; they began their year forty days before ours;
they celebrated annually three great feasts, like Easters, at which
periods both sexes assembled together at night, and indulged in
drunkenness and wantonness.”31-2
I think in this extract the author should have said that they began
their year 40 days later than ours, as this would bring his statement
more into conformity with other writers.
Among the Cakchiquels, each person bore two names; the first his
individual name, the second that of his family or chinamitl. This word
is pure Nahuatl, and means a place enclosed by a fence,32-1 and
corresponds, therefore, to the Latin herctum, and the Saxon ton. As
adopted by the Cakchiquels, it meant a household or family of one
lineage and bearing one name, all of whom were really or theoretically
descended from one ancestral household. To all such was applied the term
aca, related or affined;32-2 and marriage within the chinamitl was
not permitted. When a man of one chinamitl married into another, every
male in the latter became his brother-in-law, baluc, or son-in-law,
Each chinamitl was presided over by a recognized leader, the “head of
the house,” whose title was ahalam, “the keeper of the
tablets,”32-4 probably the painted records on which the genealogy of
the family and the duties of its members were inscribed.
The division of the early tribes into these numerous families was not
ancient, dating, according to tradition, from about a century and a half
before the Conquest.32-5
The personal name was always that of the day of birth, this being
adopted for astrological reasons. There was a fixed opinion that the
temperament and fortunes of the individual were controlled by the
supposed character of his birthday, and its name and number were
therefore prefixed to his family name. This explains the frequent
occurrence in the Cakchiquel Annals of such strange appellatives as
Belehe Queh, nine deer; Cay Batz, two monkey, etc.; these being, in
fact, the days of the year on which the bearers were born. They should
be read, “the 9th Queh,” “the 2d Batz,” etc.
The chinamitl appears to have been the sub-gens. Besides it, there are
other words frequently recurring in the Annals referring to divisions
of the community, hay, home or household; hob, sept or division;
and ama tribe or city.
The first of these, hay, appears to be a general term applied to a
community, without necessarily implying relationship. An Indian, asked
where he is from, will answer in ah-hay vae, “I am of this place,”
referring to his village. Yet it is evident that in early times, all of
one village were considered to be related. The word hay,
does not signify a house as an edifice. In that sense
the proper term is ochoch.
The frequent references by Xahila to the seven tribes, or rather the
seven cities, vuk ama, and the thirteen divisions or provinces,
oxlahuh hob, are not explained in the course of the narrative.
These numbers retained sacred associations, as they were adopted later
to assign the days of worship of their divinity (see Sec. 44). Brasseur
is of opinion that the thirteen divisions refer to the Pokomams,34-1
but that such a subdivision obtained among the Cakchiquels as well, is
evident from many parts of their Annals. The same division also
prevailed, from remote times, among the Quiches,34-2 and hence was
probably in use among all these tribes. It may have had some
superstitious connection with the thirteen days of their week. The
hob may be regarded as the original gens of the tribe, and the
similarity of this word to the radical syllable of the Nahuatl
calp-ulli, may not be accidental. I have elsewhere spoken of the
singular frequency with which we hear of seven ancestors, cities, caves,
etc., in the most ancient legends of the American race.34-3
In the Cakchiquel grammar which I edited, I have given a tolerably full
list of the terms of consanguinity and affinity in the tongue (pp. 28,
29). But it is essential to the correct understanding of the text in
this volume, to recognize the fact that many such terms in Cakchiquel
are, in the majority of cases, terms of salutation only, and do not
express actual relationship.
Examples of this are the words tata, father, used by women to all
adult males; and tee, mother, employed by both sexes in addressing
adult women. In Xahila’s writings, we constantly find the words nimal,
elder brother, and cha, younger brother, inserted merely as
friendly epithets. The term mama, grandfather, almost always means
simply “ancestor,” or, indeed, any member of an anterior generation
beyond the first degree. This word must not be confounded with mam (an
error occurring repeatedly in Brasseur’s writings), as the latter means
“grandchild;” and according to Father Coto, it may be applied by a
grandparent of either sex to a grandchild of either sex.
There are a number of terms of frequent recurrence in Xahila’s text,
expressing the different offices in the government, rank in social life
and castes of the population, which offer peculiar difficulty to the
translator, because we have no corresponding expressions in European
tongues; while to retain them in the version, renders it less
intelligible, and even somewhat repulsive to the reader. I have thought
it best, generally, to give these terms an approximate English rendering
in my translation, while in the present section I submit them to a
The ordinary term for chief or ruler, in both the Cakchiquel and Maya
dialects, is ahau. Probably this is a compound of ah, a common
prefix in these tongues, originally signifying person, and hence, when
attached to a verb, conveying the notion of one accustomed to exercise
the action indicated; to a noun of place, a resident there; and to a
common noun, a worker in or owner of the article; and u, a collar,
especially an ornamental collar, here intended as a badge of authority.
Ahau is, therefore, “the wearer of the collar;” and by this
distinction equivalent to chief, ruler, captain, lord, king, or emperor,
by all which words it is rendered in the lexicons. It is not a special
title, but a general term.
Scarcely less frequent is the term ahpop. This is a compound of the
same prefix ah, with the word pop, which means a mat. To sit upon
such a mat was a privilege of nobility, and of such dignitaries as were
entitled to be present at the national council; ahpop, therefore, may
be considered as equivalent to the German title Rath, counsellor, and
appears to have been used much in the same conventional manner. In the
Cakchiquel lexicons, popoh is “to hold a council;” popol, a council;
popoltzih, “to speak in council,” etc. All these are derived from the
word pop, mat; from the mats on which the councillors sat during their
Personages of the highest rank, of the “blood royal,” combined these
titles. They were ahau ahpop, “lords of the council.” Uniting the
latter title to the family names of the ruling house, the chief ruler
was known as Ahpo’ Zotzil, and the second in rank and heir-apparent,
as Ahpo’ Xahil. The oldest son of the former bore the title
Ahpop-amahay, which is translated by the best authorities
“messenger of the council,” and ordinarily was applied to an official
who communicated the decisions of the councils of one village to that
of another.37-1 Another title, mentioned by Xahila, is ahpop-achi,
the last word means man, vir.
A third article, which distinguished the higher classes, was the seat or
stool on which they sat during solemn ceremonies. This was called
aalibal, an instrumental noun from the verb al, to be visible
or prominent, persons so seated being elevated above, and thus
distinguished from others, from this the verbal form, alel, was
derived, meaning “he who is prominent,” etc., or, more freely,
“illustrious,” “distinguished.”37-2 The title ahpop alel meant,
therefore, originally “he who is entitled to a mat and a stool,” that
is, in the council chamber of his town.
Another official connected with the council was the orator appointed to
bring before it the business of the day. His title was ah uchan, from
ucheex, to speak, and it is translated by Spanish writers, the
“rhetorician, orator.”37-3 A similar personage, the ah tzih vinak,
“the man of words,”37-4 was in attendance on the king, and,
apparently, was the official mouth-piece of the royal will. Still a
third, known as the lol-may, which apparently means “silence-breaker,”
was, according to the dictionaries, “an envoy dispatched by the rulers
to transact business or to collect tributes.”38-1
Very nearly or quite the same organization prevailed in the courts of
Quiche and Atitlan. The chiefs of the latter province forwarded, in
1571, a petition to Philip II, in which they gave some interesting
particulars of their former government. They say: “The supreme ruler was
called Atziquinihai, and the chiefs who shared the authority with him,
Amac Tzutuhil. These latter were sovereigns, and acknowledged no
superiors…. The sovereign, or king, did not recognize any authority
above himself. The persons or officers who attended at his court were
called Lolmay, Atzivinac, Galel, Ah-uchan. They were factors,
auditors and treasurers. Our titles correspond to yours.”38-2
The name here applied to the ruler of the Tzutuhils, Atziquinahay,
recurs in Xahila’s Annals. It was his family name, and in its proper
form, Ah iquin-i-hay, means “he who is a member of the bird
family;”38-3 the bird being the totemic symbol of the ruling house.
While the nobles were distinguished by titles such as these, the mass of
the people were divided into well defined classes or castes. The
warriors were called ah-labal, from labal, war; and they were
distinguished from the general male population, who were known as
achi, men, viri. These were independent freemen, engaged in peaceful
avocations, but, of course, ready to take up arms on occasion. They were
broadly distinguished from the tributaries, called ah-patan; the
latter word meaning tax or tribute; and still more sharply from the
slaves, known as vinakitz, “mean men,” or by the still more
significant word mun, hungry (Guzman, Compendio). The less
cultivated tribes speaking other tongues, adjoining the Cakchiquels,
were promiscuously stigmatized with the name chicop, brutes or beasts.
A well developed system of tribute seems to have prevailed, and it is
often referred to by Xahila. The articles delivered to the collectors
were gold, silver, plain and worked, feathers, cacao, engraved stones,
and what appear as singular, garlands (ubul) and songs, painted
apparently on skins or paper.
The deities worshiped by these nations, the meaning and origin of their
titles, and the myths connected with them, have been the subject of an
examination by me in an earlier work.39-1 Here, therefore, it will be
needless to repeat what I have there said, further than to add a few
remarks explanatory of the Cakchiquel religion in particular.
According to the Popol Vuh, “the chief god of the Cakchiquels was
Chamalcan, and his image was a bat.”40-1 Brasseur endeavored to
trace this to a Nahuatl etymology,40-2 but there is little doubt it
refers, as do so many of the Cakchiquel proper names, to their calendar.
Can is the fifth day of their week, and its sign was a serpent;40-3
chamal is a slightly abbreviated form of chaomal, which the lexicons
translate “beauty” and “fruitfulness,” connected with chaomar, to
yield abundantly. He was the serpent god of fruitfulness, and by this
type suggests relations to the lightning and the showers. The bat,
Zotz, was the totem of the Zotzils, the ruling family of the
Cakchiquels; and from the extract quoted, they seem to have set it up as
the image of Chamalcan.
The generic term for their divinities, employed by Xahila, and also
frequently in the Popol Vuh, is abuyl, which I have elsewhere
derived from the Maya chab, to create, to form. It is closely allied
to the epithets applied in both works to the Deity, akol, the
maker, especially he who makes something from earth or clay; bitol,
the former, or fashioner; aholom, the begetter of sons; alom, the
bearer of children; these latter words intimating the bi-sexual nature
of the principal divinity, as we also find in the Aztec mythology and
elsewhere. The name axto, the liar, from the verb
axtooh, to lie, also frequently used by Xahila with reference to
the chief god of his nation in its heathendom, may possibly have arisen
after their conversion to Christianity; but from the coincidence that
the Algonkin tribes constantly applied such seemingly opprobrious terms
to their principal deity, it may have arisen from a similar cycle of
myths as did theirs.41-1
There are references in Xahila’s Annals to the Quiche deities,
Exbalanquen, Cabrakan, Hunahpu, and Tohil, but they do not seem to have
occupied any prominent place in Cakchiquel mythology. Several minor gods
are named, as Belehe Toh, nine Toh, and Hun Tihax, one Tihax; these
appellations are taken from the calendar.
Father Pantaleon de Guzman furnishes the names of various inferior
deities, which serve to throw light on the Cakchiquel religion. Four of
these appear to be gods of diseases, Ahal puh, Ahal teob, Ahal
xic, and Ahál anya; at least three of these second words are also
the designations of maladies, and ahal is probably a mistake of the
copyist for ahau, lord. As the gods of the abode of the dead, he names
Tatan bak and Tatan holom, Father Bones and Father Skull.
Another series of appellations which Guzman gives as of Cakchiquel gods,
show distinctly the influence of Nahuatl doctrines. There are Mictan
ahauh, lord of Mictlan, this being the name of the abode of darkness,
in Aztec mythology; Caueztan ahauh, probably Coatlan, lord of the
abode of serpents; Tzitzimil, the tzitzimime of the Aztecs; and
Colele, probably colotl, the scorpion, or tecolotl, the owl,
which latter, under the name tucur, is also mentioned by Xahila.42-1
Father Coto refers to some of their deities of the woods and streams.
One of these, the Man of the Woods, is famous throughout Yucatan and
most of Central America. The Spaniards call him Salonge, the Mayas
Che Vinic, and the Cakchiquels ru vinakil chee; both these latter
meaning “the woods man.” What gives this phantom especial interest in
this connection is, that Father Coto identifies the woodsman with the
Zakioxol, the white fire maker, encountered by the Cakchiquels in
Xahila’s narrative (Sec. 21).42-2 I have narrated the curious
folk-lore about the woodsman in another publication, and need not repeat
it here.42-3 His second name, the White Fire Maker, perhaps refers to
the “light wood” or phosphorescence about damp and decaying trees.
To the water-sprites, the Undines of their native streams, they gave the
name xulu, water-flies, or ru vinakil ya, the water people.
As their household gods, they formed little idols of the ashes from the
funeral pyres of their great men, kneading them with clay. To these they
gave the name vinak, men or beings (Coto).
Representations of these divinities were carved in wood and stone, and
the words chee abah, “wood and stone,” usually mean, when they appear
together in Xahila’s narrative, “idols or images in wood and stone.”
The Stone God, indeed, is a prominent figure in their mythology, as it
was in their daily life. This was the sacred Chay Abah, the Obsidian
Stone, which was the oracle of their nation, and which revealed the will
of the gods on all important civil and military questions. To this day,
their relatives, the Mayas of Yucatan, attach implicit faith to the
revelations of the zaztun, the divining stone kept by their sorcerers,
and if it decrees the death of any one, they will despatch him with
their machetes, without the slightest hesitation.43-1 The belief was
cherished by the rulers and priests, as they alone possessed the power
to gaze on the polished surface of the sacred block of obsidian, and
read thereupon the invisible decrees of divinity. (See above, p. 25).
As the stone came from the earth, it was said to have been derived from
the under world, from Xibalbay, literally the unseen or invisible
place, the populous realm in Quiche myth, visited and conquered by their
culture hero, Xbalanque. Hence in Cakchiquel tale, the Chay Abah
represented the principle of life, as well as the source of
The Cakchiquel Annals do not pretend to deal with mythology, but from
various references and fragments inserted as history, it is plain that
they shared the same sacred legends as the Quiches, which were, in all
probability, under slightly different forms, the common property of the
Maya race. They all indicate loans from the Aztec mythology. In the
Cakchiquel Annals, as in the Popol Vuh and the Maya Chronicles, we
hear of the city of the sun god, Tulan or Tonatlan, as the place of
their origin, of the land Zuiva and of the Nonoalcos, names
belonging to the oldest cycles of myths in the religion of the Aztecs.
In the first volume of this series I have discussed their appearance in
the legends of Central America,44-1 and need not refer to them here
more than to say that those who have founded on these names theories of
the derivation of the Maya tribes or their ruling families from the
Toltecs, a purely imaginary people, have perpetrated the common error of
mistaking myth for history. It is this error that renders valueless much
that the Abbé Brasseur, M. Charnay and others of the French school, have
written on this subject.
Xahila gives an interesting description of some of their ancient rites
(Sec. 44). Their sacred days were the 7th and 13th of each week. White
resin was burned as incense, and green branches with the bark of
evergreen trees were brought to the temple, and burned before the idol,
together with a small animal, which he calls a cat, “as the image of
night;” but our domestic cat was unknown to them, and what animal was
originally meant by the word mez, I do not know.
He mentions that the priests and nobles drew blood with the spines of
the gourd tree and maguey, and elsewhere (Sec. 37) refers to the
sacrifice of infants at a certain festival. The word for the sacrificial
letting of blood was ohb, which, by some of the missionaries, was
claimed as the root of the word abuil, deity.
Human sacrifice was undoubtedly frequent, although the reverse has been
asserted by various historians.45-1 Father Varea gives some curious
particulars. The victim was immolated by fire, the proper word being
atoh, to burn, and then cut in pieces and eaten. When it was, as
usual, a male captive, the genital organs were given to one of the old
women who were prophetesses, to be eaten by her, as a reward for her
supplications for their future success in battle.45-2 The cutting in
pieces of Tolom, in the narrative of Xahila, has reference to such a
Sanchez y Leon states that the most usual sacrifice was a child. The
heart was taken out, and the blood was sprinkled toward the four
cardinal points as an act of adoration to the four winds, copal being
burned at the same time, as an incense.45-3
A leading feature in their ceremonial worship was the sacred dance, or,
as the Spanish writers call it, el baile. The native name for it is
xahoh, and it is repeatedly referred to in the Annals. The legendary
origin of some of these dances, indeed, constitute a marked feature in
its narratives. They are mentioned by the missionaries as the favorite
pastime of the Indians; and as it was impossible to do away with them
altogether, they contented themselves with suppressing their most
objectionable features, drunkenness and debauchery, and changed them, at
least in name, from ceremonies in honor of some heathen god, to some
saint in the Roman calendar. In some of these, vast numbers of
assistants took part, as is mentioned by Xahila (Sec. 32).
Magic and divination held a very important place in Cakchiquel
superstition, as the numerous words bearing upon them testify. The form
of belief common to them and their neighbors, has received the name
Nagualism, from the Maya root na, meaning to use the senses. I have
traced its derivation and extension elsewhere,46-1 and in this
connection will only observe that the narrative of Xahila, in repeated
passages, proves how deeply it was rooted in the Cakchiquel mind. The
expression ru puz ru naval, should generally be rendered “his magic
power, his sorcery,” though it has a number of allied significations.
Naval as a noun means magician, naval chee, naval abah, the spirit
of the tree, of the stone, or the divinity embodied in the idols of
Another root from which a series of such words were derived, was hal,
to change. The power of changing or metamorphosing themselves into
tigers, serpents, birds, globes of fire, etc., was claimed by the
sorcerers, and is several times mentioned in the following texts. Hence
the sorcerer was called haleb, the power he possessed to effect such
transformations halibal, the change effected halibeh, etc.
Their remarkable subjection to these superstitions is illustrated by the
word lab, which means both to divine the future and to make war,
because, says Ximenez, “they practiced divination in order to decide
whether they should make war or not.”47-1
These auguries were derived frequently from the flight and call of birds
(as in the Annals, Secs. 13, 14, etc.), but also from other sources.
The diviner who foretold by grains of maize, bore the title malol
ixim, the anointer or consecrator of maize (Dicc. ).
The priesthood was represented by two high priests, elected for life by
the ruler and council. The one who had especial custody of religious
affairs wore a flowing robe, a circlet or diadem on his head ornamented
with feathers, and carried in his hand a rod, or wand. On solemn
occasions he publicly sacrificed blood from his ears, tongue, and
His associate was the custodian and interpreter of the sacred books,
their calendars and myths, and decided on lucky and unlucky days, omens
In addition to these, there were certain old men, of austere life, who
dwelt in the temples, and wore their hair in plaited strands around
their heads (trenzado en circulo), who were consulted on ordinary
occasions as diviners.47-2
The funeral rites of the Cakchiquels have been related at considerable
length by Fuentes, from original documents in the
dialect.48-1 The body was laid in state for two days, after which it
was placed in a large jar and interred, a mound being erected over the
remains. On the mound a statue of the deceased was placed, and the spot
was regarded as sacred. Father Coto gives somewhat the same account,
adding that these mounds were constructed either of stone or of the
adjacent soil, and were called cakhay or cubucak.48-2 He
positively asserts that human sacrifices accompanied the interments of
chiefs, which is denied by Fuentes, except among the Quiches. These
companions for the deceased chief on his journey to the land of souls,
were burned on his funeral pyre. A large store of charcoal was buried
with the corpse, as that was supposed to be an article of which he would
have special use on his way. Sanchez y Leon mentions that the high
priest was buried in his house, clothed and seated upon his chair. The
funeral ceremonies, in his case, lasted fifteen days.48-3
The Cakchiquel tongue was reduced to writing by the Spanish
missionaries, and therefore, in this work, as in all the MSS, the
following letters are used with their Spanish values,—a, b, c, ch, ç,
e, i, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, t, y.
The following are not employed:—
d, f, g, j, s, ñ, z.
The following are introduced, but with sounds differing from the
h. This is always a decided rough breathing or forcible expiration,
like the Spanish j, or the strong English h; except when it follows c or
, when it is pronounced as in the Spanish, cha, che, etc.
k. This has never the sound of c, but is a rough palatal, the mouth
being opened, and the tongue placed midway, between the upper and lower
walls of the oral cavity, while the sound is forcibly expelled.
v. This letter, whether as a consonant (v) or a vowel (u), is
pronounced separately, except when it is doubled, as in vuh (uuh),
book or paper, when the double vowel is very closely akin to the English
x. In Cakchiquel and its associated dialects, this letter represents
the sound of sh in the English words she, shove, etc.
Besides the above, there are five sounds occurring in the Cakchiquel,
Quiche and Tzutuhil, for which five special characters were invented, or
rather adopted, by the early missionary Francisco de la Parra, who died
in Guatemala, in 1560. They are the following:—
The origin and phonetic value of these, as given by the grammarian
Torresano, are as follows:49-1—
This is called the tresillo, from its shape, it being an old form
of the figure three, reversed, thus, . It is
the only true guttural in the language, being pronounced forcibly from
the throat, with a trilling sound (castañeteando).
From its shape this is called the cuatrillo, Parra having adopted
for it an old form of the figure 4. It is a trilled palatal, between a
hard c and k.
The name applied to this is, the cuatrillo con coma, or the 4
with a comma. It is pronounced somewhat like the c with the cedilla,
ç, only more quickly and with greater force—ds or dz.
This resembles the “4 with a comma,” but is described as softer,
the tongue being brought into contact with the teeth, exactly as tz in
h A compound sound produced by combining the cuatrillo with a
forcible aspirate, is represented by this sign.
Naturally, no description in words can convey a correct notion of these
sounds. To learn them, one must hear them spoken by those to the
Dr. Otto Stoll, who recently made a careful study of the Cakchiquel when
in Guatemala, says of Parra’s characters:—
“The four new signs added to the European alphabet, by some of the old
writers on Cakchiquel (Parra, Flores), viz: , , , h, are
but phonetic modifications of four corresponding signs of the common
alphabet. So we get four pairs of sounds, namely:—
c and ;
ch and h
forming two series of consonants, the former of which represents the
common letters, and the latter their respective “cut letters,” which may
be described as being pronounced with a shorter and more explosive sound
than the corresponding common letter, and separated by a short pause
from the preceding or following vowel.”51-1
The late Dr. Berendt illustrated the phonetic value of such “cut”
letters, by the example of two English words where the same letter
terminates one word and begins the next, and each is clearly but rapidly
pronounced, thus, the is pronounced like two ks in
“break kettle;” the like the two cs in
There would appear to have been other “cut” letters in the old dialects
of Cakchiquel, as in Guzman we find the pp and thth, as in the Maya,
but later writers dropped them.
I may dispense with a discussion of the literature of the Cakchiquel
language, having treated that subject so lately as last year, in the
introduction to the Grammar of the Cakchiquel, which I then translated
and edited for the American Philosophical Society. As will be seen by
reference to that work, it is quite extensive, and much of it has been
preserved. I have examined seven dictionaries of the tongue, all quite
comprehensive; manuscript copies of all are in the United States. None
of these, however, has been published; and we must look forward to the
dictionary now preparing by Dr. Stoll, of Zurich, as probably the first
to see the light.
The Maya race, in nearly all its branches, showed its intellectual
superiority by the eagerness with which it turned to literary pursuits,
as soon as some of its members had learned the alphabet. I have brought
forward some striking testimony to this in Yucatan,52-1 and there is
even more in Central America. The old historians frequently refer to the
histories of their own nations, written out by members of the Quiche,
Cakchiquel, Pokomam and Tzendal tribes. Vasquez, Fuentes and Juarros
quote them frequently, and with respect. They were composed in the
aboriginal tongues, for the benefit of their fellow townsmen, and as
they were never printed, most of them became lost, much to the regret of
Of those preserved, the Popol Vuh or National Book of the Quiches, and
the Annals of the Cakchiquels, the latter published for the first time
in this volume, are the most important known.
The former, the “Sacred Book” of the Quiches, a document of the highest
merits, and which will certainly increase in importance as it is
studied, was printed at Paris in 1861, with a translation into French by
the Abbé Brasseur (de Bourbourg). He made use only of the types of the
Latin alphabet; and both in this respect and in the fidelity of his
translation, he has left much to be desired in the presentation of the
The recent publication of the Grammar also relieves me from the
necessity of saying much about the structure of the Cakchiquel language.
Those who wish to acquaint themselves with it, and follow the
translation given in this volume by comparing the original text, will
need to procure all the information contained in the Grammar. It will
be sufficient to say here that the tongue is one built up with admirable
regularity on radicals of one or two syllables. The perfection and
logical sequence of its verbal forms have excited the wonder and
applause of some of the most eminent linguists, and are considered by
them to testify to remarkable native powers of mind.53-1
The MS. from which I print the Annals of the Cakchiquels, is a folio
of 48 leaves, closely written on both sides in a very clear and regular
hand, with indigo ink. It is incomplete, the last page closing in the
middle of a sentence.
What is known of the history of this manuscript, is told us by Don Juan
Gavarrete, who, for many years, was almost the only native of Guatemala
interested in the early history of his country. He tells us in his
introduction to his translation of it, soon to be mentioned, that in
1844 he was commissioned to arrange the archives of the Convent of San
Francisco of Guatemala, by order of the Archbishop Don Francisco Garcia
Pelaez. Among the MSS. of the archives he found these sheets, written
entirely in Cakchiquel, except a few marginal glosses in Spanish, in a
later hand, and in ordinary ink. The document was submitted to several
persons acquainted with the Cakchiquel language, who gave a general
statement of its contents, but not a literal and complete
When, in 1855, the Abbé Brasseur (de Bourbourg) visited Guatemala, Señor
Gavarrete showed him this MS., and the Abbé borrowed it for the purpose
of making a full version, doubtless availing himself of the partial
translations previously furnished. His version completed, he left a copy
of it with Señor Gavarrete, and brought the original with him to
Europe.54-2 It remained in his possession until his death at Nice,
when, along with the rest of the Abbé’s library, it passed into the
hands of M. Alphonse Pinart. This eminent ethnologist learning my desire
to include it in the present series of publications, was obliging enough
to offer me the opportunity of studying it.
Previous to its discovery in Guatemala, in 1844, we have no record of it
whatsoever, and must turn to the document itself for information.
The title given it by Brasseur, and adopted by Gavarrete, Memorial de
Tecpan Atitlan, was purely factitious, and, moreover, is misleading. It
was, indeed, written at the town of Tzolola or Atitlan, on the lake of
that name, the chief city of the Tzutuhils; but its authors were
Cakchiquels; its chief theme is the history of their tribe, and it is
only by the accident of their removal to Atitlan, years after the
Conquest, that its composition occurred there. I have, therefore,
adopted for it, or at least that portion of it which I print, the much
more appropriate name, The Annals of the Cakchiquels.
I say “for that portion of it,” because I print but 48 out of the 96
pages of the original. These contain, however, all that is of general
interest; all that pertains to the ancient history of the nation. The
remainder is made up of an uninteresting record of village and family
incidents, and of a catalogue of births, baptisms and marriages. The
beginning of the text as printed in this volume, starts abruptly in the
MS. after seventeen pages of such trivialities, and has no separate
title or heading.
The caption of the first page of the MS. explains the purpose of this
miscellaneous collection of family documents. That caption is
Vae memoria chire haoh.
THIS IS THE RECORD FOR THE PROCESS.
The word memoria is the Spanish for a record, memoir or brief, and the
Cakchiquel haoh, originally contention, revolt, was, after the
Conquest, the technical term for a legal process or lawsuit. These
papers, therefore, form part of the record in one of those interminable
legal cases in which the Spanish law delighted. The plaintiffs in the
case seem to have been the Xahila family, who brought the action to
recover some of their ancient possessions or privileges, as one of the
two ruling families of the Cakchiquel nation; and in order to establish
this point, they filed in their plea the full history of their tribe and
genealogy of their family, so far as was known to them by tradition or
written record. It belongs to the class of legal instruments, called in
Spanish law Titulos, family titles. A number of such, setting forth
the descent and rights of the native princes in Central America, are in
existence, as the Titulo de Totonicapan, etc.
The date of the present rescript is not accurately fixed. As it includes
the years 1619-20, it must have been later than those dates. From the
character of the paper and writing, I should place it somewhere between
1620 and 1650.
In his Advertencia to his translation of it, Señor Gavarrete asserts
that the document is in the handwriting of one of the native authors.
This is not my opinion. It is in the small, regular, perfectly legible
hand of a professional scribe, a notarial clerk, no doubt, thoroughly at
home in the Cakchiquel language, and trained in the phonetic characters,
introduced with such success by Father Parra, as I have already
mentioned. The centre lines and catch-words are in large, clear letters,
so as to attract the eye of the barrister, as
Vae memoria chire vinak chij.
THIS IS THE STATEMENT OF THE TORTS.
Vae memoria anavinakil.
THIS IS A RECORD OF THE WITNESSES.
The document is made up of the depositions and statements of a number of
members of the Xahila family, but that around which the chief interest
centres, and that which alone is printed in this volume, is the history
of his nation as written out by one of them who had already reached
adult years, at the epoch of the first arrival of the Spaniards, in
1524. Unfortunately, his simple-hearted modesty led him to make few
personal allusions, and we can glean little information about his own
history. The writer first names himself, in the year 1582, where he
speaks of “me, Francisco Ernantez Arana.”57-1 The greater part of the
manuscript, however, was composed many years before this. Its author
says that his grandfather, the king Hun Yg, and his father, Balam, both
died in 1521, and his own marriage took place in 1522. As it was the
custom of his nation to marry young, he was probably, at the time, not
over 15 years of age.57-2
That Francisco Ernantez was not the author of the first part of the
document seems evident. Under the year 1560 occurs the following
“Twenty days before the Feast of the Nativity my mother died; soon
after, my late father was carried off (xchaptah) while they were burying
my mother; my father took medicine but once before we buried him. The
pest continued to rage for seven days after Easter; my mother, my
father, my brother and my sister died this year.”
It could not, of course, be the son of Balam, who died in 1521, who
Under 1563 the writer mentions:—
“At this time my second son Raphael was born, at the close of the fourth
year of the fourth cycle after the revolt.”
The last entry which contains the characteristic words ixnuahol,
“you my children,” occurs in the year 1559, and is the last given in my
translation. My belief is that the document I give was written by the
father of Francisco Ernantez Xahila. The latter continued it from 1560
to 1583, when it was taken up by Francisco Diaz, and later by other
members of the Xahila family.
The Abbé Brasseur was of the opinion that these Annals carry the
record of the nation back to the beginning of the eleventh century, at
least. A close examination of the account shows that this is not the
case. Gagavitz, the earliest ruler of the nation, can easily be traced
as the ancestor in the eighth remove, of the author. The genealogy is as
1. Gagavitz, “he who came from Tulan.”
2. His son, Cay Noh, who succeeded him.
3. Citan Qatu, son of Cay Noh, who also ruled.
4. His son, Citan Tihax Cablah, who does not seem to have enjoyed the
leadership. It was regained by
6. Oxlahuh Tzii, eldest son of Vukubatz, died A. D., 1509.
7. Succeeded by his eldest son, Hun Yg, who died, together with his
eldest son Balam, the father of the author, in the year 1521.
Allowing to these seven who outlived their parents an average survival
of twenty years, we are carried back to about the year 1380, as that on
which the migration, headed by Gagavitz, began its wanderings, little
more, therefore, than the length of two lives as protracted as that of
the author himself. This result is that generally obtained by a careful
scrutiny of American traditions. They very rarely are so far-reaching as
has usually been supposed. Anything spoken of as more than three or four
generations distant, may safely be assumed as belonging to myth, and not
It was the expressed intention of the Abbé Brasseur to edit the original
text with his translation, but this he did not live to accomplish. He
incorporated numerous extracts from it in his Histoire des Nations
Civilisées du Mexique et de l’Amerique Centrale, and added a few
paragraphs in the original at the end of the first volume of that work;
but these did not give much idea of the document as a whole.
When, with the aid of the previous partial translations and the
assistance of some intelligent natives, he had completed a version into
French, of that portion composed by the first two writers he gave a copy
of it to Don Juan Gavarrete. This antiquary translated it into Spanish,
and published it serially, in the Boletin de la Sociedad Economica de
Guatemala, beginning with No. 29, September, 1873, and continuing to
No. 43. Copies of this publication are, however, so scarce that I have
been unable to learn of a complete file, even in Guatemala. The
dissolution of the Sociedad Economica by order of the late President
Barrios, scattered the copies in its own archives.
The work opens with a statement that the writer intends to record the
ancient traditions of his tribe, as handed down from their early heroes,
Gagavitz and Zactecauh. He begins with a brief genealogical table of the
four sub-tribes of the Cakchiquels (Secs. 1-3), and then relates their
notions of the creation of man at one of the mythical cities of Tulan,
in the distant west (4, 5). Having been subjected to onerous burdens in
Tulan, they determine to leave it, and are advised to go by their
They cross the sea, proceeding toward the east, and arrive at a land
inhabited by the Nonoualcats, an Aztec people (15-17). Their first
action is formally to choose Gagavitz and Zactecauh as their joint
rulers (18-19), and under their leadership they proceed to attack the
Nonoualcats. After a severe conflict the Cakchiquels are defeated, and
are obliged to seek safety in further wanderings. At length they reach
localities in Guatemala (20). At this point an episode is introduced of
their encounter with the spirit of the forests, Zakiqoxol (21, 22).
They meet with various nations, some speaking a totally different
language; others, as the Mams and Pokomams, dialects of their own. With
the last mentioned they have serious conflicts (23-29). During one of
their journeys, Zactecauh is killed by falling down a ravine (30). An
episode here relates the traditional origin of one of their festivals,
that in honor of Gagxanul, “the uncoverer of the fire” (31, 32).
Their first arrival at Lake Atitlan is noted (33), and the war that they
waged with the Ikomags (34). Here an episode describes the traditional
origin of the festival of Tolgom (35-37). A peaceful division of the
lake with the Tzutuhils is effected, and marriages take place between
the tribes (38).
The Cakchiquels, Quiches and Akahals now settle permanently in their
towns, and develop their civilization (39, 40). They meet with numerous
hardships, as well as internal dissensions, the chief Baqahol at one
time obtaining the leadership. They succeed in establishing, however,
family life and a fixed religious worship, though in almost constant war
with their neighbors (41-46).
Gagavitz, “he who came from Tulan,” dies, and is followed by Cay Noh and
Cay Batz (47). These acknowledge the supremacy of Tepeuh, the king of
the Quiches, and are sent out by him to collect tribute from the various
tribes. They are seduced and robbed by the Tzutuhils, and conceal
themselves in a cave, out of fear of Tepeuh. He forgives them, however,
and they continue in power until their death (49-59).
After this, a period of strife follows, and the names of four successive
rulers are mentioned, but none of the occurrences of their reigns
The narrative is resumed when Qikab, king of the Quiches, orders the
Cakchiquels to settle at the town of Chiavar. He appoints, as their
rulers, the warriors Huntoh and Vukubatz. A revolt Qikab,
headed by his two sons, results in his defeat and death (67-81). During
this revolt, a contest between the Cakchiquels takes place, the close of
which finds the latter established in their final stronghold, the famous
fortress of “Iximche on the Ratzamut” (82-85).
At the death of Huntoh and Vukubatz, they are succeeded by Lahuh Ah and
Oxlahuh Tzii, who carry on various wars, and especially defeat the
Quiches in a general engagement, which is vividly described (86-93).
They also conquer the Akahals, killing their king Ichal, and the
Tzutuhils, with their king Caoke (94-98).
During their reign, a sanguinary insurrection occurred in Iximche, of
such importance that the author adopts its date as the era from which to
reckon all subsequent events (99-104). This date corresponded to the
year 1496, A. D.(?)
The following years are marked by a series of unimportant wars, the
outbreak of a destructive pestilence, and finally, in 1524, twenty-eight
years after the Insurrection, by the arrival of the Spanish forces under
The later pages are taken up with an account of the struggles between
the natives and the whites, until the latter had finally established
In printing the MS. of Xahila, I have encountered certain difficulties
which have been only partially surmounted. As the Cakchiquel, though a
written, is not a printed tongue, there has no rule been established as
to the separation of verbs and their pronominal subjects, of nouns and
their possessive pronouns, of the elements of compound particles, of
tense and mode signs, etc. In the MSS. the utmost laxity prevails in
these respects, and they seem not to have been settled points in the
orthography of the tongue. The frequent elisions and euphonic
alterations observable in these compounds, prove that to the native mind
they bore the value of a single word, as we are aware they did from a
study of the structure of this class of languages. I have, therefore,
felt myself free to exercise in the printed page nearly the same freedom
which I find in the MS. At first, this will prove somewhat puzzling to
the student of the original, but in a little while he will come to
recognize the radical from its augment without difficulty.
Another trouble has been the punctuation. In the original this consists
principally of dashes and commas, often quite capriciously distributed.
Here also, I have been lax in reducing the text to the requirements of
modern standards, and have left much latitude to the reader to arrange
it for himself.
Capital letters are not often used in the original to distinguish proper
names, and as the text has been set up from a close copy of the first
text, some irregularities in this respect also must be anticipated.
The paragraphs numbered in the text are distinctly marked in the
original, but are not numbered there. The numerals have been added for
convenience of reference.
10-1 Dr. Otto Stoll, Zur Ethnographie der Republik
Guatemala, p. 157 (Zurich, 1884), on the phonetic laws which have
controlled the divergence of the two tongues, Cakchiquel and Maya. See
the same writer in his “Supplementary Remarks on a Grammar of the
Cakchiquel Language,” translated by Dr. D. G. Brinton, in Proceedings
of the American Philosophical Society, for 1885.
10-2 Recordacion Florida, Discurso Historial, Natural,
Material, Militar y Politico del Reino de Goathemala. Lib. II, Chap.
10-3 Myths of the New World, p. 181; American Hero-Myths,
pp. 44, 73, 80, 162, etc.
11-1 “Cuatro generosos mancebos, nobles hermanos,” says
Fuentes y Guzman, Recordacion Florida, Lib. I, Cap. II. The story of
the four brothers who settled Guatemala is repeated by Torquemada,
Monarchia Indiana, Lib. XI, Cap. XVII, and other writers.
11-2 The Maya Chronicles, 109-122 (Library of Aboriginal
American Literature, Vol. I). For the evidence of the wholly mythical
character of the Toltecs, and of their “King,” Quetzalcoatl, see my
American Hero-Myths, Chapter III. (Philadelphia, 1882).
Sanchez y Leon, quoting apparently some ancient Cakchiquel refrain,
gives as the former name of their royal race, ru tzutuh Tulan, the
Flower of Tulan, which wondrous city he would place in Western Asia.
Apuntamientos de la Historia de Guatemala, p. 2.
12-1 Herrera observes of the natives of Guatemala, that the
Nahuatl tongue was understood among them, though not in use between
themselves. “Corre entre ellos la lengua Mexicana, aunque la tienen
particular.” Historia de las Indias Occidentales, Dec. IV, Lib. VIII,
12-2 I have in my possession the only grammar of this dialect
probably ever written: Arte de la Lengua Vulgar Mexicana de Guatemala,
MS., in a handwriting of the eighteenth century, without name of
13-1 The four names are given in this form in the Requête de
Plusieurs Chefs Indiens d’ Atitlan à Philippe II, 1571, in
Ternaux-Compans, Recueil des Pièces relatives a la Conquête du
Mexique, p. 419. The spelling of the last is there Tecocitlan. For
their analysis, see Prof. Ueber die Aztekischen
Ortsnamen, p. 719.
14-1 “Si bien se advierte, todo cuanto hacian y decian, era
en orden al maiz, que poco faltó para tenerlo por Dios, y era, y es,
tanto el encanto y embelezo que tienen con las milpas que por ellas
olvidan hijos y muger y otro cualquiera deleite, como si fuera la milpa
su ultimo fin y bienaventuranza.” Chronica de la S. Provincia del
Santissimo Nombre de Jesus de Guattemala, Cap. VII. MS. of the
seventeenth century, generally known as the Cronica Franciscana.
14-2 See Francisco Ximenez, Las Historias del Origen de los
Indios de esta Provincia de Guatemala, p. 191. (Ed. Scherzer, London
and Vienna, 1857).
14-3 Their first conqueror, the truculent Captain Pedro de
Alvarado, speaks of the muy grandes tierras de panes, the immense corn
fields he saw on all sides. Relacion hecha per Pedro de Alvarado á
Hernando Cortéz, in the Biblioteca de Autores Españoles, Tom. XXII,
15-1 “Hay mucho algodon, é son las mugeres buenas hilanderas
é haçen gentiles telas dello.” Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdés,
Historia General y Natural de las Indias, Par. III, Lib. III, Cap. IV.
“De la fertilidad de la tierra é gobernacion de Guatimala.”
15-2 “Son muy dados á edificar, y en lo que hoy vemos erigido
de los antiguos, reconocemos ser máquinas soberbias.” Fuentes y Guzman,
Recordacion Florida, Lib. II, Cap. I.
15-3 “Esta ciudad es bien obrada y fuerte á maravilla.”
Relacion de Pedro de Alvarado, in Bib. de Autores Españoles, Tom.
XXII, p. 459. So Herrera wrote from his authorities: “En Utlatan (i.
e., the city of Gumarcaah, capital of the Quiches), havia muchos, i mui
grandes templos de sus dioses, de maravillosos edificios.” Historia de
las Indias Occidentales, Dec. III, Lib. IV, Cap. XIX.
16-1 The Lineal Measures of the Semi-Civilized Nations of
Mexico and Central America, by D. G. Brinton, in Proceedings of the
American Philosophical Society, and separately.
16-2 “En la Provincia de Utlatan, junto á Guatemala, se
averiguò por las Pinturas, que los Naturales tenian de sus
antiguedades, demas de ochocientos años, etc.” Herrera, Historia de
las Indias Occidentales, Dec. III, Lib. IV, Cap. XVIII.
17-1 “Son amigos de hacer colloquios y decir coplas en sus
bailes.” Thomas Coto, Vocabulario de la Lengua Cakchiquel. MS. sub
17-2 “Son flecheros y no tienen hierba.” Oviedo, Historia
General de Indias, Par. III, Lib. III, Cap. IV.
18-1 This word is doubtful, as I do not find it in the
dictionaries, and judge of its meaning from its derivation and context.
See the Vocabulary. Sanchez y Leon speaks of the “very long lances
pointed with flint,” used by these people. Apuntamientos de la Historia
de Guatemala, p. 27.
19-1 The statement of Gavarrete, in his notes to Sanchez y
Leon, Historia de Guatemala, p. 3, that the Xahils and Zotzils were
two branches of the ruling family, the one residing at Iximche, the
other at Solola, rests on a misapprehension, as will be seen from the
Annals published in this volume.
20-1 It is interesting in this connection to observe how
widespread was the symbolic significance of the canopy, or sun shade, as
a mark of dignity. The student of Shakspeare will recall the lines in
his 125th sonnet—
“Were it aught to me I bore the canopy,
With my extern the outward honouring;”
while the ethnologist may consult Richard Andree’s suggestive essay,
Der Schirm als Würdezeichen, in his Ethnographische Parallelen und
Vergleiche, p. 250 (Stuttgart, 1878).
21-1 Alvarado writes “La tierra es muy poblada de pueblos muy
recios.” Relacion, etc., ubi suprá, p. 459. The following extract is
quoted from Las Casas, Historia Apologetica, MS., by Mr. Squier, in
his notes to Palacio:—
“En el Reyno de Guatemala, en la parte que va por la Sierra, estaban
ciudades de caba muy grandes, con maravillosos edificios de cal y canto,
de los cuales yo vi muchos; y otros pueblos sin numero de aquellas
Sanchez y Leon states that there were, in all, thirty independent native
states in the former confines of Guatemala. Historia de Guatemala, p.
22-1 On the derivation of Guatemala, see Buschmann, Ueber
die Aztekischen Ortsnamen, p. 719. That this is probably a translation
of the Cakchiquel Molomic chee, which has the same meaning, and is a
place-name mentioned in the Annals, I shall show on a later page.
22-2 See the Otra Relacion hecha por Pedro de Albarado à
Hernando Cortes, printed in the Bibliotheca de Autores Españoles,
Tom. XXII, p. 460.
23-1 Bernal Diaz, Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la
Nueva España, Cap. CXCIII.
23-2 Historia de Guatemala, ô Recordacion Florida, Lib. XV,
Cap. V. The Recordacion was first printed at Madrid, 1882-83, edited
by Don Justo Zaragoza, as one of the numbers of the Biblioteca de los
27-1 Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and
Yucatan, Vol. II, Chap. IX. I am inclined to believe that the original
stone, evidently supposed to be of great value, had been stolen, and
this piece of slate substituted. It was sewed up in a bag, which makes
the supposition probable, as it offered facility to conceal the theft.
28-1 They are referred to by the Archbishop Garcia Pelaez, in
these words: “Los planos y vistas tomadas por el comisionado y el
informe que las acompaña, muestran vestijios de adoratorios,
fortificaciones y trazas de edificios, calles y plazas ajustadas à
dimensiones y con elecion de materias en su estructura.”—Memorias para
la Historia del Antiguo Reyno de Guatemala. Por Don Francisco de Paula
Garcia Pelaez, Tom. I, p. 15, (Guatemala, 1851).
28-2 The names applied to these intercalary days are analyzed
differently by various authorities. For the etymology given of
nemontemi, I have followed M. Remi Simeon, in his notes to Dr.
Jourdanet’s translation of Sahagun’s Historia de Nueva España; the
Cakchiquel api is undoubtedly from ap, fault, evil, crime.
31-1 May is allied to the verb meho, to go somewhere and
return again. Hence may came to mean a cycle of years, months or
31-2 Apuntamientos de la Historia de Guatemala, p. 28.
32-1 “Chinamitl, seto o cerca de cañas,” from chinantia,
to build a fence, to enclose.—Molina, Vocabulario de la Lengua
32-2 Torresano, in his Arte de la Lengua Cakchiquel, MS.,
gives this word as ca, which indicates its probable derivation from
the verb cae, to join together, to unite, “those united by a common
32-3 Coto, Vocabulario de la Lengua Cakchiquel, MS., sub
32-4 Coto, u. s., s. v. Alguaçil. The word alam is
now applied to the canvas or tablets on which are painted the saints in
the churches. It also means a box or chest.—Dicc. Cakchiquel Anon.
32-5 See Brasseur, Hist. du Mexique et l’ Am. Cent., Tom.
II, pp. 489-90.
33-1 “Tienen tambien renombres de sus chinamitales ò
parcialidades que tambien son de signos vel nombres señalados, como
Xahila, etc.”—Coto, Vocabulario, MS., s. v. Renombre.
34-1 Hist. du Mexique, Tom. II, p. 84.
34-2 Their names are given in the Titulos de la Casa de
Ixcuin Nehaib, p. 3. They are called “pueblos principales, cabezas de
calpules.” The Nahuatl word, calpulli, here used, meant the kinsfolk
actual and adopted, settled together. They were the gentes of the tribe.
See Ad. F. Bandelièr, On the Social Organization and Mode of Government
of the Ancient Mexicans, for a full explanation of their nature and
34-3 The Lenâpé and their Legends, p. 139.
37-1 Father Coto, in his MS., Vocabulario Cakchiquel, gives
the rendering “mandadero,” and states that one was elected each year by
the principals of each chinamitl, to convey messages. He adds: “Usan
mucho de este nombre en el Pueblo Atitlan.”
37-2 Compare my edition of the Cakchiquel Grammar, p. 58.
Brasseur translates this title erroneously, “decorated with a
bracelet.”—Hist. des Nations Civilisées, etc., Tome. II, p. 515.
37-3 “El retorico, platico.” Pantaleon de Guzman gives the
fuller form, naol ah uchan, which means “he who knows, the master of
speech.”—Compendio de Nombres en Lengua Cakchiquel, MS.
37-4 Usually written by ellipsis, atzih vinak. Brasseur
translates it “distributor of presents,” but it appears to be from
tzih, word, speech. The vocabularies are, as usual, very
unsatisfactory. “Atzijh vinak, Principal deste nombre.”—Dicc.
38-1 Dicc. Cakchiquel MS., sub voce.
38-2 Requète de Plusieurs Chefs Indiens d’Atitlan à Philippe
II, in Ternaux-Compans, Recueil de Pièces relatives à la Conquête du
Mexique, p. 418.
38-3 Not “of the bird’s nest,” “ceux du nid de l’oiseau,” as
Brasseur translates it (Hist. du Mexique, Tome. II, p. 89), nor “casa
de la águila,” house of the eagle, as it is rendered by Fuentes y
Guzman, Recordacion Florida, Tom. I, p. 21. iquin is the generic
term for bird.
39-1 The Names of the Gods in the Kiche Myths of Central
America, in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society,
40-1 “Chamalcan u bi qui gabauil Cakchequeleb, xa Zotz u
vachibal.”—Popol Vuh, p. 224.
40-2 Hist. des Nations Civ. du Mexique, Tom. II, p. 173.
40-3 “El quinto Cam, esto es; amarillo, pero su significado
es culebra.”—Ximenez, Las Historias del Origen de los Indios de
Guatemala, p. 215. There are two errors in this extract. The name is
not Cam, but Can, and it does not mean yellow, which is an.
41-1 I have suggested an explanation of this strange term to
apply to the highest and most beneficent of their divinities, in a short
article in the American Antiquarian, 1885, “The Chief God of the
Algonkins in his Character as a Cheat and a Liar.”
42-1 Pantaleon de Guzman, Compendio de Nombres en Lengua
Cakchiquel, MS. On the rôle of the Tzitzimime in Aztec mythology see my
American Hero-Myths, p. 78.
42-2 “Al duende que anda en los montes llaman ru vinakil
chee vel çakioxol.”—Coto, Vocabulario, MS., s. v. Monte. Zak,
white; ox, to make fire. Brasseur’s translation, “Le blanc abime de
feu,” is indefensible.
42-3 See a paper entitled “The Folk Lore of Yucatan,”
contributed by me to the Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. I, 1883.
43-1 For an interesting note on the zaztun, see Apolinar
Garcia y Garcia, Historia de la Guerra de Castas en Yucatan, p. XXIV
(folio, Merida, 1865).
43-2 For the derivation of Xibalbay, and for the myths
referred to in the text, see my article, before referred to, The Names
of the Gods in the Kiche Myths, pp. 27, 28.
44-1 The Maya Chronicles, pp. 110, 111. Vol. I of the
Library of Aboriginal American Literature.
45-1 Brasseur, Juarros, Fuentes y Guzman, etc.
45-2 Thomas Coto, Vocabulario de la Lengua Cakchiquel, MS.,
1651. Sub voce, Sacrificar hombres, quoting Varea.
45-3 “Sacandole el corazon y asperjando, con la sangre de la
victima á los cuatro vientos cardinales.”—Apuntamientos de la Historia
de Guatemala, p. 26.
46-1 The Names of the Gods in the Kiche Myths, pp. 21, 22.
47-1 “Labah, agorar y guerrear, porque agoraban si la
hacian ô no.”—Ximenez, Vocabulario de las Tres Lenguas, sub voce.
47-2 These particulars are from the work of Jose Sanchez y
Leon, Apuntamientos de la Historia de Guatemala, pp. 26, 27.
48-1 Recordacion Florida, Lib. IX, Cap. VII.
48-2 Vocabulario de la Lengua Cakchiquel, MS. (1651).
48-3 Apuntamientos de la Historia de Guatemala, p. 27.
49-1 Fr. Estevan Torresano, Arte de la Lengua Cakchiquel,
MS., in my possession.
51-1 Supplementary Remarks to the Grammar of the Cakchiquel
Language, edited by D. G. Brinton.—Proceedings of the American
Philosophical Society, 1885.
52-1 See The Maya Chronicles, p. 67, and note.
53-1 “Die bewundernswürdige Feinheit und consequente Logik in
der Ausbildung des Maya Zeitwortes setzt eine Kultur voraus, die
sicherlich weit ueber die Zeiträume hinaus zurückreicht, welche man bis
jetzt geneight war, der Amerikanischen Civilization
zuzuschreiben.”—Otto Stoll, Zur Ethnographie der Republik Guatemala,
s. 148 (Zurich, 1884). Compare the remarks of Wilhelm von Humboldt on
the Maya conjugation, in his essay on the American verb, as published in
my Philosophic Grammar of the American Languages, as set forth by
Wilhelm von Humboldt, pp. 35-39 (Philada., 1885).
54-1 Gavarrete’s words are, “Pasó por manos de muchos
personas versadas en los idiomas indigenos sin que pudiese obtenerse una
traduccion integra y exacta de su testo, habiendo sido bastante, sin
embargo, lo que de su sentido pudo percibirse, para venir en
conocimiento de su grande importancia historica.”—Boletin de la
54-2 The Abbé says that Gavarrete gave him the original
(Bibliothêque Mexico-Guatemalienne, p. 14). But that gentleman does
not take to himself credit for such liberality. He writes “El testo
original quedó sin embargo en su poder,” etc. Ubi suprá.
57-1 As the slight aspirate, the Spanish h, does not exist
in the Cakchiquel alphabet, nor yet the letter baptismal
name “Hernandez,” takes the form “Ernantez.”
57-2 “Se casan muy niños,” says Sanchez y Leon, speaking of
the natives.—Apuntamientos de la Historia de Guatemala, p. 24.