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p. 13

I. Chapter 3

Immediately the wooden figures were annihilated, destroyed, broken up, and killed.

A flood was brought about by the Heart of Heaven; a great flood was formed which fell on the heads of the wooden creatures.

Of tzité the flesh of man was made, but when woman was fashioned by the Creator and the Maker, her flesh was made of rushes. 1 These were the materials the Creator and the Maker wanted to use in making them.

But those that they had made, that they had created, did not think, did not speak with their Creator, their Maker. And for this reason they were killed, they were deluged. A heavy resin fell from the sky. The one called Xecotcovach came and gouged out their eyes; Camalotz came and cut off their heads; Cotzbalam came and devoured their flesh. Tucumbalam 2 came, too, and broke and mangled their bones and their nerves, and ground and crumbled their bones. 3

This was to punish them because they had not thought of their mother, nor their father, the Heart of Heaven, called Huracán. And for this reason the face of the earth was darkened and a black rain began to fall, by day and by night.

Then came the small animals and the large animals, and

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sticks and stones struck their faces. And all began to speak: their earthen jars, 4 their griddles, 5 their plates, their pots, their grinding stones, 6 all rose up and struck their faces.

"You have done us much harm; you ate us, and now we shall kill you," said their dogs and birds of the barnyard. 7

And the grinding stones said: "We were tormented by you; every day, every day, at night, at dawn, all the time our faces went holi, holi, huqui, huqui, because of you. 8 This was the tribute we paid you. But now that you are no longer men, you shall feel our strength. We shall grind and tear your flesh to pieces," said their grinding stones.

And then their dogs spoke and said: "Why did you give us nothing to eat? You scarcely looked at us, but you chased us and threw us out. You always had a stick 9 ready to strike us while you were eating.

"Thus it was that you treated us. You did not speak to us. Perhaps we shall not kill you now; but why did you not look ahead, why did you not think about yourselves? Now we shall destroy you, now you shall feel the teeth of our mouths; we shall devour you," said the dogs, and then, they destroyed their faces. 10

And at the same time, their griddles and pots spoke: "Pain and suffering you have caused us. Our mouths and our faces were blackened with soot; we were always put on the fire and you burned us as though we felt no pain. Now you shall feel it, we shall burn you," said their pots, and they all destroyed their [the wooden men's] faces. The stones of the hearth, 11 which were heaped together, hurled themselves straight from the fire against their heads causing them pain. 12

The desperate ones [the men of wood] ran as quickly as they could; they wanted to climb to the tops of the houses.

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and the houses fell down and threw them to the ground; they wanted to climb to the treetops, and the trees cast them far away; they wanted to enter the caverns, and the caverns repelled them. 13

So was the ruin of the men who had been created and formed, the men made to be destroyed and annihilated; the mouths and faces of all of them were mangled.

And it is said that their descendants are the monkeys which now live in the forests; 14 these are all that remain of them because their flesh was made only of wood by the Creator and the Maker.

And therefore the monkey looks like man, and is an example of a generation of men which were created and made but were only wooden figures.


15:1 p. 202 The Quiché name zibaque is commonly used in Guatemala to designate this plant of the Typhaceae family, which is much used in making the mats called petates tules in that country. Basseta says it is the part of a reed with which mats are made.

15:2 It is difficult to interpret the names of these enemies of man. Ximénez says that Xecotcovach was a bird, probably an eagle (cot) or sparrow hawk. The Camalotz which cut off men's heads was evidently the large vampire (nimá chicop) Camazotz, bat of death, which decapitated the young Hero Hunahpú in Part II of the manuscript. Cotzbalam may be interpreted as the jaguar who lies in wait for his prey. Tucumbalam is another name for the danta or tapir. Seler (Der Fledermausgott der Maya-Stämme, Vol. II of Gesammelte Abhandlungen) argues that these "wild animal demons of the Popol Vuh" p. 203 are equivalent to the four monstrous figures which are seen in folio 44 of the Codex Borgiano. According to Seler, Tucumbalam is represented in that Códice as a species of shark or crocodile. The bat of the East had torn off the head of his neighbor in front of him, and the shark or crocodile of the West had torn off his foot.

15:3 X-cahixic, x-muchulixic qui baquil, in the original.

15:4 Quebal, which Ximénez translates "grinding stones," is a water-jug or pitcher here. Brasseur de Bourbourg translates it incorrectly as tout ce qui leur avait servi.

15:5 Comalli in the Mexican language, xot in Quiché, a large plate or the disk of clay upon which the corn tortillas are baked.

15:6 Qui caa, in the original, grinding stone, metate in Mexico. Brasseur de Bourbourg read it incorrectly as qui aq y and translated the passage "their hens."

15:7 The dogs which the wooden men ate were not like those which are now in America, but a species which the Spanish chroniclers called "silent dogs," because they did not bark. The barnyard fowls were the turkey, the pheasant, and the wild hen.

15:8 These words are merely an imitation of the noise made when the corn is being ground by the grinding stone.

15:9 Yacal u bi, "leaning against the wall," or "lying on the ground," according to the Diccionario Cakchiquel.

15:10 To understand this paragraph better, it is necessary to re-establish the original punctuation which Brasseur de Bourbourg has altered in his transcription, so that it will read as follows: Xere c'oh yv-u chaah vi; mavi c'oh chauic. Ma ta cu mi-x-oh camic chyve. Hupacha mavi mi-x-yx nauic, x-yx nau ta cutchyvih? Ta cut x-oh zach vi, vacamic cut x-ch'y A ca bac qo pa ca chi; x-qu'yx ca tio, x-e cha ri tzi chique, ta x-cut qui vach.

15:11 They are the three hearthstones of the Indians on which the comal, or the cooking pots, rested.

15:12 The idea of a flood in olden times and the belief in another which would be the end of the world, and would have had characters similar to those described here in the Popol Vuh, still existed among the Indians of Guatemala in the years following the Spanish conquest, according to the Apologética Historia (Chap. CCXXXV, p. 620). Bishop Las Casas says in this work that "They had, among them, information of the flood and of the end of the world, and called it Butic, which is the word which means flood of many waters and means [the final] judgment, and so they believe that another Butic is about to come, which is another flood and judgment, not of p. 203 water, but of fire, which they say would be the end of the world, in which all the creatures would have to quarrel, especially those which serve man, like the stones on which they grind their corn and wheat, the pots, the pitchers, giving to understand that they will turn against man."

15:13 Xa chi yuch hul chi qui vach, literally, the caverns covered their faces, scorned them.

15:14 According to the Anales de Cuauhtitlán, in the fourth age of the earth, "many people were drowned and others hurled into the mountains and were changed into monkeys."

Next: I. Chapter 4