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p. 26

I. Chapter 7

Here now are the deeds of Zipacná the elder son of Vucub-Caquix.

"I am the creator of the mountains," said Zipacná.

Zipacná was bathing at the edge of a river when four hundred youths passed 1 dragging a log to support their house. The four hundred were walking, after having cut down a large tree to make the ridge-pole of their house.

Then Zipacná came up, and going toward the four hundred youths, said to them: "What are you doing, boys?"

"It is only this log," they answered, "which we cannot lift and carry on our shoulders."

"I will carry it. Where does it have to go? What do you want it for?"

"For a ridge-pole for our house."

"All right," he answered, and lifting it up, he put it on his shoulders and carried it to the entrance of the house of the four hundred boys.

"Now stay with us, boy," they said. "Have you a mother or father;"

"I have neither," he answered.

"Then we shall hire you tomorrow to prepare another log to support our house."

"Good," he answered.

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The four hundred boys talked together then. and said:

"How shall we kill this boy? Because it is not good what he has done lifting the log alone. Let us make a big hole and push him so that he will fall into it. 'Go down and take out the earth and carry it from the pit,' we shall tell him. and when he stoops down, to go down into the pit, we shall let the large log fall on him and he will die there in the pit."

So said the four hundred boys, and then they dug a large, very deep pit. Then they called Zipacná.

"We like you very much. Go, go and dig dirt, for we cannot reach [the bottom of the pit]," they said.

"All right," he answered. He went at once into the pit. And calling to him as he was digging the dirt, they said: "Have you gone down very deep yet?"

"Yes," he answered beginning to dig the pit. But the pit which he was making was to save him from danger. He knew that they wanted to kill him; so when he dug the pit, he made a second hole at one side in order to free himself.

"How far [have you gone]?" the four hundred boys called down.

"I am still digging; I will call up to you when I have finished the digging," said Zipacná from the bottom of the pit. But he was not digging his grave; instead he was opening another pit in order to save himself.

At last Zipacná called to them. But when he called, he was already safe in the second pit.

"Come and take out and carry away the dirt which I have dug and which is in the bottom of the pit," he said, "because in truth I have made it very deep. Do you not hear my call? Nevertheless, your calls, your words repeat

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themselves like an echo once, twice, and so I hear well where you are." So Zipacná called from the pit where he was hidden, shouting from the depths.

Then the boys hurled the great log violently, and it fell quickly with a thud to the bottom of the pit.

"Let no one speak! Let us wait until we hear his dying screams," they said to each other, whispering, and each one covered his face as the log fell noisily. He [Zipacná] spoke then, crying out, but he called only once when the log fell to the bottom.

"How well we have succeeded in this! Now he is dead," said the boys. "if, unfortunately, he had continued what he had begun to do, we would have been lost, because he already had interfered with us, the four hundred boys."

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And filled with joy they said: "Now we must make our chicha 2 within the next three days. When the three days are passed, we shall drink to the construction of our new house, we, the, four hundred boys." Then they said: "Tomorrow we shall look, and day after tomorrow, we shall also look to see if the ants do not come out of the earth when the body smells and begins to rot. Presently we shall become calm and drink our chicha," they said.

But from his pit Zipacná listened to everything the boys said. And later, on the second day, multitudes of ants came, going and coming and gathering under the log. Some carried Zipacná's hair in their mouths and others carried his fingernails.

When the boys saw this, they said, "That devil has now perished. Look how the ants have gathered, how they have come by hordes, some bringing his hair and others his fingernails. Look what we have done!" So they spoke to each other.

Nevertheless, Zipacná was very much alive. He had cut his hair and gnawed off his fingernails to give them to the ants.

And so the four hundred boys believed that he was dead, and on the third day they began the orgy and all of the boys got drunk. And the four hundred being drunk knew nothing any more. And then Zipacná let the house fall on their heads and killed all of them.

Not even one or two among the four hundred were saved; they were killed by Zipacná, son of Vucub-Caquix.

In this way the four hundred boys died, and it is said that they became the group of stars which because of them are called Motz, 3 but it may not be true.


29:1 p. 206 Omuch Qaholab, "four hundred young men." The collective noun is used to indicate a great number, a crowd.

29:2 A drink of the Guatemalan Indians, made of fermented corn.

29:3 A mass, the Seven Little Sisters, the Pleiades. Brasseur de Bourbourg notes that Omuch qaholab, the four hundred young men who perished in an orgy, are the same as those who were worshiped in Mexico under the name Centzon-Totochtin, the four hundred rabbits who were implored as gods to protect the pulque and the drunkards.

Next: I. Chapter 8