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p. 49

II. Chapter 3

THIS is the story of a maiden, the daughter of a lord named Cuchumaquic.

A maiden, then, daughter of a lord heard this story. The name of the father was Cuchumaquic and that of the maiden was Xquic. 1 When she heard the story of the fruit of the tree which her father told, she was amazed to hear it.

"Why can I not go to see this tree which they tell about?" the girl exclaimed. "Surely the fruit of which I hear tell must be very good." Finally she went alone and arrived at the foot of the tree which was planted in Pucbal-Chah.

"Ah!" she exclaimed. "What fruit is this which this tree bears? Is it not wonderful to see how it is covered with fruit? Must I die, shall I be lost, if I pick one of this fruit?" said the maiden.

Then the skull which was among the branches of the tree spoke up and said: "What is it you wish? Those round objects which cover the branches of the trees are nothing but skulls." So spoke the head of Hun-Hunahpú turning to the maiden. "Do you, perchance, want them?" it added.

"Yes, I want them," the maiden answered.

"Very well," said the skull. "Stretch your right hand up here."

"Very well," said the maiden, and with her right hand reached toward the skull.

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In that instant the skull let a few drops of spittle fall directly into the maiden's palm. She looked quickly and intently at the palm of her hand, but the spittle of the skull was not there.

"In my saliva and spittle I have given you my descendants," said the voice in the tree. "Now my head has nothing on it any more, it is nothing but a skull without flesh. So are

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the heads of the great princes, the flesh is all which gives them a handsome appearance. And when they die, men are frightened by their bones. So, too, is the nature of the sons, which are like saliva and spittle, they may be sons of a lord, of a wise man, or of an orator. 2 They do not lose their substance when they go, but they bequeath it; the image of the lord, of the wise man, or of the orator does not. disappear, nor is it lost, but he leaves it to the daughters and to the sons which he begets. I have done the same with you. Go up, then, to the surface of the earth, that you may not die. Believe in my words that it will be so," said the head of Hun-Hunahpú and of Vucub-Hunahpú. 3

And all that they did together was by order of Huracán, Chipi-Caculhá, and Raxa-Caculhá.

After all of the above talking, the maiden returned directly to her home, having immediately conceived the sons in her belly by virtue of the spittle only. And thus Hunahpú and Xbalanqué were begotten.

And so the girl returned home, and after six months had passed, her father, who was called Cuchumaquic, noticed her condition. At once the maiden's secret was discovered by her father when he observed that she was pregnant. 4

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

"My daughter is pregnant, 5 Sirs; she has been disgraced," 6 exclaimed Cuchumaquic when he appeared before the lords.

"Very well," they said. "Command her to tell the truth, 7 and if she refuses to speak, punish her; let her be taken far from here and sacrifice her."

"Very well, Honorable Lords," he answered. Then he questioned his daughter:

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"Whose are the children that you carry, my daughter?" 8 And she answered, "I have no child, my father, for I have not yet known a youth." 9

'Very well," he replied. "You are really a whore. Take her and sacrifice her, Ahpop Achih; bring me her heart in a gourd and return this very day before the lords," he said to the two owls.

The four messengers took the gourd and set out carrying the young girl in their arms and also taking the knife of flint with which to sacrifice her. 10

And she said to them: "It cannot be that you will kill me, oh, messengers, because what I bear in my belly is no disgrace, but was begotten when I went to marvel at the head of Hun-Hunahpú which was in Pucbal-Chah. So, then, you must not sacrifice me, oh, messengers!" said the young girl, turning to them.

"And what shall we put in place of your heart? Your father told us: 'Bring the heart, return before the lords, do your duty, all working together, bring it in the gourd quickly, 11 and put the heart in the bottom of the gourd.' Perchance, did he not speak to us so? What shall we put in the gourd? We wish too, that you should not die," said the messengers.

"Very well, but my heart does not belong to them. Neither is your home here, nor must you let them force you to kill men. 12 Later, in truth, the real criminals will be at your mercy and I will overcome Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé. So, then, the blood and only the blood shall be theirs and shall be given to them. 13 Neither shall my heart be burned before them. 14 Gather the product of this tree," said the maiden.

The red sap gushing forth from the tree fell in the gourd

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and with it they made a ball which glistened and took the shape of a heart. The tree gave forth sap similar to blood, with the appearance of real blood. Then the blood, or that is to say the sap of the red tree, clotted, and formed a very bright coating inside the gourd, like clotted blood; meanwhile the tree glowed at the work of the maiden. It was called the "red tree of cochineal," 15 but [since then] it has taken the name of Blood Tree because its sap is called Blood. 16

"There on earth you shall be beloved and you shall have all that belongs to you," said the maiden to the owls.

"Very well, girl. We shall go there, we go up to serve you; you, continue on your way, while we go to present the sap, instead of your heart, to the lords," said the messengers.

When they arrived in the presence of the lords, all were waiting.

"You have finished?" asked Hun-Camé.

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

"Very well. Let us see," exclaimed Hun-Camé. And grasping it with his fingers he raised it, the shell broke and the blood flowed bright red in color.

"Stir up the fire and put it on the coals," said Hun-Camé.

As soon as they threw it on the fire, the men of Xibalba began to sniff and drawing near to it, they found the fragrance of the heart very sweet.

And as they sat deep in thought, the owls, the maiden's servants, left, and flew like a flock of birds from the abyss toward earth and the four became her servants.

In this manner the Lords of Xibalba were defeated. All were tricked by the maiden.


53:1 p. 213 Cuchumaquic, gathered blood; Xquic, little blood, or blood of a woman.

53:2 Naol, Ahuchan, "orator" title of one of the officials who served in the court and who were called Lolmay, Atzihuinac, Galel, and Ahuchan. They were the agents, accountants, and treasurers, according to the text of the Petición de los principales de Santiago Atitlán al Rey Felipe II, insert in Ternaux Compans, Recueil de pièces relatives à la conquête du Mexique (Paris, 1838), 415. Naoh ah uchan, "he who knows," master of discourse, according to Father Pantaleón de Guzmán.

53:3 There was only the head of Hun-Hunahpú. As will be noted, this passage reminds one of the Mexican myth of the birth of Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war, who was begotten by a little ball of feathers which fell on his mother, Coatlicue, who in turn placed it on her breast and "from which she became pregnant," according to Sahagún (Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España, Book III, Chap. I).

53:4 Ta x-il ri r'al, literally, "when he saw the son."

53:5 Qo chi r'al, literally, "she is with child."

53:6 Xa u hoxbal, literally, "is nothing more than a prostitute."

53:7 Ch'a qoto u chi ri, literally, "search her mouth."

53:8 Apa ahchoc e ri av'al qo ch' a pam, at nu meal?

53:9 Ma-habi achih v'etaam u vach. "I have not known the face of a man."

53:10 The Zaquitoc, the flint knife used to open the breast of the victim sacrificed to the Indian gods.

53:11 Ch'anim ch'y cama uloc pa zel.

53:12 Ma cu xa ch'y chih vinac chi camic.

53:13 Xa quic xa holomax rech ch'uxoc are chicut chuvach. Ximénez translates this difficult passage thus: "Only the blood and skull shall be theirs." The sentence contains the possessive pronoun, singular, following the custom of the Quiché writer to consider as only one person the group of two, in this case Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé. The word holomax is not found in the Tesoro by Ximénez, nor in the other Quiché and Cakchiquel vocabularies which I have consulted; but it is very similar to the Maya word yolomal, which is a compound of o'om, "blood" in the ancient Maya of Yucatán. Yo omal uinic, "blood of man," the Diccionario de Motul. It is possible, therefore, that holomax may be derivative of the Maya o'om, yolomal, a synonym for p. 214 "blood," and for that reason the author, who was very fond of using synonyms, employs it here to give emphasis to the language.

53:14 Although it had not been mentioned before, Xquic knew very well that the lords wanted her heart in order to burn it. This was an ancient custom of the Maya. Father Landa says that in the month Mac "they threw the hearts of birds into the fire to burn them, and if they had no large animals, such as jaguars, pumas, or alligators, they made hearts with incense (pom or copal); and if there were animals and they killed them, they brought their hearts for that fire."

53:15 Chuh Cakché. The tree which the Mexicans called ezquahuitl, "tree of blood," and which the Europeans also know by the name "blood," Sangre de Dragón, Croton sanguifluus, a tropical plant, the sap of which has the color and density of blood. Vasquez de Espinosa describes it as follows: "There is another tree in this province of Chiapa and of Guatemala which is called dragon. They are tall like almonds, the leaf is white and the stem is of the same color, and if a knife is stuck into the tree anywhere it weeps blood which looks as natural as though it were human." Compendio y Descripcíon de las Indias Occidentales, Part I, Book V. In the Relación of his expedition to the Petén, Father Agustín Cano, cited by Ximénez (Historia de la Provincia de San Vicente de Chiapa y Guatemala, III, 17), says that to the north of Cahabón in Verapaz, "there are certain large trees which, when they are pierced, bleed like the dragon, and in the language of Cahabón they are called Pilix, and in chol Cancanté."

53:16 Rumal quic holomax ch'u chaxic. Here the words which we have examined in a previous note are repeated, but in a slightly different sense. Quic is blood, the sap and resin of a tree, especially of the India rubber, or elastic rubber, which the ancient Maya and Quiché sometimes used as incense for their gods. The ball with which they played was also called quic. The name of the heroine of this episode was likewise Xquic, that of the feminine blood, or that of elastic rubber. Brasseur de Bourbourg (1869) calls it "la vierge Xquic, celle de la gomme élastique."

Next: II. Chapter 4