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Folktales

Hunahpu and Ixbalanque

by Patricio Eufraccio

Hunahpu and Ixbalanque, the Maya legend of the Sun and the Moon. To the Mayas, the Sun and the Moon were gods. This is the history of their creation.

In the beginning of time there was no Earth, no Sun and no Moon. There only existed Heaven, the house of Gucumatz, the father and mother of all the creatures, and Hell, the house of the Ahauab de Xibalba, the Lords of Hell.

Hunahpu and Ixbalanque were the sons of Hun Hunahpu. He was a magnificent and lovely father. Hun Hunahpu and his brother, Vucub Hunahpu, were the good "ball players" (Juego de Pelota, Ball Game: an important prehispanic game). One day when Hun Hunahpu and Vucub Hunahpu were playing, the Lords of Hell, Hun Came and Vucub Caquix sent the Tucur (eagle owls) to invite them to a ball game in the Hell. When Hun Hunahpu and Vucub Hunahpu arrived there, Hun Came and Vucub-Caquix killed them. Their bodies were broken and the head of Hun Hunahpu was put in a dead tree. Inmediately, the tree revived. The miracle surprised everybody.

A virgin named Ixquic, daughter of Ahau Cuchumaquic, went to see the tree and to eat its fruit. The head of Hun Hunahpu said her: "If you like to eat a fruit, open your hand". When she opened her hand the head spat a white liquid in her hand and said: "By this saliva you are made pregnant. Go and have my sons". When Ixquic got back home to her father, he immediately left home. Ixquic then went to her mother-in-law's house and gave birth to two babies: Hunahpu and Ixbalanque. They grew up fast and even when they were still young they were like magicians because they could fell trees with only one hit and pick up the corn with only one movement of their hands.

The Lords fo Hell knew about the marvels of Hunahpu and Ixbalanque and invited them to the Hell. They acepted and wan in all the events which the Ahauab de Xibalba had made to rout the two brothers. The last event was the resuscitation of themselves. When they completed the last task, the Ahauab de Xibalba were conquered forever. Gucumatz, Hearth of the Heaven, rewarded Hunahpu and Ixbalanque by making them the Sun and the Moon.

Source: The "Popol Vuh", an originaly and anonymous text of the Quiché Maya.


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