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A Grammar of the Yucatecan Mayan Language
by David & Alejandra Bolles

The Prophecy of Chilam Balam

In the body of literature written early in the colonial period by the Maya there is a collection of prophecies called "U Tzol Than Ah Kinoob" (the interpretation (of visions) of the priests). This collection contains the prophecy by the priest Chilam Balam about the coming of foreigners bringing with them a new religion as well as prophecies by other priests. This is the portion of colonial Yucatecan Mayan literature which has received the most attention by outsiders to the Mayan culture since these prophecies became known by the Spanish friars. A portion of these prophecies was published by Lizana in 1633. Since the prophecy by Chilam Balam is the most important of these prophecies, it is from this prophet that the whole body of native Yucatecan Mayan literature dealing with Mayan religion has received its name, namely "The Books of Chilam Balam".

There are five sources for this collection of prophecies: The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, Lizana, Codex Perez (Mani), Codex Perez (Oxkutzcab), and The Book of Chilam Balam of Tizimin. With the exception of the introductory remarks found only in the Chumayel, the only complete and continuous source for this collection of prophecies is to be found on pages 65-75 of the Codex Perez (Mani). The Tizimin would also be a complete source were it not for the fact that its folio 9 has been lost.

It is difficult to give a date as to when these prophecies might have been written. In the Cuceb the writer of that material, Ah Kauil Cħel, says that he went on a journey with Ah Na Puc Tun and Ah Xupan Nauat to Bacalar, Chetumal, and other places in that vicinity in the year 8 Muluc (probably 1510-1511). He states further that he finished writing down the Cuceb material in hieroglyphs with Ah Na Puc Tun on 11 Chuen, 18 Zac, which fell on the 15th of February, 1544. These three men are three of the six priest which have their prophecies given in "U Tzolan Than Ah Kinoob". The other three are Ah Natzin Yuban Chan, Ah Na Puc Tun, and of course Ah Kin Chilam Balam. It seems possible that in their journey to the east that the three Uxmal priests might have visited Chilam Balam in his house at Hol Ha (port) Ecab. This would be especially true if the three Uxmal priests traveled by boat along the coast of Yucatan. They would have had to pass Ecab on their journey to and from Chetumal.

There is an introductory remark in "U Tzol Than Ah Kinoob" of how these six priests gathered at Chilam Balam's house and how they heard a voice speaking over his house. To hear the voice Chilam Balam lay face down in his house in a trance. "Chilam" means "lying down", "reclining", and the text says, "He is called Chilam (reclining) because he lays face down." The core of the prophecy which was heard was "yumyah u netzil uit kuk yetel yaxum" (The quetzal and the green bird preened its disheveled tail.). It seems that the interpretations of the prophecy given by each of the six priests is somehow based on this cryptic message.

It should be mentioned that much of the prognosticatory material in the Books of Chilam Balam shows a certain uniformity in writing style (grammar, vocabulary, phraseology, etc.). While it is tempting to ascribe this uniformity to the work of a single person, this uniformity could also be the result of an educational system in which much of the learning was done by rote.

6: The prophecy of Chilam Balam, the priest to the chanter of Cabal Cħeen Mani 6; U than Chilam Balam, ah kin ti Ix Kayum Cabal Cħeen Mani
On 13 Ahau the katun will end Oxlahun Ahau u hidzil uil katun
in the time of the Itza, in the time of Tancah, lord, ualac uil Itza, ualac uil Tancahe, yume,
the sign of one and only god on high. u chicul Hunab Ku caanal.
The cross shall return. It shall be shown in the towns. Ulom uaom che. Etzahom ti cahe.
Light (enlightenment) shall happen in the world, lord. Uchebal u zazhal yokol cabe, yume.
Quarreling returns, jealousy returns Dzuni moctamba, dzuni zauinal
when the bearers of the sign of god shall come. ca talom ti pul chicul ku.
Then there shall be priests, lord. Uchmal ah kin uinice, yume.
One shout away, one league away they come. Hun auat, hun lub u tal.
You see the prognostication which appears with the cross. A uiliceex mute u tippil yetel uaom che.
It shall dawn in the north, in the west. Ahom cab hun xaman, hun chikin.
Itzam Na Kauil shall awaken. Ahom Itzam Na Kauil.
Our lord is coming, men of the Itza. Talel u caah c' yum ah Itza.
Our older brother is coming, men of Tantun. Talel u caah c' zucun Tantune.
Receive your guests, the breaded ones, the ones from the Kam a uulaob, ah mexoob, ah likin caboob,
eastern lands, the bearers of the sign of god, lord. ah puloob tu chicul kue yume.
Will the word of god which comes amongst us be good? Utz ka u than ku cu talel c' icnale.
The day is coming when we will live. Talel u caah u kin c' cuxtale.
Do not get lost here on earth, lord. Ma a zatic uay yokol cabe, yume.
You one and only god created us. Tech Hunab Ku cħab ti coon.
Will the word of god be good, lord, Utz tun ua u than ku yume,
the guardian of our souls? yah canul c' pixan?
Whoever is going to receive the true belief in heaven is going Hemac bin kamic hach ocaan ti yole ti caan
with him, but there is the beginning of the two-day men. u bin tu pach, heuac u chun ca kin uinicil.
Then the sign should be set up on high. Ca uacunto u chicul caanal.
Then should our vision be set there. Ca uacunto c' pacte hele.
Then the cross should be set up on high. Ca uacunto u uaom che.
Misery of the change comes forth today, Numtetah u kexac hokol helele,
the change of the bark of the ceiba (first tree) of the world. u hel tu pach u yaxcheil cab.
It shall be shown today to the world. Etzahom helel ti balcahe.
Thus is the sign of the one and only lord on high. Lay u chicul Hunab Ku caanal.
Thus shall you worship Itza. Lay a kulteex Ah Itzaexe.
Then you shall worship today the sign of the godly god on high. Ca a kulte hele u chicul kulil ku caanale.
Then you shall worship thus to the true belief. Ca a kulte to tu hahil oc olal.
Then you shall worship thus our true god. Ca a kulte to c' hahal kue.
Believe in the word of the one and only god. Ocez ta uol tu than Hunab Ku.
Your commandment came from heaven. Tali ti caan a uah thanule.
Console yourselves Itza. Cuxcint a uol Ah Itzaexe.
Dawn shall come to them. Ahom uil cab tiob.
They believe during the next katun it seems. Oczicoob ti yol ichil u yanal katun uale.
My word shall augment itself. I Chilam Balam, I have Yaabtuba in than cen Chilam Balam.
interpreted the word of the true god everywhere here on earth, Ca tin tzolah u than hahal ku tuzinile yokol cabe.
because I go everywhere in the world. Licil in binel hunac tzuc ti cab.
The word of the true god, lord of heaven and earth, U than hahal ku, yumil caan yetel luum.
in the ninth year of One Ahau Katun it seems. Tu bolonpiz haabil Ah Hun Ahau Katun uale.
Will the word from heaven be very good lord? Hach utz ka u than ti caan yume?
We cry the rule, we cry our souls true god. C' okol yahaulil, c' okol ix c' pixan hahal ku.
But thus returns lord the three children of lice, Heuac ti ulez lae yume ox alam ukil,
the younger sisters of the natives. ix cuch luum idzinil.
Be alert! Dead is their heart towards the flower also Dzaman yol! Cimen ix u puczikal tu nicteob xan
those who back talk, the captain of the fighters. ah uaua tulupoob, ah uatan zinaob.
Nacxit Xuchit is the plumeria of the others, Nacxit Xuchit tu nicte u lakoob,
the two day rulers. ca kin yahauliloob.
They will be rabid on their daises, Coilac te tu dzamoob,
they will be rabid in their plumeria flowers, coilac te tu nicteob,
two day men they say. ca kin uinicil cu thanoob.
Two day their chair, their cups, their hats, Ca kin u xecoob, u luchoob, u ppocoob,
the rabid day, the rabid night, the hobgoblins of the world. u coil kin, u coil akab, u maxiloob yokol cab.
They twist their necks, they close their eyes, Kuy u cal, mudz u uich,
they spit out on the rulers of the world lord. pudz u chi ti yahaulil caboob yume.
Then it comes that there is no truth in the words He cu talel minaan hah tu thanoob
of the lords of the towns. u dzuliloob cah.
They shall say very mysterious things, Bin yaloob hach talaniloob,
the children of the men of Seven Deserted Houses, u mehen Uuc Tocoy Naob,
the children of the women of Seven Deserted Houses lord. yaloob Uuc Tocoy Naob yume.
Who will be the prophet? Mac to ah bobat?
Who will be the priest who will correctly speak Mac to ah kin bin tohol cantic
the words of the hieroglyphs thus? u than uooh lae?

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