Link to enlarge K6042 (Las Bocas - Ceramic Vessel) THE FOUNDATION RESEARCH DEPARTMENT

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

U Anahte Okot Uchben Uinicoob

"U Anahte Okot Uchben Uinicoob" (the book of dances of the ancient people) is a collection of verses that describes various rituals and secular activities from the pre-conquest period. Alfredo Barrera Vasquez published this collection in facsimile, transcript, and translation in 1965 in a book entitled "Cantares de Dzitbalche". This collection of verses is quite unusual in that it is unique in terms of subject matter in all of the known Yucatecan Mayan literature.

Not only is this collection of verses unusual because of the subject matter and style, but also it is different from the rest of the available colonial material dialectically. The language used here is closer to Modern Yucatecan Mayan than is the material from the Books of Chilam Balam and other works written at that time. Unfortunately the collection is undated and so no deductions can be made as to why there is a difference of language. The block letters used in writing this collection were of common use in the late eighteenth century. This is however of little use in actually dating the collection since there is no way of knowing whether this is the original or a copy of a now lost earlier transcript.

It might be mentioned that there is reason to believe that this collection of verses is a late fabrication. For example, the use of the word ppum in the title Ah Ppum ti Hul (= Archer) is incorrect usage of the word ppum. The word ppum means "arch", but in Spanish the word "arco" is applied to both "arch" and "bow". The proper Mayan word for "bow" is chulul. In any case, it would appear that the writer of these verses searched through a dictionary for "arco" and found ppum, and then used it without analyzing the meaning of ppum.

From the various verses the two about the "Arrow Sacrifice" have been chosen to be presented here. These two are complementary. The first one is a general description of the arrow sacrifice with words of counsel for the boy who has been chosen as the victim of the ceremony. The second is to the archers who are taking part in the ceremony and how they should deport themselves.

There is a stone column to which the arrow sacrifice victim is tied described in these two verses. The column is painted blue, apparently the color of sacrifice. These columns are still visible today in some of the ruins, for example at Kabah. Apparently though these columns were not always made of stone. At "El Mico", a ruin just north of Cancun, there is a hole in the middle of the plaza in front of the stairways of the main temple. Judging from the plaster marks around this hole there used to be a tree trunk embedded at this position but of course the trunk has since rotted away.

Those who thrash about, strong men! Ah papal, ah mukaan uinic!
Measuring their shields they come out Ppizaan chimalil ca yocoloob
to the middle of our plaza ti chumuc c' kiuic
so that they can measure their strength utial u ppiz u mukoob
at the whipping post dance. ti ix kolom che okot.
In the middle of our plaza there is a boy Tu chumuc c' kiuic yan hunppel xib
tied to the trunk of a stone column kaxaan tu chum ocom tunich
nicely painted with beautiful blue. cici bonaan yetel ix cichpam cħoh.
Put many "balche" flowers so that he is perfumed Dzanen yaab lol balche utial u bocinte
thus on the backs of his hands, his feet, his body also. bay tu tan u kab, tu yoc, tu uinclil xan.
Be content beautiful boy! Ci a uol cichcelem xib!
You are going to see the face of your lord in heaven. Teche a caah a uilah u yich a yumil caan.
You are not going to return here on Earth Ma tu yantal a zutcech uay yokol cabil
under the feathers of the little hummingbird yanal u kukmelil chan dzunun
or under the skin of the beautiful deer or the jaguar ua yanal u keulel cichcelem ceh ua ah chac mool
or under the feathers of the little nightingale ua yanal u kukmelil chan ix kook
or little pheasant. ua chan kanbul.
Be alert. Think only of your lord in heaven. Dza a uol. Tuculnen chen ti a yumil caan.
Don't be afraid; no evil is going to be done to you. Ma a cħa zahacil; ma lobil cun betbil techi.
The beautiful girl who accompanied you Ix cichpam ix cħuplal lakintcech
for the while you came was said to be your wife. ta zutucil a tal a uatan bin.
Don't be afraid! Ma a cħic zahacil!
Be attentive to what is going to happen to you. Dza a uol ti balx cun man tech.
Here comes the grand lord of ceremonies; He cu tal noh yum hol pop;
there he comes with the priest. ti tun u tal yetel ah kulel.
Furthermore here comes also the king of Can Pech. Bey xan ah ahau Can Pech he cu talo.
Next to him comes the grand captain Ake. Tu xax cu tal nohoch Nacom Ake.
Here come the chiefs. He cu tal batabil.
Smile! Be especially contented because you as they tell you Cheehnen! Cimcimac a uol tumen teche lay alaan tech
are taking the word of your townspeople to our beautiful lord. ca a biz u than a uet cahaloob tu tan c' cichcelem yum.
He has put us here on Earth. Layti dzamnilo uay ti yokol cab.
Many days have already passed Dzocilil u man yaabcach kin
from when there was the enlivenment. ti tun zalam.


Rack, rack of wood. Ix Pacum, Ix Pacum Che
One, two, Ti hunppel, ti cappel,
let's run around the tree in the running dance until three. coox zut tu hal che ti alcab okot tac oxppel.
Really lift up your forehead. Open your eyes very well. Ci likz u tan a pol. Malob ppil a uich.
Don't let your eyes get stuck (on something) Ma a mentic ix thile a uich
so that you can take the premium. utial ca a cħa u tohol.
Carefully sharpen the tip of your arrow. A ci zuzmah u ye a hul.
Carefully string your bow. A ci xabcheiltmah u zumil a ppum.
Put good resin from the "catzim" tree A dzamah malob yitz ix catzim
on the feathers of the nock of your arrow. tu kukmel u yit u chibil a hul.
Carefully smear the fat from a male deer A ci choymahaba u tzatzel xibil ceh
on the muscles of your arms, the muscles of your legs, tu muk a kab, tu muk a uoc,
your knees, your genitals, your ribs, your chest. ta pix, ta ton, ta cħalatel, ta tzem.
Give three running revolutions around the painted stone column Dza oxppel alcab zut tu pachil ocom tun bonaan
where a boy is tied, a white virgin man. lay tuux kaxaan lae xibil pal, ah zac zuhuy uinic.
Give the first (shot) on the second round. Dza u yax ti ca zuti.
Take your bow, put the arrow directly in his chest. Cħa a ppum, dza u hul cheil toh tan tu tzem.
You don't have to give all of your power Ma kabet a dzic tulacal a muk
so that you pierce through him utial a hul lomtic
so that it doesn't hurt the inner body ti olal ma u kilic tu tamil u bakel
so that he will be able to suffer little by little. utial ca patac u mukyatic huhunppiti.
Thus is what the holy lord god wanted. Lay u yoltah cilich celem yum ku.
On the second round then give it Tu ca zut ca dza
to the blue painted stone column. ti le ocom tun cħoh.
Then you give it, then you shoot again; Ca a dzae, ca a hulic tu caten;
that's the way you should do it. laylo yan a betic.
Don't stop dancing Ma a ppatic a uokot
because that is the way a good shield bearing warrior does it. tumen bay u mentic malob chimal ah bateel uinic.
He is chosen so that he gives pleasure to the eyes of lord god. Tu tetal utial u dza utz tu yich yum ku.
When the sun appears over the forest the arrow song begins. Lay cu tippil kin ti yokol kax ti lakin cu hoppol hul ppum kay.
Then the shield bearing warriors give everything. Lay chimal ah bateil u dzaicoob tulacal.

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