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

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

The Ritual of the Bacabs

"The Ritual of the Bacabs" is a manuscript containing more than 40 chants which would be used by H-Menoob in order to exorcise, placate, entreat, or otherwise communicate with the various spirits which cause sickness and death. The manuscript which comes to us was written in the late eighteenth century, but it is not clear whether or not this is a copy of some earlier document. The language of the chants is quite archaic, indicating that what we have is indeed a copy of earlier material.

Ralph L. Roys has transcribed and translated most of the chants from "The Ritual of the Bacabs" and has also given some background material in his introduction to that work. The interested reader should consult that book. It will be noted that the translation offered here for the chant that was chosen is somewhat different than Roys' translation for the same chant.

Later on in this anthology there are examples of modern chants. The modern chants are dialectically different from the chants of "The Ritual of the Bacabs", more so than modern formal speech is from sixteenth century formal speech.

Shortly therefore I seize you, Zam tun bacin in chucech
I who am your mother, I who am your father. cen a na, cen a yum.
Oh you White Snake Intestinal Pains, Cech Zacal Can Tippte be chee,
oh you Red Snake Intestinal Pains. cech Chacal Can Tippte be chee.
Oh who are you at sunset, oh at dawn? Max bin be chee cech ocic kin be chee ahic cabe chee?
Oh are you the rabid child, the rabid creation? Cech u coil al be chee, u coil cħab be chee?
Shortly therefore I stretch you out, Zam tun bacin in chelcunech
I who am your mother, I who am you father, cen a nae, cen a yume,
White Snake Intestinal Pains. Zacal Can Tippte.
When I return I seize you White Snake Intestinal Pains. Can zutcenac ca tin chuceche Zacal Can Tippte.
Immediately I pick you up, Tec cħuyen tech,
I throw you into the middle of the sea. in piccħintech tan yol kaknab.
Then you enter into the four putrefactions. Ti tun bacin ocech ti can cħocili.
Then you enter into the four fishes. Ti tun bacin ocech ti can cayili.
Then you enter into the four "hulub" bushes. Ti tun bacin ocech ti can hulubili.
Then you enter into the four grasses. Ti tun bacin ocech ti can zucili.
Of whom thus then are you dreaming Max tun bacin a uayazba
White Yellow-Drop-Snake Seated King during the day? Zacal Kan Cħaah Cum Ahau ti kin?
Who thus then picked you up, you White Snake Intestinal Pains? Max tun bacin tec cħuyen tech cech Zacal Can Tippte?
Who thus then is your prognosticatory owl, Max tun bacin a mutil,
who thus then is your prognosticatory bird? max tun bacin a cħicħil chee?
Oh White Black Pip-Bird, Oh White Uakeh-Bird, Oh White Hawk. Zacal Ek Pip chee, Zacal Uakeh chee, Zacal Ah Ii chee.
Then thus I tie you to the stem of a squash. Ti tun bacin tin kaxech ti yoc ca.
Then you arise to the heart of heaven. Ti nacech tan yol caan.
Shortly then thus I deliver you to god The Ruler Anbin. Zam tun bacin in kuben tech ti ku Ah Tepal Anbin chee.
Anbin is your child, your offspring. Anbin a ual, a mehen.
My word arrives beyond the sky in the east of Anbin. Cu kuchul in than pach caan lakin Anbin chee.
You left the body it seems as you sit thus on your butt. A ppatah hi ix uinicil ta culic tun a cul chee.
Tobacco resin is pressed on the person's stomach. Cab kutz bin pedzbal u nak uinic lae.
Then tobacco juice will be anointed on his stomach. Ca nabzabac u kabil kutz tu nak lae.
This is the drink being given to Snake Intestinal Pains. He yuklil Can Tippte lae bin dzabal.
Shortly then therefore I create Zam tun bacin chee in cħab
White Can-Chac-Che-Shrub as his tree. Zacal Can Chac Che u che.
Shortly then therefore White Snake Intestinal Pains Zam tun bacin Zacal Can Tipplah
then is his drink. tun bacin yukul.
This then therefore is his wine. Lay tun bacin u ci.
Shortly then therefore I create the tobacco bush. Zam tun bacin in cħab Ix Kutz Aban.
This then therefore is his wine, once steep is his wine. Lay tun bacin u ci, hun dzam u ci.
This thus therefore is what happens Lay tun bacin uchic
when I stretch you out you White Snake Intestinal Pain. in chelcunicech cech Zacal Can Tippte lae.
Amen. Amen.

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