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

Two Bee Chants by Felipe Paz

The two chants presented here are chants by Don Felipe Paz of Tecoh, Yucatan, Mexico, recorded on tape by two different anthropologists about a decade apart. The first one was done for Carol Leonard in about 1964 with William Follan in attendance. The second chant was done for Malcolm Shuman in 1972.

In both instances Don Felipe explains in Spanish the purpose of the bee chant. Briefly stated, the bee hive has come under attack from various pests and diseases and the hive owner has failed in his efforts to ward off the attacks. The H-Men is called in to alleviate the situation. It is the job of the H-Men to call on the various spirits which will aid the bees to overcome the distressed situation. While no mention is made by Don Felipe in his discussions of other actions taken by either the H-Men or the hive owner, it should be noted that physical remedies as well as spiritual ones are taken also. (eg. if the xulab ants are attacking the hive then the appropriate steps are taken to make the hive inaccessible to the ants.)

For the bee chants presented here there are these following points which are common in both:

a)  certain deities must be called upon, namely colel cab, colel peten, colel holo, and colel ek tun;
b)  certain trees which have good flowers for bees are called upon to open their flowers to the bees;
c)  the deities called upon above should aid in keeping away the various pests which are destroying the bee hive.

Beyond these points there seems to be no set rule. The first chant is sung in it entirety. The second chant parallels the first in the sung part in the presentation of ideas, but then Don Felipe has added a chanted section which recapitulates the themes except that he leaves out the idea of keeping the pests away.

Just as the words in the sung parts are different, so too are the melodies. In still other examples of Don Felipe's melodies (in a Cħa Chac - rain ceremony - for example) still other melodies are used. How a melody is arrived at is something which we have yet to learn.

Of the deities called upon here at least two are spirits associated with definite places:

X-Colebil Ek Tun (Lady Black Rock) is a site in the Progresso township lands a few kilometers northwest of the Hacienda San Ignacio which is situated on the road from Mérida to Progresso. The site consists of several early classic or late early period platforms (visual observation by E. Wyllys Andrews V), the highest and most important of which is not over two meters high and roughly 20 meters square. To the southwest corner of the largest platform there is a plain unfaced stela roughly 20 cm thick, 1-1.5 m wide, and above the actual ground level about 2.5 m high (visual observation). This stela is the actual X-Colebil Ek Tun. The face of the stela is roughly north-south. Around the base of the stela is an altar of rock and rock rubble of about 2 m square and 70-80 cm high. The stela area is covered by a tin roof supported by four chacah trees which seem not to have any particular world direction as alignment. On the altar, particularly on the south side of the stela, there are various offerings including the remains of vigil candles, flowers (both real and plastic) and tin cans and tin lard cans (five gallon size) of various ages containing various types of offerings. One of these cans sometimes contains monetary offerings, but this cash may be used by a visitor in case of need!?

The people of Kom Cħeen (five km south of X-Colebil Ek Tun) and the vicinity use the spirit of X-Colebil Ek Tun mainly as an aid for deer hunting since in part it is from this site northwards into the Koxol Ak (mosquito grass - savanna) that the deer hunting area begins. Most of the offerings (mainly candles) are offered without any prayers or chants, but it is mentioned that knowledge of the proper words would certainly enhance the offering. No use of the spirit of X-Colebil Ek Tun for aiding bees in Kom Cħeen has come to our attention.

It should be noted that the normal water level in this area is only 2 meters below ground level and that there are several small dzonots about the site. Some are covered over and seem to be sources for zuhuy ha (virgin water) for H-Menoob.

X-Colebil Hol (Lady Hole) as a site is a dzonot in the Calkini region. Since we have not seen it personally the following is a description from various local sources. The dzonot is a "large" one, apparently meaning any dzonot over 3 meters across. The water is deep (over 5 meters?) and at the bottom on good days the actual stone image of X-Colebil Hol can be seen (imagined?). Some people of Kom Cħeen know of X-Colebil Hol, but no particular power has yet been described to me.

Tu bu, tu bu (sound of the bees) Tu bu, tu bu
I drink the wine of gods my lord cin yukul u vino u diosil in yumbil
to therefore the insects of the lady bee ti tun u yikel Colel Cab
to lady black rock, to lady rain ti Colel Ek Tun, ti Colel Chac
tu bu, tu bu, tu bu the wine of the lord god tu bu, tu bu, tu bu u vino dios yumbil
thirteen days, thirteen nights oxhun kin, oxhun akab
thirteen times downwards then return our insects certainly oxhuncabalac ca zuten c' yikel bacan
of the beautiful (lady) hole lord le X-Cichpam Holmobil yum
where therefore I place the holy virgin wine tuux tun cin dzic u santo zuhuy vino
in the path of the lady bee, lady peten (peten = province) tu bel le Colel Cab, Colel Peten
tixnac uxnac (unidentified words) spring of springs my lord tixnac uxnac zayo zayobil in yum
to the beautiful lady foreign divine queen lord ti X-Cichpam X-Colel Estranjera Divina Reina yum
I wash her wings I give strength to her wings cin ppoic u xikoob cin dzic muk u xikoob
to the flower of ruellia tuberosa ti lol tail
to the flower of ageratum intermedium ti lol dzidzilche
to the flower of acacia gaumeri ti lol catzimil
to the flower certainly of pithecolobium albicans ti lol bacan chucmilo
to the flower of zebalmilobil (unidentified plant) lord ti lol zebalmilobil yum
tu bu, tu bu tu bu, tu bu
I drink the wine of god lord my lord cin yukul u vino dios yumbil in yum
tu bu, tu bu sweet smell sweet smell skywards tu bu, tu bu ci boc ci boc caanacnac
anxiously open the flowers of the trees certainly ci u toppol u loloob u cheob bacan
in the forest my lord ti u montañao in yum
to the beautiful lady wash jaguar ti X-Cichpam X-Colebil X-Ppo Balam
she anxiously washes herself the lady my lord u ci ppocuba xunan in yum
so that he can certainly be kept away the lord utial nachcunzic bacan le yumen
of the insects certainly of the xulab ant le yikel le bacan le xulabe
so that he can certainly be kept away the lord utial u nachcunzic bacan le yumen
of the insects certainly of the locust u yikel bacan le zakalo
so that they can certainly be kept away the insects utial u nachcunzic bacan le yikel
of the lord of the long tailed cuckoo straight away le yumen le cipchoho tohol be
so that the ziruhoob (a lizard) can be moved off to the frogs utial u nachcunzic ziruhoob ti bacan le muchoob
all the sick ladies are kept away my lord u nachcunzic tulacal kinam xunanoob in yum
thirteen days, thirteen nights oxhun kin, oxhun akab
thirteen times downwards they come returning oxhuncabalac cu tal u zuten
our insects of the gods lord c' yikel kuobil yum
love me today my lord so that there will be therefore honey yacotunen behlae yumen ca tun ca yan tune cabe
to lady bee lady peten ti Colel Cab Colel Peten
to lady black rock ti Colel Ek Tun


Holy mead my lord Cilich maben in yumen
to lady bee, lady god, lady peten ti Colel Cab, Colel Ku, Colel Peten
thirteen times downwards comes back our insects of the lady bee oxhuncabalac cu tal u zuten c' yikel le Colel Cab
beautiful lady hole X-Cichpam Colebil X-Holo
to lady god ti Colebil Ku
love me yacotunen
then come certainly your beautifulness ca talen bacan a cichcelmil
to lady bee, lady peten ti Colel Cab, Colel Peten
thirteen times downwards it comes oxhuncabalac cu talo
certainly where it was procreated in the forest bacan tuux ppenah ti u montañao
where therefore always then there are flowers tuux tun amal tu ca uil lolol
ageratum intermedium its flower dzidzilche u lol
ripe ruellia tuberosa its flower, acacia gaumeri its flower takan tail lol u lol, catzimil lol xan
quickly returning, quickly returning tzancalac, tzancalac
tu bu it drinks the holy wine tu bu u yukul u santa vino
where drink the lady bee, lady peten, lady god tuux cu yukul le Colel Cab, Colel Peten, Colel Ku
lady god, lady bee divine queen lord Colel Ku, Colel Cab Divina Reina yumen
divine sacred tu pilixil (unidentified word) lord didivina sagrada tu pilixil yumen
it drank lord tu yukala yumen
before therefore lady bee lord not be caught by spiders also antes tune Colel Caben yumen mu kalo ti am xan
not be caught in the web of the spider nor sucked suckled mu kalo tu kaan am mix dzudzaan chuchuptonilo
moved away straight away moved away also nachcuntic toholtic nachcuntic xan
to the xulab ants close your flower that lady bee lord, le xulabobe mudz a lol ti le Colel Cabe yumil,
lady peten, lady god Colel Peten, Colel Ku
hinhulil (sound of the bees), hunhulul come I right back my lord hinhulil, hunhulul talen tzancalac in yum
there sent uxnacxpil uxbil (?) our lord of the water ti tuxnac uxnacxpil uxbil c' yum hai
to lady black rock, lady peten, lady hole ti Colel Ek Tun, Colel Peten, Colel Holo
to lady bees lord ti Colel Cabobil yum
(chanted) (chanted)
to the right holy hand of god send you to the lady bee Ti noh cilich kaba dios tuxteex ti Colel Cab
to lady peten ti Colel Peten,
to the god of the bees bows down lady to the lady bee ti kuil le caba tu chilcuntaltic Colel ti Xunan Cab
to certainly where the holy bacab is ti bacan yan X-Cilich Bacab
here it comes down where the divine comes also he cu yemelo tuux talo divino xan
to the south east wind west wind south wind ti nohol lakin ik chikin ik nohol ik
then return our insects also the lady bee comes here lord ca zuten c' yikeloob xan cu tal le Colel Cab uaye yum
if I don't hand out also the food the honey also ua ma thoxenen xan le hanalo cabo xan
ageratum intermedium they received also dzidzilche tu kamilo xan
where opens the flower also tuux cu toppol u cabilo xan
to ageratum intermedium and the honey of acacia gaumeri ti bacan dzidzilche xan yetel u cabilo xan catzim
the honey also of ruellia tuberosa, all the honey of the forest tu cabilo xan x-tailo, tulacal u cabil montaña
sweet its smell sweet its vapor of the food also ci u boc ci u budz u hanal xan
to our beautiful lady holo kneeling down your beautifulnesses tu c' X-Cichpam X-Colebil X-Holo xacuba x-cichcilicheex
you beautiful hole teche X-Cichpam Holmo
you beautiful lady bees texe X-Cichpam Colel Cabeex
beautiful lady black rock X-Cichpam Colel Ek Tun
your beautifulness then nourishes the virgin god of honey a X-Cichpamil ca tu tzentah tu zuhuy Kuil Cab
to the god peten ti Kuil Peten
to the right hand of god lord ti noh kab dios yumbil

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