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

World Creation Stories from Kom Cħeen, Yucatan

The three stories which are given here are stories which seem to have a basis in native creation myths rather than in European myths as one would expect if one considers that the Maya of Kom Cħeen have been under the influence of the Catholic church since the mid 15 hundreds. The themes of these stories are as follows: story 1), a description of the hunchbacks and the method by which they built the mounds; story 2), how the hunchbacks were destroyed by flood; and story 3), how this present creation will come to an end by fire lit by the cigar butt of the lord of heaven.

The reason for stating that these stories are native and not European imports is based on two ideas expressed in the stories: that there was a previous creation destroyed by flood (as opposed to the continuation of the same creation through a deluge as is the case of the Judeo-christian creation myth), and that the end of the present creation will be by fire caused by the lord of heaven throwing down his cigar butt. The idea of smoking gods is certainly pre-columbian. It is interesting to note that these ideas parallel those from other parts of the Yucatecan peninsula.

The first story about the construction of the mounds was told to me while I was working with some men from Kom Cħeen on an archaeological excavation under E. Wyllys Andrews IV. We had come across some rather large stones and were having trouble moving them. Somebody asked how was it possible that these stones were put in position here and don Teodosio Tujin responded with the story.

The second story about the end of the hunchbacks through flood was told to me by don Emiliano Poot after we had come back from his garden plot which happened (as is frequently the case) to be on and around several mounds. While we were out in his garden I was looking at the various pilas (haltun in Mayan) laying around on and near the mounds and I mentioned to him that I wondered what these things could have been used for. Later that day in the late afternoon he came over to help me clean up some of the weeds around the orange trees in our back yard and while we were talking about this and that he all of a sudden mentioned that he remembered what the pilas were for and told me the story about the flood.

The third story about the end of this world was told to me in don Emiliano's house. We were sitting in the hammocks and one of his "compadres" happened by. The compadre (I don't know the fellow's name) is one of the better off citizens of Kom Cħeen, and seemingly as a mark of this carries about with him a pack of cigarettes which he frequently offers to the people who are with him. He offered cigarettes to all present, and when he got to the end of his he gave the butt a flick with his fore finger and the butt made an arc through the room to the door. Since the room was somewhat dark one could see the path of the burning butt very well. The compadre said, Ti cu bin u chamal yumil caan! (There goes the cigar of the lord of heaven!) When I asked him what he meant by that he told the story about the end of this present world.

told by Teodosio Tujin, Kom Cħeen
tzicbaltabi tumen Teodosio Tujin, Kom Cħeen

There were a long time ago little people, very small, who were called hunchbacks. At that time the rocks were not heavy. If you throw a rock in the water, it doesn't sink, the rock doesn't go under. Like wood it stays on the water. Those hunchbacks then had power over the water, they knew how to call the water so that the water would come wherever they wanted. Therefore if a hunchback wants to carry a rock he just calls the water. Then the water comes like a little whirl wind. He presses then on the rock with his finger, and afterwards he takes the rock wherever he wants.

Yan bin uch cachi chichan macoob, mehentacoob, ppuzoob u kabaob. Ti le kinaco ma al le tunichobo. Ua ca pulic humppel tunich ichil le hao, ma tu dzamal, ma tu bulul le tunicho. Bey che cu ppatal yokol le hao. Le ppuzoob tuno yan u mukoob yokol le hao, u yohloob u thani le hao utial u tal le hao he tuux u katobe. Leolal ua tac u putic humppel tunich huntul ppuze chen cu thanic le hao. Le tun le hao cu tal bey humppel chan mozon ik. Cu pedzic tun le tunicho yetel u yal u kab, cu dzocole cu bizic le tunicho he tuux u kati.

Nobody knows what the hunchbacks needed the ancient mounds for, but they are the ones it is said that raised those mounds. For that reason even today there are everywhere here in this land many mounds with very large rocks in them. Only because the hunchbacks have power over the water are they able to raise the large stones on to the ancient mounds.

Mix mac u yohel baaxten tun kabet le uchben muulobo ti le ppuzobo, pero letiob bin tu likzahoob le muulobo. Lebetice tac behlae yan tulacal tuux uay te luumila yaabach muuloob yetel zen nohoch tunichoob ichiloob. Chen tumen le ppuzobo yan u mukoob yokol le hao cu patal u likzicoob le nohoch tunichobo yokol le uchben muulobo.

told by Emiliano Poot Cħim, Kom Cħeen
tzicbaltabi tumen Emiliano Poot Cħim, Kom Cħeen

Wherever there are ancient mounds there are little haltunoob beside them. It is said that the haltunoob are the little boats of the hunchbacks. Because the hunchbacks were bad people then the lord of the heaven thought that he needed to remove the hunchbacks from the surface of the earth. Then he sent Lord Rain so that the world would be drowned.

Hetuuxac yan le uchben muulobo yan mehen haltunoob tu tzeloob. Cu yalale le haltunobo u chan chemoob le uchben ppuzobo. Tumen tun kakaz macoob le ppuzobo ca tu tuclah u yumil caan kabet u tzelic le ppuzobo yokol cab. Ca tun tu tuxtah yum chac utial u bulul yokol cab.

When the hunchbacks knew that there would be a flood they made their little boats from rock. When the lord of the heaven saw what the little hunchbacks were doing then he thought, "Now I will quickly screw the little devils." Then he made the rocks become heavy.

Ca tu yoheltahoob le ppuzobo tan u uchul bulcabil ca tu betahoob u chan chemoob yetel tunich. Ca tu yilah u yumil caan le baax cu betic le mehen ppuzobo ca tu tuclah, "He in han topic le mehen cizinobo." Ca tu alcuntah le tunichobo.

Then the lord of the heaven sent the Lord Rain. When the hunchbacks saw that the surface of the earth was going to be drowned by that rain they all got into their boats. As the water rose the hunchbacks all died because the boats all stayed under the water because the rocks had become heavy. Thus was the end of the lives of the hunchbacks.

Ca tun tu tuxtah u yumil caan le yum chaco. Le ca tu yilah le ppuzobo u bulul le yokol caba yolal le chaco ca tun lah naacoob tu chemoob. Le ca caanchah le hao le ppuzobo dzu lah cimoob tumen le chemobo tu lah ppatoob yanal ha tumen dzoc u altaal le tunichobo. Bey tun dzocil u cuxtal le ppuzobo.


Have you seen the smoking stars (meteors) in the sky? Do you know what those things are? I am going to tell you what the smoking stars are.

Ta uilah ua le budz ekobo yan ti caan? A uohel ua baax le baalobo beyo? Yan in ualic tech baaxi baal le budz ekobo.

The lord of the heaven daily smokes his cigar, the whole day he smokes his cigar. He is watching what the people here on earth are doing while he smokes his cigar. Because there are many bad people here on earth there are days when he get angry with us. He thinks then, "I am going to finish the life there on earth." He throws then his cigar butt, he flicks it with his finger.

U yumil caan zanzamal cu dzudzic u chamal, bul kin cu dzudzic u chamal. Tan u ilic le baax cu betic le macobo uay yokol cabo calicil cu dzudzic u chamalo. Tumen yan yaab u kazil macoob uay yokol cab yan kin cu kuxil yetel toon. Cu tuclic tun, "Yan in dzoczic u cuxtal te yokol cabo." Cu pulic tun u cabo chamal, cu pic cħintic yetel u yal u kab.

Only because the beautiful lady virgin Mary feels sorry for us, she saves us. When she sees the lord of heaven has just thrown his cigar she quickly moves her hand. With the back of her hand she flicks the cigar butt into the sea. But the day is going to arrive when the beautiful lady virgin Mary will be feed up with us, she will then let the cigar fall here in the middle of the earth. On that day then the whole surface of the earth has to burn. Thus then all the people here on earth will die.

Chen tumen le x-cichpam x-colebil zuhuy Maria tu cħa oltzil ti toon, cu salvarticoon. Le ca tu yilah dzoc u pulic u chamal le yumil caano cu han peczic u kab. Yetel u pach u kab u pic cħintic u cabo chamal yumil caan ichil le kanabo. Pero yan u kuchul u kin u nacal u yol le x-cichpam x-colebil zuhuy Maria yetel toon, le bin u chae u lubul u chamal uay chumuc cab. Ti le kino tune yan u elel tulacal yokol cab. Bey tun cun u lah cimil le macobo uay yokol cab.

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