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p. 132




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[p.73 C] FIG. 28. The katun wheel. 1 (Chumayel MS.)/ [p. 73 C]


p. 133

 1 Katun 11 Ahau is established at Ichcaanzihoo. 2 Yax-haal Chac 3 is its face. The heavenly fan, the heavenly bouquet shall descend. The drum and rattle of Ah Bolon-yocte 4 shall resound. At that time there shall be the green turkey; at that time there shall be Zulim Chan; at that time there shall be Chakanputun. 5 They shall find their food among the trees; they shall find their food among the rocks, those who have lost their crops in Katun 11 Ahau.

 6 The katun is established at Uuc-yab-nal in Katun 4 Ahau. At the mouth of the well, Uuc-yab-nal, 7 it is established ... It shall dawn in the south. 8 The face of <the lord of the katun> is covered; his face is dead. There is mourning for water; there is mourning for bread. 9 His mat and his throne shall face the west. 10 Blood-vomit is the charge <of the katun>. 11 At that time his loin-cloth and his mantle shall be white. 12 Unattainable shall be the bread of the katun. The quetzal shall come; the green bird shall come. The kax tree shall come; the bird shall come. 13 The tapir shall come. The tribute shall be hidden at the mouth of the well. 14

p. 134

The katun is established at Maylu, Zaci, Mayapan 1 in Katun 2 Ahau. The katun <stone> is on its own base. The rope shall descend; the poison of the serpent shall descend, pestilence <and> three piles of skulls. The men are of little use. 2 Then the burden was bound on Buluc-chabtan. 3 <Then there came up> a dry wind. The ramon 4 is the bread of <Katun> 2 Ahau. It shall be half famine and half abundance. This is the charge of Katun 2 Ahau.

The Katun is established at Kinchil Coba, 5 Maya Cuzamil, 6 in Katun 13 Ahau. Itzamna, Itzam-tzab, 7 is his face during its reign. The ramon shall be eaten. Three years shall be locust years, ten generations <of locusts>. The fan shall be displayed; the bouquet shall be displayed, 8 borne by Yaxaal Chac in the heavens. Unattainable is the bread of the katun in 13 Ahau. The sun shall be /
p. 74 C
eclipsed. Double is the charge of the katun: men without offspring, chiefs without successors. 9 For five days the sun shall be eclipsed, then it shall be seen <again>. 10 This is the charge of Katun 13 Ahau.


132:1 For a full discussion of the Maya katun wheel the reader is referred to Bowditch 1910, Appendix II, and to Landa 1929, pp. 94-97. The katun series with its prophecies is discussed in Appendix D of the present work. Among the various katun wheels, this one is unique in that the beginning of each prophecy is set down opposite the number of the katun to which it corresponds, i.e. the day with its number on which the katun ends.

Here the cross is set above Katun 13 Ahau, but in Landa's wheel the cross is over Katun 11 Ahau, which is usually considered to be the first of the series, and indeed it begins with the day 1 Imix.

It should be noted that on this wheel, although the succession of katuns is as usual to the right, the sequence of the directions, or world-quarters, East, North, West and South, is to the left.

133:1 Here we have four of the first and older series or katun-prophecies. Cf. p. 20 and Appendix D.

133:2 Ichcaanzihoo is the Maya name of Merida. It is also called Tihoo.

133:3 Yax-haal Chac is the Green Rain-god. Cf. p. 77, note  4.

133:4 A comparison of this version of the prophecy with that on p. 20 indicates that Ah Bolon-yocte was the lord or idol of Katun 11 Ahau. The name might be translated as the nine-footed one, but its meaning is uncertain.

133:5 The green turkey, Zulim Chan and Chakanputun, are symbols of other times when the people were driven from their homes into the forest, as they were again in Katun 11 Ahau by the Spanish conquerors. Cf. p. 77, note  7.

133:6 The series is incomplete; Katuns 9, 7, 5, 3, 1, 12, 10, 8 and 6 Ahau are omitted here.

133:7 We know nothing of Uuc-yab-nal beyond what is stated here. In the prophecy for this same Katun 4 Ahau on page 161, it is said to be established at Chichen Itzá, and here Uuc-yab-nal is said to be "at the mouth of the well" (tu chi cheen). We can only conclude that Uuc-yab-nal was the ancient name of the old city of Chichen Itzá before the Itzá came and called it "the mouth of the well of the Itzá." Uuc means seven, and Abnal is still a well-known Maya family name.

133:8 Here the Chumayel text means little to the translator, and it may be corrupt. Consequently the Tizimin version of the same passage has been given as the correct one.

133:9 In other words, it shall be a time of drought and famine.

133:10 Here again the Chumayel text seems meaningless, and the Tizimin and Mani version of the same prophecy is assumed to be the correct one and translated accordingly. A comparison of these three versions will be found in the Maya text.

133:11 Evidently a reference to the epidemic mentioned on p. 142 as occurring in the fifth tun of the Katun 4 Ahau last preceding the Spanish Conquest. This tun would fall between 1480 and 1485. This was probably the pestilence said by Landa to be characterized by a fever followed by the body swelling and being filled with worms. The blood-vomit and fever strongly suggest yellow fever, and the last symptom could refer to secondary infections such as abscesses and suppurations in which flies had laid their eggs. It should be noted, however, that the medical historians do not believe that yellow fever occurred in America prior to the Spanish conquest. Cf. Landa 1928, pp. 92-94.

133:12 A reference to the white garments of the priests of Quetzalcoatl. Under the Maya name of Kukulcan, this culture-hero is said to have come with the Itzá in a Katun 4 Ahau. Cf. p. 161, also Landa 1928, p. 62.

133:13 Maya kax-te. Possibly the kax, or Randia longiloba Hemsl., is intended. The reference to the bird and tree suggests the mythological symbols already noted. Cf. p. 100, note 5.

133:14 The Sacrificial Cenote at Chichen Itzá may be meant here. Cf. Appendix B.

134:1 Maylu is not identified; Zaci is the Maya name for Valladolid; and Mayapan, the former capital of Yucatan is well known.

134:2 In other words, they are weakened by the pestilence, of which the "three piles of skulls" constituted the symbol. Serapio Zumarraga, an aged Indian of Mani, knows the latter term (ox-multun-tzek) and explains it as three burial mounds for the Spaniards, mestizos and Indians. in ancient times the corresponding classes of society were nobles, commoners and slaves.

134:3 Buluc-chabtan could be translated, eleven penances or eleven times fortunate. It appears to be the name of a personage, possibly a deity.

134:4 The dried seeds of the ramon tree (Brosimum alicastrum Sw.) are ground into a meal from which a sort of bread is made. It took the place of corn in time of famine.

134:5 Any mention of the great and ancient city of Coba is of especial interest as Maya history is silent concerning it. Here, possibly the city itself is meant, though Kinchil Coba is usually treated as a personage, one of the priests associated with the thirteen katun-prophecies in the Mani and Kaua manuscripts. In the translation by C. P. Bowditch of Avendaño's Relación, now in the Peabody Museum at Cambridge, we read: "This image (of Cortez' horse) they preserved till the present time and they worship it as they do also the statue of a man made of stone and lime, situated on the top of a hillock, which they call Kinchilcoba, who they say is their watchman and sentinel, who defends them against all misfortunes which can happen to them" (Avendaño MS. f. 29 v; Bowditch MS., p. 68). Coba is still a well-known family name and is also the name of a tree which the Indians say is to be found in the forests of Campeche. Co-ba could be translated gopher-tooth, just as ne-ba (another unidentified plant or tree) means gopher-tail.

134:6 This place-name suggests the island of Cozumel, but on the katun-wheel it is associated with Mayapan.

134:7 Itzamna was the god of the heavens, and Itzam-tzab may be another name for the constellation called tzab, "the Pleiades, a constellation of seven stars; also the rattles of the snake" (Motul).

134:8 Cf. p. 77, note  5.

134:9 The Oxkutzcab version of this prophecy (p. 202) gives the double charge of this katun as pestilence and famine.

134:10 This belief that an eclipse might last five days probably reflects a legend to the effect that such was once the case. It would explain the frantic efforts of the people to bring it to an end. Cf. Aguilar 1921, pp. 203-204.

Next: XIX: The First Chronicle