The Mayas were established more than 3,500 ago in the Yucatan Peninsula and its nearby areas. They were a culture full of traditions and legends that mastered Architecture, Astronomy, Mathematics and other complex disciplines.
It was one of the most important pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures, because their buildings were impressively designed and built, involving phenomenoms of light and shadow as part of their cosmolgy and cosmogony.
But the Mayas also had fantastic legends, stories of mystical beings which have passed from generation to generation, and today we’ll tell you some of those wonderful stories.
1. The Legend of Sac Muyal
There was once a man named Ki’ikmakkun (Joy), who loved a woman called Pikit (Fan). Their love was pure, and Sac Muyal, the evil spirit envied them. One day Pikit went for a walk into the jungle, when suddently Sac Muyal kidnapped her, and when Ki’ikmakkun saw his beloved was gone, he decided to go after her.
Along the way, after a long unsuccessful search, he found a snake, who in exchange for a little of his blood, offered to guide him to the place where the evil Sac Muyal had his beloved trapped. The young man agreed, and so he began to follow the snake. They suddenly ran into a mountain that the young man could not climb… It was right there when an old woman appeared and offered Ki’ikmakkun some of her hair, which would help him create a path that would allow him to go up to the mount.
The young man and the snake continued on their way until they came to a river. They tried to find a way to cross it but failed, then a deer appeared to Ki’ikmakkun and told him to throw a stone into the river, so he could be able to cross it. Ergo, he threw a rock into the river and in the blink of an eye, he found himself on the other side of the river.
Ki’ikmakkun continued his journey, when out of nowhere an eagle crossed his path. It offered him one of its claws to defend himself, not knowing what dangers awaited him at the end of their path. Ki’ikmakkun took the claw and kept walking… Suddenly, a drop of sap fell into his eyes blinding him completely. He surrendered completely and dropped to the ground; however, a small beetle saw him in distress and suffering and offered him a small ground ball, and told him to rub his eyes with it. So he did and his sight returned, he thanked the beetle and continued on his way.
Ki’ikmakkun finally came to a cave where he found the snake, the old woman, the deer, the Eagle and the Beetle.
The old woman approached him and told him he had reached the end of his journey. She said that every character that crossed his path, represented his heart, which he obediently followed… Taking him to find his beloved Pikit. All that was left was to go inside the cave and rescue her!
Once he went into the cave, he lost consciousness… When he woke up, he was at home with his beloved in his arms.
2. The Maya Hummingbird
Long ago, the gods were creating all the animals and insects with clay, when suddenly they ran out of raw materials, so they decided to use a jade stone. They molded a small, thin arrow, and then gave life to it. It instantly flew, and that’s how the hummingbird came to life.
The little animal was beautiful, the sun made its feathers shine! Men meandering the terrenial world, were amazed with such fascinating creature and wanted to catch it, but when the Gods realized this they were furious and said that if someone caught this beautiful animal, the animal would die. From that day onwards, no one has dared to capture the hummingbird, they just let it fly freely… What’s only left for man to do, is admire its beauty, fragility and slickness when flying between the leaves.
3. The Legend of Dziú and the corn
Another of the most important Maya legends, tells as follows: Yuum Chaac, the god of water and agriculture realized that the soil was losing its fertility, reason why he decided to seek help from Kak the god of fire, to set fire to the cornfields for the ashes to fertilize the soil.
But before setting fire he called for the help of the birds to collect seeds to plant them the following year. One of the birds called Dziu (obedient Red-eyed thrush), began its work early and collected many seeds, so he decided to take a short break. When the other birds realized that Dziu was not there, they lowered their performance and failed to collect all the seeds before Kak sent his fire to consume the corn fields.
Dziu wakes up and realizes what is happening, and risks his life to save what remains of the fire, leaving with with burnt feathers and red eyes. The god Yuum Chac, was grateful with his sacrifice and from that moment onwards, decreed that all Dziu birds will have red-eyes, with an ash-colored mark on their wings to remember the courageous feat of that bird.
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