7 junio, 2024

The 20 most famous Mayan myths and legends

The mayan myths and legends they reflect the worldview of one of the most fascinating civilizations in history. Like any legend or myth, they are characterized by having magical or supernatural aspects.

Myths and legends are stories that are narrated and transmitted from generation to generation, orally. On many occasions, due to the need to express a faith or belief. Each of them presents an explanation or symbology related to the culture of which it is a part.

Myths narrate facts that are impossible to verify, in order to explain important events in culture, such as the creation of the world, for example. In the case of the Mayan culture, the most important source is the book Popol Vuhbut there are also other stories where their myths and legends appear.

List of Mayan myths and legends

1. Dziú and corn

Dziú is a bird recognized for its bravery. By responding to the orders of Yuum Chaac, the god of rain, he risked his life to save a corn seed from a burning field, since this seed was considered essential for life.

As a result of having faced the fire, Dziú was left with red eyes and a gray body.

He was recognized by Yuum Chaac and all the birds, so from then on, Dziú would not have to build nests for his young, since he could lay his eggs in the nests of any bird, and they would be cared for as if they were his own.

2. The Chom

The legend tells the story of the birds called chom and the punishment imposed for them by the king of Uxmal.

The chom were birds with colored plumage that flew over the king’s palace at the time of the celebration held by him to honor the Lord of Life, Hunab Ku.

The chom ate the food that the king had prepared for the occasion, so they he ordered a punishment for them, and it was a group of priests who took it upon themselves to do it.

They made a special black preparation, which they poured over the body of the Chom, and decreed that from now on, they would only eat garbage and dead animals.

As a result, the chom became birds with black and dry plumage, with hairless heads.

In order not to be seen, they fly very high and come down only to look for food among the garbage.

3. The princess and the maquech

This legend tells of a love oath between Princess Cuzán and her lover Chalpol, a young man with red hair.

Cuzán agrees to marry Prince EK Chapat, following his father’s orders. He would kill Chalpol but the princess promises to stop seeing him in exchange for preserving her life.

The princess’s father spares Chalpol’s life but, through a sorcerer, turns him into a maquech, a beetle.

Cuzán carries it close to his heart, like the most precious jewel, fulfilling the promise of love that had been made.

4. The flower of May

This legend tells the story of a girl, the daughter of a devout man who could not have children, who asks the gods to give her the opportunity to be a father.

He observed the beauty of the stars, particularly the Southern Cross, at the time of May. It is around then that his wife gives birth to his daughter. But she is she dies in her teens, at the same time she was born.

Every May, when the Southern Cross illuminates his tomb, the May flower appears at the foot of it.

5. Oops Goat

The legend Uay Chivo refers to a sorcerer or witch represented as a black entity, with bright eyes and large horns. His mission is to scare those who appear in his path at night.

According to this legend, there are demonized people who have the ability to become goats to scare the population and/or fulfill some objective of evil origin.

6. Xkeban and Utz Cole

This legend is about two women, Xkeban, who practiced prostitution, but was humble and kind to the poor and genuinely gave herself to love. And Utz Cole, who called herself virtuous and honest.

When Xkeban passed away, a pleasant aroma of flower perfume was smelled in the city. After bury her, flowers with that smell appeared on her grave, which they called xtabentún, wild flower with intoxicating nectar, like the love of Xkeban.

When Utz Cole dies, he turns into a flower called tzacam, a cactus from which unscented flowers sprout and which are stinging when touched.

However, Utz Cole, with the help of evil spirits, manages to come back to life. Out of envy towards Xkeban, he decided to make men fall in love. But with a simulated love, because her heart was not like Xkeban’s.

7. Che Uinic

This myth is about the man of the woods, a giant with supernatural powers and eats human flesh.

He is described as a man without bones, with his feet backwards, that is, with his toes pointing towards his back. For this reason he uses a trunk as a staff.

To get rid of him in his presence, you have to perform a dance with branches, as this is funny causing him to fall.

Due to its characteristics, it is difficult for it to get up from the ground, so the person can escape during that time.


Alux is the equivalent of a goblin or elf who steals things. He usually gambles most of the time and gets into mischief.

The myth about Alux says that they are invisible but can make themselves visible in order to scare people. They are associated with forests and caves and often move in search of offerings.

It is believed that by invoking them, the peasants will achieve seven years of good harvest and protection for their fields, por what within them, do what is called the house of the alux or kahtal alux.

After that period they must lock the alux in the house, which must remain hermetically closed, because if it escapes it will begin to be aggressive with people.

9. Oops

Legend has it that the Uay is a magician or sorcerer who performs enchantment phenomena. He possesses a ghostly character who adopts different animal forms to achieve his malevolent goals.

10. Sac Nicte and Canek

Canek was a prince of Chichen Itza. At 21, brave and with a good heart, he falls in love with Sac Nicté, a 15-year-old princess. But she was to marry Ulil, the crown prince of Uxmal.

Canek went looking for her with his warriors on her wedding day, ready to fight for her. He snatches her from the witnesses’ arms and war breaks out between his army and Ulil.

Canek emigrates with the princess and all her people, so when the people of Uxmal go to Chichen Itza to claim her, they find the city empty.

11. The dwarf of Uxmal

The legend tells the story of an old woman who worked in the village oracle and who could not have children.

For this reason, he asked the god Chic Chan and was granted a son, who was born a dwarf, with red hair and green skin.

This little dwarf built a large gourd (a kind of vessel) that he used as a rattle.

According to legend, whoever played a similar instrument and its sound was heard in the Mayab (Mayan region), would be made king.

The enraged king then challenged the dwarf to a duel, who passed all the tests. But in the last one he asked that the king also do it and he did not survive. Then the dwarf was proclaimed king.

In his reign, he built the temple called the governor’s house, and a house for his mother, which he called the house of the old mother, both of which could be appreciated in Uxmal.

12. The punishment of vanity

A Mayan legend tells that the earth was left in darkness when the sun and the moon went to rest.

But by then, the vain king wanted to show that with his jewels he could illuminate the entire city.

For this he climbed a tree with them, and the gods punished him by throwing him from the tree, leaving him muddy and covered in dirt.

13. The myth of the owl, the wise counselor

This myth tells the story of an owl who was an advisor to the peacock, the king, punished for wanting to withdraw from a party that all the birds had prepared in his honor.

The king forced him to dance in front of all the guests and the owl felt ashamed and humiliated, so he did not want to go out in public anymore.

In his period of confinement, he read the sacred book of the Mayans and discovered a secret about a betrayal. Going out to tell it, he discovers that he could no longer read since his eyes had become accustomed to the dark.

Since then he did not go out again during the day, this being the way in which the gods punished him.

14. When Tunkuluchu sings…

The legend tells the story of a mysterious and solitary bird that flies over the ruins of Mayab, which is called Tukulunchú. With his singing he announces death, for which everyone fears him.

The cause of this was a desire for revenge on the part of this bird towards the Maya, who had ridiculed it at a party.

With the aim of revenge, he took advantage of his sense of smell, which was his strength. He approached the cemeteries to recognize the smell of death and thus be able to announce to the Maya the proximity of his death.

15. Water and love

Legend has it that a warrior from Bolochen, a town that grew up around nine wells but suffered from drought, falls in love with a maiden.

Her mother, for fear of losing her, locks her up under a cave. The warrior and his people find it, and next to the cave there are seven ponds, the Chacha, the Pucuelba, the Sallab, the Akabha, the Chocoha, the Ociha and the Chimaisa.

16. Cocay

The cocay is the name with which the Mayans call fireflies. And the legend tells how this insect created its own light.

In the Mayab resided a man capable of curing the sick with his green stone. One day he discovers that he has lost it in the forest and asks the animals to look for it.

It was the cocay who tirelessly searched for her and before finding her, for her dedication and perseverance, she obtained her reward, her own light.

Upon returning the stone to its owner, he tells her that the light represents the nobility of her feelings and the brilliance of her intelligence. Since then the cocay was respected by all animals.

17. The quail

According to this Mayan myth, the quail, called Bech, was the favorite bird of the gods, for which reason it enjoyed many privileges, envied by the rest of the birds. But not satisfied with it, in his selfishness, the quail wanted a world for her and her family.

On one occasion, the Great Spirit, together with Yaa Kin, the prince of the sun, visited the earth. This news made Box Buc, the Prince of Darkness, turn black with envy, and prompted his desire for revenge against the travelers.

It was Bech along with his large family who helped him find them. The Great Spirit felt disappointed in the bird he had loved so much and condemned it from then on to be a bird at the mercy of wild beasts and hunters.

18. Zamna and Henequen

According to this Mayan myth, the queen confesses to Zamna, a wise and kind priest from the city of Izamal, that her astronomers had warned her that on the next moon, their lands would disappear.

Therefore, he entrusts him with the task of taking some families from the kingdom and three chilamanes of greater wisdom so that they carry the writings that narrate the history of the town.

Instructing him, furthermore, that he should found a new city and that under the main temple he should keep those writings in order to preserve them.

When Zamna found the…

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