The Incredible Bat God Once Worshiped By The Ancient Maya

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Image: Facebook/Puebla Times
Image: Facebook/Puebla Times

Deep within the Maya underworld, in a place of darkness known as Xibalba, the Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque face their most dangerous ordeal yet: the House of Bats. To protect themselves against its bloodthirsty inhabitants, they hide inside in their blowguns. Their ploy seems to work. But then Hunahpu peeks outside, causing a terrifying bat god to swoop down and rip off his head…

Image: Merrin Gallery
Image: Merrin Gallery

The adventures of the mythical Hero Twins are described in the Popol Vuh, a holy book of the K’iche Maya people of Guatemala. Passed down through the generations by oral tradition, the Popol Vuh – whose name means “Book of the People” – first entered historical record in the 16th century. And a Dominican friar called Francisco Ximénez subsequently translated it into Spanish in the 18th century.

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Image: HistoricalMX
Image: HistoricalMX

The name of the bat god was Camazotz – a K’iche Maya word meaning “death bat.” Given their nocturnal habits and subterranean habitats, it is perhaps unsurprising that bats in Mesoamerica were generally associated with the night and the underworld. Indeed, as a fearsome guardian of Xibalba, Camazotz was a god of darkness and death, as well as sacrifice.

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