Xurt'an

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Xurt'an

The End of the World and Other Myths, Songs, Charms, and Chants by the Northern Lacandones of Naha'

Suzanne Cook

Native Literatures of the Americas and Indigenous World Literatures Series

536 pages
3 photographs, 1 illustration, 5 maps, 2 tables, 2 appendixes

Hardcover

August 2019

978-0-8032-7155-5

$70.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

November 2019

978-1-4962-1637-3

$70.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

August 2019

978-1-4962-1639-7

$70.00 Add to Cart
Paperback

November 2020

978-1-4962-2224-4

$40.00 Pre-order

About the Book

Xurt’an (the end of the world) showcases the rich storytelling traditions of the northern Lacandones of Naha’ through a collection of traditional narratives, songs, and ritual speech. Formerly isolated in the dense, tropical rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico, the Lacandon Maya constitute one of the smallest language groups in the world. Although their language remains active and alive, their traditional culture was abandoned after the death of their religious and civic leader in 1996. Lacking the traditional contexts in which the culture was transmitted, the oral traditions are quickly being forgotten.

This collection includes creation myths that describe the cycle of destruction and renewal of the world, the structure of the universe, the realms of the gods and their intercessions in the affairs of their mortals, and the journey of the souls after death. Other traditional stories are non-mythic and fictive accounts involving talking animals, supernatural beings, and malevolent beings that stalk and devour hapless victims. In addition to traditional narratives, Xurt’an presents many songs that are claimed to have been received from the Lord of Maize, magical charms that invoke the forces of the natural world, invocations to the gods to heal and protect, and work songs of Lacandon women, whose contribution to Lacandon culture has been hitherto overlooked by scholars. Women’s songs offer a rare glimpse into the other half of Lacandon society and the arduous distaff work that sustained the religion. The compilation concludes with descriptions of rainbows, the Milky Way as “the white road of Our Lord,” and an account of the solstices.

Transcribed and translated by a foremost linguist of the northern Lacandon language, the literary traditions of the Lacandones are finally accessible to English readers. The result is a masterful and authoritative collection of oral literature that will both entertain and provoke, while vividly testifying to the power of Lacandon Maya aesthetic expression.

Author Bio

Suzanne Cook is an adjunct professor of linguistics at the University of Victoria. She is a former project director and principal investigator of the Volkswagen Foundation–sponsored Lacandon Cultural Heritage Project and the author of The Forest of the Lacandon Maya: An Ethnobotanical Guide.
 

Praise

“This is a very valuable piece of work for folklorists and linguists and is a huge contribution to scholarship in this area. I applaud Cook for including oral traditions recorded from Lacandon women. Lacandon women are largely ignored in the Lacandon ethnographic literature and archaeology, and until now I know of no compilation of Lacandon women’s stories. This is an outstanding service to the field.”—R. Jon McGee, professor of anthropology at Texas State University

“You will be quickly drawn into this presentation of language texts contributed by skilled Mayan narrators working in multiple literary genres while covering topics ranging from the earthly to the cosmological. The author’s attention to detail is unparalleled. The scope and quality of the narratives will take your breath away.”—Barry Carlson, editor of Northwest Coast Texts: Stealing Light

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part 1. The Hach Winik ‘True People’
The Lacandones
Northern Lacandon Oral Literature
Part 2. Myths
Birth of the Gods
Bor Maʼax
Hachäkyum and Akyantʼoʼ Create Their People and Kisin Creates Their Onen
Bor Maʼax
Hachäkyum Makes the Ants and Snakes
Antonio Martinez
Hachäkyum Makes the Sky
Bor Maʼax
Uluʼubir Baʼarkaʼan Umentik Pethaʼ ‘A Star Falls and Creates the Lagoon’
Antonio Martinez
Hachäkyum yeter Tʼuup yeter Kisin ‘Hachäkyum, Tʼuup, and the Devil’
Bor Maʼax
Hachäkyum yeter Tʼuup yeter Chäk Xib ‘Hachäkyum, Tʼuup, and Chäk Xib’
Bor Maʼax
Xurtʼan, Hachäkyum Uxatik Ucheʼir Ukaar ‘Hachäkyum Cuts the Mortals’ Throats’
Bor Maʼax
Äkicheʼex ‘Our Eyes’
Bor Maʼax
Nacimiento ‘Birth’
Bor Maʼax
Uyählehir Bah ‘The Mole Trapper’
Bor Maʼax
Xurtʼan uburur ‘The World Ends with the Flood’
Bor Maʼax
Äkyantʼoʼ No Permite Uxurtʼan ‘Äkyantʼoʼ Prevents the End of the World’
Bor Maʼax
ʼÄhah
Antonio Martinez
Kaʼwätsʼäk uhoʼor Barum yeter Kʼakʼ ‘The Two-Headed Jaguar and the Lord of Fire’
Säk Hoʼor
Mensäbäk yeter Hach Winik Tukinsah ‘Mensäbäk and the Ancestor He Killed’
Kʼayum Maʼax
Kakʼoch yeter Ukʼani(r) Hach Winik ‘Kakʼoch and His Human Assistant’
Bor Maʼax
Akʼinchob Takes a Human Wife
Antonio Martinez
Part 3. Popular Stories
Maya Kimin ‘The Mayan Death’
Säk Hoʼor
Chäk Xok ‘The Sirens’
Bor Maʼax
Nukuch Winik yeter Utiʼaʼar yeter Ahyaʼaxcheʼ ‘The Ancestor, His Son, and the Ceiba Tree’
Bor Maʼax
Haayokʼ
Bor Maʼax
Koʼotir Kaʼan ‘The Celestial Eagle’
Bor Maʼax
Uyitber ‘He at the End of the Road’
Bor Maʼax
Kakʼoch yeter Uyitber ‘Kakʼoch and the Yitber’
Bor Maʼax
Wantʼutʼkʼin
Säk Hoʼor
Pʼikbir Tsʼon yeter Kisin ‘The Rifle and Kisin’
Säk Hoʼor
ʼAyim yetel Chem ‘The Crocodile and the Canoe’
Säk Hoʼor
Ahsaay ‘The Leafcutter Ants’
Bor Maʼax
Ahtʼuur yeter Barum ‘The Rabbit and the Jaguar’
Säk Hoʼor
Chʼämäk yeter Chäk Barum ‘The Fox and the Puma’
Bor Maʼax
Hachäkyum yeter Ahbäb ‘Hachäkyum and the Toad’
Säk Hoʼor
Pekʼ yeter ʼAyim ‘The Dog and the Crocodile’
Säk Hoʼor
How the Toucan Got His Red Beak
Antonio Martinez
Part 4. Songs
Ukʼaay Barum ‘The Jaguar Song’
Antonio Martinez
Ukʼaay Box ‘The Gourd Song’
Antonio Martinez
Ukʼaay Käkah ‘The Cacao Song’
Juana Koh
Ukʼaay Käy ‘Fish Song’
Antonio Martinez
Ukʼaay tiʼ Huuchʼ ‘Song for Grinding’
Juana Koh
Ukʼaay tiʼ Kʼuuch ‘Song for Spinning Thread’
Juana Koh
Ukʼaay Torok ‘The Iguana Song’
Antonio Martinez
Ukʼayir Maʼax ‘Song of the Monkeys’
Antonio Martinez
Ukʼayir Tokʼ ‘Song of the Flint’
Antonio Martinez
Ukʼayir Xux ‘Song of the Yellow Jacket Wasps’
Säk Hoʼor
Part 5. Ritual Speech: Invocations, Chants, and Charms
Ahhoochʼ ‘The Hoochʼ’
Juana Koh
Ahtsʼin ‘The Manioc’
Juana Koh
An Offering Chant during the Preparation of Balcheʼ
Antonio Martinez
Offering under a Tree
Antonio Martinez
Utʼanir Baʼcheʼ ‘The Secret of the Balcheʼ’
Antonio Martinez
Part 6. Descriptions of Meteorological and Astral Phenomena
ʼÄxpʼäriʼ ‘The Solstice’
Antonio Martinez
Luʼum Kab ‘The Rainbow Gods’
Bor Maʼax
Säkber Akyum ‘Our Lord’s White Road’
Antonio Martinez
Appendix 1: Lacandon Onen, Ceremonial Names, and Distribution
Appendix 2: Gods and Men in Lacandon Mythology
Notes
References

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