LATIN AMERICAN INDIAN LITERATURES JOURNAL. Pennsylvania State University, Pittsburgh. vol. 3


Vol. 3 (1987)

pp. 62-63 David M. Guss : "The Freeing of the Deer". [Zun~i]

myths of >ahayutah

p. 63

{other Zun~i texts}

"the warrior god, Ahayutah, came to the aid of humans to have them from ... monsters – the first, a cannibal with a single horn that juts from his forehead;

{[Zun~i] "a great giant ... with ... a horn growing out of his forehead ... gave a great kick and the younger brother fell over the precipice. But, as the giant kicked, >Ahayutah seized him and the two of them also fell over the cliff. The giant’s son ... struck out with his huge club but it was his own father that he killed." (ALAS, p. 109)}

the second; the second, a giant who hides rain clouds in huge jars. ...

{At the behest of >Ahayutah, gopher tunneled into a sleeping giant’s house to find the all the rain-clouds had been confined within jars stored thereat (ALAS, p. 110) : "they cut out the giant’s heart and placed it upon the fire" (ALAS, p. 112)}

Ahayutah is led by lightning to the secret corral where all the deer have been hidden. With the aid of owl, mountain lion, bear, badger, wolf, and coyote (the predators), he is able to dismantle the corral".

{"Kutchitih holds all the deer in his corral; Ahayutah asks Owl to help him; Owl ... put K. and his people to sleep; Puma, Bear, Badger, Wolf, Coyote help to destroy the walls of corral; deers run away; Coyote cannot catch his deer, now eats what the other leave him; Owl [transforms] K. and his people, they turn into crows". (RTSP, from same source)} {H^uc^utih (Khutchutih) had confined all the deer within a corral, which became visible to >Ahayutah when "heat lightning flashed" (ALAS, p. 112); Eagle-person carried >Ahayuta aloft, from which vantage-point he espied, secretly washing clothes, 2 girls, who were thereupon obliged to introduce into the stronghold of H^ucu^tih (ALAS, p. 113); at "the corral he saw the great horned owl standing guard over the deer" (ALAS, p. 114); having been advised by a different owl (ALAS, p. 114), >Ahayutah induced praedator-animals to tear down the corral-fence : "The deer joyously ran out of the gap." (ALAS, p. 115); H^uc^utih and the people of his stronghold "were changed into black crows." (ALAS, p. 116) [the motif of 2 owls, contrarily opposed to each other, set unsuccessfully to guard a locality for confining a genus of animals, is also (in this case fishes instead of deer) Maori (AHM, vol. 2, p. 132)]}

ALAS = Edgar L. Hewett : Ancient Life in the American Southwest. Biblo & Tannen Publ, 1968.


AHM = John White : Ancient History of the Maori. Wellington, 1887.

parallelism between Zun~i and Oodam myths

Zun~i (ALAS, p. 110)

Oodam (L&LP&PI)


GOPHER-man transformed a man, who was moving along a wooden racing-ball into, into an Eagle-man (p. 273).

tunneled to the OLLAs (pottery jars)

A woman (who was daughter of Eagle-man, p. 283, the heat-waves god, p. 287), used to kill boys unless they went under a mesquite tree (p. 289), until she was frightened by people shaking rattlesnake-rattles (p. 294), and became a blue hawk (p. 295), which, approaching from the north (p. 296), entered an OLLA (p. 297).

of a SLEEPing giant who was ASLEEP.

Eagle-man used to kill people (p. 299) until Elder Brother, in the guise of a "green fly" (p. 302), arrived at the cave of Eagle-man who was combed ASLEEP by his wife (p. 301).

These jars confined the rain-CLOUDS.

After Eagle-man was beheaded, "his feathers flew out like white clouds. ... The people in the East saw the thin white clouds." (p. 304)

L&LP&PI = Dean & Lucille Saxton : Legends and Lore of the Pima and Papago Indians. U of AZ Pr, Tucson, 1973.


pp. 71-75 Domingo Dzul Poot : "Aj Tomojchi". [Becal, Campeche]

Aj Tomojchi, "a very old prophet ... the Ancient of Ancients"


his prophecy


"those branches we crossed in order to strike them together, to make fire by the friction ... . {cf. Missisippian "in making fire ... two crossed sticks" (RAR, p. 68)} ...


The sound of thousands of black trees will be heard, the fruits similar to the heads of the dead, hanging like calabashes ... . {cf. the heads of Hun Hunahpu and of Vucub Hunahpu} ...


The wild turkey ... will dance forever on the thorns {the vultures consider carrion-eating worms to be thorns (p. 140)} of the cha>ankoj-x-nuuk, where their feet will be painfully pinched.


The deer, running through the forest, will be hanged by the vines.


The morning dew will turn red. Blood will drip from the leaves of the trees, and the fallen leaves below will burn when the Sun shines on them ..., and ... the ... smoke will blacken the face of the Sun.


... the Maya will carry boiling water in their water-gourd, on their backs. Blisters will form on their backs ... . All the inhabitants of these lands will carry burning rocks to throw in the cenotes, in the reservoirs, and in the rivers, and they will dry up. The animals in them will all die."


"Guardians of the Bush, called Ah Kanules, ... Guardians of the Mounds, known as Aluxes or Baluxes" : "At night they run through the forest, whistling and making a noise. They bang against the trees, smoke small cigars which the natives prepare for them, urinate in the hearth ... . ... They feed themselves only with the aroma of the corn, and the pleasant smell of the roasted chile and the red kidney beans. {cf. the odor-eating Gandharva-s} ...

When the time comes for the milpas to disappear, the Aluxes will kill each other, decapitating one another. Their bodies will fill the pathways. ... They will be taken away by the sparrow hawks, along with their heads, so that their souls may enter them again, to always accompany the Mayas on their path."


"From the ancient and distant caves, connected to the sky, great bats will emerge ... to suck the blood of the Mayas; except for ... they {i.e., except for those among them who} love the temples and Father Sun, and with their eyes they study the stars in the sky."


"The vine called Anikaab will be coiled to be carried away, and then it will uncoil in order to speak."

RAR = William McAdams : Records of Ancient Races in the Mississipi Valley. C. R. Barns Publ Co, 1887.


pp. 76-94 Eloise Quin~ones Keber : "The Tale of Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl in the Codex Vaticanus A".

pp. 92-94 contents of the folios of Codex Vaticanus A






God Citlallatonac (‘galaxy’) sent ambassador to goddess Chimalman (‘shield’), "who had two sisters, one called Hochitlique, the other Conatlique [Coatlicue?]". On "seeing the ambassador coming from heaven, the two sisters died of fright; only Chimalman remained alive" : "she stood up and caused the house to explode"; therewith she became parthenogenous praegnant; her son thus conceived "was called Quetzalcoatle [Quetzalcoatl]; ... his temples are round ... and he was the cause of hurricanes ...; he was the one who destroyed the world with wind." Chalchuitlicue [Chalchiuhtlicue], mother of god Tlaloque, is prayed to for rain.



4 signs :


its signification


ungrateful men

dried maize-ear



abundance of water

fresh maize




Totec : "at first he remained in the house of weeping, which was called Tlaxapuchicalco; and when his penance was finished the ascended the mountain called Catchitepetli, which means the talking mountain".



Totec : "every night he saw this figure of death, ... he ... ordering them ... to tie up that evil thing ...; ... to drag it away ...; and while hauling it behind them, they all fell into a cleft between two mountains, which came together, and they remained there buried until now". {it was the corpse of Tezcatlipoca which, while being dragged away, induced the populace to perish; the clashing rocks are along the route to the world of the dead}



"Quetzalcoatl and Totec, who is also called Chipe [i.e., Xipe Totec] ... arrived at certain mountains ...; and ... they bored them through from below and thus passed beyond them". {cf. [1001 Nights’ tale of] mt. Qaf, which it passed through via a tunnel by one man; and the Manda< legend of the entire population passing out of the world via such an exit}



"as Quetzalcoatl was walking he arrived at the Red Sea, ... which they call Tlapalla; and ... he entered it".


pp. 127-156 Maria Susana Cipolletti : "The Visit to the Realm of the Death in Amazonian Mythologies of Siona and Secoya". [tribes of "western Tucano" (p. 154, n. 2) on the "Cuyabeno" (p. 133) and Aguarico rivers in Ecuador]

pp. 128-133

pp. 138-142

pp. 144-148

Text 1

Text 2

Text 3

Text 8, Siona

Secoya text 1000

Text 409, "Secoya" (p. 149)

p. 129 Having invited his wife to visit the world of the dead, ghost of dead husband "gave the woman of himself, (so that she might hang on my his clothing). "Hang on tight, and

p. 138 Woman traveled (along with their two sons) to heaven to visit her dead husband (the sons’ father).

p. 144 "The man ... called Kuekuero` [a species of bird (p. 149)] ... lived with his wife and son ... who was about nine years old. [Kuekuero` died.]

cover your eyes." ... About five minutes they are climbing the slope.

"First their father ordered then to close their eyes, and ...

[p. 145] The father ... said to his son and to his wife ... they should close their eyes ... .

... and then ... opening their eyes. ... This world turned blue. Then ... they walked, with her in front. ... They went ... on a wide path. There was fruit, there were "machines" (a type of monkey) ... .

when they opened their eyes they saw a different world (yeye: yeja`), and

And they opened them and saw that it was another place, in heaven.

Later they went further, ... another ... four hours ... . Here they arrived before ... a tremendous ceiba ... white ... . ... they were climbing this tree. Then this dead person says, "... Cover your eyes. ..."


They arrived at ... a great house ..., it was just stone and sand. Here ... the dead lived. ... Some were risen, walking; the recently dead had not risen, they were there, lying in hammocks. ... many years after death ... they rose, and they walked. ...

she saw her husband in a hammock. ...

... then the father lay in the hammock.

A queen ... of the dead ... Tuktuo` ... gave ... a drink made from ... yucca ... to people to drink, those lying in hammocks. She looks after them ... one day. One day (in the land of the dead) ... it was, three years (in the land of the living). Then the woman said "Let’s go and fetch yucca (manihot esculenta)." ... But it isn’t yucca ... . And ... the one that was alive, ... she saw when the woman (Tuktuo`) was carrying it. It wasn’t yucca, great trees, ... knocked down by the wind. ... they were ceibas, and inside, at the root, there was the [p. 130] yucca. ...

[Depa`o : "Along with her sister Rutayo` they were the wives of N~an~e: ... . Both are kidnapped by ... Thunder (Mujue:). ... He [N~an~e:] places Depa`o in heaven, to take care of the dead, and he sends Rutayo` to the depths of the earth, where she still lives." (p. 143) – "N~an~e: ... discovers, in the Underworld ... humanity ... and makes them come to the surface, ... [N~an~e:] ascends to heaven converted into the Moon." (p. 155, n. 11)]


[p. 139] [The flame that was able to burn her was the "sickness" of which her husband had died.]

... under the feet ... there was a flame. ... this was ... the witchcraft which had killed him. ...


And Depa`o herself [= Siona Tuktuo`] gave her another flame, and with this she cooked and gave her son something to eat. {this episode is set earlier than the path-thunder episode}

[Repa`o herself [= Depa`o] gave to the mother another flame.] Later (the mother) cooked the meat and they ate. ...

[p. 130] And later, ... she went to fetch water. And after a while it sounded like thunder ... and in that time the path disappeared ... . And she wanted to return, but there was no path. ... The pot broke, ... for now she was as if asleep, and looking around she saw a path. ...

[p. 139] The next day, ... Depa`o ordered her to go fetch water. So she took a bucket, and when she was walking towards the river the lid broke. ... At the same time she could hear ... thunder ["when someone dies, thunder is immediately heard" (p. 144)], [and the path vanished]. [She repaired the bucket.] When she returned she could not find her husband. The husband and the son ... had passed to the other side, where the dead live. ...

Afterwards, ... the father ... went to the banks and a gust of wind [p. 146] came. The first gust wasn’t very strong, but the second was stronger. And this ... sent him to the other side. The mother and son stayed ... in heaven, and only the father went far away, to the other side of the Umeja`tsiaya. ["Umeja`tsiaya ("River of Hot sands")" (p. 149) – cf. Zaratustrian hot sands walked across by souls of the dead] Then ... the two were left alone with Repa`o and ... the angels, the Win~a`>o wa`>i. ["Win~a`>o wa`>i (‘The Tender Ones’)" (p. 149)] ...

[p. 131] The wife was putting cooked maize "in a (receptacle) batelo`n, and then the batelo`n, and just then the batelo`n turned into a caiman. The batelo`n ... started to walk.

When the visitor was living in heaven, the woman, Depa`o, had a small tree of fish. When she was hungry, she cut the leaves and cooked them, and she gave the two to eat. The boy ... in the night ... arrived where that plant was and wanted to cut the leaves, but the leaves began to scream. ...


And Depa`o told her not to go where the pots and pans were mouth down, because they are like an~a` pe:pe and could eat the boy.


The parrot ... called out throughout the house and above it, where the queen was. [It was an emergency, the living woman’s living son, who had accompanied his parents to the world of the dead, had eaten of the cooked maize, it had greatly swollen within his stomach.] ... Then the queen arrived and blew on the batelo`n. ... She blew on (the stomach) and the stomach became small. ...

[p. 141] The woman filled a large tray with corns, then ... that pan (batea) began to growl like an~a` pe:ke: (mythical animal) ... [this corn behaved thus because it was too large a quantity; a smaller amount, a mere "eight grains", was usually used by the dead]


After this, ... the woman menstruated ... . ... there was a large tiger [leopard] that wanted to get up, and the sky ... wanted to fall in... .

[p. 139 The living woman menstruated.] And then she felt that the sky was going to fall in. ...

[p. 146 after she re-married,] the woman menstruated ... . "If she does that heaven will fall in." ...


[Repa`o gave to her own son a feather as souvenir, when he was departing from heaven to the world of the living together with his wife the living woman.] {cf. Kemetian divine feather of truth-goddess M3<-t}

["the fact that she menstruates provokes a jaguar in the sky to try to rise, something that implies the destruction ... of the cosmos." (p. 137) {cf. [Aztec] destruction of the world for Ocelo-tonatiuh}] Then the queen told the jaguar not to get up. ... Slowly he lay down ... .


Then she came, telling us, before. The woman who returned explained all this ... . ...


Afterwards she went somewhere else. There ... were ... the condor-people. ... Then the living (the son of the living woman) embarked in the canoe and came down with the condors, he came down to ... a ravine. ... that canoe of the condor, it is said that for him it was a canoe but it was flying. ...

Afterwards the boy seated himself on the condor, hanging onto the wings and facing backwards. That is how the boy descended on the condor.

... the boy ... was invited to embark by takaro` (the buzzard). And the vulture ... said "The takaro` is very dangerous, when he flies he spins around. ..." {is this whirling around taken to repraesent the whirling around of a canoe trapped in a whirlpool?} ...

Then he condor ... trod where the thread from the trap was, ...

When he arrived on earth, he saw the traps that his father had made, and in them were dead peccaries. ...

[p. 147] They saw the traps there ...

[p. 132] (and the trap was sprung). ... He said to the son of the woman : "Come, a snake bit me." Then he saw ... that it was a snake’s tooth. ... And they set off in the canoe, and rowing and rowing, they appeared to be flying. ...

[p. 140] the condors ... told him, "The other condor ... was wounded. A snake bit him." ... But the young boy saw that it was a trap that had caught him by the feet ... .

and one of those threads grabbed (the vulture by the foot) in the traps his father had made. When this happened, the pue>pueri` who had taken the boy said, "A snake has bitten me." ...

He arrived, and the woman (... waje:na>a>, "living woman") ... was curing, she blew, ... and she was bringing it out ... .

When he reached heaven, he saw his mother who wanted to pull out the thread and ... it came out ... .

And the mother ... pulled out the rope that held him. This looked as if she could cure snake bite. ...


[p. 141] Because she had cured the one that had been bitten by a snake, ... Depa`o gave her Se:ra` her [Depa`o’s] son as a husband. ...

[p. 146] Then Repa`o gave the wife of the dead man to Se:ra` ... her son. ["Se:ra` Po~se: ("Young heron")" (p. 149)]


[p. 142] Depa`o would give those crickets cassava to eat. ... When she [the living woman] arrive there, she saw that they were people, and they were carrying cassava in their hands ... . ...


Depa`o explained to her, "I am going to sent you to earth so that you might live there ... .


[In payment for her having cured him of the snare-entanglement, condor-man gave to her a wasp as pet.]

When you see the traces of a huangana (peccary), you can signal with the tara` pe:pe: ["wooden sticks" (p. 144)], and when you look again, there will be two dead peccaries. ...

[p. 147] ... tara` pe~pe: ...

[p. 133] [That wasp killed tapirs for her, providing her with tapir-meat. The woman told people to people :] "I kill with a spear ... .""

If you come across a place for curing tapir, go aside from this place; and when you return, the tapir will be dead. ...""

[p. 148] "Then she did tell [to the people], "I have o~me` pe~pe: and by that means I have [foodstuffs].""

[Thereupon, the wasp killed her.]


[Thereupon, the o~me` pe~pe: killed her.]

{This tale is slightly similar to the Sumerian one of the visit by In-anna to the world of the dead, likewise ruled by a queen.}


p. 150

"the place described in the account is the post-mortem destiny of all the dead ..., with the exception of the curakas. They [the curaka-s] are transformed into wati (mythical beings who continually float through the air) in a complex process".

p. 153

"For the religious specialist the text is merely a type ... that he can complete according to his personal experiences. Thus he is the only individual ... who can really visit the upper world and other cosmic regions."

pp. 149-150

"Only the religious specialist, and those who have ingested a great quantity of halucinogens can see them [the deities Wi>n~a`o wa`>i]".

p. 155, n. 15

"The hallucinogens used by the Siona and the Secoya consist of various species of yaje` (Banisteriopsis sp.), peji (Brugmansia sp.) and ujajay (Brunsfelsia sp.)."

p. 155, n. 16 "Nevertheless, there have been some real attempts by some Secoya communities to ascend to heaven, under the guidance of a religious specialist."

{with /SIOna/ cf. /SIOux/; with /SECOYA/ cf. /SEQUOIA/ : /Sequoia/ is a Cherokee name, and the Cherokee language is Siouan}