LATIN AMERICAN INDIAN LITERATURES JOURNAL. Pennsylvania State University, Pittsburgh. vols. 4 to 6


Vol. 4 (1988)

pp. 6-21 Margot Bigot : "Fire and Ashes". [Toba of Quitilipi, Chaco Province, Argentina]

pp. 10-12 myth of events of the world-fire : origin of the animal species




In order to escape the world-fire, "our ancestors ... dug a pit."


After the world-fire, while the people praepared to emerge from that pit, their chief said to them : "You look downwards ..., and nobody look upwards."


"Those who obey remain always a person. ... And those who did not obey the words, they come up and out and change ... into all kinds of animals."


pp. 42-60 Elmer S. Miller : "Women and Fire". [Toba]

pp. 57-60 myth of the 1st women




"parrot saw women coming from the sky. ...

Then Huole [‘hawk’] remained behind as the sentry; ... then the women came down and moved rapidly toward the preserved fish. ... he cut the rope, zip, and the women began to fall. When they hit the ground they penetrated the earth. ...


Huole shouted, "Come, come here quickly." The first to hear him was the small iguana. ...

As always happens, fox arrived first. ...

Afterward all the men arrived ... .

Finally ... armadillo arrived and ... dug down and ... scratched up two blind (one-eyed) women. ...

Huole spoke up saying that there were people on the other side who had fire ... .

... piyo> (caranchillo) ... went away toward those people ... there dancing together. ...


The vigilent sailolo> (owl?) was the [musician] and all the animals were singing. Then piyo> ... saw a caranda` (very hard wood) log. ...

Thus pigeon arrived, grabbed the stick of fire, and took off, ... struck it many times against the forest.

... they grabbed this ... wood called nvina (firemaker). ...

[Women’s vaginas] had teeth inside them and fox was already hurt. He no longer had a penis. Nevertheless, there was ... palachiyaxa (spider) who remedied it ... . ...


[The men broke out the women’s vaginal teeth.]


pp. 99-124 Elizabeth P. Benson : "The Maya and the Bat".




"The ... Annals of the Cakchiquels tell of ... Tulan, where a bat guarded the gates.

... in Chiapas ... the Tzotzil town bears the Nahuatl name Zinacantan, place of the bat. ...

The ... Popol Vuh ... of the Quiche Maya tells that the wooden people of the first creation were destroyed ... by Camazotz, the "killer bat," who cut off their heads ... .


"Bats ... pollinate ... Ceiba pentandra ... . The Ceiba tree has night-blooming flowers, which appear only once every nine or ten years ... . ...


The Lacandon Maya believe that the Sun enters the underworld each evening by climbing down the trunk and through the roots of the Ceiba ... . Some Maya think ... that the dead climb this tree from the underworld to the sky or that souls of the dead rest in the shade of the Ceiba ... . The Ceiba is also believed to be a paradise for dead children (... also ... for Trinidad) ... . In Honduras and Nicaragua, the Miskito and Sumo Indians say that the Ceiba is the abode of spirits of the dead : ... the tree must not be cut down, lest the dead seek vengeance ... .


Noctilio leporinus, a bat that catches fish by gaffing them with oversize claws, sometimes roots high in the hollow trunks of the Ceiba; the entrance to the roost may glitter with the silvery fish scales ... . {cf. South American tropical forest myths of fishes originating from within a tree} ...


The calabash tree, Crescentia alata, is pollinated by bats, Glossophaga and Artibeus ... . ... The Popol Vuh informs us that it was a gourd or head from a Crescentia that spat into the hand of Xquic ... to make her pregnant with the Hero Twins ... . ...

The ... flower of the balsa (Ochroma lapagus) is pollinated exclusively by bats ... .


... a contemporary Tzotzil girl who has been "deflowered" is said to have been "bitten by a bat" ... . ...


"Zotzilha Chimalman, whose image is the bat, is the Cakchiquel god who controls fire" ... . The Quiche were given fire by their god Tohil through an intermediary with "wings like the wings of a bat" ... .

In Trinidad, ... a supernatural spirit is an old woman who sheds her skin and flies through the night as a ball of fire ... .


... a bat throws a man with an axe-leg into the fire in a Warao tale ... . ...


The Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis) is orange-red ... . It hangs during the day in the open leaves of a tree, usually an oak. ... This may be the Red Bat of the Books of Chilam Balam. ...


the Tin Tin on the coast of Ecuador [at Huancavilca (p. 124)] : The Tin Tin whistles to the beautiful adolescent of the household during moonlit nights. Carrying her away, he flies to a cave, where he seduces her


and makes her pregnant."


pp. 125-150 Allen J. Christenson : "The Use of Chiasmus by the Ancient Maya-Quiche`".

pp. 131-138 literary titles to lands


"Ti`tulo __"

date of composition

on behalf of land-clain by __ lineage




C>oyoi of the Quejnay




Ekoamak> of the Tamub


Nijaib II


Nijaib at Momostenango


Nijaib III


" " "




Canil & Toltecat




Cawek at Totonicapan


Vol. 5, No. 1 (Spring 1989)

pp. 68-80 R. Jon McGee : "The Flood Myth from a Lacandon Maya Perspective".




Hac^a:kyum (‘Our True Lord’) said to A:k>inc^ob (‘Cross-Eyed Lord’), "Go make a dugout canoe." For all other people, "Their canoes had been transformed into alligators." "It rained for six years." For ten years the water receded.


"Then all was passed through burning fire." After the land was replanted by the people in the only canoe (that of A:k>inc^ob) which escaped the deluge, "In five days emerged the fruit trees. ... After five months there was fruit on the trees."


[Tojolabal myth] "Long ago the people became animals because they were destroyed by water."


Vol. 5, No. 2 (Fall 1989)

pp. 15-30 Edmundo Magan~a : The Old-Head Woman and the Penis Man". [Wayana, at Tapanahoni in Surinam, and Itany and upper Maroni on Surinam-Cayenne Border]

Old-Head Woman




[Wayana] "The mother-in-law was ... eating peppers. Then ... her head fell off. {cf. the Iban myth of the living decapitated man’s head : "the women persist in ... likening the head to a "pointed red pepper"." (Freeman 1979:241) } ... The woman’s head ... whistled. ... The head began to roll ... . The deer was afraid and ran away but the head followed it. Finally the deer died. ... Then the vultures came. The head grasped (with the teeth) one of them by the wing and was carried up to the sky."


[version "told by ... an Apalai woman ... adds that,] when in the sky, the head began to eat the vulture’s children".


["A version told by ... a Wayana woman from the village of Pleike:"] "a woman scratches her husband and ends up by decapitating him. His head fell on the ground and became a deer. Then it went up to the sky".


[Kalin~a] "a mother-in-law steals fish from her son-in-law’s fish trap. The man ... makes some carnivorous fish ... to eat her. Only her head remains on the beach. It goes to the sky and becomes a constellation".


[Trio] "a man has his mother-in-law killed by Manatee. He escapes into the forest ... and becomes a /e:ke:puke:/ (Eira barbara). She puts the head into a treetrunk to eat some honey {cf. North American Coyote-god’s mother-in-law’s entry partway into a hollow log} to eat some honey ... : the lower part of her body becomes an agouti ...; her head ... goes to the sky and becomes a star." ["In both groups Sirius is said to represent the woman’s eyes."]


[Waypi] "a woman made love to a manioc-squeezer worm and ... the two fish babies to whom she gave birth were cooked by her mother. ... the mother had cooked the boys with pepper. The woman ate her children without knowing it ... . Then her head fell off. ... The head ... jumped upon a tapir that was passing by but the animal died. When vultures appeared ..., the head stuck to one of them and went to the sky. ... The Pleiades are her ear-rings".



Freeman 1979 = "Severed heads that germinate". In :- R. H. Hook (ed.) : Fantasy and Symbol, pp. 233-46. London : Academic Pr.

Penis Man




"When the penis emerged from the earth, they [the men] cut it into two pieces. They brought it to the women’s house in the village and hung it in the manioc scraper. ...


Back in the village the women baked manioc bread and went into the plank-drum’s pit ... . When the men came to the village they found it empty. A parrot was saying he was dead {indicating that the women had traveled, while alive, into the world of the dead?} but finally he told them the women had escaped through the plank-drum’s pit. {indicating that the dead reside in a world of drum-music?} The men went to the drum and found a path that started in the pit. They followed the path and ... finally arrived at a river but ... it was too wide. Then they went back to the village."


pp. 43-53 Anatilde Idoyaga Molina : "Pilaga` Seduction Songs". [Pilaga` are Waykuru` in the districts of Patin~o and Bermejo in Formosa province, Argentina]




"The pilaga` have a deity Ida`yk, on whom success ... in erotic adventures depends. Ida`yk appears in dreams and instructs men ... . Patterns of facial paintings, hairdos and necklaces are imitations or those used by Ida`yk when seen in dreams. It is also during these nocturnal dialogues that men learn how to make a ‘bundle’ ". ["The bundles ... contain parts of song birds – feathers, eyes, hearts – or other animals reputed to sing beautifully – some kinds of frogs, crickets." (p. 51, n. 5)]


"Wayayqala`chigi is the deity who introduced the seduction complex in primeval times .... He takes part in the nocturnal parties, giving power to the dancers who then excel in rhythmic ability".


"only men play the musical instruments ["a Jewish harp or birimbao, ... a three-hole flute, and a drum or bombo." (p. 52, n. 8)], usually in the evening and close to the women they want to seduce, so that the melodies can be transported by the wind and enter into their bodies".


"the nomi` ... meeting is announced by playing the drum. Men and women gather ... . ... The chants are ... the songs of Wayayqalchigi and of the tapir. ["The tapir ... seduces the wife of Tomalqosot (a species of stork) and has adulterous relations with her." (p. 52, n. 9)] When night falls, the participants choose their partners and ... make love".


pp. 68-70 Astrid Bant : "myth of creation of the Wayana-Aparai".


"The Story of the Kuyuli Gods"


Umale` and Tena were "the first two men – semi-divinities ... . The oldest of the two, Umale`, fabricates a woman, his sister ... . This woman, Arumana, gets pregnant by Tena, the younger kuyuli, and therefore leaves ... . ...


Arumana gets lost in jaguar territory. The old female frog, Pele, helps here to hide in a cooking pot. However, when the jaguar come home, they ... eat Arumana, who has transformed into a tortoise, while Pele manages to save the two tortoise eggs (the unborn children Okaia and Pulupuluapo). ... With the help of their relative Kutomo, a water-spirit, the children magically construct a large reception house ... . Okaia tricks the jaguars into coming to visit. ... Okaia revenges his mother’s death by causing the new reception house to collapse, while the jaguars are inside . ... After Pele transforms into a bird, ... a snake bites off Kutomo’s thigh ... to turn into the constellation of Ipe`tpen (Orion)... . Each of the brothers make a sister out of the wood of a magical tree, which grows very tall above the water level. These two sisters, Murokoniru and Letikono, fall in to the water and change into fish, when Pulupuluapo tries to seduce Murokoniru. ... Pulupuluapo goes up to the sky to form [become] the constellation of Inau {cf. Skt. INVaKa} (Pleiades), joining Kutomo, now Ipe`tpen (Orion). ... Pele takes her place in the sky as the constellation Pelelirku, the constellation of the frog".


pp. 72-83 Eloise Quin~ones Keber : "Mayahuel and Maguey".




"octli gods ... centzontotochchin or "400 rabbits" ... born on the day 2 Rabbit".


"The Historia de los Mexicanos de los Pinturas ... names ... Camaxtli as the inventor of maguey wine."


" "sister goddessesa" of Mayahuel, Tezcacoac Ayopechtli and Atlacoaya Tezcacoac."


["Mayahuel in the Codex Vaticanus A (fol. 21v), the Italian commentary" :] "she was a woman with 400 breasts".


"Mayahuel ... in the Histoyre du Mechique ([Teogoni`a de los mexicanos. Me`xico : Editorial Porru`a,] 1973:106-107)" : Meyahuel (Mayahuel) & Cicimitl (Tzitzimitl) "transformed themselves into a tree with two branches, one called QuetzalHuexotl [Quetzal-willow], which was ehecatl, and the other called Xochicuahuitl [Flower-tree], which was the virgin. Meanwhile the grandmother slept. {to indicate that this is a "tree of dreams"?} ... Ehecatl reverted to


his previous form. He collected the bones of the virgin ..., and from them grew a tree that was called metl [maguey]".


Vol. 6 (1990)

pp. 36-54 Sebastia`n Robiou-Lamarche : "Island Carib Mythology and Astronomy".

wa’lukuma (‘stars’) [w & m denote language of women and of men]



name acc. to Breton & La Borde

name acc. to Taylor


stars (with heliacal ris.)



Achinnao (Br) = Achinao (LaB)

Asinnao (w) / Ha`nnao (m)

bource fish

Altair (Jan)



Baca’mon (Br) = Racumon (LaB)


ou:ana’che serpent




(p. 38) Chiric (w) / Iromoboule’me (m)

(p. 39) si`rik

land crab




Coulu’mon (w) / Ouli’ao (m) (Br) = Curumon (LaB)


river crab

Cetus & Aquarius (Apr)



Ia’boura (w) / Sawa`ku (m) = Sava’cu (LaB)


heron (Br), erabier (LaB)

triangle nigh Ursa Major






Sirius (mid July)



Malirou’bana opourcou

maliru`bana a`purku


Procyon (late July)



Mambiouicayen (w) / Ebe`tiouman (m)


"one legged man"







Argos & Canis Major





garden crab

nigh Ursa Major




Isu`la / iu`la








sun & moon (acc. to Breton)










caelestial myths






"Racumon, one of the first Caribs which Luquo turned into a large serpent with a man’s head; he was always over a catabas, which is a large tree, very hard ...; he lived from its fruit, ... and gave them to passersby".






"Orion injures his mother in law with a knife because she would break the wind with her nose. ... When he was rising towards the sky, the old woman was able to cut off one of his legs. {If "break the wind" is ‘farting’, then cf. the Sandwich isles myth of woman whose leg was broken off while she was escaping to the sky on account of her baby’s defaecation.} The three reached the sky ... : the young wife is Aldebaran ... ."



Moon-man was surreptitiously marked on his face by his unwitting sister-wife, "with quenepa or limoncillo (Melicoccus bijugatu Jacq)."

Son of Moon-man "was called Hi`ali, he-who-became-brilliant, founder of the Carib nation, who was taken and shown to his father by yere`tti, a type of hummingbird who received as a reward for his service the beautiful plumage he wears on his head." This yere`tti "is the so-called crested hummingbird (orthorhyncus cristatus exilis Gmelin) of the Lesser Antilles whose main characteristic is a bright metallic green occipital crest".



"the rainbow, called Juluca ..., was ... a cemi’ ... covered with beautiful feathers of all colors, particularly its head : ... if it appears on land, they hide in their houses and believe ... it tries to make someone die."



According to French chroniclers, "the name laikua noquian, the consumption-of-the-moon, and laikua vicu, the consumption-of-the-sun, are ... eclipses."



"Lima`cani, "the comet sent by Cualina, the captain of the cemi’s"".



"lima’gani, his {Cualina’s?} main-son, was the planet Venus ... . Finally, the other planet ... was the reddish Mars, called wa’libuka."

bibliography :-

Raymond Breton : Dictionaire Caraibe-Franc,ais. Leipzig : Jules Platzam, 1892.

Manuel Ca`rdenas Ruiz : Cro`nicas francesas de los indios caribes. San Juan : Editorial de la Universidad de puerto Rico, 1981. [La Borde & chroniclers]

Douglas Taylor : "Notes on the Star Lore of the Caribbees". AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST, vol. 48 (1946), pp. 212-222.