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Yucatan Before and After the Conquest, by Diego de Landa, tr. William Gates, [1937], at


According to the reckoning of the Indians it has been 120 years since the abandonment of Mayapán. On the site of that city are to be found seven or eight stones each ten feet in height, round on one side, well carved and bearing several lines of the characters they use, so worn away by the water as to be unreadable, although they are thought to be a monument of the foundation and destruction of the city. There are others like them at Zilán, a town on the coast, except that they are taller. * The natives being asked what they

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were, answered that it was the custom to set up one of these stones every twenty years, that being the number by which they reckon their periods. This however seems to be without warrant, for in that event there must have been many others; besides that there are none of them in any other places than Mayapán and Zilán.

The most important thing that the chiefs who stripped Mayapán took away to their own countries were the books of their sciences, for they were always very subject to the counsels of their priests, for which reason there are so many temples in those provinces.

That son of Cocom who had escaped death through being away on a trading expedition to the Ulna country, which is beyond the city of Salamanca, on hearing of his father's death and the destruction of the city, returned in haste and gathered his relatives and vassals; they settled in a site which he called Tibulon, meaning 'we have been played with.'  They built many other towns in those forests, and many families have sprung from these Cocoms. The province where this chief ruled was called Sututa.

The lords of Mayapán took no vengeance on those Mexicans who gave aid to Cocom, seeing that they had been influenced by the governor of the country, and since they were strangers. They therefore left them undisturbed, granting them leave to settle in a place apart, or else to leave the country; in staying, however, they were not to intermarry with the natives, but only among themselves. These decided to remain in Yucatan and not return to the lagoons and mosquitos of Tabasco, and so settled in the province of Canul, which was assigned them, and where they remained until the second Spanish wars.

They say that among the twelve priests of Mayapán was one of great wisdom who had an only daughter, whom he had married to a young nobleman named Ah-Chel. This one had sons who were called the same as their father, according to the custom of the country. They say that this priest predicted the fall of the city to his son-in-law; they tell that on the broad part of his arm the old priest inscribed certain characters of great import in their estimation. With this distinction conferred on him he went to the coast and established a settlement at Tikoch, a great number of people following him. Thus arose the renowned families of the Chels, who peopled the most famous province of Yucatan, which they named after themselves the province of Ahkin-Chel Here was Izamal, where the Chels resided; and they multiplied in Yucatan until the coming of the admiral Montejo.

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Between these great princely houses of the Cocoms, Xius and Chels there was a constant feud and enmity, which still continues even though they have become Christians. The Cocoms call the Xius strangers and traitors, murdering their natural lord and plundering his possessions. The Xius say they are as good as the others, as ancient and as noble; that they were not traitors but liberators, having slain a tyrant. The Chel said that he was as good as the others in lineage, being the descendant of the most renowned priest in Mayapán; that as to himself he was greater than they, because he had known how to make himself as much a lord as they were. The quarrel extended even to their food supply, for the Chel, living on the coast, would not give fish or salt to the Cocom, making him go a long distance for it; and the Cocom would not permit the Chel to take any game or fruits.


16:* The date at Mayapán has been read as katun 10 Ahau, meaning that the event took place in the 20-year period preceding Oct. 7, 928, or else again in 1185 or 1441. It could hardly be the latter, since Mayapán had just previously been destroyed, as correctly stated by Landa; if the earlier, it might easily record the foundation. The Zilán date reads 7 Muluc, 2 Kayab, denoting 891, as most probable.

17:† Landa is in error here; the proper spelling as given in the 1579 Relations, is Tibolon, 'at the Nine,' as Tiho, the site of Merida, 'At the Five.' Also ti-bul on means only 'we rambled,' and not 'we were played with,' a meaningless term here; also Maya place names are simple or compound nouns, not verbal phrases like this.

Next: X. Various Calamities Felt In Yucatan In the Period Before the Conquest By the Spaniards: Hurricane, Wars, etc.