Xibalba

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In Maya mythology Xibalba (pronounced /ʃɨˈbɒlbə/), roughly translated as "Place of fear",[1] is the name of the underworld, ruled by Maya Death Gods and their helpers. In Yucatec it was known as Metnal.[citation needed] In the 16th-century Verapaz, the entrance to Xibalba was traditionally held to be a cave in the vicinity of Cobán, Guatemala. According to some of the K'iche' Maya presently living in the vicinity, the area is still associated with death. Cave systems in nearby Belize have also been referred to as the entrance to Xibalba.[2]

Another physical incarnation of the road to Xibalba as viewed by the K'iche' is the dark rift which is visible in the Milky Way.[3]

Contents

Inhabitants

Xibalba is described in the Popol Vuh as a court below the surface of the Earth associated with death and with twelve gods or powerful rulers known as the Lords of Xibalba. The first among the Maya Death Gods ruling Xibalba were Hun-Came (One Death) and Vucub-Came (Seven Death), though Hun-Came is the more senior of the two.[4][5] The remaining ten Lords are often referred to as demons and are given commission and domain over various forms of human suffering: to cause sickness, starvation, fear, destitution, pain, and ultimately death.[1] These Lords all work in pairs and are Xiquiripat (Flying Scab) and Cuchumaquic (Gathered Blood) who sicken people's blood, Ahalpuh (Pus Demon) and Ahalgana (Jaundice Demon) who cause people's bodies to swell up, Chamiabac (Bone Staff) and Chamiaholom (Skull Staff) who turn dead bodies into skeletons, Ahalmez (Sweepings Demon) and Ahaltocob (Stabbing Demon) who hide in the unswept areas of people houses and stabbed them to death, and Xic (Wing) and Patan (Packstrap) who caused people to die coughing up blood while out walking on a road.[4][5] The remaining residents of Xibalba are thought to have fallen under the dominion of one of these Lords, going about the face of the Earth to carry out their listed duties.

Structure

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