A Mayan Rabbit Story

2021 Kirby Vickery March 2021

By Kirby Vickery on the March 2021 Edition

I have found that when I dig into the internet, which is my main source of information and stories these days, you can find just about any kind of a story to fit just about any situation. You can also find those that don’t seem to relate to anything and are just fun to read.

Sometimes, you run across some really short stories that pro-fess to be part of the Mesoamerica’s Mr. Rabbit litany but are not, or shouldn’t be, more for their corniness or veracity. Sometimes, I doubt the originality of some of these stories.

Although the fact remains that if they are real, then you have to give some Mayan or Toltec priest a lot of credit for their imagination. Take the following story I found the other day, along with four others on a web site that professes this story as being one of the authentic Mesoamerican children’s stories:

The Rabbit and the Crab

Once upon a time, the rabbit joined with the crab to grow some carrots. They worked for several days together. First, they chose the seeds and then they prepared a field to plant them. After that was accomplished, they carefully planted the carrot seeds. Then, they took care of the young plants. It should be noted that the two of them were always in agreement. Finally, they harvested the crop and separated the tops from the carrots.

Then the arguments began when the time came to divide the crop. The rabbit decided that he wanted most of the crop and initiated a plan to deceive the crab with sweet talk:

“You see, friend Crab, that we have two piles consisting of different sizes. The larger one is for you and I’ll take the small one.”

Now the Crab wasn’t a dummy and could see that the big pile was all tops and the small one had all the carrots.

The crab raised his claws as he was apt to do and said. “Thank you very much, my dear rabbit friend, but as I am a fair being, I think we should divide the two piles in half. Either let me divide and you choose, or you divide and I’ll choose, either way. What do you say?”

“Oh no! I cannot agree to that” said the rabbit. “Let us walk some ninety maitl (a ‘maitl’ is the distance from one fingertip to the other with your arms held out straight to your sides) from here and we’ll come back running. The first one to get back here gets the carrots and the other one gets the tops.

What do you say?”

“Yes, I will agree to that. It seems fair to me.” Answered the crab.

“Finally we’re in agreement!” said the rabbit. He was very happy, because he was sure he was going to win. “I’m so pleased about this that, if you win, I’m prepared to give you all the car-rots and all the tops. Do you agree?”

“I agree!” Repeated the crab.

“There’s one other thing,” said the rabbit. “Since I know you’re slower than me, I’m going to give you a ten-pace head start.”

“Mr. Rabbit, my friend, thank you very much but, that’s too much! I can’t accept that” said the crab, while pretending that he didn’t want to take advantage of him. “You’re the one that ought to have a ten-pace handicap and I won’t take no for an answer.”

The rabbit hastened to agree, not wanting to cause any alienation between the two of them. That way the other fellow wouldn’t get angry.

Off they went together in a friendly fashion with this agreement to the place where the race was going to start. Then the rabbit went ahead to take the ten-pace handicap.

However, as soon as he turned his back, the crab, who was neither slow nor lazy, grabbed the rabbit’s tail with his claws, with-out the rabbit realizing it.

When they arrived at the carrots, the rabbit quickly turned around thinking that he had left the crab far behind in the dust like he did when he raced the turtle in another story. But, as he turned, the crab opened his claws and fell quietly on top of the carrot mound.

“Where are you, Mr. Crab, my friend?” The rabbit asked happily when he didn’t see him anywhere.

“Here I am!” answered the crab while behind him sitting on the pile of carrots.

The rabbit jumped up with great surprise and then stood there frozen in his tracks. He couldn’t believe what he saw. There was the crab, sitting on the pile of carrots.

“Here I am! And I got here before you did!” the crab taunted.

That day was the second time ever that the rabbit had lost a race. He was very sad because he could not understand how the crab got ahead of him. That’s how the crab got to keep the carrots.

That is almost the story of the rabbit and the crab. What we know of the Mayan, Toltec, and Aztec comes to us through various ‘Codices’ that Cortés and his army didn’t get to destroy. These were written records and stories written on Mesoamerican bark paper. These leftover manuscripts are still being found, mostly in Europe. Some have little stories in them and some of these little fables are “sold” to the public as being genuine tales coming from the books.

The language used will vary depending on the archaeologist’s ability to translate (and my reconstruction for the Manzanillo Sun.) Some are fake as is this one. How do I know?

Although  there  was  an  indigenous  carrot  plant  in  the  “New World”, it wasn’t anything that anyone would want to plant. Real carrots, and there are several with different shapes and colors, were introduced by the Spanish on the island of Margarita which is located off the coast of Venezuela, in 1565, and later into the Thirteen Colonies during the 1600s. However. . . . . . . . .
























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