Seven Macaw

2019 History January 2019 Kirby Vickery

 By Kirby Vickery  from the January 2019 Edition

A Mayan Myth

This story is found in the middle of the Popol Vuh but is considered to be a Mayan myth all to itself. In the story of the creation of the earth and the sky, after the stick people were all destroyed and just before the people of corn were made, our hero twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, were tasked to enter into the underworld to avenge their father and uncle’s death. It was there that they met a macaw named Itzam-Yeh (its-am-YEH), translated as Seven Macaw. 

He was bright, loud, boisterous, and yes, very colorful, which is typical of the real macaws we know. He claimed to be their new god of the sun and everything else for that matter. A convoluted story, but interesting enough.


Although the twins’ purpose in entering the underworld was to avenge their father’s death, they had decided that it was part of their destiny to destroy this loud bird named Seven Macaw and his two troublesome sons. 

They had their own issues, but Seven Macaw kept boasting that he was the new Sun God and was just a little too flamboyant about himself for the twins to take seriously. The twins decided to shoot Seven Macaw. 

They found the perfect time and place when Seven Macaw was eating lunch in a nance tree. Hunahpu used a blowgun to shoot Seven Macaw with a heavy dart. After sneaking up on the bird and taking careful aim, Hanahpu’s dart tore into the bird’s mouth, breaking his jaw and injuring his precious eyes.  

All the jewels in his mouth and eyes were severely broken and the shot made Seven Macaw fall from the nance tree. However, Seven Macaw was still dangerous. When Hunahpu came over to him as he lay on the ground, Seven Macaw bit off the twin’s arm and ran away with it. Seven Macaw hung the arm over a fire when he got home. 

Hunahpu and his brother tried hard to think of a way to get the arm back. Finally, they met with an old and wrinkled man and woman who helped them devise a plan to get the arm back. The old couple agreed to pretend they were the twins’ grandparents and off they went to find Seven Macaw. 

When they got to his house, the old man explained to the bird that the twins were their grandsons. The old man also said that he was an expert in fixing broken jaws and curing damaged eyes. Then, as the twins had hoped, Seven Macaw invited the grandfather to help him restore his damaged jeweled features. 

The old man gently pulled the gemstones out of Seven Macaw’ s mouth and eyes and replaced them with kernels of white corn. 

When the old man was finished, Seven Macaw could no longer claim he looked like a sun god. Now, he just looked like an average bird. He had been robbed of his source of conceit and vanity and felt he no longer had any reason to live. So he keeled over and died. As soon as that happened, Hunahpu retrieved his arm from above the fireplace and placed it back on his body. 

Now, Seven Macaw was survived by his own two sons. They were more like demons than sons, though. One was named Zipacna (zip-ak-NAH), or Alligator. The other was Cabrakan (TwoHis-Leg), and also called Earthquake. Like his father, Alligator also made boastful claims. He strutted about claiming that he was the maker of the mountains. 

Seven Macaw (left) The Hero Twins: Hunahpu and Xbalanque (right)

Convinced that Alligator was dead, the four hundred sons held a celebration. They partied so hard and drank so much that they became intoxicated. They got so drunk that they never noticed when Alligator crawled out of his safety from the tunnel. The world will never know if Alligator had any ill intent when he offered to help. 

One day, Alligator, while resting by the water’s edge, saw a group of four hundred sons carrying a tree to use as a post for a house they were building. Alligator asked the boys if he could help them. In spite of their fear of such a large person-god, they agreed to let him haul a tree to the front of their house and were really impressed by Alligator’s strength, but they also felt threatened by it and were sure Alligator would use his strength to hurt them. Alligator must be killed, they thought. 

They sat down and came up with a plan that would end up killing Alligator. First, they would ask him to do them a big favor and dig a deep hole in the earth. When it was done, they would ask Alligator to drop down into it to show how deep it really was. Then the boys would throw a large wooden beam into the hole. They figured that when the beam landed on Alligator, it would kill him and end their problem. But, Alligator knew the boys wanted to kill him. 

So, while he was digging the hole, he also dug an escape tunnel to one side of the hole. Alligator slipped to the bottom of the hole and called out to the boys. He crawled into his side cave as he announced its completion. The boys then dropped the beam in the hole, unaware that Alligator sat safely to one side. 

where for it. – Kirby] 

The twins found Alligator in the water and asked him if he would like a deliciously large and tender crab dinner. Alligator told them that he hadn’t eaten anything for two days as the fishing and hunting was really bad and he would gladly accept their invitation. Alligator slathered at the thought of such a treat and begged the twins to take him to it. 

So off to Mt. Meavan they went, with Alligator growing more excited with each step. Just as they were approaching the mixed crab meat, the big mountain collapsed on Alligator’s chest. He couldn’t move and turned to stone. 

Seven Macaw’s other son, Cabrakan, was no less boastful or honest than his father and brother. Cabrakan proclaimed that he destroyed mountains. One day, our Hero brothers confronted Cabrakan and told him that they had just discovered the highest mountain they had ever seen. They challenged Cabrakan to knock down this mammoth mountain. With his usual vanity, Cabrakan assured the twins that he could. To prove his boast, he asked the twins to take him to this mountain.

On their way to the mountain, the Hero Twins became hungry. As was their custom, they pulled out their blowguns and killed some birds, which they roasted for dinner. This was part of the plot to kill Cabrakan. They prepared one bird by cooking it together with a heavy chunk of the earth. They offered Cabrakan a slice of the earth-laden bird, and he ate it with the piece of earth enthusiastically. When they finished their feast, they walked toward the enormous mountain.

But the weight of the meal he had just eaten made Cabrakan feel very weak. After a while, he could hardly stand on his legs. In that condition, he couldn’t make a mountain crash to the ground. The Hero Twins tied Cabrakan up, knocked him down, and killed him. Cabrakan, otherwise known as Earthquake, has been permanently buried in the ground ever since. And now, whenever he moves in his grave – he shakes the world.

The full edition or view it online

Leave a Reply