Popol Vuh

by

Dennis Tedlock

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Hunahpu Character Analysis

Hunahpu is one of the hero twins in the Popol Vuh. With his brother, Xbalanque, he rids the pre-human world of all manner of villainous gods, including Seven Macaw, Zipacna, One Death, and Seven Death. Hunahpu is a skilled trickster and is referred to by the narrator as genius. Though the twins are physically strong and are skilled at physical pursuits such as playing ball and shooting birds with blowguns, their genius is their most important asset and is the primary reason why the twins are so successful in ridding the world of evil. Hunahpu's genius is apparent even before his birth, when the narrator suggests that he and Xbalanque are responsible for leaving signs that allow his grandmother, Xmucane, to understand that Blood Moon is telling the truth about the twins' immaculate conception. Their father is One Hunahpu, and the twins are conceived when he spits into Blood Moon's hand. After the twins sacrifice One and Seven Death, they ascend to the sky with the Four Hundred Boys to become the moon and sun.

Hunahpu Quotes in Popol Vuh

The Popol Vuh quotes below are all either spoken by Hunahpu or refer to Hunahpu. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Popol Vuh published in 1996.
Part Two Quotes

"In earth we must cook it, and in earth must be his grave—if the great knower, the one to be made and modeled, is to have a sowing and dawning," said the boys.

"Because of this, the human heart will desire a bite of meat, a meal of flesh, just as the heart of Earthquake will desire it."

Related Characters: Hunahpu (speaker), Xbalanque (speaker), Earthquake
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:
Part Three Quotes

After that, his son is like his saliva, his spittle, in his being, whether it be the son of a lord or the son of a craftsman, an orator. The father does not disappear, but goes on being fulfilled...

Related Characters: One Hunahpu (speaker), Hunahpu, Xbalanque, Seven Hunahpu, Blood Moon
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

But Hunahpu and Xbalanque aren't turning red with anger; rather, they just let it go, even though they know their proper place, which they see as clear as day.

Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:

"Our elder brothers will be remembered. So be it: they have lived here and they have been named; they are to be called One Monkey and One Artisan."

Related Characters: Hunahpu (speaker), Xbalanque (speaker), Xmucane, One Monkey and One Artisan
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:

And such was the naming of their names, they named them all among themselves. They showed their faces and named their names, each one named by the one ranking above him, and naming in turn the name of the one seated next to him.

Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:

"Where might you have come from? Please name it," Xibalba said to them.

"Well, wherever did we come from? We don't know," was all they said. They didn't name it.

Related Characters: Hunahpu, Xbalanque, One Death, Seven Death
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

"Listen, we shall name our names, and we shall also name the names of our fathers for you. Here we are: we are little Hunahpu and Xbalanque by name. And these are our fathers, the ones you killed: One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu by name. And we are here to clear the road of the torments and troubles of our fathers.

Related Characters: Hunahpu, Xbalanque, One Hunahpu, Seven Hunahpu
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

And this was when their grandmother burned something, she burned copal before the ears of green corn as a memorial to them. There was happiness in their grandmother's heart the second time the corn plants sprouted. Then the ears were deified by their grandmother, and she gave them names...

Related Characters: Hunahpu, Xbalanque, Xmucane
Related Symbols: Corn
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

They put Seven Hunahpu back together...He had wanted his face to become just as it was, but when he was asked to name everything, and once he had found the name of the mouth, the nose, the eyes of his face, there was very little else to be said.

Related Characters: Hunahpu, Xbalanque, Seven Hunahpu
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:
Part Four Quotes

There were countless peoples, but there was just one dawn for all tribes.

Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Popol Vuh LitChart as a printable PDF.
Popol Vuh PDF

Hunahpu Character Timeline in Popol Vuh

The timeline below shows where the character Hunahpu appears in Popol Vuh. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part Two
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
Two twin boy gods named Hunahpu and Xbalanque understand that Seven Macaw's self-magnification is evil, so they decide to try to... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...down the sky and turns the earth into an avalanche. Just as with Seven Macaw, Hunahpu and Xbalanque see that these are evil acts, and so the twins plan to kill... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
The narrator describes Seven Macaw's tree, where the bird god eats. One day, Hunahpu and Xbalanque hide under Seven Macaw's tree and wait until he comes to eat. When... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
As Seven Macaw schemes, Hunahpu and Xbalanque make plans of their own. They ask two gods, Great White Peccary and... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
When Great White Peccary, Great White Coati, Hunahpu, and Xbalanque pass by Seven Macaw's house, Seven Macaw is yelling in pain. When Seven... (full context)
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Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
...simply watches, ashamed, as his greatness disappears. Then Seven Macaw dies, as does Chimalmat, and Hunahpu gets his arm back. The grandparents set Hunahpu's arm, and it heals perfectly. (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
Hunahpu and Xbalanque are very sad to hear that their friends, the Four Hundred Boys, are... (full context)
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
Hunahpu and Xbalanque "remember" that they saw a massive female crab down in a canyon. They... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
As they walk, Hunahpu and Xbalanque explain that the crab bit them mercilessly. They say that they first entered... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
Next, Hurricane speaks to Hunahpu and Xbalanque about Earthquake. Hurricane explains that Earthquake also needs to be defeated because what... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
When Xbalanque and Hunahpu come upon Earthquake, they ask him what he's doing. He explains that he's breaking mountains,... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
When Xbalanque and Hunahpu have several birds, they make a fire and roast the birds. They coat one of... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Earthquake becomes hungry when he smells the cooking birds. He asks Hunahpu and Xbalanque for a bite, and they give him the plaster-coated bird. He eats the... (full context)
Part Three
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
The narrator raises a toast to the father of Hunahpu and Xbalanque, and explains that the story will now give a partial account of his... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu spend their time throwing dice and playing a ball game, often with... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
...lords speak with One and Seven Death, they decide that they'd like to acquire One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu's gaming equipment to put an end to the noise. (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
One Death and Seven Death send their messenger owls to summon One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu to play ball in Xibalba. They instruct the messengers to flatter One... (full context)
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
The owl messengers guide One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu down the road to Xibalba, which winds down a steep hill to... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...four roads—Red Road, Black Road, White Road, and Yellow Road—and Black Road speaks to One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu. It says that it's the lords’ road, but it's actually the Road... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
Finally, One Death and Seven Death address their guests. They tell One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu that tomorrow they'll play ball, and they offer them a bench—but the... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Once One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu enter Dark House, a bearer brings them one lit torch and two... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
In the morning, when One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu are brought back before One Death and Seven Death, they explain that... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...Death and Seven Death. The fruit is so abundant, it's impossible to tell where One Hunahpu's head is. The Xibalbans decide that nobody should pick the fruit or go close to... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
One Hunahpu's head asks Blood Moon to stretch out her hand where he can see it. Then... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
With this, Blood Moon becomes pregnant with the twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque. After six months, Blood Gatherer finally notices that his daughter is pregnant. He's... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...messengers that her child was conceived miraculously when she went to go look at One Hunahpu's head in the tree. She begs the messengers to not sacrifice her. The messengers are... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...that she has no grandchildren but One Monkey and One Artisan, and laments that One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu died in Xibalba. Blood Moon tries again to explain that her unborn... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...that she doesn't want Blood Moon, that Blood Moon's babies are bastards, and that One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu are dead. When Blood Moon insists again, Xmucane sends her to gather... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
Not long after, Blood Moon gives birth very suddenly to Hunahpu and Xbalanque while she's in the mountains. When she brings the babies into the house... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...One Monkey and One Artisan want their brothers to die, as they're very jealous of Hunahpu and Xbalanque. One Monkey and One Artisan have spent their lives going to great pains... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Xmucane, One Monkey, and One Artisan treat Xbalanque and Hunahpu horribly. They don't show them love or feed them. Hunahpu and Xbalanque take all of... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
One day, Hunahpu and Xbalanque return home without birds. Xmucane angrily demands to know why they didn't bring... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
When the four brothers reach the tree, Hunahpu and Xbalanque begin shooting birds in the tree. None of the birds fall, so One... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
Xbalanque and Hunahpu return to Xmucane's hut and tell her that their brothers have become "simply shameless," like... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...she laughs. This scares One Monkey and One Artisan, and they run away. Xbalanque and Hunahpu explain that they can only try to call One Monkey and One Artisan four times,... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
Hunahpu and Xbalanque tell Xmucane to not be sad, as she still has them as grandchildren.... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
Now, Hunahpu and Xbalanque can begin their process of becoming truly great. They start by assuring Blood... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
When Xbalanque and Hunahpu hear the mourning dove, they race back to the garden and pick up their tools.... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
Hunahpu and Xbalanque again allow their tools to work the land. They head home and tell... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
Incensed, Hunahpu and Xbalanque make a grab at the last animal to try to run away, the... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
Hunahpu and Xbalanque are thrilled to learn the truth about their father and uncle, and they... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
When Hunahpu and Xbalanque get to Xmucane's house, they put the rat on the roof and he... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Xbalanque and Hunahpu ask Blood Moon to go help Xmucane since she's taking so long, and as soon... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
Now that they have the ball game equipment, Hunahpu and Xbalanque clear off the court and play by themselves. Just as before, the lords... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...Xmucane picks it up. She asks the louse if it would take her message to Hunahpu and Xbalanque, and the louse agrees. As the louse scuttles in fits and starts, it... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...he meets a snake named Zaquicaz. When Tamazul explains that he carries a message for Hunahpu and Xbalanque, Zaquicaz offers to swallow him and carry him there. Tamazul agrees. As Zaquicaz... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
When the falcon arrives at the ball court, he settles at the edge. Hunahpu and Xbalanque pay him no notice, so the falcon cries to get their attention. The... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
When Hunahpu and Xbalanque ask Tamazul to tell them his message, he says that his message is... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
Finally, Xbalanque and Hunahpu ask the louse to relay its message. The louse repeats the summons from One Death... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
Hunahpu and Xbalanque step right over Blood River and Pus River and quickly reach the Crossroads.... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
After the hair listens to all the lords' names, Hunahpu and Xbalanque continue their journey until they reach the lords themselves. They tell the lords... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
One Death's messenger brings Hunahpu and Xbalanque a lit cigar each and one lit torch. He explains that the lords... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
In the morning, the lords are distraught. They recognize that there's something different about Hunahpu and Xbalanque, but One Death and Seven Death invite the boys to play ball anyway.... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
Xbalanque and Hunahpu yell that the Xibalbans only want to kill them, and threaten to leave unless the... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
In Razor House, Hunahpu and Xbalanque speak to the blades and tell them that animal flesh belongs to them.... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Pages fetch Hunahpu and Xbalanque in the morning and ask that they bring the bowls of flowers. When... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
Hunahpu and Xbalanque are shown to Cold House, where they're supposed to die of cold. Instead,... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
In the morning, when Hunahpu and Xbalanque come out of Jaguar House unscathed, the Xibalbans are again in awe. The... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
When Xbalanque realizes that Hunahpu isn't moving, he begins to cry. Hunahpu's head rolls in front of One Death and... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
A bit later, in the court, One Death and Seven Death drop in Hunahpu's head, and Hunahpu shouts for them to use his head as a ball. The Xibalbans... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
...scatters seeds all over the court. The Xibalbans are perplexed, but they allow Xbalanque and Hunahpu to win. (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
After the game, Hunahpu and Xbalanque summon two seers, Xulu and Pacam. Hunahpu and Xbalanque realize that they must... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
As Hunahpu and Xbalanque predicted, the Xibalbans construct a great stone oven and then summon the twins,... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...Death summon Xulu and Pacam, and the seers do as they were told and grind Hunahpu and Xbalanque's bones and scatter them in the river. Five days later, Hunahpu and Xbalanque... (full context)
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...entertainers and decide to summon them to perform. They send their owl messengers, but first Hunahpu and Xbalanque refuse. They insist that they'd embarrass themselves in front of such lords, but... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Hunahpu and Xbalanque begin their dances and soon, all of Xibalba gathers to watch. One of... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
One Death and Seven Death ask Hunahpu and Xbalanque to sacrifice them, and the twins agree. They sacrifice One Death first, and... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
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Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
With this, Hunahpu and Xbalanque tell their names to the remaining Xibalbans. They say that they're the sons... (full context)
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...they sprout and live. She names the ears “Middle of the House” because of where Hunahpu and Xbalanque planted them. (full context)
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Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
Hunahpu and Xbalanque go to the ball court to put Seven Hunahpu back together. They ask... (full context)
Part Four
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
Not long before Xbalanque and Hunahpu ascend to the sky, Sovereign Plumed Serpent decides that dawn has come for humans. A... (full context)