Popol Vuh

by

Dennis Tedlock

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Xbalanque Character Analysis

Xbalanque is one of the hero twins in the Popol Vuh. He and his twin, Hunahpu, dedicate their lives to taking down any characters who seek to "magnify themselves" and attempt to appear more powerful than they actually are. The twins are very strong and excel in their physical pursuits. In particular, the boys are very good at playing a traditional Mesoamerican ball game, just like their father and uncle One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu were before their deaths. Despite this, however, Xbalanque and Hunahpu's greatest assets are their smarts and their ability to lay traps and tricks for others, while also seeing through their adversaries' tricks. In particular, this is how Xbalanque and Hunahpu best One Death and Seven Death. After this, the boys leave earth for the sky, where they become the moon and sun.

Xbalanque Quotes in Popol Vuh

The Popol Vuh quotes below are all either spoken by Xbalanque or refer to Xbalanque. 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.
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Xbalanque Character Timeline in Popol Vuh

The timeline below shows where the character Xbalanque 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 take him... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...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 Zipacna and... (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 he does,... (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 Great White... (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 Macaw sees... (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 dead. They... (full context)
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
Hunahpu and Xbalanque "remember" that they saw a massive female crab down in a canyon. They explain that... (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 the crab's... (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 he does... (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... (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... (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 entire thing... (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 exploits. The... (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 very angry,... (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 they cry... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...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 to learn... (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... (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 birds, and... (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 Monkey and... (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... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...and silly, 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... (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. They explain... (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 Moon and... (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... (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 Xmucane what... (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 rat. They... (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 give the... (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 starts to... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Xbalanque and Hunahpu ask Blood Moon to go help Xmucane since she's taking so long, and... (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 of Xibalba... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...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 comes across... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...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 slithers towards... (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 boys grab... (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 in his... (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... (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. They understand... (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 that the... (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 want them... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...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. The lords... (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... (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. At this,... (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 the boys... (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, the boys... (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 Xibalbans send... (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... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...his head as a ball. The Xibalbans refuse, and set a regular ball into play. Xbalanque hits the ball and sends it bouncing out of the court, where it finally comes... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
...Death and Seven Death are confused when they return, but they resume the game regardless. Xbalanque punts the squash as though it's a ball, and as the squash wears out, it... (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 die, and... (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, promising them... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...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 reappear. They... (full context)
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...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 finally, the... (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 the lords... (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 when he... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
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 of One... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
...and live. She names the ears “Middle of the House” because of where Hunahpu and Xbalanque planted them. (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
Hunahpu and Xbalanque go to the ball court to put Seven Hunahpu back together. They ask their uncle... (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... (full context)