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Don Juan Kahuil

Shadows of the world of pre-contact Maya society come to us mostly from the records of the Spaniards themselves.  Of the records that have survived, court decisions and the narratives presented in them, offer a glimpse of a world that straddled pre and post contact, of which the judgment that follows is an example.

In this court decision an account of the founders of Chichen Itza, said to be cruel invaders from the Mexican central highland, is given.  Although not directly stated, the possibility of the invaders being refugees from a failing Teotihuacan cannot be discounted.  The reference is made that the invaders were from “Mexico”, and in the same testament reference is made to Montezuma, king of Mexico, suggesting that “Mexico” and the Nahuatl world were one and the same.

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Villa de Valladolid—Año de 1618.
“Documento 1º. A la primera pregunta dijo este testigo que conoce al dicho Don Juan Kahuil y à la dicha Doña Maria Quen su legitima muger y que todos los contenidos en la pregunta, tuvo noticia muy larga de su padre de este testigo, porque fue en su antiguedad ahkin, sacerdote entre los naturales antiguos, antes que recibiesen agua de bautismo, como los susodichos contenidos en la pregunta vinieron del reino de Mexico y poblaron estas provincias, y que era gente bellicosa y valerosa y Señores, y asi poblaron à Chichenica los unos, y otros se fueron hacia el Sur que poblaron á Bacalar, y hacia el Norte que poblaron la costa; porque eran tres ò cuatro Señores y uno que se llamo Tumispolchicbul era deudo de Moctezuma, rey que fuè de los reinos de Mexico, y que Cuhuikakcamalcacalpuc era deudo muy cercano de dicho Don Juan Kahuil por parte de sus padres, y que dicha Ixnahaucupul hija de Kukumcupul fue muger de su abuelo de dicho D. Juan Kahuil, todos los cuales fueron los que vinieron de Mexico à poblar estas Provincias, gente principal y Señores, pues poblaron y se señorearon de esta tierra, porque como dicho tiene, le oyó decir al dicho su padre que eran tenidos, obedecidos y respetados como à Señores de esta tierra, y de uno de ellos procede el dicho D. Juan Kahuil, y de estos hay mucha noticia y dicho su padre le dijo muchas veces, que habia constancia entre ellos de lo sucedido por estos Señores.

“2º. A la segunda pregunta dice este testigo, que como dicho tiene, oyó decir à su padre y otros Indios principales que los susodichos contenidos en la primera pregunta vinieron de los reynos de Mejico à poblar estàs provincias, los unos se quedaron en Chichinica que fueron los que edificaron los edificios sontuosos que hay en el dicho asiento, y otros se fueron à poblar à Bacalar, y otros fueron à poblar la costa hacia el norte, y este que fué à poblar la costa, se llamaba Cacalpuc, de donde procede el dicho D. Juan Kahuil, y estos que así se repartieron, fueron à poblar las provincias susodichas, y las tuvieron sugetas y en govierno, y que le cupo à un Cocom, el poblar en Chichinica, y le obedecian todos por Señor, y los de la isla de cuzumel le eran sugetos; y de alli (de Chicinica) se pasaron à la provincia de Sotuta, donde estaban, cuando los conquistadores vinieron, y siempre fueron tenidos, obedecidos y respetados como Señores.

“3º. A la primera pregunta dijò este testigo que conoce al dicho D. Juan Kahuil, y à la dicha Da Maria Quen, su muger, y que de todos los contenidos en la pregunta, tuvo muy larga noticia de ellos, porque D. Juan Camal, cacique è gobernador que fuè del pueblo de Sisal, de los primeros que lo gobernaron por comision e titulo que le diò el Oidor Tomas Lopez, oiendo como era de los antiguos caciques del dicho pueblo en estas provincias, lo trataba en conversacion à sus principales y este testigo, que siempre estaba en su casa, y fué alguacil mayor ordinario en ella, como los contenidos habian venido de Mejico à poblar esta tierra de Yucatan, y que los unos poblaron à Chichinica y hicieron los edificiós que estan en dicho asiento muy suntuosos, y que habiendo sido los que vinieron de Mejico, cuatro deudos ò parientes con sus allegados y gente que trajaron; el uno pobló como dicho tiene à Chichinica, y el otro fué à poblar à Bacalar, y el otro hacia el Norte y pobló en la costa, y el otro fué hacia Cozumel; è poblaron con gente, y fueron Señores de estas provincias, y las gobernaron y señorearon muchos años; y que oyó decir que uno de ellos llamado Tanupolchicbul era pariente de Moctezuma, rey de Mejico.”

(Translation.)

Corporation of Valladolid—Year 1618.

“Document No. 1. To the first question the witness answered that he knows the said Don Juan Kahuil and the said Dona Maria Quen his lawful wife, and all those referred to in the question; that this witness had full information from his father, who formerly was ahkin or priest among the natives, before they had received the water of baptism, how the parties above mentioned in the question came from the kingdom of Mexico, and established towns in these provinces, and that they were a warlike and valiant people and lords, and thus some of them established themselves at Chichen Itza, and others went to the south and established towns at Bacalar, and toward the north and established towns on the coast; because they were three or four lords, and one, who was named Tumispolchicbul, was a kinsman of Montezuma, king of the kingdom of Mexico, and that Cuhuikakcamalcacalpuc was a very near kinsman of the said Don Juan Kahuil on his father’s side, and that the said Ixnahaucupul, daughter of Kukumcupul was wife of the grandfather of the said Don Juan Kahuil, all of whom were those who came from Mexico to found towns in these provinces, prominent people and lords; then they founded towns and ruled this land, because as he said, he heard his said father say that they were regarded, obeyed and respected as lords of this land, and that from one of them proceeded the said Don Juan Kahuil; and of these there is abundant information, and his said father often said to him that there was unanimity among them as to what took place by these lords.

“2ND. To the second question this witness answered that as he has said, he heard his father and other leading Indians say that the parties above mentioned in the first question came from the Kingdom of Mexico to found towns in these provinces; some remained in Chichen Itza, who were those who built the sumptuous edifices which are in the said locality; others went to found towns at Bacalar, and others to found towns on the coast to the north; and he who went to found towns on the coast was named Cacalpuc, from whom proceeds the said Don Juan Kahuil and those who thus made division went to found towns in the above mentioned provinces, and held them under subjection and government; and he chose a certain Cocom to rule in Chichen Itza, and they all obeyed him as lord, and those of the island of Cozumel were subject to him; and from there (from Chichen Itza) they passed to the province of Zotuta, where they were when the conquerors came, and they were always regarded, obeyed and respected as lords.

“3RD. To the first question this witness answered that he knew all the parties mentioned in the question and had abundant information about them, because Don Juan Carnal who was chief and governor of Sisal, one of the first who governed it by commission and brief given him by the Auditor Tomas Lopez, being one of the ancient chiefs of the said town in these provinces, spoke of the subject in conversation with his leading men and with this witness, who was constantly in his house and was chief clerk in ordinary in it, saying the parties mentioned had come from Mexico to found towns in this land of Yucatan, and that some settled at Chichen Itza, and erected the very stately edifices which are in the said locality, and that those who came from Mexico were four kinsmen or relatives with their friends and the people they brought with them; one settled as heretofore said at Chichen Itza, one went to settle at Bacalar, one went toward the north and settled on the coast, and the other went toward Cozumel; and they founded towns with their people, and were lords of these provinces, and governed them and ruled them many years; and that he had heard it said that one of them named Tanupolchicbul was a kinsman of Moctezuma, King of Mexico.”

Source:

Maya Chronicles, Brinton’s Library of Aboriginal American Literature, No. 1, edited by Daniel Brinton.

Categories: Aztec Aztec History Maya Maya History

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The Orly

As Fray Bernardino de Sahagún observed: the Mexicans “are held to be barbarians and of very little worth; in truth, however, in matters of culture and refinement, they are a step ahead of other nations." We explore the history and legacy of the Nahua and Maya civilizations, both of which challenge our preconceptions.

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