Bacabs (erected, set up) In Mayan mythology, four giant brothers who supported the four corners of the heavens, blowing the winds from the four cardinal points. They kept the sky in place after it had fallen following a great flood. Each was identified with a particular color and cardinal point, thus Kan (belly) was associated with the south and the color yellow. The remaining three were Chac, who was red and assigned to the east; Zac, who was white, to the north; and Ed, who was black, to the west. The winds and rains were said to be under the control of these Bacabs. As each year in the Mayan calendar was supposed to be under the influence of one of the brothers, one Bacab was said to die at the close of each year. After the nameless or intercalary days had passed, the next Bacab would come alive. Each computation of the year began on the day Imix, which was the third before the close of the Mayan week; this was said to be figuratively the day of death of the Bacab of that year. It was not until three or four days later that a new year began, with another Bacab, who was said to have died and risen again. The Ritual of the Bacabs, an ancient Mayan book containing incantations, was so named because of its frequent mention of the Bacabs.
From the Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante
Back to Mayan Mythology
Back to American Mythology