2) The Maya glyph for cocoa
Why does it have the shape of a
The following explanation is shared by Mrs. Tixier, a Maya specialist, living in
Toulouse in France.
Since we first read that the glyph below
represents cocoa, we were wondering why it was in the shape of a fish.
conference given by Madame Tixier, a pharmacist and chocolate specialist from
Toulouse, where we were able to hear her interpretation inspired by the Popol
The Popol Vuh is the big sacred book of
the Quiché Mayans from the high plateaux of Guatemala.
It's a work of great poetic beauty, which begins with the creation of the
universe and ends with the Spanish conquest.
This mythological and esoteric epic was
passed down orally and transcribed into Latin around 1550 by a Spanish priest,
It's a rather complicated text, which has
various different translations and different interpretations.
One episode recounts how the first twins, children of the creators of the
Universe, were coaxed into the underworld to play ball. Beheaded by the gods of
this sinister place for having dared to enter into their kingdom, the head of
one of them, Hun Hunahpu, the god of maize, was attached to a tree- the cocoa
One day, the
daughter of a god, having heard the story, came to
stroke this head without a body. She then found herself
impregnated by magic. To escape her father's anger, the
young girl fled and climbed up to earth where she gave
birth to twins, Hunahpú and Xbalanqué.
Deciding to seek vengeance for their father, they went
back to the underworld where the gods burnt them alive
and threw their ashes into a river. Five days later, the
twins reappeared in the form of fishes and after many
adventures became the sun and the moon.
This scene represents the
resurrection of the corn god, Hun Hunahpu, out of the
earth, represented by a turtle shell.
His sons, Hunahpu and Xbalanqué are shown assisting
their father and all three are accompanied by their
identifying name glyphs.
Interior of a late classic Maya ceramic bowl.
In several later works, it's written that one of the two
brothers, Hunahpú, invented a way of using cocoa.
So the cocoa- fish link is established in
this story. But is it an explanation for the fish shape of the Mayan glyph,
which represents the word cocoa?