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Xibalba (the "place of fear") was the K'iche' Maya underworld ruled by the death gods and their helpers. Chief among them was Hun-Came ("One Death"), with Vucub-Came ("Seven Death") and 10 demons who worked in tandem to cause various forms of human suffering including sickness, starvation, fear, destitution, pain, and death. Xiquiripat ("Flying Scab") and Cuchumaquic ("Gathered Blood") sickened people's blood, Ahalpuh ("Pus Demon") and Ahalgana ("Jaundice Demon") made people's bodies to swell up, Chamiabac ("Bone Staff") and Chamiaholom ("Skull Staff") turned dead bodies into skeletons, Ahalmez ("Sweepings Demon") and Ahaltocob ("Stabbing Demon") hid in the unswept areas of people's houses and stabbed them to death, and Xic ("Wing") and Patan ("Packstrap") caused people to die coughing up blood while walking on a road. The entrance to Xibalba was a cave near Cobán, Guatemala, cave systems in Belize, or the Milky Way. Visitors had to cross 3 rivers full of scorpions, blood, and pus before choosing the correct route at a crossroads. If they reached the council room to greet the lords they would be met instead by realistic mannequins who were seated nearby to confuse and humiliate them. Then they would then be invited to sit on a bench which was actually a hot cooking surface, before being sent into Dark House, Rattling House or Cold House, Jaguar House, Bat House, Razor House, or Hot House to be tortured.
Hun-Hunahpu (Head-Apu I, a calendrical name) and his brother Vucub-Hunahpu (Head-Apu VII) were summoned to Xibalba due to the noise they made playing ball, tricked into defeat in the Dark House, and sacrificed. Hun-Hunahpu's head was suspended in a trophy tree and transformed into a calabash, which spit on the hand of Xic's daughter Xquic and impregnated her. She fled the underworld to seek the protection of Hun-Hunahpu's mother and gave birth to twin sons Xbalanque (Jaguar Sun) and Hunahpu (One-Blowgunner). Disturbed by their crying, their grandmother ordered their older 1/2 brothers to kill them by putting them on an anthill. When that failed the twins were sent home and forced to hunt birds to feed their brothers, who spent the day playing and singing. Once when they returned home without food they claimed that they were unable to retrieve the birds because they were caught in high branches. When the 1/2 brothers climbed to get the birds the tree began to grow, trapping them, so Hunahpu told them to tie their loincloths around their waists to facilitate their escape. The loincloths were changed to tails and the brothers into howling monkeys, who ran away from home in shame when their mother laughed at their disfiguration. They became the patrons of artists and scribes. When the twins grew older they found where their grandmother had hid their father's athletic equipment, and the noise of their playing once more disturbed the lords of Xibalba, who ordered the grandmother to summon the twins to play in the ball court in the underground. She relayed the message in a louse hidden in a toad's mouth hidden in the belly of a snake in a falcon. The twins sent a mosquito ahead, and they refused to sit on the hot bench. Sent to the Dark House they used their wits and skill to survive the night in the pitch black house without using up their torch. Then the lords invited the twins to play the game, but Hunahpu discovered the blade hidden inside the ball. The game continued with the twins' own rubber ball, and the twins let the lords win. The lords requested petals from their well-guarded gardens as a reward, but the twins circumvented the guards by sending leaf eating ants to retrieve the flowers. Sent to the Razor House, filled with moving blades, the twins talked the blades into halting their movement. The twins deliberately lost the rematch and were sent in turn to the remaining torture houses but each time survived their challenges. In Bat House they hid inside their blowguns, but when Hunahpu peeked out he was decapitated by the bat god. Xbalanque summoned the beasts of the field and fashioned a temporary replacement head for him. The lords used his original head as the ball for the next day's game, but the twins surreptitiously substituted it with a squash or a gourd and retrieved his real head to defeat the lords. In revenge, the lords put the twins in an oven. They were killed and ground into dust and bones, which were cast into a river, which regenerated them into a pair of catfish and then as young boys. The boys performed a series of resurrection games; Xbalanque even cut Hunahpu apart and offered him as a sacrifice, but Hunahpu returned from the dead. Hun-Came and Vucub-Came demanded that the boys perform their miracles on them, but the boys did not resurrect them after sacrificing them. Instead, they revealed their real identities; the remaining lords confessed their crimes and begged for mercy. They were not allowed to receive any more sacrifices, and Xibalba lost its glory. The twins retrieved the buried remains of their father and uncle, who were resuscitated as maize. The twins became the sun and moon.
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