Mayan Legends: Bedtime Stories of an Ancient Civilization (Part 2)

In the second part of our Mayan Legends blog post, we will share:

1. The Sac-Nicte & Canek Love Story, a legend that explains the abandonment of Chichen Itza.
2. The Legend of the Uxmal Dwarf, an unlikely king who builds spectacular structures.

The Legend of Sac-Nicte and Canek

Sac-Nicte means white flower. She was born in Mayapan, a powerful 3-city alliance that lived in peace—Mayab, Uxmal, and Chichen Itza. Canek means black serpent. He was a brave prince with a kind heart. When he turned 21 years old, he was chosen as king of Chichen Itza. That same day he met princess Sac-Nacte. She was 15 years old. They quickly fell in love, however Sac-Nicte was supposed to marry young Ulil, prince of Uxmal.

The legend says that a young adviser to the princess told Canek that Sac-Nicte would wait for him among green flowers on her wedding day and that it would be necessary to fight for her, before destiny fought against them.

The day of the wedding, Canek arrived with 60 of his best warriors and climbed to the altar screaming “Itzalan! Itzalan!” (a battle cry) and stole the princess from the altar. Ulil, enraged, launched a war, Mayapan and Uxmal vs. Chichen Itza, so the people of Chichen Itza abandoned their homes and temples. Leading the way was King Canek, hand-in-hand with his beloved Sac-Nicte. When they arrived, the Uxmal and Mayapan armies found an empty Chichen Itza, abandoned by its citizens.

The Uxmal Dwarf

The legend of Uxmal (pronounced ush-mal) says that long ago in an ancient Mayan city, an ancient woman worked as a medium. The woman was unable to conceive children and asked the god Chic Chan to bring her the shell of a large turtle. A few months later, a tiny green dwarf with red hair hatched from the shell.

One day, the dwarf found a musical instrument that belonged to his mother. It was said that when this instrument was played, the reign of the current king would end. When the king heard the instrument, he was very angry and gave the dwarf three tests.

For the first test, he asked the dwarf to build a long, white road. The dwarf built a road connecting Uxmal with Kabah, using his magical powers. For the second test, the king asked the dwarf to build a pyramid larger than any other, overnight. In the morning, the pyramid was completed. In the third test, the king said that they would take turns breaking hard seeds, cocoyles (probably coconuts), on their heads until one of them died. The dwarf had a very hard head. The king died and the dwarf was proclaimed king.