Earth Culture of Origin
Alternate Names / Spellings
Evil Mountain God
Earth Mythological References
Son of the Underworld God Vucub-Caquix and the giant brother of giant Cabrakan
Zipacna was a great giant in Mayan mythology, written about in the Popul Vuh, a compilation of Mayan myths and legends. He was brother of Cabrakan and son of Vucub Caquix, the Great Macaw. These three were considered by the gods to be the most arrogant of all at that time. They therefore dispatched the hero twins, Hun-Apu and Ixbalanque to slay them. These two boys were the undoing of this great giant. The creation of the Pleiades star cluster is also attributed to Zipacna.
The story of his death is thus. It started when a band of 400 young men, spurred on by the gods to kill Zipacna, conspired a plan to slay the Titan. They first began to construct a great hut in which they could all live. They then went to a part of the forest, through which they knew Zipacna would have to pass. There, they felled a huge tree and waited for Zipacna to approach. When he finally arrived, he mocked the boys for they complained that their combined strength could not lift this great log. And so in his arrogance, Zipacna lifted the log for them and bid them lead him to their hut.
When they arrived, the 400 bid him go down into a large hole, which the boys had supposedly dug for the log to go to act as the main support for this structure. Zipacna descended with the tree and no sooner had he reached the bottom, when the boys began to hurl rocks, stones and earth down upon him. However, the giant was not as stupid as the boys had thought and he quickly retreated into a side passage the boys had dug as a cellar for their new house. The hole was soon filled with the rubbish and mud the boys had thrown upon the beast and so, thinking the Titan slain, they began to celebrate and became very drunk.
But when the merriment was at its highest, Zipacna struck. He used his mighty strength and rose up from the ground with such force, that he hurled the boys high into the sky and the hut was smashed into pieces. The boys were hurled so high, that they left the earth and now reside in the Pleiades waiting for a chance to return to the Earth. However, this did not stop the hero twins in their quest to slay Zipacna.
The boys decided to trick Zipacna as the 400 had done and so they constructed a huge artificial crab and left it by a river in a small valley. They also undermined a nearby mountain and waited for the giant to pass. When he was nearby, the twins went to him and asked what he was doing. Zipacna replied that he was seeking his daily food. The boys pointed out the great crab to the giant and mentioned that it would provide him with a hearty meal. Zipacna strode into the valley and before he knew what was happening, the twins, with the help of the gods, cast the mountain down upon him. And that was the end of Zipacna.