Xbalanque and his twin brother, Hun-apu, are described as “hero-wizards, warriors and mischief-makers, both the pride and torment of Guatemala.” (Garner p. 16) In one story, Xbalanque and Hun-apu take on Vukub-Cakix—a troublesome creature in the form of a great bird. Vukub-Cakix was one to gobble up harvests, and his sons–Zipacna the Earthmaker, and Cabrakan the Earthshaker–would raise up mountains and then topple them.


One day, Hun-apu climbs into Vukub-Cakik’s nanze-tree and eats all the fruit. When Vukub-Cakix discovers this, he goes into a rage. He gets into a tussle with Hun-apu, rips off his arm, and makes off with it. Wanting to get the arm back before it’s cooked beyond repair, the twins head over to Vukub-Cakix’s lair, pose as physicians, and essentially convince the poor bird to allow them to pull out his teeth and eyes. Vukub-Cakix was forever considered harmless after that.


The story doesn’t stop there, though. Not wanting to wait for Vukub-Cakix’s sons to seek vengeance, the twins go after both Zipacna and Cabrakan. It’s kind of a long story, but essentially Xbalanque and Hun-apu recruit 400 young men to take on Zipacna. Together, they manage to bury Zipacna in the ground, but Zipacna quakes the earth and the young men are sent into the sky and become the Pleiades. Zipacna’s eventual downfall comes when he eats a great stone made to look like a crab and is then both drowned in a river and buried underneath a mountain.


As for Cabrakan, Xbalanaque and Hun-apu find him throwing boulders around and flattening villages. They pretend to be unimpressed by these antics, which makes Cabrakan try all the harder until he becomes weak with hunger. So, the twins cook for him a bird baked in poisoned clay. With Cabrakan sick with fever, the twins then taunt him that he couldn’t lift a certain massive mountain. Wanting to prove them wrong, Cabrakan tries to do it, but fails. He tries so hard that eventually the top of his head blows off, and that was the last of him.



Source: Garner, Alan, “Vukub-Cakix”, Collected Folk Tales, Harper Collins, 2011.


Supernatural AtoZ


  1. His head blows off – that is some effort! Seems to me that Hun-apu caused all the trouble in the first place and then dragged his brother along to sort it all out. There is always one twin that is trouble, always! 😉
    Tasha’s Thinkings – AtoZ (Vampires)
    FB3X – AtoZ (Erotic Drabbles)

  2. Another great post from you. Well done for getting this far… nearly there!

    Blogging from Alpha to Zulu in April

  3. Lori Wing

    I totally get that blowing off one’s head in the effort thing. Totally.

    • Sara C. Snider

      Heads blowing up is always a personal favorite. Maybe because I can also relate. 😉

  4. Ripping your arm off for stealing some fruit is a bit harsh, but retaliating by taking teeth and eyes is also a bit much ;P And making a guy’s head blow off – that takes effort!

    Oh, and, when my dear twin, Tasha, says there’s always one twin who is the naughty one, she’s talking about herself! ;P

    Sophie’s Thoughts & Fumbles – A to Z Ghosts
    Fantasy Boys XXX – A to Z Drabblerotic

    • Sara C. Snider

      Yeah, it seems like no one understands moderation in this story. Whatever they do, they do it big.

      Hehe! There is usually at least one trouble-maker in the family. In my case, there were several (big family). Though not me. My brother dragged me into trouble. 😉

  5. It only reaffirms the fact that one always gets pay-back, altho it may come in the form of a bird baked in poison clay.

    • Sara C. Snider

      It’s good to keep in mind if anyone ever bakes a bird in clay for you, and then think back and make sure you haven’t done something to anger him. 😉

  6. Tarkabarka

    One of our storytellers told the story of the twins for the MythOff we had in February. He won his category with it. It was immense fun to see it told 🙂

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Tales of colors
    MopDog – The crazy thing about Hungarians…

    • Sara C. Snider

      A MythOff sounds pretty awesome. Cool that he won with these guys. I can only imagine what it was like seeing it told. The twins seem like pretty big personalities, lots of opportunities there. 🙂

  7. Oh wow. Lots of violence in that story! It’s a folk tale? Sorry–I think I started your A to Z challenge at the end, so I’m not sure what the theme is!


    • Sara C. Snider

      The theme is mythological creatures and people (a bestiary of sorts). Lots of folktales are grim and violent. They are, in many ways, the earliest horror stories.

  8. The twins sound like a handful, especially Hun-Apu. The story is intriguing and one I thinkI would enjoy reading. http://www.writer-way.blogspot.

    • Sara C. Snider

      I guess they aren’t called “the pride and terror of Guatemala” for nothing. 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.