In the Late Post-Classic Maya mythology of the Popol Vuh, Camazotz (/kɑːməˈsɒts/ from Mayan /kama ˈsots’/) (alternate spellings Cama-Zotz, Sotz, Zotz) is a bat spirit at the service of the lords of the underworld. Camazotz means "death bat" in the Kʼicheʼ language. In Mesoamerica generally, the bat is often associated with night, death, and sacrifice.[1]

Night, death, and sacrifice
Camazotz sculpture on display at Museo Popol Vuh
Other namesCama-Zotz
Polynesian equivalentLeutogi

Etymology edit

Camazotz is formed from the Kʼicheʼ words kame, meaning "death", and sotz', meaning "bat".[2]

Mythology edit

In the Popol Vuh, Camazotz are the bat-like spirits encountered by the Maya Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque during their trials in the underworld of Xibalba. The twins had to spend the night in the House of Bats, where they squeezed themselves into their own blowguns in order to defend themselves from the circling bats. Hunahpu stuck his head out of his blowgun to see if the sun had risen and Camazotz immediately snatched off his head and carried it to the ballcourt to be hung up as the ball to be used by the gods in their next ballgame.[3]

Classic Period (200–900 CE) edit

In Classic Maya iconography, the (leaf-nosed) bat, exhaling unhealthy vapours, is often depicted as a person's nahual or way-spirit bringing disease over an enemy. However, the Classic bat spirit is rarely, if ever, part of a narrative context, nor does it appear to play the role assigned to it by the Popol Vuh.[4]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Miller & Taube 1993, 2003, p.44.
  2. ^ Christenson.
  3. ^ Miller & Taube 1993, 2003, p. 44. Thompson 1966, p. 181. Read & Gonzalez 2000, p. 133.
  4. ^ Brady&Coltman 2016

Bibliography edit

  • Brady, James E., and Jeremy D. Coltman, "Bats and the Camazotz: Correcting a Century of Mistaken Identity". Latin-American Antiquity 27(2) 2016: 227–237. JSTOR 26337239.
  • Christenson, Allen J. "Kʼicheʼ" (PDF). English Dictionary and Guide to Pronunciation of the Kʼicheʼ-Maya Alphabet. Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. (FAMSI). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-10-10. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
  • Miller, Mary; Taube, Karl (2003) [1993]. An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27928-4. OCLC 28801551.
  • Read, Kay Almere; González, Jason (2000). Handbook of Mesoamerican Mythology. Oxford: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-85109-340-0. OCLC 43879188.
  • Thompson, J. Eric S. (June 1966). "Maya Hieroglyphs of the Bat as Metaphorgrams". Man. New Series. 1 (2). Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland: 176–184. doi:10.2307/2796344. JSTOR 2796344.
  • Brock, Zoë (11 May 2018). Popol Vuh Part Four. LitCharts LLC.