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Xbalanque and Hunahpu – The Hero Twins of Maya and the bird demon Seven Macaw

Updated: May 7

The Maya Hero Twins. Courtesy Herb Roe.

You are going to have to help me out here, who were Xbalanque and Hunahpu?

Xbalanque and Hunahpu were two Maya gods. They were twins, and had many adventures together, which were written about in an ancient document called the Popol Vuh.

Adventures, huh? You know I love me some mythological adventures! What did the pair get up to?

Well, on one particular day, probably a Tuesday, Xbalanque and Hunahpu were approached by Huracan, the Maya god of wind, storm, and fire. Huracan was miffed. He was ticked off. He was ‘naffed off. He was in a right ole’ grump. The cause of Huracan’s foul mood was a creature who went by the name of Seven Macaw.

That’s an awesome name!

Yeah, it is! Seven Macaw was a bird demon and was extremely vain. As such, it really liked bling. It wore shiny metal decorations strapped to its feathers and it had bright glimmering gemstones instead of teeth. Seven Macaw also claimed that it was the sun and moon. Which was a total fib. That didn’t stop some dopey dimwits on Earth worshipping the bejewelled monster. Anyway, Huracan wasn’t having any of that and asked the heroic twins to get rid of the bird demon, permanently.

So, does that mean to make it dead then?

That’s right, deader than a dead thing on dead day.

Whoa, really dead, then.

You betcha’.

Xbalanque and Hunahpu take aim at the bird demon with their blow darts.

So did these heroic twins challenge Sevan Macaw to an epic battle? You know, one in slow motion with dramatic music playing?

Not so much. You see Xbalanque and Hunahpu were trickster gods. The way they solved problems was to be sneaky. Rather than fight Seven Macaw in mortal combat, they instead opted to go full-on Ninja. Whilst the bird demon was eating, high up in a tree, the hero twins crept up on the unsuspecting feathered fellow. The twins clutched blow guns in their hands and, whilst Seven Macaw gulped down a delicious meaty morsel, they took the opportunity to blast the demon with a spray of blow darts.

Whoa! That really is sneaky! What happened next?

Seven Macaw was badly injured by the darts. Its glorious jewel-encrusted teeth were damaged and knocked loose. Those toothy pegs likely cost a lot of money, no way would any tooth fairy be able to afford to take them to build their castle. Not only that, but in the attack, Seven Macaw’s eyes were badly hurt.

Thing is, Seven Macaw wasn’t done for. Not yet. It swooped down from its perch and ripped Hunahpu’s arm clean off.

The Hero Twins in Action. Courtesy

Nasty. This story suddenly got really violent.

It really did. Xbalanque and Hunahpu fled the battle but they didn’t give up. Instead, they came up with a cunning plan. The twins summoned a pair of gods who looked like grandparents. These gods, we don’t know their names, were cute, sweet, and looked harmless.

Seven Macaw in all its glory. Courtesy

The grandparents went to go see Seven Macaw and claimed that they were a poor doctor and an even poorer dentist, both trying to do their best to care for their grandchildren.

Seven Macaw couldn’t believe its luck! A Doctor? A Dentist? The creature needed the care that only these two could provide to fix its once fancy teeth and repair its damaged eyes. The demon demanded the grandparents’ help. The grandparents were, of course, only too happy to help as this will all part of their tricksy scheme. The grandparents took to their work and pretended to heal Seven Macaw.

However, instead of fixing the demon’s teeth they replaced every single one of them with white corn. And, rather than heal its eyes, they instead removed all of the decorations and ornaments that surrounded them. Seven Macaw must have been having a nap during the operation or something because once the procedure was complete it happily bid the two doddering grandparents on their way.

Seven Macaw went to look at itself in the mirrored surface of a lake, it likely couldn’t wait to see itself in all its gorgeousness. So, you can imagine how heartbroken the demon was with corn for teeth and not a single piece of shiny metal upon its body. It is said that Seven Macaw was so overcome with shame that it immediately flopped over, dead as a dodo. Or dead as a bird demon in this case. Luckily for Hunahpu, Seven Macaw still had his severed arm (maybe severed arms are a bit like Pokémon? You gotta catch 'em all?) so the god was able to reattach the once lost appendage. Phew, huh?

The Hero Twins play ball in the underworld. Courtesy

Wow! Xbalanque and Hunahpu really were sneaky! Did they get up to any other sneaky adventures?

Oh yes, absolutely loads. After all, they had Seven Macaw’s children to deal with, and then there was the time that they played pok-a-tok with the demons of the underworld.

But those are stories for another day. If you’d like to hear them, let us know at and we’ll share the tale in a future blog!

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