“People of the Serpent”

Chilam Balam

Ancient Mayan religious texts known as the Books of Chilam Balam describe:

‘the first inhabitants of Yucatan were the “People of the Serpent”. They came from the east in boats across the water with their leader Itzamana, “Serpent of the East”, a healer who could cure by laying on hands, and who revived the dead.’12


‘Kukulkan,’ stated another tradition, ‘came with nineteen companions, two of whom were gods offish, two others gods of agriculture, and a god of thunder … They stayed ten years in Yucatan. Kukulkan made wise laws and then set sail and disappeared in the direction of the rising sun …’13

According to the Spanish chronicler Las Casas:

Bartolome de las Casas


‘The natives affirmed that in ancient times there came to Mexico twenty men, the chief of whom was called Kukulkan … They wore flowing robes and sandals on their feet, they had long beards and their heads were bare … Kukulkan instructed the people in the arts of peace, and caused various important edifices to be built …’14


Juan de Torquemada

Meanwhile Juan de Torquemada recorded this very specific pre-conquest tradition concerning the imposing strangers who had entered Mexico with Quetzalcoatl:

They were men of good carriage, well-dressed, in long robes of black linen, open in front, and without capes, cut low at the neck, with short sleeves that did not come to the elbow … These followers of Quetzalcoatl were men of great knowledge and cunning artists in all kinds of fine work.15 

quetzalcoatl mayan origins



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