Ermilo Abreu Goméz (1894-1971) wrote excellent tales and novels about the ancient and modern Yucatan, where he was born and lived. This book complements two of his other books, "Canek" and his version of the sacred Maya book "The Popol Vuh".

Tales and Legends of Ancient Yucatan


   "Here are the tales I promised you. Some were told to me by the Indians of my land and others I read in chronicles from another time. Although you will find it hard to believe, the truth is the truth, and I still tremble with fear when I recall these stories. Like magic, they opened up a world full of ghosts, monsters, invisible beings and no few capricious spirits and fools. My task is not to verify their real origin nor to point out the changes that the tales have suffered over time. That task remains for the scholars, and as you well know, theirs is a world far from mine. I have limited myself to collecting those stories which seemed to me to be the most beautiful and meaningful, and to rewrite them as God has shown me: that is, with simplicity, elegance and a little innocence."

Ermilo Abreu Gómez


   "Zamná gathered together the best men beneath an oak tree. Straight away he said to them that they should learn thoroughly the nature of the tree and that, in silence, they should show him what they could do with the tree. Some, seeing such a large and noble tree put their faces next to the roots. Others, seeing such a strong tree, cut its branches and sharpened them. Others, seeing such a beautiful tree took the fruits and shoots and plaited them into their hair. Others, seeing such a peaceful tree stood in silence, contemplating it with their eyes alight. Zamná rose and said:

   -From today onwards while the moons last it will always be like this. Those who performed the first action shall be the priests. Those who performed the second shall be the defenders. Those who performed the third shall be the craftsmen. Those who performed the fourth shall be the prophets.

   Each man accepted his office and was received by the tribes with great joy. There was much celebrating of their skills in all the squares and along all the roads and in the woods."

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