Mayan Myths: Dziu and the Corn
When life was just beginning in the land of the Mayas, the Dziú bird had multi-colored feathers and its chestnut brown eyes danced against its plumage. In the spring, it built its nest, sat on its eggs, and raised its babies, as all birds do.
And then one day, Yuum Chaac, the god of waters and agriculture, noticed that the fruitful soil was losing its fertility.
Yuum Chaac, after thinking about this problem, called all the birds together, and explained that, as a last result, they must burn the corn crop, so that the ash would fertilize the soil. The first spark would be provided by Kak, the god of fire; but first, they would have to collect all the different varieties of seeds in order to plant them in the coming year.
The next morning, Dziú, always the first in line for any task, arrived very early to the designated place. He worked diligently, collected more seeds than any other bird, and later, with Yuum Chaac’s permission, he rested under the shade of a shrub. As soon as the other birds noticed his absence, they began to lose enthusiasm.
As soon as Yuum Chaac realized that the fires were advancing rapidly toward the place ready for the sowing of the corn, and that the workers had not yet arrived there, he asked for help.
Dziú managed to hear the last of the three calls, and rushed from his resting place. He faced a terrifying scene. His choice was clear. He flew up to the branch of a tree, studied the situation from there, and, closing his eyes, threw himself onto the fire that was consuming everything.
Once enough seeds had been gathered to replace the destroyed cornfields, he fell to the ground, exhausted, with reddened eyes, burned feathers, and blisters everywhere. Immediately, the other birds rushed to his side to care for his wounds.
He had saved the planting of the corn, with a feat so great, that, as a gesture of gratitude, the birds of the land of the Mayab offered to incubate and raise all of the descendents of the Dziú, the cuckoo.
In order that the birds would not forget their promise, Yuum Chaac decreed that the eyes of Dziú would always be reddened, and that its wingtips would always be the color of ash.
Note: Dziú is the Mayan name for the bird known as the red-eyed thrush.
Contribution: Yurina Fernández Noa
Email: [email protected]
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