Learn about the rise and fall of Chichén Itzá
Through a legend of love
The name Chichén Itzá is no secret to anyone, as it stands out as one of the most influential cultural and political centers and as the most powerful city in the Yucatán Peninsula. It is said that, many years ago, the Itzá people lived there, water witches who built a great civilization in the heart of the Maya jungle. This is the tragic story of one of them who, with courage and determination, was reunited with his beloved.
Legend has it that long ago, around the contemporary periods of cities such as Uxmal and Dzibilchaltún, an imposing ancestral Maya civilization stood right at the mouth of the well of the water witches.
This was not merely a metaphorical well, but a real natural sinkhole. A sacred cenote, heart, and source of life for the Itzá people who decided to settle in the area and call it home, baptizing it as the great Chichén Itzá. Important members of the elite lived in it, settled in the religious, cultural, and administrative center; and in the surroundings, the rest of the artisans and farmers.
One of those farmers was Nuscaa, known among the people as the one who listened to the earth to make it grow, the one who sang to the seeds before planting them and who thanked the dew at every dawn.
It was in one of those dawns in which the young Nuscaa found a young woman bathed in the warm light of the first rays of the Sun. Nuscaa believed it was impossible that there was anything in the universe capable of overshadowing the rays of the god Kinich Ahau until that morning, when he witnessed an incomparable beauty, very different from anything he had ever seen before. Her name was Itzanami.
This woman with long hair and chocolate eyes became the reason for his devotion and, fortunately for the young Nuscaa, the feeling was mutual. The lovers agreed to meet each dawn in the vicinity of the sacred cenote, where they made offerings to the gods, asking them for a passionate love that would meet no end.
Unfortunately, there was an obstacle that separated them. Itzanami was the daughter of one of the most important members of the Chichén Itzá elite and because of her lineage, her union with a humble young farmer was prohibited.
They kept their meetings secret as much as they could, surrounded by the exuberant vegetation of the Maya jungle. However, it was beyond both their knowledge that the city would soon be invaded by strong warriors who threatened to bring a new splendor to the site.
It was during this period that the young Nuscaa and Itzanami had to separate for a number of nights that seemed eternal to the young lovers. In addition to this, the dominion of the Putun Mayas, who had originally built the city, passed into the hands of the powerful Tolteca warriors.
Years passed, but Nuscaa’s heart did not stop beating uncontrollably, yearning for the caresses of his beloved Itzanami. Around him, the city he called home changed drastically, opening the way to a boom that once again put Chichén Itzá on top, making it a symbol of the power of the Maya culture with strong influences from nearby cities such as Tula, Uxmal, Monte Albán and especially Teotihuacán. Which for a man suffering from heartbreak meant little.
A bleak night in which not even the goddess Ixchel, with her moonlight, could reassure poor Nuscaa, he received a mysterious visit. It wasn’t a person or anything he could see with his eyes. It is said that it was the wind that whispered in his ear and let him know that his beloved was in Kukulcán pyramid, unable to go out and see him again.
“Intertwined with the Chac Mool, there you will find her”. Those were the last words Nuscaa heard just before embarking on a journey and freeing the owner of his longings.
Guided by his strong conviction, the young Nuscaa arrived inside the Kukulkan pyramid and it is said that he found an inner building that was kept a secret. It had a statue of the Chac Mool carved in stone, with polished and shiny pieces inlaid to decorate his eyes, teeth and nails. However, there was no trace of Itzanami.
After searching every corner of the place, the young Nuscaa collapsed defeated next to the Chac Mool and burst into tears. It was with the fall of his tears that he felt for the first time the presence of his beloved as if she were holding him tightly, but when he opened his eyes, there was no one but the Chac Mool beside him. Then he remembered what the wind whispered in his ear and when he looked closely at the statue, he realized the reality that was in front of him.
Those shiny pieces that decorated the surface of the stone were not precious gems, nor were they gold. They were the bones of a young woman of indescribable beauty, they were the bones of his beloved. Nuscaa could only think of tearing his heart from his chest and giving it to the gods who had taken Itzanami from him. However, when trying to plunge the dagger into his chest, he failed to do so. He tried again with all his might, but an external force was preventing him from doing so. Nuscaa understood that his moment had not yet come and that, instead, he should let Itzanami go.
The young farmer returned home and continued to do what he did best. Over the years he once again listened to the earth to make it grow, sang to the seeds before planting them and thanked the dew at each sunrise.
It was in one of those that the young Nuscaa found again a young woman bathed in the warm light of the first rays of the Sun. He again witnessed what he believed impossible, something capable of overshadowing the rays of the god Kinich Ahau. He was again witness to an incomparable beauty that he had already known before. Her name was Itzanami.
Nuscaa approached the figure standing in front of him and wrapped her warmly in his arms. “It’s time”, she whispered in his ear, and filled with peace he closed his eyes with his lover next to him. A thick fog, the kind that clouds the vision of anyone caught in its dense atmosphere, wrapped them. It is said that, when it cleared out, it took something important and essential without leaving any trace: the civilization that inhabited Chichén Itzá.
Today, the reasons why the city was abandoned are still a mystery to many academics and explorers in search of answers, leaving only the imagination in charge of generating an explanation for what happened. However, something that we can assure without the need for rationalizations is that the lovers, Nuscaa and Itzanami, managed to meet again and embark on the journey that continues after life.
What is not forgotten never dies, being Chichén Itzá a clear example of this. Even centuries after its decline, the site continued to be considered a point of pilgrimage and worship for future generations.
*The legend described here, as well as its characters, are part of a fictional story based on real elements of the history of the great Chichén Itzá.
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