There are several myths on the Hero Twins. The twins had been very smart and athletic. They grew up hearing what had happened to their father and had used it to their advantage and learned from his mistakes. Also the twins did not realize all the power they had sometimes. The twins had grown up using their knowledge to help them survive in life.

Orgin and FamilyEdit

The myth was developed in Central America by the Maya Indians. The story is told in the Popol Vuh which is a sacred text. The myth dates all the way back to the Early Colonial period. In the 16th century the stories had varied and were found in many Classic Maya iconographys. Hunahpu and Xbalanque are known as the hero twins. Their mother’s name was Xquic and father’s name was Hun Hunahpu. Hun Hunahpu was murdered before the twins birth and had been decapitated by the Lords of Death along with his brother Vucub Hunahpu. They had lived with their grandmother growing up along with their step brothers while being treated poorly. 


One myth would be that the twins Hun Hunahpu and Vucub Hunahpu had been playing a game of balls and the crowd was cheering so loud that the Lords of Death heard from below. The Lords of Death liked to trick people into death, especially when people annoy them and the crowd was cheering too loud, so they invited the twin brothers to play a game with them. The twin brothers had decided to hide there equipment before playing knowing that the Lords of Death played tricks. They had made it across the River of Spikes, the River of Blood, and the River of Pus until they had gotten to the house of the Lords of Death. When they arrived the lord had played tricks on them like putting wood statues of themselves before the game to see if they would pass the test and then they offered the twins to sit on a bench. Little did the twins know that the bench was on fire, so that was another test that the twins had failed. As a punishment the Lords of Death had beheaded the twins.

Hun Hunahpu’s head had been hung in the forest to warn people to follow the Lords of Deaths rules. No one had passed the head because it was in a spot in the woods no one entered and was claimed to be haunted due to the head. One evening a women, Xquic, had been lost and had found the head. The head had told her that when his child is born give it to his grandmother. Soon after the women had conceived twins, and like told had brought them to the grandmother. The twins’ names were Hunahpu and Xbalanque. Time continued and the twins grew up and they were invited to the Lords of Death’s house, but this time the twins were not tricked by the wood statues nor the burning seat along with the new tricks. In the Dark House they had not lit the cigars but put fireflies on the ends to create light, in the Razor House they crawled like rats so they would not get cut up, in the Jaguar House they fed the jaguars they had picked up throughout the tests. The twins realized they would be tested until failed so during the next test instead of jumping over the oven like they were supposed to they jumped into it. 

The Lords had put the ashes into a river but the outcome was not expected. The twins eventually turned from ash into catfish and then into human again. Along the tests it is said they had grown magical powers to enable them to do this. The Lords had not realized it was the same twins when he had heard of twins in town and knew how to perform tricks and they decided to invite them into the Underworld. When the twins were asked to perform their tricks for the Lords they did so, chopping them up but when they were supposed to put the Lords back together they had refused leaving the Lords hopeless and having no choice but to send the twins back to Earth. It is said that the gods above who had helped the twins out had honored the twins by enabling one to be the sun and the other the moon. They had become known as the rulers of the Earth. 

There is a similar myth to the one above except the beginning had varied. When the twins were growing up they had been gardening. While trying to make dig to put the seed in the ground the animals kept refilling it with dirt. The twins had gotten one of the rats and right as they were about to kill it the rat had spoken to them. The rat had told them that they were not meant to be gardening. The rat told them about how there father and uncle had been ballplayers and they were destined to be great at playing and the rat proceeded to show them where their father and uncle had hidden their equipment before they were killed. The rat had told them to ask their grandmother for water and that the mosquitos would puncture holes in the jug and that would send her to fetch water while they had time to get the equipment. 

When summoned by the Lords of Death due to their game they were prepared to face them. Before seeing the lords one of the twins had lucked a hair from his shin and turned it into a mosquito. The mosquito first had bit the wooden Lord and the the real one bringing pain to him. Each Lord was slowly bit and one by one they spoke all their names. While in the Bat House, Hunahpu had stuck his head out to see if it was morning and in the process a bat had sliced off his head. The animals had brought the twins a squash and it was put in place of Hunahpu’s head that later had formed into his new head.  While he had his new head on his old head was on the court and the Lords were playing with it celebrating their “victory.” When the boys showed up to play the Lords were surprised but had decided to play a game with Hunahpu’s old head but had sent it flying and so the animals replaced it with squash and gave the twins his real head. WHile playing the game the twins had sent the ball to the Lords side and had hit it so hard that is had broke and seeds went flying. 

The Lords had one more test for them though. They had asked the twins if they could jump over four fires,but the twins were smart and decided to jump into them. When they were in ash form the Lords had put them into the river. While in the river the ashes had come together and the twins had been reborn.

Another myth told is that when Huh Hunahpu was found, he had spat on Xquic’s hand which had enabled her to become pregnant with the twins. Once born the twins were left to live with the grandmother and half-brothers who had treated them poorly. They were kicked out of their grandmothers house and their older brothers had wanted attempted to kill them in fear they twins would steal the attention from them that they earned from being fine artisans and thinkers. The attempt on killing the twins had failed at birth. The twins after had been forced at a young age to do traitorous labor and despite the fact that they hunted for the food for their family they were always fed last.

At a young age the twins had used their powers without acknowledgment. One time the twins claimed they shot several birds that had gotten stuck in the trees on their way down and so the older brothers wanted the birds for food. The older brothers were bought to the tree where they had attempted to climb it but it seemed that the twins had been able to have the tree grow taller every time the twin got closer to the top until they had gotten caught. Once caught Hunahpu instructed them to remove their pants and tie it around their waists so they could use it to help them lower themselves, but the pants had turned into tails and the brothers had turned into monkeys. When their grandmother insisted the twins turn them back to humans, they had but the brothers were no longer the same but disfigured and laughed at so they had run away.


Huh Hunahpu had the power to have the hero twins with an women whom he had never seen nor had slept with but instead spat on her hand. Then Huh Hunahpu vanished once the message was given about their children, otherwise known as the hero twins. The hero twins had the power of coming back to life and rising from the ashes. Once risen from the ashes they were able to defeat the Lords of Death and later being gifted from the Gods of Heaven with becoming the Sun and Moon and ruling the Earth. The twins also had the power to communicate with animals and nature. 

Interesting FactsEdit

  • Huh Hunahpu and Vucub Hunahpu had been great ball players along with Hunahpu and Xbalanque. 
  • Also no male in the family had been good at gardening so the grandmother was left to do it all by her lonesome self. 
  • The children of the hero twins had also had the power to rule the Earth. 
  • Each maya town had a ball court for their game.


Donn, Lin “The Hero Twins An Ancient Maya Myth” Mr. Donns Social Studies Class. RSS. Web. April 10th 2013. 

"Hero Twins." Hero Twins. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.

"Hero Twins." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Mar. 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.

"The Maya Hero Twins." Archaeology. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.