A major debate in the history of the Spanish conquest of Guatemala revolves around Tecum (Tecún Umán), the K'iche' captain who died in confrontation with Pedro de Alvarado, according to sixteenth-century indigenous texts. Analysis of these texts shows that Tecum's death was recast in terms of widespread solar myths that provided an overarching framework to explain the rise and fall of Mesoamerican rulers and cities. His fate was explained as an ineludible outcome that created the conditions for the advent of a new era, marked by the introduction of Christianity and the colonial order. Thus, these texts made the conquest understandable in terms of indigenous historiography and religion. The portents described in these narratives stimulated the growth of Tecum's legendary status, partly explaining his controversial standing in Guatemala's historiography and politics. Modern versions of the Dance of the Conquest perpetuate the mythical motives that first appeared in the sixteenth-century narratives.
Research Article| October 01 2013
Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos; Tecum, the Fallen Sun: Mesoamerican Cosmogony and the Spanish Conquest of Guatemala. Ethnohistory 1 October 2013; 60 (4): 693–719. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2313876
Download citation file: