Xibalba

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Definition

Xibalba (Shee-bal-ba) was the name the K'iche Maya gave to the underworld. For the Yucatec Maya the underworld was known as Metnal. The name Xibalba translates as 'Place of Fright', which indicates the terror the place had in the Maya imagination. There was, unfortunately, not much chance of escaping the place, either. Ideas such as leading a good life and avoiding eternal torment by not doing bad things were not part of the Maya belief system, as only those who died a violent death avoided Xibalba. The underworld was a truly fearsome place, strongly associated with water; it had its own landscape, gods, and blood-thirsty predators. Xibalba was also the scene of many adventures by the heroes of Maya mythology, especially the Hero Twins.

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