Chin (mythology)

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In describing the customs of the Mayas inhabiting the Verapaz province (including the Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz) of 16th-century Guatemala, Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas[1] mentions sexual relationships, regulated by customary law, between unmarried young men and boys, as well as similar relations prevailing among adolescents receiving instruction in the temples. Chin, together with Cu, Cavil ('idol'), and Maran, is mentioned as the name of the male deity said to have demonstrated homosexual intercourse with another 'demon', and thereby to have introduced such relationships: "From that time on some fathers gave their sons a little boy to be used as a woman; and if someone else took the boy, they demanded pay as is done when someone violates another's wife."[2] Institutionalized pederastic prostitution, including transvestism, is reported from the 17th-century Itzá Mayas living in the Petén.[3] Among the Classic Period scenes found in a cave of Naj Tunich is a depiction of a naked, sexually excited male creature embracing a nude Maya nobleman,[4] possibly by way of initiation.


  1. Las Casas 1967: 515, 522
  2. Miles 1957: 763
  3. Jones 1998: 334-335, 499
  4. Houston et al. 2006: 211 and fig. 6.8b; cf. Stone 1995: 196, fig. 8-18


  • Houston, Stephen, David Stuart, and Karl Taube, The Memory of Bones. Body, Being, and Experience among the Classic Maya. Austin: University of Texas Press 2006.
  • Jones, Grant D., The Conquest of the Last Maya Kingdom. Stanford U.P. 1998.
  • Las Casas, Bartolomé (Edmundo O'Gorman ed.), Apologética Historia Sumaria, Vol. 2. Mexico: UNAM 1967.
  • Miles, S. W., The Sixteenth-Century Pokom Maya. Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society 1957.
  • Stone, Andrea J., Images of the Underworld. Austin: University of Texas Press 1995.