Ritual of the bacabs : manuscript, [between 1775 and 1800].

Manuscript, Book
Mayan languages
1 v. (164 leaves) : paper ; 15.3 x 10 cm.


Former owner
Rare books genre
Getty AAT genre
Contained in
Robert Garrett collection, ca. 1340 B.C.-1900s.
[between 1775 and 1800].
Linking notes
Forms part of the Robert Garrett Collection (C0744).
Restrictions note
Restricted: Material extremely fragile; Consult electronic version.
Summary note
The text comprises incantations and herbal remedies for the treatment of a broad range of injuries and diseases, particularly for seizures (10 spells), snake stomach (5), and bites (4). Asthma, toothache, respiratory congestion, and bone ailments are represented by two spells each, and there is a spell apiece for gout, erysipelas, fever, ulcers, eruptions, burns, running sores, gum inflammation, and placenta ejection. There are also three spells for cooling things and a spell apiece for making fire, shaping flint, and deer calling. Two spells, included in an appendix, appear to be later than those in the remainder of the text.
  • Layout: 1 column, 14 lines.
  • The last 2 pages of manuscript are written on the verso of a fragment of a printed indulgence (Latin) that includes the printed date February 1779. From the language of the text it would appear that this manuscript was copied from a 16th- or 17th-century manuscript. There are two separate modern numbering systems, neither includes blank leaves.
  • Title supplied by William E. Gates.
Binding note
Leather wrapper (type unidentified).
Language note
Text in Yucatec.
Written in an unidentified hand, probably dates to the last quarter of the 18th-century. Ten pages at the end are written in various later unknown hands.
Discovered in the Yucatan in native hands by Frederic J. Smith during the winter of 1914-1915, under the commission of William Gates; sold to Robert Garrett (purchased from William Gates in 1930); deposited by Garrett at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in 1942; removed from the Institute in 1949, at Garrett's request, and donated to the Princeton University Library.
Source acquisition
Gift; Robert Garrett; 1949.
Publications about
  • Maya Grammar with bibliography and appraisement of the works noted / A.M. Tozzer. Cambridge : The Museum, 1921.
  • Moon goddess in Middle America / J.E.S. Thompson. Washington, D.C. : Carnegie Institute of Washington, 1939.
Weeks, J.M. Mesoamerican Ethnohistory in United States Libraries, 51
Cite as
Garrett-Gates Mesoamerican Manuscript, no. 1, Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Princeton University Library,
Other format(s)
  • Published transcription: Ritual of the Bacabs, translated and edited by Ralph L. Roys. Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, [1965].
  • Facsimile reproduction: El Ritual de los Bacabes. México : University Nacional Autónoma de México, 1987.
  • Microfilm available for duplication.
  • Cana che la ba Can yaban
Robert Garrett Collection, ca. 1340 B.C.-1900s
Statement on language in description
Princeton University Library aims to describe library materials in a manner that is respectful to the individuals and communities who create, use, and are represented in the collections we manage. Read more...
Other views
Staff view

Supplementary Information