It was a common belief among many tribes in America, that their earliest ancestors emerged from a world which underlies this one on which we live, and in ancient Cakchiquel legend, the same or a similar notion seems to have prevailed.

The name of the hero-god Xbalanque is explained by 유흥알바 the Abbé Brasseur as a compound of the diminutive prefix x, balam, a tiger, and the plural termination que.[158] Like so many of his derivations, this is quite incorrect. There is no plural termination que, either in the Quiche or in any related dialect; and the signification “tiger” (jaguar, Felix unca Lin. in Mexican ocelotl), which he assigns to the word balam, is only one of several which belong to it.

The name is compounded of the prefix, either feminine or diminutive, x; balam, or, as given by Guzman, balan;[159] and queh, deer. This is the composition given by Ximenez, who translates it literally as “a diminutive form of tiger and deer.”[160]

The name balam, was also that of a class of warriors: of a congregation of priests or diviners; and of one of the inferior orders of deities. In composition it was applied to a spotted butterfly, as it is in our tongue to the “tiger-lily;” to the king-bee; to certain rapacious birds of prey, etc.

None of the significations concerns us here; but we do see our way when we learn that both balam and queh are names 129of days in the Quiche-Cakchiquel calendar. The former stood for the twelfth, the latter for the seventh in their week of twenty days.[161] Each of the days was sacred to a particular divinity, but owing to the inadequate material preserved for the study of the ancient calendars of Guatemala, we are much in the dark as to the relationship of these divinities.