Fire is Born (Nace el Fuego): The mysterious invader who brought the Mayan Empire much of its splendor

According to the inscriptions on the monuments, which are still legible today, at the Riviera Maya, on January 8, 378 A.D., in the city of Waka (currently, El Perú, Guatemala), the local population was completely perplexed by a powerful army. This was not only because of their sheer number and strength, but also because of the strange feathers that they displayed, their powerful weapons (primarily the spear), as well as their shiny shields of armor that displayed the emblems of a king from a land far away. At the front of the massive army, a brave emissary who was destined to forge what would become the moment of the greatest zenith of the Mayan Empire.

The inscriptions depicted the events with great detail. Subsequent to that year, the person’s name began to appear everywhere. They called him, Nace el Fuego, (Fire is Born). He is thought to be an emissary who was sent by Buho Lanzadardos, the king of some of the city states of the Mayans, which were situated in what is known today as the high plateau of Mexico, possibly Teotihuacan.

Still, Nace el Fuego did not confine himself just to the city state of Waka. A week earlier he seized the city of Tikal (located in current day Guatemala). Here, after a ferocious battle, the king of that city, King Zarpa de Jaguar, was imprisoned and then assassinated. Many monuments were destroyed and in their place, new monuments were constructed depicting the victory over the city.

Despite his militant and diplomatic powers, Nace el Fuego was not much more than an emissary. He handed down the thrown of the influential city of Tikal to the son of Buho Lanzadores. From that moment on, he dedicated himself to set out to influence the entire Mayan empire, spreading the preeminence of Tikal throughout the rest of the cities in the state. Archeological fountains depict his image more often than any Mayan King of that epoch. This is what evidences the importance of this prominent figure who reigned during the years of splendor when the Mayan empire emerged.

The version of the story that we follow presents Nace el Fuego as a foreigner, but researchers have found another version. They say that he was not a foreigner to the city of Tikal when he conquered and left his influence upon it. In reality, he belonged to an uncrowned faction of the powers of Zarpa de Jaguar’s father. After turmoil in the state, he fled west and gathered reinforcements in order to be able to return triumphant years later, which he did in fact accomplish.

Other examples of his triumphant emergence were found in the archeological remains of a city called Uaxactún (also in current day Guatemala), which is located only 20 Kilometers from Tikal. Here, a mural represents a nobleman paying homage to a soldier who is seen carrying the emblems that Nace de Fuego also utilized. A few meters over, in a tomb marked with a pillar with similar motives to the mural, the remains of two women, one of whom was pregnant, one child, and one infant were found. Researchers concluded that they were the authentic, original members of the family of this city.

In references found involving Nace el Fuego in the last several years, he is presented as “Señor del Oeste”, (Man of the West). All of the conquests that were executed since Tikal, including the cities of the Riviera Maya, were implemented in his name, even many years after his death. The kings that were enthroned in the cities that were conquered also utilized the nobility of “Señor del Oeste”.

Francisco Cenamor

The Fives USA blog about Playa del Carmen & the Riviera Maya, Mexico

Note: Feel free to visit our sponsor: The Fives Resort & Private Residences in Playa del Carmen


2 Responses

  1. This is a nice article, but I just wanted to point out a grammar error: in the second line of the fourth paragraph, the word “thrown” is used instead of “throne”.

    “He handed down the thrown of the influential city of Tikal to the son of Buho Lanzadores.”

  2. I enjoyed the article. I am interested in getting some pictorial representations of the mayan script of Nace el Fuego. Like pictures or drawings of the representation of the name. If you have any of these or know where to get some could you email me back? Thanks.

    ps. Fire is Born = coolest name ever

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