THE XIBALBA NETWORK

[no longer being updated]
Justin B Rye 01 Dec 10
(12.19.17.16.07 = 5 Manik, 0 Mac = 1,291.1 POSIX Ms)

Ever since the first PC in this flat was arbitrarily assigned the hostname ahpuk, our Local Area Network has used Maya mythology as its standard source of names.  This page serves as an archive of the ones we've used and what they mean.

* AHPUK the death‐god (1996–2004?)
Ah Puk (also spelt Ahpuuc or Ahpuch) was the Maya equivalent of the Aztec Mictlantecuhtli, ruler of the land of the dead (Mictlan or Mitnal).  He was conventionally represented as a seated skeleton bearing a sacrificial knife, or by the skull‐faced hieroglyph of Cimi, the kin (weekday) over which he presided. After John's disappearance his machine was inherited by Nik until it finally pegged out.  Although it was junked years ago, something that imagines it's the same machine (with little if any overlap in hardware) still occasionally manifests on the network.
* CABRAKAN earth‐shaker (2006–2010)
Cabrakán was Zipacná's younger brother, and liked to spend his time demolishing mountains.  Again it was the hero‐twins who were contracted by the gods to kill him; they fed him a poisoned meal, tied him up, and buried him. This machine took over xibalba's duties in the kitchen, working as the inward‐facing public‐access server opposite zipacna.  Once our visitors were routinely bringing wireless‐enabled laptops it was no longer needed.
* EKCHUAH the black captain (2004–2010)
Ek Chuah, easily recognised by his black‐rimmed eye, intimidating sneer, scorpion tail, and backpack was a god not only of warriors but also of travellers and cocoa‐traders – a sort of “deity of foreign affairs”.  His festivals were unusual in not involving drunkenness. Nik got this (a good PC considering it was another friend's cast‐off) to replace ahpuk; another one like it eventually moved out with him.
* HURAKAN creator/destroyer (1999+)
Hurakán “Heart of the Sky” was a god of the winds and of lightning (and likely source of our word “hurricane”).  He was one of the deities who designed humankind; unsatisfied with the first few versions, he sent catastrophes and plagues of monsters to wipe out these flawed races. My own desktop machine, which replaced kukulcan on the network.  The reason the name struck me as appropriate is that besides being a big enough windbag to have become a household name, the god Hurakán was also something of a perfectionist when it came to world‐design.
* IXCHEL the flood‐goddess (1997–2000)
“Lady Rainbow”, consort of the moon‐god, was a destructive water‐goddess (shown as a malevolent old woman surrounded by and clothed in symbols of death) who created storms and cloudbursts unless appeased with sacrifices, but was also credited with feminine crafts such as medicine. The machine of this name on JJM's network started its life here (as his “spare”), and much of its hardware never escaped.
* IXTAB goddess of suicides (1996–2000)
Ixtab, portrayed as a putrefying corpse dangling from a noose, fetched directly to paradise all priests, slain warriors, sacrificial victims, and women dying in childbirth, as well as suicides who hung themselves in the socially approved manner – reportedly a popular escape route from the troubles of post‐Conquest Maya life. This was JJM's desktop machine, and left with him.  Why yes, some of my flatmates over the years have been fairly gothy – how did you guess?
* KAWIL lord of blood (2003–2013)
Kawil (or Cauíl) had an animal snout, a smoking obsidian mirror in his forehead, and a serpent for a leg; as patron‐god of ruling dynasties, he was also shown as a sceptre of authority.  He demanded regular blood‐offering rituals in which spiked cords were passed through the ruler's tongue or genitals. Eden's third machine to bear this name boasted a 2.4 GHz CPU, though I suppose that's pretty old hat by now…
* KUKULCAN the feathered serpent (1997–1999)
Though worshipped as a benevolent deity of air and wind, symbolised by the quetzal, Kukulcán was also a hero‐figure said to have arrived from foreign parts bearing the secrets of civilisation.  Kukulcán was otherwise known as Kukulkan, Gucumatz, or, to the Aztecs, Quetzalcóatl. Ed's computer was pretty good for its time, but it went with him when he had to move out.
* MAM the ancient one (2005–2009)
Mam (meaning “grandfather”) was a snaggletoothed, cigar‐smoking god of disaster and earthquakes; he also had power over jaguars.  In modern Guatemalan syncretism he has become a stetson‐wearing idol named Maximón, and associated with Judas Iscariot, who sent the Christian God into the Underworld. Dragal arrived with this machine, picking the name on the basis that he could spell it; another machine of the same name left with him.
* WAY the ghost (2003+)
The Maya used the word way, pronounced “why”, to mean one's spirit‐double; rulers predictably claimed that theirs took the form of a jaguar.  The calendar also had five unlucky “leap days” known by this name and ruled over by malign spirits. An electrician gave me this antique Compac Contura 386 laptop to make up for all the downtime.  It was still capable of running Debian Stable, so I just installed nethack and declared it a games machine!  The obvious question is the main reason for the name… but way is also a ghostly presence out of the distant past, not physically manifested on the network.
* XAMANEK the pole‐star (2003+)
A god of darkness, but in a good way – Xaman Ek (or Ah Chicum Ek) was the guide and protector of merchants, demanding no more in return than offerings of incense on the roadside altars.  His monkey‐like face formed the hieroglyph for “north”. An understudy machine, assembled from a scrape through the spare‐parts barrel and shuffled in to replace whatever has broken most recently (for a while it even stood in for zipacna).  The name was chosen mostly for the limited sacrifices the machine has required on my part.
* XAN the mosquito (2002+)
When they ventured into Xibalbá, Hunapú and Xbalanqué created Xan from an enchanted hair, and told it “your food shall be the blood of those whom you bite on the roads”.  Xan scouted ahead and bit the Lords of Xibalbá as they sat on their thrones; they blamed one another, revealing their secret names. When my junk parts bin coalesced into a whole expendable testbed machine, the only bit I had to pay for was the power cable, and even that ended up trickling down to the kettle in the kitchen!  As well as being fashioned from cast‐off fragments, xan is the network's pathfinder; and while initially it had no more power than an insect it turns out to be equally hard to kill.  Oh, and it drinks blood, too, at least when I'm not careful with my screwdriver.
* XIBALBA the place of fear (1997–2007)
The creation myth of the highland Quiché Maya tells of an underground realm called Xibalbá to which the hero‐twins Hun‐Hunapú and Vukub‐Hunapú were lured by a challenge to a ball‐game; they were then grotesquely tricked and slaughtered by its demonic inhabitants and their two kings Hun‐Camé and Vukub‐Camé.  However, the twins were avenged by Hun‐Hunapú's sons Hunapú and Xbalanqué, posthumously conceived on Xquiq, a passing demon princess. This machine was our original LAN server, running for over a decade on Debian GNU/Linux with just a couple of minor interruptions for hard‐drive implosions.  For a long time its 500 MHz processor was the most powerful on the network, but its position was eventually taken by zipacna and cabrakan.
* YUMCAAX lord of the harvest (2004–2005)
Yum Caax was the god of agriculture, of young married couples, and of bountiful harvests; his statues showed him with a head elongated like an ear of maize.  Being a Maya deity, he naturally combined this with an insatiable thirst for sacrifice, but he didn't want deaths – just blood. Tef's PC, which was full of media‐playing goodness but had constant overheating problems.
* ZIPACNA earth‐heaper (2004–2010)
Zipacná was a giant crocodile, one of a family of murderous titans whose boasting offended the gods.  He was slain by Hunapú and Xbalanqué, who cunningly distracted him with a lure in the form of a crab and then dropped a mountain on him. A noisy dinosaur that we got fourth‐hand (oddly, the guy who put the stocktaking tags on it when it was first‐hand was me).  Its dual‐Xeon CPUs made it a suitable replacement for xibalba as outward‐facing gateway server while our network still needed one.
* ZOTZ the bat‐demon (1997)
Zotz, also known as Camazotz or Zotzilaha Chimalman, was the god of darkness and caves, and tutelary deity of the Tzotzil Maya, as well as having a month (or uinal) named after him.  Although Zotz decapitated the young hero Hunapú, his victim was reanimated with the aid of a tortoise. This was Graham's, and accompanied him when he went off to Cambridge.  I should emphasise once again that its icon is not a caricature of Graham.
Footnotes
Take our accounts with a pinch of salt – in particular, all these losing‐Scrabble‐hand names vary from source to source.  Pronounce the vowels as if they were Spanish (“ah, eh, ee, oh, oo”), stressing the end syllable (QUICHE = “kee‐CHAY”); but X means “sh”, so it's XIBALBA = “shee‐bahl‐BAH”.  Not that these Hispanicised spellings are very accurate…  Indeed, apart from what we get from the Popol Vuh, little is known about the religious beliefs of the Classic Maya – their inscriptions are still incompletely deciphered, and few legends survived the purges of the Conquistadors.  Nonetheless, it seems clear that the Maya ruling dynasty was itself referred to at one stage as the “Empire of Xibalbá”. From the day John set up what he insisted on calling a Basement Area Network in this flat right up until 2010, the medium we were running it on was eighties‐grade 10base2 coaxial cabling.  Now that we've finally managed to switch over to a mix of nineties‐style ethernet and late‐noughties wireless, things have got much simpler; I don't need to maintain a complex configuration of subnets and servers, or even to enforce a namespace… so there probably won't be any further additions here.