The Pyramid of the Magician


As we’ve mentioned in a previous article of ours, the Maya pyramids are more than mystical, which is not surprising since they have built them to house their deities and provide a worthy burial place to their rulers. They also had some more functional roles to fulfill in the community, like serving as the given city’s highest point to help the Mayas see through the area. Still, they are mostly remembered for their religious purposes.


Maybe this is why there were so many mysteries surrounding each Mesoamerican pyramid, and one of the most interesting local legends belongs to the Pyramid of the Magician (El Adivino).

The Pyramid of the Magician is located in the city of Uxmal, and it was one of the largest and most influential cities on the whole Yucatán Peninsula. The building is still the most notable and outstanding structure in the area, mostly because of the unusual features like its rounded sides, striking height, and elliptical base.


The Legend

According to the ancient Maya folk, the Pyramid of the Magician was commanded to rise from the ground over one night by the sorcerer-god, Itzama.

The tale of origin tells us that there once was a dwarf in the city of Uxmal, who was “born unto no mother” but came from an egg hatched by a childless witch. The ruler and the city people were terrified because they cherished a prophecy for a long time, which told them that a boy who was “not born of woman” was about to arrive one day and cause the city of Uxmal to fall.

Instead of executing the dwarf right away, the ruler offered to spare his life if he succeeded in three seemingly impossible missions. Building the tallest pyramid they’ve ever seen in a single night was one of his tasks, and yet, the dwarf completed the mission alongside the two other tests as well; his life was spared, and he became the new ruler of Uxmal. This legend is so impactful that native people still remember it and tell it from time to time.


The board game

In Ahau, the board game, it is up to you to strengthen your power by building up your pyramids, and all players can come up with similarly outstanding origin stories that will be told for thousands of years by the city folk.