Camazotz The Bat God of the Ancient Maya

Before the DC Comics ‘invented’ the Batman, there was a mysterious pre-Hispanic deity that symbolized night, death and sacrifice. It was known by the ancient Maya as Camazotz which had pointy ears, the body of a person and the head of a bat. The name Camazotz translates to either ‘death bat’ or ‘snatch bat’. The Maya codex describes this mysterious figure holding a knife of sacrifices in one hand; and the heart of his victim in the other.

In fact, most of the details describing Camazotz can be traced back to the Popol Vuh (ancient text recounting the mythology and history of the Kʼicheʼ people, one of the Maya peoples, who inhabit the Guatemalan Highlands northwest of present-day Guatemala City). 

In the Popol Vuh, Camazotz are the bat-like monsters encountered by the Maya Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque during their trials in the underworld of Xibalba. 

According to the legend, the hero twins slept inside their blowguns as protection from the bats (referred to as Camazotz). However, when the bats went silent, Xbalanqué asked Hunahpú to check if dawn had come and Hunahpú did so by poking his head out of the tube. But, in fact, it was not yet dawn and one of the bats took the opportunity to swoop down and rip away Hunahpú’s head, leaving him decapitated. Xbalanqué was left inside the tube, questioning what his brother was seeing and why he had gone so still without receiving any answers. Camazotz immediately carried Hunahpú’s head to the ballcourt to be hung up as the ball to be used by the gods in their next ballgame.

Mask of Batman created by an Artist in the exhibition "BATMAN THROUGH MEXICAN CREATIVITY" (Source)

The worship of Camazotz can be traced back to around 200 B.C. and it is believed to have started among the Zapotecs of Oaxaca, Mexico, who worshiped an anthropomorphic monster with the body of a man and the head of a bat. Some scholars even believe that the myth surrounding Camazotzs went far beyond the land of the ancient Maya, as stories of similar beings spread across Guatemala, and as far as Brazil.


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