Flood Myths - Central America


In the Valley of Mexico there lived a pious man named Tapi. Creator told him to build a boat to live in, to take his wife and a pair of every animal that existed. Neighbors thought he was crazy. As soon as he finished, it began to rain. The valley flooded; men and animals went to mountains, but they were submerged. The rain ended, waters receded, etc. Tapi realized that the flood waters had receded after having sent a dove that did not return. Tapi rejoiced.

Cora (Mexico)

As in the Huichol myth, a woodman was warned of a coming flood by a woman. He was bidden to take the woodpecker, sandpiper, and parrot with him, as well as the bitch. He embarked at midnight as the flood began. When the flood subsided, he waited five days and sent out the sandpiper, which came back and cried, "Ee-wee-wee", indicating the earth was too wet to walk upon. He waited five more days and sent out the woodpecker, which found the trees too soft and returned saying "Chu-ee, chu-ee!" He waited five days more and sent out the sandpiper, who reported back that the ground was hard, and the man ventured out. He lived with the bitch who, as above, transformed into a human wife.


A man clearing fields found the trees regrown overnight. He found that his grandmother Nakawe did this, and she told him that he was working in vain because a flood was coming. Per her instructions, he built a box and survived the flood with corn, beans, fire, and a black bitch. After the flood, he would return home from work to find meals prepared. He spied one day and found that the bitch took off her skin and became a woman to do the work. He threw her skin into the fire and bathed her in nixtamal water. They repopulated the earth.


God sent the flood because the people made from wood (an early version of humans) had no souls, minds or hearts and had forgotten how they were made. They wanted to escape, but the animals that they had starved and beaten, the pots they had burnt, and the trees they'd stripped refused to help them. Only a few escaped the flood, and it is said that their descendants are monkeys.

Mixtec (Mexico)

The earth was once well populated, when mankind committed a magical fault for which they were punished by a great deluge. The Mixtec people descended from the few survivors.

The god and goddess Puma-Snake and Jaguar-Snake raised a cliff above the abyss. Here they lived many centuries and raised two boys who had the power to transform themselves into eagles and serpents. The brothers established farming and sacrifice and penance; at their prayers, light appeared and water separated from earth. The earth was peopled, but a flood destroyed them, and Creator-of-All-Things restored the world.

Nahua (central Mexico)

People in three previous ages were destroyed by being devoured by jaguars, swept away by the wind and turned into monkeys, and transformed into birds in a rain of fire. The sun of 4 Water lasted 676 years; then the heavens came down in one day, and the people were inundated and transformed into fish. In the next age, Titlacahuan (Tezcatlipoca) told a man known as Nata ("Our Father") and his consort Nene to hollow out an aheuhuetl (cypress?) log and enter it during the vigil of Toçoztli, when the heavens would come crashing down. He sealed them in with a single ear of corn apiece to eat. When they had finished eating all the kernels, they heard the water declining. They exited the log, found a fish, and made a fire to cook it. The gods Citlallinicue and Citlallatonac complained that someone was smoking up the heavens. Tezcatlipoca descended, struck off the people's heads, and reattached them over their buttocks; they became dogs.
The deluge overwhelmed mankind. Only a man named Coxcox (some call him Teocipactli) and a woman named Xochiquetzal survived in a small bark. They landed on a mountain called Colhuacan and had many children. These children were all born dumb until a dove from a lofty tree gave them languages, but different languages so that they couldn't understand each other.

Quiché (Guatemala)

The wooden people, an early version of humanity, were imperfect because there was nothing in their hearts and minds, and they did not remember Heart of Sky. So Heart of Sky destroyed them with a flood. He sent down a black rain of resin; animals came into their houses and attacked them; and even pots and stones crushed them. The dogs and turkeys told them, "You caused us pain, you ate us. Now we eat you." Their other animals and implements likewise turned on them. They tried to escape onto their houses, into trees, and into caves, but the houses collapsed, the trees threw them off, and the caves slammed shut. Today's monkeys are a sign of these people, mere manikins. This was before the sun dawned on the earth.

Some men tried to save themselves from the deluge by making boxes and going underground in them. God didn't approve of this and turned them into bees.

Tarahumara (Northern Mexico)

People were once fighting among themselves, and Father God (Tata Dios) sent much rain, drowning everyone. After the flood, God sent three men and three women to repopulate the earth. They planted three kinds of corn which still grow in the country.

When all the world was flooded, a little boy and girl climbed the mountain Lavachi ("Gourd") south of Panalachic. They came down when the flood subsided, bringing with them three grains of corn and three beans. The rocks were so soft that their feet sank into them, leaving footprints that can still be seen today. They planted the corn, slept and dreamed, and harvested. All Tarahumares are descended from them.

Tarascan (northern Michoacan, Mexico)

When the great flood came, God built a house. Everyone tried to crowd into it; those who failed were drowned. The house floated on the waters for twenty days, striking the sky three times. When the waters receded, some of the survivors were very hungry, and although God told them not to eat anything, they started to cook tortillas inside the house. God sent down an angel to tell them not to light any fire, but the smoke was already drifting into the sky. God sent the angel again with the same message, but the people said they were hungry and continued cooking. After the message was ignored a third time, God told the angel to give those people a good kick. They became dogs and buzzards and cleaned up the earth.
God ordered a man to build a large house and to put animals and food in it. When he had finished, it began to rain and continued raining for six months. The house floated on the flood, and all who had helped build it were saved in it. When the flood started going down, the man sent out a raven, but it stayed out to eat dead bodies. He next sent out a dove, which returned to tell what the raven was doing, and ravens have been cursed to eat carrion since. God ordered that no fires be kindled, but one man disobeyed and was turned into a dog.

After the world was destroyed by a flood, a boy, very hungry, got out of his canoe to heat a gorda. The Eternal Father said it was not yet time for a fire to be lit and sent Saint Bartholomew to investigate who was making the smoke. Bartholomew reminded the boy of God's orders, but the boy pleaded that he was hungry. Saint Bartholomew reported back to Heaven, and the Eternal Father said to kick the boy if he again didn't understand. Saint Bartholomew did so, and the boy turned into a dog.

Tepehua (eastern Mexico)

A man was surprised to find his fields overgrown after clearing them the previous day. He spied and found a monkey was responsible. The monkey told him that God didn't want him to work because a flood was coming, and it gave him instructions for building a coffinlike craft. The man built the box and got into it, and when the flood came, the monkey rode atop it. When the flood subsided, the man got out and built a fire to cook some fish he found. But the Almighty, irritated with him for building the fire, appeared and turned him into a monkey.

Tlapanac (south central Mexico)

A buzzard told a man working in the fields not to work anymore and caused all the trees that had been cut to rise again. The buzzard told the man to make a box for himself and take along in it a dog and a chicken. The man survived the flood in this box. When the waters lowered, the chicken turned into a buzzard, and the man lived with the dog. The man found that someone prepared tortillas for him while he was away at work. One day he returned home and saw the bitch remove her skin and grind corn. He then burned her skin. She complained, but she remained a woman, and the two of them repopulated the world.


One of the Tezcatlipocas (sons of the original dual God) transformed himself into the Sun and created the first humans to show up his brothers. The other Gods, angry at his audacity, had Quetzalcoatl destroy the people, which he did with a flood. The people became fish.

Totonac (eastern Mexico)

A man, warned by God, survived the flood in a tree he had hollowed out. After the deluge, he was hungry and built a fire. God smelled the smoke and sent buzzard down to investigate, but buzzard stayed to eat the dead animals, and God condemned him to eat only rotten flesh thereafter. God told Saint Michael the Archangel to go down, and Saint Michael reversed the man's face and hind parts and turned him into a monkey.

A flood destroyed mankind. The children became flowers when they jumped up to where the star is. A man was sent a large dog. He went every day to clear the fields and found, on returning home, that food had been prepared for him. He resolved to discover the cook. [The story fragment ends there, but see below, and see related myth of Huichol.]

God told a man to make an ark. After the deluge had subsided, the man sent forth a dove, which came back. Later, he sent it out again; it returned with muddy feet, and the man left the ark. He happened upon a house and decided to live there. Ants brought him corn. When he returned every day, he found food prepared for him. He watched his dog and one day found her, skinless, preparing corn. He threw her skin in the fire, and she began to weep. The couple lived together and had a baby. One day, the man told his wife to make tamales out of the "tender one," and the wife, misunderstanding, cooked their child. When the man found out, he scolded his wife and ate the tamales anyway.

Yaqui (Northern Mexico)

On the 17th day of February, in the year 614, it rained for fourteen days all over the world. The waters rose and destroyed all living things. Yaitowi, a just and perfect man who walked with Dios, was saved, along with thirteen others and eleven women, on the hill of Parbus (today called Maatale). A few other people, seven birds, seven asses, and seven little dogs were saved on other mountains. After the flood, two angels appeared to two of the survivors, and the angel San Gabriel came, sent by Dios, telling the people to "go by the way of our Dios and Father." When they arrived at Venedici, they heard the voice of Dios, who promised the rainbow as a sign that no other flood would destroy earth.


A God, Ifa, tired of living on earth and went to dwell in the firmament. Without his assistance, mankind couldn't interpret the desires of the Gods, and one God, in a fit of rage, destroyed nearly everybody in a great flood.

Zapotec (Oaxaca)

The Angel Gabriel warned Noéh that a flood was coming because of mankind's sins. Noéh warned other people, but they didn't believe him. He built an ark and took pairs of all animals. The waters came; the Archangel Saint Michael blew his trumpet. When the waters receded, Noéh sent out a buzzard to see if the world was dry, but it stayed out to eat dead animals. The crow was then sent; it returned to say that the world was drying. Then the turtledove and parroquet went and reported back that the world was dry, and Noéh and the animals left the ark. The buzzard became ugly because of his actions, and the trip of a person unmindful of his mission is called a "buzzard's trip." Petela, a great Zapotec chieftain of Ocelotepeque, was descended from the survivors of the flood.

In another version, the buzzard stayed to eat the dead and was condemned to be a scavenger. A heron was sent next, fulfilled its mission, and was allowed to eat fish as a reward. A raven was sent, and its obedience was rewarded by permitting it to eat fruit and corn. A dove then went and reported that the earth was almost dry, and it was granted freedom.

The earth was dark and cold. The only inhabitants were giants, and God was angry with them for their idolatry. Some giants, feeling that a flood was coming, carved underground houses for themselves out of great slabs of rock. Some thus escaped destruction and may still be found hidden in certain caverns. Other giants hid in the forests and became monkeys.