The Popol Vuh: The Mayan Book Of Creation

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popol vuh Mayan Creation Myth

The Pre-Colombian Mythology Of America The Popol Vuh

 

There is no document of greater importance to the study of the pre-Columbian mythology of America than the “Popol Vuh”. It is the chief source of our knowledge of the mythology of the Kiché people of Central America, and it is further of considerable comparative value when studied in conjunction with the mythology of the Nahuatlacâ, or Mexican peoples. It is the most important example of Maya literature to have survived the Spanish conquest.

The name “Popol Vuh” signifies “Record of the Community,” and its literal translation is “Book of the Mat,” from the Kiché words “pop” or “popol,” a mat or rug of woven rushes or bark on which the entire family sat, and “vuh” or “uuh,” paper or book, from “uoch” to write. Originally written in around 1550-1555 in Mayan hieroglyphs, it is thought to have come from an oral recitation of this ancient narrative.  The Quiche Manuscript was found in the Chichicastenango by the Dominican priest Francisco Ximenez in the early 18th century. He translated and copied the manuscript into the Roman alphabet in the sixteenth century .

In this story, the Creators, Heart of Sky and six other deities including the Feathered Serpent, wanted to create human beings with hearts and minds who could “keep the days.” But their first attempts failed. When these deities finally created humans out of yellow and white corn who could talk, they were satisfied. In another epic cycle of the story, the Death Lords of the Underworld summon the Hero Twins to play a momentous ball game where the Twins defeat their opponents. The Twins rose into the heavens, and became the Sun and the Moon. Through their actions, the Hero Twins prepared the way for the planting of corn, for human beings to live on Earth, and for the Fourth Creation of the Maya.

 

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