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Encyclopedia > Popol Vuh

The Popol Vuh (Quiché for "Council Book" or "Book of the Community"; Popol Wuj in modern spelling) is the book of scripture of the Quiché, a kingdom of the post classic Maya civilization in highland Guatemala. The Quiché language is a part of the Maya language family. ... The Kiche (or Quiché in Spanish spelling), are a Native American people, part of the Maya ethnic group. ... The Post-Classic Stage is an archaeological term describing a particular developmental level. ... The Maya civilization is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as its spectacular art, monumental architecture, and sophisticated mathematical and astronomical systems. ...

Contents

Overview

The book begins with the Maya civilization's creation myth followed by the stories of the Maya Hero Twins, Hunahpu (Junajpu) and Xbalanque (Xb‘alanke), who are prominent figures of Maya mythology. The book continues with details of the foundation and history of the Quiché kingdom, tying in the royal family with the legendary gods in order to assert rule by divine right. The Maya civilization is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as its spectacular art, monumental architecture, and sophisticated mathematical and astronomical systems. ... Creation beliefs and stories describe how the universe, the Earth, life, and/or humanity came into being. ... The Hero Twins feature prominently in Maya mythology. ... In Maya mythology, Hun-Apu was a son of Hun Hunahpu and a virgin. ... In Maya mythology, Ixbalanque was originally a son of Hun Hunahpu and a virgin. ... Maya mythology refers to the pre-Columbian Maya civilizations extensive polytheistic religious beliefs. ... The Kiche (or Quiché in Spanish spelling), are a Native American people, part of the Maya ethnic group. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Divine Right of Kings. ...


Here are the opening lines of the book, in modernized spelling and punctuation (from Sam Colop's edition): Luis Enrique Sam Colop (or Sam-Colop) is a Guatemalan linguist, lawyer, poet, newspaper columnist, and social activist. ...

Are uxe‘ ojer tzij
  waral K‘iche‘ ub‘i‘.
Waral
  xchiqatz‘ib‘aj wi
  xchiqatikib‘a‘ wi ojer tzij,
utikarib‘al
uxe‘nab‘al puch rnojel xb‘an pa
  tinamit K‘iche‘
  ramaq‘ K‘iche‘ winaq.
"This is the root of the ancient word
  of this place called Quiché.
Here
  we shall write,
  we shall plant the ancient word,
the origin
the beginning of all what has been done in the
  Quiché Nation
  country of the Quiché people."

Here is the opening of the creation story:

Are utzijoxik wa‘e
k‘a katz‘ininoq,
k‘a kachamamoq,
  katz‘inonik,
k‘a kasilanik,
k‘a kalolinik,
  katolona puch upa kaj.
"This is the account of how
all was in suspense,
all calm,
  in silence;
all motionless,
all pulsating,
  and empty was the expanse of the sky."

Creation Myth

The book begins with the creation myth of the Maya, which credits the creation of humans to the three water-dwelling feathered serpents:

There was only immobility and silence in the darkness, in the night. Only the Creator, the Maker, Tepeu, Gucumatz, the Forefathers, were in the water surrounded with light. They were hidden under green and blue feathers, and were therefore called Gucumatz...

and to the three other deities, collectively called "Heart of Heaven":

Then while they meditated, it became clear to them that when dawn would break, man must appear. Then they planned the creation, and the growth of the trees and the thickets and the birth of life and the creation of man. Thus it was arranged in the darkness and in the night by the Heart of Heaven who is called Huracán. The first is called Caculhá Huracán. The second is ChipiCaculhá. The third is Raxa-Caculhá. And these three are the Heart of Heaven.

who together attempted to create human beings to keep him company. In Maya mythology, Huracan (one legged) was a wind, storm and fire god and one of the creator deities who participated in all three attempts at creating humanity. ...


Their first attempts proved unsuccessful. They attempted to make man of mud, but man could neither move nor speak. After destroying the mud men, they tried again by creating wooden creatures that could speak but had no soul or blood and quickly forgot him. Angered over the flaws in his creation, they destroyed them by tearing them apart. In their final attempt, the “True People” were constructed with maize. The following is an excerpt of this myth: Binomial name Zea mays L. Maize (Zea mays ssp. ...

They came together in darkness to think and reflect. This is how they came to decide on the right material for the creation of man. ... Then our Makers Tepew and Q'uk'umatz began discussing the creation of our first mother and father. Their flesh was made of white and yellow corn. The arms and legs of the four men were made of corn meal.

Summary

this is a very general summary; divisions depend on text version
  • Part 1
Gods create world.
Gods create first "wood" humans, they are imperfect and emotionless.
Gods destroy first humans in a "resin" flood; they become monkeys.
Twin diviners Hunahpu & Xbalanque destroy arrogant Vucub-Caquix; then Zipacna & Cabracan.
  • Part 2
Diviners Xpiyacoc & Xmucane beget brothers.
HunHunahpu & Xbaquiyalo beget "Monkey Twins" HunBatz & HunChouen.
Cruel Xibalba lords kill the brothers HunHunahpu & VucubHunahpu.
HunHunahpu & Xquic beget "Hero Twins" Hunahpu & Xbalanque.
"Hero Twins" defeat the Xibalba houses of Gloom, Knives, Cold, Jaguars, Fire, Bats.
  • Part 3
The first 4 "real" people are made: Jaguar Quiche, Jaguar Night, Naught, & Wind Jaguar.
Tribes descend; they speak the same language and travel to TulanZuiva.
The tribes language becomes confused; and they disperse.
Tohil is recognized as a god and demands life sacrifices; later he must be hidden.
  • Part 4
Tohil affects Earth Lords through priests; but his dominion destroys the Quiche.
Priests tried to abduct tribes for sacrifices; the tribes tried to resist this.
Quiche found Gumarcah where Gucumatz (the feathered serpent lord) raises them to power.
Gucumatz instituted elaborate rituals.
Genealogies of the tribes.

History of the book

The best known and most complete manuscript of the Popul Vuh is in the Quiché Maya language. After the Spanish conquest of Guatemala, the usage of Maya script was forbidden and Latin alphabet was taught instead. However, some Maya priests and clerks clandestinely made copies of older hieroglyphic books, but using Latin letters, painting them on deerskin or fig bark and hiding them in the mountains. One of these was discovered about 1702 by a priest named Francisco Ximénez in the Guatemalan town of Chichicastenango, and rather than burning it Father Ximénez made a copy of it, and added a translation into Spanish. This copy found its way into a neglected corner of the Universidad de San Carlos library in Guatemala City, where it was discovered by Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg and Carl Scherzer in 1854. They published French and Spanish translations a few years later, the first of many translations that have kept the Popul Vuh in print ever since. The Kiche (or Quiché in Spanish spelling), are a Native American people, part of the Maya ethnic group. ... The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world today. ...   Maya glyphs in stucco at the Museo de sitio in Palenque, Mexico The Maya script, commonly known as Maya hieroglyphs, was the writing system of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization of Mesoamerica, presently the only deciphered script of the Mesoamerican writing systems. ... Chichicastenango, also known as Santo Tomás Chichicastenango, is a town in the El Quiché department of Guatemala, known for its traditional Maya Indian culture. ... The University of San Carlos is the the third oldest University in the New World. ... National Palace of Culture Guatemala City (in full, La Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción; locally known as Guatemala or Guate) is the capital and largest city of the nation of Guatemala. ... Abbé (from Latin abbas, in turn from Greek αββας = abbas father, from Aramaic abba) is the French word for abbot. ... Charles Etienne Brasseur de Bourbourg (8 September 1814 - 8 January 1874) was a Belgian ethnographer. ... 1854 (MDCCCLIV) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ...


The text of the Ximénez manuscript contains what some scholars believe are mistakes based on exact transliteration of an earlier hieroglyphic text, a proof that the Popol Vuh is based on a copy of a much earlier text. However, there were clearly additions and modifications to the text in Spanish Colonial times, most notably the Spanish governors of Guatemala are mentioned as the successors of earlier Maya rulers.


The manuscript is now in the Newberry Library in Chicago. The Newberry Library is an important research library for the humanities and social sciences in Chicago, Illinois, established in 1887 by Walter L. Newberry. ... Flag Seal Nickname: The Windy City Motto: Urbs In Horto (Latin: City in a Garden), I Will Location Location in Chicagoland and northern Illinois Coordinates , Government Country State Counties United States Illinois Cook, DuPage Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) Geographical characteristics Area     City 606. ...


Today

The Popol Vuh continues to be an important part in the belief system of many Quiché. Although most are now Catholic, they continue to blend Christian and indigenous beliefs. The original text is seen as difficult to understand, and a simplified version, Popol Vuh: A Sacred Book of the Maya, has now been published in English, Hungarian and Spanish, targeted towards adult and children who are unfamiliar with the Maya. The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...


Other sources

Classic Maya funeral pottery shows scenes which may be illustrations of some of the mythological episodes contained in the document. This opens up the possibility that the accompanying sections of hieroglyphical text are ancestral to passages from the Popol Vuh. Some stories from the Popol Vuh continued to be told by modern Maya as folk legends; some stories recorded by anthropologists in the 20th century may preserve portions of the ancient tales in greater detail than the Ximénez manuscript. See Anthropology. ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999...


References

  • Francisco Ximénez, Primera parte de el tesoro de las lengvas kakchiqvel, qviche y qutuhil Manuscript. Newberry Library, Chicago (ca. 1701).
  • Leonhard Schultze Jena, ´ Popol Vuh: das heilige Buch der Quiché-Indianer von Guatemala (1944).
  • Munro S. Edmonson, The Book of Counsel: The Popol-Vuh of the Quiche Maya of Guatemala. Publ. no. 35, Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University (1971).
  • Agustín Estrada Monroy (ed.), Popol Vuh. Facsimile reproduction of Ximénez's manuscript, with notes. Editorial José de Piñeda Ibarra, Guatemala (1973).
  • Adrián Recinos, El Popol Vuh: las antiguas historias del quiché (10th ed.) Editorial Universitaria Centroamericana (1979).
  • Adrián Inés Chávez, Popol Wuj: Poema mito-histórico kí-chè (Guatemaltec edition). Centro Editorial Vile (1981).
  • Carmelo Sáenz de Santamaría, Primera parte del tesoro de las lenguas cakchiquel, quiché y zutuhil, en que las dichal lenguas se trducen a la nuestra, española. Publ. esp. no. 30, Academia de Geografía e Historia de Guatemala; Tipografía Nacional, Guatemala (1985).
  • Dennis Tedlock, Popol Vuh: The Definitive Edition of the Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life and the Glories of Gods and Kings. Touchstone Books (1996). ISBN 0-684-81845-0.
  • Sam Colop, Popol Wuj — Versión Poética K‘iche‘. PEMBI/GTZ/Cholsamaj, Guatemala (1999). (In the Quiché Maya language).

The Newberry Library is an important research library for the humanities and social sciences in Chicago, Illinois, established in 1887 by Walter L. Newberry. ... Nickname: The Windy City, The Second City, Chi Town, The City of Big Shoulders The 312 Motto: Urbs In Horto (Latin: City in a Garden), I Will Location in Chicagoland and Illinois Coordinates: Country United States State Illinois County Cook Incorporated March 4, 1837 Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) Area... Tulane University is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university located in New Orleans, Louisiana. ... Luis Enrique Sam Colop (or Sam-Colop) is a Guatemalan linguist, lawyer, poet, newspaper columnist, and social activist. ... The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (German Corporation for Technical Cooperation) or GTZ is a private international enterprise specializing in technical cooperation for sustainable political, economic, ecological, and social development. ... The Quiché language is a part of the Maya language family. ...

External links

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
The Popol Vuh

  Results from FactBites:
 
Popol Vuh - Crystalinks (1237 words)
Van Akkeren (2003) discards Reynoso as the author of the Popol Vuh, since the viewpoint in the Titulo de Totonicapan is biased against the Kaweq lineage - he thinks that the authors were in fact the heads of a faction of the Kaweq lineage called the Nim Ch'okoj.
The Popol Vuh is considered one of the literary treasures of the Americas.
Some stories from the Popol Vuh continued to be told by modern Maya as folk legends; some stories recorded by anthropologists in the 20th century may preserve portions of the ancient tales in greater detail than the Ximénez manuscript.
The Popol Vuh (795 words)
The Popol Vuh presents a mythological version of the creation of the world, followed by the adventures of the twin gods, Hunahpú and Xbalanqué;, that take place in a primordial age before the creation of the first human beings.
The oldest version of the Popol Vuh still in existence is a transcription of the Quiché; text most likely made at the beginning of the XVIII century by a Dominican friar, Francisco Ximénez, who also made the first Spanish translation.
The mythological tales recounted in the Popol Vuh are closely related to other mythological texts compiled at the beginning of the Colonial period as well as oral traditions handed down to the present in indigenous communities in Guatemala and other parts of Mesoamerica.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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