RCC Honors History Project

Popol Vuh-Mayan Sacred Book “man made of corn”

Posted by kameron1 on June 8, 2009

The Popol Vuh “Council Book” or “Book of the Community”) is a book written in the Classical Quiché language containing mythological narratives and a genealogy of the rulers of the post classic Quiché Maya kingdom of highland Guatemala.

The book contains a creation myth followed by mythological stories of two Heroic Twins: Hunahpu (Junajpu) and Xbalanque (XbŒalanke). The second part of the book deals 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.

Creation Myth

The book begins with the creation myth of the K’ichee’ 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.

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 ³True People² were constructed with maize. The following is an excerpt of this myth:

 

    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.
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