The Popol Vuh: The Guatemala Myths

863 words - 4 pages

The Popol Vuh is a collection of historical mythos of the K’iche’ Maya, a group that still lives in the Guatemalan highlands. Popol Vuh translates as either, “Book of Council” or in proper K’iche’ “Book of Events” or “Book of the People”, and tells the creation mythos of the K’iche’ peoples, an epic tale of Hero Twins Hunahpú and Xbalanqué, along with a series of genealogies.
Popol Vuh takes on a large number of subjects, including creation, history, destiny and cosmology. Popular editions of Popol Vuh all use basically the same method of breaking the text up into related pieces, but for clarity’s sake the edition that will be described here takes the organizational structure put forth by Brasseur de Bourbourg (Introduction, Pts 1-4).
Part one includes the creation myth, and the epic of Hunahpú and Xblanqué. In the creation myth, there are four deities/beings, 3 in a celestial world together called Tepeu and another called Q’uq’umatz who was on a terrestrial plane. Q’uq’umatz, god of wind and rain, combined with Tepeu, god of fire and lightning, created animals, followed closely by humans. The first “attempt” of these gods to create humans was less than successful, making them from earth and mud, which dissolved in the elements. The second attempt created men out of wood, which stood up to the elements, but lacked souls or self will. These “wood humans” quickly fall out of favor with the gods, causing them to be destroyed in vengeance.
In Popol Vuh, the twins Hunahpú and Xblanqué are called to assist Huracan, the K’iche’ god of wind and storm with a particularly arrogant god named Vucub Caquix. Vucub Caquix had built up a large following among people on earth, claiming that he was either the sun or the moon. Vucub Caquix was also terribly vain, weighing himself down with metal adornment and a set of jeweled false teeth. The twins attempt to sneak up and shoot him with a blowgun, Vacub Caquix is knocked out of the tree, but was only injured. The twins find a way to replace his bejeweled teeth with corn cob, and remove the ornaments he wore around his eyes. He is so vain, that after having his teeth and eyes stripped from him, he dies of shame.
The second part of Popol Vuh deals primarily with the lineage of those portrayed within it. Xpiyacoc and Xmucané fathered Hun Hunahpú and Vucab Hunahpú. Hun Hunahpú and Xbaquiyalo fathered Hunbatz and Hunchouén. Later on, the Hero Twins are reintroduced. Hunter and Jaguar deer, or Hunahpú...

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