Guatemala: The Popol Vuh and the Creation of Mankind

Guatemala: The Popol Vuh and the Creation of Mankind

Guatemala: The Popol Vuh and the Creation of Mankind

The Guatemala Popol Vuh, the “Community Book” (Libro de la Comunidad) in Spanish, is a book from the K’iché group where we can find the wisdom of this community and its history.  This book, which contains different stories, tells about the creation of the universe according to the Mayan Cosmovision among other things.

Let’s find out how the creation of man occurred according to the ancient Mayans and how it was described in this Book:

After all that exists in heaven and Earth were created, the creator gods Tepeu and Gucumatz decided that it was necessary to create the inhabitants of this world who should protect and take care of the world.

They decided to create men and women from mud, but the gods realized that because of that material they were weak and were unable stand up.  Then these first men were discarded.

The second attempt was with wood.  The gods created men and women of wood.  These men and women were strong, managed to reproduce and communicated very well among themselves, but these creatures had no memory, reasoning or emotions.  They neither spoke with their creators nor respected them.  The gods did not like it, therefore they sent a strong rain that lasted for days and nights in order to reduce the population of these beings.  Mayans believe that the survivors of the rain climbed trees and became apes, and this is how Mayan people explain the resemblance between humans and monkeys.

Finally, with the help of some animals, the gods found the final material to make man; “corn”.  The animals presented to the gods four types of corn that existed (white, yellow, red and black corn).  With these the gods shaped the first human body.  They created 4 men and 4 women.  These men and women were beautiful and intelligent, and they had a great understanding.  Then the gods became a little afraid.  They thought that these men could someday try to be equal to them because they were too smart.  The gods were afraid that at some point these new beings would want to take over their place.  The gods therefore made a dense cloud.  The cloud came down and covered men and women for awhile and this reduced their intelligence and understanding slightly.  After that, the men recognized their gods and praised them.  This made the gods happy and they were proud of their creation.  Thus these four families began to reproduce and to populate the Earth that was also created by Tepeu and Gucumatz.  The human beings are always under the care of the gods.

This is one of the tales found in the Popol Vuh.  There are many more stories in the Book about the Mayan K’iché people.  It is an interesting book for those who want to learn more about the Mayan culture.  I recommend you find and read these incredible stories in this amazing book.

For our intermediate and advance level students, it will be a great practice for you to translate this in Spanish. The Spanish translation will be posted within a week.

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