The Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Maya

The Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Maya


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When the Spanish conquers they arrived in the 16th century to the ancient Mayab area, Specifically, the central area of ​​Guatemala, surely they were not aware of the richness and cultural, ethnic and linguistic variety of the inhabitants of those lands. Among the missionaries sent by the Church and ecclesiastical orders during and after the conquest, many of them they were at least unconscious in destroying most of Mayan literature and written knowledge, which is known to have been copious.

However, the natives conserved the conscience of their historical past and their cultural roots and made compilations of ancient texts and of the science, religion and customs of their ancestors.

Is indigenous literature (eliminating all offensive misconception of the concept) has certainly been ignored, when it has not been destroyed, until well into the 19th century. Most of it is preserved thanks to people, ecclesiastical for the most part, who really cared about these rich cultures.

The Popol Vuh or «Community Book»In its translation from the Maya ki’che’ and recently declared Cultural Heritage of Guatemala, constitutes one of the most faithful and important works for the ethnographic, historical and religious study of the ancient Mayans and many other civilizations of Central America. Although anonymous, it is known that It was written by the Guatemalan Quiche themselves around 1544.

It has come down to us thanks to the motivation of friar Francisco Ximénez, a missionary in the Quiché territory, where he had good relations with the natives and whom he never stopped trying to understand. The trust gained among the people gave him the exceptional opportunity to learn about the text, to whose study he practically dedicated his life. Such was the friar's interest in knowing the cultural and religious background of those Quiché natives, that He insisted on transcribing the work into Latin characters, written in the original language, and adding translations in Spanish on the sidelines for ease of understanding.

Transcription was forgotten for a long time, until researchers in the incipient science of history and anthropology devoted themselves in the 19th and 20th centuries to studying, interpreting, translating and perfecting it. The original text is preserved in the Newberry Library in Chicagoand its pages have been digitized and presented to the world by the University of Ohio, with transcripts in K'iche ', Spanish and English.

Regarding the various content of the collection performed by the modern Quiché Maya, the division into three blocks thematic: first, a description of the creation and origin of man; second, the mythological drama of the Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué brothers; and a third less literary in the aesthetic sense of the word that summarizes the history of the ancient Mayans of Guatemala, with a list of its most important kings and events. The latter constitutes an essential source for the investigation of the political and social evolution of these ancient states.

Here you can read the Popol Vuh for free.

Romantic, in the artistic sense of the word. In my adolescence both family and friends reminded me over and over that I was an inveterate humanist, as I spent time doing what perhaps others not so much, believing myself to be Bécquer, immersed in my own artistic fantasies, in books and movies, constantly wanting to travel and explore the world, admired for my historical past and for the wonderful productions of the human being. That is why I decided to study History and combine it with Art History, because it seemed to me the most appropriate way to carry out the skills and passions that characterize me: reading, writing, traveling, researching, knowing, making known, educating. Disclosure is another of my motivations, because I understand that there is no word that has real value if it is not because it has been transmitted effectively. And with this, I am determined that everything I do in my life has an educational purpose.


Video: The Sacred Book of the Mayans