The god Itzamná is the most important deity
in the Mayan pantheon. Itzamná is the god of the heavens,
the god of day and the god of night.
is the original manuscript (MS). It is a hieroglyphic codex (or several codices).
It involved the original oral histories of the Quiché people recited for over a
4,000-year period from 2500 BCE to 1500 CE. It was recited on ceremonial
occasions. This original book had a section on divination, which is alluded to
in line 8141 of the Popol Vuh. It
also had sections on cosmology and the history of the Quiché. The words
"popol vuh" are the name of the text we have in the text, but they
also mean "former words" (oher
tzih). The "popol vuh" was said to be the gift of Quetzalcóatl to
the second generation of men (line 7315 to the end of section 70). In our text,
the author/narrator refers to the Popol Vuh as "already lost") (line
8582, next-to-last in the text: "zachinak chik"). The original MS was
written in a classical Maya Quiché language. It contained (and contains now)
mythological stories along with a genealogy of the rulers of the Late Classic
Mayan kingdom in the highlands of
II. MS of Quiché
MS is now lost, but it existed as late as the 18th century. It
constitutes the original of the present text; it was written in Santa Cruz
Quiché in 1550 to 1555. The author was a Quiché from the Kavek lineage (tribe);
his name is not known, but it may have been Diego Reynoso, who was a councilman
in the town. He was also the author of the history of the Totonicapan people,
and his guardian was trained by Spanish Catholic missionaries to write
(Christian) religious literature and sermons in the Quiché dialect of the Mayan
language. Note: the first missionaries to the Quiché in
III. MS of Chichicastenango
The previous MS (MS of Quiché) was found at Chichicastenango (Santo Tomás Chichicastenango) is still known for its Maya culture. The Spanish conquistadors gave it its name from the Náhuatl (Aztec) name used by their soldiers from Tlaxcala (México): Tzitzicastenanco (i.e., place of nettles). This MS was copied and translated by a Dominican priest (Francisco Ximénez) in 1701 to 1703. The MS of Chichicastenango was known of from 1701 to 1855, when it disappeared.
IV. MS of
Juan Gavarrete copied the previous
MS (MS (MS of Chichicastenango) 1845 to 1847. In 1855 Scherzer and Brasseur de
Bourbourg examined this MS. The latter took both MSS (manuscripts) III and IV
V. MS of Rabinal
Ximénez (see #III) wrote a history
of the languages in
VI. General Considerations about the Popol Vuh
Popol Vuh (Maya Quiché: book of the
community) is a sixteenth-century edition, in Renaissance Spanish, of the
oldest literary/religious work in
The book narrates the mythology and legends relating to the four cycles of the creation in the Mayan world. The first cycle refers to the wood men puppets (ending on line 820). The second cycle ends on line 1674 and ends with the destruction of 7 Parrot (Vucub-Caquix) and his two sons (Zipacná and Cabracán). The third cycle ends when the hero twins become the sun and the moon (up to line 4708). And the fourth cycle covers half of the entire text. It deals with humans (i.e., men) learning who to pray and to worship the Heart of Heaven. This last cycle covers the period from the first Fathers to the present (i.e., the year 1550).
scholars can detect Toltec and Aztec influences in the text, especially
regarding military and religious terminology. In fact, the Toltecs and Aztecs
did exert significant influence among the Mayas of Guatemala and the Yucatán
from tenth century (900) to the Spanish conquests in the first half of the
sixteenth century. According to their legends, the Quiché people originally
VII. The text of the Prologue and Chapter 1 through Chapter 9: link here: => Popol Vuh.
opening lines of the Popol Vuh in Maya Quiché
These opening lines of the Popol Vuh
are taken from: Munro S. Edmonson, The
Book of Counsel: the Popol Vuh of the Quiche Maya of Guatemala.
Notes on the languages: the Popol Vuh is written in the Latin-derived alphabet ("i" for "y"; "v" for "w"). Vowel length in Quiché is phonemic (double vowels in the text); Quiché has glottal consonants (', b, ch', k', q', t', tz'). The palatal stop is ("k") different from the uvular stop ("q"). Quiché Maya has been studies for almost 500 years. It is rich in adverb-like uninflected particles. Tense and number are not as specific as in English. Moreover, the Popol Vuh text did not separate words carefully, which has made interpretation hard, to say the least. The stress is usually on the final syllable. The glottal stop series (see above) is one of the richest and most distinctive elements in the language.
This is the root of the former word.
Here is Quiche by name.
Here we shall write then,
We shall start out then, the former words,
And the taproots
Of everything done in the Quiche town,
The tribe of the Quiche people.
So this is what we shall collect then,
And the explanation
Of the mysteries
And the illumination
And Engenderer are their names,
And Hunter Coyote,
Great White Pig
And Quetzal Serpent,
Heart of the
And the Heart of the Sea,
Green Plate Spirit
And Blue Bowl Spirit, as it is said,
Who are likewide called,
Who are likewise spoken of
As the Woman with Grandchildren
And Man with Grandchildren,
And Xmucane by name,
As it is said
In Quiche words.
Then they said everything
And did it furthermore,
In the bright existence
And bright words.
This we shall write already withing the word of God,
Already in Christianity.
We shall save it
Because there is no longer
A sight of the Book of Counsel,
the Part I concludes with references to cosmic creation and
Are, u we 'oher tzih.
Varal K'iche, u bi.
Varal x chi qa tz'ibah vi,
X chi qa tikiba vi 'oher tzih,
U xenabal puch
R onohel x ban pa tinamit K'iche,
R amaq K'iche vinaq.
Are q'ut x chi qa qam vi
U tzihoxik Duch
R umal Tzakol,
Q'aholom, ki bi,
Hun Ah Pu Vuch'
Hun Ah Pu 'Utiv,
Zaqi Nim Aq,
U k'ux Cho,
U k'ux Palov,
Ah Raxa Laq,
Ah Raxa Tzel, ch uch'axik,
R ach' biixik,
R ach' tzihoxik ri,
Xmucane, u bi,
Ka mul Iyom,
Ka mul Mamom,
Pa K'iche tzih.
Ta x ki tzihoh r onohel
R uq x ki ban chik
Chi zaqil a'oolem,
Vae x chi qa tz'ibah ch u pam chik u ch'aabal Dios,
Pa Christionoil chik.
X chi q elezah
R umal ma ha bi chik
Ilobal r e Popol Vuh,
[… U kah tzuquxik…]