Popol Vuh: Consecrated Narrative of Maya Creation & History - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1208 Words
Date:  2023-03-10


Popol Vuh is a consecrated Maya narrative that recounts the creation story, history, traditions, and mythology of the ancient Mayan people in the presently known Guatemala highlands. The narrative was written by the Mayan people between 1554-1558C.E. Popol Vuh is believed to have been written after the Spanish conquest in the Guatemala highlands since they would not tolerate spiritual practices and beliefs of their subjects. The purpose of this paper is to provide a detailed discussion of the distinctive structure of the book and how it impacts the modern-day Mayan people.

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The Most Distinctive About the Narrative Structure

The Mayan people in the ancient society made use of things they were familiar with to explain their origin. Before creation, the world was defined by the "Heart of the sky," which was the continuous stretch of Flat Ocean. The Mayan creation narratives in Popol Vuh describes the trials and challenges relating to human life. Popol Vuh describes three attempts that the "Heart of the sky" went through to develop the right human beings. At first, humans were created out of the mud and dissolved. The second attempt involved the creation of non-emotional human beings out of wood. High flood during this creation covered the entire land and wiped all the woods/humans (Tedlock n.p). The few humans that survived the flood ran into the forest and were turned into monkeys. In the final attempt, humans were created out of corn. Corn was the staple food for the Mayan people. As a result, corn turned out to be the ideal material in creating human beings who would grow up healthy, productive, and could respond emotionally. At first, four men are created and provided with wives with whom they have children and engage in planting crops while at the same time appreciating the gifts given to them by the gods.

In another account, Popol Vuh introduces Hero Twins (Xbalanque and Hunahpu) destruction of Seven Macaw and his two sons Cabracan and Zipacna. In this era, with no humans to value the gods, the gods can claim the values they deserve. Through a series of clever ruses and tricks, Seven Macaw declines to acknowledge some gods (Tedlock n.p). As a result, the Hero Twins execute him and his children to restore balance and order in the world. In another scenario, the Hero Twins are summoned by the "Death Lords of the Underworld" to compete in a ball competition. After having an adventure in the underworld, the Twins then destroyed the opponents, rose to the sky and became the moon and the sun.

In the final account, the book describes how the first humans to be formed from maize by the ancestors Tepeu and Gucumatz. The book narrates on the exodus of the Quiche dynasty and their lineage, linking the royal family with mythological gods. The narrative describes how these first people related with the gods and strolled all over the world till they got to a mythological dwelling where they took the gods in sanctified packages and take them home.

The Ultimate Purpose of the Story for Classical Mayans

Like any other culture, the Popol Vuh details the creation process, their history as well as their mythological beliefs. Just like many religious accounts, Popol Vuh is a collection of fables and stories with familiar creatures as characters. The animals used in these accounts represent different stereotypes among humans and manifest their behaviors in the real world. The behaviors expressed by these characters play a crucial role in teaching humans the values and moral codes that could be applied in day-to-day life.

A critical aspect of the Popol Vuh is the account that describes the origin of Mayan people. The creation account develops a sense of belonging whereby the Mayan believe they originated from corn. The book develops close links between the Maya people and their religion and the code of conduct contained in religious ethics (Maestri n.p). Though not considered as a Bible, Popol Vuh is an instrument of sight that provides different interpretations of the ancient world and help the classical Mayans in understanding the Quiche beliefs and creation before the introduction of Christianity.

The creation narrative teaches the Mayans more about their ancestors. Mayans get to learn their ancestors were made from yellow and white corn. Maize is sacred to the Mayans as it binds them with their grandparents. Maize also feeds their spirits and bodies. As a result, Mayans learn more about their culture and thus help to retain and carry on the history to future generations. The book makes the Mayans understand their history and thus serving a unifying factor for the Mayan people. The book is a source of knowledge and reference to identify how specific cultural practices were performed and help in preserving Mayan cultural traditions.

The Extent Popol Vuh Teach Ethical Lessons

Popol Vuh teaches ethical lessons by describing the villainous and heroic characters. The book describes the practical ethical standards to maintain to reach a heroic level. Religious devotion and Familial loyalty. Popol Vuh teaches essential lessons on how to be proper Mayans and the qualities to adapt to become great leaders in society. According to Brock (n.p), "It does this by offering an extensive cast of characters, some of which are easily and inarguably heroes, while others are heroic to a degree, but possess major faults." Popol Vuh also demonstrates how exaggerated pride among the characters makes them susceptible to tricks from the heroes. On the higher end, the book illustrates how people could use integrity by basing their decisions upon their desires other than just following the wave.

Values and Beliefs Promoted In the Tale

One fundamental value promoted in the book is unity and determination. The book demonstrates how differences among people result in conflicts and even wars. It shows how embracing differences in a community brings people together towards a common goal. The value of unity motivates the society to establish peace and achieve anything they set their thoughts to. Determination should be the driving force for people to complete what was started, thus ensuring conflict and worry do not prevail.

Popol Vuh promotes the value of work in people's lives. The practical value conveys the message on the need to concentrate on work, responsibility, and creativity. The application of diligence in working is vital in eliminating any form of violence. On the higher end, the book promotes the value of protecting life. The value reflects on the need to uphold good relationships in the community by protecting life and respecting the old in society to promote dignity (Tedlock n.p). Another critical value from the book is thankfulness and cooperation with the community. These values are linked with the creation account. People need to be grateful to the gods and thankful to the good deeds, advice, discipline, and life. The values create love and cohesion among the members of society.

Works Cited

Brock, Zoe. "Popol Vuh Themes: Origins, Customs, and Mayan Culture." LitCharts. LitCharts LLC, 11 May 2018. Web. 27 Nov 2019.

Tedlock, Dennis. Popol Vuh: The Mayan book of the dawn of life. eBookIt. com, 2013.

Maestri, Nicoletta. "What Is the Importance of the Maya Book Known As Popol Vuh?" ThoughtCo, 24 July, 2011, www.thoughtco.com/popol-vuh-history-quiche-maya-manuscript-171594.

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Popol Vuh: Consecrated Narrative of Maya Creation & History - Essay Sample. (2023, Mar 10). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/popol-vuh-consecrated-narrative-of-maya-creation-history-essay-sample

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