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Popol Vuh


popol vuh guatemala

The Popol Vuh is a text of mythical narratives collected in Guatemala's western highlands sometime around 1550. The title translates into “Book of the Community,” or more literally “Book of the Mat,” which was a common metaphor for kinship. Today, the Popol Vuh is one of the most sacred and important examples of indigenous literature.

The Popol Vuh begins with pure mythological tales and gradually turns into historical accounts. A great deal of the book also deals with ancestry, history and cosmology. The text is divided into five parts, and begins with an account of the creation of the world. The second and third detail the saga of HunahpĂș and XbalanqĂșe, two Hero Twins. Finally, the last two sections tell the story of the QuichĂ© people, from the creation of humans from corn to accounts of tribal wars up until 1550.

A Spanish monk, Francisco Ximénez, is credited with preserving the Popol Vuh, a process he began in 1701. Ximénez visited Quiché territory and began transcribing and translating the text in parallel Quiché and Spanish columns. Since then, the Popul Vuh has been translated into several other languages.

Today, the stories of the Popol Vuh live on through folk legends, and the text is still important to many Quiché people. Several religious practices and traditions blend these indigenous beliefs with Catholicism, which now dominates most of Guatemala.

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05 Aug 2010

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