A Brief Overview of the Mayan Creation Story

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The Popol Wuj in the K’iche’ language or the Popol Vuh is the story of the Mayan creation. This Mayan creation story dates back to the 11th century by members of the royal K’iche’ lineages who once ruled the Guatemala highlands. They wanted to preserve it in the Spanish colonial rule. 

The Popol Vuh – which means “Book of the Community” – narrates the tales of the Hero Twins. In the story, the Creators, plus other six deities including the Feathered Serpent wanted to make human beings with hearts and minds that could “keep the days”.

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Though their first attempt failed, their second was successful and the deities created humans out of white and yellow corn that could talk. Learn more about this creation story below.

A Brief Overview of the Mayan Creation Story
Image Source: Britannica

The Twins

In one cycle, the Death Lords of the Underworld called the Hero Twins to play a momentous ball game in which the Twins win over their opponents. After winning, the twins rose into the heavens and turned into the Moon and the Sun. 

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Through their actions, the Hero Twins made a way for planting corn for the fourth creation of the Mayans and the human beings that were living on earth.

The Mayan People

Despite thirty plus languages and local differences, the Mayan people share a common legacy and cultural roots of an accomplished civilization. It got to its peak between 250 BCE and 1200 BCE. 

Mayan culture is characterized by hieroglyphic writing, monumental architecture, complex mathematical systems and iconography. Knowledge of sustainable agriculture and observational astronomy form the basis of daily activities of rural life in the Mayan world. 

Today, the Mayan people still practice rituals and ceremonies connected to their land. They are active participants in the social world, and their ancestor’s legacy has sustained their culture. 

The architectural styles of the Mayan people used materials, such as stucco and Kan kab’. The workers in the nearby Mayan villages still know how to use these building materials like their ancestors did thousands of years ago.

Mayan Communities

The Mayans’ sedentary communities were founded in the pacific coastal regions around 1800 BCE. The Mayans developed into a vibrant civilization in 250 BCE. 

This vibrant civilization consisted of various independent city-states, like the ceremonial centers of Palenque, Copan, Tikal, and Calakmul. They are made up of a variety of ancient sites, landscapes, and modern cities.

Most of these ancient sites are encircled by contemporary Mayan towns and villages, which have been actively populated for hundreds of years. Mayan homelands continue to influence the Mayan culture and Mayan worldview.

Connecting Earth and Sky

A Brief Overview of the Mayan Creation Story
Image Source: Wikipedia

For a number of years, careful astronomical observations guide the corn planting cycles. Corn is considered the Maya staple crop

In the same way, their ancestors watched the sun’s movement along the horizon and were looking out for the appearance of certain constellations in the east. Today, Mayan farmers use their sky knowledge to plan the agricultural cycle of corn. 

Also, It helps them to plan for the ideal times to conduct ceremonies and offerings. When they observe the natural cycles that link sky and Earth over years, the Mayans have formulated a world view of the universe where all things are interconnected.

Conclusion

The Mayas story of creation was recorded by the members of the royal K’iche’ lineages that once lived in the Guatemala highlands. It is called the Popol Vuh, or Popol Wuj in K’iche’ language.

It is believed that creators, Heart of Sky and other gods created human beings out of yellow corn. Therefore, corn is sacred in the Mayan culture.

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