Popol Vuh VM#32


The Popol Vuh or “Council Book” gathers part of the wisdom and traditions of the Mayan culture established primarily in the Quiche region of Guatemala. It is a conjunction of religion, mythology, history, astrology, customs and legends that describes the origin of the world,  civilization and the various phenomena that occur in nature. To the Quiche, the Popol Vuh is like the Bible for Christians in that its teachings marked their behavior and customs. The meaning of the terms that make up the name are: “Popol“, the Mayan word for reunion; community;  common house ormeeting, and the word “Vuh“, meaning book; paper, or the tree from whose bark they made paper. Thus, this book can be understood to mean the “Book of the Community”. Still much is unknown about the Maya and, contrary to what was believed for some time, this culture reached an amazing level of development. The Maya’s social and political organization was established and ordered by laws and codes; they were impressively knowledgeable in the areas of astronomy, mathematics, medicine, herbal medicine and agriculture. They had an extremely accurate calendar divided into three accounts: the sacred or “Tzolkin“, the civil or “Haab“, and the “long count”. They also had a huge collection of literary and artistic works, all documented in codices, monuments and paintings. Unfortunately, most of these documents were destroyed by the Spanish during the conquest, mainly by Christian missionaries determined to get the Indians to rejected their beliefs, and so impose the Catholic religion upon them. As happened with the library of Alexandria, the Spanish, in one single flash, put an end to invaluable ancient knowledge as well as an entire culture that would today be on par with the Egyptian, Roman or Greek. Ironically, years later missionaries gave themselves to the task of rescuing some of the indigenous traditions  and documents about the literature and art of those cultures, as was the case with the Popol Vuh.


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