About this myth
Popol Vuh (Pupul Wuj) is a
In a nutshell
Deities first created the world and made humans from clay, then wood. These humans were emotionless and destroyed by the deities in a flood, who turn them into monkeys. Later, the first four people are made and named after the Jaguar animal.
"Popol Vuh": Partial English Translation by Delia Goetz and Sylvanus G. Morley
Book · Delia Goetz · 1954
"Popol Vuh" is a partial English translation of the Popul Vuh creation and flood myth. It was released in 1954 by Delia Goetz and Sylvanus G. Morley, and, with the help of Spanish editor Adrián Recinos. It contains text of the first English translation of the myth (it was first published as a book in 1950, cf. bibliography). This text portion was seemingly released in the public domain due to no copyright being registered or renewed.
The Popol Vuh (Popul Vuh) creation myth is a collection of ancient stories and myths related to the Mayan culture of Central America. It was written as a collection of stories in the 16th century CE and translated into Spanish by Francisco Ximénez, a Dominican priest. Records show that the Popol Vuh was most likely translated some time between 1700 and 1703 CE.
Artifacts related to this myth
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See full texts of this myth via related artifacts. Where available, a translation is included.
Kʼicheʼ, Spanish ⟶ English a
THIS IS THE BEGINNING of the old traditions of this place called Quiché.
Here we shall write and we shall begin the old stories, the beginning and the origin of all that was done in the town of the Quiché, by the tribes of the Quiché nation.
And here we shall set forth the revelation, the declaration, and the narration of all that was hidden, the revelation by Tzacol, Bitol, Alom, Qaholom, who are called Hunahpú-Vuch, Hunahpú-Utiú, Zaqui-Nimá-Tziís, Tepeu, Gucumatz, u Qux cho, u Qux Paló, Ali Raxá Lac, Ah Raxá Tzel, as they were called. And [at the same time] the declaration, the combined narration of the Grandmother and the Grandfather, whose names are Xpiyacoc, and Xmucané, helpers and protectors, twice grandmother, twice grandfather, so called in the Quiché chronicles. Then we shall tell all that they did in the light of existence, in the light of history.
This we shall write now under the Law of God and Christianity; we shall bring it to light because now the Popol Vuh, as it is called, cannot be seen any more, in which was dearly seen the coming from the other side of the sea and the narration of our obscurity, and our life was clearly seen. The original book, written long ago, existed, but its sight is hidden to the searcher and to the thinker. Great were the descriptions and the account of how all the sky and earth were formed, how it was formed and divided into four parts; how it was partitioned, and how the sky was divided; and the measuring-cord was brought, and it was stretched in the sky and over the earth, on the four angles, on the four corners, as was told by the Creator and the Maker, the Mother and the Father of Life, of all created things, he who gives breath and thought, she who gives birth to the children, he who watches over the happiness of the people, the happiness of the human race, the wise man, he who meditates on the goodness of all that exists in the sky, on the earth, in the lakes and in the sea.
I. Chapter 1
This is the account of how all was in suspense, all calm, in silence; all motionless, still, and the expanse of the sky was empty.
This is the first account, the first narrative. There was neither man, nor animal, birds, fish, crabs, trees, stones, caves, ravines, grasses, nor forests; there was only the sky.
The surface of the earth had not appeared. There was only the calm sea and the great expanse of the sky.
There was nothing brought together, nothing which could make a noise, nor anything which might move, or tremble, or could make noise in the sky.
There was nothing standing; only the calm water, the placid sea, alone and tranquil. Nothing existed.
There was only immobility and silence in the darkness, in the night. Only the creator, the Maker, Tepeu, Gucumatz, the Forefathers, were in the water surrounded with light. They were hidden under green and blue feathers, and were therefore called Gucumatz. By nature they were great sages and great thinkers. In this manner the sky existed and also the Heart of Heaven, which is the name of God and thus He is called.
Then came the word. Tepeu and Gucumatz came together in the darkness, in the night, and Tepeu and Gucumatz talked together. They talked then, discussing and deliberating; they agreed, they united their words and their thoughts.
Then while they meditated, it became clear to them that when dawn would break, man must appear. Then they planned the creation, and the growth of the trees and the thickets and the birth of life and the creation of man. Thus it was arranged in the darkness and in the night by the Heart of Heaven who is called Huracán.
The first is called Caculhá Huracán. The second is Chipi-Caculhá. The third is Raxa-Caculhá. And these three are the Heart of Heaven.
Then Tepeu and Gucumatz came together; then they conferred about life and light, what they would do so that there would be light and dawn, who it would be who would provide food and sustenance.
Thus let it be done! Let the emptiness be filled! Let the water recede and make a void, let the earth appear and become solid; let it be done. Thus they spoke. Let there be light, let there be dawn in the sky and on the earth! There shall be neither glory nor grandeur in our creation and formation until the human being is made, man is formed. So they spoke.
Then the earth was created by them. So it was, in truth, that they created the earth. Earth! they said, and instantly it was made.
Like the mist, like a cloud, and like a cloud of dust was the creation, when the mountains appeared from the water; and instantly the mountains grew.
Only by a miracle, only by magic art were the mountains and valleys formed; and instantly the groves of cypresses and pines put forth shoots together on the surface of the earth.
And thus Gucumatz was filled with joy, and exclaimed: “Your coming has been fruitful, Heart of Heaven; and you, Huracán, and you, Chipi-Caculhá, Raxa-Caculhá!”
“Our work, our creation shall be finished,” they answered.
First the earth was formed, the mountains and the valleys; the currents of water were divided, the rivulets were running freely between the hills, and the water was separated when the high mountains appeared.
Thus was the earth created, when it was formed by the Heart of Heaven, the Heart of Earth, as they are called who first made it fruitful, when the sky was in suspense, and the earth was submerged in the water.
So it was that they made perfect the work, when they did it after thinking and meditating upon it.
I. Chapter 2
Then they made the small wild animals, the guardians of the woods, the spirits of the mountains, the deer, the birds, pumas, jaguars, serpents, snakes. vipers, guardians of the thickets. And the Forefathers asked: ‘Shall there be only silence and calm under the trees, under the vines? It is well that hereafter there be someone to guard them.”
So they said when they meditated and talked. Promptly the deer and the birds were created. immediately they gave homes to the deer and the birds. “You, deer, shall sleep in the fields by the river bank and in the ravines. Here you shall be amongst the thicket, amongst the pasture; in the woods you shall multiply, you shall walk on four feet and they will support you. Thus be it done!” So it was they spoke.
Then they also assigned homes to the birds big and small. “You shall live in the trees and in the vines. There you shall make your nests; there you shall multiply; there you shall increase in the branches of the trees and in the vines.” Thus the deer and the birds were told; they did their duty at once, and all sought their homes and their nests.
And the creation of all the four-footed animals and the birds being finished, they were told by the Creator and the Maker and the Forefathers: “Speak, cry, warble, call, speak each one according to your variety, each, according to your kind.” So was it said to the deer, the birds, pumas, jaguars, and serpents.
“Speak, then, our names, praise us, your mother, your father. Invoke then, Huracán, ChipiCaculhá, Raxa-Caculhá, the Heart of Heaven, the Heart of Earth, the Creator, the Maker, the Forefathers; speak, invoke us, adore us,” they were told.
But they could not make them speak like men; they only hissed and screamed and cackled; they were unable to make words, and each screamed in a different way.
When the Creator and the Maker saw that it was impossible for them to talk to each other, they said: “It is impossible for them to say our names, the names of us, their Creators and Makers. This is not well,” said the Forefathers to each other.
Then they said to them: “Because it has not been possible for you to talk, you shall be changed. We have changed our minds: Your food, your pasture, your homes. and your nests you shall have; they shall be the ravines and the woods, because it has not been possible for you to adore us or invoke us. There shall be those who adore us, we shall make other [beings] who shall be obedient. Accept your destiny: your flesh shall be tom to pieces. So shall it be. This shall be your lot.” So they said, when they made known their will to the large and small animals which are on the face of the earth.
They wished to give them another trial; they, wished to make another attempt; they wished to make [all living things] adore them.
But they could not understand each other’s speech; they could succeed in nothing, and could do nothing. For this reason they were sacrificed and the animals which were on earth were condemned to be killed and eaten.
For this reason another attempt had to be made to create and make men by the Creator, the Maker, and the Forefathers.
“Let us try again! Already dawn draws near: Let us make him who shall nourish and sustain us! What shall we do to be invoked, in order to be remembered on earth? We have already tried with our first creations, our first creatures; but we could not make them praise and venerate us. So, then, let us try to make obedient, respectful beings who will nourish and sustain us.” Thus they spoke.
Then was the creation and the formation. Of earth, of mud, they made [man’s] flesh. But they saw that it was not good. It melted away, it was soft, did not move, had no strength, it fell down, it was limp, it could not move its head, its face fell to one side, its sight was blurred, it could not look behind. At first it spoke, but had no mind. Quickly it soaked in the water and could not stand.
And the Creator and the Maker said: “Let us try again because our creatures will not be able to walk nor multiply. Let us consider this,” they said.
Then they broke up and destroyed their work and their creation. And they said: “What shall we do to perfect it, in order that our worshipers, our invokers, will be successful?”
Thus they spoke when they conferred again: “Let us say again to Xpiyacoc, Xmucané, HunahpúVuch, Hunahpú-Utiú: ‘Cast your lot again. Try to create again.’” In this manner the Creator and the Maker spoke to Xpiyacoc and Xmucané.
Then they spoke to those soothsayers, the Grandmother of the day, the Grandmother of the Dawn, as they were called by the Creator and the Maker, and whose names were Xpiyacoc and Xmucané.
And said Huracán, Tepeu, and Gucumatz when they spoke to the soothsayer, to the Maker, who are the diviners: “You must work together and find the means so that man, whom we shall make, man, whom we are going to make, will nourish and sustain us, invoke and remember us.
“Enter, then, into council, grandmother, grandfather, our grandmother, our grandfather, Xpiyacoc, Xmucané, make light, make dawn. have us invoked, have us adored, have us remembered by created man, by made man, by mortal man. Thus be it done.
“Let your nature be known, Hunahpú-Vuch, Hunahpú-Utiú, twice-mother, twice-father, NimAc, Nima-Tziís, the master of emeralds, the worker in jewels, the sculptor, the carver, the maker of beautiful plates, the maker of green gourds, the master of resin, the master Toltecat, grandmother of the sun, grandmother of dawn, as you will be called by our works and our creatures.
“Cast the lot with your grains of corn and tzité. Do it thus and we shall know if we are to make, or carve his mouth and eyes out of wood.” Thus the diviners were told.
They went down at once to make their divination, and cast their lots with the corn and the tzité. “Fate! Creature!” said an old woman and an old man. And this old man was the one who cast the lots with Tzité, the one called Xpiyacoc. And the old woman was the diviner, the maker, called Chiracán Xmucané.
Beginning the divination, they said: “Get together, grasp each other! Speak, that we may hear.” They said, “Say if it is well that the wood be got together and that it be carved by the Creator and the Maker, and if this [man of wood] is he who must nourish and sustain us when there is light when it is day!
“You, corn; you, tzité; you, fate; you, creature; get together, take each other,” they said to the corn, to the tzité, to fate, to the creature. “Come to sacrifice here, Heart of Heaven; do not punish Tepeu and Gucumatz!” Then they talked and spoke the truth: “Your figures of wood shall come out well; they shall speak and talk on earth.”
“So may it be,” they answered when they spoke.
And instantly the figures were made of wood. They looked like men, talked like men, and populated the surface of the earth.
They existed and multiplied; they had daughters, they had sons, these wooden figures; but they did not have souls, nor minds, they did not remember their Creator, their Maker; they walked on all fours, aimlessly.
They no longer remembered the Heart of Heaven and therefore they fell out of favor. It was merely a trial, an attempt at man. At first they spoke, but their face was without expression; their feet and hands had no strength; they had no blood, nor substance, nor moisture, nor flesh; their cheeks were dry, their feet and hands were dry, and their flesh was yellow.
Therefore, they no longer thought of their Creator nor their Maker, nor of those who made them and cared for them.
These were the first men who existed in great numbers on the face of the earth.
I. Chapter 3
Immediately the wooden figures were annihilated, destroyed, broken up, and killed.
A flood was brought about by the Heart of Heaven; a great flood was formed which fell on the heads of the wooden creatures.
Of tzité the flesh of man was made, but when woman was fashioned by the Creator and the Maker, her flesh was made of rushes. These were the materials the Creator and the Maker wanted to use in making them.
But those that they had made, that they had created, did not think, did not speak with their Creator, their Maker. And for this reason they were killed, they were deluged. A heavy resin fell from the sky. The one called Xecotcovach came and gouged out their eyes; Camalotz came and cut off their heads; Cotzbalam came and devoured their flesh. Tucumbalam came, too, and broke and mangled their bones and their nerves, and ground and crumbled their bones.
This was to punish them because they had not thought of their mother, nor their father, the Heart of Heaven, called Huracán. And for this reason the face of the earth was darkened and a black rain began to fall, by day and by night.
Then came the small animals and the large animals, and sticks and stones struck their faces. And all began to speak: their earthen jars, their griddles, their plates, their pots, their grinding stones, all rose up and struck their faces.
“You have done us much harm; you ate us, and now we shall kill you,” said their dogs and birds of the barnyard.
And the grinding stones said: “We were tormented by you; every day, every day, at night, at dawn, all the time our faces went holi, holi, huqui, huqui, because of you. This was the tribute we paid you. But now that you are no longer men, you shall feel our strength. We shall grind and tear your flesh to pieces,” said their grinding stones.
And then their dogs spoke and said: “Why did you give us nothing to eat? You scarcely looked at us, but you chased us and threw us out. You always had a stick ready to strike us while you were eating.
“Thus it was that you treated us. You did not speak to us. Perhaps we shall not kill you now; but why did you not look ahead, why did you not think about yourselves? Now we shall destroy you, now you shall feel the teeth of our mouths; we shall devour you,” said the dogs, and then, they destroyed their faces.
And at the same time, their griddles and pots spoke: “Pain and suffering you have caused us. Our mouths and our faces were blackened with soot; we were always put on the fire and you burned us as though we felt no pain. Now you shall feel it, we shall burn you,” said their pots, and they all destroyed their [the wooden men’s] faces. The stones of the hearth, which were heaped together, hurled themselves straight from the fire against their heads causing them pain.
The desperate ones [the men of wood] ran as quickly as they could; they wanted to climb to the tops of the houses, and the houses fell down and threw them to the ground; they wanted to climb to the treetops, and the trees cast them far away; they wanted to enter the caverns, and the caverns repelled them.
So was the ruin of the men who had been created and formed, the men made to be destroyed and annihilated; the mouths and faces of all of them were mangled.
And it is said that their descendants are the monkeys which now live in the forests; these are all that remain of them because their flesh was made only of wood by the Creator and the Maker.
And therefore the monkey looks like man, and is an example of a generation of men which were created and made but were only wooden figures.
I. Chapter 4
It was cloudy and twilight then on the face of the earth. There was no sun yet. Nevertheless, there was a being called Vucub-Caquix, who was very proud of himself.
The sky and the earth existed, but the faces of the sun and the moon were covered.
And he [Vucub-Caquix] said: “Truly, they are clear examples of those people who were drowned, and their nature is that of supernatural beings.
“I shall now be great above all the beings created and formed. I am the sun, the light, the moon,” he exclaimed. “Great is my splendor. Because of me men shall walk and conquer. For my eyes are of silver, bright, resplendent as precious stones, as emeralds; my teeth shine like perfect stones, like the face of the sky. My nose shines afar like the moon, my throne is of silver, and the face of the earth is lighted when I pass before my throne.
“So, then, I am the sun, I am the moon, for all mankind. So shall it be, because I can see very far.”
So Vucub-Caquix spoke. But he was not really the sun; he was only vainglorious of his feathers and his riches. And he could see only as far as the horizon, and he could not see over all the world.
The face of the sun had not yet appeared, nor that of the moon, nor the stars, and it had not dawned. Therefore, Vucub-Caquix became as vain as though he were the sun and the moon, because the light of the sun and the moon had not yet shown itself His only ambition was to exalt himself and to dominate. And all this happened when the flood came because of the woodenpeople.
Now we shall tell how Vucub-Caquix was overthrown and died, and how man was made by the Creator and the Maker.
I. Chapter 5
This is the beginning of the defeat and the ruin of the glory of Vucub-Caquix brought about by two youths, the first of whom was called Hunahpú and the second, Xbalanqué. They were really gods. When they saw the harm which the arrogant one had done, and wished to do, in the presence of the Heart of Heaven, the youths said:
“It is not good that it be so, when man does not yet live here on earth. Therefore, we shall try to shoot him with our blowgun when he is eating. We shall shoot him and make him sicken, and then that will be the end of his riches, his green stones, his precious metals, his emeralds, his jewels of which he is so proud. And this shall be the lot of all men, for they must not become vain, because of power and riches.
“Thus shall it be,” said the youths, each one putting his blowgun to his shoulder.
Well, now Vucub-Caquix had two sons: the first was called Zipacná, the second was Cabracán; and the mother of the two was called Chimalmat, the wife of Vucub-Caquix.
Well, Zipacná played ball with the large mountains: with Chigag, Hunahpú, Pecul,
Yaxcanul, Macamob, and Huliznab. These are the names of the mountains which existed when it dawned and which were created in a single night by Zipacná.
In this way, then, Cabracán moved the mountains and made the large and small mountains tremble.
And in this way the sons of Vucub-Caquix proclaimed their pride. “Listen! I am the sun!” said Vucub-Caquix. “I am he who made the earth!” said Zipacná. “I am he who shook the sky and made the earth tremble!” said Cabracán, In this way the sons of Vucub-Caquix followed the example of their father’s assumed greatness. And this seemed very evil to the youths. Neither our first mother nor our first father had yet been created.
Therefore, the deaths of Vucub-Caquix and his sons and their destruction was decided upon by the youths.
III. Chapter 1
Here, then is the beginning of when it was decided to make man, and when what must enter into the flesh of man was sought.
And the Forefathers, the Creators and Makers, who were called Tepeu and Gucumatz said: “The time of dawn has come, let the work be finished, and let those who are to nourish and sustain us appear, the noble sons, the civilized vassals; let man appear, humanity, on the face of the earth.” Thus they spoke.
They assembled, came together and held council in the darkness and in the night; then they sought and discussed, and here they reflected and thought. In this way their decisions came dearly to light and they found and discovered what must enter into the flesh of man.
It was just before the sun, the moon, and the stars appeared over the Creators and Makers.
From Paxil, from Cayalá, as they were called, came the yellow ears of corn and the white ears of corn.
These are the names of the animals which brought the food: yac (the mountain cat), utiú (the coyote), quel (a small parrot), and hoh (the crow). These four animals gave tidings of the yellow ears of corn and the white ears of corn, they told them that they should go to Paxil and they showed them the road to Paxil.
And thus they found the food, and this was what went into the flesh of created man, the made man; this was his blood; of this the blood of man was made. So the corn entered [into the formation of man] by the work of the Forefathers.
And in this way they were filled with joy, because they had found a beautiful land, full of pleasures, abundant in ears of yellow corn and ears of white corn, and abundant also in pataxte and cacao, and in innumerable zapotes, anonas, jocotes, nantzes, matasanos, and honey. There was an abundance of delicious food in those villages called Paxil and Cayalá. There were foods of every kind, small and large foods, small plants and large plants.
The animals showed them the road. And then grinding the yellow corn and the white corn, Xmucané made nine drinks, and from this food came the strength and the flesh, and with it they created the muscles and the strength of man. This the Forefathers did, Tepeu and Gucumatz, as they were called.
After that they began to talk about the creation and the making of our first mother and father; of yellow corn and of white corn they made their flesh; of corn-meal dough they made the arms and the legs of man. Only dough of corn meal went into the flesh of our first fathers, the four men, who were created.
III. Chapter 2
These are the names of the first men who were created and formed: the first man was Balam-
Quitzé, the second, Balam-Acab, the third, Mahucutah, and the fourth was Iqui-Balam.
These are the names of our first mothers and fathers.
It is said that they only were made and formed, they had no mother, they had no father. They were only called men. They were not born of woman, nor were they begotten by the Creator nor by the Maker, nor by the Forefathers. Only by a miracle, by means of incantation were they created and made by the Creator, the Maker, the Forefathers, Tepeu and Gucumatz. And as they had the appearance of men, they were men; they talked, conversed, saw and heard, walked, grasped things; they were good and handsome men, and their figure was the figure of a man.
They were endowed with intelligence; they saw and instantly they could see far, they succeeded in seeing, they succeeded in knowing all that there is in the world. When they looked, instantly they saw all around them, and they contemplated in turn the arch of heaven and the round face of the earth.
The things hidden [in the distance] they saw all, without first having to move; at once they saw the world, and so, too, from where they were, they saw it.
Great was their wisdom; their sight reached to the forests, the rocks, the lakes, the seas, the mountains, and the valleys. In truth, they were admirable men. Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam.
Then the Creator and the Maker asked them: “What do you think of your condition? Do you not see? Do you not hear? Are not your speech and manner of walking good? Look, then!
Contemplate the world, look [and see] if the mountains and the valleys appear! Try, then, to see!” they said to [the four first men].
And immediately they [the four first men] began to see all that was in the world. Then they gave thanks to the Creator and the Maker: “We really give you thanks, two and three times! We have been created, we have been given a mouth and a face, we speak, we hear, we think, and walk; we feel perfectly, and we know what is far and what is near. We also see the large and the small in the sky and on earth. We give you thanks, then, for having created us, oh, Creator and Maker! for having given us being, oh, our grandmother! oh, our grandfather!” they said, giving thanks for their creation and formation.
They were able to know all, and they examined the four corners, the four points of the arch of the sky and the round face of the earth.
But the Creator and the Maker did not hear this with pleasure. “It is not well what our creatures, our works say; they know all, the large and the small,” they said. And so the Forefathers held counsel again. “What shall we do with them now? Let their sight reach only to that which is near; let them see only a little of the face of the earth! It is not well what they say. Perchance, are they not by nature simple creatures of our making? Must they also be gods? And if they do not reproduce and multiply when it will dawn, when the sun rises? And what if they do not multiply?” So they spoke.
“Let us check a little their desires, because it is not well what we see. Must they perchance be the equals of ourselves, their Makers, who can, see afar, who know all and see all?”
Thus spoke the Heart of Heaven, Huracán, Chipi-Caculhá, Raxa-Caculhá, Tepeu, Gucumatz, the Forefathers, Xpiyacoc, Xmucané, the Creator and the Maker. Thus they spoke, and immediately they changed the nature of their works, of their creatures.
Then the Heart of Heaven blew mist into their eyes, which clouded their sight as. when a mirror is breathed upon. Their eyes were covered and they could see only what was close, only that was clear to them.
In this way the wisdom and all the knowledge of the four men, the origin and beginning [of the Quiché race], were destroyed.
In this way were created and formed our grandfathers, our fathers, by the Heart of Heaven, the heart of Earth.
III. Chapter 3
Then their wives had being, and their women were made. God himself made them carefully.
And so, during sleep, they came, truly beautiful, their women, at the side of Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam.
There were their women when they awakened, and instantly their hearts were filled with joy because of their wives.
Here are the names of their wives: Cahá-Paluna was the name of the wife of Balam-Quitzé; Chomihá was the wife of Balam-Acab; Tzununihá, the wife of Mahucutah; and Caquixahá was the name of the wife of Iqui-Balam. These are the names of their wives, who were distinguished women.
They conceived the men, of the small tribes and of the large tribes, and were the origin of us; the people of Quiché.
There were many priests and sacrificers; there were not only four, but those four were the Forefathers of us, the people of the Quiché.
The names of each one were different when they multiplied there in the East, and there were many names of the people: Tepeu, Olomán, Cohah, Quenech, Ahau, as they called those men there in the East, where they multiplied.
The beginning is known, too, of those of Tamub and those of Ilocab who came together from there in the East.
Balam-Quitzé was the grandfather and the father of the nine great houses of the Cavec; BalamAcab was the grandfather and father of the nine great houses of the Nimhaib; Mahucutah, the grandfather and father of the four great houses of Ahau-Quiché.
Three groups of families existed; but they did not forget the name of their grandfather and father, those who propagated and multiplied there in the East.
The Tamub and Ilocab also came, and thirteen branches of peoples, the thirteen of Tecpán, and those of Rabinal, the Cakchiquel, those from Tziquinahá, and the Zacahá and the Lamaq, Cumatz, Tuhalhá, Uchabahá, those of Chumilahá, those of Quibahá, of Batenabá, Acul-Vinac, Balamihá, the Canchahel, and Balam-Colob.
These are only the principal tribes, the branches of the people which we mention; only of the principal ones shall we speak. Many others came from each group of the people, but we shall not write their names. They also multiplied there in the East.
Many men were made and in the darkness they multiplied. Neither the sun nor the light had yet been made when they multiplied. All lived together, they existed in great number and walked there in the East.
Nevertheless, they did not sustain nor maintain [their God]; they only raised their faces to the sky, and they did not know why they had come so far as they did.
There they were then, in great number, the black men and the white men, men of many classes, men of many tongues, that it was wonderful to hear them.
There are generations in the world, there are country people, whose faces we do not see, who have no homes, they only wander through the small and large woodlands, like crazy people. So it is said scornfully of the people of the wood. So they said there, where they saw the rising of the sun.
The speech of all was the same. They did not invoke wood nor stone, and they remembered the word of the Creator and the Maker, the Heart of Heaven, the Heart of Earth.
in this manner they spoke, while they thought about the coming of the dawn. And they raised their prayers, those worshipers of the word [of God], loving, obedient. and fearful, raising their faces to the sky when they asked for daughters and sons:
“Oh you, Tzacol, Bitol! Look at us, hear us! Do not leave us, do not abandon us, oh, God, who are in heaven and on earth, Heart of Heaven, Heart of Earth! Give us our descendants, our succession, as long as the sun shall move and there shall be light. Let it dawn; let the day come! Give us many good roads, flat roads! May the people have peace, much peace, and may they be happy; and give us good life and useful existence! Oh, you Huracán, Chipi-Caculhá, RaxáCaculhá, Chipi-Nanauac, Raxá-Nanauac, Voc, Hunahpú, Tepeu, Gucumatz, Alom, Qaholom, Xpiyacoc, Xmucané, grandmother of the sun, grandmother of the light, let there be dawn, and let the light come!”
Thus they spoke while they saw and invoked the coming of the sun, the arrival of day; and at the same time they saw the rising of the sun, they contemplated the Morning Star, the Great Star, which comes ahead of the sun, that lights up the arch of the sky and the surface of the earth, and illuminates the steps of the men who had been created and made.
III. Chapter 4
Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam said, “Let us await the break of day.” So said those great wise men, the enlightened men, the priests and sacrificers. This they said.
Our first mothers and fathers did not yet have wood nor stones to keep; but their hearts were tired of waiting for the sun. Already all the tribes and the Yaqui people, the priests and sacrificers, were very many.
“Let us go, let us go to search and see if our [tribal] symbols are in safety; if we can find what we must burn before them. For being as we are, there is no one who watches for us,” said BalamQuitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam.
And having heard of a city, they went there.
Now then, the name of the place where Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam and those of Tamub and Ilocab went was Tulán-Zuivá, Vucub-Pec, Vucub-Ziván. This was the name of the city where they went to receive their gods.
So, then, all arrived at Tulán. It was impossible to count the men who arrived; there were very many and they walked in an orderly way.
Then was the appearance of their gods; first those of Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam, who were filled with joy: “At last we have found that for which we searched!” they said.
And the first that appeared was Tohil, as this god was called, and Balam-Quitzé put him on his back, in his chest. Instantly the god called Avilix appeared, and Balam-Acab carried him. The god called Hacavitz was carried by Mahucutah; and Iqui-Balam carried the one called Nicahtacah.
And together with the people of the Quiché, they also received those of Tamub. And in the same way Tohil was the name of the god of the Tamub who received the grandfather and father of the Lords of Tamub, whom we know today.
In the third place were those of Ilocab. Tohil was also the name of the god who was received by the grandfathers and the fathers of the lords, whom we also know today.
In this way, the three Quiché [families] were given their names and they did not separate, because they had a god of the same name, Tohil of the Quiché, Tohil of the Tamub and [Tohil] of the Ilocab; one only was the name of the god, and therefore the three Quiché [families] did not separate.
Great indeed was the virtue of the three, Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz.
Then all the people arrived, those from Rabinal, the Cakchiquel, those from Tziquinahá, and the people who now are called the Yaqui. And there it was that the speech of the tribes changed; their tongues became different. They could no longer understand each other clearly after arriving at Tulán. There also they separated, there were some who had to go to the East, but many came here.
And their clothing was only the skins of animals; they had no good clothes to put on, the skins of animals were their only dress. They were poor, they possessed nothing, but they had the nature of extraordinary men.
When they arrived at Tulán-Zuivá, Vucub-Pec, Vucub-Zivan, the old traditions say that they had traveled far in order to arrive there.
III. Chapter 5
And they did not have fire. Only the people of Tohil had it. He was the god of the tribes which first created fire. It is not known how it was made, because it was already burning when BalamQuitzé and Balam-Acab saw it.
“Ah, we have no fire yet! We shall die of cold,” they said. Then Tohil said to them: “Do not worry! Yours shall be the lost fire which is talked of. Yours shall be what is spoken of as lost fire,” Tohil said to them.
“Really? Oh, God, our support, our maintenance, you, our God!” they said, returning thanks.
And Tohil answered: “Very well, certainly I am your God; so shall it be! I am your Lord; so let it be!” Thus it was told to the priests and sacrificers by Tohil. And in this manner the tribes received fire and they were joyful because of it.
Instantly a great shower began to fall when the fire of the tribes was burning. Much hail fell on all the tribes and the fire was put out because of it, and again the fire was extinguished.
Then Balam-Quitzé and Balam-Acab again asked Tohil for fire. “Oh, Tohil, we are truly dying of cold!” they said to Tohil.
“Very well, do not worry,” Tohil answered, and instantly he made fire, turning about in his shoe.
Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam were at once happy and immediately they became warm.
Now, the fire of the peoples [of Vucamag] had also gone out and they were dying of cold. immediately they came to ask Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam for fire. They could no longer bear the cold nor the ice; they were shivering and their teeth were chattering; they were numb; their legs and hands shook and they could not hold anything in them, when they came.
“We are not ashamed to come before you, to beg for a little of your fire,” they said. But they were not well received. And then the tribes were very sad.
“The speech of Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam is different! Oh! We have given up our speech! What have we done? We are lost. How were we deceived? We had only one speech when we arrived there at Tulán; we were created and educated in the same way. It is not good what we have done,” said all the tribes under the trees, under the vines.
Then a man came before Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam and [this man], who was a messenger of Xibalba, spoke thus: “This is, in truth, your God; this is your support; this is, furthermore, the representation, the memory of your Creator and Maker. Do not give your fire to the tribes until they present offerings to Tohil. It is not necessary that they give anything to you. Ask Tohil what they should give when they come to receive fire,” said the man from Xibalba. He had wings like the wings of a bat. “I am sent by your Creator, your Maker,” said the man of Xibalba.
They were filled with joy then, and Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz were also gladdened when the man from Xibalba spoke, who disappeared instantly from their presence.
But the tribes did not perish when they came, although they were dying of cold. There was much hail, black rain and mist, and indescribable cold.
All the tribes were trembling and shivering with cold when they came where Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam were. Their hearts were greatly troubled and their mouths and eyes were sad.
In a moment the beggars came before Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam and said: “Will you not have pity on us, we only ask a little of your fire? Perchance, were we not [once] together and reunited? Did we not have the same home and one country when we were created, when we were made? Have mercy, then, on us!” they said.
“What will you give us so that we shall have mercy on you?” they were asked.
“Well, then, we shall give you money,” the tribes answered.
“We do not want money,” said Balam-Quitzé and Balam-Acab.
“And what do you want?” [asked the tribes].
“We shall ask now” [said Balam-Quitzé].
“Very well, “said the tribes.
“We shall ask Tohil and then we shall tell you,” they answered.
“What must the tribes give, oh, Tohil! who have come to ask for your fire?” said Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam.
“Well! Are they willing to give their waist and their armpits? Do they want me to embrace them? For if they do not want to do that, neither shall I give them fire,” answered Tohil.
“Tell them that this shall come later, that they do not have to come now to give me their waist and their armpits. This is what Tohil orders us to tell you, you will say.” This was the answer to Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam.
Then they took Tohil’s message. “Very well, we shall join you and we shall embrace him,” they
[the people] said when they heard and were told the message from Tohil. And they did not delay in acting. “Good,” they said, “but may it be soon!” And immediately they received the fire. Then they became warm.
III. Chapter 6
There was nevertheless a tribe who stole the fire in the smoke; and they were from the house of Zotzil. The god of the Cakchiquel was called Chamalcán and he had the form of a bat.
When they passed through the smoke, they went softly and then they seized the fire. The Cakchiquel did not ask for the fire, because they did not want to give themselves up to be overcome, the way that the other tribes had been overcome when they offered their breasts and their armpits so that they would be opened. And this was the opening [of the breasts] about which Tohil had spoken; that they should sacrifice all the tribes before him, that they should tear out their hearts from their breasts.
And this had not yet begun when the taking of power and sovereignty by Balam-Quitzé, Balam.-
Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam was prophesied by Tohil.
There in Tulán-Zuivá, whence they had come, they were accustomed to fast, they observed a perpetual fast while they awaited the coming of dawn and watched for the rising sun.
They took turns at watching the Great Star called Icoquih, which rises first before the sun, when the sun rises, the brilliant Icoquih, which was always before them in the East, when they were there in the place called Tulán-Zuivá, whence came their god.
It was not here, then, where they received their power and sovereignty, but there they subdued and subjected the large and small tribes when they sacrificed them before Tohil, and offered him the blood, the substance, breasts, and sides of all the men.
In Tulán power came instantly to them; great was their wisdom in the darkness and in the night.
Then they came, they pulled up stakes there and left the East. “This is not our home; let us go and see where we should settle,” Tohil said then.
In truth, he was accustomed to talk to Balam-Quitzé, Balam-Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui-Balam: “Give thanks before setting out; do what is necessary to bleed your ears, prick your elbows, and make your sacrifices, this shall be your thanks to God.”
“Very well, “they said, and took blood from their ears. And they wept in their chants because of their departure from Tulán; their hearts mourned when they left Tulán.
“Pity us! We shall not see the dawn here, when the sun rises and lights the face of the earth,” they said at leaving. But they left some people on the road which they followed so that they would keep watch.
Each of the tribes kept getting up to see the star which was the herald of the sun. This sign of the dawn they carried in their hearts when they came from the East, and with the same hope they left there, from that great distance, according to what their songs now say.
How did we get this date?
The attested date for the myth named 'Popol Vuh (Pupul Wuj) ' is derived from the oldest artifact we have: Vault Ayer MS 1515 / Popol Vuh. The creation date for this artifact is a range because the exact date is unknown. We derived this from the source(s) listed below:
Notes (see bottom of page for full bibliography)
How did we get this date?
We're not quite sure about the creation date for this myth.