Popol Vuh: Important quotes with page
1. “This account we shall now write under the law of God and Christianity. We shall bring it forth because there is no longer the means whereby the Popol Vuh may be seen, the means of seeing clearly that had come from across the sea—the account of our obscurity, and the means of seeing life clearly, as it is said. ” (“Preamble,”Page 55) This account in the preamble of the Popol Vuh indicates the arrival of Spanish-Christian missionary presence in Latin America, which has led to destruction of many Quiche texts.
To ensure political and social dominance over the Quiche people, the Spanish eradicated much of Quiche writing and religious practices. As a result, original Quiche texts such as the Popol Vuh were destroyed, leaving only the translation of the book in its Latin script by Father Ximenez as the original template for which future translations would be based. Thus, when the original authors foretell that “there is no longer the means whereby the Popol Vuh may be seen,” they predict the further eradication of Quiche literature and the loss of these texts in their original language.
The Popol Vuh may never truly be seen in entirety, as it has been compromised by the coercive forces of Spanish Christianity.
2. “Then the earth was created by them. Merely their word brought about the creation of it. ” (“The Creation of the Earth,”Page 61) The connection between creation and language is evident from the very beginning of the Popol Vuh. In this excerpt, Heart of Sky joins with Sovereign and Quetzal Serpent to create the earth after other deities have framed and shaped it.
To create the earth, they merely speak the word for it, “Earth,” conjuring a mist. The mist eventually turns into the earth of their collective vision. As language is significant to the creation of the world, words continue to have lasting importance for the cultural and socialgrowth of the Quiche people.
3. “You shall be replaced because you were not successful. You could not speak. We have therefore changed our word. ” (“The Fall of the Animals,”Page 65) Just as language is crucial to the creation of the world, it is also capable of undoing some of the work that the creator deities deem unfit. In the case of the animals, the creator deities are disappointed to find that they are incapable of worshipping them through speech and actions as people can do.
This excerpt explains how the animals initially have dominion over the earth, but the creator deities decide to demote the animals given their inability to acknowledge the gods in the way that they desire. As the gods speak the animals into creation, they merely change their words to undo the level of power that they grant the creatures.
4. “At first it spoke, but without knowledge. ” (“The Creation of the Mud Person,”Page 67) The Framer and the Shaper’s first attempt at creating people is their design of the mud person. The mud person is made of mud and earth, possessing some semblance of human form in general shape only.
While the mud person can speak, their speech is unintelligible, which means that their actions are without knowledge and intent. This is an important facet to note about the process of creating people. While the creator deities value speech that will enable people to verbally express prayer, they also require that the speech come from a place of knowledge. Otherwise, the speech is merely performative and empty.
5. “Nevertheless, they still did not possess their hearts nor their minds. They did notremember their Framer or their Shaper. They walked without purpose. ” (“The Creation of the Effigies of Carved Wood,”Page 72) After the failure of the mud person, the creator deities attempt to make people once more. With immense effort, the gods finally fashion wooden effigies that are capable of intelligent speech.
However, while their speech is more knowledgeable than the mud person that precedes them, they “still did not possess their hearts nor their minds. ” Their speech and actions are without conviction, which means that they truly cannot commit their hearts to genuine worship. This is evident through the ways they live on earth with disregard for the gifts that the gods endow upon them. By forgetting their makers and neglecting their worship of the gods, the wooden effigies demonstrate disrespect that will ultimately lead to their grave punishment.
6. “Thus the framed people, the shaped people, were undone. They were demolished and overthrown as people. The mouths and the faces of all of them were ruined and crushed. ” (“The Fall of the Effigies of Carved Wood,”Page 77) While the wooden effigies are capable of knowledgeable speech, they lack the emotional capacity to truly devote themselves to the creator deities. Their lack of purpose on the earth offends the gods so much that their punishment must be especially brutal.
To emphasize the extremity of their punishment, the original authors of the Popol Vuh describe in detail the crushed mouths and faces of the wooden effigies. As the wooden effigies are a slightly more advanced version of people than the mud person, their offenses present a greater slight, andtherefore demand punishment befitting their crimes. The wooden effigies’ mouths and faces are crushed as they abuse their gifts of knowledge and speech on earth.
7. “May it be done thus, for people cannot be created where only gold and silver are glory. ” (“The Fall of Seven Macaw and His Sons,”Page 82) In the section, “The Fall of Seven Macaw and His Sons,” Seven Macaw appears as a majestic deity whose body is filled with brightly-colored jewels that permit him to light up the sky.
His presentation as a false sun is a slight to the creator deities, who have meticulously framed and shaped the earth. Seven Macaw’s imposition is selfish and prideful as he uses his wealth to flaunt and advance his own glory. In the statement above, Hunahpu and Xbalanque decide to murder Seven Macaw as they believe that the prideful deity’s emphasis on wealth sets a terrible example for the earth’s first people. If people emulate the prideful and materialistic behavior of Seven Macaw, then they will surely abandon their faithfulness to their gods.
8. “They had desired the death of Seven Macaw and they were able to do it. For they saw pride as evil and went to do these things according to the word of Heart of Sky. ” (“The Defeat of Seven Macaw,”Page 88) Hunahpu and Xbalanque demonstrate their loyalty to Heart of Sky, sharing his offensestowards Seven Macaw’s arrogance. In this excerpt, the brothers had just successfully murdered Seven Macaw.
They understand that Seven Macaw’s presentation as a false sun is a prideful action that is most certainly evil according to the values set by Heart of Sky. In the subsequent sections, pride continues to be a grave and punishable sin.
9. “But he did not dig his own tomb there at the bottom of the hole; rather he dug the means for his salvation. ” (“The Deeds of Zipacna and the Four Hundred Boys,”Page 91) In “The Deeds of Zipacna and the Four Hundred Boys,” Zipacna shows off his strength to assist the four hundred boys with a tall tree they intend to use to build a sacred lintel.
Zipacna’s flippancy concerning such important labor alarms the four hundred boys. Zipacna’s casual approach to his strength and ability is reminiscent of Seven Macaw’s prideful actions. As such, the four hundred boys decide that Zipacna must die. The four hundred boys decide to lure Zipacna into a deep hole with plans to crush him with a tree once he’s trapped in the bottom. However, Zipacna cleverly anticipates the four hundred boys’ motives and creates a second hole in the ground that he can crawl into and thereby avoid being crushed.
10. “According to my word, the second son of Seven Macaw must also be defeated. For it is not good what they have done upon the earth. They surpass the sun in greatness and importance, and this is not as it should be. ” (“The Defeat of Cabracan,”Page 97) The second son of Seven Macaw refers to the prideful deity’s youngest son, Cabracan, who has the ability to topple mountains.
While the excerpt alludes to Seven Macaw as the chief offender, it is apparent in the excerpt above that the creator deities take offense to Seven Macaw’s two sons’ unique abilities to shape the earth. Given the creator deities’ meticulous labor in framing and shaping the earth, Seven Macaw, Zipacna, and Cabracan’s powers seem to compete and meddle with the plans they have for the world. As such, the creator deities take great offense to Seven Macaw and his sons’ presence on earth.
11. “Tomorrow we will merely sacrifice them. They only have to make a mistake and straightaway they will die by means of our gaming things that we use to play ball. ” (“The Descent of One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu into Xibalba,”Page 111) One Death and Seven Death and the other lords of the underworld, Xibalba, set out to punish One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu for disrupting them with their ball game.
They produce a series of impossible trials meant to defeat them and guide them towards their deaths. As part of One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu’s final trial, the Xibalban lords will insist on playing ball together using a fixed ball made entirely of blades. The Xibalban lords anticipate that the blade will cut One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu to pieces. Later, when One Hunahpu’s sons, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, go to Xibalba, they will outsmart the Xibalban lords in this same trial by insisting on using One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu’s gaming things instead.
12. “My saliva, my spittle, is merely a sign that I have given to you. This head of mine no longer functions, for it is merely a skull that cannot work. The head of a truly great lord has good flesh upon his face. But when he dies, the people become frightened because of his bones.
In like manner, his son is like his saliva, his spittle. He is his essence. If his son becomes a lord, or a sage, or a master of speech, then nothing will have been lost. He will go on, and once more become complete. The face of the lord will not be extinguished nor will it be ruined. The warrior, the sage, the master of speech will remain in the form of his daughters and his sons. ” (“The Maiden Lady Blood and the Tree of One Hunahpu,”Page 116)
In “The Maiden Lady Blood and the Tree of One Hunahpu,” Lady Blood expresses her desire for One Hunahpu’s skull, which hangs on a tree in Xibalba, indistinguishable from the fruit that grows from the tree. One Hunahpu offers Lady Blood his saliva, impregnating her upon contact. He states that the saliva is an extension of him, his “essence. ” He acknowledges that as a skull, he is not a full being, but his essence will pass on to his progeny. In this way, One Hunahpu lets Lady Blood know that she is carrying his children and that his legacy will live on through them.
13. “‘I have no child, my father,’ she replied. ‘I have not known the face of any man. ’” (“The Ascent of Lady Blood from Xibalba,”Page 119) In the statement above, Lady Blood demonstrates her cleverness when confronted by her father, who demands to know if she has fornicated. Technically, she has never seen the “face of any man” as she has only encountered One Hunahpu’s skull. In addition, she has never sexually copulated with One Hunahpu, which means that she has not actually fornicated with anyone.
14. “In their hearts, they knew everything from the first, even before their younger brothers were created. But nothing ever came of these enchanted abilities because of their envy. The abuses born in their hearts merely fell upon their own backs and nothing came of them. ” (“Hunahpu and Xbalanque in the House of the Grandmother,”Page 128) When Hunahpu and Xbalanque are growing up in Xmucane’s house, they experience great abuse and neglect from members of the family, especially their older half-brothers, One Batz and One Chouen. One Batz and One Chouen are talented in every art form, but because they are consumed with envy towards Hunahpu and Xbalanque, their gifts are cheapened.
In addition to pride, envy is also an unfavorable trait. This passage implies that One Batz and One Chouen’s gifts might flower and achieve greatness if they were not to devote so much energy towards envy of their younger brothers.
15. “But do not grieve. We are your grandsons, and we are here. Just love our mother, O grandmother. ” (“The Fall of One Batz and One Chouen,”Page 135) When Hunahpu and Xbalanque finally take revenge on One Batz and One Chouen for all their abuse, they turn their older brothers into spider monkeys. Xmucane is devastated.
When Hunahpu and Xbalanque try to lure One Batz and One Chouen back into the house, Xmucane’s inability to control her laughter repels them. Hunahpu and Xbalanque comfort Xmucane by reminding her that they are her grandsons as well. They urge her to accept them with love, instead of continuing her abuse and neglect of them.
16. “Someone has begun to play again over our heads. Have they no shame, stomping about up there? Did not One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu die when they desired to puff themselves up before us? ” (“The Summons of Hunahpu and Xbalanque to Xibalba,”Page 143)
When Hunahpu and Xbalanque discover One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu’s game things hidden in the roof of Xmucane’s house, they proceed to replicate their predecessors’ journey to Xibalba by stirring the ire of the Xibalban lords. Just as One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu angered the Xibalban lords with their games above the underworld, Hunahpu and Xbalanque do the same once they start playing with the gaming things left behind. In a sense, the discovery of the gaming things is part of Hunahpu and Xbalanque’s fulfillment of their destinies.
They must discover the gaming things to get the Xibalban lords’ attention. Once in Xibalba, they go through the same trials that One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu endured, but are able to succeed where their predecessors failed.
17. “Surely we must go, our grandmother. But first we will advise you. This is the sign of our word that we will leave behind. Each of us shall first plant an ear of unripe maize in the center of the house. If they dry up, this is a sign of our death. ‘They have died,’ you will say when they dry up. If then they sprout again, ‘They are alive,’ you will say, our grandmother and our mother. This is the sign of our word that is left with you.” (“The Descent of Hunahpu and Xbalanque into Xibalba,”Page 148)
Hunahpu and Xbalanque’s departure to Xibalba is especially devastating for Xmucane, who must witness her grandchildren go through the same trials that her sons suffered once before. However, Hunahpu and Xbalanque are aware of what is to come, and prepare their grandmother for their journey. They enchant maize stalk that will grow from within their house. The flourishing of the maize stalk will indicate that Hunahpu and Xbalanque are alive, whereas the stalk’s drying up will reveal that the two are dead. In this way, Xmucane’s grandchildren will communicate to her their status in the underworld.
18. “Very well then. Surely you will be revived. Are you not death? For we are here to gladden you, O lords, along with your vassals and your servants. ” (“The Defeat of the Lords of Xibalba,”Page 173) The Xibalban lords believe that they have bested Hunahpu and Xbalanque when the two heroes sacrifice themselves in the hot pit. The lords do not realize that Hunahpu and Xbalanque can resurrect themselves. Thus, when the two brothers appear before the Xibalban lords in disguise, they manage to amuse the lords with their powers of resurrection.
In awe, the Xibalban lords request that the two brothers kill them and revive them as they have done to themselves. In the statement above, Hunahpu and Xbalanque tease, “Are you not death? ” to allude to the Xibalban lords’ dominion over death and the underworld. They assure the Xibalban lords that they will surely be resurrected because, after all, the lords are gods of death.
19. “Thus began their devastation, the ruin of their being called upon in worship. Their glory was not great in the past, for they only conflict with the people of ancient times. Surely they were not true gods.” (“The Miraculous Maize of Hunahpu and Xbalanque in Xibalba,”Page 176)
According to the original authors of the Popol Vuh, the defeat of the Xibalban lords by Hunahpu and Xbalanque is justified as the lords “were not true gods. ” In contrast to Heart of Sky and the other creator deities who devote time to generate order in the world, the Xibalban lords revel in chaos. They take pleasure in using excessive torture towards those who commit small crimes, such as One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu. As their values vary so greatly from the creator deities, they are not considered real gods worthy of equal worship.
20. “What now can be done to them so that their vision reaches only nearby, so that only a little of the face of the earth can be seen by them? For it is not good what they say. Is not their existence merely framed, merely shaped? It is a mistake that they have become like gods. ” (“The Displeasure of the Gods,”Page 187) When the creator deities fashion the earth’s first four men, Balam Quitze, Balam Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui Balam, they give the men the gift of sight. As part of this gift, they possess an impressive knowledge of the world and existence.
When the first four men express their gratitude to the gods for this gift, the deities begin to worry that this sight gives the men power that only gods should possess. They believe that it is not good that they possess the same knowledge of gods. It can easily lead to arrogance and disavowal of the gods. Thus, their sight must be blurred slightly so that they can still be capable of devoted worship, but possess more humbling knowledge of the world.
21. “‘Very well then. This is what you will say: ‘Do they not want to give the breast beneath their shoulders and their armpits? Do they not desire in their hearts to embrace me—I, Tohil? If they do not want this, then I will not give to them their fire, says Tohil,’ you will say to them. ” (“The Nations Are Deceived into Offering Themselves,”Page 203)
During the earth’s beginning, the people are cold without the dawn and sunlight. Balam Quitze, Balam Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui Balam request fire from their god, Tohil, to keep warm. Tohil grants them this wish. Meanwhile, the people from the allied nations also suffer from the cold. They come across the first four men and their fire and ask if they can have some of it to warm themselves.
When the first four men ask Tohil what they should do, Tohil advises them to tell the nations to “give the breast beneath their shoulders and their armpits” to receive the fire. Tohil believes that the nations will interpret this offering figuratively to mean that they should devote their hearts to the god. However, he intends for it to be a literal offering of human hearts as he is unhappy that the nations choose to ask other people for fire, rather than seek out Tohil himself for the gift.
22. “We, the three Quiches, will not be lost, for our word is one.” (“The People Gather on the Mountain Chi Pixab,”Page 206) Atop the mountain, Chi Pixab, the three Quiche lineages, the Cavecs, the Nihaibs, and the Ahau, along with the Tamub and the Ilocab, promise to unite as part of the greater Quiche people.
Their collective declaration of “our word is one” is especially important because of how their journey to Tulan Zuyva for the very first time has led to the division of their people. After Tulan Zuyva, the Quiche people branch off and speak different languages, making it very difficult to unite as a people. Thus, their agreement to come together under the promise of unity is a significant step for their collective growth.
23. “Do not mourn. I am. You shall use these against them. Do not fear. ” (“The Nations Are Humiliated,”Page 235) When the Balam Quitze, Balam Acab, Mahucutah, and Iqui Balam war with the other nations, they fear that they will lose due to being outnumbered. However, they are favored by the god, Tohil, who promises them that he will ensure their success in the fight.
He declares with confidence, “I am,” to signal that their belief in him grants them divine protection. Tohil gifts them gourds filled with wasps that the first four men place around their citadel. When the nations arrive and open the gourds, the wasps attack them and send them into submission.
24. “There was an instrument of sight—there was a book. Popol Vuh was their name for it. ” (“The Names of the Gods’ Houses,”Page 270) Among some of the more prominentQuiche lords are Cucumatz, Co Tuha, Quicab, and Cauizimah whose enchantment abilities are owed to their access to the sacred book, the Popol Vuh.
This book gives them insight into the future and permits them to anticipate any upcoming afflictions that will befall their people. Thus, they owe their preparation and successes to the book. The Popol Vuh that the original authors speak of is no different than the one that appears here. While the book has been crucial to the success of many generations of Quiche rulers, the knowledge and content of the PopolVuh is concealed for others over time.
25. “But this is the essence of the Quiches, because there is no longer a way of seeing it. It was with the lords at first, but it is now lost.” (“The Three Great Stewards as Mother of the Word,”Page 286) The authors of the Popol Vuh acknowledge that the book in its full and complete form is lost due to Spanish destruction of Quiche literature.
What appears here is only the “essence of the Quiches. ” Just as the skull of One Hunahpu explains to Lady Blood that he will pass on his essence to his progeny, the Popol Vuh in its current state possesses the essence of Quiche folklore and history. This essence will never match the exact quality and content of its original form, but it bears traces of what it once was.