Popol Vuh ~ Sacred Book of the Quiche' Maya People
This is a well researched, informed translation and commentary of Mayan religious and cultural beliefs.
I happened to have with me a copy of the Popol Vuh manuscript, a book that was compiled in the mid-sixteenth century at a town that still exists less than thirty miles from where we sat. I began to read from the first page of the book:
THIS IS THE ACCOUNT of when all is still silent and placid.
All is silent and calm. Hushed and empty is the womb of the sky.
THESE, then, are the first words, the first speech.
There is not yet one person, one animal, bird, fish, crab, tree, rock, hollow, canyon, meadow, or forest. All alone the sky exists.
The face of the earth has not yet appeared.
Alone lies the expanse of the sea, along with the womb of all the sky.
There is not yet anything gathered together. All is at rest. Nothing stirs.
All is languid, at rest in the sky. There is not yet anything standing erect.
Only the expanse of the water, only the tranquil sea lies alone.
There is not yet anything that might exist. All lies placid and silent in the darkness, in the night. All alone are the Framer and the Shaper, Sovereign and Quetzal Serpent,
They Who Have Borne Children and They Who Have Begotten Sons. Luminous they are in the water, wrapped in quetzal feathers and cotinga feathers. (Popol Vuh, pp. 67-69)
After I had read a page or two from the account of the creation of the earth, I stopped and waited for their reaction.
No one spoke for some time.
Finally, the elderly man with the sick boy asked if he might hold the unbound pages of the manuscript copy for a moment.
He gently took it from my hands and with great care turned its pages.
“These are the words of my ancient fathers?” he asked.
“Do you know what you have done for them?”
I wasn’t quite sure what he meant, so I didn’t answer at first.
“You make them live again by speaking their words.”
This book is in the public domain.