Popol Vuh: The Creation of the Mud Person

Popol Vuh: The Creation of the Mud Person

Popol Vuh (Poopol Wuuj) is a corpus of mytho-historical narratives of the Post Classic K’iche’ kingdom in Guatemala’s western highlands. The title translates as “Book of the Community”, “Book of Counsel”, or more literally as “Book of the People”.

Popol Vuh’s prominent features are its creation myth, its diluvian suggestion, its epic tales of the Hero Twins Hunahpú and Xbalanqué, and its genealogies. The myth begins with the exploits of anthropomorphic ancestors and concludes with a regnal genealogy, perhaps as an assertion of rule by divine right.

As with other texts a great deal of Popol Vuh’s significance lies in the scarcity of early accounts dealing with Mesoamerican mythologies. Popol Vuh’s fortuitous survival is attributable to the Spanish 18th century Dominican friar Francisco Ximénez.

What follows is the chapter on the Gods seeking to create Mud people to worship them, having failed with the animal, and the Wood Effigies, a part of the Popol Vuh Sacred Book of the Quiché Maya People Translation and Commentary by Allen J. Christenson. The translation is a wonderful work of sensitivity that adds serenity and grace to the Popol Vuh.
— Orly

THUS there was another attempt to frame and shape man by the Framer and the Shaper, by She Who Has Borne Children and He Who Has Begotten Sons: “Let us try again before the first sowing, before the dawn approaches. Let us make a provider, a sustainer for us. How shall we then be called upon so that we are remembered upon the face of the earth? We have already made a first attempt with what we have framed and what we have shaped. But we were not successful in being worshiped or in being revered by them. Thus, let us try again to make one who will honor us, who will respect us; one who will be a provider and a sustainer,” they said.

Then was the framing, the making of it. Of earth and mud was its flesh composed. But they saw that it was still not good. It merely came undone and crumbled. It merely became sodden and mushy.

It merely fell apart and dissolved. Its head was not set apart properly. Its face could only look in one direction. Its face was hidden. Neither could it look about. At first it spoke, but without knowledge. Straightaway it would merely dissolve in water, for it was not strong. Then said the Framer and the Shaper: “We have made a mistake; thus let this be merely a mistake. It cannot walk, neither can it multiply. Then let it be so. Let it be merely left behind as a thing of no importance,” they said.

Therefore they undid it.

They toppled what they had framed, what they had shaped. Then they said again: “How then will we truly make that which may succeed and bear fruit; that will worship us and that will call upon us?” they asked. Then they thought again: “We shall merely tell Xpiyacoc and Xmucane, Hunahpu Possum and Hunahpu Coyote, ‘Try again a divination, a shaping,’” said the Framer and the Shaper to each other. Then they called upon Xpiyacoc and Xmucane, and in this manner were the seers addressed: “Grandmother of Day, Grandmother of Light!” In this way, they were addressed by the Framer and the Shaper, for these are the names of Xpiyacoc and Xmucane.




For an early attempt at translation of the Popol Vuh, see our Lewis Spence's version.

Iroquois: A Story of Great Head

Navajo:  The Creation

Navajo: The Creation