Popol Vuh

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Empiezan las historias (titlepage) .jpg
Empiezan las historias (preamble) .jpg
Empiezan las historias (Popol vuh) .jpg

Title page and bilingual first page (Quiché and Spanish) of the oldest surviving copy of Popol Vuh (ms c.1701 by Francisco Ximénez )

Popol Vuh ("Book of Council"), in modern Quiché spelling Poopol Wuuj , is the holy book of the Quiché - Maya in Guatemala . It deals with both mythological and historical aspects of this people.


The Popol Vuh probably has its origin in ancient traditions that were spread throughout the Mayan cultural area and were written down in Mayan script . The Spaniards forbade the use of Maya script and destroyed the manuscripts as " devil's stuff ". However, some Mayan priests managed to make copies of ancient Mayan books, using Latin script . One of these copies - possibly enriched with Christian elements such as the virgin birth , resurrection, etc. - fell into the hands of the Spanish Dominican priest Francisco Ximénez in the Guatemalan city ​​of Chichicastenango around 1702 . Instead of properly destroying them, he made another copy and a translation into Spanish .

This text remained in the possession of the Dominicans after Ximénez 'death until they were expelled from Guatemala by General Francisco Morazán in 1829/30 , and then came to the library of the Universidad de San Carlos in Guatemala City , where it was written by Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg in 1854 and Carl Scherzer was found. A few years later they published a French and a Spanish translation, which were followed by translations in other languages.

The Ximénez manuscript contains some linguistic errors which, according to some experts, can be traced back to the exact transliteration of a previous text in Mayan script, which in turn could serve as evidence that the original text was already much older (pre-colonial). However, some parts of the text were definitely added during the Spanish colonial period, e.g. B. the names of the Spanish governors of Guatemala as successors to the earlier Quiché rulers.

The preserved original manuscript by Ximénez is in the Newberry Library in Chicago .


The book begins with the creation myth of Maya , to the stories of the twin heroes Maya Hero Twins connect the widespread mythical figures of the Maya are. This is followed by a detailed description of the founding and further history of the Quiché Empire, whose royal family is traced back to divine origins.


  • Part 1
    • The gods create the world.
    • The gods create the first imperfect, callous humans.
    • The gods send a flood of resin to the first humans and turn them into monkeys.
    • The twins Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué destroy the haughty Vucub-Caquix as well as Zipacná and Cabracán.
  • Part 2
    • The fortune tellers Ixpiyacoc and Ixmucané father brothers.
    • HunHunahpú and Xbaquiyaló transform their jealous brothers HunBatz and HunChouen into monkeys.
    • The evil lords of the underworld ( Xibalbá ) kill the brothers HunHunahpú and VucubHunahpú.
    • HunHunahpu and Xquic make up the hero brothers Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué.
    • The hero brothers defeat the Xibalba houses of gloom, knives, cold, jaguars, fire, bats.
  • part 3
    • The first four real people are created: Jaguar Quiché, Jaguar Night, Jaguar Nothing, and Jaguar Wind.
    • Tribes grow up that speak the same language and move to TulanZuiva.
    • The language confusion of the tribes leads to their dispersion.
    • Tohil is recognized as a god and requires human sacrifice. Later it has to be hidden.
  • Part 4
    • Tohil acts on the earth lords through priests. His reign destroyed the Quiché.
    • Priests try to kidnap the tribes for sacrifices, which they oppose.
    • The Quiché found Q'umarkaj , where Gucumatz (the Lord Feathered Serpent, see also Quetzalcoatl ) brought them to power.
    • Gucumatz introduces extensive rituals.
    • Genealogies of the Tribes.

Text excerpts

The first lines are as follows (according to Sam Colop's output ):

Are uxe 'ojer tzij
  waral K'iche 'ub'i'.
  xchiqatz'ib'aj wi
  xchiqatikib'a 'wi ojer tzij,
uxe'nab'al puch rnojel xb'an pa
  tinamit K'iche '
  ramaq 'K'iche' winaq.
"This is the beginning [root] of the old story [word]
  here in the place called Quiché.
  will we write
  we will fix the old word
the origin
the beginning of all that has been done in the
  Quiché Nation
  in the land of the Quiché people. "

The beginning of the creation myth is as follows:

Are utzijoxik wa'e
k'a katz'ininoq,
k'a kachamamoq,
k'a kasilanik,
k'a kalolinik,
  katolona puch upa kaj.
“This is the report of how
everything was in tension
everything quiet
  in silence;
everything motionless,
everything shaking
  and the vastness of the sky was empty. "


  • Wolfgang Cordan (ed.): Popol Vuh: the book of the council, myth and history of the Maya. Diederichs, Munich, 1995, ISBN 3-424-00578-9 .
  • Noah E. Pohorilles (translator): Popol Vuh: The sacred writing of the Maya. Traveldiary Verlag , Hamburg, 2004, ISBN 3-937274-12-X .
  • Leonhard Schultze-Jena: Popol Vuh: the holy book of the Quiché Indians of Guatemala. Jena, 1944.
  • Francisco Ximénez: Primera parte de el tesoro de las lengvas kakchiqvel, qviche y qutuhil. Newberry Library, Chicago (ca.1701) (Quiché and Spanish).
  • Dennis Tedlock: Popol Vuh: The Definitive Edition of the Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life and the Glories of Gods and Kings. Touchstone Books (1996) (English translation). ISBN 0-684-81845-0 .
  • Sam Colop: Popol Wuj - Versión Poética K'iche '. PEMBI / GTZ / Cholsamaj, Guatemala (1999) (in Quiché ).
  • Jens Rohark: Poopol Wuuj: The Holy Book of the Council of the K'icheé-Maya of Guatemala. docupoint Verlag Magdeburg (2007) (comparison of Quiché-Maya and German with comments). ISBN 3-939665-32-0 .


  • Popol Vuh was a German Krautrock formation that existed from 1970 to 2001.
  • Edgar Varèse : Ecuatorial , for large orchestra and bass, setting of a prayer from Popol Vuh


  • The Popol Vuh plays in the radio play episode Die Drei ??? - Message from the ghost hand (episode 95) plays a central role. In the radio play, however, some facts are mixed up, e.g. B. the Spanish priest is Bernadino de Valencia.
  • Popol Vuh - The Book of the Origin of the Maya is a sound composition by Götz Naleppa . It contains the original text of the creation myth (in German and Maya) mixed with jungle sounds and traditional instruments. There are three versions: Maya-German, Maya-Spanish and Maya-English.

Web links

Commons : Popol Vuh  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Rohark Bartusch, Jens S .: Poopol Wuuj - The Sacred Book of the Council of K'icheé Maya of Guatemala, Barleben, 2010, pp 18 and 23