General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 22 Sep 2017/11 Vulture
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Article suitable for Top Juniors and above

Children’s story book version of the Maya Popol Vuh story

RESOURCE: The Story of the Creation of Humans out of Maize

In our Maya schools programme the children help us tell/act out a very simplified version of the story, from the Maya sacred book Popol Vuh, of the creation of humans from corn (actually the gods’ third attempt!). By request, we share with you now our version of this, accompanied by beautiful illustrations that Mexicolore has specially commissioned from Luis Garay, illustrator of the superb children’s version of the Popol Vuh (retold by Victor Montejo, Groundwood Books, 1999). Many thanks, Luis!

‘Long long ago, there were two creator gods...’
‘Long long ago, there were two creator gods...’ (Click on image to enlarge)

Long, long ago, there were two creator gods, a God and a Goddess, who got together, in darkness, to talk about the creation of our present world.
The God suddenly asked ‘What materials can we use to create people?’

‘The jaguar, coyote, parrot and crow have already found the answer...’
‘The jaguar, coyote, parrot and crow have already found the answer...’ (Click on image to enlarge)

‘I know!’, answered the Goddess. ‘Our friends, the jaguar, coyote, parrot and crow, have already found the answer: we’ll use CORN!’ This beautiful land where lots of white and yellow corn grew, called Paxil – ‘a mountain split open’, also had lots of fruits and seeds like beans, cacao, wild plums, and honey. ‘Fine,’ said the God, ‘we must press on: there is little time left before the dawn comes...’

‘The humans’ flesh was made of white and yellow corn...’
‘The humans’ flesh was made of white and yellow corn...’ (Click on image to enlarge)

The humans’ flesh was made of white – that’s male – and yellow – that’s female – corn. Their arms and legs were made of corn meal. The gods ground enough corn to make enough gruel to fill NINE gourds, that gave the men muscles, strength, and power.
These first men could speak, hear and see, and had enough feeling in their hands to hold things. They were given intelligence and could see for miles and miles. They could see things both near and far up in the sky. They even managed to see all four corners of the earth... In fact, they could see so much that the Gods thought about it, and said ‘Wait a minute, that’s no good! We’ve given these people so much power that they are just like us!

‘The gods threw a mist over the people’s eyes...’
‘The gods threw a mist over the people’s eyes...’ (Click on image to enlarge)

‘We must cloud their vision so they can no longer see all that we see.’ So they threw a mist over the people’s eyes and their vision blurred, as when one breathes on a mirror. From then on, they could only see what was near to them.

‘When the men finally woke up, they were amazed at the Gods’ creations!’
‘When the men finally woke up, they were amazed at the Gods’ creations!’ (Click on image to enlarge)

Then the Gods decided to make partners for them. While the men slept at night, four women were placed beside them. When the men finally woke up, they were amazed at the Gods’ creations!
Many nations were created and multiplied. There were dark-skinned and pale-skinned people. In the beginning they all shared one language, and all remembered the words of the creators and gave thanks to them.

‘May there be life-giving roads and life-giving sun for ever...’
‘May there be life-giving roads and life-giving sun for ever...’ (Click on image to enlarge)

They gathered together waiting for the dawn. Looking at heaven they said ‘May there be life-giving roads, and life-giving sun for ever. May our people have peace and happiness. Let us live long lives and be useful on earth; let the sunrise and daybreak appear...’

Images all by and © Luis Garay/Mexicolore.

NOTE: There are differences in translation/interpretation between versions of the Popol Vuh. Montejo writes of two Creator Gods (nominally male) whereas others suggest a Father-Mother creator couple. In some versions the jaguar is replaced by a fox, etc. This part of the Popol Vuh comes some 2/3 of the way through the original book.

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Jan 05th 2015

Go to our Maya Links page to explore other resources on the Popol Vuh...

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