Saturday, May 24, 2014

Carpe Diem #476, Popol-Vuh (Mayan Mythology, Creation story)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We are leaving Down Under and are sailing to the East were we will arrive at the Middle- and South American continent. here we will discover the ancient stories, myths, legends and saga of e.g. the Mayan culture. Our first prompt of this part of May is Popol-Vuh.
Every ancient culture has its own Creation-story as we saw e.g. in the Aboriginal culture last days and at the start of this month in Europe. In this part of the world, were we are the coming days, there are also Creation stories and we start with the Creation story of the Mayan culture.

Credits: Mayan Culture
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period (c. 2000 BC to AD 250), according to the Mesoamerican chronology, many Maya cities reached their highest state of development during the Classic period (c. AD 250 to 900), and continued throughout the Post-Classic period until the arrival of the Spanish.
The Maya civilization shares many features with other Mesoamerican civilizations due to the high degree of interaction and cultural diffusion that characterized the region. Advances such as writing, epigraphy, and the calendar did not originate with the Maya; however, their civilization fully developed them. Maya influence can be detected in Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, and western El Salvador to as far away as central Mexico, more than 1,000 km (620 mi) from the central Maya area. The many outside influences found in Maya art and architecture are thought to have resulted from trade and cultural exchange rather than direct external conquest.
The Maya peoples survived the Classic period collapse and the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores and sixteenth-century Spanish colonization of the Americas. Today, the Maya and their descendants form sizable populations throughout the Maya area; they maintain a distinctive set of traditions and beliefs resulting from the merger of pre-Columbian and post-Conquest ideas and cultures. Millions of people speak Mayan languages today.
Credits: Popol-Vuh (1)

The Popol-Vuh is a manuscript in which the Creation and other Mayan Mythology stories are described. This episode of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai is about the Creation according to the Popol Vuh.

Creation myth (described in the chapters 1 to 3 of the Popol-Vuh)

There are four deities, three in a celestial realm collectively called Tepeu and Heart of Heaven and another on the terrestrial plane called Gucumatz.

"This is the first account, the first narrative. There was neither man, nor animal, birds, fishes, crabs, trees, stones, caves, ravines, grasses, nor forests; there was only the sky. The surface of the earth had not appeared. There was only the calm sea and the great expanse of the sky. There was nothing brought together, nothing which could make a noise, nor anything which might move, or tremble, or could make noise in the sky. There was nothing standing; only the calm water, the placid sea, alone and tranquil. Nothing existed. There was only immobility and silence in the darkness, in the night. Only the creator, the Maker, Tepeu, Gucumatz, the Forefathers, were in the water surrounded with light. [...] Then Tepeu and Gucumatz came together; then they conferred about life and light, what they would do so that there would be light and dawn, who it would be who would provide food and sustenance. Thus let it be done! Let the emptiness be filled! Let the water recede and make a void, let the earth appear and become solid; let it be done. Thus they spoke. Let there be light, let there be dawn in the sky and on the earth! There shall be neither glory nor grandeur in our creation and formation until the human being is made, man is formed. [...] First the earth was formed, the mountains and the valleys; the currents of water were divided, the rivulets were running freely between the hills, and the water was separated when the high mountains appeared. Thus was the earth created, when it was formed by the Heart of Heaven, the Heart of Earth, as they are called who first made it fruitful, when the sky was in suspense, and the earth was submerged in the water." 

Credits: Popol-Vuh (2)

Together, gods attempted to create living beings so that they may be praised and venerated by their creation. Their first attempts (animals, mud man, and wooden man) proved unsuccessful because they lacked speech, souls, and intellect.

"This the Forefathers did, Tepeu and Gucumatz, as they were called. After that they began to talk about the creation and the making of our first mother and father; of yellow corn and of white corn they made their flesh; of cornmeal dough they made the arms and the legs of man. Only dough of corn meal went into the flesh of our first fathers, the four men, who were created. [...] And as they had the appearance of men, they were men; they talked, conversed, saw and heard, walked, grasped things; they were good and handsome men, and their figure was the figure of a man."

Women were created later while the first four men slept. (Source: Wikipedia)

Credits: Popol Vuh (3)
What a wonderful story ... in a way similar with our Western thoughts about Creation, but in a way also very different. I liked this story and the Popol Vuh is for sure worth reading completely.

gods of the sun
creating a world to rule over -
sunflowers reach for the sky

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... I hope that you are inspired by this post and that it will help you to compose haiku ... Have fun! This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 29th at noon. I will try to post our new episode, hunting, later on today.


  1. Gods are mysterious, I wonder why men were created separate from men, while the men slept - that tickled me. In some traditions Woman comes from Man - in other traditions woman is created first. Thanks for another fine post.

  2. Excellent tale!

    Mine is up at:

  3. I enjoyed this post... had trouble with my laptop for a long time, then in the shop for two weeks...
    this is what I wrote for this post...
    corn meal dough formed
    good and handsome men ~ four men slept
    all natural mates

  4. copy of the post had this as for 5/29 your time to post/which is still tomorrow here.
    I must be confused about the date and time..sorry... will try to get with the program on time and dates... I schedule the posts for CD for MN the night before...I'm not a morning person!