The Mayans – a Basic Summary on Popol Vuh and Xibalba

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The Mayans – A Basic Summary on Popol Vuh and Xibalba

Information on the Popol Vuh

The Popol Vuh is one of the only remaining texts we have of ancient Mayan cultures. It is, for lack of a better word, their bible. In English its most direct translation is “Book of the Mat” but it can translate into its more meaningful name, “Book of the Community”. It encompasses a variety of stories and legends as well as a history of the mayan ancestors. Its most famous story is the creation myth of the Hero Twins. This myth explains how two abandoned twins ventured into the Mayan underworld called Xibalba and defeated the “bad” Gods and the arrogant Xibalbans people. They then ascended out of Xibalba to the sky where they became the sun and the moon. This book was an important source of cultural heritage to the Mayan people and the religions they practiced. It explains the importance of Maya as a divine place and culture, as well as introduces important figures such as the Maize God. After Bishop Diego de Landa’s eradication on Mayan literature, it is an extremely valuable source of information.

Information on Xibalba

Xibalba is to the Mayans what Hell is for us. It translates to something along the lines of, “the place of fear”. However, it has many important differences. For instance, instead of eternal damnation in one endless fiery pit (aka: Hell) there are seven chambers. Each chamber is a different challenge or nightmare that you have to face. The Mayans believe a person has five souls, one of which ventures into Xibalba. Depending on how evil you have been depends on how deep into Xibalba your soul goes. Again, the deeper you go, the worse it becomes. Xibalba has cultural significance because it develops the idea of key gods, religions and practices such as the Mayan ballgames.
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