We invite you once again into the mysterious Mayan world. This time the Maya lessons comes with a story that continues to amaze both visitors and locals. The Popol Vuh is nothing more and nothing less than the sacred book of Mayans or Mayan Bible. This ‘bible is full of anecdotes and narrations of the ancient world. It is probably one of the most treasured and well preserved secrets of Mayan communities in Mexico, if not the world.
Popol Vuh in the Mayan language means – Popol/people, and Vuh/book – The book of the community. The original book was a combination of paintings, words and symbols. In the mid 18th century Brother Francisco Ximénez translated the mayan text into Spanish and created two different versions of the book. The original version can still be viewed The Newberry Library in Chicago.
Stories have it that the book was originally created by a man who used Latin and Mayan symbols as an interpretation of all the details an Mayan elder shared with him. The old man´s origin or name was never revealed by the Popol Vuh author. The book explains different theories about the origin of the world; animals, plants and human creation. It also include different Mayan cities and their connection to Mayan territory like the famous Chichen Itza ruins that represent the culture of this region.
In the Popol Vuh explains in detail the underworld or Xibalbá. This is the place where all the souls end up and spend eternity. Xibalbá representations exist to this day and many Mayan villages recognize actual elements as a proof of the Xibalbá existence.
The Ceiba tree, better known in Mayan communities as Yaxché, the Mayan tree of life is one element of proof that the underworld and other worlds exist. Yaxché represents the three different worlds. The crown of the tree represents the higher world or the sky, the trunk represents the earth and human kind and finally the roots represent the underworld.
The Popol Vul also refers to and explains the Mayan tradition and understanding of the cenotes; deep underground river formations. Cenotes are naturally formed sinkholes and can be found all over the Yucatan Peninsula. Cenotes represent a sacred place for Mayan civilizations. Mayans used to believe that cenotes are the doors to the world of the dead and souls of the dead. To this day many rituals are performed in cenotes to obtain permission from Mayan Gods to enter cenotes.
We love the history of the Maya and have spent many years seeking out authentic experiences that explain and portray Popol Vuh traditions in the Mayan Riviera. The two important historical venues for Mayan culture enthusiasts are Chichen Itza ruins and Xcaret Park. Chichen Itza will give you a clearer idea of Mayan traditions and world creation according to the Mayan culture. Xcaret Park has thoughtfully curated many Mayan traditions through theater, events, and more. Not only has Xcaret created a 4 day annual festival for Day of the Dead but their nightly evening show is a performance of Popol Vuh. This popular theater show offers an amazing re-enactment of the Mayan ball game and a brief story of its origins and meaning. There is more to see at the evening show and we love the costumes, authenticity and just the overall historical perspective this show offers.
Without a doubt the Mayan Riviera is rich in history and cultural traditions that are perfect for anyone living or visiting the area.
If you are interested in visiting the Mayan Ruins, let a local company guide you through Chichen Itza with one of these tours.
If you prefer to experience the Mayan ball game or the live representation of Popol Vuh, we suggest you to visit Xcaret Park of their evening show.