by Chela Orozco
The Popol Vuh or “Council Book” gathers part of the wisdom and traditions of the Mayan culture established primarily in the Quiche region of Guatemala. It is a conjunction of religion, mythology, history, astrology, customs and legends that describes the origin of the world, civilization and the various phenomena that occur in nature.
To the Quiche, the Popol Vuh is like the Bible for Christians in that its teachings marked their behavior and customs. The meaning of the terms that make up the name are: “Popol“, the Mayan word for reunion; community; common house or meeting, and the word “Vuh“, meaning book; paper, or the tree from whose bark they made paper. Thus, this book can be understood to mean the “Book of the Community”.
Still much is unknown about the Maya and, contrary to what was believed for some time, this culture reached an amazing level of development.
The Maya’s social and political organization was established and ordered by laws and codes; they were impressively knowledgeable in the areas of astronomy, mathematics, medicine, herbal medicine and agriculture.
They had an extremely accurate calendar divided into three accounts: the sacred or “Tzolkin“, the civil or “Haab“, and the “long count”.