The Birth of Sun and Moon

Maya Creation Stories

The Maya have fascinating myths about creation; the creation of the universe, the mountain, maize and people made of maize. They at least go back 2000 years. Many Maya scholars – often working far from the Maya world – have uttered their doubts about modern Maya being the keepers of ancient cosmological concepts. If they would work with Maya people they would drop these doubts. It does not come as a surprise: religious concepts belong to the realm of the categories of understanding, the fundament of thought that endures the passing of ages.

Products found inside the first mountain created

People made of corn eating corn tortillas

This time the workshops were about creation stories, and the ones that were still told in their communities. There is an engrossing story of the Sun Hero trying to win the attention of the Moon Goddess, while her father is enviously protecting his daughter. However, the Sun Hero cunningly converts into a hummingbird, this way entering into her bedroom. Next morning they flee from the father’s anger and his deadly thunderbolt. They suffer a lot, almost die, but in the end will become the sun and moon of the new era. There are many local versions, still very much alive, and in our workshops we heard some new ones.

Sun Hero and his disguise, the hummingbird (Artwork Mallary Tiul and Juan Moncada)

In another creation story, the one about the origin of corn and people made of corn, there is a special role for the gourd or tecomate. Again, these concepts go at least 2000 years back as the wonderful painted murals of the ancient Maya site called San Bartolo have shown. We had the people investigate about the origin of these fruits and present their results. They came back with interesting new insights.

Artwork Debra Atenea Díaz Zúñiga, adapted from Heather Hurst (2015). In Valores plástico-formales del arte maya del Preclásico tardío a partir de las configuraciones visuales de San Bartolo, Petén, Guatemala, Sanja Savkic (2016). Courtesy of Sanja Savkic.

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