There is no Classical Yucatecan Maya word for "myth." But
around the close of the seventeenth century, an anonymous Maya
scribe penned what he called u kahlay cab tu kinil, "the
world history of the era," before Christianity came to the Peten.
He collected numerous accounts of the cyclical destruction and
reestablishment of the cosmos; the origins of gods, human beings,
and the rituals and activities upon which their relationship
depends; and finally the dawn of the sun and the sacred calendar
Maya diviners still use today to make sense of
humanity's place in the otherwise inscrutable
march of time. These creation myths eventually became part of the
documents known today as the Books of Chilam Balam.
Maya Creation Myths provides not only new and
outstanding translations of these myths but also an interpretive
journey through these often misunderstood texts, providing insight
into Maya cosmology and how Maya intellectuals met the challenge of
the European clergy's attempts to eradicate their
worldviews. Unlike many scholars who focus primarily on traces of
pre-Hispanic culture or Christian influence within the Books of
Chilam Balam, Knowlton emphasizes the diversity of Maya mythic
traditions and the uniquely Maya discursive strategies that emerged
in the Colonial period.
This book will be of significant interest to Maya scholars,
folklorists, and historians, as well as students and scholars of
religion, cosmology, and anthropology.
Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology
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