The K’iche’ Maya creation story preserved in the sixteenth-century manuscript Popol Vuh describes the origin of the world and its people in a setting long assumed to be the Guatemalan central highlands. Now a scholar with a deep knowledge of Maya history shows that all of these mythological events occurred at specific locations and that this landscape was the template for the Maya worldview.
Examining the primary Maya deities, Karen Bassie-Sweet links geographic features to gods and beliefs. She reconstructs key elements of the Popol Vuh to argue that the three volcanoes around Lake Atitlan were the three thunderbolt gods and that the lake was the center of the world. She also shows that the Maya view of the creation of humans is centered on corn and examines core beliefs about the corn cycle to propose that the creation myth was established much earlier in Maya history than previously supposed. Generously illustrated, Maya Sacred Geography and the Creator Deities is a detailed ethnohistorical analysis of Maya religion, cosmology, and ritual practice that convincingly links mythology to the land. A comprehensive treatment of Maya religion, it provides an essential resource for scholars and will fascinate any reader captivated by these ancient beliefs.