6803 - The Spiritual Association of Man and Beast in Mayan Literature

Mayanindigenous literature offers a rich background for understanding the spiritual relationships between man and animals. In such texts as the Popol Vuh, a Highland Guatemalan source compiled in the European alphabet from pre-Columbian hieroglyphic information, deities transform into a variety of fauna in order to illustrate beliefs and laws to their people, outsmart their enemies, and gain power. Other postconquest texts continue to enhance these purposes and delve into the significance of helping others, showing respect for fauna, and protecting species of mammals and birds. Presently, the most common method of accomplishing these goals is through the transformation of both deceased and living souls to animal form, but guardianship also must be considered. The study of this literature includes the emphasis on the dualities loving / evil and ordinary / supernatural as reflected in the nature of both human and animal actors. This presentation focuses on an analysis of contemporary Indian stories from Yucatan that provides an in-depth look at the spiritual association of man and beast and how it benefits their society.

Palavras-chaves: Maya, indigenous literature, Popol Vuh, Yucatan, animals

Autores: Preuss, Mary (Penn State Greater Allegheny, Ud States of Am / USA)


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