Popol Vuh

by

Dennis Tedlock

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Sovereign Plumed Serpent Character Analysis

Sovereign Plumed Serpent is one of the most powerful gods in Mayan theology. He's also known as the maker, modeler, bearer, and begetter, and is a part of the group of gods known as Heart of the Lake and Heart of the Sea. Sovereign Plumed Serpent is responsible for creating the world, the first iterations of humans, and finally, working with Xmucane to create the first humans out of corn.

Sovereign Plumed Serpent Quotes in Popol Vuh

The Popol Vuh quotes below are all either spoken by Sovereign Plumed Serpent or refer to Sovereign Plumed Serpent. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Popol Vuh published in 1996.
Part One Quotes

"It must simply be tried again. The time for the planting and dawning is nearing. For this we must make a provider and nurturer. How else can we be invoked and remembered on the face of the earth? We have already made our first try at our work and design, but it turned out that they didn't keep our days, nor did they glorify us.

Related Characters: Sovereign Plumed Serpent (speaker), Hurricane
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

So this is why monkeys look like people: they are a sign of a previous human work, human design—mere manikins, mere woodcarvings.

Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:
Part Four Quotes

It was staples alone that made up their flesh.

Related Symbols: Corn
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:

"What should we do with them now? Their vision should at least reach nearby, they should see at least a small part of the face of the earth, but what they're saying isn't good. Aren't they merely 'works' and 'designs' in their very names? Yet they'll become as great as gods, unless they procreate, proliferate at the sowing, the dawning, unless they increase."

Related Characters: Xmucane (speaker), Sovereign Plumed Serpent (speaker), Hurricane (speaker), Jaguar Quitze, Jaguar Night, Not Right Now, Dark Jaguar
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:

They were blinded as the face of a mirror is breathed upon. Their vision flickered. Now it was only from close up that they could see what was there with any clarity.

And such was the loss of the means of understanding, along with the means of knowing everything, by the four humans.

Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:
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Sovereign Plumed Serpent Character Timeline in Popol Vuh

The timeline below shows where the character Sovereign Plumed Serpent appears in Popol Vuh. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part One
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...place called Quiché. It will be an account of how the world was created by Sovereign Plumed Serpent , Xpiyacoc, and Xmucane. The narrator mentions that they're recording this story "amid the preaching... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
...are no people, no animals, no landforms; there is only the sky and the sea. Sovereign Plumed Serpent is in the water, and the group of gods known as the Heart of the... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...ocean. The gods pull mountains out of the land, and trees grow on the mountains. Sovereign Plumed Serpent addresses Hurricane, Newborn Thunderbolt, and Sudden Thunderbolt, and says that he's pleased with their work.... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Sovereign Plumed Serpent creates animals and distributes them throughout the mountains. When he realizes the animals need guardians,... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
Finally, Sovereign Plumed Serpent , Hurricane, Newborn Thunderbolt, and Sudden Thunderbolt instruct the animals to talk to each other... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
Next, Sovereign Plumed Serpent , Hurricane, Sudden Thunderbolt, and Newborn Thunderbolt decide to try again to make humans, as... (full context)
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
Sovereign Plumed Serpent and Hurricane ask Xmucane and Xpiyacoc if they should mold humans out of wood. Xmucane... (full context)
Part Four
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
Not long before Xbalanque and Hunahpu ascend to the sky, Sovereign Plumed Serpent decides that dawn has come for humans. A fox, coyote, parrot, and a crow bring... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
...very start they understand everything perfectly. Further, they can see the entire world without moving. Sovereign Plumed Serpent encourages the men to walk around, and then the men praise Sovereign Plumed Serpent and... (full context)
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
Next, Sovereign Plumed Serpent and Xmucane create wives for the first men. They make Red Sea Turtle for Jaguar... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...tribes in the mountains, and those tribes are considered crazy. The first humans, however, praise Sovereign Plumed Serpent and fast often. Jaguar Quitze, Jaguar Night, Not Right Now, and Dark Jaguar are great... (full context)