Popol Vuh


Dennis Tedlock

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Corn Symbol Icon

Prior to the creation of humans, the gods established corn as a symbol of the cyclical nature of life, but in human form, it truly comes to represent life itself. Unlike the gods, who used corn only as a symbol, for humans, corn is very literally what makes them human—Xmucane shaped humans' bodies out of corn, which ties human life to the gods. In a practical sense as well, corn literally keeps the Mayan people alive as one of their most important staple crops. This further reinforces the link between corn and life, as life would be nearly impossible without corn.

Corn Quotes in Popol Vuh

The Popol Vuh quotes below all refer to the symbol of Corn. 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 Three Quotes

And this was when their grandmother burned something, she burned copal before the ears of green corn as a memorial to them. There was happiness in their grandmother's heart the second time the corn plants sprouted. Then the ears were deified by their grandmother, and she gave them names...

Related Characters: Hunahpu, Xbalanque, Xmucane
Related Symbols: Corn
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:
Part Four Quotes

It was staples alone that made up their flesh.

Related Symbols: Corn
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:
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Corn Symbol Timeline in Popol Vuh

The timeline below shows where the symbol Corn appears in Popol Vuh. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part Four
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
...has come for humans. A fox, coyote, parrot, and a crow bring news that there's corn at a place called Split Place, and there, Sovereign Plumed Serpent discovers the staple foods.... (full context)