The Mayans are well-known for their elaborate religious rituals and blood is very vital in any sacred events. Religion has a key part in Mayan existence and these people are convinced that blood sacrifice can appease their gods, sometimes going as far as removing the heart of a human to be sacrificed to the deities. This kind of ceremony is excruciatingly painful that resulted, more often than not, to the death of the sacrifice. But the twins are not terrified with this reality. They know that this is one Mayan belief that they have to do for the goodness of humanity.
Despite the cleverness and tricks they used against the Xibalbas, the underworld creatures still outnumber them. The twins decide that only self-sacrifice can defeat their adversaries. The Xibalbas invite the heroes to play with them in a game of jumping over the huge bonfire four times. Although they know it is a trick, Hunahpu and Xbalanque still jump not over but directly into the mouth of the fire and they burn to ashes. That is their first sacrifice. They make the Xibalbas believe that they perished.
In accordance with the Mayan concept that the soul of every human being will be reincarnated as an animal that was associated with the person’s birthday, the ashes of the twins become fish which, later on, turns into the human forms of the twins. In disguise, they perform many magical tricks that amaze the Xibalbas’s gods. The twins perform their second sacrifice. By Xibalbas’ request, Xbalanque cut and kill Hunahpu, then brings him back to life at once. The twins do this to impress the Xibalbas that leads to the eventual defeat of the underworld creatures and, more importantly, gives peace to the life of the humans above.
The Mayans believe in dualism of everything: female and male, night and day, sun and moon, humans and animals, humanity and divinity, nature and spirit, life and death, good and evil. The twins symbolize the two domains of the earth: the world of humans and the underworld. The world of humans is signified as the good and the underworld symbolizes evil. The dark forces of evil from the underworld, like the barbarians, the wicked and the sinners, lurk at night because their color was concealed by darkness, as if indirectly saying that evildoers cannot exist at daytime; thus day and night also symbolize good and evil.
The heroes can easily wipe out all the remaining Xibalbas, but they do not do this to determine the origin of malevolence among humans and, in this case, the Xibalbas. Besides, they allow the underworld to exist because it is a fitting place to punish evildoers, thus maintaining the balance of the natural world. Hunahpu and Xbalanque are also depicted as maize (corn) gods. Their descension into the underworld and their ascension to the sky are likened to the planting of the kernels of the corn in the ground that sprout.
It is known that maize is the Mayan staple food. This symbolizes the hero twins as life givers and sustainers of the Mayans. In both stories, the gods are depicted as childish and hungry of flattery from the mortals; in some instances they are becoming funny. They act impulsively when offended because they are not bound by any moral and ethical principles. Humans have to suffer their immature and whimsical mood swings. They don’t even care about the plight of the humans.
The Xibalba gods (Hero Twins) wreck havoc on the humans while the gods in Gilgamesh send a great flood that wipe out all living things on earth, except Parnapishtim, his family and some animals in the boat. The difference is that the gods in Gilgamesh lament at and regret the destruction they create, while the Xibalbas did not even wince at their malevolence. On the other hand, the two myths have some similarities when it comes to animals. The animals can interact directly with the humans and some of them possess human traits. The louse, for example, is sent to give a message to the twins.
Likewise, Gilgamesh’s companion, Enkidu, drinks and eat with his animal friends and the allalu-bird, the lion, and the horse are cited to have sexual intercourse with Ishtar (or Inanna), the goddess of sexual love. The difference is the humans in the Hero Twins can have the animals at their command while this hardly happens in Gilgamesh. Works Cited: • Bentley, Jerry and Ziegler, Herbert (2008). Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past (4th edition). McGraw-Hill Higher Education • Popol Vuh. Retrieved March 25, 2009 from http://www. meta-religion. com/World_Religions/Ancient_religions/Central_america/popol_vuh. htm
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