Two native cultures, although separated by almost 3,000 miles, have many similarities in their creation myths. Although there is no known connection between these two cultures prior to the creation of these myths, the similarity has to be acknowledged. These similarities and the differences are further discussed below and beg the question, how were the myths created and why?
Tiahuanaco Creation Myth
The Tiahuanaco creation myth begins with Lord Con Ticci Viracocha emerging from the void and creating the earth and the heavens. He then created animals and a race of giants to fill the earth. These creatures quickly angered the god and he caused a massive flood that killed everyone. Once he was sure his original creations were dead, he took his time and began creating anew. He created animals first and separated them into different types and different areas and then he began creating man. He molded them out of stone and painted them, even including the style of clothes they would wear. He separated them as well and placed them in different regions (Rosenberg, 2011).
Mayan Creation Myth
The Mayan creation myth begins with only the sky and the sea. Nothing else existed except the sky, the sea and the creators. The creators then spoke the world into being much like the Christian creation myth, however in the Mayan myth the creators lived under the sea and there were more than one god. The creators started with the earth, and after they created it they deemed it perfect. Then they created animals, which they also deemed perfect. However, they wanted someone to praise them and the animals could not speak, so they decided to create a new being that would rule over the animals and would praise the creators. They tried three different times before they were successful.
The second human creation, made from wood, began to multiply, but they were not good enough so the creators destroyed them. They had animals devour them and then caused an unending rain that flooded the land. The third try was almost too good in that they were too close to gods themselves, so the creators fogged their brains to keep them subservient. An interesting fact in this myth is that the creators did not create a sun until the humans asked for there to be light in the darkness. This makes you wonder how these animals and humans survived in total darkness (Leonard and McClure, 2004).
Comparing elements in the myths
There are elements in both of these myths that are similar to others worldwide. The use of the flood is one thing that links many myths and is present in both of these myths. I think that the fact that the great flood has been scientifically proven that covered many parts of the world links these myths to some form of actual spoken history that was relayed for many years. Also, neither of these myths includes an underworld or over-world that belonged only to the creator/s. In the Tiahuanaco myth the creator is male which probably relates to the patriarchal society that was prevalent when the myth was created. In the Mayan myth the creators are not gender specific and there are multiple creators (Rosenberg, 2011). The Mayan creation begins with an already existing sky and sea, which is not found in the Tiahuanaco myth, as Lord Con Ticci Viracocha came forth from the void (Leonard and McClure, 2004).
One surprising element was the fact that Lord Con Ticci Viracocha walks off onto the sea never to be seen again (Leonard and McClure, 2004). This myth makes it appear that the creator created everything and once satisfied left the world on its own. I think that is very unusual for a creation myth, as most have the creator watching and overseeing the creations to insure they are following the guidelines that were set. The omnipotent god feature in most myths, I think, is present to remind people that there are expectations for everyone to follow certain moral guidelines and that someone will judge them regarding their actions.
That is why I was surprised to read that the creator was sailing away, never to be seen again in this myth. I wondered if there are other myths in this culture that talk about an overseer god that is always watching and I found many gods that the Incans believed in after Lord Con Ticci Viracocha left them (Inca Gods, 2009). Some of the myths say that Lord Con Ticci Viracocha’s sons and daughter became the gods of the rain, the sky, the moon, and the sea. It would be these gods that would continue to watch over the humans to insure their morality and integrity (Inca Gods, 2009).
Importance of the creation myths
The creation myths are present in every culture around the world. These two are examples of Ex Nihilo myths that present a creator or creators that have always been present and speak the world into existence (Leonard and McClure, 2004). This is one of many different myth styles that are used to explain our existence on the earth. Ultimately, the creation myths are created to try to help man understand his own existence in the world. The human questions of why are we here, how did we get here, and who created us are universal. Even today, with all of the scientific knowledge that has been accumulated over many generations, these questions still loom over us and are debated by many different religions. These myths, whether based in any fact or completely fictitious, were designed to help our ancestors try to answer these questions. I believe the fact that many of them are similar in many respects is a monument to the needs that they were trying to fulfill when they were written.
Leonard, S., & McClure, M. (2004). Myth and knowing: An introduction to world mythology.
New York, NY: McGraw Hill Company.
Rosenburg, D. (2011). World mythology: An anthology of great myths and epics. New York,
NY: McGraw Hill Company.
Inca Gods : The Gods of Incan Mythology. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.machupicchu-inca.com/inca-gods.html