Fray Francisco Ximénez und das Popol Vuh. Transkription und Analyse traditioneller Mythen der K’iche’.
Fuentes MesoAmericanas, Vol. 6, 2013, 250pp., 22 ill., 1 CD, cloth, size 21×29.5cm.
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Living in the highlands of Guatemala between the years 1701 and 1703, Ximénez comes across a manuscript that reveals the story of the creation of the K’iche’-Maya, their mythology and even their cosmovisión indígena. As a result of his missionary sending, he instantly seizes the opportunity of now being able to illustrate and prove the practised religious rituals and idolatries of the K’iche’-Maya by copying the manuscript. He duplicates the textual basis, translates it into Spanish and adds this new text complex to his Arte. 15 years later, Ximénez is approached with the order of writing a Historia de la Provincia of his Dominican province. The first part of this chronicle would be the creation of the earth and the myths of the origin of the K’iche’-Maya, the so called Popol Vuh. It is the purpose of this book to focus on the comparison of the two Ximénez manuscripts in order to establish proof of the fact that both texts, the Popol Vuh version of 1703 and the Popol Vuh chapters in the Historia of 1718, no longer represent the original myths of the K’iche’-Maya, but instead include prominent features of hispanic-christian culture.
Looking at the two Guatemalean Popol Vuh texts, we come across the assumption that both texts no longer represent the original creation myths of the K’iche’-Maya. Rather, we are confronted with manipulated versions which have served as Christian doctrine. As a matter of fact, the two texts are testimonials of a deliberate change of the pragmatical focus. In order to prove this, the analysis of the manuscripts is based upon their surrounding while being written, their internal structure and, among others, specific features of grammatical, lexical and syntactical units. Above all, a comparison of the two texts clearly shows that the later text is not as detailed as the manuscript from 1703. This shortness is not only a result of changing the structure from a poem to a narrative piece of art. It is rather the new textual concept that modifies the way of telling the myths and reduces the text in its length. Hereby, two methods of reduction can be revealed: a grammatical change of several parts of the text which then appear less detailed than before, and the cutting out of text passages dedicated to a detailed description of the indigenous mythology. Again, this must be interpreted as a conscious change of the pragmatical orientation of the manuscript: the myths become estranged from their indigenous origin and are transformed into literary testimonials of Christian missionary strategies.
Taking into account the person, who created all of this, we can draw the following conclusion: Fray Francisco Ximénez deals with the foreign culture by means of deliberate affirmation. He confronts the two Popol Vuh texts and manages to reduce the original pragmatic orientation through a discursive conversion to a legitimation of his own position. He succeeds in fulfilling his missionary order and in justifying his own presence in Guatemala. The role of a Dominican missionary friar is turned into a universal authority which is based on the pluralisation of discourse traditions.