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"THESE then are the first words, the first speech. There is not yet one person, one animal, bird, fish, crab, tree, rock, hollow, canyon, meadow, or forest. All alone the sky exists. The face of the earth has not yet appeared. Alone lies the expanse of the sea, along with the womb of all the sky in the darkness, in the night.

"All alone are the Framer and the Shaper, Sovereign and Quetzal Serpent, They Who Have Borne Children and They Who Have Begotten Sons. Luminous they are in the water, wrapped in quetzal feathers and cotinga feathers....

"Then came forth the mountains from the water. Straightaway the great mountains came to be. It was merely their spirit essence, their miraculous power, which brought about the creation of the mountains and the valleys" (Ximénez 1701, folios 1v-2r, translation from K'iche' by author).

Popol Vuh Manuscript, fol. 1v. (Courtesy of the Newberry Library, Ayers Collection.)