Friday, August 25, 2017

Understanding Tulan and Bountiful – Part II

Continuing form the previous post regarding an indepth understanding of the term “Tulan” and “Bountiful,” as used in Mesoamerica and in the Land of Promise. 
    Like the Popol Vuh, the Título de Totonicapán describes how the ancestors of the K'iche' travelled from a mythical location referred to as Seven Caves, Seven Canyons, or ravines (Siwan, as in Tiqajunamaj k’a ruqasaxik siwan, tinamït is translated as “ravine”), to another place called Tulan Suywa (Chi q’equ’m, chi aq’a;, xepe ul Tulan Suywa’, cha: “Out of blackness, out of night, they came from Tulan Suywa, it is said”) in order to receive their gods. According to the Título the Pa Tulán, Pa Civán (seven caves, seven canyons) was "in the other part of the ocean, where the sun rises," i.e., the East. They were the "descendants of Israel, of the same language and the same customs." 
    When they rose from Pa Tulán, Pa Civán the leader of the three tribes was Balam-Qitzé. The great father Naxit gave them a present called Giron-Gaga—meaning the "Bundle," a symbol of power and majesty, the carefully kept stone which made peoples fear and respect the Quichés (Popul Vuh, p205). When they arrived at the edge of the sea, "Balam-Quizé touched it with his staff and at once a path opened, which closed up again for thus the great God wished it to be done, because they were sons of Abraham and Jakob.”
The paraíso terrenal (Terrestrial Paradise, or the Garden of Eden) named Wuqub’ Pek Wuqub’ Siwan, lists Siwan Tulan, Panparar, Panpaxil and Panc’aeala’, i.e., Split Place and Bitter Water Place where they were told about the center of the earthly paradise and their being formed there by God the great lord, that is, in the Garden of Eden (Robert Carmack and James L. Mondloch 1983: p174) – people (of all seven nations of Tecpan) with great capacities arrived ch’aqa choo ch’aqa palow “across the lake, across the sea” from Tulan Siwan.
(This was their arrival, across the lake, across the sea, from Tulan, from Siwan—but it does not specify where this Tulan or Siwan were located).
    One of the translators of this original Mayan work is James L. Mondloch, an adjunct professor at the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico, and a linguistic anthropologist whose areas of specialization include the K’ichee’ Maya language and culture. He founded the K'iche' Maya Oral History Project, a digitized collection of more than one hundred oral histories gathered in the municipios of Nahualá and Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán in Sololá, Guatemala, during the 1960s and 1970s. He is the author of several books and articles on the subject, including Basic Quiche Grammar (Centro Indígena, 1973) (Central Native), and he has translated and annotated three sixteenth century K’ichee’ documents in collaboration with Carmack. “The K’ichee’ Language of the Popol Wuj: Challenges It Presents to Translators and Students of This Document.” He has co-translated and annotated several sixteenth century K'ichee' documents, including El Título de Totonicapán, El Título Yax, and El Título K'oyoy in collaboration with Robert Carmack of BYU.
Carmack is an ethnohistorian with an area specialization in Mesoamerica, and especially in the K’ichee’ Maya region. Currently Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York at Albany, he is the author of numerous books and articles on the subject, including Quichean Civilization (University of California Press, 1973) and The Quiché Mayas of Ututlán (University of Oklahoma Press, 1982).
    These professionals have given us a rare understanding of the actual wordage, complete with a thorough understanding of metaphoric linguistics of native K’ichee’ that enables us to fully understand what is written in the native documents. As an example, in the Memorial de Sololá, it reads: “It was four where people come from Tulan’ in the east is one Tulan’ another one there in Zinb’alb’ay; another one there in the west, and the one where we come from is in the west; another one there in K’ab’owil. (Memorial de Sololí transcription Irma Otzoy Tekum Umam, University of Caliufornia Davis, 1999, 4, p155).
    It is important to note that the “where they came from,” i.e., those who landed in Tulan (Bountiful), came from the Tulan in the West—not the east, i.e., Bountiful in Arabia. In the West Tulan has been identified as that area of Bountiful that was the landing site of the West Sea—that is, the West Sea of the Land of Promise—and that Tulan or Bountiful was in the Land of Bountiful where Hagoth built and launched his ships.
The Memorial de Sololá differs from the other sources, but mainly from the Popol Vuh, in that it relates that the Kaqchikel progenitors came to Tulan ch’aqa lalow “across the sea” from r(i) uqajib’al q’if  “where the sun descends, the west” (Frauke Sachse, University of Bonn, and Allen J. Christenson, BYU, Tulan and the Other Side of the Sea: Unraveling a Metaphorical Concept from Colonial Guatemalan Highland Sources, Mesoweb Publications; with translation of K’iche’ text by James L. Mondloch).
    So those who landed in the Mesoamerican area (Guatemala), came from the site of Bountiful along the West Sea, or in Hagoth’s ships. In fact, it should be kept in mind that these immigrants who went in Hagoth’s ships with much provisions and supplies to resettle elsewhere headed for “a land which was northward,” and carried with them their scriptures, which, after eleven hundred years (from 421 A.D. to 1540 A.D.) would have changed considerably through the generations, for at one point, their ancestors obtained the book (or some section of it) on a pilgrimage that took them down from the highlands to the shore, and they called it "The Light That Came from Beside the  Sea," because the book told of events that happened before the first true dawn, and of a time when their ancestors hid themselves and the stones that contained the spirit familiars of their gods in forests, they also called it "Our Place in the Shadows." And because it told of the rise of the morning star and the sun and moon and foretold the rise and radiant splendor of the Quiche lords, they called it "The Dawn of Life."
    Such are what myths and legends are made of—one time truths that did not weather time accurately, but as images and ideas, opinions, and falsehoods crept into the jargon that was passed on from one generation to the next.
    In this series that follows, “A Peruvian -Mesoamerican Legend: Leaving Tulan Bountiful for Where?” we will take at an indepth look at what is meant by the Popol Vuh and the Book of Mormon regarding the Land of Promise and where Lehi landed.


  1. Hi Del- you indicate that those that went north in Hagoth's ships carried with them their scriptures. How do we know that? Am I missing it? I see in Alma 63:12 that copies of some scriptures were sent throughout the land but all I see the Nephites took with them on the boat was "much provisions" "also women and children". What am I missing?

  2. You are not missing anything. It is an assumption on my part based on the fact that the Nephites were basically a religious people and religious people would have taken their scriptures (or whatever they had) to immigrate to a new land--sorry if this caused any difficulty.