Oct 09 2013
CLAS and the Nashville Public Library present a new marionette show, The Amazing Twins: Ancient Maya Tales from the Popol Wuj this fall. The project, which will have great impact for CLAS’ Outreach and Curriculum Development Program, is the culmination of several years of collaboration between CLAS faculty and staff and the Nashville Public Library. The campus premiere, co-sponsored by the Jean and Alexander Heard Library, took place at Vanderbilt on Thursday, September 26, with a wide audience of campus and community of all ages. The show will be presented at other local community events this fall, and will become a permanent part of the Nashville Public Library’s renowned marionette series, traveling to hundreds of schools throughout the region.
The Popol Wuj is one of the most important indigenous texts of the New World. Written in the Western Highlands of Guatemala around 1550, and translated into Spanish in the eighteenth century by the Friar Francisco Jimenez, it is a collection of myths, legends, and histories written by the K’iche’ Maya, who dominated the Western Highlands at the time of the Spanish conquest.
The puppet show presents a mythological version of the creation of the world as told in the Popol Wuj, following the adventures of twin gods Hunahpú and Xbalanqué in ancient times before the creation of man. The triumphs of these heroes against powerful forces and gods make way for the creation of man from corn. The show introduces the audience to the K’iche’ Mayan language through its partially bilingual soundtrack featuring Vanderbilt K’iche’ Mayan instructors Manuela Tahay and Mareike Sattler.
CLAS staff and faculty and the Nashville Public Library’s Bringing Books to Life program have created curriculum resources for K–12 teachers to be used in conjunction with the marionette show. These resources are available to educators online and through CLAS workshops and other venues such as the MNPS Intercession when teachers and students from Wright Middle School will see and study the puppet show. Cheekwood Museum and Botanical Gardens plans two performances at the annual Día de los Muertos festival on Saturday, November 2.
One of the regional foci of CLAS is the Maya area of southern Mexico and Guatemala. Since 2006, the center has offered study of the K’iche’ language on campus during the academic year and through an intensive summer immersion program in Guatemala. CLAS coordinates a number of other projects in Guatemala in conjunction with the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, the School of Medicine, the School of Engineering, and Vanderbilt’s Institute for Global Health.