Nawal

Solapas principales

It is notable that Ximénez's Spanish translation preserves the indigenous Mesoamerican term for "life-spirit," nawal; more accurately, at times he keeps it, at times he removes it, and at times he translates it, variously as "rey" (king), "señor" (lord), and "grandeza" (greatness). We have identified these moments in the K'iche' and Spanish columns so that readers can compare Ximénez's choices.

Christenson (2007: note 70, page 62), observes, "Nawal also has no English equivalent. In Quiché theology, all things, both living and inanimate, have a spirit essence which they call nawal. This spirit essence is believed to give them power to act or communicate on a supernatural plane, for example, to transform their usual form into that of a powerful animal or force of nature. Father Coto ascribes this power to the devil, defining the word naual as 'the magical means whereby the devil spoke to the Quichés through their idols. Thus they would say that the life of the tree, the life of the stone, of the hill, is its naual, because they believed there was life in these objects. If a man asks his wife for something to eat or drink when there is nothing in the house, the wife would reply, xa pe ri tin naualih? (Do you expect me to perform miracles?)” (Coto 1983, 328, 369). Although nawal is borrowed from the Nahua language, where it means 'to transform' (Campbell 1983, 84), the Quiché interpretation of the word is derived from the root na', meaning 'to feel' or 'to know.' Thus the creation took place by means of the power of the gods’ spirit essence or divine knowledge rather than by physical action."

(AMB note: waiting on 44r transcription. 2nd to last line in Spanish column. 45r, K'iche' column, line 32, and on Spanish side.