Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. A list of changes is found at the end of the text. Inconsistency in spelling and hyphenation has been maintained. A list of inconsistently spelled and hyphenated words is found at the end of the text. The use of accents on foreign words and the capitalization of titles in foreign languages is not consistent. This text maintains the original usage. Use of italics on titles of cited words is not consistent. This text maintains the original usage. Oe ligatures have been expanded.
The following codes are used for characters that cannot be represented in the character set used for this version of the book:
 Dagger  Double dagger [C] Capital open O ŏ Lower-case o with breve ē Lower-case e with macron
THE MAYAS, THE SOURCES OF THEIR HISTORY.
DR. LE PLONGEON IN YUCATAN, HIS ACCOUNT OF DISCOVERIES.
BY STEPHEN SALISBURY, JR.
FROM PROCEEDINGS OF THE AMERICAN ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY, OF APRIL 26, 1876, AND APRIL 25, 1877.
WORCESTER: PRESS OF CHARLES HAMILTON. 1877.
[Inscribed to Mip Sargent,]
WITH THE RESPECTS OF THE WRITER.
THE MAYAS AND THE SOURCES OF THEIR HISTORY, Page 3
DR. LE PLONGEON IN YUCATAN, " 53
MAP OF YUCATAN, FRONTISPIECE.
LOCALITY OF DISCOVERIES AT CHICHEN-ITZA, Page 58
STATUE EXHUMED AT CHICHEN-ITZA, " 62
RELICS FOUND WITH THE STATUE, " 74
AND THE SOURCES OF THEIR HISTORY.
[Proceedings of American Antiquarian Society, April 26, 1876.]
The most comprehensive and accurate map of Yucatan is that which has been copied for this pamphlet. In the several volumes of travel, descriptive of Maya ruins, are to be found plans more or less complete, intended to illustrate special journeys, but they are only partial in their treatment of this interesting country. The Plano de Yucatan, herewith presented—the work of Sr. Dn. Santiago Nigra de San Martin—was published in 1848, and has now become extremely rare. It is valuable to the student, for it designates localities abounding in ruins—those not yet critically explored, as well as those which have been more thoroughly investigated—by a peculiar mark, thus [rectangular box], and it also shows roads and paths used in transportation and communication. Since its publication political changes have caused the division of the Peninsula into the States of Yucatan and Campeachy, which change of boundaries has called for the preparation of a new and improved map. Such an one is now being engraved at Paris and will soon be issued in this country. It is the joint production of Sr. Dn. Joaquin Hubbe and Sr. Dn. Andres Aznar Perez, revised by Dr. C. Hermann Berendt.
The early history of the central portions of the western hemisphere has particularly attracted the attention of European archaeologists, and those of France have already formed learned societies engaged specifically in scientific and antiquarian investigations in Spanish America. It is to the French that credit for the initiative in this most interesting field of inquiry is especially due, presenting an example which can not fail to be productive of good results in animating the enthusiasm of all engaged in similar studies.
The Societe Americaine de France (an association, like our own, having the study of American Antiquities as a principal object, and likely to become prominent in this field of inquiry), has already been briefly mentioned by our Librarian; but the reception of the Annuaire for 1873, and a statement of the present condition of the Society in the Journal des Orientalistes of February 5, 1876, gives occasion for a more extended notice. The Society was founded in 1857; and among those most active in its creation were M. Brasseur de Bourbourg, M. Leon de Rosny, and M. Alfred Maury. The objects of the association, as officially set forth, were, first, the publication of the works and collections of M. Aubin, the learned founder of a theory of American Archaeology, which it was hoped would throw much light upon the hieroglyphical history of Mexico before the conquest;[4-*] second, the publication of grammars and dictionaries of the native languages of America; third, the foundation of professorships of History, Archaeology, and American Languages; and fourth, the creation, outside of Paris, of four Museums like the Museum of Saint Germain, under the auspices of such municipalities as encourage their foundation, as follows:
A.—Musee mexicaine. B.—Musee peruvienne et de l'Amerique du Sud. C.—Musee ethnographique de l'Amerique du Nord. D.—Musee des Antilles.
The list of members contains the names of distinguished archaeologists in Europe, and a foreign membership already numerous; and it is contemplated to add to this list persons interested in kindred studies from all parts of the civilized world. The publications of the Society, and those made under its auspices, comprehend, among others, Essai sur le dechiffrement de l'Ecriture hieratique de l'Amerique Centrale, by M. Leon de Rosny, President of the Society, 1 vol. in folio, with numerous plates: This work treats critically the much controverted question of the signification of Maya characters, and furnishes a key for their interpretation.[5-*] Also, Chronologie hieroglyphico phonetique des Rois Azteques de 1352 a 1522, retrouvee dans diverses mappes americaines antiques, expliquee et precedee d'une introduction sur l'Ecriture mexicaine, by M. Edouard Madier de Montjau. The archaeology of the two Americas, and the ethnography of their native tribes, their languages, manuscripts, ruins, tombs and monuments, fall within the scope of the Society, which it is their aim to make the school and common centre of all students of American pre-Columbian history. M. Emile Burnouf, an eminent archaeologist, is the Secretary. The Archives for 1875 contain an article on the philology of the Mexican languages, by M. Aubin; an account of a recent voyage to the regions the least known of Mexico and Arizona, by M. Ch. Schoebel; the last written communication of M. de Waldeck, the senior among travellers; an article by M. Brasseur de Bourbourg, upon the language of the Wabi of Tehuantepec; and an essay by M. de Montjau, entitled Sur quelques manuscripts figuratifs mexicains, in which the translation of one of these manuscripts, by M. Ramirez of Mexico, is examined critically, and a different version is offered. The author arrives at the startling conclusion, that we have thus far taken for veritable Mexican manuscripts, many which were written by the Spaniards, or by their order, and which do not express the sentiments of the Indians. Members of this Society, also, took an active part in the deliberations of the Congres international des Americanistes, which was held at Nancy in 1875.
It was a maxim of the late Emperor Napoleon III., that France could go to war for an idea. The Spanish as discoverers were actuated by the love of gold, and the desire of extending the knowledge and influence of christianity, prominently by promoting the temporal and spiritual power of the mother church. In their minds the cross and the flag of Spain were inseparably connected. The French, however, claim to be ready to explore, investigate and study, for science and the discovery of truth alone. In addition to the Commission Scientifique du Mexique of 1862, which was undertaken under the auspices of the French government, and which failed to accomplish all that was hoped, the Emperor Maximilian I. of Mexico projected a scientific exploration of the ruins of Yucatan during his brief reign, while he was sustained by the assistance of the French. The tragic death of this monarch prevented the execution of his plans; but his character, and his efforts for the improvement of Mexico, earned for this accomplished but unfortunate prince the gratitude and respect of students of antiquity, and even of Mexicans who were politically opposed to him.[7-*]
The attention of scholars and students of American Antiquities is particularly turned to Central America, because in that country ruins of a former civilization, and phonetic and figurative inscriptions, still exist and await an interpretation. In Central America are to be found a great variety of ruins of a higher order of architecture than any existing in America north of the Equator. Humboldt speaks of these remains in the following language: "The architectural remains found in the peninsula of Yucatan testify more than those of Palenque to an astonishing degree of civilization. They are situated between Valladolid Merida and Campeachy."[7-[+]] Prescott says of this region, "If the remains on the Mexican soil are so scanty, they multiply as we descend the southeastern slope of the Cordilleras, traverse the rich valleys of Oaxaca, and penetrate the forests of Chiapas and Yucatan. In the midst of these lonely regions, we meet with the ruins recently discovered of several eastern cities—Mitla, Palenque, and Itzalana or Uxmal,—which argue a higher civilization than anything yet found on the American Continent."[8-*]
The earliest account in detail—as far as we know—of Mayan ruins, situated in the States of Chiapas and Yucatan, is presented in the narrative of Captain Antonio del Rio, in 1787, entitled Description of an ancient city near Palenque. His investigation was undertaken by order of the authorities of Guatemala, and the publication in Europe of its results was made in 1822. In the course of his account he says, "a Franciscan, Thomas de Soza, of Merida, happening to be at Palenque, June 21, 1787, states that twenty leagues from the city of Merida, southward, between Muna, Ticul and Noxcacab, are the remains of some stone edifices. One of them, very large, has withstood the ravages of time, and still exists in good preservation. The natives give it the name of Oxmutal. It stands on an eminence twenty yards in height, and measures two hundred yards on each facade. The apartments, the exterior corridor, the pillars with figures in medio relievo, decorated with serpents and lizards, and formed with stucco, besides which are statues of men with palms in their hands, in the act of beating drums and dancing, resemble in every respect those observable at Palenque."[8-[+]] After speaking of the existence of many other ruins in Yucatan, he says he does not consider a description necessary, because the identity of the ancient inhabitants of Yucatan and Palenque is proved, in his opinion, by the strange resemblance of their customs, buildings, and acquaintance with the arts, whereof such vestiges are discernible in those monuments which the current of time has not yet swept away.
The ruins of Yucatan, those of the state of Chiapas and of the Island of Cozumel, are very splendid remains, and they are all of them situated in a region where the Maya language is still spoken, substantially as at the time of the Spanish discovery.[9-*]
Don Manuel Orosco y Berra, says of the Indian inhabitants, "their revengeful and tenacious character makes of the Mayas an exceptional people. In the other parts of Mexico the conquerors have imposed their language upon the conquered, and obliged them gradually to forget their native language. In Yucatan, on the contrary, they have preserved their language with such tenacity, that they have succeeded to a certain point in making their conquerors accept it. Pretending to be ignorant of the Spanish, although they comprehend it, they never speak but in the Maya language, obeying only orders made in that language, so that it is really the dominant language of the peninsula, with the only exception of a part of the district of Campeachy."[9-[+]]
In Cogolludo's Historia de Yucatan, the similarity of ruins throughout this territory is thus alluded to: "The incontestable analogy which exists between the edifices of Palenque and the ruins of Yucatan places the latter under the same origin, although the visible progress of art which is apparent assigns different epochs for their construction."[10-*] So we have numerous authorities for the opinion, that the ruins in Chiapas and Yucatan were built by the same or by a kindred people, though at different periods of time, and that the language which prevails among the Indian population of that region at the present day, is the same which was used by their ancestors at the time of the conquest.
Captain Dupaix, who visited Yucatan in 1805, wrote a description of the ruins existing there, which was published in 1834; but it was reserved for M. Frederic de Waldeck to call the attention of the European world to the magnificent remains of the Maya country, in his Voyage pittoresque et archaeologique dans la province de Yucatan, pendant des annees 1834-1836, Folio, with plates, Paris, 1838. This learned centenarian became a member of the Antiquarian Society in 1839, and his death was noticed at the last meeting. Following him came the celebrated Eastern traveller, John L. Stephens, whose interesting account of his two visits to that country in 1840 and 1841, entitled Incidents of travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, in two volumes, and Incidents of travel in Yucatan, in two volumes, is too familiar to require particular notice at this point. It may not be uninteresting to record the fact, that Mr. Stephens' voyages and explorations in Yucatan were made after the suggestion and with the advice of Hon. John R. Bartlett, of Providence, R. I., a member of this Society, who obtained for this traveller the copy of Waldeck's work which he used in his journeyings. Desire Charnay, a French traveller, published in 1863 an account entitled Cites et Ruines Americaines, accompanied by a valuable folio Atlas of plates.
The writer of this report passed the winter of 1861 at Merida, the capital of the Province of Yucatan, as the guest of Don David Casares, his classmate, and was received into his father's family with a kindness and an attentive hospitality which only those who know the warmth and sincerity of tropical courtesy can appreciate.[11-*] The father, Don Manuel Casares, was a native of Spain, who had resided in Cuba and in the United States. He was a gentleman of the old school, who, in the first part of his life in Yucatan, had devoted himself to teaching, as principal of a high school in the city of Merida, but was then occupied in the management of a large plantation, upon which he resided most of the year, though his family lived in the city. He was possessed of great energy and much general information, and could speak English with ease and correctness. Being highly respected in the community, he was a man of weight and influence, the more in that he kept aloof from all political cabals, in which respect his conduct was quite exceptional. The Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg, in his Histoire des nations civilizees du Mexique, acknowledges the valuable assistance furnished him by Senor Casares, whom he describes as a learned Yucateco and ancient deputy to Mexico.[12-*]
Perhaps some of the impressions received, during a five months' visit, will be pardoned if introduced in this report. Yucatan is a province of Mexico, very isolated and but little known. It is isolated, from its geographical position, surrounded as it is on three sides by the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean; and it is but little known, because its commerce is insignificant, and its communication with other countries, and even with Mexico, is infrequent. It has few ports. Approach to the coast can only be accomplished in lighters or small boats; while ships are obliged to lie off at anchor, on account of the shallowness of the water covering the banks of sand, which stretch in broad belts around the peninsula. The country is of a limestone formation, and is only slightly elevated above the sea. Its general character is level, but in certain districts there are table lands; and a mountain range runs north-easterly to the town of Maxcanu, and thence extends south-westerly to near the centre of the State. The soil is generally of but little depth, but is exceedingly fertile.
There are no rivers in the northern part of the province, and only the rivers Champoton, and the Uzumacinta with its branches, in the south-western portion; but there are several small lakes in the centre of Yucatan, and a large number of artificial ponds in the central and southern districts. The scarcity of water is the one great natural difficulty to be surmounted in most parts of the country; but a supply can commonly be obtained by digging wells, though often at so great a depth that the cost is formidable. The result is that the number of wells is small, and in the cities of Merida and Campeachy rain water is frequently stored in large cisterns for domestic purposes. From the existence of cenotes or ponds with an inexhaustible supply of water at the bottom of caves, and because water can be reached by digging and blasting, though with great effort and expense, the theory prevails in Yucatan that their territory lies above a great underground lake, which offers a source of supply in those sections where lakes, rivers and springs, are entirely unknown.
A very healthful tropical climate prevails, and the year is divided into the wet and the dry season, the former beginning in June and lasting until October, the latter covering the remaining portions of the year. During the dry season of 1861-2, the thermometer ranged from 75 deg. to 78 deg. in December and January, and from 78 deg. to 82 deg. in February, March and April. Early in the dry season vegetation is luxuriant, the crops are ripening, and the country is covered with verdure; but as the season progresses the continued drouth, which is almost uninterrupted, produces the same effect upon the external aspect of the fields and woods as a northern winter. Most of the trees lose their leaves, the herbage dries up, and the roads become covered with a thick dust. During exceptionally dry seasons thousands of cattle perish from the entire lack of subsistence, first having exhausted the herbage and then the leaves and shrubbery.
The population of the peninsula is now about 502,731, four-fifths of which are Indians and Mestizos or half-breeds. The general business of the country is agricultural, and the territory is divided into landed estates or farms, called haciendas, which are devoted to the breeding of cattle, and to raising jenniken or Sisal hemp, and corn. Cotton and sugar are also products, but not to an extent to admit of exportation. Some of the plantations are very large, covering an area of six or seven miles square, and employing hundreds of Indians as laborers.
Farm houses upon the larger estates are built of stone and lime, covered with cement, and generally occupy a central position, with private roads diverging from them. These houses, which are often very imposing and palatial, are intended only for the residence of the owners of the estate and their major-domos or superintendents. The huts for the Indian laborers are in close proximity to the residence of the proprietor, upon the roads which lead to it, and are generally constructed in an oval form with upright poles, held together by withes of bark; and they are covered inside and out with a coating of clay. The roofs are pointed, and also made with poles, and thatched with straw. They have no chimneys, and the smoke finds its way out from various openings purposely left. The huts have no flooring, are larger than the common wigwams of the northern Indians, and ordinarily contain but a single room. The cattle yards of the estate, called corrals, immediately join the residence of the proprietor, and are supplied with water by artificial pumping. All the horses and cattle are branded, and roam at will over the estates, (which are not fenced, except for the protection of special crops), and resort daily to the yards to obtain water. This keeps the herds together. The Indian laborers are also obliged to rely entirely upon the common well of the estate for their supply of water.
The Indians of Yucatan are subject to a system of peonage, differing but little from slavery. The proprietor of an estate gives each family a hut, and a small portion of land to cultivate for its own use, and the right to draw water from the common well, and in return requires the labor of the male Indians one day in each week under superintendence. An account is kept with each Indian, in which all extra labor is credited, and he is charged for supplies furnished. Thus the Indian becomes indebted to his employer, and is held upon the estate by that bond. While perfectly free to leave his master if he can pay this debt, he rarely succeeds in obtaining a release. No right of corporal punishment is allowed by law, but whipping is practiced upon most of the estates.
The highways throughout the country are numerous, but generally are rough, and there is but little regular communication between the various towns. From the cities of Merida and Campeachy, public conveyances leave at stated times for some of the more important towns; but travellers to other points are obliged to depend on private transportation. A railroad from Merida to the port of Progreso, a distance of sixteen miles, was in process of being built, but the writer is not aware of its completion.
The peninsula is now divided into the States of Yucatan, with a population of 282,634, with Merida for a capital, and Campeachy, with a population of 80,366, which has the city of Campeachy as its capital. The government is similar to our state governments, but is liable to be controlled by military interference. The States are dependent upon the central government at Mexico, and send deputies to represent them in the congress of the Republic. In the south-western part of the country there is a district very little known, which is inhabited by Indians who have escaped from the control of the whites and are called Sublevados. These revolted Indians, whose number is estimated at 139,731, carry on a barbarous war, and make an annual invasion into the frontier towns, killing the whites and such Indians as will not join their fortunes. With this exception, the safety of life and property is amply protected, and seems to be secured, not so much by the severity of the laws, as by the peaceful character of the inhabitants of all races. The trade of the country, except local traffic, is carried on by water. Regular steam communication occurs monthly between New York and Progreso, the port of Merida, via Havana, and occasionally barques freighted with corn, hides, hemp and other products of the country, and also carrying a small number of passengers, leave its ports for Havana, Vera Cruz and the United States. Freight and passengers along the coast are transported in flat bottomed canoes. Occasional consignments of freight and merchandise arrive by ship from France, Spain and other distant ports.
The cities of Merida and Campeachy are much like Havana in general appearance. The former has a population of 23,500, is the residence of the Governor, and contains the public buildings of the State, the cathedral—an imposing edifice,—the Bishop's palace, an ecclesiastical college, fifteen churches, a hospital, jail and theatre. The streets are wide and are laid out at right angles. The houses, which are generally of one story, are large, and built of stone laid in mortar or cement; and they are constructed in the Moorish style, with interior court yards surrounded with corridors, upon which the various apartments open. The windows are destitute of glass, but have strong wooden shutters; and those upon the public streets often project like bow windows, and are protected by heavy iron gratings. The inhabitants are exceedingly hospitable, and there is much cultivated society in both Merida and Campeachy. As the business of the country is chiefly agricultural, many of the residents in the cities own haciendas in the country, where they entertain large parties of friends at the celebration of a religious festival on their plantations, or in the immediate neighborhood. The people are much given to amusements, and the serious duties of life are often obliged to yield to the enjoyments of the hour. The Catholic religion prevails exclusively, and has a very strong hold upon the population, both white and Indian, and the religious services of the church are performed with great ceremony, business of all kinds being suspended during their observance.
The aboriginal ruins, to which so much attention has been directed, are scattered in groups through the whole peninsula. Merida is built upon the location of the ancient town Tihoo, and the materials of the Indian town were used in its construction. Sculptured stones, which formed the ornamental finish of Indian buildings, are to be seen in the walls of the modern houses.[18-*] An artificial hill, called "El Castillo," was formerly the site of an Indian temple, and is curious as the only mound remaining of all those existing at the time of the foundation of the Spanish city. This mound is almost the only trace of Indian workmanship, in that immediate locality, which has not been removed or utilized in later constructions.[18-[+]] It appears that a large part of the building material throughout the province was taken from aboriginal edifices, and the great number of stone churches of considerable size, which have been built in all the small towns in that country, is proof of the abundance of this material.
The ruins of Uxmal, said to be the most numerous and imposing of any in the province, were visited by the writer in company with a party of sixteen gentlemen from Merida, of whom two only had seen them before. The expedition was arranged out of courtesy to the visitor, and was performed on horseback. The direct distance was not more than sixty miles in a southerly direction, but the excursion was so managed as to occupy more than a week, during which time the hospitality of the haciendas along the route was depended upon for shelter and entertainment. Some of the plantations visited were of great extent, and among others, that called Guayalke was especially noticeable for its size, and also for the beauty and elegance of the farm house of the estate, which was constructed entirely of stone, and was truly palatial in its proportions. This building is fully described by Mr. Stephens.[19-*] The works of this writer form an excellent hand-book for the traveller. His descriptions are truthful, and the drawings by Mr. Catherwood are accurate, and convey a correct idea of the general appearance of ruins, and of points of interest which were visited; and the personal narrative offers a great variety of information, which could only be gathered by a traveller of much experience in the study of antiquities. Such at least is the opinion of the people of that country. His works are there quoted as high authority respecting localities which he visited and described; and modern Mexican philologists and antiquaries refer to Stephens' works and illustrations with confidence in his representations, and with respect and deference for his opinions and inferences.[19-[+]]
At various points along the route, portions of ruined edifices were seen but not explored. The ruins of Uxmal are distant about a mile from the hacienda buildings, and extend as far as the eye can reach. They belong to Don Simon Peon, a gentleman who, though he does not reside there, has so much regard for their preservation that he will not allow the ruins to be removed or interfered with for the improvement of the estate, in which respect he is an exception to many of the planters. Here it may be remarked, that the inhabitants generally show little interest in the antiquities of their country, and no public effort is made to preserve them. The ruins which yet remain undisturbed have escaped destruction, in most instances, only because their materials have not been required in constructing modern buildings. Much of the country is thinly inhabited, and parts of it are heavily wooded. It is there that the remains of a prior civilization have best escaped the hand of man, more to be dreaded than the ravages of time.
The stone edifices of Uxmal are numerous, and are generally placed upon artificial elevations; they are not crowded together, but are scattered about singly and in groups over a large extent of territory. The most conspicuous is an artificial pyramidal mound, upon the top of which is a stone building two stories in height, supposed to have been used as a sacrificial temple. One side of this mound is perpendicular; the opposite side is approached by a flight of stone steps. The building on the top, and the steps by which the ascent is made are in good preservation. Some of the large buildings are of magnificent proportions, and are much decorated with bas reliefs of human figures and faces in stone, and with other stone ornaments. The writer does not recollect seeing any stucco ornamentation at this place, though such material is used elsewhere. What are popularly called "House of the Governor" and "House of the Nuns," are especially remarkable for their wonderful preservation; so that from a little distance they appear perfect and entire, except at one or two points which look as if struck by artillery. The rooms in the ruins are of various sizes, and many of them could be made habitable with little labor, on removing the rubbish which has found its way into them.
The impression received from an inspection of the ruins of Uxmal was, that they had been used as public buildings, and residences of officers, priests and high dignitaries. Both Stephens and Prescott are of the opinion that some of the ruins in this territory were built and occupied by the direct ancestors of the Indians, who now remain as slaves upon the soil where once they ruled as lords.[21-*] The antiquity of other remains evidently goes back to an earlier epoch, and antedates the arrival of the Spaniards. If the Indians of the time of the conquest occupied huts like those of the Indians of to-day, it is not strange that all vestiges of their dwellings should have disappeared. Mr. Stephens gives an interesting notice of the first formal conveyance of the property of Uxmal, made by the Spanish government in 1673, which was shown him by the present owner, in which the fact that the Indians, then, worshipped idols in some of the existing edifices on that estate, is mentioned. Another legal instrument, in 1688, describes the livery of seizin in the following words, "In virtue of the power and authority by which the same title is given to me by the said governor, and complying with its terms, I took by the hands the said Lorenzo de Evia, and he walked with me all over Uxmal and its buildings, opened and shut some doors that had several rooms (connected), cut within the space several trees, picked up fallen stones and threw them down, drew water from one of the aguadas (artificial ponds) of the said place of Uxmal, and performed other acts of possession."[21-[+]] These facts are interesting as indicating actual or recent occupation; and a careful investigation of documents relating to the various estates, of which the greater part are said to be written in the Maya language, might throw light upon the history of particular localities.
The Maya Indians are shorter and stouter, and have a more delicate exterior than the North American Savages. Their hands and feet are small, and the outlines of their figures are graceful. They are capable of enduring great fatigue, and the privation of food and drink, and bear exposure to the tropical sun for hours with no covering for the head, without being in the least affected. Their bearing evinces entire subjection and abasement, and they shun and distrust the whites. They do not manifest the cheerfulness of the negro slave, but maintain an expression of indifference, and are destitute of all curiosity or ambition. These peculiarities are doubtless the results of the treatment they have received for generations. The half-breeds, or Mestizos, prefer to associate with the whites rather than with the Indians; and as a rule all the domestic service throughout the country is performed by that class. Mestizos often hold the position of major-domos, or superintendents of estates, but Indians of pure blood are seldom employed in any position of trust or confidence. They are punctilious in their observance of the forms and ceremonies of the Catholic religion, and a numerous priesthood is maintained largely by the contributions of this race. The control exercised by the clergy is very powerful, and their assistance is always sought by the whites in cases of controversy. The Indians are indolent and fond of spectacles, and the church offers them an opportunity of celebrating many feast days, of which they do not fail to avail themselves.
When visiting the large estate of Chactun, belonging to Don Jose Dominguez, thirty miles south-west of Merida, at a sugar rancho called Orkintok, the writer saw a large ruin similar to that called the "House of the Nuns" at Uxmal. It was a building of a quadrangular shape, with apartments opening on an interior court in the centre of the quadrangle. The building was in good preservation, and some of the rooms were used as depositories for corn. The visiting party breakfasted in one of the larger apartments. From this hacienda an excursion was made to Maxcanu, to visit an artificial mound, which had a passage into the interior, with an arched stone ceiling and retaining walls.[23-*] This passage was upon a level with the base of the mound, and branched at right angles into other passages for hundreds of feet. Nothing appeared in these passages to indicate their purpose. The labyrinth was visited by the light of candles and torches, and the precaution of using a line of cords was taken to secure a certainty of egress. A thorough exploration was prevented by the obstructions of the debris of the fallen roof. Other artificial mounds encountered elsewhere had depressions upon the top, doubtless caused by the falling in of interior passages or apartments. There is no account of the excavation of Yucatan mounds for historical purposes, though Cogolludo says there were other mounds existing at Merida in 1542, besides "El grande de los Kues," which, certainly, have now disappeared; but no account of their construction has come down to us.[23-[+]] The same author also says, that, with the stone constructions of the Indian city churches and houses were built, besides the convent and church of the Mejorada, and also the church of the Franciscans, and that there was still more material left for others which they desired to build.[24-*] It is then, certainly, a plausible supposition that the great mounds were many of them constructed with passages like that at Orkintok, and that they have furnished from their interiors worked and squared stones, which were used in the construction of the modern city of Merida by the Spanish conquerors.
When the Spanish first invaded Mexico and Yucatan they brought with them a small number of horses, which animals were entirely unknown to the natives, and were made useful not only as cavalry but also in creating a superstitious reverence for the conquerors, since the Indians at first regarded the horse as endowed with divine attributes. Cortez in his expedition from the city of Mexico to Honduras in 1524, passed through the State of Chiapas near the ruins called Palenque,—of which ancient city, however, no mention is made in the accounts of that expedition,—and rested at an Indian town situated upon an island in Lake Peten in Guatemala. This island was then the property of an emigrant tribe of Maya Indians; and Bernal Diaz, the historian of the expedition, says, that "its houses and lofty teocallis glistened in the sun, so that it might be seen for a distance of two leagues." According to Prescott, "Cortez on his departure left among this friendly people one of his horses, which had been disabled by an injury in the foot. The Indians felt a reverence for the animal, as in some way connected with the mysterious power of the white men. When their visitors had gone they offered flowers to the horse, and as it is said, prepared for him many savory messes of poultry, such as they would have administered to their own sick. Under this extraordinary diet the poor animal pined away and died. The affrighted Indians raised his effigy in stone, and placing it upon one of their teocallis, did homage to it as to a deity."[25-*] At the hacienda of Don Manuel Casares called Xuyum, fifteen miles north-east from Merida, a number of cerros, or mounds, and the ruins of several small stone structures built on artificial elevations, were pointed out to the writer; and his attention was called to two sculptured heads of horses which lay upon the ground in the neighborhood of some ruined buildings. They were of the size of life, and represented, cut from solid limestone, the heads and necks of horses with the mane clipped, so that it stood up from the ridge of their necks like the mane of the zebra. The workmanship of the figures was artistic, and the inference made at the time was, that these figures had served as bas reliefs on ruins in that vicinity. On mentioning the fact of the existence of these figures to Dr. Carl Hermann Berendt, who was about to revisit Yucatan, in 1869, he manifested much interest in regard to them, and expressed his intention to visit this plantation when he should be in Merida. But later inquiries have failed to discover any further trace of these figures. Dr. Berendt had never seen any representation of horses upon ruins in Central America, and considered the existence of the sculptures the more noteworthy, from the fact that horses were unknown to the natives till the time of the Spanish discovery. The writer supposes that these figures were sculptured by Indians after the conquest, and that they were used as decorations upon buildings erected at the same time and by the same hands.
At the town of Izamal, and also at Zilam, the writer saw gigantic artificial mounds, with stone steps leading up to a broad level space on the top. There are no remains of structures on these elevations, but it seems probable that the space was once occupied by buildings. At Izamal, which was traditionally the sacred city of the Mayas, a human face in stucco is still attached to the perpendicular side of one of the smaller cerros or mounds. The face is of gigantic size, and can be seen from a long distance. It may have been a representation of Zamna, the founder of Mayan civilization in Yucatan, to whose worship that city was especially dedicated.
From this slight glance at the remains in the Mayan territory we are led to say a few words about their history. In the absence of all authentic accounts, the traditions of the Mayas, and the writings of Spanish chroniclers and ecclesiastics, offer the only material for our object. M. L'Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg, the learned French traveller and Archaeologist, in his Histoire des Nations Civilisees du Mexique et de l'Amerique Centrale durant les siecles anterieurs a Christophe Columb, has given a very voluminous and interesting account of Mayan history prior to the arrival of Europeans. It was collected by a careful study of Spanish and Mayan manuscripts, and will serve at least to open the way for further investigation to those who do not agree with its inferences and conclusions. The well known industry and enthusiasm of this scholar have contributed very largely to encourage the study of American Archaeology in Europe, and his name has been most prominently associated with the later efforts of the French in the scientific study of Mexican antiquities. A brief notice of some of the marked epochs of Mayan history, as he presents them, will not perhaps be out of place in this connection.
Modern investigations, in accord with the most ancient traditions, make Tobasco and the mouths of the Tobasco river, and the Uzumacinta, the first cradle of civilization in Central America. At the epoch of the Spanish invasion, these regions, and the interior provinces which bordered on them, were inhabited by a great number of Indian tribes. There was a time when the major part of the population of that region spoke a common language, and this language was either the Tzendale, spoken to-day by a great number of the Indians in the State of Chiapas, or more likely the Maya, the only language of the peninsula of Yucatan. When the Spaniards first appeared, the native population already occupied the peninsula, and a great part of the interior region of that portion of the continent. Learned Indians have stated, that they heard traditionally from their ancestors, that at first the country was peopled by a race which came from the east, and that their God had delivered them from the pursuit of certain others, in opening to them a way of escape by means of the sea. According to tradition, Votan, a priestly ruler, came to Yucatan many centuries before the Christian era, and established his first residence at Nachan, now popularly called Palenque. The astonishment of the natives at the coming of Votan was as great as the sensation produced later at the appearance of the Spaniards. Among the cities which recognized Votan as founder, Mayapan occupied a foremost rank and became the capital of the Yucatan peninsula; a title which it lost and recovered at various times, and kept until very near to the date of the arrival of the Spaniards. The ruins of Mayapan are situated in the centre of the province, about twenty-four miles from those of Uxmal. Mayapan, Tulha—situated upon a branch of the Tobasco river,—and Palenque, are considered the most ancient cities of Central America.
Zamna however was revered by the Mayas as their greatest lawgiver, and as the most active organizer of their powerful kingdom. He was a ruler of the same race as Votan, and his arrival took place a few years after the building of Palenque. The first enclosure of Mayapan surrounded only the official and sacred buildings, but later this city was much extended, so that it became one of the largest of ancient America. Zamna is said to have reigned many years, and to have introduced arts and sciences which enriched his kingdom. He was buried at Izamal, which became a shrine where multitudes of pilgrims rendered homage to this benefactor of their country. Here was established an oracle, famous throughout that whole region, which was also resorted to for the cure of diseases.
Mayan chronology fixes the year 258 of the Christian era as the date when the Tutul-Xius, a princely family from Tulha, left Guatemala and appeared in Yucatan. They conciliated the good will of the king of Mayapan and rendered themselves vassals of the crown of Maya. The Tutul-Xius founded Mani and also Tihoo, afterwards the modern city of Merida. The divinity most worshipped at Tihoo was Baklum-Chaam, the Priapus of the Mayas, and the great temple erected as a sanctuary to this god was but little inferior to the temple of Izamal. It bore the title "Yahan-Kuna," most beautiful temple. A letter from Father Bienvenida to Philip II., speaks of this city in these terms, "The city is 30 leagues in the interior, and is called Merida, which name it takes on account of the beautiful buildings which it contains, because in the whole extent of country which has been discovered, not one so beautiful has been met with. The buildings are finely constructed of hammered stone, laid without cement, and are 30 feet in height. On the summit of these edifices are four apartments, divided into cells like those of the monks, which are twenty feet long and ten feet wide. The posts of the doors are of a single stone, and the roof is vaulted. The priests have established a convent of St. Francis in the part which has been discovered. It is proper that what has served for the worship of the demon should be transformed into a temple for the service of God."[29-*]
Later in history a prince named Cukulcan arrived from the west and established himself at Chichen-Itza. Owing to quarrels in the Mayan territory, he was asked to take the supreme government of the empire, with Mayapan as the capital city. By his management the government was divided into three absolute sovereignties, which upon occasion might act together and form one. The seven succeeding sovereigns of Mayapan embellished and improved the country, and it was very prosperous. At this time the city of Uxmal, governed by one of the Tutul-Xius, began to rival the city of Mayapan in extent of territory and in the number of its vassals. The towns of Noxcacab, Kabah, Bocal and Nŏhpat were among its dependencies.
The date of the foundation of Uxmal has been fixed at A. D. 864. At this epoch, great avenues paved with stone, were constructed, the most remarkable of which appeared to have been that which extends from the interior to the shores of the sea opposite Cozumel, upon the North-East coast, and the highway which led to Izamal constructed for the convenience of pilgrims. A long peace then reigned between the princes of the several principal cities, which was brought to an end by an alliance formed against the King of Mayapan. The rulers of Chichen and Uxmal dared openly to condemn the conduct of the king of Mayapan, because he had employed hirelings to protect himself against his own people, who were provoked by his tyrannical exactions, and had transferred his residence to Kimpech, upon which town and neighborhood, alone, he bestowed his royal favors. His people were especially outraged by the introduction of slavery, which had been hitherto unknown to them. A change of rulers at Mayapan failed to allay the troubles in the empire, and by a conspiracy of the independent princes, the new tyrant of Mayapan was deposed, and he was defeated in a three days battle at the city of Mayapan. The palace was taken, and the king and his family were brutally murdered. The city was then given to the flames and was left a vast and desolate heap of ruins.
Then one of the Tutul-Xius, prince of Uxmal, on his return, was crowned and received the title of supreme monarch of the Mayas. This king governed the country with great wisdom, extending his protection over the foreign mercenaries of the former tyrant, and offering them an asylum not far from Uxmal, where are now the remains of the towns Pockboc, Sakbache and Lebna. It is believed that the city of Mayapan was then rebuilt, and existed shorn of some of its former greatness, but later it was again the cause of dissension in the kingdom, and was again destroyed. This event is said to have occurred in A. D. 1464. Peace then reigned in Yucatan for more than twenty years, and there was a period of great abundance and prosperity. At the end of this time the country was subjected to a series of disasters. Hurricanes occurred, doing incalculable damage; plagues followed with great destruction of life; and thus began the depopulation of the peninsula. Then the Spaniards arrived, and the existence of Indian power in Yucatan came to an end.
The foregoing is necessarily an abridged, hastily written, and very imperfect sketch of some of the more prominent facts connected with the supposed early history of Mayan civilization, which have been brought together with care, labor, and great elaboration, by the Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg. Much of this history is accepted as correct from the weight of the authorities which support and corroborate it, but the whole subject is still an open one in the opinion of scholars and archaeologists.
The learned Abbe is now no more, but the record of his labors exists in his published works, and in the impulse which he gave to archaeological investigations. We receive the first notice of his death from Mr. Hubert Howe Bancroft, who pays the following eloquent tribute to his memory: "Brasseur de Bourbourg devoted his life to the study of American primitive history. In actual knowledge pertaining to his chosen subjects, no man ever equalled or approached him. Besides being an indefatigable student, he was an elegant writer. In the last decade of his life, he conceived a new and complicated theory respecting the origin of the American people, or rather the origin of Europeans and Asiatics from America, made known to the world in his 'Quatre Lettres.' His attempted translation of the manuscript Troano was made in support of this theory. By reason of the extraordinary nature of the views expressed, and the author's well-known tendency to build magnificent structures on a slight foundation, his later writings were received, for the most part by critics utterly incompetent to understand them, with a sneer, or what seems to have grieved the writer more, in silence. Now that the great Americanist is dead, while it is not likely that his theories will ever be received, his zeal in the cause of antiquarian science, and the many valuable works from his pen will be better appreciated. It will be long ere another shall undertake, with equal devotion and ability, the well nigh hopeless task."[32-*]
Among the historical records relating to the aborigines of Spanish America, there is none more valuable than the manuscript of Diego de Landa—Second Bishop of Yucatan, in 1573,—which was discovered and published by M. de Bourbourg. It contains an account of the manners and customs of the Maya Indians, a description of some of their chief towns; and more important than all besides, it furnishes an alphabet, which is the most probable key that is known to us for reading the hieroglyphics which are found upon many of the Yucatan ruins. The alphabet, though imperfect in itself, may at some future time explain, not only the inscriptions, but also the manuscripts of this ancient period. Although an attempt of its discoverer, to make use of the alphabet for interpreting the characters of the manuscript Troano, has failed to satisfy scholars, its study still engages the attention of other learned archaeologists and antiquaries.
Bishop Landa gives the following description of Mayan manuscripts or books: "They wrote their books on a large, highly decorated leaf, doubled in folds and enclosed between two boards, and they wrote on both sides in columns corresponding to the folds. The paper they made of the roots of a tree, and gave it a white varnish on which one could write well. This art was known by certain men of high rank, and because of their knowledge of it they were much esteemed, but they did not practice the art in public. This people also used certain characters or letters, with which they wrote in their books of their antiquities and their sciences: and by means of these, and of figures, and by certain signs in their figures, they understood their writings, and made them understood, and taught them. We found among them a great number of books of these letters of theirs, and because they contained nothing which had not superstitions and falsities of the devil, we burned them all; at which they were exceedingly sorrowful and troubled."[33-*]
In Cogolludo's Historia de Yucatan, there is an account of a destruction of Indian antiquities by Bishop Landa, called an auto-dae-fē, of which we give a translation: "This Bishop, who has passed for an illustrious saint among the priests of this province, was still an extravagant fanatic, and so hard hearted that he became cruel. One of the heaviest accusations against him, which his apologists could not deny or justify, was the famous auto-dae-fē, in which he proceeded in a most arbitrary and despotic manner. Father Landa destroyed many precious memorials, which to-day might throw a brilliant light over our ancient history, still enveloped in an almost impenetrable chaos until the period of the conquest. Landa saw in books that he could not comprehend, cabalistic signs, and invocations to the devil. From notes in a letter written by the Yucatan Jesuit, Domingo Rodriguez, in 1805, we offer the following enumeration of the articles destroyed and burned.
5000 Idols, of distinct forms and dimensions. 13 Great stones, that had served as altars. 22 Small stones, of various forms. 27 Rolls of signs and hieroglyphics, on deer skins. 197 Vases, of all dimensions and figures.
Other precious curiosities are spoken of, but we have no description of them."[34-*]
Captain Antonio del Rio gives an account of another destruction of Mayan antiquities, at Huegetan: "The Bishop of Chiapas, Don Francisco Nunez de la Vega, in his Diocesan Constitution, printed at Rome in 1702, says, that the treasure consisted of some large earthen vases of one piece, closed with covers of the same material, on which were represented in stone the figures of the ancient pagans whose names are in the calendar, with some chalchihuitls, which are solid hard stones of a green color, and other superstitious figures, together with historical works of Indian origin. These were taken from a cave and given up, when they were publicly burned in the square Huegetan, on our visit to that province in 1691."[35-*]
Prescott also mentions the destruction of manuscripts and other works of art in Mexico: "The first Arch-Bishop of Mexico, Don Juan de Zumarraga, a name that should be as immortal as that of Omar, collected these paintings from every quarter, especially from Tescuco, the most cultivated capital of Anahuac, and the great depository of the national archives. He then caused them to be piled up in a mountain heap, as it was called by the Spanish writers themselves, in the market place of Tlatelolco, and reduced them all to ashes."[35-[+]]
It is not then to be wondered at, that so few original Mayan manuscripts have escaped and are preserved, when such a spirit of destruction animated the Spanish priests at the time of the conquest. Mr. Hubert Howe Bancroft, whom we are happy to recognize as a member of this Society, in a systematic and exhaustive treatment of the history and present condition of the Indians of the Pacific States, has presented a great amount of valuable information, much of which has never before been offered to the public; and in his wide view, he comprehends important observations on Central American antiquities. He gives this account of existing ancient Maya manuscripts or books. "Of the aboriginal Maya manuscripts, three specimens only, so far as I know, have been preserved. These are the Mexican Manuscript No. 2, of the Imperial Library at Paris; the Dresden Codex, and the Manuscript Troano. Of the first, we only know of its existence, and the similarity of its characters to those of the other two, and of the sculptured tablets. The Dresden Codex is preserved in the Royal Library of Dresden. The Manuscript Troano was found about the year 1865, in Madrid, by the Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg. Its name comes from that of its possessor in Madrid, Sr. Tro y Ortolano, and nothing whatever is known of its origin. The original is written on a strip of maguey paper, about fourteen feet long, and nine inches wide, the surface of which is covered with a whitish varnish, on which the figures are painted in black, red, blue and brown. It is folded fan-like into thirty-five folds, presenting when shut much the appearance of a modern large octavo volume; The hieroglyphics cover both sides of the paper, and the writing is consequently divided into seventy pages, each about five by nine inches, having been apparently executed after the paper was folded, so that the folding does not interfere with the written matter."[36-*]
It is probable that early manuscripts, as well as others of less antiquity than the above mentioned, but of great historical importance, yet remain buried among the archives of the many churches and convents of Yucatan; and it is also true that a systematic search for them has never been prosecuted. A thorough examination of ecclesiastical and antiquarian collections in that country, would be a service to the students of archaeology which ought not to be longer deferred.
The discovery of the continent of America was made near this Peninsula, and the accounts of early Spanish voyagers contain meagre but still valuable descriptions of the country, as it appeared at the time it was first visited by Europeans. It may be interesting to call to mind some of the circumstances connected with their voyages, and with the first settlement of Yucatan by the Spaniards, and also to notice briefly some of the difficulties met with in obtaining a foot-hold in the new world.
Columbus on his fourth and last voyage, in 1502, left the Southern coast of Cuba, and sailing in a South-westerly direction reached Guanaja, an island now called Bonacca, one of a group thirty miles distant from Honduras, and the shores of the western continent. From this island he sailed southward as far as Panama, and thence returned to Cuba on his way to Spain, after passing six months on the Northern coasts of Panama. In 1506 two of Columbus' companions, De Solis and Pinzon, were again in the Gulf of Honduras, and examined the coast westward as far as the Gulf of Dulce, still looking for a passage to the Indian Ocean. Hence they sailed northward, and discovered a great part of Yucatan, though that country was not then explored, nor was any landing made.
The first actual exploration was made by Francisco Hernandez de Cordova in 1517, who landed on the Island Las Mugeres. Here he found stone towers, and chapels thatched with straw, in which were arranged in order several idols resembling women—whence the name which the Island received. The Spaniards were astonished to see, for the first time in the new world, stone edifices of architectural beauty, and also to perceive the dress of the natives, who wore shirts and cloaks of white and colored cotton, with head-dresses of feathers, and were ornamented with ear drops and jewels of gold and silver. From this island, Hernandez went to Cape Catoche, which he named from the answer given him by some of the natives, who, when asked what town it was, answered, "Cotohe," that is, a house. A little farther on the Spaniards asked the name of a large town near by. The natives answered "Tectatan," "Tectatan," which means "I do not understand," and the Spaniards thought that this was the name, and have ever since given to the country the corrupted name Yucatan. Hernandez then went to Campeachy, called Kimpech by the natives. He landed, and the chief of the town and himself embraced each other, and he received as presents cloaks, feathers, large shells, and sea crayfish set in gold and silver, together with partridges, turtle doves, goslings, cocks, hares, stags and other animals, which were good to eat, and bread made from Indian corn, and an abundance of tropical fruits. There was in this place a square stone tower with steps, on the top of which there was an idol, which had at its side two cruel animals, represented as if they were desirous of devouring it. There was also a great serpent forty-seven feet long, cut in stone, devouring a lion as broad as an ox. This idol was besmeared with human blood. Champoton was next visited, where the Spaniards were received in a hostile manner, and were defeated by the natives, who killed twenty, wounded fifty, and made two prisoners, whom they afterwards sacrificed. Cordova then returned to Cuba, and reported the discovery of Yucatan, showed the various utensils in gold and silver which he had taken from the temple at Kimpech, and declared the wonders of a country whose culture, edifices and inhabitants, were so different from all he had previously seen; but he stated that it was necessary to conquer the natives in order to obtain gold, and the riches which were in their possession.
Neither Kimpech nor Champoton were under Mexican rule, but there was frequent traffic between the Mayas and the subjects of the empire of Anahuac. Diego Velasquez de Leon was at that time governor of Cuba, and he planned another expedition into the rich country just discovered. Four ships, equipped and placed under the command of Juan de Grijalva, sailed, in 1518, and first stopped at the Island of Cozumel, which was then famous with the Yucatan Indians, by reason of an annual pilgrimage of which its temples were the object. In their progress along the coast, the navigators saw many small edifices, which they took for towers, but which were nothing less than altars or teocallis, erected to the gods of the sea, protectors of the pilgrims. On the fifth day a pyramid came in view, on the summit of which there was what appeared to be a tower. It was one of the temples, whose elegant and symmetrical shape made a profound impression upon all. Near by they saw a great number of Indians making much noise with drums. Grijalva waited for the morrow before disembarking, and then setting his forces in battle array, marched towards the temple, where on arriving he planted the standard of Castile. Within the sanctuary he found several idols, and the traces of sacrifice. The chaplain of the fleet celebrated mass before the astonished natives. It was the first time that this rite had been performed on the new continent, and the Indians assisted in respectful silence, although they comprehended nothing of the ceremonies. When the priest had descended from the altar, the Indians allowed the strangers peaceably to visit their houses, and brought them an abundance of food of all kinds. Grijalva then sailed along the coast of Yucatan. The astonishment of the Spaniards at the aspect of the elegant buildings, whose construction gave them a high idea of the civilization of the country, increased as they advanced. The architecture appeared to them much superior to anything they had hitherto met with in the new world, and they cried out with their commander that they had found a New Spain, which name has remained, and from Yucatan has been applied to the neighboring regions in that part of the American continent. Grijalva found the cities and villages of the South-western coast like those he had already seen, and the natives resembled those of the north and east in dress and manners. But at Champoton the Indians were, as before, hostile, and were ready to use their arms to repel peaceful advances as well as aggressions. The Spaniards succeeded however, after a bloody struggle, in gaining possession of Champoton and putting the Indians to flight. Thence Grijalva went southward to the river Tobasco, and held an interview with the Lord of Centla, who cordially received him, and presents were mutually exchanged.
Still the native nobles were not slow in showing that they were troubled at the presence of the strangers. Many times they indicated with the finger the Western country, and repeated with emphasis the word, at that time mysterious to Europeans, Culhua, signifying Mexico. The fleet then sailed northward, exploring the coast of Mexico as far as Vera Cruz, visiting several maritime towns. Francisco de Montejo, afterwards so celebrated in Yucatan history, was the first European to place his foot upon the soil of Mexico. Here, Grijalva's intercourse with the natives was of the most friendly description, and a system of barter was established, by which in exchange for articles of Spanish manufacture, pieces of native gold, a variety of golden ornaments enriched with precious stones, and a quantity of cotton mantles and other garments, were obtained. Intending to prosecute his discoveries further, Grijalva despatched these objects to Velasquez at Cuba, in a ship commanded by Pedro de Alvarado, who also took charge of the sick and wounded of the expedition. Grijalva himself then ascended the Mexican coast as far as Panuco (the present Tampico), whence he returned to Cuba. By this expedition the external form of Yucatan was exactly ascertained, and the existence of the more powerful and extensive empire of Mexico was made known.
Upon the arrival of Alvarado at Cuba, bringing wonderful accounts of his discoveries in Yucatan and Mexico, together with the valuable curiosities he had obtained in that country, Velasquez was greatly pleased with the results of the expedition; but was still considerably disappointed that Grijalva had neglected one of the chief purposes of his voyage, namely, that of founding a colony in the newly discovered country. Another expedition was resolved on for the purpose of establishing a permanent foot-hold in the new territory, and the command was intrusted to Hernando Cortez. This renowned captain sailed from Havana, February 19, 1519, with a fleet of nine vessels, which were to rendezvous at the Island of Cozumel. On landing, Cortez pursued a pacific course towards the natives, but endeavored to substitute the Roman Catholic religion for the idolatrous rites which prevailed in the several temples of that sacred Island. He found it easier to induce the natives to accept new images than to give up those which they had hitherto worshipped. After charging the Indians to observe the religious ceremonies which he had prescribed, and receiving a promise of compliance with his wishes, Cortez again sailed and doubled cape Catoche, following the contour of the gulf as far south as the river Tobasco. Here, disembarking, notwithstanding the objections of the Indians, he took possession of Centla, a town remarkable for its extent and population, and a centre of trade with the neighboring empire of Mexico, whence were obtained much tribute and riches. After remaining there long enough to engage in a sanguinary battle, which ended in a decisive victory for the Spaniards, Cortez reembarked and went forward to his famous conquest of Mexico.
From the time when Cortez left the river Tobasco, his mind was fixed upon the attractions of the more distant land of Mexico, and not upon the prosecution of further discoveries upon the Western shores of Yucatan; and until 1524, for a period of more than five years, this peninsula remained unnoticed by the Spaniards. Then Cortez left Mexico, which he had already subjugated, for a journey of discovery to Honduras, and for the purpose of calling to account, for insubordination and usurpation of authority, Cristoval de Olid, whom he had previously sent to that region from Vera Cruz. He received from the princes of Xicalanco and Tobasco maps and charts, giving the natural features of the country, and the limits of the various States. His march lay through the Southern boundaries of the great Mayan empire. Great were the privations of this overland march, which passed through a desolate and uninhabited region, and near the ruins of Palenque, but none of the historians of the expedition take notice of the remains. When Cortez finally arrived at Nito, a town on the border of Honduras, he received tidings of the death of Cristoval de Olid, and that his coming would be hailed with joy by the Spanish troops stationed there, who were now without a leader. From the arrival of Cortez at Nito, the association of his name with the province of Yucatan is at an end, and the further history of that peninsula was developed by those who afterwards undertook the conquest of that country.
Francisco de Montejo was a native of Salamanca, in Spain, of noble descent and considerable wealth. He had been among the first attracted to the new world, and accompanied the expedition of Grijalva to Yucatan in 1518, and that of Cortez in 1519. By Cortez this captain was twice sent to Spain from Mexico, with despatches and presents for the Emperor, Charles V. In the year 1527, Montejo solicited the government of Yucatan, in order to conquer and pacificate that country, and received permission to conquer and people the islands of Yucatan and Cozumel, at his own cost. He was to exercise the office of Governor and Captain General for life, with the title of Adelantado, which latter office at his death should descend to his heirs and successors forever. Montejo disposed of his hereditary property, and with the money thus raised embarked with about four hundred troops, exclusive of sailors, and set sail from Spain for the conquest of Yucatan. Landing at Cozumel, and afterwards at some point on the North-eastern coast of the peninsula, Montejo met with determined resistance from the natives; and a battle took place at Ake, in which one hundred and fifty Spaniards were killed, and nearly all the remainder were wounded, or worn out with fatigue. Fortunately, the Indians did not follow the retreating survivors into their entrenchments, or they would have exterminated the Spaniards. The remnants of this force next appeared at Campeachy, where they established a precarious settlement, and were at last obliged to withdraw, so that in 1535 not a Spaniard remained in Yucatan.
Don Francisco de Montejo, son of the Adelantado, was sent by his father from Tobasco, in 1537, to attempt again the conquest of Yucatan. He made a settlement at Champoton, and after two years of the most disheartening experiences at this place, a better fortune opened to the Spaniards. The veteran Montejo made over to his son all the powers given to him by the Emperor, together with the title of Adelantado; and the new governor established himself at Kimpech in 1540, where he founded a city, calling it San Francisco de Campeachy. From thence an expedition went northward to the Indian town Tihoo, and a settlement was made, which was attacked by an immense body of natives. The small band of Spaniards, a little more than two hundred in all, were successful in holding their ground, and, turning the tide of battle, pursued their retreating foes, and inflicted upon them great slaughter. The Indians were completely routed, and never again rallied for a general battle. The conquerors founded the present city of Merida on the site of the Indian town, with all legal formalities, in January, 1542.[44-*]
But though conquered the Indians were not subjugated. They cherished an inveterate hatred of the Spaniards, which manifested itself on every possible occasion, and it required the utmost watchfulness and energy to suppress the insurrections which from time to time broke out; and the complete pacification of Yucatan was not secured before the year 1547.
Hon. Lewis H. Morgan, in an interesting article in the North American Review, entitled "Montezuma's Dinner," makes the statement that "American aboriginal history is based upon a misconception of Indian life which has remained substantially unquestioned to the present hour." He considers that the accounts of Spanish writers were filled with extravagancies, exaggerations and absurdities, and that the grand terminology of the old world, created under despotic and monarchial institutions, was drawn upon to explain the social and political condition of the Indian races. He states, that while "the histories of Spanish America may be trusted in whatever relates to the acts of the Spaniards, and to the acts and personal characteristics of the Indians; in whatever relates to Indian society and government, their social relations and plan of life, they are wholly worthless, because they learned nothing and knew nothing of either." On the other hand, we are told that "Indian society could be explained as completely, and understood as perfectly, as the civilized society of Europe or America, by finding its exact organization."[45-*] Mr. Morgan proposes to accomplish this result by the study of the manners and customs of Indian races whose histories are better known. In the familiar habits of the Iroquois, and their practice as to communism of living, and the construction of their dwellings, Mr. Morgan finds the key to all the palatial edifices encountered by Cortez on his invasion of Mexico: and he wishes to include, also, the magnificent remains in the Mayan territory. He would have us believe, that the highly ornamental stone structures of Uxmal, Chichen-Itza, and Palenque, were but joint tenement houses, which should be studied with attention to the usages of Indian tribes of which we have a more certain record, and not from contemporaneous historical accounts of eye witnesses.
In answer to Mr. Morgan's line of argument, it may be said, that the agreement of early voyagers and chroniclers, of whom there is so large a number, as to the main facts, is strong evidence that their impressions, as stated, were founded upon what they saw, and not on pictures of the imagination. Moreover, the existing undecyphered manuscripts, together with the hieroglyphical and symbolical inscriptions upon buildings, traced in characters similar to those found in aboriginal manuscripts, prove that there was a literature among the Mayan and Aztec races, which places them in a grade of civilization far above that of communistic Indian tribes of which we have any record. More than all, the manuscript of Bishop Landa, an eye witness of expiring Mayan civilization, with its detailed account of the political and social relations of the Indians of that country, is strong testimony to the correctness of the generally accepted theories regarding their social and political systems. The truthfulness of Bishop Landa's account is attested by its conformity to other accounts, and to the customs and usages of the Yucatan Indians of to-day, as described by recent travellers. We are obliged to consider the argument of Mr. Morgan insufficient to destroy the common opinions of three centuries and a half, in so far as relates to the Maya Indians.
Mr. Morgan also says that "the Aztecs had no structures comparable with those of Yucatan." If the only grounds for this statement are, that almost no ruins now remain in that country, and that the early accounts of Spanish writers, of what they themselves saw, are considered, by him, untrustworthy, the weight of probability seems, to the writer of this paper, on the contrary, to lie in quite the other direction. When Cortez left Havana, in 1519, he visited Cozumel, famous for its beautiful temples, and Centla, and certain other towns in Central America, on his way to Mexico. Having thus seen the wonderful structures of Central America, is it not strange, that the historians of that expedition, and Cortez himself, should be filled with wonder and amazement at what they found in Mexico, to a degree that disposed them to give a much more particular account of the Aztec palaces than of Yucatan buildings, if they were inferior to them in point of architecture? Mexico has since that time been more populous than Yucatan, and its ruins have naturally disappeared more rapidly in the construction of modern buildings; but the records of its former civilization exist in the accounts of the discoverers, and in the numerous relics of antiquity contained in the museums of Mexico, and scattered about in the archaeological collections of Europe and America. The celebrated calendar stone found buried in the Plaza Mayor of Mexico, and now preserved in that city, demonstrates the astronomical advancement of the Aztecs in an incontrovertible manner, and that monument alone would establish their advanced position.
The observations and conclusions of a traveller and archaeologist of large experience, as to the condition of Central America at the time of its discovery and settlement by the Spaniards, are contained in the valuable monograph of Dr. C. Hermann Berendt, the discoverer of the site of ancient Centla, who having made a special study of the antiquities of that country in five expeditions, each of several years duration, is entitled to special consideration as one who knows whereof he speaketh.[48-*] This writer, while he concedes the insufficiency of consulting the records of Spanish writers alone, thinks that archaeology and linguistics will at length furnish us the means of reading these records with positive results, as well as help us to a better understanding of the early history of this continent. He says "Central America was once the centre, or rather the only theatre of a truly American, that is to say, indigenous, development and civilization. It was suggested by Humboldt half a century ago, that more light on this subject is likely to be elicited, through the examination and comparison of what palpably remains of the ancient nations, than from dubious traditions, or a still more precarious speculation. And such palpable remains we have, in their antiquities and in their languages. Thus linguistic science has begun to invade the field of American ethnology: and let it not be forgotten that this science is as little bound, as it is qualified, to perform the whole task alone: archaeology must lend a helping hand. We must have museums, in which the plastic remains of the ancient American civilizations, either original, or in faithful imitations, shall, in as large numbers as possible, be collected, and duly grouped and labelled, according to the place and circumstances of their discovery."
The plan for the study of Mayan and Central American ethnology, as indicated by Dr. Berendt, seems to agree most fully with the views entertained by some of the later writers in the publications of the Societe Americaine de France, and may be thus stated in brief. First, The Study of Native Languages. Second, The Study of the Antiquities themselves. Third, The formation of Museums, where materials for archaeological research may be brought together, and made accessible and available. From the study of aboriginal American history in this practical way, the most satisfactory results can not fail to be reached.
In this brief hour, it would be impossible to describe and elucidate this interesting subject, if the ability were not wanting; but it may be accepted as a welcome service, that draws the attention of this Society to an important field, which the Societe Americaine de France, and other European archaeologists, are regarding with increased interest.
[4-*] M. L'Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg, in his Histoire des nations civilisees du Mexique (Paris, 1859, vol. I. Preface), speaks of M. Aubin as the translator of the manuscript "Historia Tulteca," as the author of the Memoire sur l'ecriture figurative et la peinture didactique des anciens Mexicains, in which he reconstructed the system of Mexican figurative writing almost entirely, and as the present owner of what remains of the celebrated Boturini collection, and of many other historical treasures, gathered in his various travels.
[5-*] "In the Congress of Americanists held last July at Nancy, France, M. Leon de Rosny delivered a masterly address on the Maya hieroglyphics. He critically analyzed the attempts at decypherment by Brasseur de Bourbourg and H. de Charency. The Bishop de Landa first discovered a clue to their meaning. He made out seventy-one signs, which number Rosny has increased to one hundred and thirty-two. Rosny has also determined the order in which they should be read, as a rule from left to right, but in exceptional cases from right to left."—[The Popular Science Monthly, New York, May, 1876, pp. 118-119.]
[7-*] Geographia de las lenguas y carta ethnografica de Mexico. By M. Orosco y Berra, Mexico, 1864. Introduction p. X. La Situation actual de la Raza indigena de Mexico. By Don Francisco Pimentel, Mexico, 1864, Dedication.
[7-[+]] Views of Nature, page 131.
[8-*] Conquest of Mexico, New York, 1843, vol. III., page 404.
[8-[+]] Description of an ancient city near Palenque, page 6.
[9-*] Quadro descriptivo y comparativo de las lenguas indigenas de Mexico, by Francisco Pimentel, Mexico, 1865, p. 3. "The Maya is also still the spoken language of the Island of Carmen, the town of Monte Christo in Tobasco, and Palenque in Chiapas. With so much tenacity have the Indians preserved this language that to-day they speak no other, so that the whites find themselves obliged to learn it in order to make themselves understood."
[9-[+]] Geographia de las Lenguas, y Carta ethnographica de Mexico, by Manuel Orosco y Berra, Mexico, 1864, p. 156.
[10-*] Los tres siglos de la dominacion Espanola en Yucatan. By Fr. Diego Lopez de Cogolludo,—Madrid, 1688.—Merida, 1845, Lib. IV., Appendix A.
[11-*] The family of Don Manuel Casares consisted of his wife—a very active and estimable lady,—three sons and six daughters. Of the sons, the two eldest, David and Primitivo, were educated in the United States. David Casares graduated with honor at Harvard College, and after a three years course at the Ecole centrale des Arts et Manufactures, in Paris, he passed a creditable examination for his degree. He was first employed, on his return to his own country, as Professor of Mathematics in the College of Minerva, a Jesuit College of Merida, but is now occupied in managing the plantation of his father, who died in 1864. Primitivo, the second son, studied mechanics and engineering at the scientific school in Cambridge, and employed himself in several machine shops and foundries in Worcester and Lowell, to prepare himself to introduce the use of machinery in his native country. He returned to his home in company with the writer, but died a year after, stricken down by fever, brought on by over-work while superintending the erection of machinery, upon one of the estates in the neighborhood of Merida. Both these men were great favorites in Cambridge and Jamaica Plain, where they resided, and are well remembered for their attractive and interesting qualities. The writer became acquainted with many of the prominent families of Merida and Campeachy, from whom he received hospitable courtesies and attentions; but it would here be out of place to acknowledge personal obligations.
[12-*] Histoire des nations civilizees du Mexique, by M. L'Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg, vol. II., page 578.
[18-*] Historia de Yucatan. By Cogolludo. Merida, 1845. Lib. III., cap. VII.
[18-[+]] Ibid. Lib. IV., cap. XII.
[19-*] Travels in Cent. Am., Chiapas and Yucatan. By J. L. Stephens. New York, 1858. vol. II., page 403.
[19-[+]] Geographia de las Lenguas y Carta Ethnographica de Mexico. By Manuel Orozco y Berra, Mexico, 1864, p. 100. Ibid. p. 115. Quadro descriptivo y comparativo de las Lenguas indigenas de Mexico. By D. Francisco Pimentel. Mexico, 1865. Tom. 11, p. 36.
[21-*] Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, Stephens, vol. II., page 445. History of the Conquest of Mexico, Prescott, vol. III., page 370.
[21-[+]] Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, vol. I., page 323.
[23-*] Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, Stephens, vol. I., page 212.
[23-[+]] Historia de Yucatan. Cogolludo. Lib. III., Cap. XI.
[24-*] Historia de Yucatan. Cogolludo. Lib. III., Cap. VII.
[25-*] History of the Conquest of Mexico. Prescott, Vol. III., page 294.
[29-*] Collection des Memoires sur l'Amerique, Recueil des Pieces sur le Mexique trad., par Ternaux-Compans, p. 307.
[32-*] The Native Races of the Pacific States of North America. By Hubert H. Bancroft. San Francisco, 1875. Vol. II., page 780.
[33-*] Relation des choses de Yucatan. By Diego de Landa, Paris, 1864, pp. 44, 316.
[34-*] Historia de Yucatan. Cogolludo. Lib. VI. Appendix A, 1.
[35-*] Description of an ancient city near Palenque. Page 32.
[35-[+]] Prescott's Conquest of Mexico. Vol. I., page 101.
[36-*] The Native Races of the Pacific States. By Hubert Howe Bancroft. Vol. II., page 771.
[44-*] Historia de Yucatan. Cogolludo. Lib. III, cap. VII.
[45-*] North American Review. Boston, April, 1876. No. 251, page 265.
[48-*] Remarks on the centres of ancient civilization in Central America, and their geographical distribution. Address before the American Geographical Society, by Dr. C. Hermann Berendt. New York, 1876.
DR. LE PLONGEON IN YUCATAN.
HIS ACCOUNT OF DISCOVERIES.
DR. LE PLONGEON IN YUCATAN.
THE DISCOVERY OF A STATUE CALLED CHAC-MOOL, AND THE COMMUNICATIONS OF DR. AUGUSTUS LE PLONGEON CONCERNING EXPLORATIONS IN THE YUCATAN PENINSULA.
[Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, April 25, 1877.]
The most perfect remains of a high degree of early civilization on this continent are to be found in ruins in the central portions of America. Proofs of the extraordinary advancement of the inhabitants of those regions, in architecture and art, at an early period, are not derived alone or principally from the accounts of Spanish voyagers and chroniclers, which agree substantially in the statements of their observations, but much more from the well-preserved ruins of numerous beautiful buildings, constructed of stone, many of them ornamented with bas-reliefs and hieroglyphics. In Mexico, about which Spanish historians of the time of Cortez and after, have written with more particularity, the vestiges of the civilization of the 16th or previous centuries have, in a great measure, been obliterated by the more complete and destructive subjugation suffered at the hands of the conquerors, and by the continuous occupation of the acquired provinces. Probably the early constructions of the Mexicans were not generally composed of so durable materials as those of the neighboring peninsula. Without discussing this point, the fact remains that Yucatan, together with much of the territory of Guatemala, Chiapas, and Tabasco, is strewn with ruins of a character which command the admiration and challenge the investigation of antiquaries. Waldeck, Stephens, Charnay, and Brasseur de Bourbourg, have brought these wonders of an extinct civilization to the knowledge of the world. Since their investigations have ceased, and until recently, but little has been done in this field. In 1873, however, Dr. Augustus Le Plongeon, a native of the island of Jersey, of French parentage, together with his wife, Mrs. Alice Dixon Le Plongeon, an English lady, attracted by the wealth of opportunity offered to them for archaeological study in Yucatan, visited that country, and have been and are still actively engaged in exploring its ruins, photographing and taking plans of the buildings, and in making excavations, which have resulted in securing to the scientific world, a masterpiece of antique sculpture differing essentially from all specimens known to exist of American aboriginal art.
Dr. Le Plongeon is an enthusiast in his chosen career, that of an archaeologist and an explorer. Without the energy and strong imagination he has displayed, he would not, alone and unassisted, have braved the dangers and privations of a prolonged residence in the wilds, surrounded by perils from exposure to a tropical climate, and from the dangerous proximity of hostile savages. All that can be learned of the life of this investigator is, that he was educated at Paris, and in 1849 went to California as an engineer, and there laid out the town of Marysville. Then he visited Peru, and travelled with Mr. Squire and took photographs of ruins. He came to New York in 1871, with three valuable paintings, which he had procured in Peru, two of them said to be Murillo's, and the other the work of Juan del Castillo, Murillo's first master. A long account of these pictures appears in the "New York Evening Mail" of March 2, 1871. He took them to England in the same year, and is said to have sold them to the British Museum. Since his residence in Yucatan, both the Doctor and Mrs. Le Plongeon have been engaged in archaeological studies and explorations among the ruins of Chichen-Itza, Uxmal, and Ake, and they have also visited other ruins in the eastern part of Yucatan, together with those of the once famous islands of Cozumel and Mugeres, and have there pursued the same system of investigation. They are at present at Belize, British Honduras, where this explorer is awaiting a reply to his appeal, as an American citizen, to our Minister at Mexico for redress for the loss of the statue which he had discovered, and which has been removed by the government to Mexico, without his knowledge or consent, to be there placed in the National Museum. The writer is in possession of many of Dr. Le Plongeon's letters and communications, all of them in English, and very interesting to antiquarian students. It is regretted that the shortness of time since receiving the more important of these documents will prevent doing justice to the very elaborate and extended material which is at hand; but it is with the hope that interest and cooperation may be awakened in Dr. Le Plongeon and his labors, that this crude and unsatisfactory statement, and imperfect and hasty reference to his letters, is presented.
The conspicuous results of Dr. Le Plongeon's active and successful labors in the archaeological field, about which there can be no controversy, are the wonderful statue which he has disinterred at Chichen-Itza, and a series of 137 photographic views of Yucatan ruins, sculptures and hieroglyphics. All of the photographs are similar to those which appear in heliotype, diminished in size, as illustrations of this paper. They consist of portraits of Dr. Le Plongeon and of his wife; 8 photographs of specimen sculpture—among them pictures of men with long beards; 7 photographs of the ruins of Ake, showing the arrangement of so-called Katuns—the Maya method of chronology; 12 photographs of Yucatan Indians; 60 photographs of the ruins of Uxmal; and 48 photographs of the ruins of Chichen-Itza, including twelve views relating to the discovery of a statue called Chac-Mool. These pictures, and the relics found in the excavation from which the statue was exhumed, as well as the discovered statue, are valuable acquisitions, and establish a strong claim to the gratitude of the scientific world. Besides these articles, the original head and feet of a female idol in plaster, from the Island of Mugeres, have been discovered by Dr. Le Plongeon, which have not yet been brought to public notice. Of this antique figure Dr. Le Plongeon says, in a letter to the writer: "Whilst at Mugeres Island I had the good fortune to find the statue of one of the priestesses of the shrine of the Maya Venus, whose ruins stand at the southernmost end of the island, on the very brink of the cliff. It was entire, but the men, not knowing how to handle this object, when first disinterred broke it to pieces. I was only able to save the face and feet. They are full of interest, not only artistically speaking, but also historically, inasmuch as they seem to prove the ancient relations that existed between the people of Mayapan and the inhabitants of the west coast of Africa. The teeth, like those of Chac-Mool, are filed like a saw. This was the custom among persons of high rank in Mayapan, as it is even to-day with some of the African tribes, whilst the sandals are exact representations of those found on the feet of the Guanches, the early inhabitants of the Canary Islands, whose mummies are yet occasionally met with in the caves of Teneriffe and the other isles of the group. These relics, I am certain, are the last of high art to be found on the Island of Mugeres. The sea is fast eating the base of the promontory where stands the shrine. Part of it has already fallen into the sea, and in a few years not a stone will remain to indicate the place where stood this altar."
The photographs relating to the discovery of the statue of Chac-Mool are found in a series of twelve pictures, herewith presented in the plates which follow. It is upon this discovery, as will be seen from his Mexican Memorial, that Dr. Le Plongeon has relied more than upon any other result of his labors, for fame and remuneration. The statue was exhumed, according to the account in the Mexican Memorial, in consequence of interpretations of certain mural tablets and hieroglyphics, which the discoverer and his able coadjutor, Mrs. Le Plongeon, found in the building shown in the pictures 1 and 2 on the opposite page, upon the south-east wall of the so-called Gymnasium,[58-*] which Dr. Le Plongeon says was erected by the queen of Itza, to the memory of Chac-Mool, her husband. As may be seen from a careful inspection of the picture, the stone building is decorated by a belt of tigers, with an ornament separating them, which may have been the "totem."
[Illustration: Decorated Building at Chichen-Itza, Yucatan, and the external appearance of the place whence the Statue was exhumed by Dr. Augustus Le Plongeon.
DESCRIPTION OF PLATE.
1. Represents the building at the southern extremity of the eastern wall of the so-called Gymnasium described by Stephens—Travels in Yucatan, vol. II., page 308. It is supposed by Dr. Le Plongeon to have been a monument to the chieftain Chac-Mool.
2. This picture shows the upper portion of the same edifice, in which were found "the mural paintings, bas-reliefs and other signs," which gave a clue to the discovery of the statue.
3. Shows probably the locality where the statue was excavated. The same sculptured slabs that appear in picture 8 in the foreground on the right, are seen resting against a mound, in their supposed original position, and serve to indicate the identity of the localities. In the rear of the slabs is probably the heap of stones forming the pedestal for the stone figure of a tiger spoken of in the "Mexican Memorial."
4. This is probably another view in the immediate neighborhood. Among the scattered debris is the sculptured head of a serpent, with open jaws.
5. Represents the sculptured slabs, which are seen also in pictures 3, 6 and 8. They are of unequal width, but the length and thickness was probably the same in each.
6. Another view of the sculptured slabs. The first shows a bird of prey; this is apparently a tiger. Both of them hold in their grasp objects of a similar character.
NOTE. Several of these pictures are described in the Mexican Memorial, but are there differently numbered.]
The exact spot whence this statue was exhumed cannot be certainly stated, though among the plates which represent the discovery are two which may reasonably be supposed to exhibit the locality. One of these pictures shows the sculptured slabs which may have decorated the mound where the excavation was made, and which again appear on the side of the opening through which the statue is seen emerging. The slabs are elaborately wrought, and represent, the one a tiger holding something in his paw, and the other a bird of prey, with talons similarly employed.
During the early portion of his residence and explorations at Chichen-Itza, Dr. Le Plongeon was assisted by Government troops, who acted as a guard against hostile Indians—sublivados[59-*]—as these ruins lie outside the limits of territory considered safe for occupation; and though this protection was soon withdrawn, and the discoverer was obliged to rely solely upon arms furnished to his laborers, still he was not disheartened by the dangers of his undertaking, nor dissuaded by the appeals of his friends from persevering in his labors.
The first object discovered at this place, as will be learned from the Mexican Memorial, was a long stone, half interred among the others, which proved to be the base of a sculptured reclining tiger, of much the same size, proportions and execution as the statue of Chac-Mool, as is apparent from a photograph of the tiger in the general collection. The head, of human form, which was wanting, was afterwards found at some distance, in a pile of carved stones. The next objects that appeared were the bas-reliefs, presumably those pictured in 3, 5, 6 and 8. The mound of stones where the excavation was made was, according to Dr. Le Plongeon, the pedestal that supported the effigy of the tiger. Work was commenced at the top of the heap of stones, which were rudely thrown together, rendering the labor difficult and dangerous. An excavation was made measuring 7 meters in depth, which was protected by a trestle-work, and at this depth a rough calcareous stone urn was secured which contained a little dust, and upon it a coarse earthen cover. This was near the head of the statue, which then appeared. The work of liberating the statue required a deepening of the trench 1-1/2 meters more. A picture in heliotype copied from a series of six photographs, showing the various positions assumed by the figure during the process of excavation, can be consulted upon the second page following. This work of art was raised by Dr. Le Plongeon, with the assistance of his wife and ten Indian laborers, by his own ingenuity, and without other engineering apparatus than he had contrived from the trees and vines, making use also of the bark, from which he constructed ropes. Dr. Le Plongeon, in a private letter to the writer, says, "The statue is carved out of a single block of beautifully white and homogeneous limestone. It is naked, and the peculiar ornament suspended by a ribbon tied on the back of the neck, that is seen on the chest, is the distinctive mark of high rank. This same ornament is seen on the chests of all the personages who were entitled to carry three feathers on their heads. The band that composes the head-dress was formed of pieces of an octagonal shape, joined together, and is fastened by ribbons also on the back of the head. The figure had bracelets and garters of feathers, and the sandals, quite different from those used by the present inhabitants of the country, were tied to the feet and legs, and resemble those found on the mummies of the Guanehes, the ancient inhabitants of the Canary Islands. There were no ear laps, but square tablets appear in place of the ears, on which are hieroglyphics giving the name, condition, &c., &c., of the personage represented by the statue. It is not an idol, but a true portrait of a man who has lived an earthly life. I have seen him represented in battle, in councils, and in court receptions. I am well acquainted with his life, and the manner of his death. The scientific world owes much to Mrs. Le Plongeon for the restoration of the mural paintings where his history and the customs of his people are portrayed; and where Stephens has been unable to see more than a few figures, she has discovered the history of a people and of their leaders."