A number of typographical errors have been maintained in this version of this book. They have been marked with a [TN-#], which refers to a description in the complete list found at the end of the text. Inconsistent spelling, hyphenation, and capitalization have been maintained. A list of inconsistently spelled, hyphenated, and capitalized words is found in a list at the end of the text.
Oe ligatures have been expanded. The following codes are used for characters that are not available in the character set used for this book:
[sun] Sun symbol ā a with macron [c] open o [C] open O
VESTIGES OF THE MAYAS,
Facts tending to prove that Communications and Intimate Relations must have existed, in very remote times, between the inhabitants of
AND THOSE OF
ASIA AND AFRICA.
AUGUSTUS LE PLONGEON, M. D.,
Member of the American Antiquarian Society of Worcester, Mass., of the California Academy of Sciences, and several other Scientific Societies. Author of various Essays and Scientific Works.
NEW YORK: JOHN POLHEMUS, PRINTER AND STATIONER, 102 NASSAU STREET.
MR. PIERRE LORILLARD.
Who deserves the thanks of the students of American Archaeology more than you, for the interest manifested in the explorations of the ruined monuments of Central America, handiwork of the races that inhabited this continent in remote ages, and the material help given by you to Foreign and American explorers in that field of investigations?
Accept, then, my personal thanks, with the dedication of this small Essay. It forms part of the result of many years' study and hardships among the ruined cities of the Incas, in Peru, and of the Mayas in Yucatan.
Yours very respectfully,
AUGUSTUS LE PLONGEON, M. D.
NEW YORK, December 15, 1881.
Entered according to an Act of Congress, in December, 1881,
BY AUGUSTUS LE PLONGEON,
In the Office of the LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS in Washington, D.C.
VESTIGES OF THE MAYAS.
Yucatan is the peninsula which divides the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea. It is comprised between the 17 deg. 30' and 21 deg. 50', of latitude north, and the 88 deg. and 91 deg. of longitude west from the Greenwich meridian.
The whole peninsula is of fossiferous limestone formation. Elevated a few feet only above the sea, on the coasts, it gradually raises toward the interior, to a maximum height of above 70 feet. A bird's-eye view, from a lofty building, impresses the beholder with the idea that he is looking on an immense sea of verdure, having the horizon for boundary; without a hill, not even a hillock, to break the monotony of the landscape. Here and there clusters of palm trees, or artificial mounds, covered with shrubs, loom above the green dead-level as islets, over that expanse of green foliage, affording a momentary relief to the eyes growing tired of so much sameness.
About fifty miles from the northwestern coast begins a low, narrow range of hills, whose highest point is not much above 500 feet. It traverses the peninsula in a direction a little south from east, commencing a few miles north from the ruined city of Uxmal, and terminating some distance from the eastern coast, opposite to the magnificent bay of Ascension.
Lately I have noticed that some veins of red oxide of iron exist among these hills—quarries of marble must also be found there; since the sculptured ornaments that adorn the facade of all the monuments at Uxmal are of that stone. To-day the inhabitants of Yucatan are even ignorant of the existence of these minerals in their country, and ocher to paint, and marble slabs to floor their houses, are imported from abroad. I have also discovered veins of good lithographic stones that could be worked at comparatively little expense.
The surface of the country is undulating; its stony waves recall forcibly to the mind the heavy swell of mid-ocean. It seems as if, in times long gone by, the soil was upheaved, en masse, from the bottom of the sea, by volcanic forces. This upheaval must have taken place many centuries ago, since isolated columns of Katuns 1m. 50c. square, erected at least 6,000 years ago, stand yet in the same perpendicular position, as at the time when another stone was added to those already piled up, to indicate a lapse of twenty years in the life of the nation.
It is, indeed, a remarkable fact, that whilst the surrounding countries—Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba and the other West India Islands—are frequently convulsed by earthquakes, the peninsula of Yucatan is entirely free from these awe-inspiring convulsions of mother earth. This immunity may be attributed, in my opinion, to the innumerable and extensive caves with which the whole country is entirely honeycombed; and the large number of immense natural wells, called Senotes, that are to be found everywhere. These caves and senotes afford an outlet for the escape of the gases generated in the superficial strata of the earth. These, finding no resistance to their passage, follow, harmlessly, these vents without producing on the surface any of those terrible commotions that fill the heart of man and beast alike with fright and dismay.
Some of those caves are said to be very extensive—None, however, has been thoroughly explored. I have visited a few, certainly extremely beautiful, adorned as they are with brilliant stalactites depending from their roofs, that seem as if supported by the stalagmites that must have required ages to be formed gradually from the floor into the massive columns, as we see them to-day.
In all the caves are to be found either inexhaustible springs of clear, pure, cold water, or streams inhabited by shrimps and fishes. No one can tell whence they come or where they go. All currents of water are subterraneous. Not a river is to be found on the surface; not even the smallest of streamlets, where the birds of the air, or the wild beasts of the forests, can allay their thirst during the dry season. The plants, if there are no chinks or crevices in the stony soil through which their roots can penetrate and seek the life-sustaining fluid below, wither and die. It is a curious sight that presented by the roots of the trees, growing on the precipituous[TN-1] brinks of the senotes, in their search for water. They go down and down, even a hundred feet, until they reach the liquid surface, from where they suck up the fluid to aliment the body of the tree. They seem like many cables and ropes stretched all round the sides of the well; and, in fact, serves as such to some of the most daring of the natives, to ascend or descend to enjoy a refreshing bath.
These senotes are immense circular holes, the diameter of which varies from 50 to 500 feet, with perpendicular walls from 50 to 150 feet deep. These holes might be supposed to have served as ducts for the subterranean gases at the time of the upheaval of the country. Now they generally contain water. In some, the current is easily noticeable; many are completely dry; whilst others contain thermal mineral water, emitting at times strong sulphurous odor and vapor.
Many strange stories are told by the aborigines concerning the properties possessed by the water in certain senotes, and the strange phenomena that takes place in others. In one, for example, you are warned to approach the water walking backward, and to breathe very softly, otherwise it becomes turbid and unfit for drinking until it has settled and become clear again. In another you are told not to speak above a whisper, for if any one raises the voice the tranquil surface of the water immediately becomes agitated, and soon assumes the appearance of boiling; even its level raises. These and many other things are told in connection with the caves and senotes; and we find them mentioned in the writings of the chroniclers and historians from the time of the Spanish conquest.
No lakes exist on the surface, at least within the territories occupied by the white men. Some small sheets of water, called aguadas, may be found here and there, and are fed by the underground current; but they are very rare. There are three or four near the ruins of the ancient city of Mayapan: probably its inhabitants found in them an abundant supply of water. Following all the same direction, they are, as some suppose, no doubt with reason, the outbreaks of a subterranean stream that comes also to the surface in the senote of Mucuyche. A mile or so from Uxmal is another aguada; but judging from the great number of artificial reservoirs, built on the terraces and in the courts of all the monuments, it would seem as if the people there depended more on the clouds for their provision of water than on the wells and senotes. Yet I feel confident that one of these must exist under the building known as the Governor's house; having discovered in its immediate vicinity the entrance—now closed—of a cave from which a cool current of air is continually issuing; at times with great force.
I have been assured by Indians from the village of Chemax, who pretend to know that part of the country well, that, at a distance of about fifty miles from the city of Valladolid, the actual largest settlement on the eastern frontier, in the territories occupied by the SANTA CRUZ Indians, there exists, near the ruins of Kaba, two extensive sheets of water, from where, in years gone by, the inhabitants of Valladolid procured abundant supply of excellent fishes. These ruins of Kaba, said to be very interesting, have never been visited by any foreigner; nor are they likely to be for many years to come, on account of the imminent danger of falling into the hands of those of Santa Cruz—that, since 1847, wage war to the knife against the Yucatecans.
On the coast, the sea penetrating in the lowlands have formed sloughs and lakes, on the shores of which thickets of mangroves grow, with tropical luxuriancy. Intermingling their crooked roots, they form such a barrier as to make landing well nigh impossible. These small lakes, subject to the ebb and flow of the tides, are the resort of innumerable sea birds and water fowls of all sizes and descriptions; from the snipe to the crane, and brightly colored flamingos, from the screeching sea gulls to the serious looking pelican. They are attracted to these lakes by the solitude of the forests of mangroves that afford them excellent shelter, where to build their nests, and find protection from the storms that, at certain season of the year, sweep with untold violence along the coast: and because with ease they can procure an abundant supply of food, these waters being inhabited by myriads of fishes, as they come to bask on the surface which is seldom ruffled even when the tempest rages outside.
Notwithstanding the want of superficial water, the air is always charged with moisture; the consequence being a most equable temperature all the year round, and an extreme luxuriance of all vegetation. The climate is mild and comparatively healthy for a country situated within the tropics, and bathed by the waters of the Mexican Gulf. This mildness and healthiness may be attributed to the sea breezes that constantly pass over the peninsula, carrying the malaria and noxious gases that have not been absorbed by the forests, which cover the main portion of the land; and to the great abundance of oxygen exuded by the plants in return. This excessive moisture and the decomposition of dead vegetable matter is the cause of the intermittent fevers that prevail in all parts of the peninsula, where the yellow fever, under a mild form generally, is also endemic. When it appears, as this year, in an epidemic form, the natives themselves enjoy no immunity from its ravages, and fall victims to it as well as unacclimated foreigners.
These epidemics, those of smallpox and other diseases that at times make their appearance in Yucatan, generally present themselves after the rainy season, particularly if the rains have been excessive. The country being extremely flat, the drainage is necessarily very bad: and in places like Merida, for example, where a crowding of population exists, and the cleanliness of the streets is utterly disregarded by the proper authorities, the decomposition of vegetable and animal matter is very large; and the miasmas generated, being carried with the vapors arising from the constant evaporation of stagnant waters, are the origin of those scourges that decimate the inhabitants. Yucatan, isolated as it is, its small territory nearly surrounded by water, ought to be, if the laws of health were properly enforced, one of the most healthy countries on the earth; where, as in the Island of Cozumel, people should only die of old age or accident. The thermometer varies but little, averaging about 80 deg. Far. True, it rises in the months of July and August as high as 96 deg. in the shade, but it seldom falls below 65 deg. in the month of December. In the dry season, from January to June, the trees become divested of their leaves, that fall more particularly in March and April. Then the sun, returning from the south on its way to the north, passes over the land and darts its scorching perpendicular rays on it, causing every living creature to thirst for a drop of cool water; the heat being increased by the burning of those parts of the forests that have been cut down to prepare fields for cultivation.
In the portion of the peninsula, about one-third of it, that still remains in possession of the white, the Santa Cruz Indians holding, since 1847, the richest and most fertile, two-thirds, the soil is entirely stony. The arable loam, a few inches in thickness, is the result of the detriti of the stones, mixed with the remainder of the decomposition of vegetable matter. In certain districts, towards the eastern and southern parts of the State, patches of red clay form excellent ground for the cultivation of the sugar cane and Yuca root. From this an excellent starch is obtained in large quantities. Withal, the soil is of astonishing fertility, and trees, even, are met with of large size, whose roots run on the surface of the bare stone, penetrating the chinks and crevices only in search of moisture. Often times I have seen them growing from the center of slabs, the seed having fallen in a hole that happened to be bored in them. In the month of May the whole country seems parched and dry. Not a leaf, not a bud. The branches and boughs are naked, and covered with a thick coating of gray dust. Nothing to intercept the sight in the thicket but the bare trunks and branches, with the withes entwining them. With the first days of June come the first refreshing showers. As if a magic wand had been waved over the land, the view changes—life springs everywhere. In the short space of a few days the forests have resumed their holiday attire; buds appear and the leaves shoot; the flowers bloom sending forth their fragrance, that wafted by the breeze perfume the air far and near. The birds sing their best songs of joy; the insects chirp their shrillest notes; butterflies of gorgeous colors flutter in clouds in every direction in search of the nectar contained in the cups of the newly-opened blossom, and dispute it with the brilliant humming-birds. All creation rejoices because a few tears of mother Nature have brought joy and happiness to all living beings, from the smallest blade of grass to the majestic palm; from the creeping worm to man, who proudly titles himself the lord of creation.
Yucatan has no rich metallic mines, but its wealth of vegetable productions is immense. Large forests of mahogany, cedar, zapotillo trees cover vast extents of land in the eastern and southern portions of the peninsula; whilst patches of logwood and mora, many miles in length, grow near the coast. The wood is to-day cut down and exported by the Indians of Santa Cruz through their agents at Belize. Coffee, vanilla, tobacco, india-rubber, rosins of various kinds, copal in particular, all of good quality, abound in the country, but are not cultivated on account of its unsettled state; the Indians retaining possession of the most fertile territories where these rich products are found.
The whites have been reduced to the culture of the Hennequen plant (agave sisalensis) in order to subsist. It is the only article of commerce that grows well on the stony soil to which they are now confined. The filament obtained from the plant, and the objects manufactured from it constitute the principal article of export; in fact the only source of wealth of the Yucatecans. As the filament is now much in demand for the fabrication of cordage in the United States and Europe, many of the landowners have ceased to plant maize, although the staple article of food in all classes, to convert their land into hennequen fields. The plant thrives well on stony soil, requires no water and but little care. The natural consequence of planting the whole country with hennequen has been so great a deficiency in the maize crop, that this year not enough was grown for the consumption, and people in the northeastern district were beginning to suffer from the want of it, when some merchants of Merida imported large quantities from New York. They, of course, sold it at advanced prices, much to the detriment of the poorer classes. Some sugar is also cultivated in the southern and eastern districts, but not in sufficient quantities even for the consumption; and not a little is imported from Habana.
The population of the country, about 250,000 souls all told, are mostly Indians and mixed blood. In fact, very few families can be found of pure Caucasian race. Notwithstanding the great admixture of different races, a careful observer can readily distinguish yet four prominent ones, very noticeable by their features, their stature, the conformation of their body. The dwarfish race is certainly easily distinguishable from the descendants of the giants that tradition says once upon a time existed in the country, whose bones are yet found, and whose portraits are painted on the walls of Chaacmol's funeral chamber at Chichen-Itza. The almond-eyed, flat-nosed Siamese race of Copan is not to be mistaken for the long, big-nosed, flat-headed remnant of the Nahualt from Palenque, who are said to have invaded the country some time at the beginning of the Christian era; and whose advent among the Mayas, whose civilization they appear to have destroyed, has been commemorated by calling the west, the region whence they came, according to Landa, Cogolludo and other historians, NOHNIAL, a word which means literally big noses for our daughters; whilst the coming of the bearded men from the east, better looking than those of the west, if we are to give credit to the bas-relief where their portraits are to be seen, was called CENIAL—ornaments for our daughters.
If we are to judge by the great number of ruined cities scattered everywhere through the forests of the peninsula; by the architectural beauty of the monuments still extant, the specimens of their artistic attainments in drawing and sculpture which have reached us in the bas-reliefs, statues and mural paintings of Uxmal and Chichen-Itza; by their knowledge in mathematical and astronomical sciences, as manifested in the construction of the gnomon found by me in the ruins of Mayapan; by the complexity of the grammatical form and syntaxis of their language, still spoken to-day by the majority of the inhabitants of Yucatan; by their mode of expressing their thoughts on paper, made from the bark of certain trees, with alphabetical and phonetical characters, we must of necessity believe that, at some time or other, the country was not only densely populated, but that the inhabitants had reached a high degree of civilization. To-day we can conceive of very few of their attainments by the scanty remains of their handiwork, as they have come to us injured by the hand of time, and, more so yet, by that of man, during the wars, the invasions, the social and religious convulsions which have taken place among these people, as among all other nations. Only the opening of the buildings which contain the libraries of their learned men, and the reading of their works, could solve the mystery, and cause us to know how much they had advanced in the discovery and explanation of Nature's arcana; how much they knew of mankind's past history, and of the nations with which they held intercourse. Let us hope that the day may yet come when the Mexican government will grant to me the requisite permission, in order that I may bring forth, from the edifices where they are hidden, the precious volumes, without opposition from the owners of the property where the monuments exist. Until then we must content ourselves with the study of the inscriptions carved on the walls, and becoming acquainted with the history of their builders, and continue to conjecture what knowledge they possessed in order to be able to rear such enduring structures, besides the art of designing the plans and ornaments, and the manner of carving them on stone.
Let us place ourselves in the position of the archaeologists of thousands of years to come, examining the ruins of our great cities, finding still on foot some of the stronger built palaces and public buildings, with some rare specimens of the arts, sciences, industry of our days, the minor edifices having disappeared, gnawed by the steely tooth of time, together with the many products of our industry, the machines of all kinds, creation of man's ingenuity, and his powerful helpmates. What would they know of the attainments and the progress in mechanics of our days? Would they be able to form a complete idea of our civilization, and of the knowledge of our scientific men, without the help of the volumes contained in our public libraries, and maybe of some one able to interpret them? Well, it seems to me that we stand in exactly the same position concerning the civilization of those who have preceded us five or ten thousand years ago on this continent, as these future archaeologists may stand regarding our civilization five or ten thousand years hence.
It is a fact, recorded by all historians of the Conquest, that when for the first time in 1517 the Spaniards came in sight of the lands called by them Yucatan, they were surprised to see on the coast many monuments well built of stone; and to find the country strewn with large cities and beautiful monuments that recalled to their memory the best of Spain. They were no less astonished to meet in the inhabitants, not naked savages, but a civilized people, possessed of polite and pleasant manners, dressed in white cotton habiliments, navigating large boats propelled by sails, traveling on well constructed roads and causeways that, in point of beauty and solidity, could compare advantageously with similar Roman structures in Spain, Italy, England or France.
I will not describe here the majestic monuments raised by the Mayas. Mrs. Le Plongeon, in her letters to the New York World, has given of those of UXMAL, AKE and MAYAPAN, the only correct description ever published. My object at present is to relate some of the curious facts revealed to us by their weather-beaten and crumbling walls, and show how erroneous is the opinion of some European scientists, who think it not worth while to give a moment of their precious time to the study of American archaeology, because say they: No relations have ever been found to have existed between the monuments and civilizations of the inhabitants of this continent and those of the old world. On what ground they hazard such an opinion it is difficult to surmise, since to my knowledge the ancient ruined cities of Yucatan, until lately, have never been thoroughly, much less scientifically, explored. The same is true of the other monumental ruins of the whole of Central America.
When Mrs. Le Plongeon and myself landed at Progresso, in 1873, we thought that because we had read the works of Stephens, Waldeck, Norman, Fredeichstal; carefully examined the few photographic views made by Mr. Charnay of some of the monuments, we knew all about them. Alas! vain presumption! When in presence of the antique shrines and palaces of the Mayas, we soon saw how mistaken we had been; how little those writers had seen of the monuments they had pretended to describe: that the work of studying them systematically was not even begun; and that many years of close observation and patient labor would be necessary in order to dispel the mysteries which hang over them, and to discover the hidden meaning of their ornaments and inscriptions. To this difficult task we resolved to dedicate our time, and to concentrate our efforts to find a solution, if possible, to the enigma.
We began our work by taking photographs of all the monuments in their tout ensemble, and in all their details, as much as practicable. Next, we surveyed them carefully; made accurate plans of them in order to be able to comprehend by the disposition of their different parts, for what possible use they were erected; taking, as a starting point, that the human mind and human inclinations and wants are the same in all times, in all countries, in all races when civilized and cultured. We next carefully examined what connection the ornaments bore to each other, and tried to understand the meaning of the designs. At first the maze of these designs seemed a very difficult riddle to solve. Yet, we believed that if a human intelligence had devised it, another human intelligence would certainly be able to unravel it. It was not, however, until we had nearly completed the tracing and study of the mural paintings, still extant in the funeral chamber of Chaacmol, or room built on the top of the eastern wall of the gymnasium at Chichen-Itza, at its southern end, that Stephens mistook for a shrine dedicated to the god of the players at ball, that a glimmer of light began to dawn upon us. In tracing the figure of Chaacmol in battle, I remarked that the shield worn by him had painted on it round green spots, and was exactly like the ornaments placed between tiger and tiger on the entablature of the same monument. I naturally concluded that the monument had been raised to the memory of the warrior bearing the shield; that the tigers represented his totem, and that Chaacmol or Balam maya[TN-2] words for spotted tiger or leopard, was his name. I then remembered that at about one hundred yards in the thicket from the edifice, in an easterly direction, a few days before, I had noticed the ruins of a remarkable mound of rather small dimensions. It was ornamented with slabs engraved with the images of spotted tigers, eating human hearts, forming magnificent bas-reliefs, conserving yet traces of the colors in which it was formerly painted. I repaired to the place. Doubts were no longer possible. The same round dots, forming the spots of their skins, were present here as on the shield of the warrior in battle, and that on the entablature of the building. On examining carefully the ground around the mound, I soon stumbled upon what seemed to be a half buried statue. On clearing the debris we found a statue in the round, representing a wounded tiger reclining on his right side. Three holes in the back indicated the places where he received his wounds. It was headless. A few feet further, I found a human head with the eyes half closed, as those of a dying person. When placed on the neck of the tiger it fitted exactly. I propped it with sticks to keep it in place. So arranged, it recalled vividly the Chaldean and Egyptian deities having heads of human beings and bodies of animals. The next object that called my attention was another slab on which was represented in bas-relief a dying warrior, reclining on his back, the head was thrown entirely backwards. His left arm was placed across his chest, the left hand resting on the right shoulder, exactly in the same position which the Egyptians were wont, at times, to give to the mummies of some of their eminent men. From his mouth was seen escaping two thin, narrow flames—the spirit of the dying man abandoning the body with the last warm breath.
These and many other sculptures caused me to suspect that this monument had been the mausoleum raised to the memory of the warrior with the shield covered with the round dots. Next to the slabs engraved with the image of tigers was another, representing an ara militaris (a bird of the parrot specie, very large and of brilliant plumage of various colors). I took it for the totem of his wife, MOO, macaw; and so it proved to be when later I was able to interpret their ideographic writings. Kinich-Kakmo after her death obtained the honors of the apotheosis; had temples raised to her memory, and was worshipped at Izamal up to the time of the Spanish conquest, according to Landa, Cogolludo and Lizana.
Satisfied that I had found the tomb of a great warrior among the Mayas, I resolved to make an excavation, notwithstanding I had no tools or implements proper for such work. After two months of hard toil, after penetrating through three level floors painted with yellow ochre, at last a large stone urn came in sight. It was opened in presence of Colonel D. Daniel Traconis. It contained a small heap of grayish dust over which lay the cover of a terra cotta pot, also painted yellow; a few small ornaments of macre that crumbled to dust on being touched, and a large ball of jade, with a hole pierced in the middle. This ball had at one time been highly polished, but for some cause or other the polish had disappeared from one side. Near, and lower than the urn, was discovered the head of the colossal statue, to-day the best, or one of the best pieces, in the National Museum of Mexico, having been carried thither on board of the gunboat Libertad, without my consent, and without any renumeration having even been offered by the Mexican government for my labor, my time and the money spent in the discovery. Close to the chest of the statue was another stone urn much larger than the first. On being uncovered it was found to contain a large quantity of reddish substance and some jade ornaments. On closely examining this substance I pronounced it organic matter that had been subjected to a very great heat in an open vessel. (A chemical analysis of some of it by Professor Thompson, of Worcester, Mass., at the request of Mr. Stephen Salisbury, Jr., confirmed my opinion). From the position of the urn I made up my mind that its contents were the heart and viscera of the personage represented by the statue; while the dust found in the first urn must have been the residue of his brains.
Landa tells us that it was the custom, even at the time of the Spanish conquest, when a person of eminence died to make images of stone, or terra cotta or wood in the semblance of the deceased, whose ashes were placed in a hollow made on the back of the head for the purpose. Feeling sorry for having thus disturbed the remains of Chaacmol, so carefully concealed by his friends and relatives many centuries ago; in order to save them from further desecration, I burned the greater part reserving only a small quantity for future analysis. This finding of the heart and brains of that chieftain, afforded an explanation, if any was needed, of one of the scenes more artistically portrayed in the mural paintings of his funeral chamber. In this scene which is painted immediately over the entrance of the chamber, where is also a life-size representation of his corpse prepared for cremation, the dead warrior is pictured stretched on the ground, his back resting on a large stone placed for the purpose of raising the body and keeping open the cut made across it, under the ribs, for the extraction of the heart and other parts it was customary to preserve. These are seen in the hands of his children. At the feet of the statue were found a number of beautiful arrowheads of flint and chalcedony; also beads that formed part of his necklace. These, to-day petrified, seemed to have been originally of bone or ivory. They were wrought to figure shells of periwinkles. Surrounding the slab on which the figure rests was a large quantity of dried blood. This fact might lead us to suppose that slaves were sacrificed at his funeral, as Herodotus tells us it was customary with the Scythians, and we know it was with the Romans and other nations of the old world, and the Incas in Peru. Yet not a bone or any other human remains were found in the mausoleum.
The statue forms a single piece with the slab on which it reclines, as if about to rise on his elbows, the legs being drawn up so that the feet rest flat on the slab. I consider this attitude given to the statues of dead personages that I have discovered in Chichen, where they are still, to be symbolical of their belief in reincarnation. They, in common with the Egyptians, the Hindoos, and other nations of antiquity, held that the spirit of man after being made to suffer for its shortcomings during its mundane life, would enjoy happiness for a time proportionate to its good deeds, then return to earth, animate the body and live again a material existence. The Mayas, however, destroying the body by fire, made statues in the semblance of the deceased, so that, being indestructible the spirit might find and animate them on its return to earth. The present aborigines have the same belief. Even to-day, they never fail to prepare the hanal pixan, the food for the spirits, which they place in secluded spots in the forests or fields, every year, in the month of November. These statues also hold an urn between their hands. This fact again recalls to the mind the Egpptian[TN-3] custom of placing an urn in the coffins with the mummies, to indicate that the spirit of the deceased had been judged and found righteous.
The ornament hanging on the breast of Chaacmol's effigy, from a ribbon tied with a peculiar knot behind his neck, is simply a badge of his rank; the same is seen on the breast of many other personages in the bas-reliefs and mural paintings. A similar mark of authority is yet in usage in Burmah.
I have tarried so long on the description of my first important discovery because I desired to explain the method followed by me in the investigation of these monuments, to show that the result of our labors are by no means the work of imagination—as some have been so kind a short time ago as to intimate—but of careful and patient analysis and comparison; also, in order, from the start, to call your attention to the similarity of certain customs in the funeral rites that the Mayas seem to have possessed in common with other nations of the old world: and lastly, because my friend, Dr. Jesus Sanchez, Professor of Archaeology in the National Museum of Mexico, ignoring altogether the circumstances accompanying the discovery of the statue, has published in the Anales del Museo Nacional, a long dissertation—full of erudition, certainly—to prove that the statue discovered by me at Chichen-Itza, was a representation of the God of the natural production of the earth, and that the name given by me was altogether arbitrary; and, also, because an article has appeared in the North American Review for October, 1880, signed by Mr. Charnay, in which the author, after re-producing Mr. Sanchez's writing, pronounces ex cathedra and de perse, but without assigning any reason for his opinion, that the statue is the effigy of the god of wine—the Mexican Bacchus—without telling us which of them, for there were two.
Having been obliged to abandon the statue in the forests—well wrapped in oilcloth, and sheltered under a hut of palm leaves, constructed by Mrs. Le Plongeon and myself—my men having been disarmed by order of General Palomino, then commander-in-chief of the federal forces in Yucatan, in consequence of a revolutionary movement against Dr. Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada and in favor of General Diaz—I went to Uxmal to continue my researches among its ruined temples and palaces. There I took many photographs, surveyed the monuments, and, for the first time, found the remnants of the phallic worship of the Nahualts. Its symbols are not to be seen in Chichen—the city of the holy and learned men, Itzaes—but are frequently met with in the northern parts of the peninsula, and all the regions where the Nahualt influence predominated.
There can be no doubt that in very ancient times the same customs and religious worship existed in Uxmal and Chichen, since these two cities were founded by the same family, that of CAN (serpent), whose name is written on all the monuments in both places. CAN and the members of his family worshipped Deity under the symbol of the mastodon's head. At Chichen a tableau of said worship forms the ornament of the building, designated in the work of Stephens, "Travels in Yucatan," as IGLESIA; being, in fact, the north wing of the palace and museum. This is the reason why the mastodon's head forms so prominent a feature in all the ornaments of the edifices built by them. They also worshipped the sun and fire, which they represented by the same hieroglyph used by the Egyptians for the sun [sun]. In this worship of the fire they resembled the Chaldeans and Hindoos, but differed from the Egyptians, who had no veneration for this element. They regarded it merely as an animal that devoured all things within its reach, and died with all it had swallowed, when replete and satisfied.
From certain inscriptions and pictures—in which the Cans are represented crawling on all fours like dogs—sculptured on the facade of their house of worship, it would appear that their religion of the mastodon was replaced by that of the reciprocal forces of nature, imported in the country by the big-nosed invaders, the Nahualts coming from the west. These destroyed Chichen, and established their capital at Uxmal. There they erected in all the courts of the palaces, and on the platforms of the temples the symbols of their religion, taking care, however, not to interfere with the worship of the sun and fire, that seems to have been the most popular.
Bancroft in his work, "The Native Races of the Pacific States," Vol. IV., page 277, remarks: "That the scarcity of idols among the Maya antiquities must be regarded as extraordinary. That the people of Yucatan were idolators there is no possible doubt, and in connection with the magnificent shrines and temples erected by them, and rivalling or excelling the grand obelisks of Copan, might naturally be sought for, but in view of the facts it must be concluded that the Maya idols were very small, and that such as escaped the fatal iconoclasms of the Spanish ecclesiastics were buried by the natives as the only means of preventing their desecration."
That the people who inhabited the country at the time of the Spanish conquest had a multiplicity of gods there can be no doubt. The primitive form of worship, with time and by the effect of invasions from outside, had disappeared, and been replaced by that of their great men and women, who were deified and had temples raised to their memory, as we see, for example, in the case of Moo,[TN-4] wife and sister of Chaacmol, whose shrine was built on the high mound on the north side of the large square in the city of Izamal. There pilgrims flocked from all parts of the country to listen to the oracles delivered by the mouth of her priests; and see the goddess come down from the clouds every day, at mid-day, under the form of a resplendent macaw, and light the fire that was to consume the offerings deposited on her altar; even at the time of the conquest, according to the chroniclers, Chaacmol himself seems to have become the god of war, that always appeared in the midst of the battle, fighting on the side of his followers, surrounded with flames. Kukulcan, "the culture" hero of the Mayas, the winged serpent, worshipped by the Mexicans as the god Guetzalcoalt,[TN-5] and by the Quiches as Cucumatz, if not the father himself of Chaacmol, CAN, at least one of his ancestors.
The friends and followers of that prince may have worshipped him after his death, and the following generations, seeing the representation of his totems (serpent) covered with feathers, on the walls of his palaces, and of the sanctuaries built by him to the deity, called him Kukulcan, the winged serpent: when, in fact, the artists who carved his emblems on the walls covered them with the cloaks he and all the men in authority and the high priests wore on ceremonial occasions—feathered vestments—as we learned from the study of mural paintings.
In the temples and palaces of the ancient Mayas I have never seen anything that I could in truth take for idols. I have seen many symbols, such as double-headed tigers, corresponding to the double-headed lions of the Egyptians, emblems of the sun. I have seen the representation of people kneeling in a peculiar manner, with their right hand resting on the left shoulder—sign of respect among the Mayas as among the inhabitants of Egypt—in the act of worshiping the mastodon head; but I doubt if this can be said to be idol worship. Can and his family were probably monotheists. The masses of the people, however, may have placed the different natural phenomena under the direct supervision of special imaginary beings, prescribing to them the same duties that among the Catholics are prescribed, or rather attributed, to some of the saints; and may have tributed to them the sort of worship of dulia, tributed to the saints—even made images that they imagined to represent such or such deity, as they do to-day; but I have never found any. They worshiped the divine essence, and called it KU.
In course of time this worship may have been replaced by idolatrous rites, introduced by the barbarous or half civilized tribes which invaded the country, and implanted among the inhabitants their religious belief, their idolatrous superstitions and form of worship with their symbols. The monuments of Uxmal afford ample evidence of that fact.
My studies, however, have nothing to do with the history of the country posterior to the invasion of the Nahualts. These people appear to have destroyed the high form of civilization existing at the time of their advent; and tampered with the ornaments of the buildings in order to introduce the symbols of the reciprocal forces of nature.
The language of the ancient Mayas, strange as it may appear, has survived all the vicissitudes of time, wars, and political and religious convulsions. It has, of course, somewhat degenerated by the mingling of so many races in such a limited space as the peninsula of Yucatan is; but it is yet the vernacular of the people. The Spaniards themselves, who strived so hard to wipe out all vestiges of the ancient customs of the aborigines, were unable to destroy it; nay, they were obliged to learn it; and now many of their descendants have forgotten the mother tongue of their sires, and speak Maya only.
In some localities in Central America it is still spoken in its pristine purity, as, for example, by the Chaacmules, a tribe of bearded men, it is said, who live in the vicinity of the unexplored ruins of the ancient city of Tekal. It is a well-known fact that many tribes, as that of the Itzaes, retreating before the Nahualt invaders, after the surrender and destruction of their cities, sought refuge in the islands of the lake Peten of to-day, and called it Petenitza, the islands of the Itzaes; or in the well nigh inaccessible valleys, defended by ranges of towering mountains. There they live to-day, preserving the customs, manners, language of their forefathers unaltered, in the tract of land known to us as Tierra de Guerra. No white man has ever penetrated their zealously guarded stronghold that lays between Guatemala, Tabasco, Chiapas and Yucatan, the river Uzumasinta watering part of their territory.
The Maya language seems to be one of the oldest tongues spoken by man, since it contains words and expressions of all, or nearly all, the known polished languages on earth. The name Maya, with the same signification everywhere it is met, is to be found scattered over the different countries of what we term the Old World, as in Central America.
I beg to call your attention to the following facts. They may have no significance. They may be mere coincidences, the strange freaks of hazard, of no possible value in the opinion of some among the learned men of our days. Just as the finding of English words and English customs, as now exist among the most remote nations and heterogeneous people and tribes of all races and colors, who do not even suspect the existence of one another, may be regarded by the learned philologists and ethonologists[TN-6] of two or three thousand years hence. These will, perhaps, also pretend that these coincidences are simply the curious workings of the human mind—the efforts of men endeavoring to express their thoughts in language, that being reduced to a certain number of sounds, must, of necessity produce, if not the same, at least very similar words to express the same idea—and that this similarity does not prove that those who invented them had, at any time, communication, unless, maybe, at the time of the building of the hypothetical Tower of Babel. Then all the inhabitants of earth are said to have bid each other a friendly good night, a certain evening, in a universal tongue, to find next morning that everybody had gone stark mad during the night: since each one, on meeting sixty-nine of his friends, was greeted by every one in a different and unknown manner, according to learned rabbins; and that he could no more understand what they said, than they what he said[TN-7]
It is very difficult without the help of the books of the learned priests of Mayab to know positively why they gave that name to the country known to-day as Yucatan. I can only surmise that they so called it from the great absorbant[TN-8] quality of its stony soil, which, in an incredibly short time, absorbs the water at the surface. This percolating through the pores of the stone is afterward found filtered clear and cool in the senotes and caves. Mayab, in the Maya language, means a tammy, a sieve. From the name of the country, no doubt, the Mayas took their name, as natural; and that name is found, as that of the English to-day, all over the ancient civilized world.
When, on January 28, 1873, I had the honor of reading a paper before the New York American Geographical Society—on the coincidences that exist between the monuments, customs, religious rites, etc. of the prehistoric inhabitants of America and those of Asia and Egypt—I pointed to the fact that sun circles, dolmen and tumuli, similar to the megalithic monuments of America, had been found to exist scattered through the islands of the Pacific to Hindostan; over the plains of the peninsulas at the south of Asia, through the deserts of Arabia, to the northern parts of Africa; and that not only these rough monuments of a primitive age, but those of a far more advanced civilization were also to be seen in these same countries. Allow me to repeat now what I then said regarding these strange facts: If we start from the American continent and travel towards the setting sun we may be able to trace the route followed by the mound builders to the plains of Asia and the valley of the Nile. The mounds scattered through the valley of the Mississippi seem to be the rude specimens of that kind of architecture. Then come the more highly finished teocalis of Yucatan and Mexico and Peru; the pyramidal mounds of Maui, one of the Sandwich Islands; those existing in the Fejee and other islands of the Pacific; which, in China, we find converted into the high, porcelain, gradated towers; and these again converted into the more imposing temples of Cochin-China, Hindostan, Ceylon—so grand, so stupendous in their wealth of ornamentation that those of Chichen-Itza Uxmal, Palenque, admirable as they are, well nigh dwindle into insignificance, as far as labor and imagination are concerned, when compared with them. That they present the same fundamental conception in their architecture is evident—a platform rising over another platform, the one above being of lesser size than the one below; the American monuments serving, as it were, as models for the more elaborate and perfect, showing the advance of art and knowledge.
The name Maya seems to have existed from the remotest times in the meridional parts of Hindostan. Valmiki, in his epic poem, the Ramayana, said to be written 1500 before the Christian era, in which he recounts the wars and prowesses of RAMA in the recovery of his lost wife, the beautiful SITA, speaking of the country inhabited by the Mayas, describes it as abounding in mines of silver and gold, with precious stones and lapiz lazuri:[TN-9] and bounded by the Vindhya mountains on one side, the Prastravana range on the other and the sea on the third. The emissaries of RAMA having entered by mistake within the Mayas territories, learned that all foreigners were forbidden to penetrate into them; and that those who were so imprudent as to violate this prohibition, even through ignorance, seldom escaped being put to death. (Strange[TN-10] to say, the same thing happens to-day to those who try to penetrate into the territories of the Santa Cruz Indians, or in the valleys occupied by the Lacandones, Itzaes and other tribes that inhabit La Tierra de Guerra. The Yucatecans themselves do not like foreigners to go, and less to settle, in their country—are consequently opposed to immigration.
The emissaries of Rama, says the poet, met in the forest a woman who told them: That in very remote ages a prince of the Davanas, a learned magician, possessed of great power, whose name was Maya, established himself in the country, and that he was the architect of the principal of the Davanas: but having fallen in love with the nymph Hema, married her; whereby he roused the jealousy of the god Pourandura, who attacked and killed him with a thunderbolt. Now, it is worthy of notice, that the word Hem signifies in the Maya language to cross with ropes; or according to Brasseur, hidden mysteries.
By a most rare coincidence we have the same identical story recorded in the mural paintings of Chaacmol's funeral chamber, and in the sculptures of Chichsen[TN-11] and Uxmal. There we find that Chaacmol, the husband of Moo[TN-12] is killed by his brother Aac, who stabbed him three times in the back with his spear for jealousy. Aac was in love with his sister Moo, but she married his brother Chaacmol from choice, and because the law of the country prescribed that the younger brother should marry his sister, making it a crime for the older brothers to marry her.
In another part of the Ramayana, MAYA is described as a powerful Asoura, always thirsting for battles and full of arrogance and pride—an enemy to Bāli, chief of one of the monkey tribes, by whom he was finally vanquished. The celebrated Indianist, Mr. H. T. Colebrooke, in a memoir on the sacred books of the Hindoos, published in Vol. VIII of the "Asiatic Researches," says: "The Souryasiddkantu (the most ancient Indian treatise on astronomy), is not considered as written by MAYA; but this personage is represented as receiving his science from a partial incarnation of the sun."
MAYA is also, according to the Rig-Veda, the goddess, by whom all things are created by her union with Brahma. She is the cosmic egg, the golden uterus, the Hiramyagarbha. We see an image of it, represented floating amidst the water, in the sculptures that adorn the panel over the door of the east facade of the monument, called by me palace and museum at Chichen-Itza. Emile Burnouf, in his Sanscrit Dictionary, at the word Maya, says: Maya, an architect of the Datyas; Maya (mas.), magician, prestidigitator; (fem.) illusion, prestige; Maya, the magic virtue of the gods, their power for producing all things; also the feminine or producing energy of Brahma.
I will complete the list of these remarkable coincidences with a few others regarding customs exactly similar in both countries. One of these consists in carrying children astride on the hip in Yucatan as in India. In Yucatan this custom is accompanied by a very interesting ceremony called hetzmec. It is as follows: When a child reaches the age of four months an invitation is sent to the friends and members of the family of the parents to assemble at their house. Then in presence of all assembled the legs of the child are opened, and he is placed astride the hip of the nailah or hetzmec godmother; she in turn encircling the little one with her arm, supports him in that position whilst she walks five times round the house. During the time she is occupied in that walk five eggs are placed in hot ashes, so that they may burst and the five senses of the child be opened. By the manner in which they burst and the time they require for bursting, they pretend to know if he will be intelligent or not. During the ceremony they place in his tiny hands the implement pertaining to the industry he is expected to practice. The nailah is henceforth considered as a second mother to the child; who, when able to understand, is made to respect her: and she is expected, in case of the mother's death, to adopt and take care of the child as if he were her own.
Now, I will call your attention to another strange and most remarkable custom that was common to the inhabitants of Mayab, some tribes of the aborigines of North America, and several of those that dwell in Hindostan, and practice it even to-day. I refer to the printing of the human hand, dipped in a red colored liquid, on the walls of certain sacred edifices. Could not this custom, existing amongst nations so far apart, unknown to each other, and for apparently the same purposes, be considered as a link in the chain of evidence tending to prove that very intimate relations and communications have existed anciently between their ancestors? Might it not help the ethnologists to follow the migrations of the human race from this western continent to the eastern and southern shores of Asia, across the wastes of the Pacific Ocean? I am told by unimpeachable witnesses that they have seen the red or bloody hand in more than one of the temples of the South Sea islanders; and his Excellency Fred. P. Barlee, Esq., the actual governor of British Honduras, has assured me that he has examined this seemingly indelible imprint of the red hand on some rocks in caves in Australia. There is scarcely a monument in Yucatan that does not preserve the imprint of the open upraised hand, dipped in red paint of some sort, perfectly visible on its walls. I lately took tracings of two of these imprints that exist in the back saloon of the main hall, in the governor's house at Uxmal, in order to calculate the height of the personage who thus attested to those of his race, as I learned from one of my Indian friends, who passes for a wizard, that the building was in naa, my house. I may well say that the archway of the palace of the priests, toward the court, was nearly covered with them. Yet I am not aware that such symbol was ever used by the inhabitants of the countries bordering on the shores of the Mediterranean or by the Assyrians, or that it ever was discovered among the ruined temples or palaces of Egypt.
The meaning of the red hand used by the aborigines of some parts of America has been, it is well known, a subject of discussion for learned men and scientific societies. Its uses as a symbol remained for a long time a matter of conjecture. It seems that Mr. Schoolcraft had truly arrived at the knowledge of its veritable meaning. Effectively, in the 2d column of the 5th page of the New York Herald for April 12, 1879, in the account of the visit paid by Gen. Grant to Ram Singh, Maharajah of Jeypoor, we read the description of an excursion to the town of Amber. Speaking of the journey to the home of an Indian king, among other things the writer says:—"We passed small temples, some of them ruined, some others with offerings of grains, or fruits, or flowers, some with priests and people at worship. On the walls of some of the temples we saw the marks of the human hand as though it had been steeped in blood and pressed against the white wall. We were told that it was the custom, when seeking from the gods some benison to note the vow by putting the hand into a liquid and printing it on the wall. This was to remind the gods of the vow and prayer. And if it came to pass in the shape of rain, or food, or health, or children, the joyous devotee returned to the temple and made other offerings." In Yucatan it seems to have had the same meaning. That is to say: that the owners of the house if private, or the priests, in the temples and public buildings, called upon the edifices at the time of taking possession and using them for the first time, the blessing of the Deity; and placed the hand's imprints on the walls to recall the vows and prayer: and also, as the interpretation communicated to me by the Indians seems to suggest, as a signet or mark of property—in naa, my house.
I need not speak of the similarity of many religious rites and beliefs existing in Hindostan and among the inhabitants of Mayab. The worship of the fire, of the phallus, of Deity under the symbol of the mastodon's head, recalling that of Ganeza, the god with an elephant's head, hence that of the elephant in Siam, Birmah[TN-13] and other places of the Asiatic peninsula even in our day; and various other coincidences so numerous and remarkable that many would not regard them as simple coincidences. What to think, effectively, of the types of the personages whose portraits are carved on the obelisks of Copan? Were they in Siam instead of Honduras, who would doubt but they are Siameeses.[TN-14] What to say of the figures of men and women sculptured on the walls of the stupendous temples hewn, from the live rock, at Elephanta, so American is their appearance and features? Who would not take them to be pure aborigines if they were seen in Yucatan instead of Madras, Elephanta and other places of India.
If now we abandon that country and, crossing the Himalaya's range enter Afghanistan, there again we find ourselves in a country inhabited by Maya tribes; whose names, as those of many of their cities, are of pure American-Maya origin. In the fourth column of the sixth page of the London Times, weekly edition, of March 4, 1879, we read: "4,000 or 5,000 assembled on the opposite bank of the river Kabul, and it appears that in that day or evening they attacked the Maya villages situated on the north side of the river."
He, the correspondent of the Times, tells us that Maya tribes form still part of the population of Afghanistan. He also tells us that Kabul is the name of the river, on the banks of which their villages are situated. But Kabul is the name of an antique shrine in the city of Izamal. Cogolludo, in the lib. IV., cap. VIII. of his History of Yucatan, says: "They had another temple on another mound, on the west side of the square, also dedicated to the same idol. They had there the symbol of a hand, as souvenir. To that temple they carried their dead and the sick. They called it Kabul, the working hand, and made there great offerings." Father Lizana says the same: so we have two witnesses to the fact. Kab, in Maya means hand; and Bul is to play at hazard.
Many of the names of places and towns of Afghanistan have not only a meaning in the American-Maya language, but are actually the same as those of places and villages in Yucatan to-day, for example:
The Valley of Chenar would be the valley of the well of the woman's children—chen, well, and al, the woman's children. The fertile valley of Kunar would be the valley of the god of the ears of corn; or, more probably, the nest of the ears of corn: as KU, pronounced short, means God, and Kuu, pronounced long, is nest. NAL, is the ears of corn.
The correspondent of the London Times, in his letters, mentions the names of some of the principal tribes, such as the Kuki-Khel, the Akakhel, the Khambhur Khel, etc. The suffix Khel simply signifies tribe, or clan. So similar to the Maya vocable Kaan, a tie, a rope; hence a clan: a number of people held together by the tie of parentage. Now, Kuki would be Kukil, or Kukum maya[TN-15] for feather, hence the KUKI-KHEL would be the tribe of the feather.
AKA-KHEL in the same manner would be the tribe of the reservoir, or pond. AKAL is the Maya name for the artificial reservoirs, or ponds in which the ancient inhabitants of Mayab collected rain water for the time of drought.
Similarly the KHAMBHUR KHEL is the tribe of the pleasant: Kambul in Maya. It is the name of several villages of Yucatan, as you may satisfy yourself by examining the map.
We have also the ZAKA-KHEL, the tribe of the locust, ZAK. It is useless to quote more for the present: enough to say that if you read the names of the cities, valleys[TN-16] clans, roads even of Afghanistan to any of the aborigines of Yucatan, they will immediately give you their meaning in their own language. Before leaving the country of the Afghans, by the KHIBER Pass—that is to say, the road of the hawk; HI, hawk, and BEL, road—allow me to inform you that in examining their types, as published in the London illustrated papers, and in Harper's Weekly, I easily recognized the same cast of features as those of the bearded men, whose portraits we discovered in the bas-reliefs which adorn the antae and pillars of the castle, and queen's box in the Tennis Court at Chichen-Itza.
On our way to the coast of Asia Minor, and hence to Egypt, we may, in following the Mayas' footsteps, notice that a tribe of them, the learned MAGI, with their Rabmag at their head, established themselves in Babylon, where they became, indeed, a powerful and influential body. Their chief they called Rab-mag—or LAB-MAC—the old person—LAB, old—MAC, person; and their name Magi, meant learned men, magicians, as that of Maya in India. I will directly speak more at length of vestiges of the Mayas in Babylon, when explaining by means of the American Maya, the meaning and probable etymology of the names of the Chaldaic divinities. At present I am trying to follow the footprints of the Mayas.
On the coast of Asia Minor we find a people of a roving and piratical disposition, whose name was, from the remotest antiquity and for many centuries, the terror of the populations dwelling on the shores of the Mediterranean; whose origin was, and is yet unknown; who must have spoken Maya, or some Maya dialect, since we find words of that language, and with the same meaning inserted in that of the Greeks, who, Herodotus tells us, used to laugh at the manner the Carians, or Caras, or Caribs, spoke their tongue; whose women wore a white linen dress that required no fastening, just as the Indian and Mestiza women of Yucatan even to-day[TN-17]
To tell you that the name of the CARAS is found over a vast extension of country in America, would be to repeat what the late and lamented Brasseur de Bourbourg has shown in his most learned introduction to the work of Landa, "Relacion de las cosas de Yucatan;" but this I may say, that the description of the customs and mode of life of the people of Yucatan, even at the time of the conquest, as written by Landa, seems to be a mere verbatim plagiarism of the description of the customs and mode of life of the Carians of Asia Minor by Herodotus.
If identical customs and manners, and the worship of the same divinities under the same name, besides the traditions of a people pointing towards a certain point of the globe as being the birth-place of their ancestors, prove anything, then I must say that in Egypt also we meet with the tracks of the Mayas, of whose name we again have a reminiscence in that of the goddess Maia, the daughter of Atlantis, worshiped in Greece. Here, at this end of the voyage, we seem to find an intimation as to the place where the Mayas originated. We are told that Maya is born from Atlantis; in other words, that the Mayas came from beyond the Atlantic waters. Here, also, we find that Maia is called the mother of the gods Kubeles. Ku, Maya God, Bel the road, the way. Ku-bel, the road, the origin of the gods as among the Hindostanees. These, we have seen in the Rig Veda, called Maya, the feminine energy—the productive virtue of Brahma.
I do not pretend to present here anything but facts, resulting from my study of the ancient monuments of Yucatan, and a comparative study of the Maya language, in which the ancient inscriptions, I have been able to decipher, are written. Let us see if those facts are sustained by others of a different character.
I will make a brief parallel between the architectural monuments of the primitive Chaldeans, their mode of writing, their burial places, and give you the etymology of the names of their divinities in the American Maya language.
The origin of the primitive Chaldees is yet an unsettled matter among learned men. Some professing one opinion, others another. All agree, however, that they were strangers to the lower Mesopotamian valleys, where they settled in very remote ages, their capital being, in the time of Abraham, as we learn from Scriptures, Ur or Hur. So named either because its inhabitants were worshipers of the moon, or from the moon itself—U in the Maya language—or perhaps also because the founders being strangers and guests, as it were, in the country, it was called the city of guests, HULA (Maya), guest just arrived.
Recent researches in the plains of lower Mesopotamia have revealed to us their mode of building their sacred edifices, which is precisely identical to that of the Mayas.
It consisted of mounds composed of superposed platforms, either square or oblong, forming cones or pyramids, their angles at times, their faces at others, facing exactly the cardinal points.
Their manner of construction was also the same, with the exception of the materials employed—each people using those most at hand in their respective countries—clay and bricks in Chaldea, stones in Yucatan. The filling in of the buildings being of inferior materials, crude or sun-dried bricks at Warka and Mugheir; of unhewn stones of all shapes and sizes, in Uxmal and Chichen, faced with walls of hewn stones, many feet in thickness throughout. Grand exterior staircases lead to the summit, where was the shrine of the god, and temple.
In Yucatan these mounds are generally composed of seven superposed platforms, the one above being smaller than that immediately below; the temple or sanctuary containing invariably two chambers, the inner one, the Sanctum Sanctorum, being the smallest.
In Babylon, the supposed tower of Babel—the Birs-i-nimrud—the temple of the seven lights, was made of seven stages or platforms.
The roofs of these buildings in both countries were flat; the walls of vast thickness; the chambers long and narrow, with outer doors opening into them directly; the rooms ordinarily let into one another: squared recesses were common in the rooms. Mr. Loftus is of opinion that the chambers of the Chaldean buildings were usually arched with bricks, in which opinion Mr. Taylor concurs. We know that the ceilings of the chambers in all the monuments of Yucatan, without exception, form triangular arches. To describe their construction I will quote from the description by Herodotus, of some ceilings in Egyptian buildings and Scythian tombs, that resemble that of the brick vaults found at Mugheir. "The side walls slope outward as they ascend, the arch is formed by each successive layer of brick from the point where the arch begins, a little overlapping the last, till the two sides of the roof are brought so near together, that the aperture may be closed by a single brick."
Some of the sepulchers found in Yucatan are very similar to the jar tombs common at Mugheir. These consist of two large open-mouthed jars, united with bitumen after the body has been deposited in them, with the usual accompaniments of dishes, vases and ornaments, having an air hole bored at one extremity. Those found at Progreso were stone urns about three feet square, cemented in pairs, mouth to mouth, and having also an air hole bored in the bottom. Extensive mounds, made artificially of a vast number of coffins, arranged side by side, divided by thin walls of masonry crossing each other at right angles, to separate the coffins, have been found in the lower plains of Chaldea—such as exist along the coast of Peru, and in Yucatan. At Izamal many human remains, contained in urns, have been found in the mounds.
"The ordinary dress of the common people among the Chaldeans," says Canon Rawlison, in his work, the Five Great Monarchies, "seems to have consisted of a single garment, a short tunic tied round the waist, and reaching thence to the knees. To this may sometimes have been added an abba, or cloak, thrown over the shoulders; the material of the former we may perhaps presume to have been linen." The mural paintings at Chichen show that the Mayas sometimes used the same costume; and that dress is used to-day by the aborigines of Yucatan, and the inhabitants of the Tierra de Guerra. They were also bare-footed, and wore on the head a band of cloth, highly ornamented with mother-of-pearl instead of camel's hair, as the Chaldee. This band is to be seen in bas-relief at Chichen-Itza, inthe[TN-18] mural paintings, and on the head of the statue of Chaacmol. The higher classes wore a long robe extending from the neck to the feet, sometimes adorned with a fringe; it appears not to have been fastened to the waist, but kept in place by passing over one shoulder, a slit or hole being made for the arm on one side of the dress only. In some cases the upper part of the dress seems to have been detached from the lower, and to form a sort of jacket which reached about to the hips. We again see this identical dress portrayed in the mural paintings. The same description of ornaments were affected by the Chaldees and the Mayas—bracelets, earrings, armlets, anklets, made of the materials they could procure.
The Mayas at times, as can be seen from the slab discovered by Bresseur[TN-19] in Mayapan (an exact fac-simile of which cast, from a mould made by myself, is now in the rooms of the American Antiquarian Society at Worcester, Mass.), as the primitive Chaldee, in their writings, made use of characters composed of straight lines only, inclosed in square or oblong figures; as we see from the inscriptions in what has been called hieratic form of writing found at Warka and Mugheir and the slab from Mayapan and others.
The Chaldees are said to have made use of three kinds of characters that Canon Rawlinson calls letters proper, monograms and determinative. The Maya also, as we see from the monumental inscriptions, employed three kinds of characters—letters proper, monograms and pictorial.
It may be said of the religion of the Mayas, as I have had occasion to remark, what the learned author of the Five Great Monarchies says of that of the primitive Chaldees: "The religion of the Chaldeans, from the very earliest times to which the monuments carry us back, was, in its outward aspect, a polytheism of a very elaborate character. It is quite possible that there may have been esoteric explanations, known to the priests and the more learned; which, resolving the personages of the Pantheon into the powers of nature, reconcile the apparent multiplicity of Gods with monotheism." I will now consider the names of the Chaldean deities in their turn of rotation as given us by the author above mentioned, and show you that the language of the American Mayas gives us an etymology of the whole of them, quite in accordance with their particular attributes.
The learned author places 'Ra' at the head of the Pantheon, stating that the meaning of the word is simply God, or the God emphatically. We know that Ra was the Sun among the Egyptians, and that the hieroglyph, a circle, representation of that God was the same in Babylon as in Egypt. It formed an element in the native name of Babylon. Which was ka-ra.
Now the Mayas called LA, that which has existed for ever, the truth par excellence. As to the native name of Babylon it would simply be the city of the infinite truth—cah, city; LA, eternal truth.
ANA OR DIS.
Ana, like Ra, is thought to have signified God in the highest sense. Its etymology seems to be problematic. His epithets mark priority and antiquity; the original chief, the father of the gods, the lord of darkness or death. The Maya gives us A, thy; NA, mother. At times he was called DIS, and was the patron god of Erech, the great city of the dead, the necropolis of Lower Babylonia. TIX, Maya is a cavity formed in the earth. It seems to have given its name to the city of Niffer, called Calneh in the translation of the Septuagint, from kal-ana, which is translated the "fort of Ana;" or according to the Maya, the prison of Ana, KAL being prison, or the prison of thy mother.
the supposed wife of Ana, has no peculiar characteristics. Her name is only, says our author, the feminine form of the masculine, Ana. But the Maya designates her as the companion of Ana; TA, with; Anata with Ana.
BIL OR ENU
seems to mean merely Lord. It is usually followed by a qualificative adjunct, possessing great interest, NIPRU. To that name, which recalls that of NEBROTH or Nimrod, the author gives a Syriac etymology; napar (make to flee). His epithets are the supreme, the father of the gods, the procreator.
The Maya gives us BIL, or Bel; the way, the road; hence the origin, the father, the procreator. Also ENA, who is before; again the father, the procreator.
As to the qualificative adjunct nipru. It would seem to be the Maya niblu; nib, to thank; LU, the Bagre, a silurus fish. Niblu would then be the thanksgiving fish. Strange to say, the high priest at Uxmal and Chichen, elder brother of Chaacmol, first son of Can, the founder of those cities, is CAY, the fish, whose effigy is my last discovery in June, among the ruins of Uxmal. The bust is contained within the jaws of a serpent, Can, and over it, is a beautiful mastodon head, with the trunk inscribed with Egyptian characters, which read TZAA, that which is necessary.
is the wife of Bel-nipru. But she is more than his mere female power. She is a separate and important deity. Her common title is the Great Goddess. In Chaldea her name was Mulita or Enuta, both words signifying the lady. Her favorite title was the mother of the gods, the origin of the gods.
In Maya BEL is the road, the way; and TE means here. BELTE or BELTIS would be I am the way, the origin.
Mulita would correspond to MUL-TE, many here, many in me. I am the mother of many. Her other name Enuta seems to be (Maya) Ena-te, signifies ENA, the first, before anybody, and TE here. ENATE, I am here before anybody, I am the mother of the Gods.
HEA OR HOA.
The God Fish, the mystic animal, half man, half fish, which came up from the Persian gulf to teach astronomy and letters to the first settlers on the Euphrates and Tigris.
According to Berosus the civilization was brought to Mesopotamia by Oannes and six other beings, who, like himself, were half man, half fish, and that they came from the Indian Ocean. We have already seen that the Mayas of India were not only architects, but also astronomers; and the symbolic figure of a being half man and half fish seems to clearly indicate that those who brought civilization to the shores of the Euphrates and Tigris came in boats.
Hoa-Ana, or Oannes, according to the Maya would mean, he who has his residence or house on the water. HA, being water; a, thy; na, house; literally, water thy house. Canon Rawlison remarks in that connection: "There are very strong grounds for connecting HEA or Hoa, with the serpent of the Scripture, and the paradisaical traditions of the tree of knowledge and the tree of life." As the title of the god of knowledge and science, Oannes, is the lord of the abyss, or of the great deep, the intelligent fish, one of his emblems being the serpent, CAN, which occupies so conspicuous a place among the symbols of the gods on the black stones recording benefactions.
Is the wife of Hoa, and her name is thought to signify the chief lady. But the Maya again gives us another meaning that seems to me more appropriate. TAB-KIN would be the rays of the sun: the rays of the light brought with civilization by her husband to benighted inhabitants of Mesopotamia.
SIN OR HURKI
is the name of the moon deity; the etymology of it is quite uncertain. Its titles, as Rawlison remarks, are somewhat vague. Yet it is particularly designated as "the bright, the shining" the lord of the month.
Zin in Maya has also many significations. Zin is to stretch, to extend. Zinil is the extension of the whole of the universe. Hurki would be the Maya HULKIN—sun-stroked; he who receives directly the rays of the sun. Hurki is also the god presiding over buildings and architecture; in this connection he is called Bel-Zuna. The lord of building, the supporting architect, the strengthener of fortifications. Bel-Zuna would also signify the lord of the strong house. Zuu, Maya, close, thick. Na, house: and the city where he had his great temple was Ur; named after him. U, in Maya, signifies moon.
SAN OR SANSI,
the Sun God, the lord of fire, the ruler of the day. He who illumines the expanse of heaven and earth.
Zamal (Maya) is the morning, the dawn of the day, and his symbols are the same on the temples of Yucatan as on those of Chaldea, India and Egypt.
VUL OR IVA,
the prince of the powers of the air, the lord of the whirlwind and the tempest, the wielder of the thunderbolt, the lord of the air, he who makes the tempest to rage. Hiba in Maya is to rub, to scour, to chafe as does the tempest. As VUL he is represented with a flaming sword in his hand. Hul (Maya) an arrow. He is then the god of the atmosphere, who gives rain.
ISHTAR OR NANA,
the Chaldean Venus, of the etymology of whose name no satisfactory account can be given, says the learned author, whose list I am following and description quoting.
The Maya language, however, affords a very natural etymology. Her name seems composed of ix, the feminine article, she; and of tac, or tal, a verb that signifies to have a desire to satisfy a corporal want or inclination. IXTAL would, therefore, be she who desires to satisfy a corporal inclination. As to her other name, Nana, it simply means the great mother, the very mother. If from the names of god and goddesses, we pass to that of places, we will find that the Maya language also furnishes a perfect etymology for them.
In the account of the creation of the world, according to the Chaldeans, we find that a woman whose name in Chaldee is Thalatth, was said to have ruled over the monstrous animals of strange forms, that were generated and existed in darkness and water. The Greek called her Thalassa (the sea). But the Maya vocable Thallac, signifies a thing without steadiness, like the sea.
The first king of the Chaldees was a great architect. To him are ascribed the most archaic monuments of the plains of Lower Mesopotamia. He is said to have conceived the plans of the Babylonian Temple. He constructed his edifices of mud and bricks, with rectangular bases, their angles fronting the cardinal points; receding stages, exterior staircases, with shrines crowning the whole structure. In this description of the primitive constructions of the Chaldeans, no one can fail to recognize the Maya mode of building, and we see them not only in Yucatan, but throughout Central America, Peru, even Hindoostan. The very name Urkuh seems composed of two Maya words HUK, to make everything, and LUK, mud; he who makes everything of mud; so significative of his building propensities and of the materials used by him.
The etymology of the name of that country, as well as that of Asshur, the supreme god of the Assyrians, who never pronounced his name without adding "Asshur is my lord," is still an undecided matter amongst the learned philologists of our days. Some contend that the country was named after the god Asshur; others that the god Asshur received his name from the place where he was worshiped. None agree, however, as to the significative meaning of the name Asshur. In Assyrian and Hebrew languages the name of the country and people is derived from that of the god. That Asshur was the name of the deity, and that the country was named after it, I have no doubt, since I find its etymology, so much sought for by philologists, in the American Maya language. Effectively the word asshur, sometimes written ashur, would be AXUL in Maya.
A, in that language, placed before a noun, is the possessive pronoun, as the second person, thy or thine, and xul, means end, termination. It is also the name of the sixth month of the Maya calendar. Axul would therefore be thy end. Among all the nations which have recognized the existence of a SUPREME BEING, Deity has been considered as the beginning and end of all things, to which all aspire to be united.
A strange coincidence that may be without significance, but is not out of place to mention here, is the fact that the early kings of Chaldea are represented on the monuments as sovereigns over the Kiprat-arbat, or FOUR RACES. While tradition tells us that the great lord of the universe, king of the giants, whose capital was Tiahuanaco, the magnificent ruins of which are still to be seen on the shores of the lake of Titicaca, reigned over Ttahuatyn-suyu, the FOUR PROVINCES. In the Chou-King we read that in very remote times China was called by its inhabitants Sse-yo, THE FOUR PARTS OF THE EMPIRE. The Manava-Dharma-Sastra, the Ramayana, and other sacred books of Hindostan also inform us that the ancient Hindoos designated their country as the FOUR MOUNTAINS, and from some of the monumental inscriptions at Uxmal it would seem that, among other names, that place was called the land of the canchi, or FOUR MOUTHS, that recalls vividly the name of Chaldea Arba-Lisun, the FOUR TONGUES.
That the language of the Mayas was known in Chaldea in remote ages, but became lost in the course of time, is evident from the Book of Daniel. It seems that some of the learned men of Judea understood it still at the beginning of the Christian era, as many to-day understand Greek, Latin, Sanscrit, &c.; since, we are informed by the writers of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark, that the last words of Jesus of Nazareth expiring on the cross were uttered in it.
In the fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel, we read that the fingers of the hand of a man were seen writing on the wall of the hall, where King Belshazzar was banqueting, the words "Mene, mene, Tekel, upharsin," which could not be read by any of the wise men summoned by order of the king. Daniel, however, being brought in, is said to have given as their interpretation: Numbered, numbered, weighed, dividing, perhaps with the help of the angel Gabriel, who is said by learned rabbins to be the only individual of the angelic hosts who can speak Chaldean and Syriac, and had once before assisted him in interpreting the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. Perhaps also, having been taught the learning of the Chaldeans, he had studied the ancient Chaldee language, and was thus enabled to read the fatidical words, which have the very same meaning in the Maya language as he gave them. Effectively, mene or mane, numbered, would seem to correspond to the Maya verbs, MAN, to buy, to purchase, hence to number, things being sold by the quantity—or MANEL, to pass, to exceed. Tekel, weighed, would correspond to TEC, light. To-day it is used in the sense of lightness in motion, brevity, nimbleness: and Upharsin, dividing, seem allied to the words PPA, to divide two things united; or uppah, to break, making a sharp sound; or paah, to break edifices; or, again, PAALTAL, to break, to scatter the inhabitants of a place.
As to the last words of Jesus of Nazareth, when expiring on the cross, as reported by the Evangelists, Eli, Eli, according to St. Matthew, and Eloi, Eloi, according to St. Mark, lama sabachthani, they are pure Maya vocables; but have a very different meaning to that attributed to them, and more in accordance with His character. By placing in the mouth of the dying martyr these words: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? they have done him an injustice, presenting him in his last moments despairing and cowardly, traits so foreign to his life, to his teachings, to the resignation shown by him during his trial, and to the fortitude displayed by him in his last journey to Calvary; more than all, so unbecoming, not to say absurd, being in glaring contradiction to his role as God. If God himself, why complain that God has forsaken him? He evidently did not speak Hebrew in dying, since his two mentioned biographers inform us that the people around him did not understand what he said, and supposed he was calling Elias to help him: This man calleth for Elias.
His bosom friend, who never abandoned him—who stood to the last at the foot of the cross, with his mother and other friends and relatives, do not report such unbefitting words as having been uttered by Jesus. He simply says, that after recommending his mother to his care, he complained of being thirsty, and that, as the sponge saturated with vinegar was applied to his mouth, he merely said: IT IS FINISHED! and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost. (St. John, chap. xix., v. 30.)
Well, this is exactly the meaning of the Maya words, HELO, HELO, LAMAH ZABAC TA NI, literally: HELO, HELO, now, now; LAMAH, sinking; ZABAC, black ink; TA, over; NI, nose; in our language: Now, now I am sinking; darkness covers my face! No weakness, no despair—He merely tells his friends all is over. It is finished! and expires.
Before leaving Asia Minor, in order to seek in Egypt the vestiges of the Mayas, I will mention the fact that the names of some of the natives who inhabited of old that part of the Asiatic continent, and many of those of places and cities seem to be of American Maya origin. The Promised Land, for example—that part of the coast of Phoenicia so famous for the fertility of its soil, where the Hebrews, after journeying during forty years in the desert, arrived at last, tired and exhausted from so many hard-fought battles—was known as Canaan. This is a Maya word that means to be tired, to be fatigued; and, if it is spelled Kanaan, it then signifies abundance; both significations applying well to the country.
TYRE, the great emporium of the Phoenicians, called Tzur, probably on account of being built on a rock, may also derive its name from the Maya TZUC, a promontory, or a number of villages, Tzucub being a province.