Commentary Upon the Maya-Tzental Perez Codex - with a Concluding Note Upon the Linguistic Problem of the Maya Glyphs
by William E. Gates
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Transcriber's Note

Typographical errors in the original have been maintained in this version. They are marked with a [TN-#]. A list of the errors is found at the end of the present text.

The following codes are used for characters that are not found in the character set used for this ebook:




VOL. VI.—No. 1









In presenting this Commentary on the Codex Perez to students of American Archaeology, the Peabody Museum adds another paper to its series relating to the study of the hieroglyphic writing of the ancient peoples of Mexico and Central America.

The Museum is fortunate in adding to its collaborators Mr. William E. Gates, of Point Loma, California, who for more than ten years has been an earnest student of American hieroglyphs. From his lifelong studies in linguistics in connection with his research in "the motifs of civilizations and cultures," he comes well-equipped to take up the difficult and all-absorbing study of American hieroglyphic writing. Mr. Gates has materially advanced this study by his reproduction of the glyphs in type. These type-forms he has used first in his reproduction of the Codex Perez, and now in this Commentary they are used for the first time in printing. The method used in the construction of this font of type is explained by Mr. Gates in the following pages. This important aid to the study will be highly appreciated by all students of American hieroglyphs, as it will greatly facilitate the presentation of the results of future research.

It will be seen that this Commentary is more in the line of suggestion to be expanded after further studies, than in the way of conclusions.

At the close of the paper the author presents the general deductions he has drawn from his comparative study of languages and cultures. His concluding paragraph forcibly presents the hope that the understanding of the Maya glyphs will furnish new and important data in the life history of man.



October, 1910


The Perez Codex was discovered just fifty years ago by Prof. Leon de Rosny, while searching through the Bibliotheque Imperiale, Paris, in the hope of bringing to light some documents of interest for the then newly awakened study of Pre-Columbian America. It was found by him in a basket among a lot of old papers, black with dust and practically abandoned in a chimney corner. From a few words with the name Perez, written on a torn scrap of paper then around it but since lost, it received its name.

Being restored to its proper place in the Library, it was in 1864 photographed by order of M. Victor Duruy, Minister of Instruction, and a few copies issued without further explanatory notes than the printed wrappers. The number of copies is stated by Prof. de Rosny to have been very small; in Leclerc's Bibl. Amer. (1878, No. 2290) it is given as only 10, and in Brasseur's Bibl. Mex.-Guat. (page 95), as 50. A copy is in the library of the Bureau of Ethnology at Washington, and referred to in their publications as a most fortunate acquisition. I had the good fortune to secure a copy some ten years ago, and one other has recently appeared in a Leipzig catalog at a high price. Beyond these I have not traced any other copy.

In 1872 Prof. de Rosny published a reproduction, drawn by hand, which, as stated by him later, may be disregarded for practical purposes.[7-*]

In 1887 he issued a facsimile edition in colors, 85 copies, which up to the present time has remained the only attempt to show the Codex in its proper colors, and has become exceedingly difficult to procure; so much so that it was only after seven years search that I was able to secure my own copy.[8-*]

In 1888 he reissued the Codex, uncolored, with the same letter-press, and in an edition of 100 copies. This has also become scarce.

Each of these three editions has its advantages and disadvantages. The colored edition of 1887, having been worked over by hand, in lithography, is defective in various places, both as regards the black of the figures and glyphs, and in the colors. Coloring exists on the original codex which was not reproduced at all in the edition, and the colors given are in many cases not exact. Thus on pages 19 and 20 two different reds are used for the backgrounds, whereas but one is found in the original; on pages 15, 16 the figures are a turquoise green, and on pages 17, 18 an olive green, the correct color for all four being turquoise green.

I have been able to find no inaccuracy in the 1888 edition, which is indeed stated in the introduction to be entirely by mechanical process, without hand intervention; but being reproduced by printer's ink in black only, not only do the colors not appear, but the chromatic values are actually far inferior to the photographs of 1864. It was stated further by Prof. de Rosny that some features of the MS. had been lost by deterioration in the 25 years previous to his editions of 1887 and 1888, but this I have not been able to verify in any important point.

The photographs and the edition of 1888 are to all general purposes identical; but, notwithstanding that the photographs are steadily yellowing by age, the chromatic values are so far superior that I have continually come to find them the court of final decision in doubtful matters. In a very considerable number of instances a close examination of the photographs has suggested the presence of faint lines of color on glyphs or figures, which was entirely indistinguishable in both of the printed editions, and which was yet in every case confirmed, although sometimes with difficulty, by the examination of the original MS.

The proved value, as well as the scarcity, of these photographs was so great, that in 1905 I had my set photographed twice, by dry and wet plate processes, and a few copies printed after a careful comparison and selection of the two sets of plates. It is from these that the present edition has grown.[9-*]

The present edition, save for the photographs thus reproduced, having been entirely redrawn, and partly restored, it is fitting to detail just what has been done in this respect.

At the very beginning of my introduction to Maya studies the enormous burdens placed on research therein at every turn, bore upon me as upon every other student. The subject and its possibilities stimulate enthusiasm to the highest degree; the rewards of success are greater than those of any like problem today; and yet, fifty years since the present Codex was discovered, and thirty years since Dr. Foerstemann's unsurpassable edition of the Dresden Codex, the actual workers on the problem are the barest handful. A few scattered and obscure references amongst the volumes on volumes of Spanish writers, nearly all untranslated, most of them scarce or almost unprocurable, and many not even printed, make up the literature to be searched out. And a few points of decipherment won and safely fixed by the researchers, from Brasseur, de Rosny, Pousse, Brinton and others a generation ago, to Messrs. Bowditch, Seler, Goodman and a few others of today, are all we have—standing out in a wilderness of guesses by many writers, needless of naming.

Of course the prime and absolute necessity of such a study is true facsimiles; but the task of using even these, taken as they must be from much defaced inscriptions and manuscripts, is too obvious for comment. So from the very first of my studies I began to cherish thoughts of the day when Maya could be printed with type, and classified indexes to the glyphs at hand. From one point of view such facilities can only be expected to come after decipherment; from another, in absence of bilingual keys, they are a necessity before that can be attained. So far as his work covers, a great deal has been done in this line by Mr. A. P. Maudslay in the field of the inscriptions.

At the very outset therefore I must enter acknowledgment of the assistance that I owe to the courtesy at that time of Prof. F. W. Putnam, of Peabody Museum, and Mr. Chas. P. Bowditch, in placing, with a freedom by no means universal among curators and researchers, their material at my disposal, with privilege of copying. I am safe to say that while I have reclassified the glyphs for my own use as my studies went on, yet without the copy which by Mr. Bowditch's courtesy I was allowed to make of his card index to the glyphs of the three codices, as a start, this edition of the Perez Codex would not yet have reached daylight through the many other occupations among which Maya studies have had to take their chances.

At first it seemed possible to prepare a font of separate types for the various elements of the compound glyphs we find in the texts; but after having such a font made a number of years ago, and printing a couple of pages of the Dresden Codex, the result was unsatisfactory; it became evident that the proper Maya font of type must be both separate and composite, as is used in Chinese, and not separate only as we have for Egyptian. The type for the text cards of this edition have therefore been made this way.

As to the colored plates of the Codex herewith, it is evident that nothing whatever is gained by preserving the irregularities of the defaced parts of the Codex, while everything is to be gained by making all as clear and distinct as possible. The first step therefore was to have a set of photographed enlargements of two diameters, made direct from the 1864 issue. From these I made careful tracings, myself, of the black figure and glyph lines of the original, making at the same time the separate enlarged drawings from which the type were afterwards made. At this first drawing only the evident, the indisputable parts were drawn. The type forms were then classified, arranged in parallel columns, and compared. All was then gone over, and new points settled on the basis of the familiarity thus gained. It is a fair estimate to say that this process of checking and verifying was gone through, first to last, down to the final proof-reading of the printed sheets, some fifty times.

One most important fact was established by this process, and must be noted. In the Perez Codex at least, nothing is to be taken for granted, nothing charged to a careless scribe, and no variants regarded as being identical in value—with a very few exceptions, to which I shall advert later. Wherever there remains enough of any glyph to show its characteristic strokes, it can be regarded as safely indicated; whenever the strokes are not just those characteristic of any glyph, it cannot be inferred. Down to the very end of the various revisions I found myself able to add glyphs which at first seemed hopeless, and yet when once seen became clear and plain. Relying on the presence of the photographs to check the work, I have thus added a very considerable number to the glyphs at first apparent. In some cases, as in 6-b-11 and 17, and especially in 8-b-7, 8, 10, where glyphs were only partially erased, but no other instances of perfect glyphs existed to compare them with, I have let them alone, without attempting restoration. In short, I may have made some errors of eye, but I have guessed nothing.

In a very few places I have restored glyphs totally erased, relying on the parallelism of the passages. Such are some of the Ahau-numbers in the upper sections of pages 2 to 11, and in the central sections on those pages, the initial pairs of glyphs on pages 15 to 18-a, b, c, the first columns of pages 19 and 20, and a few day-signs on pages 21, 23 and 24. These glyphs are all necessitated by their different series, and hence can cause no confusions; while it seemed advantageous to have them before the eye. A fair instance of the procedure is shown on page 3-b-1, 3. The temptation was strong to put the usual [Hieroglyph] glyph here as on all the other pages, but the slight variation in the lines left of glyph 3-b-3 forbade it.

The restoration will further be found a little bolder on the type-cards than in the colored plates, where I have in general only endeavored to reproduce what could be seen actually present. The glyphs restored on the upper part of page 7 would seem hopeless at first sight; but they are well-known and common forms, and the characteristic traces shown on the photographs belong to these and to no others known.

* * * * *

The cards of type-printed text, in parallel columns for convenience of study, are self-explanatory. Such an arrangement has from the first seemed to me indispensable for proper study and comparison. The paging of the de Rosny editions I have retained, except to change the practically blank page 1 to be page 25, since to number this as 1 is confusing. For the divisions and the numbering of the glyphs I have made my own arrangement. It is possible that section b on pages 2 to 11 should only go to the bottom line of the central figure, leaving section d to read clear across the page, and another section to be made to the left of the nearly erased figures at the bottom; but the chances as shown by the lining and arrangement of the columns seemed to favor it as I have given it. Only final decipherment can decide definitely.


[7-*] In Archives paleographiques de l'Orient et de l'Amerique, atlas, t. I, pl. 117-142.

[8-*] In his Commentar zur Pariser Mayahandschrift, Danzig, 1903, Dr. Foerstemann does not know of the existence of this edition.

[9-*] Codex Perez: Maya-Tzental. Redrawn and Slightly Restored, and with the Coloring as it originally stood, so far as possible, given on the basis of a new and minute examination of the Codex itself. Mounted in the form of the Original. Accompanied by a Reproduction of the 1864 Photographs; also by the entire Text of the Glyphs, unemended but with some restorations, Printed from Type, and arranged in Parallel Columns for convenience of study and comparison. Drawn and edited by William E. Gates. (Privately printed.) Point Loma, 1909.


The colors of the Codex afforded a number of questions for solution, some of which I have cleared up and embodied in the plates; a few are I believe insoluble. I have also been able to add a few wholly new points, not indicated by any of the preceding editions.

Being unable to make a personal examination of the original, I prepared from my enlarged black drawings, above mentioned, another full set including the figures and all glyphs or other parts showing any suggestions of color. Upon these I prepared a list of nearly 200 questions covering every detail, together with certain general specifications, and had the whole made the subject of a careful and exhaustive comparison with the original at the Bibliotheque Nationale. This report, when duly returned with the various details set out, with the various colors shown in their exact tints by water-colors, and with a special analysis of the question of the fading of the colors, was again checked and verified by the evidence of the three editions.

In doubtful questions arising from faded colors, I have sought to show the condition of the original as it exists today. In the solid red backgrounds and other places I have aimed to show as far as possible what the Codex looked like when fresh.

This question as to what all the colors in detail were when fresh, I do not feel that I have quite solved. The following palette scheme seems to me about as near as the data permit us to formulate.

A permanent black, being the parts reproduced in black in the present edition.

A brick-red, tinged with crimson, used for backgrounds, red numerals, and probably elsewhere. This we may call unfading red.

A genuine brown, as on the animals, pages 5-a, 8-a; perhaps also elsewhere as lining ornament.

A pale pink as flesh color on the human figures.

A blue, as on the possible katun number series on pages 23 and 24.

A turquoise-green, with varying amounts of blue tinge, on the spotted figures and in the numeral columns of pages 15 to 18; also, with somewhat less of the blue, for the "water" bands on pages 21 to 24.

The above colors are all definite and positive.

Then next appears a brownish color used for lining or ornamenting various glyphs, and the clothing, headdress, etc., etc., of the figures. We find many shades from a pale neutral up to a darker clear brown, and also a definitely reddish, as on the tail of the bird on the right side of page 23. This brown may be a fading of the red of the backgrounds and numerals, but the permanence of the color in these latter places is so positive that I believe it is not so. I think it should be regarded as separate.

We next come to a color question related directly to decipherment, that of the very difficult numeral columns on pages 15 to 18. There is no practical reason discernable for the use of alternating colors save the avoidance of confusion between bar combinations. Three bars together of different colors stand of course for three 5's; of one color they would make a single number 15. We therefore find here our above black, red and blue-green alternating and clearly marked in places; but we also find many numerals of varying shades of brownish, bistre and grayish. I called for especial care in the examination of these points on the original Codex, and the water-color sheets and explanatory notes show in detail the facts of the present state of the Codex. Prior to the examination I supposed that these faded numerals were a faded red, but this is stated in the report to be certainly not the case; the suggestion is made that they are probably faded blacks.

From the latter conclusion I am inclined in part to dissent, at least as to certain passages, for two reasons. These are, first the actual permanence of the above noted main colors, everywhere else; and second, passages in the second columns of pages 16 and 17. In each of these we find faded brown or gray bars, so placed between or next to plain black bars as would give, were they faded blacks, more than three black bars together.

Another point on page 17 is to be noted. In the top section, first column, are five blue 3's. Some of these blue dots, as shown in the 1887 edition and in my water-colors, have faded to the same light brown seen elsewhere. The brown and the blue 5 in the second column of this page, middle division, as just mentioned, have also an identical chromatic value in the photographs.

My whole conclusion therefore, so far as I can formulate one, is that in these columns we have:

Red, black, and blue-green numerals, as shown. Some of the blue numerals seem to have been outlined with black, of which traces still appear on the original, are seen in the photographs, and indicated in the present color plates.

Several instances where the Codex has been rubbed so as to leave only the outlines of original black numerals. These are now gray in the original, and I have left them as black outlines, touched in with gray.

Finally, a number of pale brown numerals which are either faded blue-greens, or else indicate a fourth color in the original. Which of these alternatives is the true one, I cannot say.

* * * * *

The original Codex is still in practically as good condition as when the three editions were taken from it. The material of which it is made is a maguey paper of grayish tinge, and not a yellowish brown as would be inferred from the 1887 edition. This is noteworthy, as the wearing away of the coating with which the paper was surfaced for the writing, does not leave a brownish place which, as in the 1887 edition, might be mistaken for traces of applied color. This coating is indeed better preserved in places than is shown by the 1887 edition; thus the headdress at the extreme left of page 20, just to the right of the restored 8 Ezanab on the present color plates, is shown with the coating all erased and the black writing as if left on the ground-paper—which is incorrect.


Coming then to the question of the subject-matter of the Codex, I feel that little is in order beyond a simple analytical description of the different pages, rather than any attempt at an interpretation. The road of general deductions from superficial resemblances between unknown elements and the details of other known things from other times and places, is strewn by the wrecks of too many theories to be attractive traveling. I am firmly convinced of the greatness and importance of the study we have before us, and the exalted civilization which produced it; but I do not know how to interpret these monuments. Indeed the very persistence with which the interpretation (which will certainly be self-evident and everywhere applicable when it does finally come) still eludes us, is a sufficient proof that we have not yet found the right road. When we do, great doorways to the past of mankind will open of themselves, and we will know more of human life and evolution than we now guess. Until then we can only describe, classify, and try to get rid of some of the mechanical impedimenta of the search.

What we have of the Perez Codex is manifestly but a fragment; the extent of it originally we have no means of even guessing. It is fortunate however that what we have gives several practically complete chapters or portions of the work. Taking first the side of the MS. paged 2 to 12, we find the entire side covered by a series of pictures with text, all identical in arrangement. The few remaining traces on page 12 show its likeness to the others, for we see in their proper places parts of the Tun-glyph on which the figures on the upper section are seated; of the Cimi, Tun and Cauac glyphs just as in pages 11-c-2, 6 and 8; also of the columns of glyphs to the left, and traces of the headdress. As will appear further, at least two more pages are required to complete this series, and it is as good a supposition as any other that they were those which would be numbered 1 and 13—that is, one before page 2 and one after page 12. For convenience of reference the divisions of these pages may be lettered from a to e; a being given to the upper portion, b to the left columns of glyphs, e to the large middle picture, and c and d to the text divisions above and below this.

* * * * *

Taking up first the central figures, section e, we find in each a standing figure, with ceremonial headdress of varying character, offering a dragon's head (a universal symbol of wisdom) to another figure, seated on a cushioned dais, the side of which bears various "constellation" signs. The latter in turn extends his hands, either holding some object, or else in a simple gesture. The standing figures are all almost completely preserved; the seated ones unfortunately largely or wholly obliterated. In front of the standing ministrant is a vase of offerings, usually a triple Kan figure, and in two cases with knives. In the upper part of the picture, facing in every case but one towards the ministrant, is a bird figure, different on each page, and having in two cases a human head. On each page is an Ahau sign with red numeral, all of them together forming a series which (starting on the supposed page 1 with 4 Ahau) gives the succession 4, 2, 13, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3, 1, 12, 10, 8, 6; in other words the numbers of thirteen consecutive katuns. The Ahau numerals 13, 11, 9, on pages 3, 4 and 5, are entirely distinct, and enough traces appear on other pages to establish this as a katun series beyond question. If this chapter includes just a round of numbers it would of course be complete in 13 pages. The chapter may be historical in contents, but the presence of this numeral Ahau-series clearly relates these pages to successive katuns in some way, whatever other bearings they may have. The ten pages thus in some way definitely have to do with the lapse of 72,000 days, or not quite 200 solar years, and the extension of the series to a full cycle of 20 katuns is quite likely. The background of this section e is red on each alternate page.

Returning now to section a, we find on each page three figures, nearly all of persons or animals, seated on a large base [Hieroglyph] practically identical with the tun-glyph. Fourteen of the backgrounds to these figures are red. Above each figure there seems to have been at least six glyphs, of which but very few are left. Above these is a space entirely erased. In the center of the section on each page is a column containing at least two Ahaus with red numerals. The numerals of the upper row exceed those of the lower by 6; each row decreases from page to page by 4. The erased margins of the MS. do not afford space for another picture besides the three, on either side, but they do just give room for another Ahau-column on the left of each page. If this second Ahau-column existed, we have again the katun-series repeated in each row across. If it did not exist, the series (reading from the supposed page 1) of 13, 9, 5, etc., and 7, 3, 12, etc., decreasing by 4's, give the numbers of successive tuns. Once again the question of whether a simple number-round of thirteen terms, or a full round of twenty terms, whether tuns or katuns, was originally displayed on the Codex, must be left undetermined. It is further to be noted that faint but exact traces of a third Ahau, on a higher line, appear on page 5, as well as some doubtful traces on page 8. No definite relationship between the pictures of this section a and those of section e is apparent.

Section b is made up of 45 or more glyphs in three columns. The first column is almost totally erased on every page, and I have disregarded it both in assigning reference numbers and in the type cards. The other two columns I have numbered in double column sequence downwards; but this can be regarded as solely for convenience' sake. The glyph [Hieroglyph] which is three times repeated at the beginning of page 2, and recurs in parallel position repeated two to five times on each page, is the most common glyph in the whole Codex. It is identifiable probably 38 times, including twice at the top of the erased first column on page 4. It heads the second column several times on every page, except 7, which is too erased for any determination, and page 3, where a slight variation in what is left of the postfix at b-3 forbade its insertion under the rules I have given limiting restorations. I suspect that this glyph should be repeated at 3-b-9 and 11-b-9, for the following reason. In positions b-6, b-8 or b-10 of each page occurs a certain face-glyph [Hieroglyph] that is found nowhere else in either the Perez, Dresden or Tro.-Cort. codices. If the initial glyph is repeated at 3-b-9 and 11-b-9 as suggested, then (with a slight variation on page 4) this series of repetitions of the initial glyph will in each case be closed by the face-glyph in question.

A marked feature of section b is the occurrence, near the bottom of each page, of a Cauac-sign, with or without the [Hieroglyph] wing-postfix, and with prefixed and superfixed [Hieroglyph] numerals, exactly as is so common in connexion with the Chuen-sign on the Inscriptions. This Cauac-sign is usually accompanied by an Ahau and a Tun, each with numerals that are for the most part erased. This combination suggests distance-numbers and dates, somewhat as on the Inscriptions; in this case the double-numbered Cauacs would stand for so many uinals plus so many days. The following combinations, besides the one above, are also found:


Section c consists of 16 glyphs in two rows, above the central picture. Glyphs 15 and 16 on each page are erased. The chief general characteristic is the frequent repetition of the Cimi-compound, [Hieroglyph]; the repetition on each page of a Cauac-sign with single or double numerals as in section b; and of Tun-compounds, with [Hieroglyph] subfix and with varying prefixes (frequently faces), as especially see page 5.

Section d is a triple row of glyphs, originally 21 in some instances, but with many now erased. I am able to establish few general characteristics for this section, save again the frequency of the Cimi-compound as in section c, of various Tun-compounds, and of the two glyphs [Hieroglyph] and [Hieroglyph][TN-1] With the exception of 10-b-4, the face with the tau-eye occurs only in this section d and on pages 15 to 18. This glyph is exceedingly common both in Dres. and Tro.-Cort, the form in which it appears at 3-d-4, 6, [Hieroglyph] occurring (including its secondary compounds) no less than 126 times in Dres. and 33 times in Tro.-Cort.

Beneath section d are the remains of red numerals and of heads and headdresses of figures which are now too much erased to give any basis for comment.

A most marked feature of the Codex is the very large number of Tun-compounds, a feature confined exclusively, with one exception, to the present pages 2 to 11, and pages 23, 24. A classified list shows 28 compounds of this glyph, [Hieroglyph] 20 of these showing the subfix, and combined with a face or other prefix. The connexion of this fact with the Tun-bases of section a, and with the katun-rounds shown by the Ahau-series above referred to, is manifest.

To sum up the general characteristics of this side of the MS., and without attempting to interpret any separate glyphs, we find the following data:

The Cimi-compound [Hieroglyph] and its sub-compound [Hieroglyph] occurs 25 times.

The numeral-compounded Cauac occurs 20 times.

The glyph [Hieroglyph] occurs 13 times on this side and once on page 23.

The Chuen-compound [Hieroglyph] occurs 19 times and probably oftener—once only on the other side of the MS.

The various Tun-glyphs occur 45 times, on the two sides.

The face-glyph [Hieroglyph] occurs 10 times.

The Kan-Ymix glyph [Hieroglyph] occurs 10 times.

The glyph [Hieroglyph] occurs 37 times on this side and, with a prefix and a changed postfix, once on page 24.

With the exceptions noted, none of the above glyphs occur at all on the reverse side of the MS.

There are finally 19 different Yax ([Hieroglyph]) compounds, occurring in all 25 times, 16 of them on this side of the MS.

With three exceptions the above glyphs are the only ones that are repeated in the Codex with any marked frequency. The three exceptions are the face with tau-eye, already [Hieroglyph] mentioned, and the two glyphs occurring as an initial [Hieroglyphs] pair twelve times on pages 15 to 18, sections a, b, c.

Of month signs used as such I am only [Hieroglyphs] satisfied of 12 Cumhu, at 18-b-4 and of 16 Zac, at 4-c-7. The glyph [Hieroglyph] at 7-c-2 may also be 1 Yaxkin.

The only cardinal point sign is that of the West, [Hieroglyph] occurring at 4-b-14 and again at 16-a-6.

There are besides these numeral Cauacs, 15 other Cauac [Hieroglyph] compounds, occurring in all 17 times on this side, and twice on pages 23, 24.

* * * * *

Upon turning over the Codex, we find that whereas on the side we have been considering the scribe limited himself to the conventional red numerals and backgrounds, with here and there a touch of brown, upon this other side we have a wealth of color united with a harmony of composition and structure that marks a very high degree of artistic skill. It is not alone the accuracy of the drawing and the writing, such as we have noted in connexion with the study of the glyphs, but the whole manuscript as it lies open before us shows that sense of proportion, that ability to unify without seeming effort a multitude of details into a perfectly balanced whole, which is the positive mark of developed and genuine culture. When we remember the exceeding difficulty of combining primary colors into a brilliancy that is not garish, and the equal difficulty of achieving artistic mastery in a conventional treatment of forms, we are simply forced to recognize that we have here the evidence of an advanced school of art with full rights of independent citizenship. If the figures look strange and sometimes distorted, we must remember that our whole training has been in the realistic school, by which we are prone to judge all others, but by which they must not be judged. We have no more right to weigh these compositions in the scales of our art motifs than we have to weigh Greek rhythm of quantity or Saxon of alliteration against our weights by which we measure rhythm of rhyme and stress. In fact it is impossible for us even to judge concerning the true harmonic effect of these other measures, and it may well be doubted whether the very soul itself of our meter is not empty and tinny as compared with these others—quality for quality.

There is one great broad line that divides the nations and civilizations of the earth, past and present, in all their arts of expression. We may call it that of the ideographic as against the literal. It controls the inner form of language and of languages; it manifests in the passage of thought from man to man; it determines whether the writing of the people shall be hieroglyphic or alphabetic; it gives both life and form to the ideals of their art. It is a distinction that was clearly recognized by Wilhelm von Humboldt, when he laid down that the incorporative characteristic essential to all the American languages is the result of the exaltation of the imaginative over the ratiocinative elements of mind.

The time has passed when we think that the absence of our perspective drawing in Japanese pictures is due to the fact that these "children of nature" never happened to recognize that a thing looks smaller in proportion to its distance, so that they ought to come to us to learn. We have come, in some measure if not yet fully, to recognize that whereas we show a thing to the eye, these other peoples suggest a thought to the mind, by their pictures. And we should remember, and remember always, that while our modern art having won its technical and artistic skill within the past few hundred years, is now beginning to emancipate itself from the materialism of the eye by efforts towards the "impressionist" methods, these ancient peoples had long since arrived at the ability to convey "impressions" through the medium of harmonious compositions of the most rigid conventional elements—an artistic achievement which those who know its difficulties can alone begin to appreciate.

It may be quite easily forgiven to one trained with Western, modern eyes, who at first sight of these monuments, in total ignorance of their meanings, sees them as strange or grotesque. But when, as their strangeness wears away, one comes to see the unfailing accuracy with which the glyphs are drawn, one's opinion of their makers has to change. And when, with this familiarity gained, one advances to an appreciation of the work in its bearings as a whole, one has to acknowledge himself facing the production of craftsmen who had the inheritance of not only generations, but ages of training. Such a combination of complete mastery in composition, perfect control of definite and fixed forms, and hand technique, can grow up from barbarism in no few hundred years. I would hesitate to think it could even come in a few thousands, unless they were years of greater settledness and peaceful civilization than our two thousand years of disturbed and warring European Christendom have yet had an example of to show us. It is easy enough in the absence of definite historical records, and in our general ignorance of human evolution, to theorize and speculate about it all; but the commonly accepted picture in our minds of a few savage wandering tribes settling and growing up in this country some several hundred or a thousand years after the Christian era, simply will not fit in with the fact of their ability to produce such works a few hundred years later. Had we nothing but the Perez Codex and Stela P at Copan, the merits of their execution alone, weighed simply in comparison with observed history elsewhere, would prove that we have to do not with the traces of an ephemeral, but with the remains of a wide-spread, settled race and civilization, worthy to be ranked with or beyond even such as the Roman, in its endurance, development and influence in the world, and the beginnings of whose culture are still totally unknown. As to the Codex before us, we can only imagine what the beauty, especially of the pages we now come to discuss, must have been when the whole was fresh and perfect.

The second side of the Codex has to be treated in four divisions or chapters, the first of which includes pages 15 to 18. For numerical reasons which will appear, this chapter must probably have begun, however, at least one page further to the left.

These four pages are laid out with three main divisions, upper, middle and lower. Too much of the upper section is erased for any comment other than that its arrangement seems to have been parallel in all respects with the middle section. This latter shows three subsections, the backgrounds in some cases being red,[24-*] containing each a picture (probably of a god or a human figure in every instance), surmounted by a black and a red numeral and by six glyphs, in double column. This gives 12 subsections for the four pages, which we may refer to respectively as 15-a, b, c, etc. Of the initial pairs of glyphs in each subsection many are complete, and no section is left without the correct traces of the corresponding glyph for one or other of the positions; so that although 5 of the 24 glyphs are totally erased, we may safely restore them all. Other features of the comparative use and frequency of the glyphs on these pages have already been given.

At the top of each picture is found a black and a red numeral. These form the consecutive black "counters" or interval numbers, and the corresponding red day numbers of subdivided tonalamatls, so common in Dres. and Tro.-Cort. It is customary to find these tonalamatls divided into fifths or fourths, 52 or 65 days respectively—four or five trecenas. At the 53rd or 66th day the initial red number is again reached, and the calculation is (by hypothesis) repeated, starting again at the left with a new day-sign below the first. Such a column is seen in the lower part of page 17, where we find 6 Oc, Ik, Ix; these are to be completed by restoring below an erased Cimi and Ezanab, completing the 260 days and bringing us around again to 6 Oc. The total of all the black "counters" in any series must always be some multiple of 13, usually 52 or 65, as stated. And since each "counter" is the interval between its adjoining red numbers, wherever a red and a black number are given, the other red number, whether before or after, can always be filled in.

No traces of this initial column appear for the series in the middle division, and several of the numerals are also erased. Two obscurities must be cleared up before trying to fill out the series. On page 16 right is a partly erased black numeral, which from the traces may be either 10 or 11. Taking it as 10, we have 13 plus 10 equals an erased red 10; plus 5 (on page 17) equals the red 2 below the 5. This verifies so far. But we next find—plus 5 equals 8, which is of course incorrect. An inspection of the MS. and the photographs reveals a reddish spot (or perhaps even three such spots) in the extreme upper right corner of the picture space, 17-a, and also a dark spot under the black 5 in 17-b. It is possible that the separated red dots (one doubtful) are to be read together as 3; or that the red dots under the 5 are to be disregarded in the count (just as is the red 8 on the next page, 18-a), and the red number for 17-a found in the upper right, above the seated figure. If the red number in 17-a is 3, the two numbers in 16-c must be 11. Or it may be assumed that the spot under the 5 in 17-b belongs to it, making 6 instead of 5, which figures out. The final result is the same, as we have either 10 and 6, or 11 and 5, in these two places, and either reaches properly the clear red 8 in 17-b.

In 18-a we find black 26, with a small red 8 below, and a large red 13 in the usual place at the side. The red 8 will have to be disregarded, as not part of the series, which requires 13, and nothing else.

We may now possibly set down the series as follows, using small figures above the the[TN-2] line for the black counters, and putting in parentheses all numbers restored:

(6)^{3}9^{(6)}(2)^{5}7^{6}13^{11}(11)^{5}3^{5}8^{5}(13)^{26}13^{10}10, or else (6)^{3}9^{(6)}(2)^{5}7^{6}13^{10}(10)^{5}2^{6}8^{5}(13)^{26}13^{10}10

This leaves us the black number at the beginning, in 15-a, and both numbers at the end, 18-c, still not filled in. Adding together all the counters we get 82, plus at least the two missing black numbers, one at each end. If the total were 104, we might expect it to have been comprised within the four subsections 15-a to 18-a. But 104 is not a tonalamatl fraction. 130 days, although a tonalamatl half, is an unknown division, and would hardly get into the space. If we begin the series in the upper division of the page (as occurs in Dres.) and come around to the middle division, the probabilities would require that it displayed a full series of 260 days, and again also that it began to the left of page 15. The probabilities of this series as it is, therefore, indicate at least a page 14 to the left, arranged like the other four, and forming one chapter with them.

We have now to deal with the puzzling numeral columns, in alternating colors, found to the left of each subsection of the upper and middle divisions—24 columns in all. These have been referred to at some length in the preliminary discussion of the colors, and there is little more that can be said. As there said, the entire reason for alternating the colors can not be certainly assumed. Alternation of color occurs not only where it is needed to distinguish bars, but also where we have only lines of dots, which are of course self-separating. And to say that it is only for artistic purposes is a mere begging of the question. Only four or five of these columns are complete, and a footing of the numbers in each gives us varying amounts from 113 to 153, and tells us nothing. On the parts that are left we six times have a Chuen [Hieroglyph] with a black number apparently belonging to it (perhaps a multiplier), and also once a double Chuen, as in Tro.-Cort. The use of the red kal-sign, or 20, is frequent.

The lower division of these pages was also subdivided, into four sections on each, which we may refer to as d, e, f, g. Each contains a picture, with black and red numerals as above, surmounted by four glyphs only. The pictures are all quite incomplete; neither is there anything to add to what has been already said of the glyphs.

In the middle of page 17 one tonalamatl ends, with a red 6, and another begins, also with 6. The second starts with the day 6 Oc, is divided into fifths, and the initial column must have been in full: 6 Oc, Ik, Ix, Cimi, Ezanab. The restoration of the series gives: 6^{22}2^{(15 in two stages)}(4)^{10}1^{4}6. This however only gives a total of 51 for the black counters. There is space to the right for another section, but whatever may have been written there has entirely disappeared. The last three numbers 1^{4}6 seem unmistakable, the [Hieroglyph] especially so. If we regard the last 6 as an error for 5, and then restore ^{1}6 in section 18-g, it would give the necessary 52. This is the one passage in the Codex where I can see no way but to assume a mistake in the writing; for 1 plus 4 does not equal 6, and unless for some entirely unknown reason the error is clear.

The preceding tonalamatl may have been divided either into 52- or 65-day periods. If the period was 52, it must have begun with an initial column on page 15, right side. In this event it would be restored as follows:

(initial 6)^{(19 in two stages)}(12)^{6}5^{7}12^{(12 in two stages)} (11)^{8}6,

giving 52. In this case a third tonalamatl must have begun somewhere to the left, and ended on the erased right side of page 15.

A different restoration would carry the initial column back to the extreme edge of page 15, when we would have this:

(initial 6)^{(2)}(8)^{8}3^{11}(1)^{(11 in two stages)}(12)^{6}5^{7} 12^{(12 two stages)}(11)^{8}6

giving 65.

To choose between these two would be mere guessing.

* * * * *

The well-known pages 19 and 20 come next. Together they make four compartments, up and down the full length of the pages, two with red and two with black backgrounds. Each is, or rather was, preceded by a column of 13 "year-bearers." The left column on each page I have restored, although no traces of it are left. But apart from its manifest necessity, as part of the series, if the width of the red ground on page 20 (see the photographs) is measured, it will be found to be just the correct proportion, and part of the straight left edge of the red can still be seen, just left of the rod in the hand of the mummy-figure, and leaving just room for the Ezanab column. In the colored plates I have only shown 12 instead of 13 day-signs in each column, but a measurement of the space above and below shows that the missing four are to be placed at the top and not at the bottom. These two pages therefore have application in some way to 52 solar years, beginning with 1 Lamat and ending with 13 Akbal (Votan).

These "year-bearers" are those of the Tzental instead of the Yucatecan system, as described by Landa, and on these two pages rests, so far as regards known subject-matter, the assignment of the Codex Perez to the Palenque rather than to the northern Maya district. It is thus to be considered with the Inscriptions of that region, and with the Dresden Codex.[28-*] And in accord with what is known of the state of the different parts of the country at the time of the Conquest, and of the history of the break-up and extinction of the Maya empire, it must be assigned the greater antiquity on that account.

It is probable that pages 19 and 20 had no text passages.

* * * * *

Pages 21 and 22 again, judging from the coloring and the arrangement, seem to form a pair. Each had on the upper part probably five rows of glyphs, some 70 in all, of which only 10 or 12 are at all recognizable. Contrary to all the pages hitherto discussed, it may be that these glyphs are to be read from right to left. The faces in these all look to the right, and the customary prefixes are all on the right. In classifying these glyphs, therefore, they must be all reversed.

The greater part of page 21 is framed in and divided up by green bands, evidently for water, two branches of which, after crossing a constellation band near the bottom, end one in falling torrents, the other in a circle surrounding a kin-sign, [Hieroglyph], the sun, and itself surrounded by four dragon's heads, all figured in the midst of the torrents. Below this symbol is the open mouth of a dragon, towards which is looking and pointing a black-faced figure, of the god D, the Ancient of Days, described by Schellhas as the moon and night god. To the left of the torrents is a figure, nearly erased, but with the wristlets characteristic of the god of death, and holding in the hand a torch. The glyph [Hieroglyph] occurs written in the torrents, at the left side.

The green bands divide the middle of the page into six compartments containing, so far as not totally erased, 65 day-signs, in columns of five. All my efforts to relate these signs either to each other or to any other series in the codices, have so far been fruitless. The upper seven columns have each a black numeral beneath, running from right to left, 1 2 3 3 5 6 and the dot of another 6.

Each of the columns of five day-signs forms a closed circuit returning into itself. In the upper row the 1st and 6th columns show successive days 8 apart in order; columns 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 are 16 apart in order. The 1st in the lower row is at intervals of 8, the 2nd and 5th at intervals of 16. The 3rd column is, with the 4th, an exception, the intervals being successively 8, 4, 4, 8, 16. That this is probably not a scribal error is shown by the fact that the same series, though beginning with different days, occurs in both columns. The 6th and possible 7th columns of the lower part are indeterminable.

We thus have three rounds of 5 times 8, or 40 days; seven rounds of 5 times 16, or 80 days; two irregular rounds of 40 days. These are not such columns as could form the beginning of a series of tonalamatl fifths, in which the successive days come 12 apart. So that this section must be left unexplained.[29-*]

At the right of page 21 begins a solid red background which probably extended right across page 22. Two standing spotted green figures appear on page 21; seven seated figures, one green spotted, on page 22.

Page 22 is crossed by a winding dragon whose body is covered by the "constellation band." A narrow green band also winds across the page, inclosing two of the upper figures. Below the dragon and this green band are seen, seated above the open mouths of two erect dragons, two figures in conversation, each bearing various insignia of the death god. A very curious cartouche outline, partly erased, at the lower right, incloses what seems to be 13 Ahau, 3, 6, the right hand dot of the 3 being erased.

* * * * *

On pages 23 and 24 the brilliant backgrounds of the preceding pages disappear, and we have two pages, to be read together, of glyphs, day-signs and small figures, finely and sparingly illuminated with the usual four colors. The body of the dragon is apparently continuous from page 21, and crosses these pages entirely with the constellation band, displayed along its full length.

The upper part of these two pages contained originally 91 glyphs, perhaps to be read from right to left, the same as 21 and 22. The faces look to the right, the usual prefixes and the few numerals are also on the right of their respective compounds. Many of the glyphs are the same as those on pages 2 to 11, reversed right for left. Glyph 23-a-11 should be specially noted. At first sight the numeral prefix, 6, appears to belong, postfixed, to glyph 23-a-17. But on investigation we find the same compound, a yax-chuen with [Hieroglyph] prefix, also at 21-a-8 and 24-a-26, in each case with the 6 attached. The [Hieroglyph] affix just below this number 6 is also plainly a prefix to glyph 23-a-12; so that glyph 23-a-ll must be read [Hieroglyph] and include the 6 as prefix. At 24-a-26, [Hieroglyph] the same glyph is written left to right.

There are also a few other glyphs on these pages which cannot be regarded as right to left. Such for instance, as [Hieroglyph] at 23-a-19 and 24-a-17. In this glyph the affix [Hieroglyph] at the side is properly a prefix (perhaps the possessive), and I do not recall any instance of its use as a postfix. In the affixes, the superfix and prefix positions may as a general rule be regarded as wholly identical; also the subfix and postfix positions. But also as a general rule the two pairs are I believe not to be interchanged, any more than we interchange prefixes and endings in English; this rule is not universal for all affixes, as some seem able to go anywhere, but it is one I have always regarded in my glyph classifying. As to [Hieroglyph] it is to be noted that this is a symmetrical glyph and as there can be no doubt that these glyphs were equally legible to the Maya reader written in either direction, it may well be regarded as unimportant, and not to be rated even as an error. [Hieroglyph] is a still stronger similar case. Here the wing [Hieroglyph] affix to the right is certainly a postfix, the superfix is in the usual left to right order, [Hieroglyph] and the main element written left to right, as in all its other instances. And [Hieroglyph] is again in point.

The face-tun compounds on these pages, and also on the opposite side of the manuscript, should be particularly noted.

Below the constellation band, inscribed on a wavy green band (the waters of space?) are seven repetitions of [Hieroglyph] or the sun glyph [Hieroglyph] within the shields.[31-*] Between each appeared probably two black 8's. The sun-shields are about to be seized by different animals, dragon, tortoise, bird, etc., a seeming evident suggestion of either an eclipse, or the passage of the sun into some zodiacal sign. Another series of seven sun-shields, on the green band, separated by numeral 8's, and attacked by animals and a skeleton, crosses the lower part of the pages.

Between these two bands we find a series of columns of five day-signs each preceded by red numerals. Allowing for the space erased I have restored the last column to the right, and part of the preceding. This gives 12 columns only, whereas at least 13 are required. There may have been a 12th column to the left of page 23, where there is just the proper space for this,[32-*] leaving the dragon's body to curve above the column so as to pass to page 22. The series may have continued on across page 25; 13 columns on pages 23, 24, and 7 more filling page 25, would make a full cycle of 20 columns. And in this connexion it should be noted that the dragon's body with constellation band goes almost to the edge of page 24 with no sign of ending or turning, such as might be expected if the chapter ends here. And if the constellation dragon continues over page 25, the column series may well have done the same.

Before discussing this series it will be of advantage to review what the Codex gives us on the question of reading left to right or right to left.

First, in both the Dresden and Tro.-Cort. the glyph faces look to the left; and, as shown by the calculations, reading is from left to right, with a very few possible exceptions, such as the tables on Dres. 24, 64, 69, etc.

In the Perez, as shown by the tonalamatls on 15 to 18, the 52 year-bearers on 19 and 20, and the katun-series on 2 to 12, the general direction of the reading is also left to right.

Above or below each of the red number columns of these pages 23, 24, is to be found a blue number. These numbers make a katun-series, starting with 4, decreasing by 2, if we read it left to right. It is not, to be sure, accompanied by the customary Ahau-sign, [Hieroglyph], but, taken in connexion with the marked parallelism of the glyphs, face-tun glyphs and also others, on these two pages with those on pages 2 to 11, already discussed, the possibility that a katun-series is a part of this subject-matter must be considered.

On the other hand, the glyphs in the upper part of all four pages 21 to 24 face to the right, and, as already set out in detail, are practically all written in reverse position as regards their prefixes, etc. And so also does the Eb-glyph in the day-columns we are now considering face to the right. These columns, unlike those on page 21, which include all of the 20 day-signs, only include 5 of the day-signs: Kan, Lamat, Eb, Cib and Ahau; Eb being the only non-symmetrical one of these.

We have thus quite strong evidence, especially as provided by the position of the prefixes, for a right to left reading, opposed by the direction of this katun-number series—if it be one. In Egyptian writing, of course, the direction of the reading changes with the facing of the figures.

To return now to the columns themselves, all the day-signs in any one column have each the same red numeral, so that we have: 8 Cib, 8 Ahau, 8 Kan, 8 Lamat, 8 Eb; and so on. The red numerals to each column also decrease by 2 towards the right, pari passu with the blue numerals. If we read each column downwards, it will form a closed circuit or round, returning into itself, with intervals of 104 days, from 8 Cib to 8 Ahau, etc., and again from 8 Eb back to 8 Cib. But if we next try to go to the next column, the series breaks, for from 8 Eb to 6 Lamat is only 76 days. We get a like break whether we read upward or downward, or right to left. Taking the columns separately then, the entire series (whether made up of 13, 20 or any other number of columns) cannot be made to read in one regular series, with a constant interval between the successive days of the whole.

But, if we restore two columns, making 13 columns, and then read horizontally across, either right to left, or left to right, one line after another, the first day of the second line follows the last of the first, and after going through the whole 65 terms, we return again from the last of the last line to the first of the first—always with a constant interval. In other words, this section could be written around a wheel. If we read left to right, the distance from (10 Kan) to 8 Cib, etc., is 232 days; 232x65=15,080. Or if from right to left,[33-*] the interval from (12 Lamat) to 1 Cib, etc., is 28 days; 28x13 = 364, x5 = 1820. That both of these products are multiples of 260 is a truism, and cannot in any way require us to see a tonalamatl reckoning as the basis of this passage. Nor is each separate day-column a tonalamatl in fifths, as so often found.

Finally, if we should assume that the series went on across page 25, to a full katun-round of 20 terms, the circuit would be broken; line 2 would not regularly follow line 1, and so on. The probabilities then, as derived from the succession of the days, seem almost conclusive that this is a section of 65 terms, to be read horizontally, in whichever direction. And then, since the subdivision of 15,080 days (or 1820, if read right to left) into 65 terms, necessarily gives us successive day-numbers decreasing (or increasing) by 2, the likeness to the katun-series may be only apparent—a simple truism. Or, on the other hand, in view of the glyph similarities (a point which I think should always be given close attention), there may be some relation to the katun-series—all in spite of the right-left or left-right difficulties.

What part the blue[34-*] number series plays, I cannot say. Dr. Seler,[34-[+]] suggests that they are "corrections," to set each term ahead 20 days. This states a fact, but does not give any explanation. Each blue number is 6 less than its red column, and 7 Kan is of course 20 days later than 13 Kan.


[24-*] Dr. Foerstemann (Comm. z. Par. Mayahds.) speaks of the background to the central figure on page 16 as black, instead of red; he also describes the number columns as made up of red and black numerals only. There are many similar errors in his Commentary, due to his ignorance of the colors, and to the obscurity of the photographic reproductions.

[28-*] Where to place the Tro.-Cort., in view of the apparent Kan, Muluc[TN-3] Ix, Cauac years indicated on pages 34-37, and the 13 Cumhu immediately next to 13 Ahau on page 73 (13 Ahau 13 Cumhu falling only possibly in a year 12 Lamat) I am not ready to say.

[29-*] Mr. Bowditch suggests to me that the numbers 1 2 3 3 5 6 6 are to be read with each of the day signs in their respective columns, and, being placed in the middle, may apply both to the upper and lower sets. The strongest objection I can see to this is that the numbers are black, instead of the usual red. In this case, instead of intervals of 8 and 16, giving rounds of 5x8=40 and 5x16=80 days, we would have intervals of 156 and 208 (from 1 Ymix to 1 Muluc, etc.), giving rounds of 780 and 1040 days respectively. Or, if read upwards, we would have 52 and 104 day intervals (1 Ben to 1 Chicchan, etc.), and rounds of 260 and 520 days. But whichever be the case, the page is sui generis, and its why is still beyond us.

[31-*] I have retained the usual term "shields" for the flaring forms which embrace the sun glyph, though without accepting its appropriateness. They might with equal likelihood be conventionalized wings.

[32-*] Dr. Foerstemann ignores the space on the right of page 24, and restores two columns to the left of page 23 in order to make up the thirteen columns; but, as shown by the edges of the pages in the photographs, one column restored in each place will just fill the obliterated space.

[33-*] Dr. Seler's reading; Gesammelte Abhandlungen, I, 515.

[34-*] The blue is a true blue, quite distinct from the turquoise blue elsewhere, and is found in the case of these numbers only.

[34-[+]] Gesammelte Abhandlungen, I, 515; "Zur mexik. Chronologie."


Up to date our knowledge of the meanings of the glyphs is still to all intents and purposes limited to the direct tradition we have through Landa, and the deductions immediately involved in these. We know the day and month signs, the numbers, including 0 and 20, four units of the archaic calendar count (the day, tun, katun and cycle), the cardinal point signs, the negative particle. We have not fully solved the uinal or month sign, which seems to be chuen on the monuments and a cauac, or chuen, in the manuscripts. We are able to identify what must be regarded as metaphysical or esoteric applications of certain glyphs in certain places, such as the face numerals.[35-*] But every one of these points is either deducible directly by necessary mathematical calculation, or else from the names of certain signs given by Landa in his day and month list, and then found in other combinations, such as yax, kin, etc. That we have as many of the points as we have, and still cannot form from them the key—that we cannot read the glyphs—is a constant wonder; but a fact nevertheless.

The innumerable efforts to identify the glyphs by their superficial appearance, calling the banded headdress a "pottery decoration," and explaining the face-glyph of the North thereby, because in Maya xaman is north and xamach a tortilla dish (to say nothing of others still more fanciful, by a host of writers), have broken down, as was to be expected. I mention this instance because it illustrates fully the results of superficial analysis, united with a seeming ineradicable tendency even among those most able students who have added the most to our stock of Maya knowledge (among whom Dr. Brinton was certainly one of the foremost), to treat these glyphs as carelessly done, to disregard the differences between manifest variants, or else to talk freely, whenever a passage does not fit the explanation which is being worked out, of scribal errors.

In the first place, if these glyphs are to be interpreted primarily by the Yucatecan Maya dialect (one in which we have most ample printed and MS. lexicographic material), and if in that dialect no other words at all resembling xaman and xamach are found, as we are told, then (if the Mayas named the north star, or the North, by a pun on a tortilla dish) wherever this banded headdress is found, we must assume the text to be treating either of the North, or of tortillas. That might safely be left to break down of its own weight; but we shall also see that the explanation is given in total disregard of manifest, important variants. This banded headdress appears ornamenting at least [Hieroglyphs] five separate and distinct faces; one a wholly human face, the others with various other definite characteristics, the most frequent and prominent of which are the monkey-like face and mouth we see in the [Hieroglyph] glyph for the north, and a sort of bird's plumage covering the back of the head. These two are separate, are never combined, and must be classified rigidly apart. We have therefore three elements, the monkey face, the plumage covering (if we may call it so), and the banded headdress. It is obvious that while the monkey face may be specific of the North, the bands are not specific at all, but general.

It is with the greatest diffidence that I suggest any interpretations on my own part as yet, but it is of course certain that the distinction of masculine and feminine existed in the spoken language, and it must exist somewhere in the glyphs. And it will have to be a prefix, not a postfix; for what I may call the syntax of glyph formation must follow that of the speech. At the bottom of Dres. 61 and 62 are seven identical Oc-glyphs with subfix, and with prefixes. Five of these prefixes are faces with the woman's curl, recognized on the figured illustrations. One is a face with the banded headdress. Remembering that this headdress occurs not infrequently on a plain human face with no other characteristic, it is not a far guess that it may have denoted a freeman, a lord, entitled to such a headdress. In this event it may on the one hand serve as a simple masculine definitive, the prefix ah-, and on the other, to attach the idea of lordship to other glyphs with which it is incorporated, as: the North Star, or region, the Lord of the Firmament.

This illustration serves to show what seems to me an essential preliminary of the work we have in hand, and the part to which I have so far devoted most effort. The glyphs must be determined, compared and classified, and what I have called the "syntax" of their composition, studied. The particles and their positions, the various incorporated elements, are of the utmost importance, though they are very frequently ignored. They are the written picture of the spirit of the spoken language. The task I have most looked forward to in this connexion has of course been with the Dresden, but having started upon the Perez for the reasons I have given, it was a smaller task in itself, and could be brought to completion within less time, while serving as part of the larger work. As the determination and classification of the glyphs had to proceed all as one work, it has enabled me not only to complete my Index for this codex, but also to print the text in type, and to verify and bring out such facts regarding the color questions as was possible to do—both of them stages needed in the general work. In doing it I have studied with my hands as well as with eyes, and I have been well repaid. The actual labor has not been small, but it has been worth it all if only to see before the eyes something of what this Codex must have been when fresh and new. For as I have said, while in my colored restoration I may have made some mistakes of eye, for which the photographs will be a check, I have guessed nothing.

The classification of the glyphs meets of course with some difficulties in detail, but it can readily be cast into a quite simple general outline. Something over 2000 different compound forms are found in the three codices. The simple elements composing these are perhaps 350 in number, and may be divided broadly into main elements and affixes or particles. First of course come day and month signs, which, with kin, tun, kal, and a few marked variants, use up 50 numbers. Next will come the faces, about 75 simple elements. Next the animal and bird heads and figures, about 50 numbers. Next the hands, crosses, etc., and the list of conventional or geometric forms, another 75. Then some 75 particles.

The cards required for the first 50 numbers, including only compounds formed from day-signs and excluding day-signs used simply as such, amount to practically one half of the number required for the whole index. Certain elements, notably the kin, the tun, the monkey-face with banded headdress, already referred to, the face with tau-eye, the yax, the cross, produce a great number of compounds—a fact of note, as it is evident that the number of compounds, having due regard to our limited material, is an index to the relative position of the idea in the Mayan vocabularies. Some of the day-signs produce practically no compounds, others a great many. The compounds fall readily into a system of primary and secondary derivatives, by which their relations may be easily studied, and their proportions recognized.

Coming to the distinguishing of variants, one first meets the fact that the three codices differ. The writing of the Dresden and Perez is regular and accurate, the Perez exceedingly so. Every different variant must here be accounted for. In Tro.-Cort. the writing is crude and careless, so that we have many evident abbreviations which are not genuine variants. In the next place, certain regular differences occur in this or that glyph or particle, between the forms of the different manuscripts. Thus the Perez uses [Hieroglyph] and the others [Hieroglyph] and so on. A comparison of the compounds shows that these must be the same. The regular variations between the three manuscripts and variations of abbreviation, when well evidenced, may be eliminated.

The day-signs have many variants, mostly quite simple, and all checked positively by the use of the form in some day-series. Ix has many forms. There are at least three entirely different Cimi forms: [Hieroglyphs][TN-4] There are found two different forms of the closed eye, one of which certainly is Cimi, the other occurs regularly in such different compounds (and I think never as a simple day-sign), as to make it necessary to separate it; [Hieroglyph] it has probably a different meaning entirely—perhaps that of sleep.

* * * * *

A noteworthy technical line is to be found in the drawing of the glyphs. Whereas in the case of the day-signs, faces, and conventional forms in general, certain variations of handwriting, etc., are evidently permitted, but only within certain definite lines, in some few animal glyphs no two instances are just alike. In other words, the glyphs in general are conventions with established meanings—actual writing;[39-*] but we also have pictures of birds or animal forms, where the writer is not following convention, but nature. The freedom of style used in the latter case only serves to emphasize the conventionality of the former, and to separate the entire system from either picture or rebus writing. See the following fish-glyph forms:


These pictures are almost exclusively in uncompounded forms, whereas the conventional glyphs, whether human, animal or otherwise, are subject to the general rules of incorporation.

Writing is a system of conventional forms with established meanings, corresponding to and reflecting the structure of the spoken language; some picture elements whose value as such has remained either wholly or partly present in the minds of those who use them, are not inconsistent with genuine writing; when present they add vividness to the writing, and emphasize its ideographic character. A combination of picture forms only, may be used as means of communication to a certain degree, but can never constitute writing; that, like speech, must provide for the expression of the relationships and categories that make up the structure of language.

Egyptian writing, which is of course true writing, contains elements of every class. It has symbols and also pictures, not only of things or creatures, but of actions as well, "contracted to a narrow space, made cursive"; these pictures, although still ranking as such, stand for words—they can be pronounced, and have syntax, which is the crucial test. Egyptian next has unrecognizable forms, whose meaning has become a simple convention, but which still stand for words, or particles. It has elements which are not pronounced for themselves, but only serve as determinatives. (Such a use of determinatives is not limited to hieroglyphic writing, but is possessed also by alphabetic; the second o in the word too is strictly a determinative, to distinguish the adverb too from the preposition to, both pronounced alike. Tibetan has an elaborate system of silent letters used as grammatical determinatives.) And then Egyptian writing finally has pure alphabetic elements.

As to Maya, I think it far more than likely that, when at last deciphered, it will be found to contain most if not all of these classes—mutatis mutandis. There seems every evidence that it is made up of pictures with probably both concrete and abstract meanings; word-conventions; and grammatical particles. It is at least probable that there are also silent determinatives and not unlikely that there is also a pure phonetic or alphabetic element. That the latter element is not the basic one may I think be now regarded as established.


[35-*] The Tibetan use of symbolical words in place of numerals is worth noting here, even though we do not know the Maya face numerals well enough as yet for any comparison. See Csoma de Koros, Tibetan grammar, Calcutta, 1824, pp. 155 et seq.; also Ph. Ed. Foucaux, Grammaire Tibetaine, Paris, 1858, pp. 157 et seq.

[39-*] "These [the Maya glyphs] do not represent a real script, as is so often maintained, but are only pictures which have been reduced to the appearance of letters, contracted to a narrow space, made cursive."!—Dr. Eduard Seler, Codex Vaticanus No. 3773, page 65.—Well?


Introite, nam et hic dii sunt.

It is not my desire to add, as a conclusion to a comment bearing on the restoration and interpretation of Mayan hieroglyphic texts, any general discussion of the data which tradition and the early Spanish writers have left us of the mythology, rites and customs of the American races; and still less to run out a line of attractive analogies between isolated instances of their words, symbols or works, with those of any of the various nations of the other hemisphere; nor to build up any theory of descent or intercourse with any of these latter as today known to history. The subject before us is on its very face too vast; the written and traditional data are entirely too scanty and too little understood; and while we are still obliged to designate the various gods and personages of the Codices as god A, B, etc., and are unable to fix definitely[41-*] a single inscribed date in terms of our chronology, or tell the event attached to it, fancied comparisons amount to little. And the favorite "linguistic" method is more fragile yet, especially when the uncertainties of spelling and transliteration are considered, and above all the frequent total ignorance of the past history and changes the different words compared must have gone through since the time when by any possibility a physical transmission from one locality to the other could have taken place. These ought to be commonplaces of research, but it is to be feared that they have not quite yet become so.[42-*] There is no need to give instances of such false analogies which have served as the bases for a multitude of filiation theories, all equally well "supported" by details, and all mutually exclusive. Nor on the other hand can we deny the existence actually of a very great number of resemblances and identities which cannot be ignored, but must imply connexions of some kind. The English nation is not a Hebrew people because it had a prime minister Disraeli, nor Greeks because they have a Queen Alexandra, nor Romans because of certain local names. Such facts even when real, and established as such, may only be evidence of a single continental culture or transcontinental intercourse.

It has been the dictum of a certain school of archaeology, still very much in general favor, that all these identities are to be explained as the natural result of the innate tendencies of untutored men, on their evolutionary rise, at certain cultural stages, to imagine the same myths and invent the same rites. From this as a principle I wholly dissent; it simply does not meet the facts. There are of course many facts to which it does apply, such as those that both Chinese and Americans made paper, tanned leather, made feather ornaments, used star and flower names for their children, and so on: facts which had been used to prove Chinese and American identity, and to which Dr. Brinton justly added in retort that they also slept at night, wore clothes when it was cold, and so on. But there is a very great number of facts, a number constantly growing with research, which cannot be so dismissed. Such are the employment of abstract symbolism, the erection of great structures all having a definite and identical astronomical bearing and evident use, the common possession of so-called myths all telling the one story, and only slightly modified locally, such as the birth-stories of Huitzilopochtli and of Herakles, and the stories of the travail of Latona pursued by the Python and of the Woman clothed with the Sun in Revelation; or the universal tradition of seven ancestral caves or cities in America, compared with the Tibetan and Puranic stories of the seven lotus-leaves of Śveta-dvipa, the first continental home of the race; the Hacha de cobre of the Miztecs and the ever-turning spear of jade of the Japanese story of the place where the gods first descended on earth; or the whole question of the origin of the Zodiac. These things, and a host of others, need a different explanation—all the more since the more we are learning of them the more we find that they enclose facts of which the hypothetical "savage children" could not, ex hypothesi, have been aware—some facts indeed which our very latest modern science is only now learning.[43-*]

But while dissenting now wholly from this theory (of "coincidentalism") one cannot but hold in all respect those who in their time held it. It is the duty of the savant to make the best logical use he can of what he has, and he cannot be criticised for not using finer scales than the time affords. And this theory was needed as an answer to the absurdities, brought out in utter disregard of physical possibilities, postulating off-hand migrations and filiations and evolutionary advances totally impossible within the periods allowed for their completion, and utterly without parallel in any known part of the world or page of history. And yet, when this theory had its birth, the most of Christendom was still enthralled by the Ussherian chronology of the creation and history of the whole divine universe, which simply did not have room in it for all these things to happen naturally and connectedly.

And if it is urged that present science had already say a generation ago, a second's time we might say in the life of humanity, begun to emancipate our ideas of time and evolution, still it is the fact that that increase in breadth of vision has so far applied to every known thing but man himself. The old belief that gave the world 6000 years of life, at least put thinking man at its beginning; the modern nightmare gives us a world for hundreds of millions of years without thought, and makes human civilization an ephemeral episode of a few seconds of universal duration. Disregarding, one is forced to say wilfully, the fact that every single one of their own arguments in favor of anthropoid descent for man would equally support a theory that the anthropoids are debased offshoots of human stocks,[45-*] biology still demands such a lapse of time for its physical evolution that its adherents oppose and belittle to the utmost every bit of evidence of any antiquity even for the physical frame of man. We have, to say nothing of the rest of the world, Egyptian civilization now pushed back 10,000 years, and (together with others as we slowly uncover them) as far removed as ever from barbarism, if not indeed growing greater as we go back; but we are not allowed anything but apelike, half arboreal savages 50,000 years ago. And yet every observed fact shows us savage or worn-out races everywhere throughout the world deteriorating and dying out, and nowhere any savages progressing or, unaided by outside influence, developing what we know as civilization. We see everywhere the rise and fall of nations, races and civilizations, and their utter blotting out; and we refuse to accept that process as a universal law through which the destiny of the human race is working itself out. In fact, we do not seem to believe that the human race has any destiny; it may have beginning and an end, but no destiny.

And so although this modern scientific school began as a reaction against the narrowness of theological limitations, both of time and greatness, so hampered and hypnotized has our thought been by both, that man is of nearly as little universal account with one as with the other, and we find a seemingly ineradicable repugnance to admit that any people had "developed" writing before the least possible time ago we can fix it, usually this side of the year 1 of the Christian era. And thus we have M. Terrien de Lacouperie's "450 embryo scripts and writings"—which another fifty years may show to be nearly as many fragments of one or a few great stocks of ancient hieroglyphs. Of course it is impossible to derive the American races or civilizations from the Chinese, Phoenicians, Hittites, or any of the cultures of the other hemisphere, if we limit the latter to what we know of their history within the past two or three thousand odd years, and American civilization to the past fifteen hundred years. The matter is somewhat greater than that—just as man is somewhat greater than a fool of natural caprice.

There is one point from which this question of American origins, at least of American place in human society and civilization, can be studied in its broader lines, even with what materials we have. It is that of language in general. All these other matters we have touched upon are necessary factors in the question of human evolution, and the position of America cannot be considered apart from them, and all of them. But Language touches both the glyphs directly and also all these other things, and is itself of surpassing interest and importance as a human study.

* * * * *

From one point of view Language is man himself, and it certainly is civilization. Without it man is not man, a Self-expressing and social being. It is, as von Humboldt laid down, not an act but an activity, or energy, not a thing done, but a doing. It is the constant effort of the conscious self to formulate thought. It is the use of the energy of creation, of objectivation, a veritable many-colored rainbow bridge between the inner or higher man and the outer or lower worlds. And it is not only the expression of Man as man, but in its varied forms it is the inevitable and living expression of each man or body of men at any and every point of time. Itself boundless as an ocean, it is in its infinite forms and streams and colors and sounds, the faithful and exact exponent both of the sources and channels by which it has come, and of the banks in which it is held, racial, national or individual. It is living or dead, forceful or weak, pure or foul, refreshing or flat, healing or poisonous. It limits us, but yields to our force. Every word or form comes to us with the thought impress of every man or nation that has used or molded it before us. We must take it as it comes, but we give it something of ourselves as we pass it on. If our intellectual and spiritual thought is aflame, whether as nation or individual, we may purify it, energize it, give it power to form and arrange the atoms around it—and we have a new literature, a new and beneficent, creative social vehicle of intercourse, mutual understanding, and human unification. Or if our mental or spiritual life is stale, and petty, or egoistic, or seeking for enjoyment only rather than action; if we have nothing in us to give the words and forms we use, but only some national force left to use and play with them, we for a while refine, and paint, and pettify, and elaborate into meaningless subtleties of form, every one of which in turn reacts upon our mental and spiritual life, distracting and enchaining us, until at last the nation and its language—die out; for neither can live without the other.

Now it is evident that the criterion of the perfectness of any language is not to be found in a comparison of its forms or methods with those of any other, but in its fitness as a vehicle for the expression of deeper life, of the best and the greatest that is in those who use it, and above all in its ability to react and stimulate newer and yet greater mental and spiritual activity and expression. The force behind man, demanding expression through him, and him only, into the human life of all, is infinite—of necessity infinite. There is no limit, nor ever has been any limit, to what man may bring down into the dignifying, broadening and enriching of human life and evolution, save in his own ability to comprehend, express, and live it. And the brightness and cleanness of the tools whereby he formulates his thought, as well as the worthiness and fitness of the substance and the forms into which he shapes it for others to see, are the essentials of his craft. For such is the economy of nature, which wastes nothing in reality, that a fit vehicle will be taken possession of by its own tenant; and the unfit left to and be taken by those who can use no better.

Before, then, taking up the great formal classes into which language at large is usually divided, it will be necessary to say a few words as to the foundations of form itself in language, that we may then proceed to consider these classes from the standpoint of their inner meaning rather than solely of the outer form; and by seeking to understand the mental and spiritual equipment and life of those that used them, may perhaps in turn be better fitted finally to enter into the genius of their written and spoken languages, and to interpret through them in the detail more of the ideas which those forms were both fitted and used to express. Such a method is essential for the understanding of any language or culture, but it is absolutely necessary in the case of these non-Aryan tongues, so great is the distance both of time and thought which separates us from them. If we set out to compare the forms by which they expressed their thought with those within which we develop ours, or approach these cultures and peoples in the attitude of alien criticism, study their "interesting ways" through a mental lorgnette and impale their dead forms on the needles of our collection, we shall not only show ourselves less broad in culture than many of them, but we shall simply close and lock the doors of discrimination and understanding before us. The question is not, How do their forms and ways appeal to us? but, How did those forms, and ways, achieve their underlying objects, and what was the thought behind them?

Life is action, and without activity whatever powers lie within any conscious being are only potential. Activity is the bridge between the inner man and the outer world, by which he impresses his thought, in forms, on chaos or the atoms about him, receiving in return increased knowledge and experience of all he touches, and knowledge of himself through the results of his own actions; and it is the bridge between man and man. For this reason the verb, the word of action, is the most important and most developed part of speech. The three hypostases of life, as of language, are the self, activity, and the world; and it is for the expression of all the possible varied relations between these three, that all the forms of any language come into being. And from the way in which these forms are developed, and the relative importance which is given to this or that form of thought or activity, the character of the people, their grasp of nature, and their own conception of themselves and their relation to the world, can be seen.[49-*] Some languages have the strong impress of impersonality, without any loss of virility; others are strongly egotistic and self-assertive, with perhaps the braggart's lack of genuine strength. Each spoken language that we know has its own color and tone, to which our thought must respond, if we would know and use it well. To speak good Swedish, for instance, requires clear thinking to an exceptional degree. To show this, the form "come here," which is the ordinary English expression, is simply bad grammar in Swedish; the use of "come hither" (kom hit, instead of kom haer) is imperative. We have the "hither" in English, but it has become stilted, and the linguistic distinction lost. Compare also the use of fa, as a common auxiliary; nor are these exceptions, but, on the contrary, characteristic examples. Also to enunciate the language rightly one must hold the back and neck erect and the muscles firm.

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