American Hero-Myths - A Study in the Native Religions of the Western Continent
by Daniel G. Brinton
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In one of the earliest myths he is called Yahualli ehecatl, meaning "the Wheel of the Winds,"[1] the winds being portrayed in the picture writing as a circle or wheel, with a figure with five angles inscribed upon it, the sacred pentagram. His image carried in the left hand this wheel, and in the right a sceptre with the end recurved.

[Footnote 1: "Quecalcoatl y por otro nombre yagualiecatl." Ramirez de Fuen-leal, Historia, cap. i. Yahualli is from the root yaual or youal, circular, rounding, and was applied to various objects of a circular form. The sign of Quetzalcoatl is called by Sahagun, using the native word, "el Yoel de los Vientos" (Historia, ubi supra).]

Another reference to this wheel, or mariner's box, was in the shape of the temples which were built in his honor as god of the winds. These, we are informed, were completely circular, without an angle anywhere.[1]

[Footnote 1: "Se llaman (a Quetzalcoatl) Senor de el Viento * * * A este le hacian las yglesias redondas, sin esquina ninguna." Codex Telleriano-Remensis. Parte ii, Lam. ii. Describing the sacred edifices of Mexico, Motolinia says: "Habio en todos los mas de estos grandes patios un otro templo que despues de levantada aquella capa quadrada, hecho su altar, cubrianlo con una pared redonda, alta y cubierta con su chapital. Este era del dios del aire, cual dijimos tener su principal sella en Cholollan, y en toda esta provincia habia mucho de estos. A este dios del aire llamaban en su lengua Quetzalcoatl," Historia de los Indios, Epistola Proemial. Compare also Herrera, Historia de las Indias Occidentals, Dec. ii, Lib. vii, cap. xvii, who describes the temple of Quetzalcoatl, in the city of Mexico, and adds that it was circular, "porque asi como el Aire anda al rededor del Cielo, asi le hacian el Templo redondo."]

Still another symbol which was sacred to him as lord of the four winds was the Cross. It was not the Latin but the Greek cross, with four short arms of equal length. Several of these were painted on the mantle which he wore in the picture writings, and they are occasionally found on the sacred jades, which bear other of his symbols.

This has often been made use of by one set of writers to prove that Quetzalcoatl was some Christian teacher; and by others as evidence that these native tales were of a date subsequent to the Conquest. But a moment's consideration of the meaning of this cruciform symbol as revealed in its native names shows where it belongs and what it refers to. These names are three, and their significations are, "The Rain-God," "The Tree of our Life," "The God of Strength."[1] As the rains fertilize the fields and ripen the food crops, so he who sends them is indeed the prop or tree of our subsistence, and thus becomes the giver of health and strength. No other explanation is needed, or is, in fact, allowable.

[Footnote 1: The Aztec words are Quiahuitl teotl, quiahuitl, rain, teotl, god; Tonacaquahuitl, from to, our, naca, flesh or life, quahuitl, tree; Chicahualizteotl, from chicahualiztli, strength or courage, and teotl, god. These names are given by Ixtlilxochitl, Historia chichimeca, cap. i.]

The winds and rains come from the four cardinal points. This fact was figuratively represented by a cruciform figure, the ends directed toward each of these. The God of the Four Winds bore these crosses as one of his emblems. The sign came to be connected with fertility, reproduction and life, through its associations as a symbol of the rains which restore the parched fields and aid in the germination of seeds. Their influence in this respect is most striking in those southern countries where a long dry season is followed by heavy tropical showers, which in a few days change the whole face of nature, from one of parched sterility to one of a wealth of vegetable growth.

As there is a close connection, in meteorology, between the winds and the rains, so in Aztec mythology, there was an equally near one between Quetzalcoatl, as the god of the winds, and the gods of rain, Tlaloc and his sister, or wife, or mother, Chalchihuitlicue. According to one myth, these were created by the four primeval brother-gods, and placed in the heavens, where they occupy a large mansion divided into four apartments, with a court in the middle. In this court stand four enormous vases of water, and an infinite number of very small slaves (the rain drops) stand ready to dip out the water from one or the other vase and pour it on the earth in showers.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ramirez de Fuen-leal, Historia de los Mexicanos, cap. ii.]

Tlaloc means, literally, "The wine of the Earth,"[1] the figure being that as man's heart is made glad, and his strength revived by the joyous spirit of wine, so is the soil refreshed and restored by the rains. Tlaloc tecutli, the Lord of the Wine of the Earth, was the proper title of the male divinity, who sent the fertilizing showers, and thus caused the seed to grow in barren places. It was he who gave abundant crops and saved the parched and dying grain after times of drought. Therefore, he was appealed to as the giver of good things, of corn and wine; and the name of his home, Tlalocan, became synonymous with that of the terrestrial paradise.

[Footnote 1: Tlalli, earth, oc from octli, the native wine made from the maguey, enormous quantities of which are consumed by the lower classes in Mexico at this day, and which was well known to the ancients. Another derivation of the name is from tlalli, and onoc, being, to be, hence, "resident on the earth." This does not seem appropriate.]

His wife or sister, Chalchihuitlicue, She of the Emerald Skirts, was goddess of flowing streams, brooks, lakes and rivers. Her name, probably, has reference to their limpid waters.[1] It is derived from chalchihuitl, a species of jade or precious green stone, very highly esteemed by the natives of Mexico and Central America, and worked by them into ornaments and talismans, often elaborately engraved and inscribed with symbols, by an art now altogether lost.[2] According to one myth, Quetzalcoatl's mother took the name of chalchiuitl "when she ascended to heaven;"[3] by another he was engendered by such a sacred stone;[4] and by all he was designated as the discoverer of the art of cutting and polishing them, and the patron deity of workers in this branch.[5]

[Footnote 1: From chalchihuitl, jade, and cueitl, skirt or petticoat, with the possessive prefix, i, her.]

[Footnote 2: See E.G. Squier, Observations on a Collection of Chalchihuitls from Central America, New York, 1869, and Heinrich Fischer, Nephrit und Jadeit nach ihrer Urgeschichtlichen und Ethnographischen Bedeutung, Stuttgart, 1880, for a full discussion of the subject.]

[Footnote 3: Codex Telleriano-Remensis, Pt. ii, Lam. ii.]

[Footnote 4: See above, chapter iii, Sec.3]

[Footnote 5: Torquemada, Monarquia Indiana, Lib. vi, cap. xxiv.]

The association of this stone and its color, a bluish green of various shades, with the God of Light and the Air, may have reference to the blue sky where he has his home, or to the blue and green waters where he makes his bed. Whatever the connection was, it was so close that the festivals of all three, Tlaloc, Chalchihuitlicue and Quetzalcoatl, were celebrated together on the same day, which was the first of the first month of the Aztec calendar, in February.[1]

[Footnote 1: Sahagun, Hisioria, Lib. ii, cap. i. A worthy but visionary Mexican antiquary, Don J.M. Melgar, has recognized in Aztec mythology the frequency of the symbolism which expresses the fertilizing action of the sky (the sun and rains) upon the earth. He thinks that in some of the manuscripts, as the Codex Borgia, it is represented by the rabbit fecundating the frog. See his Examen Comparativo entre los Signos Simbolicos de las Teogonias y Cosmogonias antiguas y los que existen en los Manuscritos Mexicanos, p. 21 (Vera Cruz, 1872).]

In his character as god of days, the deity who brings back the diurnal suns, and thus the seasons and years, Quetzalcoatl was the reputed inventor of the Mexican Calendar. He himself was said to have been born on Ce Acatl, One Cane, which was the first day of the first month, the beginning of the reckoning, and the name of the day was often added to his own.[1] As the count of the days really began with the beginning, it was added that Heaven itself was created on this same day, Ce Acatl.[2]

[Footnote 1: Codex Vaticanus, Pl. xv.]

[Footnote 2: Codex Telleriano Remensis, Pl. xxxiii.]

In some myths Quetzalcoatl was the sole framer of the Calendar; in others he was assisted by the first created pair, Cipactli and Oxomuco, who, as I have said, appear to represent the Sky and the Earth. A certain cave in the province of Cuernava (Quauhnauac) was pointed out as the scene of their deliberations. Cipactonal chose the first name, Oxomuco the second, and Quetzalcoatl the third, and so on in turn.[1]

[Footnote 1: Mendieta, Hist. Eclesiastia Indiana, Lib. ii, cap. xiv. "Una tonta ficcion," comments the worthy chronicler upon the narrative, "como son las demas que creian cerca de sus dioses." This has been the universal opinion. My ambition in writing this book is, that it will be universal no longer.]

In many mythologies the gods of light and warmth are, by a natural analogy, held to be also the deities which preside over plenty, fertility and reproduction. This was quite markedly the case with Quetzalcoatl. His land and city were the homes of abundance; his people, the Toltecs, "were skilled in all arts, all of which they had been taught by Quetzalcoatl himself. They were, moreover, very rich; they lacked nothing; food was never scarce and crops never failed. They had no need to save the small ears of corn, so all the use they made of them was to burn them in heating their baths."[1]

[Footnote 1: Sahagun, Historia, Lib. iii, cap. iii.]

As thus the promoter of fertility in the vegetable world, he was also the genius of reproduction in the human race. The ceremonies of marriage which were in use among the Aztecs were attributed to him,[1] and when the wife found she was with child it was to him that she was told to address her thanks. One of her relatives recited to her a formal exhortation, which began as follows:—

[Footnote 1: Veitia, cap. xvii, in Kingsborough.]

"My beloved little daughter, precious as sapphire and jade, tender and generous! Our Lord, who dwells everywhere and rains his bounties on whom he pleases, has remembered you. The God now wishes to give you the fruit of marriage, and has placed within you a jewel, a rich feather. Perhaps you have watched, and swept, and offered incense; for such good works the kindness of the Lord has been made manifest, and it was decreed in Heaven and Hell, before the beginning of the World, that this grace should be accorded you. For these reasons our Lord, Quetzalcoatl, who is the author and creator of things, has shown you this favor; thus has resolved He in heaven, who is at once both man and woman, and is known under the names Twice Master and Twice Mistress."[1]

[Footnote 1: Sahagun, Historia, Lib. vi, cap. xxv. The bisexual nature of the Mexican gods, referred to in this passage, is well marked in many features of their mythology. Quetzalcoatl is often addressed in the prayers as "father and mother," just as, in the Egyptian ritual, Chnum was appealed to as "father of fathers and mother of mothers" (Tiele, Hist. of the Egyptian Religion, p. 134). I have endeavored to explain this widespread belief in hermaphroditic deities in my work entitled, The Religious Sentiment, Its Source and Aim, pp. 65-68, (New York, 1876).]

It is recorded in the old histories that the priests dedicated to his service wore a peculiar head-dress, imitating a snail shell, and for that reason were called Quateczizque.[1] No one has explained this curiously shaped bonnet. But it was undoubtedly because Quetzalcoatl was the god of reproduction, for among the Aztecs the snail was a well known symbol of the process of parturition.[2]

[Footnote 1: Duran, in Kingsborough, vol. viii, p. 267. The word is from quaitl, head or top, and tecziztli, a snail shell.]

[Footnote 2: "Mettevanli in testa una lumaca marina per dimostrare que siccome il piscato esce dalle pieghe di quell'osso, o conca. cosi va ed esce l'uomo ab utero matris suae." Codice Vaticana, Tavola XXVI.]

Quetzalcoatl was that marvelous artist who fashions in the womb of the mother the delicate limbs and tender organs of the unborn infant. Therefore, when a couple of high rank were blessed with a child, an official orator visited them, and the baby being placed naked before him, he addressed it beginning with these words:—

"My child and lord, precious gem, emerald, sapphire, beauteous feather, product of a noble union, you have been formed far above us, in the ninth heaven, where dwell the two highest divinities. His Divine Majesty has fashioned you in a mould, as one fashions a ball of gold; you have been chiseled as a precious stone, artistically dressed by your Father and Mother, the great God and the great Goddess, assisted by their son, Quetzalcoatl."[1]

[Footnote 1: Sahagun, Historia, Lib. vi, cap. xxxiv.]

As he was thus the god on whom depended the fertilization of the womb, sterile women made their vows to him, and invoked his aid to be relieved from the shame of barrenness.[1]

[Footnote 1: Torquemada, Monarquia Indiana, Lib. xi, cap. xxiv.]

In still another direction is this function of his godship shown. The worship of the genesiac principle is as often characterized by an excessive austerity as by indulgence in sexual acts. Here we have an example. Nearly all the accounts tell us that Quetzalcoatl was never married, and that he held himself aloof from all women, in absolute chastity. We are told that on one occasion his subjects urged upon him the propriety of marriage, and to their importunities he returned the dark answer that, Yes, he had determined to take a wife; but that it would be when the oak tree shall cast chestnuts, when the sun shall rise in the west, when one can cross the sea dry-shod, and when nightingales grow beards.[1]

[Footnote 1: Duran, in Kingsborough, vol. viii, p. 267. I believe Alva Ixtlilxochitl is the only author who specifically assigns a family to Quetzalcoatl. This author does not mention a wife, but names two sons, one, Xilotzin, who was killed in war, the other, Pochotl, who was educated by his nurse, Toxcueye, and who, after the destruction of Tollan, collected the scattered Toltecs and settled with them around the Lake of Tezcuco (Relaciones Historicas, p. 394, in Kingsborough, vol. ix). All this is in contradiction to the reports of earlier and better authorities. For instance, Motolinia says pointedly, "no fue casado, ni se le conocio mujer" (Historia de los Indios, Epistola Proemial).]

Following the example of their Master, many of the priests of his cult refrained from sexual relations, and as a mortification of the flesh they practiced a painful rite by transfixing the tongue and male member with the sharp thorns of the maguey plant, an austerity which, according to their traditions, he was the first to institute.[1] There were also in the cities where his special worship was in vogue, houses of nuns, the inmates of which had vowed perpetual virginity, and it was said that Quetzalcoatl himself had founded these institutions.[2]

[Footnote 1: Codex Vaticanus, Tab. xxii.]

[Footnote 2: Veitia, Historia, cap. XVII.]

His connection with the worship of the reproductive principle seems to be further indicated by his surname, Ce acatl. This means One Reed, and is the name of a day in the calendar. But in the Nahuatl language, the word acatl, reed, cornstalk, is also applied to the virile member; and it has been suggested that this is the real signification of the word when applied to the hero-god. The suggestion is plausible, but the word does not seem to have been so construed by the early writers. If such an understanding had been current, it could scarcely have escaped the inquiries of such a close student and thorough master of the Nahuatl tongue as Father Sahagun.

On the other hand, it must be said, in corroboration of this identification, that the same idea appears to be conveyed by the symbol of the serpent. One correct translation of the name Quetzalcoatl is "the beautiful serpent;" his temple in the city of Mexico, according to Torquemada, had a door in the form of a serpent's mouth; and in the Codex Vaticanus, No. 3738, published by Lord Kingsborough, of which we have an explanation by competent native authority, he is represented as a serpent; while in the same Codex, in the astrological signs which were supposed to control the different parts of the human body, the serpent is pictured as the sign of the male member.[1] This indicates the probability that in his function as god of reproduction Quetzalcoatl may have stood in some relation to phallic rites.

[Footnote 1: Compare the Codex Vaticanus, No. 3738, plates 44 and 75, Kingsborough, Mexican Antiquities, vol. ii.]

This same sign, Ce Coatl, One Serpent, used in their astrology, was that of one of the gods of the merchants, and apparently for this reason, some writers have identified the chief god of traffic, Yacatecutli (God of Journeying), with Quetzalcoatl. This seems the more likely as another name of this divinity was Yacacoliuhqui, With the End Curved, a name which appears to refer to the curved rod or stick which was both his sign and one of those of Quetzalcoatl.[1] The merchants also constantly associated in their prayers this deity with Huitzilopochtli, which is another reason for supposing their patron was one of the four primeval brothers, and but another manifestation of Quetzalcoatl. His character, as patron of arts, the model of orators, and the cultivator of peaceful intercourse among men, would naturally lend itself to this position.

[Footnote 1: Compare Torquemada, Monarquia Indiana, Lib. vi, cap. xxviii and Sahagun, Historia de Nueva Espana, Lib. ix, passim.

Yacatecutli, is from tecutli, lord, and either yaqui, traveler, or else yacana, to conduct.

Yacacoliuhqui, is translated by Torquemada, "el que tiene la nariz aquilena." It is from yaque, a point or end, and hence, also, the nose, and coliuhqui, bent or curved. The translation in the text is quite as allowable as that of Torquemada, and more appropriate. I have already mentioned that this divinity was suspected, by Dr. Schultz-Sellack, to be merely another form of Quetzalcoatl. See above, chapter iii, Sec.2]

But Quetzalcoatl, as god of the violent wind-storms, which destroy the houses and crops, and as one, who, in his own history, was driven from his kingdom and lost his all, was not considered a deity of invariably good augury. His day and sign, ce acatl, One Reed, was of bad omen. A person born on it would not succeed in life.[1] His plans and possessions would be lost, blown away, as it were, by the wind, and dissipated into thin air.

[Footnote 1: Sahagun. Historia, Lib. iv, cap. viii.]

Through the association of his person with the prying winds he came, curiously enough, to be the patron saint of a certain class of thieves, who stupefied their victims before robbing them. They applied to him to exercise his maleficent power on those whom they planned to deprive of their goods. His image was borne at the head of the gang when they made their raids, and the preferred season was when his sign was in the ascendant.[1] This is a singular parallelism to the Aryan Hermes myth, as I have previously observed (Chap. I).

[Footnote 1: Ibid. Lib. IV, cap. XXXI.]

The representation of Quetzalcoatl in the Aztec manuscripts, his images and the forms of his temples and altars, referred to his double functions as Lord of the Light and the Winds.

He was not represented with pleasing features. On the contrary, Sahagun tells us that his face, that is, that of his image, was "very ugly, with a large head and a full beard."[1] The beard, in this and similar instances, was to represent the rays of the sun. His hair at times was also shown rising straight from his forehead, for the same reason.[2]

[Footnote 1: "La cara que tenia era muy fea y la cabeza larga y barbuda." Historia, Lib. III, cap. III. On the other hand Ixtlilxochitl speaks of him as "de bella figura." Historia Chichimeca, cap. viii. He was occasionally represented with his face painted black, probably expressing the sun in its absence.]

[Footnote 2: He is so portrayed in the Codex Vaticanus. and Ixtlilxochitl says, "tubiese el cabello levantado desde la frente hasta la nuca como a manera de penacho." Historia Chichimeca, cap. viii.]

At times he was painted with a large hat and flowing robe, and was then called "Father of the Sons of the Clouds," that is, of the rain drops.[1]

[Footnote 1: Diego Duran, Historia, in Kingsborough, viii, p. 267.]

These various representations doubtless referred to him at different parts of his chequered career, and as a god under different manifestations of his divine nature. The religious art of the Aztecs did not demand any uniformity in this respect.

Sec.5. The Return of Quetzalcoatl.

Quetzalcoatl was gone.

Whether he had removed to the palace prepared for him in Tlapallan, whether he had floated out to sea on his wizard raft of serpent skins, or whether his body had been burned on the sandy sea strand and his soul had mounted to the morning star, the wise men were not agreed. But on one point there was unanimity. Quetzalcoatl was gone; but he would return.

In his own good time, in the sign of his year, when the ages were ripe, once more he would come from the east, surrounded by his fair-faced retinue, and resume the sway of his people and their descendants. Tezcatlipoca had conquered, but not for aye. The immutable laws which had fixed the destruction of Tollan assigned likewise its restoration. Such was the universal belief among the Aztec race.

For this reason Quetzalcoatl's statue, or one of them, was in a reclining position and covered with wrappings, signifying that he was absent, "as of one who lays him down to sleep, and that when he should awake from that dream of absence, he should rise to rule again the land."[1]

[Footnote 1: Torquemada, Monarquia Indiana, Lib. vi, cap. xxiv. So in Egyptian mythology Tum was called "the concealed or imprisoned god, in a physical sense the Sun-god in the darkness of night, not revealing himself, but alive, nevertheless." Tiele, History of the Egyptian Religion, p. 77.]

He was not dead. He had indeed built mansions underground, to the Lord of Mictlan, the abode of the dead, the place of darkness, but he himself did not occupy them.[1] Where he passed his time was where the sun stays at night. As this, too, is somewhere beneath the level of the earth, it was occasionally spoken of as Tlillapa, The Murky Land,[2] and allied therefore to Mictlan. Caverns led down to it, especially one south of Chapultepec, called Cincalco, "To the Abode of Abundance," through whose gloomy corridors one could reach the habitation of the sun and the happy land still governed by Quetzalcoatl and his lieutenant Totec.[3]

[Footnote 1: Sahagun, Historia, Lib. iii. cap. ult.]

[Footnote 2: Mendieta, Hist. Eclesiast. Indiana, Lib. ii, cap. v. The name is from tlilli, something dark, obscure.]

[Footnote 3: Sahagun, Historia, Lib. xii, cap. ix; Duran, Historia, cap. lxviii; Tezozomoc, Cron. Mexicana, cap. ciii. Sahagun and Tezozomoc give the name Cincalco, To the House of Maize, i.e., Fertility, Abundance, the Paradise. Duran gives Cicalco, and translates it "casa de la liebre," citli, hare, calli, house, co locative. But this is, no doubt, an error, mistaking citli for cintli, maize.]

But the real and proper names of that land were Tlapallan, the Red Land, and Tizapan, the White Land, for either of these colors is that of the sun-light.[1]

[Footnote 1: Tizapan from tizatl, white earth or other substance, and pan, in. Mendicta, Lib. ii, cap. iv.]

It was generally understood to be the same land whence he and the Toltecs had come forth in ancient times; or if not actually the same, nevertheless, very similar to it. While the myth refers to the latter as Tlapallan, it speaks of the former as Huey Tlapallan, Old Tlapallan, or the first Tlapallan. But Old Tlapallan was usually located to the West, where the sun disappears at night;[1] while New Tlapallan, the goal of Quetzalcoatl's journey, was in the East, where the day-orb rises in the morning. The relationship is obvious, and is based on the similarity of the morning and the evening skies, the heavens at sunset and at sunrise.

[Footnote 1: "Huitlapalan, que es la que al presente llaman de Cortes, que por parecer vermeja le pusieron el nombre referido." Alva Ixtlilxochitl, Historia Chichimeca, Cap. ii.]

In his capacity as master of arts, and, at the same time, ruler of the underground realm, in other words, as representing in his absence the Sun at night, he was supposed to preside over the schools where the youth were shut up and severely trained in ascetic lives, previous to coming forth into the world. In this function he was addressed as Quetzalcoatl Tlilpotonqui, the Dark or Black Plumed, and the child, on admittance, was painted this color, and blood drawn from his ears and offered to the god.[1] Probably for the same reason, in many picture writings, both his face and body were blackened.

[Footnote 1: Sahagun, Lib. iii, Append, cap. vii. and cf. Lib. i, cap v. The surname is from tlilli, black, and potonia, "emplumar a otro."]

It is at first sight singular to find his character and symbols thus in a sense reversed, but it would not be difficult to quote similar instances from Aryan and Egyptian mythology. The sun at night was often considered to be the ruler of the realm of the dead, and became associated with its gloomy symbolism.

Wherever he was, Quetzalcoatl was expected to return and resume the sceptre of sovereignty, which he had laid down at the instigation of Tezcatlipoca. In what cycle he would appear the sages knew not, but the year of the cycle was predicted by himself of old.

Here appears an extraordinary coincidence. The sign of the year of Quetzalcoatl was, as I have said, One Reed, Ce Acatl. In the Mexican calendar this recurs only once in their cycle of fifty-two years. The myth ran that on some recurrence of this year his arrival was to take place. The year 1519 of the Christian era was the year One Reed, and in that year Hernan Cortes landed his army on Mexican soil!

The approach of the year had, as usual, revived the old superstition, and possibly some vague rumors from Yucatan or the Islands had intensified the dread with which the Mexican emperor contemplated the possible loss of his sovereignty. Omens were reported in the sky, on earth and in the waters. The sages and diviners were consulted, but their answers were darker than the ignorance they were asked to dispel. Yes, they agreed, a change is to come, the present order of things will be swept away, perhaps by Quetzalcoatl, perhaps by hideous beings with faces of serpents, who walk with one foot, whose heads are in their breasts, whose huge hands serve as sun shades, and who can fold themselves in their immense ears.[1]

[Footnote 1: The names of these mysterious beings are given by Tezozomoc as Tezocuilyoxique, Zenteicxique and Coayxaques. Cronica Mexicana, caps, cviii and civ.]

Little satisfied with these grotesque prophecies the monarch summoned his dwarfs and hunchbacks—a class of dependents he maintained in imitation of Quetzalcoatl—and ordered them to proceed to the sacred Cave of Cincalco.

"Enter its darknes," he said, "without fear. There you will find him who ages ago lived in Tula, who calls himself Huemac, the Great Hand.[1] If one enters, he dies indeed, but only to be born to an eternal life in a land where food and wine are in perennial plenty. It is shady with trees, filled with fruit, gay with flowers, and those who dwell there know nought but joy. Huemac is king of that land, and he who lives with him is ever happy."

[Footnote 1: Huemac, as I have already said, is stated by Sahagun to have been the war chief of Tula, as Quetzalcoatl was the sacerdotal head (Lib. iii, cap. v). But Duran and most writers state that it was simply another name of Quetzalcoatl.]

The dwarfs and hunchbacks departed on their mission, under the guidance of the priests. After a time they returned and reported that they had entered the cave and reached a place where four roads met. They chose that which descended most rapidly, and soon were accosted by an old man with a staff in his hand. This was Totec, who led them to his lord Huemac, to whom they stated the wish of Montezuma for definite information. The reply was vague and threatening, and though twice afterwards the emperor sent other embassies, only ominous and obscure announcements were returned by the priests.[1]

Clearly they preferred to be prophets of evil, and quite possibly they themselves were the slaves of gloomy forebodings.

[Footnote 1: Tezozomoc, Cronica Mexicana, caps. cviii, cix; Sahagun, Historia, Lib. xii, cap. ix. The four roads which met one on the journey to the Under World are also described in the Popol Vuh, p. 83. Each is of a different color, and only one is safe to follow.]

Dissatisfied with their reports, Montezuma determined to visit the underground realm himself, and by penetrating through the cave of Cincalco to reach the mysterious land where his attendants and priests professed to have been. For obvious reasons such a suggestion was not palatable to them, and they succeeded in persuading him to renounce the plan, and their deceptions remained undiscovered.

Their idle tales brought no relief to the anxious monarch, and at length, when his artists showed him pictures of the bearded Spaniards and strings of glittering beads from Cortes, the emperor could doubt no longer, and exclaimed: "Truly this is the Quetzalcoatl we expected, he who lived with us of old in Tula. Undoubtedly it is he, Ce Acatl Inacuil, the god of One Reed, who is journeying."[1]

[Footnote 1: Tezozomoc, Cronica Mexicana, cap. cviii.]

On his very first interview with Cortes, he addressed him through the interpreter Marina in remarkable words which have been preserved to us by the Spanish conqueror himself. Cortes writes:—

"Having delivered me the presents, he seated himself next to me and spoke as follows:—

"'We have known for a long time, by the writings handed down by our forefathers, that neither I nor any who inhabit this land are natives of it, but foreigners who came here from remote parts. We also know that we were led here by a ruler, whose subjects we all were, who returned to his country, and after a long time came here again and wished to take his people away. But they had married wives and built houses, and they would neither go with him nor recognize him as their king; therefore he went back. We have ever believed that those who were of his lineage would some time come and claim this land as his, and us as his vassals. From the direction whence you come, which is where the sun rises, and from what you tell me of this great lord who sent you, we believe and think it certain that he is our natural ruler, especially since you say that for a long time he has known about us. Therefore you may feel certain that we shall obey you, and shall respect you as holding the place of that great lord; and in all the land I rule you may give what orders you wish, and they shall be obeyed, and everything we have shall be put at your service. And since you are thus in your own heritage and your own house, take your ease and rest from the fatigue of the journey and the wars you have had on the way.'"[1]

[Footnote 1: Cortes, Carta Segunda, October 30th, 1520. According to Bernal Diaz Montezuma referred to the prediction several times. Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva Espana, cap. lxxxix, xc. The words of Montezuma are also given by Father Sahagun, Historia de Nueva Espana, Lib. xii, cap. xvi. The statement of Montezuma that Quetzalcoatl had already returned, but had not been well received by the people, and had, therefore, left them again, is very interesting. It is a part of the Quetzalcoatl myth which I have not found in any other Aztec source. But it distinctly appears in the Kiche which I shall quote on a later page, and is also in close parallelism with the hero-myths of Yucatan, Peru and elsewhere. It is, to my mind, a strong evidence of the accuracy of Marina's translation of Montezuma's words, and the fidelity of Cortes' memory.]

Such was the extraordinary address with which the Spaniard, with his handful of men, was received by the most powerful war chief of the American continent. It confessed complete submission, without a struggle. But it was the expression of a general sentiment. When the Spanish ships for the first time reached the Mexican shores the natives kissed their sides and hailed the white and bearded strangers from the east as gods, sons and brothers of Quetzalcoatl, come back from their celestial home to claim their own on earth and bring again the days of Paradise; [1] a hope, dryly observes Father Mendieta, which the poor Indians soon gave up when they came to feel the acts of their visitors.[2]

[Footnote 1: Sahagun, Historia, Lib. xii, cap. ii.]

[Footnote 2: "Los Indios siempre esperaron que se habia de cumplir aquella profecia y cuando vieron venir a los cristianos luego los llamaron dioses, hijos, y hermanos de Quetzalcoatl, aunque despues que conocieron y experimentaron sus obras, no los tuvieron por celestiales." Historia Eclesiastica Indiana, Lib. ii, cap. x.]

Such presentiments were found scattered through America. They have excited the suspicion of historians and puzzled antiquaries to explain. But their interpretation is simple enough. The primitive myth of the sun which had sunk but should rise again, had in the lapse of time lost its peculiarly religious sense, and had been in part taken to refer to past historical events. The Light-God had become merged in the divine culture hero. He it was who was believed to have gone away, not to die, for he was immortal, but to dwell in the distant east, whence in the fullness of time he would return.

This was why Montezuma and his subjects received the whites as expected guests, and quoted to them prophecies of their coming. The Mayas of Yucatan, the Muyscas of Bogota, the Qquichuas of Peru, all did the same, and all on the same grounds—the confident hope of the return of the Light-God from the under world.

This hope is an integral part of this great Myth of Light, in whatever part of the world we find it. Osiris, though murdered, and his body cast into "the unclean sea," will come again from the eastern shores. Balder, slain by the wiles of Loki, is not dead forever, but at the appointed time will appear again in nobler majesty. So in her divine fury sings the prophetess of the Voeluspa:—

"Shall arise a second time, Earth from ocean, green and fair, The waters ebb, the eagles fly, Snatch the fish from out the flood.

"Once again the wondrous runes, Golden tablets, shall be found; Mystic runes by Aesir carved, Gods who ruled Fiolnir's line.

"Then shall fields unseeded bear, Ill shall flee, and Balder come, Dwell in Odin's highest hall, He and all the happy gods.

"Outshines the sun that mighty hall, Glitters gold on heaven's hill; There shall god-like princes dwell, And rule for aye a happy world."




Sec.1. The Culture Hero Itzamna.


Sec.2. The Culture Hero Kukulcan.


The high-water mark of ancient American civilization was touched by the Mayas, the race who inhabited the peninsula of Yucatan and vicinity. Its members extended to the Pacific coast and included the tribes of Vera Paz, Guatemala, and parts of Chiapas and Honduras, and had an outlying branch in the hot lowlands watered by the River Panuco, north of Vera Cruz. In all, it has been estimated that they numbered at the time of the Conquest perhaps two million souls. To them are due the vast structures of Copan, Palenque and Uxmal, and they alone possessed a mode of writing which rested distinctly on a phonetic basis.

The zenith of their prosperity had, however, been passed a century before the Spanish conquerors invaded their soil. A large part of the peninsula of Yucatan had been for generations ruled in peace by a confederation of several tribes, whose capital city was Mayapan, ten leagues south of where Merida now stands, and whose ruins still cover many hundred acres of the plain. Somewhere about the year 1440 there was a general revolt of the eastern provinces; Mayapan itself was assaulted and destroyed, and the Peninsula was divided among a number of petty chieftains.

Such was its political condition at the time of the discovery. There were numerous populous cities, well built of stone and mortar, but their inhabitants were at war with each other and devoid of unity of purpose.[1] Hence they fell a comparatively easy prey to the conquistadors.

[Footnote 1: Francisco de Montejo, who was the first to explore Yucatan (1528), has left strong testimony to the majesty of its cities and the agricultural industry of its inhabitants. He writes to the King, in the report of his expedition: "La tierra es muy poblada y de muy grandes ciudades y villas muy frescas. Todos los pueblos son una huerta de frutales." Carta a su Magestad, 13 Abril, 1529, in the Coleccion de Documentos Ineditos del Archivo de Indias, Tom. xiii.]

Whence came this civilization? Was it an offshoot of that of the Aztecs? Or did it produce the latter?

These interesting questions I cannot discuss in full at this time. All that concerns my present purpose is to treat of them so far as they are connected with the mythology of the race. Incidentally, however, this will throw some light on these obscure points, and at any rate enable us to dismiss certain prevalent assumptions as erroneous.

One of these is the notion that the Toltecs were the originators of Yucatan culture. I hope I have said enough in the previous chapter to exorcise permanently from ancient American history these purely imaginary beings. They have served long enough as the last refuge of ignorance.

Let us rather ask what accounts the Mayas themselves gave of the origin of their arts and their ancestors.

Most unfortunately very meagre sources of information are open to us. We have no Sahagun to report to us the traditions and prayers of this strange people. Only fragments of their legends and hints of their history have been saved, almost by accident, from the general wreck of their civilization. From these, however, it is possible to piece together enough to give us a glimpse of their original form, and we shall find it not unlike those we have already reviewed.

There appear to have been two distinct cycles of myths in Yucatan, the most ancient and general that relating to Itzamna, the second, of later date and different origin, referring to Kukulcan. It is barely possible that these may be different versions of the same; but certainly they were regarded as distinct by the natives at and long before the time of the Conquest.

This is seen in the account they gave of their origin. They did not pretend to be autochthonous, but claimed that their ancestors came from distant regions, in two bands. The largest and most ancient immigration was from the East, across, or rather through, the ocean—for the gods had opened twelve paths through it—and this was conducted by the mythical civilizer Itzamna. The second band, less in number and later in time, came in from the West, and with them was Kukulcan. The former was called the Great Arrival; the latter, the Less Arrival[1].

[Footnote 1: Cogolludo contradicts himself in describing these events; saying first that the greater band came from the West, but later in the same chapter corrects himself, and criticizes Father Lizana for having committed the same error. Cogolludo's authority was the original MSS. of Gaspar Antonio, an educated native, of royal lineage, who wrote in 1582. Historia de Yucatan, Lib. iv, caps, iii, iv. Lizana gives the names of these arrivals as Nohnial and Cenial. These words are badly mutilated. They should read noh emel (noh, great, emel, descent, arrival) and cec, emel (cec, small). Landa supports the position of Cogolludo. Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan, p. 28. It is he who speaks of the "doce caminos por el mar."]

Sec.1. The Culture Hero, Itzamna.

To this ancient leader, Itzamna, the nation alluded as their guide, instructor and civilizer. It was he who gave names to all the rivers and divisions of land; he was their first priest, and taught them the proper rites wherewith to please the gods and appease their ill-will; he was the patron of the healers and diviners, and had disclosed to them the mysterious virtues of plants; in the month Uo they assembled and made new fire and burned to him incense, and having cleansed their books with water drawn from a fountain from which no woman had ever drunk, the most learned of the sages opened the volumes to forecast the character of the coming year.

It was Itzamna who first invented the characters or letters in which the Mayas wrote their numerous books, and which they carved in such profusion on the stone and wood of their edifices. He also devised their calendar, one more perfect even than that of the Mexicans, though in a general way similar to it[1].

[Footnote 1: The authorities on this phase of Itzamna's character are Cogolludo, Historia de Yucatan, Lib. iv, cap. iii; Landa, Cosas de Yucatan, pp. 285, 289, and Beltran de Santa Rosa Maria, Arte del Idioma Maya, p. 16. The latter has a particularly valuable extract from the now lost Maya Dictionary of F. Gabriel de San Buenaventura. "El primero que hallo las letras de la lengua Maya e hizo el computo de los anos, meses y edades, y lo enseno todo a los Indios de esta Provincia, fue un Indio llamado Kinchahau, y por otro nombre Tzamna. Noticia que debemos a dicho R.F. Gabriel, y trae en su Calepino, lit. K. verb. Kinchahau, fol. 390, vuelt."]

As city-builder and king, his history is intimately associated with the noble edifices of Itzamal, which he laid out and constructed, and over which he ruled, enacting wise laws and extending the power and happiness of his people for an indefinite period.

Thus Itzamna, regarded as ruler, priest and teacher, was, no doubt, spoken of as an historical personage, and is so put down by various historians, even to the most recent[1]. But another form in which he appears proves him to have been an incarnation of deity, and carries his history from earth to heaven. This is shown in the very earliest account we have of the Maya mythology.

[Footnote 1: Crescencio Carrillo, Historia Antigua de Yucatan, p. 144, Merida, 1881. Though obliged to differ on many points with this indefatigable archaeologist, I must not omit to state my appreciation and respect for his earnest interest in the language and antiquities of his country. I know of no other Yucatecan who has equal enthusiasm or so just an estimate of the antiquarian riches of his native land.]

For this account we are indebted to the celebrated Las Casas, the "Apostle of the Indians." In 1545 he sent a certain priest, Francisco Hernandez by name, into the peninsula as a missionary. Hernandez had already traversed it as chaplain to Montejo's expedition, in 1528, and was to some degree familiar with the Maya tongue. After nearly a year spent among the natives he forwarded a report to Las Casas, in which, among other matters, he noted a resemblance which seemed to exist between the myths recounted by the Maya priests and the Christian dogmas. They told him that the highest deity they worshiped was Izona, who had made men and all things. To him was born a son, named Bacab or Bacabab, by a virgin, Chibilias, whose mother was Ixchel. Bacab was slain by a certain Eopuco, on the day called hemix, but after three days rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. The Holy Ghost was represented by Echuac, who furnished the world with all things necessary to man's life and comfort. Asked what Bacab meant, they replied, "the Son of the Great Father," and Echuac they translated by "the merchant."[1]

[Footnote 1: Las Casas, Historia Apologetica de las Indias Occidentales, cap. cxxiii.]

This is the story that a modern writer says, "ought to be repudiated without question."[1] But I think not. It is not difficult to restore these names to their correct forms, and then the fancied resemblance to Christian theology disappears, while the character of the original myth becomes apparent.

[Footnote 1: John T. Short, The North Americans of Antiquity, p. 231.]

Cogolludo long since justly construed Izona as a misreading for Izamna. Bacabab is the plural form of Bacab, and shows that the sons were several. We are well acquainted with the Bacabab. Bishop Landa tells us all about them. They were four in number, four gigantic brothers, who supported the four corners of the heavens, who blew the four winds from the four cardinal points, and who presided over the four Dominical signs of the Calendar. As each year in the Calendar was supposed to be under the influence of one or the other of these brothers, one Bacab was said to die at the close of the year; and after the "nameless" or intercalary days had passed the next Bacab would live; and as each computation of the year began on the day Imix, which was the third before the close of the Maya week, this was said figuratively to be the day of death of the Bacab of that year. And whereas three (or four) days later a new year began, with another Bacab, the one was said to have died and risen again.

The myth further relates that the Bacabs were sons of Ix-chel. She was the Goddess of the Rainbow, which her name signifies. She was likewise believed to be the guardian of women in childbirth, and one of the patrons of the art of medicine. The early historians, Roman and Landa, also associate her with Itzamna[1], thus verifying the legend recorded by Hernandez.

[Footnote 1: Fray Hieronimo Roman, De la Republica de las Indias Occidentales, Lib. ii, cap. xv; Diego de Landa, Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan, p. 288. Cogolludo also mentions Ix chel, Historia de Yucatan, Lib. iv, cap. vi. The word in Maya for rainbow is chel or cheel; ix is the feminine prefix, which also changes the noun from the inanimate to the animate sense.]

That the Rainbow should be personified as wife of the Light-God and mother of the rain-gods, is an idea strictly in accordance with the course of mythological thought in the red race, and is founded on natural relations too evident to be misconstrued. The rainbow is never seen but during a shower, and while the sun is shining; hence it is always associated with these two meteorological phenomena.

I may quote in comparison the rainbow myth of the Moxos of South America. They held it to be the wife of Arama, their god of light, and her duty was to pour the refreshing rains on the soil parched by the glaring eye of her mighty spouse. Hence they looked upon her as goddess of waters, of trees and plants, and of fertility in general.[1]

[Footnote 1: "Fabula, ridicula adspersam superstitione, habebant de iride. Ajebant illam esse Aramam feminam, solis conjugem, cujus officium sit terras a viro exustas imbrium beneficio recreare. Cum enim viderent arcum illum non nisi pluvio tempore in conspectu venire, et tunc arborum cacuminibus velut insidere, persuadebant sibi aquarum illum esse Praesidem, arboresque proceras omnes sua in tutela habere." Franc. Xav., Eder, Descriptio Provinciae Moxitarum in Regno Peruano p. 249 (Budae, 1791).]

Or we may take the Muyscas, a cultivated and interesting nation who dwelt on the lofty plateau where Bogota is situated. They worshiped the Rainbow under the name Cuchaviva and personified it as a goddess, who took particular care of those sick with fevers and of women in childbirth. She was also closely associated in their myth with their culture-hero Bochica, the story being that on one occasion, when an ill-natured divinity had inundated the plain of Bogota, Bochica appeared to the distressed inhabitants in company with Cuchaviva, and cleaving the mountains with a blow of his golden sceptre, opened a passage for the waters into the valley below.[1]

[Footnote 1: E. Uricoechea, Gramatica de la Lengua Chibcha, Introd., p. xx. The similarity of these to the Biblical account is not to be attributed to borrowing from the latter, but simply that it, as they, are both the mythological expressions of the same natural phenomenon. In Norse mythology, Freya is the rainbow goddess. She wears the bow as a necklace or girdle. It was hammered out for her by four dwarfs, the four winds from the cardinal points, and Odin seeks to get it from her. Schwartz, Ursprung der Mythologie, S. 117.]

As goddess of the fertilizing showers, of growth and life, it is easily seen how Ixchel came to be the deity both of women in childbirth and of the medical art, a Juno Sospita as well as a Juno Lucina.

The statement is also significant, that the Bacabs were supposed to be the victims of Ah-puchah, the Despoiler or Destroyer,[1] though the precise import of that character in the mythical drama is left uncertain.[2]

[Footnote 1: Eopuco I take to be from the verb puch or puk, to melt, to dissolve, to shell corn from the cob, to spoil; hence puk, spoiled, rotten, podrida, and possibly ppuch, to flog, to beat. The prefix ah, signifies one who practices or is skilled in the action which the verb denotes.]

[Footnote 2: The mother of the Bacabs is given in the myth as Chibilias (or Chibirias, but there is no r in the Maya alphabet). Cogolludo mentions a goddess Ix chebel yax, one of whose functions was to preside over drawing and painting. The name is from chebel, the brush used in these arts. But the connection is obscure.]

The supposed Holy Ghost, Echuac, properly Ah-Kiuic, Master of the Market, was the god of the merchants and the cacao plantations. He formed a triad with two other gods, Chac, one of the rain gods, and Hobnel, also a god of the food supply. To this triad travelers, on stopping for the night, set on end three stones and placed in front of them three flat stones, on which incense was burned. At their festival in the month Muan precisely three cups of native wine (mead) were drained by each person present.[1]

[Footnote 1: Landa, Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan, pp. 156, 260.]

The description of some such rites as these is, no doubt, what led the worthy Hernandez to suppose that the Mayas had Trinitarian doctrines. When they said that the god of the merchants and planters supplied the wants of men and furnished the world with desirable things, it was but a slightly figurative way of stating a simple truth.

The four Bacabs are called by Cogolludo "the gods of the winds." Each was identified with a particular color and a certain cardinal point. The first was that of the South. He was called Hobnil, the Belly; his color was yellow, which, as that of the ripe ears, was regarded as a favorable and promising hue; the augury of his year was propitious, and it was said of him, referring to some myth now lost, that he had never sinned as had his brothers. He answered to the day Kan. which was the first of the Maya week of thirteen days.[1] The remaining Bacabs were the Red, assigned to the East, the White, to the North, and the Black, to the West, and the winds and rains from those directions were believed to be under the charge of these giant caryatides.

[Footnote 1: Landa, Relacion, pp. 208,-211, etc. Hobnil is the ordinary word for belly, stomach, from hobol, hollow. Figuratively, in these dialects it meant subsistence, life, as we use in both these senses the word "vitals." Among the Kiches of Guatemala, a tribe of Maya stock, we find, as terms applied to their highest divinity, u pam uleu, u pam cah, literally Belly of the Earth, Belly of the Sky, meaning that by which earth and sky exist. Popol Vuh, p. 332.]

Their close relation with Itzamna is evidenced, not only in the fragmentary myth preserved by Hernandez, but quite amply in the descriptions of the rites at the close of each year and in the various festivals during the year, as narrated by Bishop Landa. Thus at the termination of the year, along with the sacrifices to the Bacab of the year were others to Itzamna, either under his surname Canil, which has various meanings,[1] or as Kinich-ahau, Lord of the Eye of the Day,[2] or Yax-coc-ahmut, the first to know and hear of events,[3] or finally as Uac-metun-ahau, Lord of the Wheel of the Months.[4]

[Footnote 1: Can, of which the "determinative" form is canil, may mean a serpent, or the yellow one, or the strong one, or he who gives gifts, or the converser.]

[Footnote 2: Kin, the day; ich, eye; ahau, lord.]

[Footnote 3: Yax, first; coc, which means literally deaf, and hence to listen attentively (whence the name Cocomes, for the ancient royal family of Chichen Itza, an appellation correctly translated "escuchadores") and ah-mut, master of the news, mut meaning news, good or bad.]

[Footnote 4: Uac, the months, is a rare and now obsolete form of the plural of u, month, "Uac, i.e. u, por meses y habla de tiempo pasado." Diccionario Maya-Espanol del Convento de Motul, MS. Metun (Landa, mitun) is from met, a wheel. The calendars, both in Yucatan and Mexico, were represented as a wheel.]

The word bacab means "erected," "set up."[1] It was applied to the Bacabs because they were imagined to be enormous giants, standing like pillars at the four corners of the earth, supporting the heavens. In this sense they were also called chac, the giants, as the rain senders. They were also the gods of fertility and abundance, who watered the crops, and on whose favor depended the return of the harvests. They presided over the streams and wells, and were the divinities whose might is manifested in the thunder and lightning, gods of the storms, as well as of the gentle showers.[2] The festival to these gods of the harvest was in the month Mac, which occurred in the early spring. In this ceremony, Itzamna was also worshiped as the leader of the Bacabs, and an important rite called "the extinction of the fire" was performed. "The object of these sacrifices and this festival," writes Bishop Landa, "was to secure an abundance of water for their crops."[3]

[Footnote 1: The Diccionario Maya del Convento de Motul, MS., the only dictionary in which I find the exact word, translates bacab by "representante, juglar, bufon." This is no doubt a late meaning taken from the scenic representations of the supposed doings of the gods in the ritual ceremonies. The proper form of the word is uacab or vacab, which the dictionary mentioned renders "cosa que esta en pie o enhiesta delante de otra." The change from the initial v to b is quite common, as may be seen by comparing the two letters in Pio Perez's Diccionario de la Lengua Maya, e.g. balak, the revolution of a wheel, from ualak, to turn, to revolve.]

[Footnote 2: The entries in the Diccionario Maya-Espanol del Convento de Motul, MS., are as follows:—

"Chaac: gigante, hombre de grande estatura.

"Chaac: fue un hombre asi grande que enseno la agricultura, al cual tuvieron despues por Dios de los panes, del agua, de los truenos y relampagos. Y asi se dice, hac chaac, el rayo: u lemba chaac el relampago; u pec chaac, el trueno," etc.]

[Footnote 3: Relacion, etc., p. 255.]

These four Chac or Bacabab were worshiped under the symbol of the cross, the four arms of which represented the four cardinal points. Both in language and religious art, this was regarded as a tree. In the Maya tongue it was called "the tree of bread," or "the tree of life."[1] The celebrated cross of Palenque is one of its representations, as I believe I was the first to point out, and has now been generally acknowledged to be correct.[2] There was another such cross, about eight feet high, in a temple on the island of Cozumel. This was worshiped as "the god of rain," or more correctly, as the symbol of the four rain gods, the Bacabs. In periods of drought offerings were made to it of birds (symbols of the winds) and it was sprinkled with water. "When this had been done," adds the historian, "they felt certain that the rains would promptly fall."[3]

[Footnote 1: The Maya word is uahomche, from uah, originally the tortilla or maize cake, now used for bread generally. It is also current in the sense of life ("la vida en cierta manera," Diccionario Maya Espanol del Convento de Motul, MS.). Che is the generic word for tree. I cannot find any particular tree called Homche. Hom was the name applied to a wind instrument, a sort of trumpet. In the Codex Troano, Plates xxv, xxvii, xxxiv, it is represented in use. The four Bacabs were probably imagined to blow the winds from the four corners of the earth through such instruments. A similar representation is given in the Codex Borgianus, Plate xiii, in Kingsborough. As the Chac was the god of bread, Dios de los panes, so the cross was the tree of bread.]

[Footnote 2: See the Myths of the New World, p. 95 (1st ed., New York, 1868). This explanation has since been adopted by Dr. Carl Schultz-Sellack, although he omits to state whence he derived it. His article is entitled Die Amerikanischen Goetter der Vier Weltgegenden und ihre Tempel in Palenque in the Zeitschrift fuer Ethnologie, 1879. Compare also Charles Rau, The Palenque Tablet, p. 44 (Washington, 1879).]

[Footnote 3: "Al pie de aquella misma torre estaba un cercado de piedra y cal, muy bien lucido y almenado, en medio del cual habia una cruz de cal tan alta como diez palmos, a la cual tenian y adoraban por dios de la lluvia, porque quando no llovia y habia falta de agua, iban a ella en procesion y muy devotos; ofrescianle codornices sacrificadas por aplacarle la ira y enojo con que ellos tenia o mostraba tener, con la sangre de aquella simple avezica." Francisco Lopez de Gomara, Conquista de Mejico, p. 305 (Ed. Paris, 1852).]

Each of the four Bacabs was also called Acantun, which means "a stone set up," such a stone being erected and painted of the color sacred to the cardinal point that the Bacab represented[1]. Some of these stones are still found among the ruins of Yucatecan cities, and are to this day connected by the natives with reproductive signs[2]. It is probable, however, that actual phallic worship was not customary in Yucatan. The Bacabs and Itzamna were closely related to ideas of fertility and reproduction, indeed, but it appears to have been especially as gods of the rains, the harvests, and the food supply generally. The Spanish writers were eager to discover all the depravity possible in the religion of the natives, and they certainly would not have missed such an opportunity for their tirades, had it existed. As it is, the references to it are not many, and not clear.

[Footnote 1: The feasts of the Bacabs Acantun are described in Landa's work. The name he does not explain. I take it to be acaan, past participle of actal, to erect, and tun, stone. But it may have another meaning. The word acan meant wine, or rather, mead, the intoxicating hydromel the natives manufactured. The god of this drink also bore the name Acan ("ACAN; el Dios del vino que es Baco," Diccionario del Convento de Motul, MS.). It would be quite appropriate for the Bacabs to be gods of wine.]

[Footnote 2: Stephens, Travels in Yucatan, Vol. i, p. 434.]

From what I have now presented we see that Itzamna came from the distant east, beyond the ocean marge; that he was the teacher of arts and agriculture; that he, moreover, as a divinity, ruled the winds and rains, and sent at his will harvests and prosperity. Can we identify him further with that personification of Light which, as we have already seen, was the dominant figure in other American mythologies?

This seems indicated by his names and titles. They were many, some of which I have already analyzed. That by which he was best known was Itzamna, a word of contested meaning but which contains the same radicals as the words for the morning and the dawn[1], and points to his identification with the grand central fact at the basis of all these mythologies, the welcome advent of the light in the eastern horizon after the gloom of the night.

[Footnote 1: Some have derived Itzamua from i, grandson by a son, used only by a female; zamal, morning, morrow, from zam, before, early, related to yam, first, whence also zamalzam, the dawn, the aurora; and na, mother. Without the accent na, means house. Crescencio Carrillo prefers the derivation from itz, anything that trickles in drops, as gum from a tree, rain or dew from the sky, milk from teats, and semen ("leche de amor," Dicc. de Motul, MS.). He says: "Itzamna, esto es, rocio diario, o sustancia cuotidiana del cielo, es el mismo nombre del fundador (de Itzamal)." Historia Antigua de Yucatan, p. 145. (Merida, 1881.) This does not explain the last syllable, na, which is always strongly accented. It is said that Itzamna spoke of himself only in the words Itz en caan, "I am that which trickles from the sky;" Itz en muyal, "I am that which trickles from the clouds." This plainly refers to his character as a rain god. Lizana, Historia de Yucatan, Lib. i, cap. 4. If a compound of itz, amal, na, the name, could be translated, "the milk of the mother of the morning," or of the dawn, i. e., the dew; while i, zamal, na would be "son of the mother of the morning."]

His next most frequent title was Kin-ich-ahau, which may be translated either, "Lord of the Sun's Face," or, "The Lord, the Eye of the Day."[1] As such he was the deity who presided in the Sun's disk and shot forth his scorching rays. There was a temple at Itzamal consecrated to him as Kin-ich-kak-mo, "the Eye of the Day, the Bird of Fire."[2] In a time of pestilence the people resorted to this temple, and at high noon a sacrifice was spread upon the altar. The moment the sun reached the zenith, a bird of brilliant plumage, but which, in fact, was nothing else than a fiery flame shot from the sun, descended and consumed the offering in the sight of all. At Campeche he had a temple, as Kin-ich-ahau-haban, "the Lord of the Sun's face, the Hunter," where the rites were sanguinary.[3]

[Footnote 1: Cogolludo, who makes a distinction between Kinich-ahau and Itzamna (Hist. de Yucatan, Lib. iv, cap. viii), may be corrected by Landa and Buenaventura, whom I have already quoted.]

[Footnote 2: Kin, the sun, the day; ich, the face, but generally the eye or eyes; kak, fire; mo, the brilliant plumaged, sacred bird, the ara or guacamaya, the red macaw. This was adopted as the title of the ruler of Itzamal, as we learn from the Chronicle of Chichen Itza—"Ho ahau paxci u cah yahau ah Itzmal Kinich Kakmo"—"In the fifth Age the town (of Chichen Itza) was destroyed by King Kinich Kakmo, of Itzamal." El Libro de Chilan Balam de Chumayel, MS.]

[Footnote 3: Cogolludo, Historia de Yucatan, Lib. iv, cap. viii.]

Another temple at Itzamal was consecrated to him, under one of his names, Kabil, He of the Lucky Hand,[1] and the sick were brought there, as it was said that he had cured many by merely touching them. This fane was extremely popular, and to it pilgrimages were made from even such remote regions as Tabasco, Guatemala and Chiapas. To accommodate the pilgrims four paved roads had been constructed, to the North, South, East and West, straight toward the quarters of the four winds.

[Footnote 1: Lizana says: "Se llama y nombra Kab-ul que quiere decir mano obradora," and all writers have followed him, although no such meaning can be made out of the name thus written. The proper word is kabil, which is defined in the Diccionario del Convento de Motul, MS., "el que tiene buena mano para sembrar, o para poner colmenas, etc." Landa also gives this orthography, Relacion, p. 216.]

Sec.2. The Culture Hero, Kukulcan.

The second important hero-myth of the Mayas was that about Kukulcan. This is in no way connected with that of Itzamna, and is probably later in date, and less national in character. The first reference to it we also owe to Father Francisco Hernandez, whom I have already quoted, and who reported it to Bishop Las Casas in 1545. His words clearly indicate that we have here to do with a myth relating to the formation of the calendar, an opinion which can likewise be supported from other sources.

The natives affirmed, says Las Casas, that in ancient times there came to that land twenty men, the chief of whom was called "Cocolcan," and him they spoke of as the god of fevers or agues, two of the others as gods of fishing, another two as the gods of farms and fields, another was the thunder god, etc. They wore flowing robes and sandals on their feet, they had long beards, and their heads were bare. They ordered that the people should confess and fast, and some of the natives fasted on Fridays, because on that day the god Bacab died; and the name of that day in their language is himix, which they especially honor and hold in reverence as the day of the death of Bacab.[1]

[Footnote 1: Las Casas, Historia Apologetica de las Indias Occidentales, cap. cxxii.]

In the manuscript of Hernandez, which Las Casas had before him when he was writing his Apologetical History, the names of all the twenty were given; but unfortunately for antiquarian research, the good bishop excuses himself from quoting them, on account of their barbarous appearance. I have little doubt, however, that had he done so, we should find them to be the names of the twenty days of the native calendar month. These are the visitors who come, one every morning, with flowing robes, full beard and hair, and bring with them our good or bad luck—whatever the day brings forth. Hernandez made the same mistake as did Father Francisco de Bobadilla, when he inquired of the Nicaraguans the names of their gods, and they gave him those of the twenty days of the month.[1] Each day was, indeed, personified by these nations, and supposed to be at once a deity and a date, favorable or unfavorable to fishing or hunting, planting or fighting, as the case might be.

[Footnote 1: Oviedo, Historia General de las Indias, Lib. xlii, cap. iii.]

Kukulcan seems, therefore, to have stood in the same relation in Yucatan to the other divinities of the days as did Votan in Chiapa and Quetzalcoatl Ce Acatl in Cholula.

His name has usually been supposed to be a compound, meaning "a serpent adorned with feathers," but there are no words in the Maya language to justify such a rendering. There is some variation in its orthography, and its original pronunciation may possibly be lost; but if we adopt as correct the spelling which I have given above, of which, however, I have some doubts, then it means, "The God of the Mighty Speech."[1]

[Footnote 1: Eligio Ancona, after giving the rendering, "serpiente adornada de plumas," adds, "ha sido repetido por tal numero de etimologistas que tendremos necesidad de aceptarla, aunque nos parece un poco violento," Historia de Yucatan, Vol. i, p. 44. The Abbe Brasseur, in his Vocabulaire Maya, boldly states that kukul means "emplumado o adornado con plumas." This rendering is absolutely without authority, either modern or ancient. The word for feathers in Maya is kukum; kul, in composition, means "very" or "much," as "kulvinic, muy hombre, hombre de respeto o hecho," Diccionario de Motul, MS. Ku is god, divinity. For can see chapter iv, Sec.1. Can was and still is a common surname in Yucatan. (Berendt, Nombres Proprios en Lengua Maya, MS.)

I should prefer to spell the name Kukulkan, and have it refer to the first day of the Maya week, Kan.]

The reference probably was to the fame of this divinity as an oracle, as connected with the calendar. But it is true that the name could with equal correctness be translated "The God, the Mighty Serpent," for can is a homonym with these and other meanings, and we are without positive proof which was intended.

To bring Kukulcan into closer relations with other American hero-gods we must turn to the locality where he was especially worshiped, to the traditions of the ancient and opulent city of Chichen Itza, whose ruins still rank among the most imposing on the peninsula. The fragments of its chronicles, as preserved to us in the Books of Chilan Balam and by Bishop Landa, tell us that its site was first settled by four bands who came from the four cardinal points and were ruled over by four brothers. These brothers chose no wives, but lived chastely and ruled righteously, until at a certain time one died or departed, and two began to act unjustly and were put to death. The one remaining was Kukulcan. He appeased the strife which his brothers' acts had aroused, directed the minds of the people to the arts of peace, and caused to be built various important structures. After he had completed his work in Chichen Itza, he founded and named the great city of Mayapan, destined to be the capital of the confederacy of the Mayas. In it was built a temple in his honor, and named for him, as there was one in Chichen Itza. These were unlike others in Yucatan, having circular walls and four doors, directed, presumably, toward the four cardinal points[1].

[Footnote 1: El Libro de Chilan Balam de Chumayel, MS.; Landa, Relacion, pp. 34-38. and 299; Herrera, Historia de las Indias, Dec. iv, Lib. x, cap ii.]

In gratifying confirmation of the legend, travelers do actually find in Mayapan and Chichen Itza, and nowhere else in Yucatan, the ruins of two circular temples with doors opening toward the cardinal points[1].

[Footnote 1: Stephens, Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, Vol. ii, p. 298.]

Under the beneficent rule of Kukulcan, the nation enjoyed its halcyon days of peace and prosperity. The harvests were abundant and the people turned cheerfully to their daily duties, to their families and their lords. They forgot the use of arms, even for the chase, and contented themselves with snares and traps.

At length the time drew near for Kukulcan to depart. He gathered the chiefs together and expounded to them his laws. From among them he chose as his successor a member of the ancient and wealthy family of the Cocoms. His arrangements completed, he is said, by some, to have journeyed westward, to Mexico, or to some other spot toward the sun-setting. But by the people at large he was confidently believed to have ascended into the heavens, and there, from his lofty house, he was supposed to watch over the interests of his faithful adherents.

Such was the tradition of their mythical hero told by the Itzas. No wonder that the early missionaries, many of whom, like Landa, had lived in Mexico and had become familiar with the story of Quetzalcoatl and his alleged departure toward the east, identified him with Kukulcan, and that, following the notion of this assumed identity, numerous later writers have framed theories to account for the civilization of ancient Yucatan through colonies of "Toltec" immigrants.

It can, indeed, be shown beyond doubt that there were various points of contact between the Aztec and Maya civilizations. The complex and artificial method of reckoning time was one of these; certain architectural devices were others; a small number of words, probably a hundred all told, have been borrowed by the one tongue from the other. Mexican merchants traded with Yucatan, and bands of Aztec warriors with their families, from Tabasco, dwelt in Mayapan by invitation of its rulers, and after its destruction, settled in the province of Canul, on the western coast, where they lived strictly separate from the Maya-speaking population at the time the Spaniards conquered the country.[1]

[Footnote 1: El Libro de Chilan Balam de Chumayel, MS.; Landa, Relacion, p. 54.]

But all this is very far from showing that at any time a race speaking the Aztec tongue ruled the Peninsula. There are very strong grounds to deny this. The traditions which point to a migration from the west or southwest may well have referred to the depopulation of Palenque, a city which undoubtedly was a product of Maya architects. The language of Yucatan is too absolutely dissimilar from the Nahuatl for it ever to have been moulded by leaders of that race. The details of Maya civilization are markedly its own, and show an evolution peculiar to the people and their surroundings.

How far they borrowed from the fertile mythology of their Nahuatl visitors is not easily answered. That the circular temple in Mayapan, with four doors, specified by Landa as different from any other in Yucatan, was erected to Quetzalcoatl, by or because of the Aztec colony there, may plausibly be supposed when we recall how peculiarly this form was devoted to his worship. Again, one of the Maya chronicles—that translated by Pio Perez and published by Stephens in his Travels in Yucatan—opens with a distinct reference to Tula and Nonoal, names inseparable from the Quetzalcoatl myth. A statue of a sleeping god holding a vase was disinterred by Dr. Le Plongeon at Chichen Itza, and it is too entirely similar to others found at Tlaxcala and near the city of Mexico, for us to doubt but that they represented the same divinity, and that the god of rains, fertility and the harvests.[1]

[Footnote 1: I refer to the statue which Dr. LePlongeon was pleased to name "Chac Mool." See the Estudio acerca de la Estatua llamada Chac-Mool o rey tigre, by Sr. Jesus Sanchez, in the Anales del Museo Nacional de Mexico, Tom. i. p. 270. There was a divinity worshiped in Yucatan, called Cum-ahau, lord of the vase, whom the Diccionario de Motul, MS. terms, "Lucifer, principal de los demonios." The name is also given by Pio Perez in his manuscript dictionary in my possession, but is omitted in the printed copy. As Lucifer, the morning star, was identified with Quetzalcoatl in Mexican mythology, and as the word cum, vase, Aztec comitl, is the same in both tongues, there is good ground to suppose that this lord of the vase, the "prince of devils," was the god of fertility, common to both cults.]

The version of the tradition which made Kukulcan arrive from the West, and at his disappearance return to the West—a version quoted by Landa, and which evidently originally referred to the westward course of the sun, easily led to an identification of him with the Aztec Quetzalcoatl, by those acquainted with both myths.

The probability seems to be that Kukulcan was an original Maya divinity, one of their hero-gods, whose myth had in it so many similarities to that of Quetzalcoatl that the priests of the two nations came to regard the one as the same as the other. After the destruction of Mayapan, about the middle of the fifteenth century, when the Aztec mercenaries were banished to Canul, and the reigning family (the Xiu) who supported them became reduced in power, the worship of Kukulcan fell, to some extent, into disfavor. Of this we are informed by Landa, in an interesting passage.

He tells us that many of the natives believed that Kukulcan, after his earthly labors, had ascended into Heaven and become one of their gods. Previous to the destruction of Mayapan temples were built to him, and he was worshiped throughout the land, but after that event he was paid such honor only in the province of Mani (governed by the Xiu). Nevertheless, in gratitude for what all recognized they owed to him, the kings of the neighboring provinces sent yearly to Mani, on the occasion of his annual festival, which took place on the 16th of the month Xul (November 8th), either four or five magnificent feather banners. These were placed in his temple, with appropriate ceremonies, such as fasting, the burning of incense, dancing, and with simple offerings of food cooked without salt or pepper, and drink from beans and gourd seeds. This lasted five nights and five days; and, adds Bishop Landa, they said, and held it for certain, that on the last day of the festival Kukulcan himself descended from Heaven and personally received the sacrifices and offerings which were made in his honor. The celebration itself was called the Festival of the Founder[1], with reference, I suppose, to the alleged founding of the cities of Mayapan and Chichen Itza by this hero-god. The five days and five sacred banners again bring to mind the close relation of this with the Quetzalcoatl symbolism.

[Footnote 1: "Llamaban a esta fiesta Chic Kaban;" Landa, Relacion, p. 302. I take it this should read Chiic u Kaba (Chiic; fundar o poblar alguna cosa, casa, pueblo, etc. Diccionario de Motul, MS.)]

As Itzamna had disappeared without undergoing the pains of death, as Kukulcan had risen into the heavens and thence returned annually, though but for a moment, on the last day of the festival in his honor, so it was devoutly believed by the Mayas that the time would come when the worship of other gods should be done away with, and these mighty deities alone demand the adoration of their race. None of the American nations seems to have been more given than they to prognostics and prophecies, and of none other have we so large an amount of this kind of literature remaining. Some of it has been preserved by the Spanish missionaries, who used it with good effect for their own purposes of proselyting; but that it was not manufactured by them for this purpose, as some late writers have thought, is proved by the existence of copies of these prophecies, made by native writers themselves, at the time of the Conquest and at dates shortly subsequent.

These prophecies were as obscure and ambiguous as all successful prophets are accustomed to make their predictions; but the one point that is clear in them is, that they distinctly referred to the arrival of white and bearded strangers from the East, who should control the land and alter the prevailing religion.[1]

[Footnote 1: Nakuk Pech, Concixta yetel mapa, 1562. MS.; El Libro de Chilan Balam de Mani, 1595, MS. The former is a history of the Conquest written in Maya, by a native noble, who was an adult at the time that Merida was founded (1542).]

Even that portion of the Itzas who had separated from the rest of their nation at the time of the destruction of Mayapan (about 1440-50) and wandered off to the far south, to establish a powerful nation around Lake Peten, carried with them a forewarning that at the "eighth age" they should be subjected to a white race and have to embrace their religion; and, sure enough, when that time came, and not till then, that is, at the close of the seventeenth century of our reckoning, they were driven from their island homes by Governor Ursua, and their numerous temples, filled with idols, leveled to the soil.[1]

[Footnote 1: Juan de Villagutierre Sotomayor, Historia de la Provincia de el Itza, passim (Madrid, 1701).]

The ground of all such prophecies was, I have no doubt, the expected return of the hero-gods, whose myths I have been recording. Both of them represented in their original forms the light of day, which disappears at nightfall but returns at dawn with unfailing certainty. When the natural phenomenon had become lost in its personification, this expectation of a return remained and led the priests, who more than others retained the recollection of the ancient forms of the myth, to embrace this expectation in the prognostics which it was their custom and duty to pronounce with reference to the future.






The most majestic empire on this continent at the time of its discovery was that of the Incas. It extended along the Pacific, from the parallel of 2 deg. north latitude to 20 deg. south, and may be roughly said to have been 1500 miles in length, with an average width of 400 miles. The official and principal tongue was the Qquichua, the two other languages of importance being the Yunca, spoken by the coast tribes, and the Aymara, around Lake Titicaca and south of it. The latter, in phonetics and in many root-words, betrays a relationship to the Qquichua, but a remote one.

The Qquichuas were a race of considerable cultivation. They had a developed metrical system, and were especially fond of the drama. Several specimens of their poetical and dramatic compositions have been preserved, and indicate a correct taste. Although they did not possess a method of writing, they had various mnemonic aids, by which they were enabled to recall their verses and their historical traditions.

In the mythology of the Qquichuas, and apparently also of the Aymaras, the leading figure is Viracocha. His august presence is in one cycle of legends that of Infinite Creator, the Primal Cause; in another he is the beneficent teacher and wise ruler; in other words, he too, like Quetzalcoatl and the others whom I have told about, is at one time God, at others the incarnation of God.

As the first cause and ground of all things, Viracocha's distinctive epithet was Ticci, the Cause, the Beginning, or Illa ticci, the Ancient Cause[1], the First Beginning, an endeavor in words to express the absolute priority of his essence and existence. He it was who had made and moulded the Sun and endowed it with a portion of his own divinity, to wit, the glory of its far-shining rays; he had formed the Moon and given her light, and set her in the heavens to rule over the waters and the winds, over the queens of the earth and the parturition of women; and it was still he, the great Viracocha, who had created the beautiful Chasca, the Aurora, the Dawn, goddess of all unspotted maidens like herself, her who in turn decked the fields and woods with flowers, whose time was the gloaming and the twilight, whose messengers were the fleecy clouds which sail through the sky, and who, when she shakes her clustering hair, drops noiselessly pearls of dew on the green grass fields.[2]

[Footnote 1: "Ticci, origen, principio, fundamento, cimiento, causa. Ylla; todo lo que es antiguo." Holguin, Vocabulario de la Lengua Qquichua o del Inga (Ciudad de los Reyes, 1608). Ticci is not to be confounded with aticsi, he conquers, from atini, I conquer, a term also occasionally applied to Viracocha.]

[Footnote 2: Relacion Anonyma, de los Costumbres Antiguos de los Naturales del Piru, p. 138. 1615. (Published, Madrid, 1879).]

Invisible and incorporeal himself, so, also, were his messengers (the light-rays), called huaminca, the faithful soldiers, and hayhuaypanti, the shining ones, who conveyed his decrees to every part.[1] He himself was omnipresent, imparting motion and life, form and existence, to all that is. Therefore it was, says an old writer, with more than usual insight into man's moral nature, with more than usual charity for a persecuted race, that when these natives worshiped some swift river or pellucid spring, some mountain or grove, "it was not that they believed that some particular divinity was there, or that it was a living thing, but because they believed that the great God, Illa Ticci, had created and placed it there and impressed upon it some mark of distinction, beyond other objects of its class, that it might thus be designated as an appropriate spot whereat to worship the maker of all things; and this is manifest from the prayers they uttered when engaged in adoration, because they are not addressed to that mountain, or river, or cave, but to the great Illa Ticci Viracocha, who, they believed, lived in the heavens, and yet was invisibly present in that sacred object."[2]

[Footnote 1: Ibid., p. 140.]

[Footnote 2: Ibid., p. 147.]

In the prayers for the dead, Illa Ticci was appealed to, to protect the body, that it should not see corruption nor become lost in the earth, and that he should not allow the soul to wander aimlessly in the infinite spaces, but that it should be conducted to some secure haven of contentment, where it might receive the sacrifices and offerings which loving hands laid upon the tomb.[1] Were other gods also called upon, it was that they might intercede with the Supreme Divinity in favor of these petitions of mortals.

[Footnote 1: Ibid., p. 154.]

To him, likewise, the chief priest at certain times offered a child of six years, with a prayer for the prosperity of the Inca, in such terms as these:—

"Oh, Lord, we offer thee this child, in order that thou wilt maintain us in comfort, and give us victory in war, and keep to our Lord, the Inca, his greatness and his state, and grant him wisdom that he may govern us righteously."[1]

[Footnote 1: Herrera, Historia de las Indias, Dec. v, Lib. iv, cap. i.]

Or such a prayer as this was offered up by the assembled multitude:—

"Oh, Viracocha ever present, Viracocha Cause of All, Viracocha the Helper, the Ceaseless Worker, Viracocha who gives the beginnings, Viracocha who encourages, Viracocha the always fortunate, Viracocha ever near, listen to this our prayer, send health, send prosperity to us thy people."[1]

[Footnote 1: Christoval de Molina, The Fables and Rites of the Incas, p. 29. Molina gives the original Qquichua, the translation of which is obviously incomplete, and I have extended it.]

Thus Viracocha was placed above and beyond all other gods, the essential First Cause, infinite, incorporeal, invisible, above the sun, older than the beginning, but omnipresent, accessible, beneficent.

Does this seem too abstract, too elevated a notion of God for a race whom we are accustomed to deem gross and barbaric? I cannot help it. The testimony of the earliest observers, and the living proof of language, are too strong to allow of doubt. The adjectives which were applied to this divinity by the native priests are still on record, and that they were not a loan from Christian theology is conclusively shown by the fact that the very writers who preserved them often did not know their meaning, and translated them incorrectly.

Thus even Garcilasso de la Vega, himself of the blood of the Incas, tells us that neither he nor the natives of that day could translate Ticci.[1] Thus, also, Garcia and Acosta inform us that Viracocha was surnamed Usapu, which they translate "admirable,"[2] but really it means "he who accomplishes all that he undertakes, he who is successful in all things;" Molina has preserved the term Ymamana, which means "he who controls or owns all things;"[3] the title Pachayachachi, which the Spanish writers render "Creator," really means the "Teacher of the World;" that of Caylla signifies "the Ever-present one;" Taripaca, which has been guessed to be the same as tarapaca, an eagle, is really a derivative of taripani, to sit in judgment, and was applied to Viracocha as the final arbiter of the actions and destinies of man. Another of his frequent appellations for which no explanation has been offered, was Tokay or Tocapo, properly Tukupay.[4] It means "he who finishes," who completes and perfects, and is antithetical to Ticci, he who begins. These two terms express the eternity of divinity; they convey the same idea of mastery over time and the things of time, as do those words heard by the Evangelist in his vision in the isle called Patmos, "I am Alpha and Omega; I am the Beginning and the End."

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