Again, we have the people called Khati by the Egyptians. They formed a great nation that inhabited the Caele-Syria and the valley of the Orontes, where they have left very interesting proofs of their passage on earth, in large and populous cities whose ruins have been lately discovered. Their origin is unknown, and is yet a problem to be solved. They are celebrated on account of their wars against the Assyrians and Egyptians, who call them the plague of Khati. Their name is frequently mentioned in the Scriptures as Hittites. Placed on the road, between the Assyrians and the Egyptians, by whom they were at last vanquished, they placed well nigh insuperable obstacles in the way of the conquests of these two powerful nations, which found in them tenacious and fearful adversaries. The Khati had not only made considerable improvements in all military arts, but were also great and famed merchants; their emporium Carchemish had no less importance than Tyre or Carthage. There, met merchants from all parts of the world; who brought thither the products and manufactures of their respective countries, and were wont to worship at the Sacred City, Katish of the Khati. The etymology of their name is also unknown. Some historians having pretended that they were a Scythian tribe, derived it from Scythia; but I think that we may find it very natural, as that of their principal cities, in the Maya language.
All admit that the Khati, until the time when they were vanquished by Rameses the Great, as recorded on the walls of his palace at Thebes, the Memnonium, always placed obstacles on the way of the Egyptians and opposed them. According to the Maya, their name is significative of these facts, since KAT or KATAH is a verb that means to place impediments on the road, to come forth and obstruct the passage.
Carchemish was their great emporium, where merchants from afar congregated; it was consequently a city of merchants. CAH means a city, and Chemul is navigator. Carchemish would then be cah-chemul, the city of navigators, of merchants.
KATISH, their sacred city, would be the city where sacrifices are offered. CAH, city, and TICH, a ceremony practiced by the ancient Mayas, and still performed by their descendants all through Central America. This sacrifice or ceremony consists in presenting to BALAM, the Yumil-Kaax, the "Lord of the fields," the primitiae of all their fruits before beginning the harvest. Katish, or cah-tich would then be the city of the sacrifices—the holy city.
EGYPT is the country that in historical times has called, more than any other, the attention of the students, of all nations and in all ages, on account of the grandeur and beauty of its monuments; the peculiarity of its inhabitants; their advanced civilization, their great attainments in all branches of human knowledge and industry; and its important position at the head of all other nations of antiquity. Egypt has been said to be the source from which human knowledge began to flow over the old world: yet no one knows for a certainty whence came the people that laid the first foundations of that interesting nation. That they were not autochthones is certain. Their learned priests pointed towards the regions of the West as the birth-place of their ancestors, and designated the country in which they lived, the East, as the pure land, the land of the sun, of light, in contradistinction of the country of the dead, of darkness—the Amenti, the West—where Osiris sat as King, reigning judge, over the souls.
If in Hindostan, Afghanistan, Chaldea, Asia Minor, we have met with vestiges of the Mayas, in Egypt we will find their traces everywhere. Whatever may have been the name given to the valley watered by the Nile by its primitive inhabitants, no one at present knows. The invaders that came from the West called it CHEM: not on account of the black color of the soil, as Plutarch pretends in his work, "De Iside et Osiride," but more likely because either they came to it in boats; or, quite probably, because when they arrived the country was inundated, and the inhabitants communicated by means of boats, causing the new comers to call it the country of boats—CHEM (maya).[TN-20] The hieroglyph representing the name of Egypt is composed of the character used for land, a cross circumscribed by a circle, and of another, read K, which represent a sieve, it is said, but that may likewise be the picture of a small boat. The Assyrians designated Egypt under the names of MISIR or MISUR, probably because the country is generally destitute of trees. These are uprooted during the inundations, and then carried by the currents all over the country; so that the farmers, in order to be able to plow the soil, are obliged to clear it first from the dead trees. Now we have the Maya verb MIZ—to clean, to remove rubbish formed by the body of dead trees; whilst the verb MUSUR means to cut the trees by the roots. It would seem that the name Mizraim given to Egypt in the Scriptures also might come from these words.
When the Western invaders reached the country it was probably covered by the waters of the river, to which, we are told, they gave the name of Hapimu. Its etymology seems to be yet undecided by the Egyptologists, who agree, however, that its meaning is the abyss of water. The Maya tells us that this name is composed of two words—HA, water, and PIMIL, the thickness of flat things. Hapimu, or HAPIMIL, would then be the thickness, the abyss of water.
We find that the prophets Jeremiah (xlvi., 25,) and Nahum (iii., 8, 10,) call THEBES, the capital of upper Egypt during the XVIII. dynasty: NO or NA-AMUN, the mansion of Amun. Na signifies in Maya, house, mansion, residence. But Thebes is written in Egyptian hieroglyphs AP, or APE, the meaning of which is the head, the capital; with the feminine article T, that is always used as its prefix in hieroglyphic writings, it becomes TAPE; which, according to Sir Gardner Wilkinson ("Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians," tom. III., page 210, N. Y. Edition, 1878), was pronounced by the Egyptians Taba; and in the Menphitic dialect Thaba, that the Greeks converted into Thebai, whence Thebes. The Maya verb Teppal, signifies to reign, to govern, to order. On each side of the mastodons' heads, which form so prominent a feature in the ornaments of the oldest edifices at Uxmal, Chichen-Itza and other parts, the word Dapas; hence TABAS is written in ancient Egyptian characters, and read, I presume, in old Maya, head. To-day the word is pronounced THAB, and means baldness.
The identity of the names of deities worshiped by individuals, of their religious rites and belief; that of the names of the places which they inhabit; the similarity of their customs, of their dresses and manners; the sameness of their scientific attainments and of the characters used by them in expressing their language in writing, lead us naturally to infer that they have had a common origin, or, at least, that their forefathers were intimately connected. If we may apply this inference to nations likewise, regardless of the distance that to-day separates the countries where they live, I can then affirm that the Mayas and the Egyptians are either of a common descent, or that very intimate communication must have existed in remote ages between their ancestors.
Without entering here into a full detail of the customs and manners of these people, I will make a rapid comparison between their religious belief, their customs, manners, scientific attainments, and the characters used by them in writing etc., sufficient to satisfy any reasonable body that the strange coincidences that follow, cannot be altogether accidental.
The SUN, RA, was the supreme god worshiped throughout the land of Egypt; and its emblem was a disk or circle, at times surmounted by the serpent Uraeus. Egypt was frequently called the Land of the Sun. RA or LA signifies in Maya that which exists, emphatically that which is—the truth.
The sun was worshiped by the ancient Mayas; and the Indians to-day preserve the dance used by their forefathers among the rites of the adoration of that luminary, and perform it yet in certain epoch[TN-21] of the year. The coat-of-arms of the city of Uxmal, sculptured on the west facade of the sanctuary, attached to the masonic temple in that city, teaches us that the place was called U LUUMIL KIN, the land of the sun. This name forming the center of the escutcheon, is written with a cross, circumscribed by a circle, that among the Egyptians is the sign for land, region, surrounded by the rays of the sun.
Colors in Egypt, as in Mayab, seem to have had the same symbolical meaning. The figure of Amun was that of a man whose body was light blue, like the Indian god Wishnu,[TN-22] and that of the god Nilus; as if to indicate their peculiar exalted and heavenly nature; this color being that of the pure, bright skies above. The blue color had exactly the same significance in Mayab, according to Landa and Cogolludo, who tell us that, even at the time of the Spanish conquest, the bodies of those who were to be sacrificed to the gods were painted blue. The mural paintings in the funeral chamber of Chaacmol, at Chichen, confirm this assertion. There we see figures of men and women painted blue, some marching to the sacrifice with their hands tied behind their backs. After being thus painted they were venerated by the people, who regarded them as sanctified. Blue in Egypt was always the color used at the funerals.
The Egyptians believed in the immortality of the soul; and that rewards and punishments were adjudged by Osiris, the king of the Amenti, to the souls according to their deeds during their mundane life. That the souls after a period of three thousand years were to return to earth and inhabit again their former earthly tenements. This was the reason why they took so much pains to embalm the body.
The Mayas also believed in the immortality of the soul, as I have already said. Their belief was that after the spirit had suffered during a time proportioned to their misdeeds whilst on earth, and after having enjoyed an amount of bliss corresponding to their good actions, they were to return to earth and live again a material life. Accordingly, as the body was corruptible, they made statues of stones, terra-cotta, or wood, in the semblance of the deceased, whose ashes they deposited in a hollow made for that purpose in the back of the head. Sometimes also in stone urns, as in the case of Chaacmol. The spirits, on their return to earth, were to find these statues, impart life to them, and use them as body during their new existence.
I am not certain but that, as the Egyptians also, they were believers in transmigration; and that this belief exists yet among the aborigines. I have noticed that my Indians were unwilling to kill any animal whatever, even the most noxious and dangerous, that inhabits the ruined monuments. I have often told them to kill some venomous insect or serpent that may have happened to be in our way. They invariably refused to do so, but softly and carefully caused them to go. And when asked why they did not kill them, declined to answer except by a knowing and mysterious smile, as if afraid to let a stranger into their intimate beliefs inherited from their ancestors: remembering, perhaps, the fearful treatment inflicted by fanatical friars on their fathers to oblige them to forego what they called the superstitions of their race—the idolatrous creed of their forefathers.
I have had opportunity to discover that their faith in reincarnation, as many other time-honored credences, still exists among them, unshaken, notwithstanding the persecutions and tortures suffered by them at the hands of ignorant and barbaric Christians (?)
I will give two instances when that belief in reincarnation was plainly manifested.
The day that, after surmounting many difficulties, when my ropes and cables, made of withes and the bark of the habin tree, were finished and adjusted to the capstan manufactured of hollow stones and trunks of trees; and I had placed the ponderous statue of Chaacmol on rollers, already in position to drag it up the inclined plane made from the surface of the ground to a few feet above the bottom of the excavation; my men, actuated by their superstitious fears on the one hand, and their profound reverence for the memory of their ancestors on the other, unwilling to see the effigy of one of the great men removed from where their ancestors had placed it in ages gone by resolved to bury it, by letting loose the hill of dry stones that formed the body of the mausoleum, and were kept from falling in the hole by a framework of thin trunks of trees tied with withes, and in order that it should not be injured, to capsize it, placing the face downward. They had already overturned it, when I interfered in time to prevent more mischief, and even save some of them from certain death; since by cutting loose the withes that keep the framework together, the sides of the excavation were bound to fall in, and crush those at the bottom. I honestly think, knowing their superstitious feelings and propensities, that they had made up their mind to sacrifice their lives, in order to avoid what they considered a desecration of the future tenement that the great warrior and king was yet to inhabit, when time had arrived. In order to overcome their scruples, and also to prove if my suspicions were correct, that, as their forefathers and the Egyptians of old, they still believed in reincarnation, I caused them to accompany me to the summit of the great pyramid. There is a monument, that served as a castle when the city of the holy men, the Itzaes, was at the height of its splendor. Every anta, every pillar and column of this edifice is sculptured with portraits of warriors and noblemen. Among these many with long beards, whose types recall vividly to the mind the features of the Afghans.
On one of the antae, at the entrance on the north side, is the portrait of a warrior wearing a long, straight, pointed beard. The face, like that of all the personages represented in the bas-reliefs, is in profile. I placed my head against the stone so as to present the same position of my face as that of UXAN, and called the attention of my Indians to the similarity of his and my own features. They followed every lineament of the faces with their fingers to the very point of the beard, and soon uttered an exclamation of astonishment: "Thou! here!" and slowly scanned again the features sculptured on the stone and my own.
"So, so," they said, "thou too art one of our great men, who has been disenchanted. Thou, too, wert a companion of the great Lord Chaacmol. That is why thou didst know where he was hidden; and thou hast come to disenchant him also. His time to live again on earth has then arrived."
From that moment every word of mine was implicitly obeyed. They returned to the excavation, and worked with such a good will, that they soon brought up the ponderous statue to the surface.
A few days later some strange people made their appearance suddenly and noiselessly in our midst. They emerged from the thicket one by one. Colonel Don Felipe Diaz, then commander of the troops covering the eastern frontier, had sent me, a couple of days previous, a written notice, that I still preserve in my power, that tracks of hostile Indians had been discovered by his scouts, advising me to keep a sharp look out, lest they should surprise us. Now, to be on the look out in the midst of a thick, well-nigh impenetrable forest, is a rather difficult thing to do, particularly with only a few men, and where there is no road; yet all being a road for the enemy. Warning my men that danger was near, and to keep their loaded rifles at hand, we continued our work as usual, leaving the rest to destiny.
On seeing the strangers, my men rushed on their weapons, but noticing that the visitors had no guns, but only their machetes, I gave orders not to hurt them. At their head was a very old man: his hair was gray, his eyes blue with age. He would not come near the statue, but stood at a distance as if awe-struck, hat in hand, looking at it. After a long time he broke out, speaking to his own people: "This, boys, is one of the great men we speak to you about." Then the young men came forward, with great respect kneeled at the feet of the statue, and pressed their lips against them.
Putting aside my own weapons, being consequently unarmed, I went to the old man, and asked him to accompany me up to the castle, offering my arm to ascend the 100 steep and crumbling stairs. I again placed my face near that of my stone Sosis, and again the same scene was enacted as with my own men, with this difference, that the strangers fell on their knees before me, and, in turn, kissed my hand. The old man after a while, eyeing me respectfully, but steadily, asked me: "Rememberest thou what happened to thee whilst thou wert enchanted?" It was quite a difficult question to answer, and yet retain my superior position, for I did not know how many people might be hidden in the thicket. "Well, father," I asked him, "dreamest thou sometimes?" He nodded his head in an affirmative manner. "And when thou awakest, dost thou remember distinctly thy dreams?" "Ma," no! was the answer. "Well, father," I continued, "so it happened with me. I do not remember what took place during the time I was enchanted." This answer seemed to satisfy him. I again gave him my hand to help him down the precipitous stairs, at the foot of which we separated, wishing them God-speed, and warning them not to go too near the villages on their way back to their homes, as people were aware of their presence in the country. Whence they came, I ignore; where they went, I don't know.
Circumcision was a rite in usage among the Egyptians since very remote times. The Mayas also practiced it, if we are to credit Fray Luis de Urreta; yet Cogolludo affirms that in his days the Indians denied observing such custom. The outward sign of utmost reverence seems to have been identical amongst both the Mayas and the Egyptians. It consisted in throwing the left arm across the chest, resting the left hand on the right shoulder; or the right arm across the chest, the right hand resting on the left shoulder. Sir Gardner Wilkinson, in his work above quoted, reproduces various figures in that attitude; and Mr. Champollion Figeac, in his book on Egypt, tells us that in some cases even the mummies of certain eminent men were placed in their coffins with the arms in that position. That this same mark of respect was in use amongst the Mayas there can be no possible doubt. We see it in the figures represented in the act of worshiping the mastodon's head, on the west facade of the monument that forms the north wing of the palace and museum at Chichen-Itza. We see it repeatedly in the mural paintings in Chaacmol's funeral chamber; on the slabs sculptured with the representation of a dying warrior, that adorned the mausoleum of that chieftain. Cogolludo mentions it in his history of Yucatan, as being common among the aborigines: and my own men have used it to show their utmost respect to persons or objects they consider worthy of their veneration. Among my collection of photographs are several plates in which some of the men have assumed that position of the arms spontaneously.
The sistrum was an instrument used by Egyptians and Mayas alike during the performance of their religious rites and acts of worship. I have seen it used lately by natives in Yucatan in the dance forming part of the worship of the sun. The Egyptians enclosed the brains, entrails and viscera of the deceased in funeral vases, called canopas, that were placed in the tombs with the coffin. When I opened Chaacmol's mausoleum I found, as I have already said, two stone urns, the one near the head containing the remains of brains, that near the chest those of the heart and other viscera. This fact would tend to show again a similar custom among the Mayas and Egyptians, who, besides, placed with the body an empty vase—symbol that the deceased had been judged and found righteous. This vase, held between the hands of the statue of Chaacmol, is also found held in the same manner by many other statues of different individuals. It was customary with the Egyptians to deposit in the tombs the implements of the trade or profession of the deceased. So also with the Mayas—if a priest, they placed books; if a warrior, his weapons; if a mechanic, the tools of his art,[TN-23]
The Egyptians adorned the tombs of the rich—which generally consisted of one or two chambers—with sculptures and paintings reciting the names and the history of the life of the personage to whom the tomb belonged. The mausoleum of Chaacmol, interiorly, was composed of three different superposed apartments, with their floors of concrete well leveled, polished and painted with yellow ochre; and exteriorly was adorned with magnificent bas-reliefs, representing his totem and that of his wife—dying warriors—the whole being surrounded by the image of a feathered serpent—Can, his family name, whilst the walls of the two apartments, or funeral chambers, in the monument raised to his memory, were decorated with fresco paintings, representing not only Chaacmol's own life, but the manners, customs, mode of dressing of his contemporaries; as those of the different nations with which they were in communication: distinctly recognizable by their type, stature and other peculiarities. The portraits of the great and eminent men of his time are sculptured on the jambs and lintels of the doors, represented life-size.
In Egypt it was customary to paint the sculptures, either on stone or wood, with bright colors—yellow, blue, red, green predominating. In Mayab the same custom prevailed, and traces of these colors are still easily discernible on the sculptures; whilst they are still very brilliant on the beautiful and highly polished stucco of the walls in the rooms of certain monuments at Chichen-Itza. The Maya artists seem to have used mostly vegetable colors; yet they also employed ochres as pigments, and cinnabar—we having found such metallic colors in Chaacmol's mausoleum. Mrs. Le Plongeon still preserves some in her possession. From where they procured it is more than we can tell at present.
The wives and daughters of the Egyptian kings and noblemen considered it an honor to assist in the temples and religious ceremonies: one of their principal duties being to play the sistrum.
We find that in Yucatan, Nicte (flower) the sister of Chaacmol, assisted her elder brother, Cay, the pontiff, in the sanctuary, her name being always associated with his in the inscriptions which adorn the western facade of that edifice at Uxmal, as that of her sister, Mo,[TN-24] is with Chaacmol's in some of the monuments at Chichen.
Cogolludo, when speaking of the priestesses, virgins of the sun, mentions a tradition that seems to refer to Nicte, stating that the daughter of a king, who remained during all her life in the temple, obtained after her death the honor of apotheosis, and was worshiped under the name of Zuhuy-Kak (the fire-virgin), and became the goddess of the maidens, who were recommended to her care.
As in Egypt, the kings and heroes were worshiped in Mayab after their death; temples and pyramids being raised to their memory. Cogolludo pretends that the lower classes adored fishes, snakes, tigers and other abject animals, "even the devil himself, which appeared to them in horrible forms" ("Historia de Yucatan," book IV., chap. vii.)
Judging from the sculptures and mural paintings, the higher classes in Mayab wore, in very remote ages, dresses of quite an elaborate character. Their under garment consisted of short trowsers, reaching the middle of the thighs. At times these trowsers were highly ornamented with embroideries and fringes, as they formed their only article of clothing when at home; over these they wore a kind of kilt, very similar to that used by the inhabitants of the Highlands in Scotland. It was fastened to the waist with wide ribbons, tied behind in a knot forming a large bow, the ends of which reached to the ankles. Their shoulders were covered with a tippet falling to the elbows, and fastened on the chest by means of a brooch. Their feet were protected by sandals, kept in place by ropes or ribbons, passing between the big toe and the next, and between the third and fourth, then brought up so as to encircle the ankles. They were tied in front, forming a bow on the instep. Some wore leggings, others garters and anklets made of feathers, generally yellow; sometimes, however, they may have been of gold. Their head gears were of different kinds, according to their rank and dignity. Warriors seem to have used wide bands, tied behind the head with two knots, as we see in the statue of Chaacmol, and in the bas-reliefs that adorn the queen's chamber at Chichen. The king's coiffure was a peaked cap, that seems to have served as model for the pschent, that symbol of domination over the lower Egypt; with this difference, however, that in Mayab the point formed the front, and in Egypt the back.
The common people in Mayab, as in Egypt, were indeed little troubled by their garments. These consisted merely of a simple girdle tied round the loins, the ends falling before and behind to the middle of the thighs. Sometimes they also used the short trowsers; and, when at work, wrapped a piece of cloth round their loins, long enough to cover their legs to the knees. This costume was completed by wearing a square cloth, tied on one of the shoulders by two of its corners. It served as cloak. To-day the natives of Yucatan wear the same dress, with but slight modifications. While the aborigines of the Tierra de Guerra, who still preserve the customs of their forefathers, untainted by foreign admixture, use the same garments, of their own manufacture, that we see represented in the bas-reliefs of Chichen and Uxmal, and in the mural paintings of Mayab and Egypt.
Divination by the inspection of the entrails of victims, and the study of omens were considered by the Egyptians as important branches of learning. The soothsayers formed a respected order of the priesthood. From the mural paintings at Chichen, and from the works of the chroniclers, we learn that the Mayas also had several manners of consulting fate. One of the modes was by the inspection of the entrails of victims; another by the manner of the cracking of the shell of a turtle or armadillo by the action of fire, as among the Chinese. (In the Hong-fan or "the great and sublime doctrine," one of the books of the Chou-king, the ceremonies of Pou and Chi are described at length). The Mayas had also their astrologers and prophets. Several prophecies, purporting to have been made by their priests, concerning the preaching of the Gospel among the people of Mayab, have reached us, preserved in the works of Landa, Lizana, and Cogolludo. There we also read that, even at the time of the Spanish conquest, they came from all parts of the country, and congregated at the shrine of Kinich-kakmo, the deified daughter of CAN, to listen to the oracles delivered by her through the mouths of her priests and consult her on future events. By the examination of the mural paintings, we know that animal magnetism was understood and practiced by the priests, who, themselves, seem to have consulted clairvoyants.
The learned priests of Egypt are said to have made considerable progress in astronomical sciences.
The gnomon, discovered by me in December, last year, in the ruined city of Mayapan, would tend to prove that the learned men of Mayab were not only close observers of the march of the celestial bodies and good mathematicians; but that their attainments in astronomy were not inferior to those of their brethren of Chaldea. Effectively the construction of the gnomon shows that they had found the means of calculating the latitude of places, that they knew the distance of the solsticeal points from the equator; they had found that the greatest angle of declination of the sun, 23 deg. 27', occurred when that luminary reached the tropics where, during nearly three days, said angle of declination does not vary, for which reason they said that the sun had arrived at his resting place.
The Egyptians, it is said, in very remote ages, divided the year by lunations, as the Mayas, who divided their civil year into eighteen months, of twenty days, that they called U—moon—to which they added five supplementary days, that they considered unlucky. From an epoch so ancient that it is referred to the fabulous time of their history, the Egyptians adopted the solar year, dividing it into twelve months, of thirty days, to which they added, at the end of the last month, called Mesore, five days, named Epact.
By a most remarkable coincidence, the Egyptians, as the Mayas, considered these additive five days unlucky.
Besides this solar year they had a sideral or sothic year, composed of 365 days and 6 hours, which corresponds exactly to the Mayas[TN-25] sacred year, that Landa tells us was also composed of 365 days and 6 hours; which they represented in the gnomon of Mayapan by the line that joins the centers of the stela that forms it.
The Egyptians, in their computations, calculated by a system of fives and tens; the Mayas by a system of fives and twenties, to four hundred. Their sacred number appears to have been 13 from the remotest antiquity, but SEVEN seems to have been a mystic number among them as among the Hindoos, Aryans, Chaldeans, Egyptians, and other nations.
The Egyptians made use of a septenary system in the arrangement of the grand gallery in the center of the great pyramid. Each side of the wall is made of seven courses of finely polished stones, the one above overlapping that below, thus forming the triangular ceiling common to all the edifices in Yucatan. This gallery is said to be seven times the height of the other passages, and, as all the rooms in Uxmal, Chichen and other places in Mayab, it is seven-sided. Some authors pretend to assume that this well marked septenary system has reference to the Pleiades or Seven stars. Alcyone, the central star of the group, being, it is said, on the same meridian as the pyramid, when it was constructed, and Alpha of Draconis, the then pole star, at its lower culmination.
But if, as the Rev. Joseph A. Seiss and others pretend, the scientific attainments required for the construction of such enduring monument surpassed those of the learned men of Egypt, we must, of necessity, believe that the architect who conceived the plan and carried out its designs must have acquired his knowledge from an older people, possessing greater learning than the priests of Memphis; unless we try to persuade ourselves, as the reverend gentleman wishes us to, that the great pyramid was built under the direct inspiration of the Almighty.
Nearly all the monuments of Yucatan bear evidence that the Mayas had a predilection for number SEVEN. Since we find that their artificial mounds were composed of seven superposed platforms; that the city of Uxmal contained seven of these mounds; that the north side of the palace of King CAN was adorned with seven turrets; that the entwined serpents, his totem, which adorn the east facade of the west wing of this building, have seven rattles; that the head-dress of kings and queens were adorned with seven blue feathers; in a word, that the number SEVEN prevails in all places and in everything where Maya influence has predominated.
It is a FACT, and one that may not be altogether devoid of significance, that this number SEVEN seems to have been the mystic number of many of the nations of antiquity. It has even reached our times as such, being used as symbol[TN-26] by several of the secret societies existing among us.
If we look back through the vista of ages to the dawn of civilized life in the countries known as the old world, we find this number SEVEN among the Asiatic nations as well as in Egypt and Mayab. Effectively, in Babylon, the celebrated temple of the seven lights was made of seven stages or platforms. In the hierarchy of Mazdeism, the seven marouts, or genii of the winds, the seven amschaspands; then among the Aryans and their descendants, the seven horses that drew the chariot of the sun, the seven apris or shape of the flame, the seven rays of Agni, the seven manons or criators of the Vedas; among the Hebrews, the seven days of the creation, the seven lamps of the ark and of Zacharias's vision, the seven branches of the golden candlestick, the seven days of the feast of the dedication of the temple of Solomon, the seven years of plenty, the seven years of famine; in the Christian dispensation, the seven churches with the seven angels at their head, the seven golden candlesticks, the seven seals of the book, the seven trumpets of the angels, the seven heads of the beast that rose from the sea, the seven vials full of the wrath of God, the seven last plagues of the Apocalypse; in the Greek mythology, the seven heads of the hydra, killed by Hercules, etc.
The origin of the prevalence of that number SEVEN amongst all the nations of earth, even the most remote from each other, has never been satisfactorily explained, each separate people giving it a different interpretation, according to their belief and to the tenets of their religious creeds. As far as the Mayas are concerned, I think to have found that it originated with the seven members of CAN'S family, who were the founders of the principal cities of Mayab, and to each of whom was dedicated a mound in Uxmal and a turret in their palace. Their names, according to the inscriptions carved on the monuments raised by them at Uxmal and Chichen, were—CAN (serpent) and [C]OZ (bat), his wife, from whom were born CAY (fish), the pontiff; AAK (turtle), who became the governor of Uxmal; CHAACMOL (leopard), the warrior, who became the husband of his sister MOO (macaw), the Queen of Chichen, worshiped after her death at Izamal; and NICTE (flower), the priestess who, under the name of Zuhuy-Kuk, became the goddess of the maidens.
The Egyptians, in expressing their ideas in writing, used three different kinds of characters—phonetic, ideographic and symbolic—placed either in vertical columns or in horizontal lines, to be read from right to left, from left to right, as indicated by the position of the figures of men or animals. So, also, the Mayas in their writings employed phonetic, symbolic and ideographic signs, combining these often, forming monograms as we do to-day, placing them in such a manner as best suited the arrangement of the ornamentation of the facade of the edifices. At present we can only speak with certainty of the monumental inscriptions, the books that fell in the hands of the ecclesiastics at the time of the conquest having been destroyed. No truly genuine written monuments of the Mayas are known to exist, except those inclosed within the sealed apartments, where the priests and learned men of MAYAB hid them from the Nahualt or Toltec invaders.
As the Egyptians, they wrote in vertical columns and horizontal lines, to be read generally from right to left. The space of this small essay does not allow me to enter in more details; they belong naturally to a work of different nature. Let it therefore suffice, for the present purpose, to state that the comparative study of the language of the Mayas led us to suspect that, as it contains words belonging to nearly all the known languages of antiquity, and with exactly the same meaning, in their mode of writing might be found letters or characters or signs used in those tongues. Studying with attention the photographs made by us of the inscriptions of Uxmal and Chichen, we were not long in discovering that our surmises were indeed correct. The inscriptions, written in squares or parallelograms, that might well have served as models for the ancient hieratic Chaldeans, of the time of King Uruck, seem to contain ancient Chaldee, Egyptian and Etruscan characters, together with others that seem to be purely Mayab.
Applying these known characters to the decipherment of the inscriptions, giving them their accepted value, we soon found that the language in which they are written is, in the main, the vernacular of the aborigines of Yucatan and other parts of Central America to-day. Of course, the original mother tongue having suffered some alterations, in consequence of changes in customs induced by time, invasions, intercourse with other nations, and the many other natural causes that are known to affect man's speech.
The Mayas and the Egyptians had many signs and characters identical; possessing the same alphabetical and symbolical value in both nations. Among the symbolical, I may cite a few: water, country or region, king, Lord, offerings, splendor, the various emblems of the sun and many others. Among the alphabetical, a very large number of the so-called Demotic, by Egyptologists, are found even in the inscription of the Akab[c]ib at Chichen; and not a few of the most ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs in the mural inscriptions at Uxmal. In these I have been able to discover the Egyptian characters corresponding to our own.
A a, B, C, CH or K, D, T, I, L, M, N, H, P, TZ, PP, U, OO, X, having the same sound and value as in the Spanish language, with the exception of the K, TZ, PP and X, which are pronounced in a way peculiar to the Mayas. The inscriptions also contain these letters, A, I, X and PP identical to the corresponding in the Etruscan alphabet. The finding of the value of these characters has enabled me to decipher, among other things, the names of the founders of the city of UXMAL; as that of the city itself. This is written apparently in two different ways: whilst, in fact, the sculptors have simply made use of two homophone signs, notwithstanding dissimilar, of the letter M. As to the name of the founders, not only are they written in alphabetical characters, but also in ideographic, since they are accompanied in many instances by the totems of the personages: e. g[TN-27] for AAK, which means turtle, is the image of a turtle; for CAY (fish), the image of a fish; for Chaacmol (leopard) the image of a leopard; and so on, precluding the possibility of misinterpretation.
Having found that the language of the inscriptions was Maya, of course I had no difficulty in giving to each letter its proper phonetic value, since, as I have already said, Maya is still the vernacular of the people.
I consider that the few facts brought together will suffice at present to show, if nothing else, a strange similarity in the workings of the mind in these two nations. But if these remarkable coincidences are not merely freaks of hazard, we will be compelled to admit that one people must have learned it from the other. Then will naturally arise the questions, Which the teacher? Which the pupil? The answer will not only solve an ethnological problem, but decide the question of priority.
I will now briefly refer to the myth of Osiris, the son of Seb and Nut, the brother of Aroeris, the elder Horus, of Typho, of Isis, and of Nephthis, named also NIKE. The authors have given numerous explanations, result of fancy; of the mythological history of that god, famous throughout Egypt. They made him a personification of the inundations of the NILE; ISIS, his wife and sister, that of the irrigated portion of the land of Egypt; their sister, Nephthis, that of the barren edge of the desert occasionally fertilized by the waters of the Nile; his brother and murderer Tipho, that of the sea which swallows up the Nile.
Leaving aside the mythical lores, with which the priests of all times and all countries cajole the credulity of ignorant and superstitious people, we find that among the traditions of the past, treasured in the mysterious recesses of the temples, is a history of the life of Osiris on Earth. Many wise men of our days have looked upon it as fabulous. I am not ready to say whether it is or it is not; but this I can assert, that, in many parts, it tallies marvelously with that of the culture hero of the Mayas.
It will be said, no doubt, that this remarkable similarity is a mere coincidence. But how are we to dispose of so many coincidences? What conclusion, if any, are we to draw from this concourse of so many strange similes?
In this case, I cannot do better than to quote, verbatim, from Sir Gardner Wilkinson's work, chap. xiii:
"Osiris, having become King of Egypt, applied himself towards civilizing his countrymen, by turning them from their former barbarous course of life, teaching them, moreover, to cultivate and improve the fruits of the earth. * * * * * With the same good disposition, he afterwards traveled over the rest of the world, inducing the people everywhere to submit to his discipline, by the mildest persuasion."
The rest of the story relates to the manner of his killing by his brother Typho, the disposal of his remains, the search instituted by his wife to recover the body, how it was stolen again from her by Typho, who cut him to pieces, scattering them over the earth, of the final defeat of Typho by Osiris's son, Horus.
Reading the description, above quoted, of the endeavors of Osiris to civilize the world, who would not imagine to be perusing the traditions of the deeds of the culture heroes Kukulean[TN-28] and Quetzalcoatl of the Mayas and of the Aztecs? Osiris was particularly worshiped at Philo, where the history of his life is curiously illustrated in the sculptures of a small retired chamber, lying nearly over the western adytum of the temple, just as that of Chaacmol in the mural paintings of his funeral chamber, the bas-reliefs of what once was his mausoleum, in those of the queen's chamber and of her box in the tennis court at Chichen.
"The mysteries of Osiris were divided into the greater and less mysteries. Before admission into the former, it was necessary that the initiated should have passed through all the gradations of the latter. But to merit this great honor, much was expected of the candidate, and many even of the priesthood were unable to obtain it. Besides the proofs of a virtuous life, other recommendations were required, and to be admitted to all the grades of the higher mysteries was the greatest honor to which any one could aspire. It was from these that the mysteries of Eleusis were borrowed." Wilkinson, chap. xiii.
In Mayab there also existed mysteries, as proved by symbols discovered in the month of June last by myself in the monument generally called the Dwarf's House, at Uxmal. It seemed that the initiated had to pass through different gradations to reach the highest or third; if we are to judge by the number of rooms dedicated to their performance, and the disposition of said rooms. The strangest part, perhaps, of this discovery is the information it gives us that certain signs and symbols were used by the affiliated, that are perfectly identical to those used among the masons in their symbolical lodges. I have lately published in Harper's Weekly, a full description of the building, with plans of the same, and drawings of the signs and symbols existing in it. These secret societies exist still among the Zunis and other Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, according to the relations of Mr. Frank H. Cushing, a gentleman sent by the Smithsonian Institution to investigate their customs and history. In order to comply with the mission intrusted to him, Mr. Cushing has caused his adoption in the tribe of the Zunis, whose language he has learned, whose habits he has adopted. Among the other remarkable things he has discovered is "the existence of twelve sacred orders, with their priests and their secret rites as carefully guarded as the secrets of freemasonry, an institution to which these orders have a strange resemblance." (From the New York Times.)
If from Egypt we pass to Nubia, we find that the peculiar battle ax of the Mayas was also used by the warriors of that country; whilst many of the customs of the inhabitants of equatorial Africa, as described by Mr. DuChaillu[TN-29] in the relation of his voyage to the "Land of Ashango," so closely resemble those of the aborigines of Yucatan as to suggest that intimate relations must have existed, in very remote ages, between their ancestors; if the admixture of African blood, clearly discernible still, among the natives of certain districts of the peninsula, did not place that fact without the peradventure of a doubt. We also see figures in the mural paintings, at Chichen, with strongly marked African features.
We learned by the discovery of the statue of Chaacmol, and that of the priestess found by me at the foot of the altar in front of the shrine of Ix-cuina, the Maya Venus, situated at the south end of Isla Mugeres, it was customary with persons of high rank to file their teeth in sharp points like a saw. We read in the chronicles that this fashion still prevailed after the Spanish conquest; and then by little and little fell into disuse. Travelers tells us that it is yet in vogue among many of the tribes in the interior of South America; particularly those whose names seem to connect with the ancient Caribs or Carians.
Du Chaillu asserts that the Ashangos, those of Otamo, the Apossos, the Fans, and many other tribes of equatorial Africa, consider it a mark of beauty to file their front teeth in a sharp point. He presents the Fans as confirmed cannibals. We are told, and the bas-reliefs on Chaacmol's mausoleum prove it, that the Mayas devoured the hearts of their fallen enemies. It is said that, on certain grand occasions, after offering the hearts of their victims to the idols, they abandoned the bodies to the people, who feasted upon them. But it must be noticed that these last-mentioned customs seemed to have been introduced in the country by the Nahualts and Aztecs; since, as yet, we have found nothing in the mural paintings to cause us to believe that the Mayas indulged in such barbaric repasts, beyond the eating of their enemies' hearts.
The Mayas were, and their descendants are still, confirmed believers in witchcraft. In December, last year, being at the hacienda of X-Kanchacan, where are situated the ruins of the ancient city of Mayapan, a sick man was brought to me. He came most reluctantly, stating that he knew what was the matter with him: that he was doomed to die unless the spell was removed. He was emaciated, seemed to suffer from malarial fever, then prevalent in the place, and from the presence of tapeworm. I told him I could restore him to health if he would heed my advice. The fellow stared at me for some time, trying to find out, probably, if I was a stronger wizard than the H-Men who had bewitched him. He must have failed to discover on my face the proverbial distinctive marks great sorcerers are said to possess; for, with an incredulous grin, stretching his thin lips tighter over his teeth, he simply replied: "No use—I am bewitched—there is no remedy for me."
Mr. Du Chaillu, speaking of the superstitions of the inhabitants of Equatorial Africa, says: "The greatest curse of the whole country is the belief in sorcery or witchcraft. If the African is once possessed with the belief that he is bewitched his whole nature seems to change. He becomes suspicious of his dearest friends. He fancies himself sick, and really often becomes sick through his fears. At least seventy-five per cent of the deaths in all the tribes are murders for supposed sorcery." In that they differ from the natives of Yucatan, who respect wizards because of their supposed supernatural powers.
From the most remote antiquity, as we learn from the writings of the chroniclers, in all sacred ceremonies the Mayas used to make copious libations with Balche. To-day the aborigines still use it in the celebrations of their ancient rites. Balche is a liquor made from the bark of a tree called Balche, soaked in water, mixed with honey and left to ferment. It is their beverage par excellence. The nectar drank by the God of Greek Mythology.
Du Chaillu, speaking of the recovery to health of the King of Mayolo, a city in which he resided for some time, says: "Next day he was so much elated with the improvement in his health that he got tipsy on a fermented beverage which he had prepared two days before he had fallen ill, and which he made by mixing honey and water, and adding to it pieces of bark of a certain tree." (Journey to Ashango Land, page 183.)
I will remark here that, by a strange coincidence, we not only find that the inhabitants of Equatorial Africa have customs identical with the MAYAS, but that the name of one of their cities MAYOlo, seems to be a corruption of MAYAB.
The Africans make offerings upon the graves of their departed friends, where they deposit furniture, dress and food—and sometimes slay slaves, men and women, over the graves of kings and chieftains, with the belief that their spirits join that of him in whose honor they have been sacrificed.
I have already said that it was customary with the Mayas to place in the tombs part of the riches of the deceased and the implements of his trade or profession; and that the great quantity of blood found scattered round the slab on which the statue of Chaacmol is reclining would tend to suggest that slaves were sacrificed at his funeral.
The Mayas of old were wont to abandon the house where a person had died. Many still observe that same custom when they can afford to do so; for they believe that the spirit of the departed hovers round it.
The Africans also abandon their houses, remove even the site of their villages when death frequently occur;[TN-30] for, say they, the place is no longer good; and they fear the spirits of those recently deceased.
Among the musical instruments used by the Mayas there were two kinds of drums—the Tunkul and the Zacatan. They are still used by the aborigines in their religious festivals and dances.
The Tunkul is a cylinder hollowed from the trunk of a tree, so as to leave it about one inch in thickness all round. It is generally about four feet in length. On one side two slits are cut, so as to leave between them a strip of about four inches in width, to within six inches from the ends; this strip is divided in the middle, across, so as to form, as it were, tongues. It is by striking on those tongues with two balls of india-rubber, attached to the end of sticks, that the instrument is played. The volume of sound produced is so great that it can be heard, is[TN-31] is said, at a distance of six miles in calm weather. The Zacatan is another sort of drum, also hollowed from the trunk of a tree. This is opened at both ends. On one end a piece of skin is tightly stretched. It is by beating on the skin with the hand, the instrument being supported between the legs of the drummer, in a slanting position, that it is played.
Du Chaillu, Stanley and other travelers in Africa tell us that, in case of danger and to call the clans together, the big war drum is beaten, and is heard many miles around. Du Chaillu asserts having seen one of these Ngoma, formed of a hollow log, nine feet long, at Apono; and describes a Fan drum which corresponds to the Zacatan of the Mayas as follows: "The cylinder was about four feet long and ten inches in diameter at one end, but only seven at the other. The wood was hollowed out quite thin, and the skin stretched over tightly. To beat it the drummer held it slantingly between his legs, and with two sticks beats[TN-32] furiously upon the upper, which was the larger end of the cylinder."
We have the counterpart of the fetish houses, containing the skulls of the ancestors and some idol or other, seen by Du Chaillu, in African towns, in the small huts constructed at the entrance of all the villages in Yucatan. These huts or shrines contain invariably a crucifix; at times the image of some saint, often a skull. The last probably to cause the wayfarer to remember he has to die; and that, as he cannot carry with him his worldly treasures on the other side of the grave, he had better deposit some in the alms box firmly fastened at the foot of the cross. Cogolludo informs us these little shrines were anciently dedicated to the god of lovers, of histrions, of dancers, and an infinity of small idols that were placed at the entrance of the villages, roads and staircases of the temples and other parts.
Even the breed of African dogs seems to be the same as that of the native dogs of Yucatan. Were I to describe these I could not make use of more appropriate words than the following of Du Chaillu: "The pure bred native dog is small, has long straight ears, long muzzle and long curly tail; the hair is short and the color yellowish; the pure breed being known by the clearness of his color. They are always lean, and are kept very short of food by their owners. * * * Although they have quick ears; I don't think highly of their scent. They are good watch dogs."
I could continue this list of similes, but methinks those already mentioned as sufficient for the present purpose. I will therefore close it by mentioning this strange belief that Du Chaillu asserts exists among the African warriors: "The charmed leopard's skin worn about the warrior's middle is supposed to render that worthy spear-proof."
Let us now take a brief retrospective glance at the FACTS mentioned in the foregoing pages. They seem to teach us that, in ages so remote as to be well nigh lost in the abyss of the past, the Mayas were a great and powerful nation, whose people had reached a high degree of civilization. That it is impossible for us to form a correct idea of their attainments, since only the most enduring monuments, built by them, have reached us, resisting the disintegrating action of time and atmosphere. That, as the English of to-day, they had colonies all over the earth; for we find their name, their traditions, their customs and their language scattered in many distant countries, among whose inhabitants they apparently exercised considerable civilizing influence, since they gave names to their gods, to their tribes, to their cities.
We cannot doubt that the colonists carried with them the old traditions of the mother country, and the history of the founders of their nationality; since we find them in the countries where they seem to have established large settlements soon after leaving the land of their birth. In course of time these traditions have become disfigured, wrapped, as it were, in myths, creations of fanciful and untutored imaginations, as in Hindostan: or devises of crafty priests, striving to hide the truth from the ignorant mass of the people, fostering their superstitions, in order to preserve unbounded and undisputed sway over them, as in Egypt.
In Hindostan, for example, we find the Maya custom of carrying the children astride on the hips of the nurses. That of recording the vow of the devotees, or of imploring the blessings of deity by the imprint of the hand, dipped in red liquid, stamped on the walls of the shrines and palaces. The worship of the mastodon, still extant in India, Siam, Burmah, as in the worship of Ganeza, the god of knowledge, with an elephant head, degenerated in that of the elephant itself.
Still extant we find likewise the innate propensity of the Mayas to exclude all foreigners from their country; even to put to death those who enter their territories (as do, even to-day, those of Santa Cruz and the inhabitants of the Tierra de Guerra) as the emissaries of Rama were informed by the friend of the owner of the country, the widow of the great architect, MAYA, whose name HEMA means in the Maya language "she who places ropes across the roads to impede the passage." Even the history of the death of her husband MAYA, killed with a thunderbolt, by the god Pourandara, whose jealousy was aroused by his love for her and their marriage, recalls that of Chaacmol, the husband of Moo, killed by their brother Aac, by being stabbed by him three times in the back with a spear, through jealousy—for he also loved Moo.
Some Maya tribes, after a time, probably left their home at the South of Hindostan and emigrated to Afghanistan, where their descendants still live and have villages on the North banks of the river Kabul. They left behind old traditions, that they may have considered as mere fantasies of their poets, and other customs of their forefathers. Yet we know so little about the ancient Afghans, or the Maya tribes living among them, that it is impossible at present to say how much, if any, they have preserved of the traditions of their race. All we know for a certainty is that many of the names of their villages and tribes are pure American-Maya words: that their types are very similar to the features of the bearded men carved on the pillars of the castle, and on the walls of other edifices at Chichen-Itza: while their warlike habits recall those of the Mayas, who fought so bravely and tenaciously the Spanish invaders.
Some of the Maya tribes, traveling towards the west and northwest, reached probably the shores of Ethiopia; while others, entering the Persian Gulf, landed near the embouchure of the Euphrates, and founded their primitive capital at a short distance from it. They called it Hur (Hula) city of guests just arrived—and according to Berosus gave themselves the name of Khaldi; probably because they intrenched their city: Kal meaning intrenchment in the American-Maya language. We have seen that the names of all the principal deities of the primitive Chaldeans had a natural etymology in that tongue. Such strange coincidences cannot be said to be altogether accidental. Particularly when we consider that their learned men were designated as MAGI, (Mayas) and their Chief Rab-Mag, meaning, in Maya, the old man; and were great architects, mathematicians and astronomers. As again we know of them but imperfectly, we cannot tell what traditions they had preserved of the birthplace of their forefathers. But by the inscriptions on the tablets or bricks, found at Mugheir and Warka, we know for a certainty that, in the archaic writings, they formed their characters of straight lines of uniform thickness; and inclosed their sentences in squares or parallelograms, as did the founders of the ruined cities of Yucatan. And from the signet cylinder of King Urukh, that their mode of dressing was identical with that of many personages represented in the mural paintings at Chichen-Itza.
We have traced the MAYAS again on the shores of Asia Minor, where the CARIANS at last established themselves, after having spread terror among the populations bordering on the Mediterranean. Their origin is unknown: but their customs were so similar to those of the inhabitants of Yucatan at the time even of the Spanish conquest—and their names CAR, Carib or Carians, so extensively spread over the western continent, that we might well surmise, that, navigators as they were, they came from those parts of the world; particularly when we are told by the Greek poets and historians, that the goddess MAIA was the daughter of Atlantis. We have seen that the names of the khati, those of their cities, that of Tyre, and finally that of Egypt, have their etymology in the Maya.
Considering the numerous coincidences already pointed out, and many more I could bring forth, between the attainments and customs of the Mayas and the Egyptians; in view also of the fact that the priests and learned men of Egypt constantly pointed toward the WEST as the birthplace of their ancestors, it would seem as if a colony, starting from Mayab, had emigrated Eastward, and settled on the banks of the Nile; just as the Chinese to-day, quitting their native land and traveling toward the rising sun, establish themselves in America.
In Egypt again, as in Hindostan, we find the history of the children of CAN, preserved among the secret traditions treasured up by the priests in the dark recesses of their temples: the same story, even with all its details. It is TYPHO who kills his brother OSIRIS, the husband of their sister ISIS. Some of the names only have been changed when the members of the royal family of CAN, the founder of the cities of Mayab, reaching apotheosis, were presented to the people as gods, to be worshiped.
That the story of Isis and Osiris is a mythical account of CHAACMOL and MOO, from all the circumstances connected with it, according to the relations of the priests of Egypt that tally so closely with what we learn in Chichen-Itza from the bas-reliefs, it seems impossible to doubt.
Effectively, Osiris and Isis are considered as king and queen of the Amenti—the region of the West—the mansion of the dead, of the ancestors. Whatever may be the etymology of the name of Osiris, it is a fact, that in the sculptures he is often represented with a spotted skin suspended near him, and Diodorus Siculus says: "That the skin is usually represented without the head; but some instances where this is introduced show it to be the leopard's or panther's." Again, the name of Osiris as king of the West, of the Amenti, is always written, in hieroglyphic characters, representing a crouching leopard with an eye above it. It is also well known that the priests of Osiris wore a leopard skin as their ceremonial dress.
Now, Chaacmol reigned with his sister Moo, at Chichen-Itza, in Mayab, in the land of the West for Egypt. The name Chaacmol means, in Maya, a Spotted tiger, a leopard; and he is represented as such in all his totems in the sculptures on the monuments; his shield being made of the skin of leopard, as seen in the mural paintings.
Osiris, in Egypt, is a myth. Chaacmol, in Mayab, a reality. A warrior whose mausoleum I have opened; whose weapons and ornaments of jade are in Mrs. Le Plongeon's possession; whose heart I have found, and sent a piece of it to be analysed by professor Thompson of Worcester, Mass.; whose effigy, with his name inscribed on the tablets occupying the place of the ears, forms now one of the most precious relics in the National Museum of Mexico.
ISIS was the wife and sister of Osiris. As to the etymology of her name the Maya affords it in I[C]IN—the younger sister. As Queen of the Amenti, of the West, she also is represented in hieroglyphs by the same characters as her husband—a leopard, with an eye above, and the sign of the feminine gender an oval or egg. But as a goddess she is always portrayed with wings; the vulture being dedicated to her; and, as it were, her totem.
MOO the wife and sister of Chaacmol was the Queen of Chichen. She is represented on the Mausoleum of Chaacmol as a Macaw (Moo in the Maya language); also on the monuments at Uxmal: and the chroniclers tell us that she was worshiped in Izamal under the name of Kinich-Kakmo; reading from right to left the fiery macaw with eyes like the sun.
Their protecting spirit is a Serpent, the totem of their father CAN. Another Egyptian divinity, Apap or Apop, is represented under the form of a gigantic serpent covered with wounds. Plutarch in his treatise, De Iside et Osiride, tells us that he was enemy to the sun.
TYPHO was the brother of Osiris and Isis; for jealousy, and to usurp the throne, he formed a conspiration and killed his brother. He is said to represent in the Egyptian mythology, the sea, by some; by others, the sun.
AAK (turtle) was also the brother of Chaacmol and Moo. For jealousy, and to usurp the throne, he killed his brother at treason with three thrusts of his spear in the back. Around the belt of his statue at Uxmal used to be seen hanging the heads of his brothers CAY and CHAACMOL, together with that of MOO; whilst his feet rested on their flayed bodies. In the sculpture he is pictured surrounded by the Sun as his protecting spirit. The escutcheon of Uxmal shows that he called the place he governed the land of the Sun. In the bas-reliefs of the Queen's chamber at Chichen his followers are seen to render homage to the Sun; others, the friends of MOO, to the Serpent. So, in Mayab as in Egypt, the Sun and Serpent were inimical. In Egypt again this enmity was a myth, in Mayab a reality.
AROERIS was the brother of Osiris, Isis and Typho. His business seems to have been that of a peace-maker.
CAY was also the brother of Chaacmol, Moo and Aac. He was the high pontiff, and sided with Chaacmol and Moo in their troubles, as we learn from the mural paintings, from his head and flayed body serving as trophy to Aac as I have just said.
In June last, among the ruins of Uxmal, I discovered a magnificent bust of this personage; and I believe I know the place where his remains are concealed.
NEPHTHIS was the sister of Isis, Osiris, Typho, and Aroeris, and the wife of Typho; but being in love with Osiris she managed to be taken to his embraces, and she became pregnant. That intrigue having been discovered by Isis, she adopted the child that Nephthis, fearing the anger of her husband, had hidden, brought him up as her own under the name of Anubis. Nephthis was also called NIKE by some.
NIC or NICTE was the sister of Chaacmol, Moo, Aac, and Cay, with whose name I find always her name associated in the sculptures on the monuments. Here the analogy between these personages would seem to differ, still further study of the inscriptions may yet prove the Egyptian version to contain some truth. Nic or Nicte[TN-33] means flower; a cast of her face, with a flower sculptured on one cheek, exists among my collections.
We are told that three children were born to Isis and Osiris: Horus, Macedo, and Harpocrates. Well, in the scene painted on the walls of Chaacmol's funeral chamber, in which the body of this warrior is represented stretched on the ground, cut open under the ribs for the extraction of the heart and visceras, he is seen surrounded by his wife, his sister NIC, his mother Zo[c], and four children.
I will close these similes by mentioning that Thoth was reputed the preceptor of Isis; and said to be the inventor of letters, of the art of reckoning, geometry, astronomy, and is represented in the hieroglyphs under the form of a baboon (cynocephalus). He is one of the most ancient divinities among the Egyptians. He had also the office of scribe in the lower regions, where he was engaged in noting down the actions of the dead, and presenting or reading them to Osiris. One of the modes of writing his name in hieroglyphs, transcribed in our common letters, reads Nukta; a word most appropriate and suggestive of his attributes, since, according to the Maya language, it would signify to understand, to perceive, Nuctah: while his name Thoth, maya[TN-34] thot means to scatter flowers; hence knowledge. In the temple of death at Uxmal, at the foot of the grand staircase that led to the sanctuary, at the top of which I found a sacrificial altar, there were six cynocephali in a sitting posture, as Thoth is represented by the Egyptians. They were placed three in a row each side of the stairs. Between them was a platform where a skeleton, in a kneeling posture, used to be. To-day the cynocephali have been removed. They are in one of the yard[TN-35] of the principal house at the Hacienda of Uxmal. The statue representing the kneeling skeleton lays, much defaced, where it stood when that ancient city was in its glory.
In the mural paintings at Chichen-Itza, we again find the baboon (Cynocephalus) warning Moo of impending danger. She is pictured in her home, which is situated in the midst of a garden, and over which is seen the royal insignia. A basket, painted blue, full of bright oranges, is symbolical of her domestic happiness. She is sitting at the door. Before her is an individual pictured physically deformed, to show the ugliness of his character and by the flatness of his skull, want of moral qualities, (the[TN-36] proving that the learned men of Mayab understood phrenology). He is in an persuasive attitude; for he has come to try to seduce her in the name of another. She rejects his offer: and, with her extended hand, protects the armadillo, on whose shell the high priest read her destiny when yet a child. In a tree, just above the head of the man, is an ape. His hand is open and outstretched, both in a warning and threatening position. A serpent (can), her protecting spirit, is seen at a short distance coiled, ready to spring in her defense. Near by is another serpent, entwined round the trunk of a tree. He has wounded about the head another animal, that, with its mouth open, its tongue protruding, looks at its enemy over its shoulder. Blood is seen oozing from its tongue and face. This picture forcibly recalls to the mind the myth of the garden of Eden. For here we have the garden, the fruit, the woman, the tempter.
As to the charmed leopard skin worn by the African warriors to render them invulnerable to spears, it would seem as if the manner in which Chaacmol met his death, by being stabbed with a spear, had been known to their ancestors; and that they, in their superstitious fancies, had imagined that by wearing his totem, it would save them from being wounded with the same kind of weapon used in killing him. Let us not laugh at such a singular conceit among uncivilized tribes, for it still prevails in Europe. On many of the French and German soldiers, killed during the last German war, were found talismans composed of strips of paper, parchment or cloth, on which were written supposed cabalistic words or the name of some saint, that the wearer firmly believed to be possessed of the power of making him invulnerable.
I am acquainted with many people—and not ignorant—who believe that by wearing on their persons rosaries, made in Jerusalem and blessed by the Pope, they enjoy immunity from thunderbolts, plagues, epidemics and other misfortunes to which human flesh is heir.
That the Mayas were a race autochthon on this western continent and did not receive their civilization from Asia or Africa, seems a rational conclusion, to be deduced from the foregoing FACTS. If we had nothing but their name to prove it, it should be sufficient, since its etymology is only to be found in the American Maya language.
They cannot be said to have been natives of Hindostan; since we are told that, in very remote ages, Maya, a prince of the Davanas, established himself there. We do not find the etymology of his name in any book where mention is made of it. We are merely told that he was a wise magician, a great architect, a learned astronomer, a powerful Asoura (demon), thirsting for battles and bloodshed: or, according to the Sanscrit, a Goddess, the mother of all beings that exist—gods and men.
Very little is known of the Mayas of Afghanistan, except that they call themselves Mayas, and that the names of their tribes and cities are words belonging to the American Maya language.
Who can give the etymology of the name Magi, the learned men amongst the Chaldees. We only know that its meaning is the same as Maya in Hindostan: magician, astronomer, learned man. If we come to Greece, where we find again the name Maia, it is mentioned as that of a goddess, as in Hindostan, the mother of the gods: only we are told that she was the daughter of Atlantis—born of Atlantis. But if we come to the lands beyond the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, then we find a country called MAYAB, on account of the porosity of its soil; that, as a sieve (Mayab), absorbs the water in an incredibly short time. Its inhabitants took its name from that of the country, and called themselves Mayas. It is a fact worthy of notice, that in their hieroglyphic writings the sign employed by the Egyptians to signify a Lord, a Master, was the image of a sieve. Would not this seem to indicate that the western invaders who subdued the primitive inhabitants of the valley of the Nile, and became the lords and masters of the land, were people from MAYAB; particularly if we consider that the usual character used to write the name of Egypt was the sieve, together with the sign of land?
We know that the Mayas deified and paid divine honors to their eminent men and women after their death. This worship of their heroes they undoubtedly carried, with other customs, to the countries where they emigrated; and, in due course of time, established it among their inhabitants, who came to forget that MAYAB was a locality, converted it in to a personalty: and as some of their gods came from it, Maya was considered as the Mother of the Gods, as we see in Hindostan and Greece.
It would seem probable that the Mayas did not receive their civilization from the inhabitants of the Asiatic peninsulas, for the religious lores and customs they have in common are too few to justify this assertion. They would simply tend to prove that relations had existed between them at some epoch or other; and had interchanged some of their habits and beliefs as it happens, between the civilized nations of our days. This appears to be the true side of the question; for in the figures sculptured on the obelisks of Copan the Asiatic type is plainly discernible; whilst the features of the statues that adorn the celebrated temples of Hindostan are, beyond all doubts, American.
The FACTS gathered from the monuments do not sustain the theory advanced by many, that the inhabitants of tropical America received their civilization from Egypt and Asia Minor. On the contrary. It is true that I have shown that many of the customs and attainments of the Egyptians were identical to those of the Mayas; but these had many religious rites and habits unknown to the Egyptians; who, as we know, always pointed towards the West as the birthplaces of their ancestors, and worshiped as gods and goddesses personages who had lived, and whose remains are still in MAYAB. Besides, the monuments themselves prove the respective antiquity of the two nations.
According to the best authorities the most ancient monuments raised by the Egyptians do not date further back than about 2,500 years B. C. Well, in Ake, a city about twenty-five miles from Merida, there exists still a monument sustaining thirty-six columns of katuns. Each of these columns indicate a lapse of one hundred and sixty years in the life of the nation. They then would show that 5,760 years has intervened between the time when the first stone was placed on the east corner of the uppermost of the three immense superposed platforms that compose the structure, and the placing of the last capping stone on the top of the thirty-sixth column. How long did that event occur before the Spanish conquest it is impossible to surmise. Supposing, however, it did take place at that time; this would give us a lapse of at least 6,100 years since, among the rejoicings of the people this sacred monument being finished, the first stone that was to serve as record of the age of the nation, was laid by the high priest, where we see it to-day. I will remark that the name AKE is one of the Egyptians' divinities, the third person of the triad of Esneh; always represented as a child, holding his finger to his mouth. AKE also means a reed. To-day the meaning of the word is lost in Yucatan.
Cogolludo, in his history of Yucatan, speaking of the manner in which they computed time, says:
"They counted their ages and eras, which they inscribed in their books every twenty years, in lustrums of four years. * * * When five of these lustrums were completed, they called the lapse of twenty years katun, which means to place a stone down upon another. * * * In certain sacred buildings and in the houses of the priests every twenty years they place a hewn stone upon those already there. When seven of these stones have thus been piled one over the other began the Ahau katun. Then after the first lustrum of four years they placed a small stone on the top of the big one, commencing at the east corner; then after four years more they placed another small stone on the west corner; then the next at the north; and the fourth at the south. At the end of the twenty years they put a big stone on the top of the small ones: and the column, thus finished, indicated a lapse of one hundred and sixty years."
There are other methods for determining the approximate age of the monuments of Mayab:
1st. By means of their actual orientation; starting from the fact that their builders always placed either the faces or angles of the edifices fronting the cardinal points.
2d. By determining the epoch when the mastodon became extinct. For, since Can or his ancestors adopted the head of that animal as symbol of deity, it is evident they must have known it; hence, must have been contemporary with it.
3d. By determining when, through some great cataclysm, the lands became separated, and all communications between the inhabitants of Mayab and their colonies were consequently interrupted. If we are to credit what Psenophis and Sonchis, priests of Heliopolis and Sais, said to Solon "that nine thousand years before, the visit to them of the Athenian legislator, in consequence of great earthquakes and inundations, the lands of the West disappeared in one day and a fatal night," then we may be able to form an idea of the antiquity of the ruined cities of America and their builders.
Reader, I have brought before you, without comments, some of the FACTS, that after ten years of research, the paintings on the walls of Chaacmol's funeral chamber, the sculptured inscriptions carved on the stones of the crumbling monuments of Yucatan, and a comparative study of the vernacular of the aborigines of that country, have revealed to us. I have no theory to offer. Many years of further patient investigations, the full interpretation of the monumental inscriptions, and, above all, the possession of the libraries of the learned men of Mayab, are the sine qua non to form an uncontrovertible one, free from the speculations which invalidate all books published on the subject heretofore.
If by reading these pages you have learned something new, your time has not been lost; nor mine in writing them.
The following typographical errors have been maintained:
Page Error TN-1 7 precipituous should read precipitous TN-2 17 maya should read Maya TN-3 20 Egpptian should read Egyptian TN-4 23 Moo should read Moo TN-5 23 Guetzalcoalt should read Quetzalcoatl TN-6 26 ethonologists should read ethnologists TN-7 26 what he said should read what he said. TN-8 26 absorbant should read absorbent TN-9 28 lazuri: should read lazuli: TN-10 28 (Strange should read Strange TN-11 28 Chichsen should read Chichen TN-12 28 Moo should read Moo, TN-13 32 Birmah should read Burmah TN-14 32 Siameeses. should read Siameses. TN-15 33 maya should read Maya TN-16 34 valleys should read valleys, TN-17 35 even to-day should read even to-day. TN-18 38 inthe should read in the TN-19 38 Bresseur should read Brasseur TN-20 49 (maya) should read (Maya) TN-21 51 epoch should read epochs TN-22 52 Wishnu, should read Vishnu, TN-23 58 his art, should read his art. TN-24 59 Mo, should read Moo, TN-25 62 Mayas should read Mayas' TN-26 63 as symbol should read as a symbol TN-27 66 e. g should read e. g. TN-28 68 Kukulean should read Kukulcan TN-29 69 DuChaillu should read Du Chaillu TN-30 72 death frequently occur; should read death frequently occurs; or deaths frequently occur; TN-31 72 is is should read it is TN-32 73 beats should read beat TN-33 80 Nicte should read Nicte TN-34 80 maya should read Maya TN-35 81 yard should read yards TN-36 81 qualities, (the should read qualities (thus
The following words are inconsistently spelled and hyphenated:
Aac / Aak Ake / Ake birth-place / birthplace facade / facade Ha / Ha Hapimu / Hapimu Hema / Hema Kinich-Kakmo / Kinich-kakmo Na / Na Rab-mag / Rabmag senotes / senotes Tipho / Typho