[Page 3] THIS occasion is especially gratifying to us, for besides the pleasure and honour of addressing you, we have the happy certainty of speaking to those who are accustomed to looking beneath the surface of things, to those who rejoice in acquiring knowledge, and who will easily grasp the many facts that we must crowd into this hour's reading. This evening we cannot have the satisfaction of illustrating our subject and thus making clearer our remarks, but if future occasions offer, we have several hundreds of lantern slides ready.
You are aware that Mexico, Central America, and parts of South America are rich in antiquities, the field is indeed so vast, and so neglected, comparatively speaking, that an army of workers is needed there. One of the most interesting spots is certainly that peninsula which the Spanish invaders named Yucatan — now one of the Mexican States, in olden times the seat of a great empire — whose territory seems to have extended N.W. as far as the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and S.E. as far as the Isthmus of Darien. It is a most interesting fact that the sculptors, in making statues of their monarchs, gave them a posture, as far as the human body could be made to assume it, resembling the contour of that territory, as may be seen by comparing a map with the statue portrayed in Dr. Plongeon's book, "Sacred Mysteries".
We are frequently asked why we made up our minds to study the ruins of Yucatan. Well, it was, in fact, a continuation of archaeological studies begun by the Doctor as early as 1862, in Peru. There he had reached certain conclusions, and it was in search of further corroboration that he went to Central America, after having also made a close study of old Spanish MSS. in the British Museum.
Arrived in Yucatan, we found there was an immense amount of work to be done, the greater part of it in dangerous places. A few words will make this clear. History tells us that of all the Americans, none so determinedly resisted the Spaniards as those of Yucatan, the Mayas, whose ancestors seemed to have been the most civilized of old American nations. Even at the time of the conquest the natives were far more refined than the Spaniard, who only succeeded in reducing them to slavery after twenty-five years of heroic resistance to cavalry, coat of mail, and firearms. Nor would the Mayas then have succumbed, had not the Spaniards found allies in tribes living on the northern coast of the peninsula, and also in a powerful party of Nahualts, at that time likewise in the country. [Page 4] There is no history more heroic and tragic than that of the Maya people during the last thousand years. After having conquered by force, the Spaniard treated the unhappy people with shameful cruelty and tyranny.
In 1847 the latest great uprisal of natives occurred. After a long and fearful struggle a few thousand freed themselves completely from the white man's control, and built their stronghold in the south-west part of the Peninsula. Not only do they still maintain their liberty, but they are a terror to the white man, and those Indians yet in their service. Their war-cry is "Death to the white monkey!" They have destroyed cities, towns, and villages, driving those under Mexican authority to the northern and most arid part of the land. Unfortunately, many of the ancient ruins are on the territory of these hostile Indians, though the danger is becoming less every year; not only owing to railroads being built, but because the Indians are now carrying on a less active war, and are also decreasing in numbers. They are the miserable vestige of a once noble race ! The ruins that we first visited were, at that time, very much exposed. We had to sleep dressed as by day, only removing our boots, and our rifles had to be always close at hand. I need hardly tell you that in those forests I adopted a more convenient apparel than skirts, and I must confess that when obliged to resume these I felt much hampered. It would be a waste of precious time to now talk of our dangers and hardships, illness, hunger, etc., but a few words must be said about our work. We were truly amazed at the perfection of sculptures found in the old city of Chichin Itza, or "City of the Sages", and we heartily wished that it were in our power, not only to save from further decay, but to rebuild the edifices crumbling before us. That being out of the question, what was the next best thing ? Surely to obtain what would enable us to make a facsimile of their measurements, photographs, moulds. For that we toiled. Our Indian labourers could not understand why we wanted to measure pyramids and terraces, stairs, doorways, and walls; and they could not be trusted to hold the end of the measuring tape exactly where we desired, so we two had to do all that work alone, and some of the terraces were hundreds of feet long, cumbered by felled trees and stones of all shapes, beneath which venomous vipers lurked, while the tropical heat made us dizzy, and tiny wood ticks worked their way into our skin. Taking photographs was not much easier; though well versed in that art, we made about ten plates for every perfect one obtained. True, we wanted them very perfect. Many of the sculptures had to be photographed from the top of a ladder supported only by sticks on the edge of a very steep and broken up terrace or pyramid. The longest task was probably the mould-making, because we would not content ourselves with mere squeezes. The result of our work is all that could be wished. We can now build in any part of the [Page 5] world a Maya palace or temple which might be converted into a museum of American antiquities. This is what we should like to see realized . . . We could even place within the walls, besides beautiful sculptures, a few fresco paintings, facsimiles, which we were happy enough to rescue from oblivion. Of these there are two tableaux varying in length from one to four feet, the figures being from six to nine inches high. This collection is the only specimen of ancient American paintings. They portray certain events in the history of a family that reigned there many centuries ago. But while at work we were haunted by one desire. On many exterior walls there were sculptured inscriptions. While these remained complete enigmas, we were very much in the condition of persons looking at pictures in the a book, but unable to read the text. Great mystery! Could we not penetrate it ? If we could begin, others might come after to finish. First, in what language were the inscriptions ? We knew that the Maya people were, and are, excessively conservative, to such an extent that this, and their hatred of the Spaniard, has made it impossible for the white man to impose his speech on the vanquished. To this day masters must address their servants in the beautiful Maya tongue if they would have their orders executed. Was it not then possible that this same language, a most perfect one in its construction, should be the one hidden in the mural inscriptions ? Time and study brought an affirmative answer to this query. But first a few words about that language, yet spoken by the people, not only of Yucatan, but as far south as Guatemala and Tabasco. It is a very old form of speech, and it affords simple and natural etymologies for names of places and tribes in Asia and Africa, as well as for those of divinities worshipped by Egyptians, Chaldees, and other civilized nations of antiquity, even for the names of the various parts of the the Indian cosmogonic diagram called Sri-Santara. The grammatical forms and syntaxes of the Maya and Egyptian tongues are almost identical, while it is well known that the Egyptian language has no cognates in Asia or Africa; and, moreover, Dr. Le Plongeon's discoveries have proved that the hieratic alphabets of the learned men of Egypt and Mayax (as Yucatan was anciently called) are almost identical. The very word Maya must be familiar to all of you, since in India it means illusion, for which reason the Brahmins call the earth Maya. We find this word scattered over a great portion of the globe in India, Chaldea, Greece, Egypt, and even in modern times in Central Asia, Afghanistan, in the interior parts of Africa, and in tropic America as far back as Sonora. In one place, it is the name of god or goddess; in another, of hero or heroine; elsewhere, of a cast or tribe; in a fourth, that of place or country.
The Rig-veda teaches us that Maya is the goddess by whose union with [Page 6] Brahma all things were created. In Greece, Maya is daughter of Atlas, mother of Hermes, the good mother Kubêli, mother of the gods, whose worship has survived to our day in Spain, France, England, Germany, in the feast of the Maya, or May Queen. Did time allow, it could be shown that the word Maya is scattered over a broad extent of the earth; and everywhere in connection with wisdom, superior knowledge, and power. In Tahiti and other islands of the Pacific, the banana-tree is sacred, and is called Maya.
Even the Greek Alphabet, i.e., the names of the letters, form a poem in Maya language, which reads as follows: —
break — the — waters
BETA. extending — over the — plains
GAMMA. They — cover — the — land
DELTA. in low places where
EPZILON. there are — obstructions, shores form, and whirlpools —
ZETA. strike — the — earth
ETA. with water.
THETA. The water spreads
IOTA. on — all that lives and moves —
KAPPA. sediments give way.
LAMBDA. Submerged is — the — land
MU. of — Mu
Nl. the peaks — only
XI. appear above — the water.
OMIKRON. Whirlwinds blow round
Pl. by little and little,
RHO. until comes
ZIGMA. cold air. Before
TAU. where — existed — valleys,
UPZILON. now, abysses, frozen tanks — In circular places-
PHI. clay — is — formed.
CHI. A mouth
PSl. opens; vapours
OMEGA. then — come forth — and — volcanic sediments.
With these few words about the Maya language we must return to the point whence we diverged — namely, the decipherment of inscriptions carved on the old walls. It began by Dr. Le Plongeon one day finding that certain signs were exactly like those of old Egypt, which led him to think that others might also be. Nor was he disappointed, and by giving them the same value, he found that they resulted in words in the Maya language. A key to those mysterious hieroglyphs was indeed found! [Page 7] Beside stone inscriptions, we also have Maya MSS. — because a few of the books in use among the inhabitants of Yucatan at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards were saved from destruction; how, or by whom, is not known. The Spanish priests burnt all they could lay hands on. The volumes that were saved found their way to European libraries. The text and illustrations are in colours on parchment prepared from deerskin. The Mayas also made paper from the bark of the mulberry-tree, by a process similar to that used by the Egyptians in preparing papyrus. Strange to say, Bishop Lunda, who ordered the burning of the books, kept a copy, made by himself, of certain alphabetical and other signs, but these alone would not suffice to read the books, while on the walls only two or three of those signs can be traced, such inscriptions being graved in hieratic characters.
At the time of the Nahualt invasion, about the sixth century of the Christian era, owing to many political troubles, the use and knowledge of the hieratic or sacred characters were lost. Then only a few antiquaries knew the meaning of the mural inscriptions. In time, no one was able to read them; and they became a sealed book, which modern antiquaries have heretofore not succeeded in bursting asunder. At the Lowell Institute in Boston, last March, Dr. Le Plongeon, having on the screen pictures of sculptured façades, read the stones to his audience. Though it is a strict law of the Lowell Institute that no lecture shall exceed one hour's duration, that lecture did, and even the President failed to remind the lecturer that his time was up.
Not having it in our power this evening to show you any of the carved inscriptions, I can only say a few words about the general character of such writings. The name Can, that of a dynasty of kings, is found in many forms; and most of the inscriptions are records of certain deeds, or panegyrics of members of that family. We also find accounts of national catastrophies and other events. Of these inscriptions we have made moulds, and hope to fully interpret them later on. Many of the ornaments are in themselves descriptive of cosmogonic and religious conceptions, prominent features being the serpent form, and a conventional representation of the mammoth's face, embodying certain letters, giving its name. The walls, covered with elaborate carving, and brilliantly coloured, as they originally were, must have been very grand in effect.
Passing now from stones to books we find that the historian Landa gives this description: "They wrote their books on long sheets that they folded so as to form pages (like a fan), enclosing them between two boards elaborately ornamented. They wrote in columns on both sides of the page. This paper was made from the roots of a tree, and coated with a white varnish, on which it was easy to write". Do not these books recall [Page 8] the papyri found in Egyptian tombs ? Many of the volumes were illustrated with designs and colours. Some pages contained text only, others were illustrated.
Cogolluds, another historian, tells us: "In those books were recorded the dates, the wars, the inundations, hurricanes, famines, and other events". Those volumes, in fact, contained not only the history of the Maya people, but of nations of a very distinct cast of features and colour with whom they entertained friendly relations, or against whom they waged war; also a record of geological and meteorological phenomena, and the art of medicine, archaeological studies. It was dreadful to burn such books, but the fanatical priests only followed the example of Paul, who, in Ephesus, instigated the Christians to burn books that were valued at fifty thousand pieces of silver.
The four Maya books which have reached our hands are written in the characters of an alphabet, which seems to have been formulated after the invasion of the Nahualts, in the early centuries of the Christian era. The volume called "Troano MS" has been closely studied Dr. Le Plongeon, who hopes to fully translate it. It contains something of geology, of mythology, and of history. We there find that the Mayas believed in elementals and personified the forces of Nature. One chapter is a most interesting account of the submersion of a great island called Mu in the Atlantic Ocean. It seems to have been the same island known to us as Atlantis. Again we must regret the want of pictures here tonight. However, though not able to show you, sentence by sentence, I can give Dr. Le Plongeon's translation of the paragraph describing the last scene of the terrible cataclysm. It is as follows: "In the year 6 Kan, on the IIth muluc, in the month Zac, there occurred terrible earthquakes, which continued without interruption until the I3th Chuen. The country of the hills of mud, the land of Mu, was sacrificed; being twice upheaved, it suddenly disappeared during the night, the basin being continually shaken by volcanic forces. Being confined, these caused the land to sink and rise several times, and in various places. At last the surface gave way and ten countries were torn asunder and scattered helter skelter. Unable to withstand the force of the seismic convulsions, they sank, with their 64 millions of inhabitants, 8,060 years before the writing of this book".
This would seem to be an account of the greatest of all deluges, which, the Egyptian priests told Solon, was recorded in their temples, as in those of Chaldea and India. The author of another Maya book, now known as "Codex Cortesianus". also wrote a lengthy description of the same cataclysm, agreeing with that in the Troano, which I have just had the pleasure of reading to you.
We have reason
to believe that if circumstances permitted, we could [Page
9] bring to light
several Maya volumes which have lain concealed since the
early part of the Christian era, when the wise men hid them
in a certain building to save them from being destroyed by
Nahualt invaders. Such books would doubtless illumine the
dim past, and it is our sincere hope that if we are not able
to bring them to light, some other explorer, in no distant
future, may attempt the task, and have his efforts crowned
with success. Setting aside literary treasures, there are
many beautiful objects of art hidden among the ruins, safe
for the present from mischievous hands. We ourselves have
unearthed many pieces of sculpture, and have again carefully
buried them because it was not in our power to convey them
to a place of safe keeping. Our first excavations were made
at the tomb of a certain individual, whose name — Coh,
or Chaacmol, i.e., Leopard — has since become
famous through his statue, which we unearthed. It may interest
you to hear a brief account of this, because it will make
known to you how the Mayas disposed of their dead. A study
of the fresco paintings which I have mentioned, and of certain
carved inscriptions, led us to seek in one spot for the resting-place
of the remains of an individual who, many centuries ago,
played an important role in the history of that country. The once beautiful
mausoleum had become an almost shapeless pile. Happily the
corner stones were yet in place, and stairs could still be
counted, leading to the summit, on the four sides of the
quadrangular structure. Even the largest ornamental stones
were in place, four at each corner; two having macaws sculptured
on them, and two leopards. These were the totems, or figure-names
of a famous warrior prince and his sister and wife, Princess
Mo. There were many sculptured stones scattered over the
ground, some representing skulls, others gigantic snake heads;
of these, a few were still in place at the foot of the stairs.
Among the débris we found a body, in the round,
a reclining leopard, with three holes in the back as the
leopard in bas-relief also had. It was headless, indicating
spear wounds, the cause of death, inflicted by a jealous
brother, but near by we found a human head, with the features
of a dying man. With a faint hope that it might belong to
the leopard we brought them in contact, and were rejoiced
to find that the broken parts fitted into each other. Here,
then, in Yucatan, we had a veritable sphinx ! Its original
place had been on the top of the monument, where we still
found the oblong stone on which the sphinx had rested. After
carefully measuring everything so that Dr. Le Plongeon might
make, as he since has, a restoration of the once beautiful
mausoleum, we proceeded to excavate. An arduous undertaking,
because we were unprovided with implements of any description.
A wall five feet thick of solid masonry formed the shell
of the monument, and to our surprise we found the interior
filled with loose stones, none weighing less than twenty [Page
10] pounds; liquid
mortar had been poured among them, not sufficient, however,
to make a solid body to hold them together. The removal of
these stones was a tedious task, because after we had made
a shaft down into the centre, to touch one on either side
entailed the falling of a hundred. We had no planks, no ropes,
no nails; the great knife, called mâchete, had
to serve all purposes. With saplings from the forest we constructed
a palisade to prevent the stones from crushing us. The saplings
were tied together with thick vines, called in India jungle
ropes. With such primitive means Dr. Le Plongeon also
succeeded in constructing a derrick — or at least what
served as one — a lever like those used in Egypt and
other parts of the Orient to draw water from deep places.
We drew stones. Our Indian workmen were unwilling to have
the tomb opened, believing that if they touched anything
there the soul of the prince would bring upon them sickness,
if not death, before a year elapsed; consequently they worked
badly and slowly. Six feet below the summit we found a perfectly
level floor, a few inches thick, made of concrete, the upper
surface covered with fine plaster, painted bright yellow.
(I need hardly tell you that among the Mayas each colour
had its special meaning.) Beneath the floor there were more
stones, down to the level of the ground; then a second floor.
Through this we likewise broke, and again our expectations
met with nothing but loose rough stones. But after a few
hours' work we began to pick up from among them curious round
buttons, apparently bone, with double holes bored through
their backs. Soon a large round stone urn came to view. It
required three men to remove the heavy lid. Notwithstanding
its size, the urn contained only some dust, which we took
to be the remains of a human brain, and a large round apple-green
jadite bead. On a level with that urn, and quite near, a
finely-sculptured white stone head was soon discovered. The
workmen immediately called the figure "an enchanted
King". The head
was nearly double life-size, and there was much speculating
as to the form and posture of the lower part of the statue,
yet hidden beneath rough, heavy stones. On the following
day we found a third floor, the head and shoulders of the
statue rising through a hole in the middle of it. This floor
being removed we discovered a second urn, larger than the
first and containing partially cremated matter, the heart
and viscera of the person represented by the statue. These
remains have been analyzed. There was also an oblong head
of jadite, of that peculiar, apple-green colour which is
found only in Burmah, being the rarest of all the jadites.
It would be interesting, indeed, if some person, having psychometric
powers, could trace the history of this stone. In the same
urn were small flat rings of mother-of-pearl, and some red
On the base, which was one piece with the statue, we found 64 beautiful arrow points, 32 on each side, some white, others green, said to be of jade, though we are inclined to doubt this, jade being too hard a substance to be worked, as these points are apparently, by chipping. The statue was too large and too heavy, weighing 3,000 pounds, for our men to hoist up a shaft without proper machinery, so we made an opening in the side of the monument, and an inclined plane down to the statue, which was some feet below the earth's level. Then, from the forked trunk of a tree, and a stone ring, a rough capstan was formed, with which to draw out the monolith. Ropes were indispensable. These our men manufactured from the pliant bark of a tree called habin. By these means, and after surmounting much obstinate disobedience on the part of our men, we at last brought the statue above ground. The posture is shown in the volume S. M. already mentioned, but it conveys a very imperfect idea of the beauty of that ancient work of art, as it was when we first looked at it. One side of the body was perfectly white, the other a light brown, the flesh-colour of the natives. The garters, bracelets, and sandal-straps were of red and yellow; a ribbon round the neck was also red. From this hung a very curious breast-plate, like some now in use among high officials in Burmah. Between the extended hands, and resting on the abdomen, was a circular plate, like a modern soup-plate, representing Honduras Bay, the posture of the figure being intended, as said, to indicate the contour of what was once the Maya Empire.
Without nails or screws, Dr. Le Plongeon managed to contrive a cart on which to remove the statue. We also had to open and level a road over which to convey it. At the end of fifteen days we had it away from the territory of the Indians, and within the military lines of the State. At that time a revolution broke out in favour of Porfirio Diaz, actual President of Mexico. Our men were no longer permitted to bear arms, and we could not ask them to work in such exposed places without means of defence. In the forest we built a house over the statue, and went to study the ruins existing on islands near the east coast of Yucatan. During our absence, and at a time when Dr. Le Plongeon was grievously wounded, the statue was seized by Mexican authority, and conveyed to the capital, where it now is in the Mexican National Museum. It was not properly taken care of, and when we visited that museum we found not only all the colour gone from it, but moss forming on it. Nevertheless, when Dr. Le Plongeon asked permission to take a mould of it, the Mexican Government sent him a written permit, provided he would not injure the statue!
The American Government, always apathetic in protecting its citizens, refused to take any steps toward defending us against the robbery of that statue, notwithstanding the fact that by the laws of the [Page 12] State of Yucatan the finder of any art treasure, or any antiquity, has a right to one half its value.
Concerning the individual whose status we have been discussing, there is very much to be said, more, indeed, than can possibly be crowded into this discourse. Startling as it may sound, I assure you that that personage seems to have been the living origin of the myth of Osiris in Egypt. There are so many facts pointing to this conclusion that we cannot close our eyes to it, and when Dr. Le Plongeon's new work is published, many readers will probably agree with us. [It will be interesting, indeed, to have it shown that Osiris was ever a living person, and not merely a solar myth. But the Troano MSS show that the Mayas “personified the forces of nature”, as did the Egyptians — TPS.]
I have already mentioned some fresco paintings which we found in one room. It was in a shrine, built to the memory of that same person. The dedication on the outer entablature of the edifice reads thus: "Mó" — (this was the name of his wife, and we all know that Isis is likewise called Mo, spelt Mau) — "Mó craves to fervently invoke Cob, the warrior of warriors". A grand portico led into the shrine, and there we excavated from beneath the fallen roof a superb altar, supported on fifteen figures, after the manner of caryates. It reminded us of altars erected at the entrance of Egyptian tombs, on which fruit and flowers were presented every year, as among the Mayas, to the souls of the departed. But the altar itself is almost a facsimile of certain ancient structures yet existing in the old city of Angor-Thom, Cambogia. Not two of the caryates are alike. Some have a triple breast-plate, triangular apron, and curiously fastened girdle; three things exactly as we see them used by officers of high rank in Burmah. It is only one more link added to a long chain of similarities, connecting certain eastern and western lands, and showing that in remote ages intimate relations must have existed between them. Could you see the Maya and Indo-China altars side by side, you would be amazed at the astounding similarity! You will remember that Valmiki, in his beautiful poem, the "Ramayana", tells us that Maya, the terrible warrior, magician, and architect of the Davanas, took possession of, and established himself in, the southern part of India, in Dekkan particularly, [Maya is here spoken of under the male aspect, as the chief of Kabiri, the warrior kings. Maya is as frequently seen under its female aspect as Mai, Mo, or Mo-on, i.e. the Moon, or Isis – passive nature — T.P.S.] that Maya was a great navigator, whose ships sailed from the western to the eastern ocean, from the southern to the northern seas. And, strange to say, the etymology of the word "Davana" is, in Maya language, "He who has his house upon salt waters". I must ask your kind forbearance if, without bringing forward the many facts on which we base [Page 13] our opinion, I say that we have been forced to the conclusion that ancient American civilization, if not the mother of ancient historical nations, was at least a great factor in the framing of these cosmogonic notions and primitive traditions, and in teaching them many of their arts and sciences. Is it not admitted by geologists that the western continent is the oldest ? Hence it is the one on which biological conditions necessary to man's existence must perforce have been first developed. Would it not seem that civilization, like the heavenly bodies, following an eastward course, after completing a cycle of 10,000 years, at the end of which, according to the Egyptians, the souls gone west must return and begin a new earthly existence — civilization, I say, after many ups and downs, is returning to its birthplace to gather in its mother's lap fresh vigour before starting anew on its peregrination around the world ? Watch its course. See how western civilization is already invading Japan, China, India, and other Asiatic countries. History repeats itself. Its actual line of travel is that which it followed in bygone ages.
During a second
expedition to the ruins of Chichen, we opened the tomb
of the elder brother of the warrior Coh, that of a high
priest named Cay, or Huancay, a word meaning in that language "the
wise fish", which
brings to mind Oannes, the personage, half-fish, half-man,
said by Berosus to have brought civilization to Mesopotamia.
The exterior of the monument was ornamented with beautifully
carved stones, the greater number of which had fallen.
Some represented fish, others sacred symbols. On the largest
slab was a human face within the distended jaws of a snake.
Around the face we found the name Cay, written in Egyptian
as well as Maya hieroglyphs. The tomb itself, like that
of Coh, was square; its four sides facing the cardinal
points. Thirteen steps on each side led to the top platform,
which was 13ft. above the ground and 52ft. square. In its
centre was a large slab, on which formerly was a statue,
about double life-size, in the same posture as that of
Coh. At the base of the monument we found the lower half
of the statue. On the north side of the monument we opened
a trench, and found it constructed similarly to the one
previously opened. We had to prop back the stones as before.
After ten days' work we reached the monument. There we
found, on a level with the earth, a figure lying on its
back, thickly coated with loose mortar. One leg was broken
off below the knee, but we found it underneath the figure,
and adjusted it in place to make a picture. The head rested
on a stone painted bright red, representing a snake's tongue.
The statue was in a squatting posture, but if standing
would have been six feet high. It was of white stone, and
was painted dark brown. The head was small and apparently
hairless, painted blue, and over that, from the forehead
down to the shoulders, were red streaks. [Page
14] Doubtless everyone of these things had a significant
meaning. The eyes were open, and the lids painted blue. The
lips were red. The ears were pierced, and so was the back
part of the top of the head. In the palm and wrist of the
right hand there was a groove, as if for a rounded stick
to fit in. The figure is apish-looking, and the hands quite
but fingers and toes were furnished with nails of polished
shell, neatly fitted in. Nearly all had fallen. The loins
were covered with a scanty garment, like that anciently worn
by Egyptian labourers. The right foot is turned in, as if
the person had been club-footed. The sandals were fancifully
ornamented and secured with red ties. After clearing off
stones and mortar, we found that the statue had rested on
conoidal pillars, placed horizontally side by side. There
were four, 3ft. 3in. high, one foot in their greatest diameter,
and painted blue, a colour emblematical of sanctity and mourning
among the Mayas, and largely used at funerals by the old
Egyptians. Besides these four pillars we found 178 more.
They extended over a space of twenty square feet, and were
in places three or four feet deep. Two-thirds of them were
blue, the others red. These conoidal pillars remind us of
that which represented the Phoenician god, Baal. These found
by us were probably emblems of sun-worship. The number 182
was the number of half the days of our year, and of that
of Mayas, which had the same number. They also divided the
year into lunar months, and like the Egyptians, had an epact
of five unlucky days, and at the same time of the year as
the people of the Nile. On a level with the pillars were
also twelve serpent heads, with feathers and various signs
exquisitely sculptured on them. These were placed so as to
face the various points of the compass. From the top of each
head there stood up a kind of plume or flame, and on either
side of the upper nostril was a perpendicular ornament, like
horns. This, we have discovered, represents the opening pod
of the Ceiba-tree, which was sacred to the Mayas, a tree
being one emblem of their own country. The feathers painted
on the snakes' bodies were coloured green, the scales of
the belly yellow, as also the edge of the jaws. The inside
of the mouth and the forked projecting tongue were red, the
fangs and teeth white. The whites of the eyes were beautifully
polished shell, neatly fitted, with a round hole where the
pupil should be. These twelve snakes, totems of twelve kings
of the Can dynasty (Can being the Maya word for serpent),
whose portraits are found in "alto-relievo" on
a façade in Chichen, call to mind the twelve
gods said by Herodotus to have governed the Egyptians before
the reign of Menes, their first terrestrial King. On the
south side of the excavation, at the statue, but lower down,
was a round white urn, about two-and-a-half feet in diameter.
With difficulty four men pushed off the lid, discovering
within only a little red substance and a [Page
piece of green jadite, with a human face, and letters carved
on it. There was also a tube of the same precious stone,
but the ends crumbled when we handled it. Besides these we
found among the red matter many small pieces of turquoise
and a ball of natural crystal, the special possession of
the high priest and prophet. The urn and serpents being removed,
we stood on a level floor. Two feet below we discovered a
small pile of bones, those of a crocodile, and on each side
of it was a smoke-coloured obsidian spearhead, about seven
inches long; also many fragments of pottery, greatly varying
in quality. Below the bones was a concrete floor, perfectly
level, and painted bright red, extending throughout the mound.
Two feet below again there was yet another floor, the seventh in the mound, and bright yellow. Believing there might still
be something more concealed we continued the opening on the
south side, in which direction the spearhead had pointed.
We soon found a solid block of masonry, and within it, its
carved surface turned eastward, stood an oblong stone covered
with symbols, painted blue, yellow, and red. Later on we
found two others like it, and also a sculptured fish, painted
We came to the conclusion that the various things found in the tomb of Cay were sacred objects from the temple in which he had officiated, even the curious statue which we have described; while that of the priest himself was on the upper platform, his ashes being preserved in the urn within. The Mayas cremated their dead, preserving the viscera in urns, as the Egyptians did. Elsewhere we found a most beautiful portrait of Cay, carved in the round in pure white marble, not polished, but made to imitate the texture of human skin. We had the joy of seeing that exquisite piece of work just as it was when the artist put his finishing touches to it; for, owing to some event which we cannot now guess at, the beautiful sculpture had been concealed within solid masonry as soon as completed. In order that such a fine object should not be injured, and remembering the fate of the Coh statue, we again thoroughly concealed the portrait of Cay.
lecture is perforce dull, and I sincerely hope that it
may be our happiness to bring before you on some future
occasion the many pictures which we have ; then we can
go more deeply into the subject, and speak of many interesting
points which it is impossible to make clear without illustrations.
To give you an idea of the vastness of the subject, I may
say that when Dr. Le Plongeon, in March last, delivered
seven lectures, he and his audience would have preferred
fourteen. Dr. Le Plongeon's MSS., now ready for publication,
have been examined by scholars, who affirm that it will
create a sensation among historians and scientists, and
they are kind enough to add that it is bound to be recognised
as one of the great works of the age.
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