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tecs continued the same rites until just the opposite nature to that of the year 1317, when they immola- the Mexicans. With the spread of ted the first human victims, in or their power, and by means of the der to terrify the nation of the sword, human sacrifices, it is said, Colhuans, whose subjects they then were abolished, and a mild religion were. The custom not long after extended. wards became a familiar one. At If the ceremonies performed at first their principal deity, Mexitli, this building prove an identity of rethe god of war, received this honor; ligious rites with the Mexican, anby and by it formed a part of the other structure shows that the same worship of the other divinities. The games were known to both nations. Totonacs, who lived around what is This consists of two parts, or two now Vera Cruz, adopted the san- distinct edifices, seventy feet distant guinary worship of the Aztecs; but from one another, and to all aphad a tradition that the goddess of pearance exactly alike. The sides the fields should triumph at last over facing each other were adorned with the bloodthirstiness of the other sculptures, and “in the center of gods, and re-establish unbloody of each façade, at points directly opferings. War seems to have been posite, are the fragments of great the cause which increased the reli- stone rings.” The use to which gious ferocity of the Aztecs, and these rings and buildings were put, which by increasing their empire fully revealed itself to Mr. Stephens spread their dreadful usages. To
some time after he left Uxmal, upon such a degree it is said had their seeing a similar ruin at Chicen-itza. original character altered, that men The Mexicans, according to Hereven devoured parts of the human rera, as quoted by Mr. Stephens, victims whom the priests threw down were accustomed to play in similar the Teocallis,-a rite performed no places with balls of India rubber, doubt in honor of the god whose which they threw up into the air worship the priests were celebra- with such a force and direction as ting at the top of the pyramid, and to make them pass through stone within sight of the people below. rings fixed in the wall. He who
Such is the account to be found did this won the game, and had the in Humboldt and other authorities,*
* right to appropriate the cloaks of and received as part of the Mexican all the bystanders as his prize. history. Now what shall we say The most magnificent of all the of the existence of the same rite buildings at Uxmal, when they were among the Mayas. Did it creep in in their glory, must have been those from Mexico, or arise independent- now called the house of the nuns. ly; or must we suspect the Mexi- They stand on the highest of three can tradition, and consider the rite terraces, and are arranged in a as an antiquated one, revived in cir- quadrangle around a court. They cumstances calculated to harden, consist of nearly a hundred chamand render ferocious the national bers, constructed on the same princharacter. The latter hypothesis ciple with those of the house of the appears to us most probable, partic- governor.
governor. The fronts looking upon ularly as human sacrifices have ex- the court "are ornamented from isted under almost every system of one end to the other with the richheathenism, and then ceased at the est and most intricate carving known beginning of civilization. In South in the art of the builders of Uxmal, America the influence of the lead. presenting a scene of strange mag. ing nation, the Peruvians, was of nificence, surpassing any that is
now to be seen among the ruins.” Humboldt, u. s. I, 216. Among the decorations of one of
the façades, the most remarkable sing one above another, two of are two colossal serpents, entwined which were built upon the sides of and “encompassing nearly all the platforms, and the third on the top ornaments throughout its whole of the mound. A mile distant from length,” which was one hundred this another building was discovered and seventy three feet when the upon a terrace of fifteen hundred building was entire. One of the feet in length. In short, no where serpents has a human head in its in the world, perhaps, are clearer open jaws, and the usual addition of indications given by ancient remains feathers as a covering of their bodof a dense population, and of the ies is not wanting.
power of priests and princes to conThe ruins of Yucatan astonish centrate the energies of a nation us as much by their frequency as upon great public works. And all by their vastness and the sculptured these stones, it should be rememwork lavished upon them. With bered, were hewn, and these sculpthe exception of a voyage to the tures, excepting the few instances eastern coast, Mr. Stephens con- where they were done in stucco, fined his researches within an equi. were chiseled with instruments of lateral triangle of about eighty miles so poor a material as copper* or base ; and not more than half of this flint out of the limestone rock. area, as appears from his map, was Almost all the ruins of Yucatan thoroughly explored. A part of the
are square, and face the cardinal structures known to have existed points. One or two, however, are when the Spaniards came into the round like the temples of the god country, have disappeared; their of the winds in Mexico, which took materials being used in building that form to denote that “ round and churches or Franciscan convents. round goeth the wind, and ever conIn the general ignorance and list- tinueth its circuits." The lintels of lessness of the inhabitants, it is fair the doors and window are generally to presume that multitudes of ruins not of stone, but of the hard and still lie hid in the woods within a durable wood of the sapote tree; and moderate distance of the villages, some of these are more curiously while others may be so overgrown carved than any thing else. Here with trees and shrubs as not to be and there short columns with capi. distinguishable from hills. Now tals and bases were discovered. A within the space above named, some few paintings only have escaped thirty ruins or more have been the ravages of time. In one of the brought to light by the investiga- buildings of Chichen-itza, a numtions of our travelers ; most of which ber of rude figures appear, executed are so near one another, that a quite in the Mexican style, with head short morning walk on an open ornaments as lofty as the whole road would have brought the in- person besides. The flesh of the habitants together. Some of them men is of a reddish brown color, are more numerous and others vast and that of the women of a someer than the ruins at Uxmal. At what lighter tint. A boat with its Kabah, to which place a paved street of pure white stone according to the tradition of the Indians
* It is certain that iron was not used
on this continent. Humboldt possessran from Uxmal, there are remains
ed a Peruvian cbisel of copper, alloy. of fifteen edifices, one of which ed with one sixteenth of tin; and ob. stands on a terrace eight hundred serves that this mixture has great hardfeet long. At Zayi, a building three ness, 1.260. For the extensive diffusion stories high was found ; or to speak icas, see the citations in Bradford's Amer.
of copper instruments through both Amer. more properly, three structures ri. Antiq. p. 196.
crew appears among the representa- ernor's house at Uxmal was pierced tions, and one man is diving into for the purpose of discovering hidthe water. Nothing, however, either den passages, if any there might be. sculptured or painted, has been It is found in obscure parts of the found in Yucatan, which can com- buildings, and even within the mapare with the stucco designs at Pa. son-work, and may have been inlenque in beauty, if beauty can be tended for a charm ; for which purpredicated of the grotesque and de- pose, according to a communicaformed conceptions of the human tion from Mr. Schoolcraft, the same person, above which, it would ap- mark in white or colored clay, is appear, the Indians of this continent plied to the bodies of the dancers, could not rise.
at the festivities of our American A few hieroglyphics are noticed Indians. Mr. Stephens notices the by Mr. Stephens, but his discoveries smallness of the hand in these prints, in this line are by no means equal as corresponding with the size of to those which he made at Copan, the Maya Indian's hand at the presupon his journey into Central Amer- ent
day. ica. At Uxmal, Waldeck* speaks There is another kind of public of seeing the hieroglyphics of the works, concerning which Mr. Stetwenty days of the month, upon one phens has obtained some valuable of the façades of the house of the information. We refer to the artipuns. But of such emblems Mr. ficial means employed by the old Stephens says nothing, when speak. inhabitants, for preserving a plentiing of the same building. Another ful supply of water. There are of Waldeck's assertions is, that the scarcely any springs or brooks court of the same structure is paved throughout the district visited by our with stones six inches square, each travelers; and the waters of the of which is exquisitely cut with the rainy season sink, for the most part, figure of a tortoise. There are, he into caves in the limestone. Some goes on to say, forty-three thousand of the caves are the only resource six hundred and sixty of these, and of the present inhabitants in the dry though composed of a very hard
In one of them, visited by stone, they appear much worn. It Mr. Stephens, at a place called Bo. is singular enough, that Mr. Ste. lonchen, or the Nine Wells, the phens could find nothing of this water is at a perpendicular depth of pavement of turtles, though he spent four hundred and fifty feet, and a whole morning digging all over not reached without taking a journey the court-yard. As Waldeck could of a quarter of a mile under ground. have no motive to invent such a Another natural reservoir is known story, the probability is that he by the name of senotes, by which is found tortoises there, which may to be understood large circular pools have fallen from the sculptured with sides of rock, of unknown building into the court. Believing depth, and from fifty to two hun. them to be part of a pavement, dred feet in diameter. Two of he reached the prodigious number these are near the ruins of Chiwhich he assigns to them, merely by chen* Itza, and were probably the his arithmetic. A symbol of the cause why a city was built in that simplest kind, and of extreme fre. place. But the great population quency throughout the ruins, was which covered at least a part of the print of the human hand in red Yucatan, could not have depended paint. This was first noticed, when on these natural wells alone. A the very thick back wall of the gov
* Chi-chen means well's mouth, and * See Bradford, p. 100.
refers to these reservoirs. Vol. I.
sufficiency of water obtained by arti- supply, until the rains come on ficial means, must have been a pri. again.” mary care of a people living in such Nor ought the walls of the ana territory. Accordingly it is found cient cities to pass without notice. that the ancient Mayas excavated a At the ruins of Mayapan, once the great number of places, now called capital of the whole country, Mr. aguadas, which appear like ponds; Stephens was told by the only man most of these lie neglected, and fill- who had ever made examinations, ed with mud; but some which have that “ within a circumference of been cleared out of late, to the great three miles, ruins were found, and advantage of the neighborhood, that a strong wall once encompassed prove to be paved at the bottom, the city, the remains of which might and to be furnished with pits and still be traced through the woods." with wells, also paved, and intended On the western coast, Mr. Stephens as a last resort, after the aguada it discovered the wall of an inconsid. self should be dried up.
On remov. erable town, so entire that he was ing the mud from one of these pools, able to walk upon the top of it the neighboring planter “ found an throughout its whole length. It conartificial bottom of large flat stones.” sists of rough stones laid without These were so laid upon each other, mortar, is from eight to thirteen feet that the stones of each upper layer in thickness, and more than half a were put upon the seams of the mile long, and forms by its course layer under it, “and the interstices three sides of a rectangle, the sea were filled in with clay of red and being the fourth. At the corners brown color, of a different character there are watch-towers, still in good from any in the neighborhood. The preservation. stones were many layers deep, and The present Indians of Yucatan he did not go down to the bottom, have retained little or no knowledge lest by some accident, the founda- of the history of their fathers. As tion should be injured.” In another soon as they were subdued, they fell aguada, where the Indians had been into peaceful and quiet submission in the habit of digging pits, in order to the Spanish yoke, exchanged to collect the water which filtered their bloody rites for the forms of through the mud, “ they struck up- papacy, and their ferocious priests on an ancient well, which was found for others of milder dispositions, and to be of singular form and construc- seem as if they could not be the de. tion. It had a square platform at scendants of the race whose energy the top, and beneath was a round reared, at the cost of such a vast well, faced with smooth stones from amount of labor, such remarkable twenty to twenty-five feet deep. buildings. It is very natural, that Below this was another square plat without letters, and so far as apform, and under the latter another pears, old songs to keep up their well of less diameter, and about the recollection of past achievements, same depth. The discovery of this with a new religion, which cuts them well, induced farther excavations, off from the past national worship, which, as the whole country was in- ás completely as if they were a newterested in the matter, were prose. ly created race, and with no stinu. cuted until upward of forty wells lus whatever in their condition,-We were discovered. These were all say it is very natural that in these cleared out, and the whole aguada circumstances, all the traditions of repaired, since which it furnishes a the past should fade from their supply during the greater part of minds, that they should be ignorant the dry season, and when this fails, of the hieroglyphics upon the ruins, the wells appear, and continue the and of those other things in which the science of their forefathers consist. before the discovery of this contied. It was the policy of their con- nent, seem to have had a year of querors to obliterate all memorials of three hundred and sixty-five days. the past. The old divisions of time This length of time they divided gave way to saints' days, and the into ritual weeks of thirteen days old idols they were taught to regard each, and into eighteen months of as demons. The little that is yet twenty days; at the end of which known of the institutions of the were arranged five supplementary Mayas, excepting their architecture, days, included in no month. These is preserved by means chiefly of twenty days had their distinguishing ecclesiastics of an inquisitive turn of names and symbols, the latter of mind, who received their informa- which are of frequent occurrence tion from converts. Some of these in the hieroglyphics. The number converts also became acquainted twenty was, no doubt, suggested by with the use of letters, and left man. the fingers and toes of the human uscripts in their native language, body; the number thirteen, which treating of the usages of their fathers. seems to be known to the calendars The very few intelligent persons who of no nations out of America, was have devoted themselves to this used either on account of the time study, have derived their informa. between new and full, and between tion from Maya and Spanish manu. full and new moon, when that lu. scripts, penned not very long, pero minary is visible, or on account of haps, after the conquest, and it does its convenience in intercalating and not seem probable that much can in reckoning. For as three hun. be gleaned from Indians living near dred and sixty-five is one more than the Spaniards, who have long aban- twenty-eight times thirteen, if a doned their old superstitions. If, year began with the first day of the however, there are, as is not unlike. thirteen, the next would begin with ly, heathens of this race living in the second, and so on through thirunfrequented parts, we may hope teen years, when the cycle would that discoveries in regard to the race, go round again. At the end of fifwill yet be made by enterprising ty-two years, or four times thirteen, travelers.
occurred the intercalation of thir. Mr. Stephens was fortunate in teen days, attended with solemn meeting in the interior of Yucatan, rites. This was, in effect, the Juli. with an intelligent Spanish gentle. an calendar, only that the intercalaman, Don Pio Perez by name, who tion was made not every fourth had filled an important office at the year, but all at once, at the end of capital, and was then the principal the period, when the deficiency in magistrate at the town of Peto; and the number of days had amounted who had given himself to the study to the elementary number thirteen. of the Maya language and antiqui. It is even said by the most thorough ties. The information which he of the Mexican writers on this subcommunicated, and of which a part is ject, and seems to receive the sancgiven in the appendix, is of the inost tion of Humboldt, that at the end of valuable description. It relates to every other great period, twelve the method of reckoning time among and not thirteen days were inserted. the Indians, to their historical tradi. If this is really so, it implies retions, and their language.
markably close observation, for it According to Don Pio's account, the Maya calendar very closely re- * See the elaborate essay of Humboldt, sembles the Mexican, and beyond a 1, 276, in which we believe the Mexican
calendar, according to Gama's accurate question is to be referred to the researches, was first fully explained to the same source. The Mexicans, long learned.