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those of Palenque, others, of Copan, the arch, although in no instance, as while some are identical with those of far as we remember, is there any thing Mexico. Some of the monuments like a key-stone. The plan which the consist of pyramids, faced with hewn Indians followed was sufficiently simstones, with stairs leading to the sum- ple: the stones on both sides of a mit, where there was, probably, an doorway, for example, were made to altar, on which the priests offered their overlap each other like an inverted human victims. It is a curious cir. staircase till they met at the top, thus cumstance, that several, if not all forming a sort of angular roof. This these pyramids, are hollow, being tra- very simple invention does not prove versed by arched galleries, forming a any high degree of advancement in subterranean labyrinth. The mode the arts any more than the dome. in which Mr. Stephens made this dis- shaped roofs constructed upon the covery is as creditable to his active same principle. On the contrary, the curiosity, as illustrative of the sloth same simple device is well known and ignorance of the people. He was even to the Esquimaux, whose winter told of a marvellous cave, called La houses are constructed of blocks of Cueva de Mexicana. On entering the ice, forming a circular wall, and when cavity, instead of a natural grotto, he the building has acquired sufficient found an arched gallery leading into elevation, the blocks are made to the hill, and branching off in different overlap until they meet in the cendirections. After exploring these gal- tre of the roof. Such a species of leries, a strange incident led to a dis- architecture is more illustrative of a covery of their true nature.
certain kind of civilization, than an second visit he found in the walls of evidence of the intercourse and filia. one of the passages a hole, which ad- tion of remote tribes; and in this mitted the light, and on looking through respect, a curious, but unprofitable it he saw some plump and dusky legs, analogy may be pointed out between which clearly did not belong to los the ancient stone-roofed churches of Antiguos, which he easily recognised Ireland, and the similar temples of as those of this worthy attendants. It Yucatan, while the subterranean vaults was now found that the imagined hill- and domes of that country may be side was but an artificial mound, pos. compared to the similar underground sessing the same pyramidal character gallery near Drogheda. as the other artificial hills of the coun- There are other monuments, which, try. We have already hinted that if less calculated to arrest attention, Mr. Stephens's reading upon American are probably more interesting to the antiquities is not very extensive, and philosophic observer. The pyramids, here we have an evidence of the fact, sculptured walls, and stucco ornaas he is not aware of the general im- ments, prove the existence of a dense portance of his own discovery. Hum- population, which had made some proboldt has already shown that galleries gress in the useful arts, and whose are found in the pyramid of Cholula, energies were guided by an influential the greatest of known pyramids ; and priesthood; but there are other rewe have already stated, on the autho. mains which prove an attention and rity of Clavigero and Hervas, that foresight directed to useful purposes. similar galleries, ornamented with The remains of ancient roads, which carved work, have been found to the traversed the country, and the connorth of Mexico, in latitude 27 deg. struction of reservoirs for water,
Besides these pyramids, sometimes prove the existence of a well-regumerely immense mounds, faced with lated police and society, possessed of a stone, at other times, constructed stable organization. The aguadas, or entirely of hewn stone, the country reservoirs, form a very peculiar feaabounds in palaces and buildings of ture in the monuments of the Maya various kinds. Some of these edifices race, (Indians of Yucatan,) as they do are circular, calling to mind the Picts' not occur in any other part of Amehouses of Glenelg, in the north of rica, and originated from what may be. Scotland. What is also very remark- called a geological necessity, depending able, we find in most of these edifices on the physical structure of the counthat the Indian architects had made a try. The peninsula of Yucatan is, very near approach to the discovery of upon the whole, a level country, with
few mountains, and consequently, few rivers or lakes. The prevailiny rock appears to be limestone, broken up into fissures, and abounding in caverns, where the rain, as it falls, is drained off in subterranean channels, as is the ease in Greece, and in the limestone districts of the west of Ireland.* The once teeming population of Yucatan depended for a supply of water partly on natural, and partly on artificial means: the former derived from the accumulation of water in the natural grottoes ; and the latter, by collecting the rain in their artificial pools, or aguadas. That natural wells and aguadas formed an important consideration with the ancient Mayas is obvious, even from the names of their ruined towns; the termination chen, which so often occurs, signifying a well, or reservoir ; and thus we have Becanchen, the running well, Bolonchen, the nine wells ; Chichen, the well's mouth, &c. The following quotation from Mr. Stephens will give an idea of the nature of these aguadas, as well as of the Turkish indolence and barbarism of the Spaniards, who have long neglected this valuable resource in so dry a country. In 1835, Senhor Trego, an intelligent man, formed the opinion that he could obtain a supply of water by clearing out one of these neglected aguadas.
tom of large flat stones. These were laid upon each other, and the interstices were filled in with clay of a red and brown colour, of a different character from any in the neighbourhood. The stones were many layers deep, and he did not go down to the bottom, lest by some accident the foundation should be injured.
* Near the centre he discovered four ancient wells. These were five feet in diameter, faced with smooth stone, not covered with cement, eight yards deep, and at the time of the discovery, were also filled with mud. Besides these, he found along the margin four hundred casimbas, or pits, being holes into which the water filtered, and which, with the wells, were intended to furnish a supply when the aguada was dry.
“ The whole bottom of the aguada, the wells and pits were cleaned out. Senhor Trego portioned off the pits among the families, to be preserved and kept in order by them, and the dry basin was then given up to the floods of the rainy season. It so happened that the next year was one of unusual scarcity, and the whole country around was perfectly destitute of water. That year Senhor Trego said more than a thousand horses and mules came to this aguada, some even from the rancho of Santa Rosa, eighteen miles distant, with barrels on their backs, and carried away water. Families established them. selves along the banks ; small shops for the sale of necessaries were opened ; and the butcher had his shambles with meat. The aguada supplied them all, and when this failed, the wells and pits held out abundantly till the rainy season came on, and enabled them to return to their several homes."-Vol. ii. p. 211-13.
“ He believed it had been used by the ancients as a reservoir, and took advantage of the dry season to make an examination, which satisfied him that his supposition was correct. For many years it had been abandoned, and it was then covered three or four feet deep with mud. At first he was afraid to undertake with much vigour the work of clearing it out, for the prejudices of the people were against it, and they feared, that by disturbing the aguada, the scanty supply then furnished might be cut off. In 1836 he procured a permission from the government, by great exertions secured the co-operation of all the Ranchos and Haciendas for leagues around, and at length, the enlisting them all fairly in the task at one time, he had at work fifteen hundred Indians, and eighty superintendents. On clearing out the mud, he found an artificial bot.
Another kind of remains are the traces of ancient roads, which, however, are rarely seen, on account of the forests with which the country is now overgrown.
“ A short distance beyond,” says Mr. Stephens, “is one of the most interesting monuments of antiquity in Yucatan. It is a broken platform, or roadway of stone, about eight feet wide, and eight or ten inches high, crossing the road, and running off into the wood on both sides. I have before referred to it, as called by Indians Sackbey, which means, in the Maya language, a
Every one in Ireland knows the turloughs or basins in the limestone, which are pools in the winter, while the water is drained off through the fissures in the dry season.
paved way of pure white stone. The parts nothing This system was Indians say it traversed the country carried to its maximum by the Incas, from Kabah to Uxmal, and that on it
and subsequently adopted by the Jesuits. couriers travelled, bearing letters to and from the lords of those cities, writ.
It was more mitigated in Mexico, ten on leaves, or on the bark of trees.
still more, perhaps, in Yucatan, and It is the only instance in which we have
scarcely existed among the bold Aranfound among the Indians any thing like
cans of Chili. In the wild hunting a tradition, and the universality of this tribes the system is inverted, and the legend was illustrated by the circum- individual is every thing, and the comstances attending our arrival. While munity of little power or influence. we were standing upon the road, an old There are two curious circumIndian came up from the other direc
stances first brought to notice by Mr. tion, bending under a load, who, on
Stephens one of them we confess crossing it, stopped, and, striking his stick against the stones, uttered the
sufficiently mysterious, we mean the words Sackbey Kabah Uxmal."-Vol. ii.
impression of mano colorado, or red hand, which is found on many of the
buildings of Yucatan. That this hand In confirmation of this tradition, was impressed by the builders of these Torquemada, one of the older Ameri- edifices admits of no doubt, as Mr. can historians, informs us that the Stephens observed them on the mortar island of Cozumel was the chief seat after a portion of the wall had been of idolatry to the people of Yucatan, and visited by pilgrims from all quarters. This island, so interesting
“Over the cavity left in the mortar even in the history of the Spanish
by the removal of the stone, were two
conspicuous marks which afterwards conquests, was the Rome or Benares
stared us in the face in all the ruined of the country. The same authority buildings of the country. They have informs us, that to facilitate these pil- the prints of a red hand with the thumb grimages the whole peninsula was and fingers extended, not drawn or intersected by paved roads leading to- painted, but stamped by the living hand, wards the island of Cozumel.: It is a the pressure of the palm upon the stone. remarkable fact that before the use of
He who made it stood before it alive as posts, or the existence of convenient we did, and pressed his hand, moistened roads, the people of America, in Peru,
with red paint, hard against the stone. Mexico, and Yucatan, had establish
The seams and creases of the palm were
clear and distinct in the impression. ments of that kind equal to what we
There was somethiny life-like about it find in the Roman empire in the days that waked exciting thoughts, and alof the Antonines, or to what Spain most presented the image of the de. possesses at the present day. In all parted inhabitant hovering about the these relicts of Indian civilization, building. There was one striking feaand in all these social institutions, we ture about these hands—they were exare struck with a remarkable feature ceedingly small. Either of our own which prevails throughout America.
spread over and completely hid them; We perceive every where a system
and this was interesting from the fact
that we had ourselves remarked and and arrangement even in the minutest
heard remarked by others, the smallness things—in the police of their cities ; of the hands and feet as a striking feathe different trades and occupations ture in the physical conformation of the were classified with the most rigorous Indians of the present day."— Vol. i. accuracy: even the food of the chil. dren was proportioned to their age, with no regard to constitution or In some cases, however, the imhealth; the offences of the children pressions are larger than the usual were estimated by the physical act,
size of the Indian hand, for when and a defined amount of chastisement speaking of another ruin Mr. Stephens administered with undiscriminating
informs us that uniformity. It was the same in their public works ; they were the aggre
“ The prints were larger than any he gate result of the combined action
had seen. In several places I measured
them with my own, opening the fingers of so many separate portions, so to
to correspond with those on the wall. speak, of physical force; the com- The Indians said it was the hand of the munity was every thing, its individual master of the building."-Vol. ii. p. 46.
It is impossible to speculate on so wards Onohualco or Yucatan, to the obscure a topic, except in so far as to south-east. state that as the hand marks, with one A curious circumstance mentioned exception, are small like those of the by Mr. Stephens deserves notice. In Indians, it amounts to a physical de some vases found in ancient tombs, monstration that neither the Jews, arrow heads of obsidian were disPhænicians, nor the followers of Prince
As there are no volcanoes Madoc, were the builders of these in Yucatan to produce obsidian, this palaces or temples, as the hands of circumstance, as Mr. Stephens rethe people of Europe and Western marks, obviously proves the existence Asia are larger than those of the of an intercourse with Mexico, where Indians. If Mr. Stephens be cor- the above-named material is found in rectly informed, the print of the red abundance. If we mistake not this hand is still known among the wild opinion may be proved in another way. Indians of North America. Mr. Cat. Columbus in his last and unhappy voylan possesses a Mandan tent on which age had all but discovered the peninsula are two prints of the red hand. He of Yucatan, when by a strange fatality was also informed that it is constantly he fell in with a very large trading to be seen on the skins of the wild canoe, which must have sailed from animals purchased by the traders on Yucatan on a commercial enterprise. the Rocky Mountains.
Among the trading goods there were There is another analogy, however, stone razors, (navajos de pedernal) which has escaped Mr. Stephens, and and also wooden swords, which for a which has a more important bearing cutting edge were armed with the on the red hand. Quetzalcoatl, the same razors. These stone razors priest and lawgiver of the Toltecs, were doubtless made of obsidian, and whose name signifies feathered ser- procured from Mexico by way of pent, after leaving his people, tra- Tobasco, then carried along the coast velled, as the tradition goes, to the by the traders of Yucatan. east, to his native land, and toward We would willingly, if our space Yucatan. On his journey he im permitted, follow Mr. Stephens in his printed the marks of his hands upon explorations and adventures, especially a rock, and the impression was vene- to the island of Cozumel, interesting rated at the time of the conquest; in a double point of view as the may not this be the origin of the metropolis of the ancient Maya super
mano colerado ?" The emblem of stition, and also as the place of renthis personage, a snake covered with
dezvous of the early Spanish adventufeathers, is not uncommon on the rers, Grijalva and others, and the monuments of Yucatan, and may be starting place of Cortez on his way seen on several of Mr. Stephens' to Mexico. We must, however, pass drawings. These circumstances, in on to make a few observations on the as far as they are of any value, tend antiquity and uses of these edifices, to the conclusion that the inhabitants which are found in such vast numof Yucatan and the Mexican valley bers every where throughout Yucatan. were as civilized as the more modern We fully agree with Mr. Stephens Toltecs. The native country of the that they were built by the ancesMexicans and Toltecs was beyond doubt tors of the present Indians, and also to the north-west. Their legislator that they were used as dwellings or in returning to his native abode tra- places of worship up to the period of velled in the opposite direction, to- the Spanish conquest.
* The Mayas of Yucatan appear to have been an active and commercial people. The canoe seen by Columbus was as long as a galley and eight feet in breadth. `In the middle there was a sort of tent covered with palm leaves, and under it were their families and merchandise. The goods consisted of cotton stuffs variously coloured, shirts without sleeves, swords with edges of stones fastened by means of pitch ; hatchets, plates, and rattles of copper ; crucibles for melting copper, and cacao. Their provisions were bread of Indian corn, roots, and a kind of beer made from maise.
Spaniards discovered this country it after its conquest. He tells us the was densely peopled and clear of town of Merida received its name on forests, which now conceal these build
account of its magnificent buildings, ings and often render their discovery the finest in the whole extent of the very much a matter of chance ; it Indies. We know not who built them, is therefore not surprising that the but it appears they are as old as the early adventurers were struck with Chistian era, for says he, “there are the beauty and multiplicity of the trees growing upon them as great in buildings which every where met their size as those at their base. This eye. That they were used as places objection, however, has been forestalled of worship is equally certain, the by Mr. Stephens, who has proved that graphic old writer Bernal Diaz, who the ceibo tree, the commonest in the had a share in most of the early con- country, attains to a very great size quests and voyages, and who may within twenty years.
At the same be called the Froissart of America, time that we fully agree with Mr. describes the idols which he saw upon Stephens, as to the fact of the buildthem, and the marks of recent blood ings of Yucatan having been erected of the cruel sacrifices. What is still
by the ancestors of the present Indians more to the point, while proceeds and occupied by them even to a later ing with Cortez to the conquest of period than the time of Columbus, it Mexico, he saw the Indians worship- does not follow that the period of ping on the Cuez or temples of Cozu- their construction is very recent; on mel, and he assisted in rolling the idols the contrary, we think that they are of down the steps of the pyramid, and in a remote antiquity, very probably anplacing a cross and the picture of the terior to the entrance of the Toltec virgin
and child in their stead. The and Mexican tribes into Mexico. earved wood which Mr. Stephens ob- There is a remarkable circumstance served in many of these temples and connected with the history of Yucatan, also the paintings still fresh on their which proves that a portion of its walls afford evidence in favour of the people retained their ancient rites, and same conclusion. In many parts of remained secluded from the notice of the country, several years after the the Spaniards for one hundred and conquest, the Indians continued to
sixty years after the invasion of Monworship by stealth in the old temples. tejo, until, in the year 1695, they were Father Cogolludo, who wrote more discovered and subdued. The history than a century after the conquest, of this concealed people may be traced tells us that he found traces of recent
in a tolerably satisfactory manner, and idolatry at Uxmal. He found in one of their ancestors identified with one of the temples offerings of cacao and the most improved and influential copal, used by the Indians as incense, tribes which inhabited Yucatan from a burned there but a short time before ; period commencing long before the an evidence of some superstition or discovery of America. The ruins of idolatry recently committed by the Chichen, or Chichen Itza, so called Indians of that place. He adds, “God
from the name of the people who built help those poor Indians for the devil
them, are among the most splendid deceives them very easily.” The described by Mr. Stephens, whether same circumstance is brought out by from their extent, or from the variety Mr. Stephens, who found in a law
of their ornaments. According to trapaper relating to Uxmal, and bearing ditions which have been preserved, and the date of 1673
which appear to be genuine as any of the
indigenous accounts of early American “ The property is granted to a Spa- history, the whole peninsula of Yucatan niard that idolatry may be discouraged
was formerly ruled by a single sovereign. by his residence upon it. It is stated
About one hundred and fifty years bethat in those places the Indians were worshipping the devil in the ancient
fore the conquest, a revolution took buildings, which they do every day
place, and the dynasty of Tutul Xiu notoriously and publicly-Vol. i. p. 323. lost their supremacy, and Mayapan,
the capital of their empire, was deThe only evidence against this con- stroyed by the rebels. In consequence clusion is that of Father Bienvenida, of events springing from this insurwho lived in the country immediately rection, the Itzas of Chichen emi.