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Often, in entering the disturbed villages of Central Ame- | astronomical symbols have been identified with those of rica, among intoxicated Indians and swaggering white the Mexicans. They had also their picture-writings, called men, all armed, Mr. Stevens felt a degree of uneasiness. analshes, which were executed upon the bark of trees, The faces that looked upon him seemed scowling and sus folded up in the same shape as books. But they had no picious; he always apprehended insult, and frequently was written language. The idioms now in use were put into not disappointed. But the Yucatecos looked at him with their present shape by their conquerors, from sounds reprecuriosity, without distrust; every face bore a welcome, and senting things, gathered from the lips of the Indians. gave him a friendly greeting. A stranger on his first arrival in the country is at a loss
Modern CITIES OF YUCATAN. where to place the Indian in the scale of social life. He sees him mingling with the whites without distinction. The country is divided into five districts, namely, that of To have Indian blood is no reproach; but there is an
Campeachy to the westward, Izamal northward, Merida, appearance of apathy in his looks and actions, which seems
which lies in the north-west corner, Valladolid in the northto carry with it the signs of a broken, or at least a subdued east, and Tekax in the centre, southerly. Each district spirit - resting upon him like a melancholy vision, a dreamy has a chief city of the same name. remembrance of better days. Their features remind one
We have already mentioned the early foundation of of those of the Asiatic more than of any other. Their
Merida. Its present population is about twenty-threc stature is short and thick-set, having but little resemblance thousand. It stands upon a great plain of limestone rock, to that of the North American Indian. It is said they and the temperature and climate are very uniform. The have no pastimes except the fiestas of superstition. They general aspect of the city is Moorish, as it was built at a seldom dance or sing. Their leisure hours are spent in the
time when the Moorish style prevailed in Spanish archihammocks, or else in silently squatting about the corners
tecture. The houses are large, generally of stone, one of the streets. They wear the outside show of freedom,
story high, with balconies to the windows, and large courtbut are degraded to the condition of serfs. Always in yards. In the centre of the city is a great square of about debt, and their creditors, by the law of the land, have a
six hundred feet. Eight streets lead from this square, claim upon their services until their debts are cancelled. two in the direction of each cardinal point. The streets Originally portioned out as slaves, the Indians remain as are distinguished in a manner peculiar to Yucatan. In Veneration for masters is the first lesson they
the angle of the corner house, and on the top, stands a learn, and these masters, the descendants of the terrible painted wooden figure of an elephant, a bull, a flamingo, conquerors, in centuries of uninterrupted peace, have lost
or some other visible object, and the street is called by the all the fierceness of their ancestors.
name of this object. On one corner there is the figure The attachment of the Indian to his home a striking
of an old woman with large spectacles on her nose, and feature of his character. He is rarely harsh to his wife,
that is called the street of the old woman. As the great and the devotion of the wife to her husband is always á
mass of the inhabitants are unable to read, lettered signs subject of remark. They share each other's pleasures, as
would have been of no use; but every Indian knows the well as their labours; go up together with all their chil- sign of an elephant, a bull, or a flamingo. The middle dren to some village fiesta, and one of the most amicting
of the street is the lowest, forming a passage to carry off incidents in their lot is a necessity that takes the hus
the water. Candles are used for lighting the city; but, of band from his home. When a death occurs in a family, course, for that purpose are alınost useless. the neighbours assemble, as at an Irish wake; but, in some
The distinguishing character of Merida, as of all the respects, the ceremony is different in the case of grown-up
cities of Spanish America, is in its churches. The cathepersons, and that of children. In the latter, as they believe
dral is a structure that would attract the attention of the that a child is without sin, and that God takes it imme traveller in any part of the world. It has well-propordiately to himself, the death is a subject of rejoicing, and
tioned domes, pinnacles, turrets, and lofty windows, and the night is passed in card-playing, jesting, and story-tell- occupies, with the bishop's palace, one entire side of the ing. But in the case of grown-up persons, as they are not
large square. All religions are tolerated; but the Roman so sure what becomes of the spirit, they have no jesting, or
Catholic is protected. story-telling, and only play cards. Mr. Stevens adds the
The city of CAMPEACHY has not the clean appearance o. generous reflection, “that though all this seems unfeeling Merida, owing to the extreme humidity that accompanies enough, yet we must not judge others by rules known the sea winds; but it displays more wealth and taste. The only to ourselves. Whatever the ways of hiding or ex
streets are narrow and irregular, and have a natural pavepressing it, the stream of natural affection runs deep in
ment of flat stone, which is much broken, and makes an every bosom."
exceedingly rough route for carriages. Campeachy is built Grains of cacao (chocolate) circulate among the Indians entirely of a calcareous hewn stone, and stands upon a founas money. Every merchant, or vender of eatables, has a
dation of the same material. This rock extends throughpile of these grains, which they are constantly counting
out the whole peninsula, retreating from the sea-shore and exchanging with the Indians.
There is no copper
with a gradual elevation, until it reaches the height of five money in Yucatan ; silver is the basis of the circulation, of hundred feet, the level of Sierra Alta, near Tekax. It was which the Spanish sixpence is the smallest coin. 250
this stony deposit from some primæval ocean that furnished grains of cacao are considered equal to the sixpence; of
material before the conquest, for the construction of those these, five grains are the smallest amount ever received in stupendous temples, and other magnificent buildings, that trade*. This curious currency has always a real value, and
now constitute the ruins of the country. is regulated by the quantity of cacao in the market. But Campeachy rests upon a subterranean cavern, supposed its use illustrates a page in the history of the country.
to have served the original inhabitants as catacombs for When the Spaniards first made their way into the inte
their dead. rior of Yucaian, they found no gold or silver, or any
VALLADOLID was founded at an early period of the conother species of metal coins, but only grains of cacao; and quest, and was built in a style commensurate with the it is a strange circumstance that while the inanners and lofty pretension of the conquerors. It bears the marks of customs of the Indians have undergone an immense ancient grandeur, but is now going to decay. The roads change, while their cities have been destroyed, their religion leading to it, and the very streets, are overgrown with dishonoured, their princes swept away, and their whole
bushes. The public and largest buildings are all more or government modified by foreign laws, no experiment has
less dilapidated. The same melancholy tokens are visible yet been made upon their currency.
in the private houses. In the principal street stand large The same native language is in use throughout the whole buildings, roofless, without windows, or doors, and with peninsula, and is spoken even by the whites. It is called grass and bushes growing from crevices in the walls; while, the Maya tongue; it is very barren of expression, and, to
here and there, as if in mockery of human pride, a tottering a stranger, difficult of pronunciation. The Maya now
front has blazoned upon it the coat of arms of some proud spoken, partakes very little of the ancient language of the Castilian, distinguished among the daring soldiers of the country, more especially in the neighbourhood of large conquest, whose race is now entirely unknown. cities and towns. The ancient inhabitants are well known
The number of inhabitants in Valladolid is estimated at to have been far advanced in civilization when first dis. about fifteen thousand. The place is noted throughout covered. Their calendars have been deciphered, and their the peninsula for the salubrity of its climate; and no
betier evidence need be adduced, than the simple fact of . In some of the provinces of the Mexican Confederacy, pieces of soap
there not being a single doctor, or apothecary, in the whole pass as a circulating medium, and lose none of their estimated value by
district. a few washings.
Izamai. is celebrated throughout Yucatan for its fair. I struction of the ruins is the superstition of the Indians, As in the other towns, the principal feature is its church, who believe that all the ornaments are animated and walk at which is built upon an artificial and ancient elevation. In night. In the daytime it is thought they can do no harm, the turret
, Mr. Norman discovered a rare piece of mecha- and for ages, the Indians have been in the habit of breaking nism-a live Indian stationed beside the clock to strike the and disfiguring them, for the purpose of quieting their hours. The view of Izamal, with its elevated church, and wandering spirits." the flat-rooted Moorish houses, with the trees of the tropics The long, low, and narrow building, called the Casa del interspersed, and the tall cocoa, varying the surface of the Gubernador, is constructed entirely of stone. Up to the extended country in the distance, presents a charming cornice, which runs round it, and along its whole length, scene rarely to be met with in Yucatan,
the façade presents a smooth surface; above it is one solid TEKAX stands at the foot of a mountain. The streets mass of rich, complicated, and elaborately sculptured ornaare wide, the houses large and in fine order. There is an ments. The grandest ornament, which imparts a richness appearance of life and business in the city which distin- to the whole façade, is over the centre door-way. It shows guishes it from the listless character of the preceding places. the remaining portion of a figure seated on a throne, from These five cities, Merida, Campeachy, Valladolid, Izamal, whose lofty head-dress proceed enormous plumes of pendent and Tekax, will serve as so many fixed points from which feathers. The roof is flat, and had been covered with we will now proceed to investigate the antiquities of Yu cenient. The walls are of the most durable kind of limecatan,
stone, and the finish of the angles of the blocks is as smooth RUINS OF MAYAPAN.
as if the material had been cut with a sharp knife. The Mayapan, the capital of the fallen kingdom of Maya, lies
back wall, throughout its whole length of 270 feet, is nine ten leagues to the south-east of Merida. According to the feet thick of solid masonry; The ceiling forms a kind of best accounts, the region of country now called Yucatan, triangular arch without the key-stone. Next to the buildwas known to the natives, at the time of the Spanish in- ing itself, and hardly less extraordinary and imposing, are vasion, by the name of Maya. The name Yucatan was
the three great terraces which hold it aloft, and give it the given by the Spaniards, but the origin of the word is not grandeur of its position. exactly known. The natives to this day call their land by
At the northermost corner of the platform of the second the softer name of Maya. One language, called the Maya,
terrace of the Casa del Gubernador, stands the House of the extended throughout the whole peninsula ; and though the Turtles, so called from a bead-work of turtles running country, at the time of its conquest, was split into petty round the cornice. This building has a frontage of 94 feet lordships, at an earlier period of its history the whole long and 34 feet deep. It wants the rich and gorgeous land of Maya was united under one head. This great chief decorations of the former structure, but is distinguished for held the populous city of Mayapan as the seat of the its neatness and beauty of proportions, and its chasteness government. The tributary lords threw off their
yoke and simplicity of ornament. The interior is filled up with about one hundred years before the arrival of the Euro- the ruins of the roof, which had lately fallen in. With a peans, and destroyed the city of Mayapan. The remains
few more returns of the rainy season it will be destroyed, of the wall that encompassed the place, can still be traced and, perhaps, in the whole continent of America, there at intervals through the woods. The main feature of the will be no such monument of the purity and simplícity of ruins is an artificial mound, 60 feet high, and 100 feet aboriginal art. square at the base, overgrown with trees, but retaining its
On a line with the back of the Casa del Gubernador, original proportions. Four grand staircases, each 25 feet rises a high and nameless mound. It was covered with wide, ascended to an esplanade within six feet of the sum
trees and a thick growth of herbage, which gave a gloomimit, and from this the top was reached by smaller steps.
ness to its grandeur of proportions, and but for its regulaThese led to a plain stone platform, 15 feet square, and was
rity, and a single belt of sculptured stones barely visible at probably the mound of sacrifice, on which the priests, in
the top, it would have passed for a wooded and grass-grown the sight of the assembled people, cut out the hearts of
hill. Its vast sides were all cased with stone, in some human victimis.
places highly ornamented, but completely hidden from Mr. Stevens, after a careful exploration of both, con
view by the foliage. The height of this mound is 65 feet, cluded that the ruins of Mayapan bear the same general and it measured at the base 300 feet by 200 feet. On the character as those at Uxmal *. They were erected by the top was a platform of solid stone, three feet high, and 75 feet same builders, but are, probably, of older date, and have square. The great structure seemed raised only for the suffered more from the corrosion of the elements, or been purpose of holding aloft this platform. Probably it had visited more harshly by the destroying hand of man.
been the scene of grand religious ceremonies. It com
mands a full view of every other building. From it, alone, UXMAL.
is fully felt the sublimity of these mysterious ruins. Further particulars respecting this city were obtained by
The House of the Nuns, at Uxmal', is quadrangular, Mr. Stevens during his second visit, which will complete the with a court yard in the centre. It stands on the highest description given in the foregoing volume. Uxmal formed of three terraces. Its front is 279 feet long, and above the the centre of a dispersed and scattered population, who re
cornices, from one end to the other, it is ornamented with sorted to it for the observance of pagan rites at a distance sculpture. In the centre is a gateway 10 feet wide, spanned from the eyes of the Spaniards, for one hundred and forty by a triangular arch, and leading to a court-yard. On each years after the foundation of Merida. Nothing whatever is side of this gateway are four doorways, opening to apartknown concerning its earlier history. Its name signifies ments averaging 24 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 17 feet “times past,” in the Maya tongue.
high to the top of the arch, but having no communication The soil about Uxmal is rich, principally of red sandy with each other. The building that forms the right or loam, capable of producing corn, tobacco, and almost any eastern side of the quadrangle, is 158 feet long; that on the other produce that the limited industry of its inhabitants left, is 173 feet long, and the range at the end of the quamay be disposed to cultivate. The face of the land is some drangle, measures 264 feet. These three ranges of buildings what undulating. There are ponds in the vicinity, which have no doorways outside, but the exterior of each is a together with the rank vegetation that borders them, dead wall, and above the cornice, all are ornamented with produce considerable sickness during the autumnal months. the same rich and elaborate sculpture. It was, probably, on account of its insalubrity; that the Passing through the arched gateway, we enter a noble Spaniards founded no city in the neighbourhood, which court-yard, with four great façades looking down upon it, rendered it the last stronghold of native superstition.
each ornamented from one end to the other with tlie most Su rapid is vegetation in Yucatan, that structures which intricate carving known in the art of the builders of Uxmal, were bare at the time of Mr. Stevens' first visit, were now presenting a scene of strange magnificence, surpassing any covered with high grass, bushes, and young trees twenty that is now seen among its ruins. The whirring flight of feet in height. “Vines were rioting on the façades, and the quail alone disturbed the silence and desolation of the mounds, terraces, and ruins were a mass of destroying ver- place. The façade to the left of the visiter, entering the dure. A strong and vigorous nature was struggling for court-yard, was the most richly ornamented. It is 173 feet mastery over art, wrapping the city in its suffocating em- long, and is distinguished by two colossal serpents entwined, braces, and burying it from sight. It seemed as if the running through and encompassing all the ornaments grave was closing over a friend, and we had arrived barely throughout its whole length. A portion of this range is rein time to take our farewell. Another cause of the de- presented in the first engraving in our present number. The • See Saturday Magazine, Vol. XXI., p. 178
• See Saturday Magazine, Vol. XXI., p. 174.
tail of one serpent is held nearly over the head of the other; “ The high priest, upon the occasion of sacrifice, had in the extremity of the tail is marked, probably to indicate a his hand a broad and sharp knife made of flint. Another rattlesnake, with which species of serpent the country priest carried a wooden collar wrought like a snake. The abounds. The lower serpent has its monstrous jaws open, persons to be sacrificed were conducted one by one up the and within them is a human head, the face of which is steps, naked, and as soon as laid on the stone had the collar distinctly visible on the stone. The bodies of the serpents put upon their necks, and the four priests took hold of the are covered with feathers. So late as the year 1835 this hands and feet. Then the high priest with wonderful dexsuperb façade stood entire ; the serpents were seen encir- terity ripped up the breast, tore out the heart, reeking, with cling every ornament in the building.
his hands, and showed it to the sun, offering him the heart The façade at the end of the court-yard, and fronting the and steam that came from it.” gate of entrance, stands on a terrace 20 feet high. The The body of the slaughtered victim was then hurled ascent is by a grand but ruined staircase 95 feet wide. It has down the steep stairs of the pyramid, and the mutilated thirteen door-ways, over each of which arose a perpendicular remains were gathered up by the savages beneath, who preturret-like wall intended to add to the grandeur and effect pared with them a cannibal repast to complete the work of the composition. The whole great façade, including the of abomination. turrets, four of which remain, is crowded with coinplicated
Zayi. and elaborate sculpture, conveying an idea of vastness and magnificence rather than of taste and refinement. The Not many leagues from Uxmal, in the south-easterly façade upon the right of the court-yard is the most entire. direction, are the ruins of Zayi, or Salli. These are situated It'is, too, the most chaste and simple in design and orna in the midst of a succession of beautiful hills, forming ment. All these façades were painted; traces of the colour around them, on every side, an enchanting landscape. An are still visible, and the reader may imagine what the effect | immense pile of white stone, called by the Indians the Casa must have been when all this building was complete, and Grande, adds to the loneliness that surrounds them. After according to its supposed design, in its now desolate door- felling a vast number of trees which had buried the edifice ways stood noble Maya maidens, like the vestal virgins of in obscurity, Mr. Stevens discovered it to consist of three the Romans, to cherish and keep alive the sacred fire burn- stories or ranges. In the centre are the remains of a grand ing in the temples.
staircase, 32 feet wide, rising to the platform of the highest From the House of the Nuns the traveller descends to terrace. The lowest of the three ranges is 265 feet in front, the House of the Dwarf, or House of the Diviner. This is by 120 in depth. It had sixteen doorways opening into not exactly pyramidal, for though it diminishes as it rises, apartments of two chamhers each. The branches of fallen its ends are rounded. A representation of this structure trees so encumbered the interior, that after these had been accompanies the present paper. At the height of 60 feet is a chopped in pieces and beaten down with poles, only a small solid projecting platform, on which stands a long and narrow portion of it could be seen. The doorways on the second building laden with ornaments more rich and elaborate terrace have two columns in each, roughly made with and carefully executed, than those of any other edifice in square capitals, resembling those of the Doric order, but Uxmal. A great doorway opens upon the platform. The wanting the grandeur that belongs to Grecian architecture. emblems of life and death appear on the walls in close The two lower ranges had been elaborately ornamented juxta-position, confirming the belief of the existence of the with sculpture, the third and highest being plain. The worship practised by the Egyptians and all other eastern top of this building commands a grand view of the undunations as prevalent among the people of Uxmal. Without lating woodlands. doubt this lofty building was the great temple of idols Towards the north-west, crowning the highest hill, was a worshipped by the people, and consecrated by their most lofty mount covered with trees, and the remains of ruins. mysterious rites.
| In front of the Casa Grande, at the distance of 500 yards
stands an edifice which at first sight would appear to be a Peruvian mummies had likewise the same remarkable cotton-factory. It is built upon a terrace, and may be con- | delicacy of the hands and feet with the skeleton found at sidered as consisting of two separate structures, one above Ticul. Dr. Morton, an American physician, who made the other. The lower one does not differ from the ranges these comparisons, examined nearly four hundred skulls of above described, but along the middle of the roof, unsup- | individuals belonging to the ancient nations of Mexico and ported and entirely independent of everything else, rises a | Peru, and of skulls dug from the mounds in the western perpendicular wall to the height of about 30 feet. It is of districts of the United States. He found them all formed stone, two feet in thickness, having oblong openings through upon the same model, and conforming in a remarkable it, about two feet long and six inches wide, like small win- | degree to the skeleton of Ticul. dows. It had been covered with stucco, which had fallen In the ecclesiastical district of Chemax, which is situated off and left a face of rough stone and mortar. It seemed to the east of Valladolid, and sixteen leagues from the coast, built merely to puzzle posterity.
the Indians, while engaged in excavating some ancient About the distance of a mile south-south-west of the mounds for stone for building, found three skeletons, but all Casa Grande, the whole intermediate region being desolate unfortunately so much decayed, that in attempting to and overgrown, may still be seen upon a large but broken remove them they fell to pieces. At the head of the skeleterrace, another range of ruins, 170 feet by 84 feet, which tons were two large vases of terra-cotta, with covers of the contains sixteen apartments. And probably other buildings same material. In one of these was a large collection of lie buried in the woods.
Indian ornaments, beads, stones, and two carved shells. The very name of Zayi, till Mr. Stevens' visit, had not | The carving on the shells is in bas-relief, and very perfect. been uttered among civilized men, and was unknown in The other vase was filled nearly to the top with arrowMerida. It was strange and almost incredible that with heads, not of fint, but of obsidian, which is a natural these extraordinary ruins before them the natives never volcanic glassy substance. As there are no volcanoes in bestowed upon them one passing thought. The question Yucatan from which obsidian can be procured, the discovery who built them never appears to have crossed their minds. of these proves intercourse with the volcanic regions of The great name of Montezuma", which had gone beyond Mexico. But beside these, and more interesting and imthem to the Indians of Honduras, had never reached their portant than all, on the top of these arrow-heads lay a ears, and to every question the same dull answer was penknife with a horn handle. The horn handle was much received, Quien sabe? Who knows? They, however, be- | decayed, and the iron or steel was worn and rusted. This lieve them haunted, and said that on Good Friday of every penknife could never have been made in the country. How year music was heard among the ruins,
came it in an Indian sepulchre? Mr. Stevens answers, that RUINS AROUND TICUL.
when the fabrics of Europe and this country came together,
the white man and the red man had met. The figures A little to the south of Mayapan lies the modern Ticul,
carved on the shells, which are similar to some representafrom the towers of whose church it is said can be counted tions on the vase found in the sepulchre of Ticul, identify in the dry season, when the trees are bare of foliage, as many
the crumbling bones with the builders of those mysterious as thirty-six pyramidal mounds, every one of which had
cities that now lie shrouded in the forest, and those bones once held aloft some building or temple. The ruins that were laid in their grave after a penknife had found its way stand nearest to the village of Ticul have served for genera- |
from Europe into Yucatan. The inference is reasonable, if tions as a quarry to furnish the inhabitants with building
not irresistible, that at the time of the conquest, and afterstone, and are consequently too dilapidated to be described.
ward, the Indians were actually living in and occupying The remains of Uxmal had been searched in vain for
those very cities on whose remains we now gaze with wonancient sepulchres, but the inquiry was continued with
der. A penknife (one of the petty presents distributed by success at Ticul. An entire stone structure, with sides
the Spaniards,) reached the hands of a cacique, who, far four feet high, was selected for inspection by Mr. Stevens.
removed from the capital, died in his native town, and was The inner side of the outer wall and the whole interior
buried with the rites and ceremonies transmitted by his was found to be composed of loose earth and stones, with
fathers. A penknife is at this day an object of curiosity some layers of large flat stones, very roughly put together. and admiration among the Indians, and perhaps in the After much labour a skeleton was Jiscovered. It had no whole of Yucatan there is not one in the hands of a native. covering or envelope of any kind; the earth had been
At the time of the conquest it was doubtless considered thrown in upon it as in a common grave, and as this was
precious, worthy of being buried with the heirlooms of its removed, the skeleton fell to pieces. It was in a sitting
owner, and of accompanying him to the world of spirits. posture, with its face towards the setting sun. The knees were bent against the stomach, the arms doubled from the
The Ruins of KABAI, elbows, and the hands clasping the neck or supporting the Lying to the east of Uxmal, were first visited by Mr. Stehead. “It was strangely interesting,” says Mr. Stevens, vens. The first object that commands the traveller's eye is “ with the ruined structures towering around us, after a
a grand, picturesque, and ruined pyramid, covered by trees, lapse of unknown ages, to bring to light these buried bones.
and towering above every other structure in the plain. It Whose were they? The Indians were excited, and con
is about 180 feet square at the base, and rises to the height versed in low tones. They are the bones of our kinsman,' of 80 feet. The steps are all fallen, and the sides present a said they, and “What will our kinsman say at our dragging surface of loose stones, difficult to climb, except on one side, forth his bones?'”
where the ascent is rendered practicable by the aid of trees, In collecting the fragments of the skeleton, one of the The top offers a grand view. Indians picked up a small white object, which would have
At the distance of 300 or 400 yards is a terrace 20 feet escaped any but an Indian's eye. It was made of deer's
high, the edge of which is overgrown with trees. The top horn, about two inches long, sharp at the point, with an of this forms a platform 200 feet high, and 142 feet deep, eye at the other end. They all called it a needle, and the on the right of which stands a lofty ruined structure. One reason of their immediate and unhesitating opinion was the | immense wall runs from the back of this ruin perpendifact that the Indians of the present day use needles of the cular to the bottom of the terrace; and in the centre of the saine material. One of the Indians jocosely said that the platform a range of 20 stone steps, 40 feet wide, leads to skeleton was either that of a woman, or a tailor.
another terrace, on which is raised an extraordinary rich The position of these human remains was not in the cen and ornamental façade. The ornaments are of the same tre of the sepulchre, but on one side, and opposite to them, character with those at Uxmal, alike complicated and but separated by a mass of stone, was found a large vase of incomprehensible, and from the fact that every part of the rude pottery. The state of preservation of the bones com
façade was ornamented with sculpture, even to the portion pletely destroys all idea of the extreme antiquity of the now buried under the lower cornice, the whole must have buildings. Upon anatomical examination, the skeleton presented a greater appearance of richness than any building proved to be that of a female of adult age. The bones of at Uxmal. The cornice running over the doorways, tried the hands and feet were remarkably small, and delicately by the severest rules of art, would embellish the architecproportioned. The skull was very flattened at the back,
ture of any known era, and amid a mass of barbarism, of and of great breadth. Some mummies from Peru have
rude and uncouth conceptions, stands as an offering bv been found to have the same peculiarly-formed skull, which
American builders worthy of the acceptance of a polished is supposed to have been produced artificially by mechanical
people. pressure during infancy; a similar custom being prevalent
On the top of this central building is a structure which among a living tribe of North American Indians. The at a distance, as seen indistinctly through the trees, has the * See Saturday Magazine, Vol. VI., p. 12.
appearance of a second story. To this there was no stair
or other visible means of communication, either | ricana, with its points as sharp as needles. Two edifices within or without the building. Its use, except for orna stand against this terrace; the first is 217 feet in length, ment, was not apparent. On both sides of the centre door and has seven doorways in front, all opening into single way were two other doorways opening into apartments, apartments except the centre one, which had two aparteach of which contained two chambers. At the rear, and ments, each 30 feet long. The other range is 142 feet in under the same roof, were found two corresponding ranges front, and 31 feet deep, with double corridors communicatof apartments, the whole edifice forming nearly a square, ing, and a gigantic staircase leading to the roof, on which and covering almost as much ground as the Casa del Guber are the ruins of another building. Under the arch of this nador at Uxmal, and probably from its lavish ornament, grand staircase, two doors lead into two central apartments. containing more sculptured stone.
The whole wall of that on the right hand was covered with To this building Mr. Stevens gave the name of the First prints of the red Indian hand, as distinct as if but newly Casa of Kabah. To many of these structures the Indians made. “Often as I saw this print, it never failed to interest have applied senseless and unmeaning names, which have no me. It was the stamp of the living hand; it always brought reference to history or tradition. This they call Xcoopoop*, me nearer to the builders of these cities, and at times, amid which means a straw hat doubled up; the name having stillness, desolation, and ruin, it seemed as from behind reference to the crushed and Aattened condition of the façade the curtain that concealed them from view was extended and the prostration of the rear of the building.
the hand of greeting." Springing up beside the front wall was observed an elm, On a tent presented to the American traveller, Mr. Catlin, the growth of which well illustrates the rankness of tro- by the chief of the powerful, but now extinct tribe of pical vegetation that is hurrying these interesting ruins to Mandans, in North America, among other marks were two destruction. Its fibres had crept into cracks and crevices, prints of the red hand. The same symbol, it is said, is and become shoots and branches, which, as the trunk rose, constantly seen upon the buffalo robes, and skins of wild in struggling to rise with it, unsettled and overturned the animals, brought in by the hunters on the Rocky Mounwall, and still grew, carrying up large stones fast locked in tains. In fact, it is a sign recognised, and in common use, their embraces, which they held aloft in the air when Mr. | by the North American Indians of the present day. It Stevens visited the place. At the same time the roots of denotes supplication to the Deity, or Great Spirit; and the elm had girded the foundation wall, and formed the stands in the system of picture-writing as the emblem of only support of what is left. Great branches overshadowed strength, power, or mastery derived from above. the whole, and no description can convey a true idea of the All the lintels over the doorways of the building last ruthless gripe in which these gnarled and twisted roots mentioned, were of wood. That nearest the staircase was encircled sculptured stones.
finely sculptured. Mr. Stevens removed it to Washington, The rapidity of the growth of trees in Yucatan is far in the United States, where it perished by accidental fire, beyond the experience of the inhabitants of temperate cli- together with the whole of his collection of antiquities of mates. In front of the burying-ground of San Francisco, Yucatan. It consisted of two beams. The subject of the near Ticul, stood, at the time of Mr. Stevens' exploration of carving was a human figure standing upon a serpent. The the ruins, a noble tree, named the seybo tree. The inha- head-dress was a plume of feathers, and the general characbitants said it was only twenty-three years old. Its age ter of the figure and ornaments was the same with that of was as well known as that of any person in the village. the representations found on the walls of Palenque*. The The trunk, at five feet from the ground, measured 174 feet lintel over the corresponding doorway on the other side of in circumference, and its great branches afforded on all the staircase, was still in its place, and in good condition, sides a magnificent shade. “This tree,” says Mr. Stevens, but perfectly plain, and there was no other sculptured
confirmed me in my opinion that no correct judgment lintel among all the ruins of Kabah. could be formed as to the antiquity of these buildings from There is no account of the existence of iron or steel the size of the trees growing upon them.”. A plantation among the aborigines on this continent. The general and of sey bo trees was afterwards pointed out, which was made well-grounded belief is, that the inhabitants had no knowby Señor Trego, one of the most energetic and enlightened | ledge whatever of these metals. How, then, could they agriculturists in Yucatan. The oldest of these was of but carve wood, and that of the hardest kind ? Bernal Dias, in twelve years' growth, and was more extraordinary for its his account of the first voyage of the Spaniards along the rapid luxuriance than that of Ticul.
coast of Guacaulco, in the empire of Mexico, says, “It was Not far from the First Casa of Kabah stands a building a custom of the Indians of this province to carry small named by our traveller the Second Casa. This, when hatchets of copper, very bright, and the wooden handles of entire, was perhaps the most imposing structure of the two. which were highly painted, as intended both for defence It measured at the base 147 by 106 feet, and consisted of and ornament. These were supposed by us to be gold, and three distinct stories, or ranges, one on the roof of the were, of course, eagerly purchased, insomuch that within other, the second smaller than the first, and the third three days we had amongst us procured above six hundred, smaller than the second, having on each side a broad plat- and were, while under the mistake, as well pleased with form in front. On the side opposite to the rear of the First our bargain as the Indians with their green beads.” Knives Casa arose a gigantic stone staircase from the plain to the of copper, one of which is alloyed with a small portion of roof, on which stood the second range of apartments. The tin, and sufficiently hard to cut wood, have been brought steps of this staircase had nearly all fallen, the buildings on from Peru. Several copper instruments resembling modern the top are ruined, and many of the doorways so encum chisels, which, it is not improbable, were designed for bered that there was barely room to crawl into them. Two carving wood, were likewise found in the ancient sepulchres of these doorways are supported by pillars. This was the of the same country. It would appear, therefore, most reafirst time that Mr. Stevens met with pillars used according sonable to conclude that copper was the working material to the rules of architecture, namely, as a support, and not
of the Mayas. merely for ornament.
Mr. Stevens was prevented by illness from a further Beyond the Second Casa is to be seen the House of examination of the ruins of Kabah. “The fever came on, Justice, so called by the Indians. This presents a simple, and I was obliged to dismount and lie down under a bush. but not inelegant frontage of 113 feet, and contains five Doubtless more ruins lie buried in the woods, and the next apartments, all perfectly plain. On the opposite side of visitor, beginning where we left off, if he be at all imbued the First Casa is a lonely arch, having a span of 14 feet, with interest in this subject, will push his investigations standing upon a ruined mound in solitary grandeur. Dark- / much farther. We were groping in the dark. Since the ness rests upon its history, but in that desolation and hour of their desolation and woe came upon them, these solitude, among the ruins around, it stood like the proud buildings had remained unknown. Except the priest, who memorial of a Roman triumph. Perhaps, like the arch of first informed us of them, perhaps no white man had wanTitus, which at this day spans the Sacred Way at Rome, it dered through their silent chambers.' was erected to commemorate a victory over enemies. A little further to the east were discovered the tumbling
ZABNÀ. and tottering skeletons of buildings which had once been Still further from Uxmal, and a little more to the south, grander than these, and of which even the Indians dis- lies Zabnà. Here was seen a pyramidal mound, 45 feet claimed any knowledge. The first object reached by Mr. high, supporting a most curious and extraordinary strucStevens was a great terrace, perlaps 800 feet long by 100
The building faces the south, and when entire, meafeet wide. It was overgrown by trees, and the Agave Ame- sured 43 feet in length, and 20 feet in depth. It had three
* 2 is a letter like an inverted c reversed; it is peculiar to the Maya doorways, of which one, with eight feet of the whole struclanguage, and very difficult of pronunciation.
* See Saturday Magazine, Vol. XXI., p. 169.