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both corridors are plastered and ornamented with paintings. | the same object as the Tennis-court in the city of Mexico, The plan of the building was new, but, instead of unfolding as thus described by Herrera. The temples are at hand in secrets, it drew closer the curtain that already shrouded, which sacrifices were offered, and we discover in this, somewith most impenetrable folds, these mysterious structures. thing more important than the mere determining of the
character of a building; for in the similarity of diversions The GymnasiUM.
we see a resemblance in manners and institutions, and Among the ruins of Chichen-Itza is to be seen the fol
trace an affinity between the people who erected the ruined
cities of Yucatan, and those who inhabited Mexico at the lowing extraordinary edifice; namely, two immense paral
time of the conquest. lel walls, each 274 feet long, 30 feet thick, and 120 feet apart. One hundred feet from the northern extremity,
SCULPTURES AND PAINTINGS. facing the open space between the walls, stands on an
At the southern extremity of the eastern wall of the elevation a building 35 feet long, containing a single cham
Gymnasium of Chichen are the remains of two ranges of ber, with the front fallen, and, rising among the rubbish,
building, one of which is in a state of good preservation, the remains of two columns, elaborately ornamented with
simple and tasteful in its arrangement of ornaments. Under sculpture. The whole interior wall is covered from the
an upper cornice is sculptured a procession of tigers or floor to the peak of the arch with sculptured figures in bas
lynxes. From its lofty position, with trees growing around relief, much worn and faded.
it and on the roof, the effect is beautifully picturesque; but, In the centre of the great stone walls, exactly opposite
upon other considerations, it may be considered one of the each other, and at the height of 20 feet from the ground,
most interesting structures in Yucatan. are two massive stone rings, 4 feet in diameter, and i foot 1
The range which is in the most ruinous condition coninch thick; the diameter of the hole is 1 foot 7 inches. On
tains two broken columns covered with sculptured figures. the rim and border were two sculptured entwined serpents.
The front wall had fallen, and exposed the interior of a The parallel structures supporting the rings were probably
chamber covered from one end to the other with elaborately intended for the celebration of some public games. The
sculptured figures in bas-relief. Exposed for ages to a long following account of the diversions of Montezuma, (the
succession of winds and rains, the characters were faded Emperor of Mexico at the time of its conquest,) is given by
and worn. The head-dress of the human figures is, as usual Herrera, and illustrates these remains. “The king took much delight in seeing sport at ball,
| amongst the ruins of the country, a plume of feathers, and
| in the upper row each person carries a bundle of spears, or & which the Spaniards have since prohibited, because of the
quiver of arrows. All these representations were painted. mischief that often happened at it, and was by them called
In the most perfect building, of the two above-mentioned, Tlachtli, being like our tennis. The ball was made of the
Mr. Stevens found what he considers the greatest gem of guin of a tree that grows in hot countries, which, having
aboriginal art that he met with during his investigations. holes made in it, distils great drops, that soon harden, and
The steps, or other means of access to this structure, were being worked and moulded together, turn as black as pitch*,
destroyed, and it was only reached by clambering over proThe balls made thereof, tho' hard and heavy to the hand,
miscuous heaps of ruins. The door opens upon the platform did bound and fly as well as our foot-balls; nor did they
of the wall which overlooks the Tennis.court, or Gymnause chases, but vy'd to drive the adverse party that is to hit
sium. The front corridor was supported by massive pillars, the wall, the others were to make good, or strike it over:
portions of which still remain covered with elaborate sculpThey struck it with any part of their body, as it hapned,
tured ornaments. The lintel of the inner doorway is richly or they could most conveniently; and sometimes he lost
carved. Entering an inner chamber, its walls and ceiling that touched it with any other part but his hip, which was
are found to be covered, from the floor to the peak of the looked upon among them as the greatest dexterity; and to
arch with designs in painting, representing, in brilliant this effect, that the ball might rebound the better, they
colours, human figures, battles, houses, trees, and scenes of fastned a piece of stiff leather on their hips. They play'd
domestic life. On one spot was the conspicuous drawing of in parties, so many on a side, for a load of mantles, or what
a large canoe, but the whole is much disfigured. In some the gamesters could afford, at so many scores. They also
places the plaster is broken off: while in others wilful play'd for gold, and feather-work, and sometimes play'd
injury had evidently been done to these remains. The themselves away, as has been said before. The place where
colours were green, yellow, red, blue, and a reddish-brown, they play'd was a ground-room, long, narrow, and high, but
the last being invariably the colour given to human flesh. wider above than below, and higher on the sides than at
The outlines exhibit a freedom of drawing which could only the ends, and they kept it very well plaster'd and smooth,
be the result of discipline and training under masters. both the walls and the floor. On the side walls they fix'd
“ But they have a higher interest than any that attaches to certain stones, like those of a mill, with a hole quite through
them as mere specimens of art; for among them are seen the middle, just as big as the ball, and he that could strike
designs and figures which call forcibly to mind the wellit through there won the game. And in token of its being
known picture-writings of the Mexicans; and if these an extraordinary success, which rarely hapned, he had a
analogies are sustained by future observations, this building right to the cloaks of all the lookers-on, by ancient custom,
attached to the walls of the Tennis-court stands an unimand law amongst gamesters; and it was very pleasant to see,
peachable witness that the people who inhabited Mexico, at that as soon as ever the ball was in the hole, the standers
the time of the conquest, belonged to the same great race by took to their heels, running away with all their might
which furnished the builders of the ruined cities in Yucato save their cloaks, laughing and rejoicing, others scouring
tan."-STEVENS. after them to secure their cloaks for the winner, who was
| At Kewick, which lies a little southward of Zabnà, Mr. oblig'd to offer some sacrifice to the Idol of the Tennis
Stevens had observed a curious painting of a rude human court, and the stone through whose hole the ball had pass’d.
figure surrounded by hieroglyphics, which doubtless con-, Every tennis-court was a Temple, having two Idols, the
tain the whole of its story. The colours were bright; red one of Gaming, and the other of the ball. On a lucky day,
and green predominating. The painting covered the whole at midnight, they perform'd certain ceremonies and enchant
surface of a stone, which, however, occupied a very obscure ments on the two inner walls, and on the midst of the floor,
corner of a building. The apartment in which it was singing certain songs, or ballads; after which a priest of the
found had nothing to distinguish it from others, and why great temple went with some of the religious men to bless
this particular stone was so adorned our traveller was it; he uttered some words, threw the ball about the tennis
unable to discover. Nearly every other house at Kewick court four times, and then it was consecrated, and might be
had fallen. “One long ornamented façade lay on the play'd in, but not before. The owner of the tennis court,
ground cracked and doubled up, as if shaken off by the who was always a lord, never play'd without making some
vibrations of an earthquake, and still struggling to retain offering and performing certain ceremonies to the idol of
| its upright position, the whole presenting a most pictugaming, which shows how superstitious they were, since they had such regard to their idols, even in their diversions.
resque and imposing scene of ruins, and conveying to the
| mind a strong image of the besom of destruction sweeping Montezuma carry'd the Spaniards to this sport, and was
over a city.” well pleas'd to see them play at it, as also at cards and
There is an arch near Xul, which place is not far northdice."
east of Kewick, that had been plastered and covered inside With some slight variation in detail, the general features
with painted figures in profile. These are now much are so identical as to leave no doubt on the mind that the
mutilated, but the remaining traces remind one of the so-called Gymnasium of Chichen was erected for precisely
funeral processions on the walls of the tombs at Thebes, in * Undoubtedly caoutchouc, or (pdia-rubber.
Egypt. This arch had once formed the sides and walls of a
chamber, and on the wall which still closes it at one end, trees, 'and counted three hundred and eighty, and there Mr. Stevens observed the representations of human figures were many more. They were too low to hiave supported a in colours, some having their heads adorned with plumes, roof under which persons could walk. The idea at times others with a sort of steeple cap, and carrying on their presented itself that they had upheld a raised walk of heads something like a basket. Two of them were standing cement, but there were no remains visible. They inclose on their hands with their heels in the air. These figures an area nearly 400 feet square; and, incomprehensible as were about a foot in height, and painted red. The drawing they are with regard to their uses and object, add largely to was good, and the attitudes spirited and life-like. “An- | the interest and wonder connected with these ruins. other apartment had been plastered and covered with paint- The ruins of Chichen are situated upon a plain of several ings, the colours of which were in some places still vivid. miles in circumference, nearly in the centre of Yucatan, Here we cornered and killed a snake five feet long, and as I upwards of 100 miles from the sea, and remote from all threw it out at the door a strong picture rose up before me water-communication. The buildings which are in the of the terrific scenes whieh must have been enacted in this most perfect state of preservation are the Monjas, the region; the cries of woe which must have ascended to Caracol, Gymnasium, and Castillo, all above described. Heaven when these sculptured and painted edifices were These, and other erections, were raised upon foundations of abandoned to become the dwelling-place of vultures and rubble, imbedded in mortar, and held together by finished serpents."--Srevens.
walls of fine concrete-limestone. The walls of the buildings
rise perpendicularly, generally to one-half, where they are Tue Castillo or Chichen.
interrupted by entablatures; above which, to the cornice, At a distance of 500 feet from the painted chamber at the façades are divided into compartments, elaborately Chichen rises the Castillo, the grandest object that towers ornamented with sculptured stone-work over a diamond above the plain. Every Sunday its ruins are resorted to by | lattice-ground, illustrated with hieroglyphics. The whole the neighbouring villagers, and nothing can surpass the is interspersed with chaste and unique borders, executed picturesque appearance of this lofty building, while women, with the greatest possible skill and precision. The stones dressed in white, with red shawls, are moving along the are cut, in general, about 12 inches in length, and 6 in platform, and passing over its broken thresholds. The breadth; the interstices being filled up with the same mound measures at the base, on the north and south sides, material that forms the foundation and terraces, namely, 197 feet, and on the east and west sides, 202 feet. “It does rubble, imbedded in mortar. not exactly face the cardinal points, though probably so “The height of these buildings is, for the most part, intended; and in all the buildings, from some cause not 20, and rarely above 25 feet. They are limited almost casily accounted for, while one varies 10° one way, that universally to one story, are long and narrow, without immediately adjoining varies 12° or 13° in another. It is
windows, receiving no other light than that which passes built up apparently solid from the plain to the height of 75 through the doorway. The ceilings are built in the form feet. On the west side is a staircase 35 feet wide, and on of an acute-angled arch by layers of flat stones, the edges the north is another staircase 44 feet in width, which being bevilled. and carried up to the apex. uoc contains ninety steps. On the ground, at the foot of this
rests a stone that serves as a key. staircase, forming a bold, striking, and well-conceived com
“ The interior of some of the most important rooms is mencement to this lofty range, are two colossal serpents' finished with a beautiful white composition laid on with leads, 10 feet in length, with mouths wide open, and the greatest skill. The floors are covered with a hard tongues protruding. No doubt they were emblematic of
cement, which shows marks of wear. The doorways are some religious belief, and in the minds of an imaginative nearly a square of about seven feet, somewhat resembling people, passing between them to ascend the steps, must the Egyptian; the sides of which are formed of large blocks have excited feelings of solemn awe.”
of hewn stone. Stone rings, and holes at the sides of the The platform on the top measures 61 feet from north to
doorways, indicate that doors once swung upon them." south, and 64 from east to west. The building which NORMAN. surmounts it is 43 feet by 49; it has single doorways, The words Chi-chen signify the mouths of wells, in facing the east, south, and west, with massive lintels covered allusion to two natural springs which are still to be recog. with elaborate carvings, and the jambs are ornamented with nised in the vicinity. sculptured figures. The sculpture is much worn, but a head-dress with a plume of feathers, and other portions of
PAVED ROADS. rich attire, are still distinct. The face, also, is well-pre
One of the most interesting monuments of the ancient served, and possesses a dignified appearance. It has ear
civilization of Yucatan lies near the city of Uxmal. It rings, and the nose is bored, which, according to historicall is a broken 'n
is a broken platform or road of stone, about 8 feet wide, accounts, was so prevalent a custom in Yucatan, that long
and 8 or 10 inches high, crossing the modern road, and runafter the conquest the Spaniards passed laws for its pro
ning off into the woods on both sides. It is called by the hibition.
Indians, Sacbey, which means, in the Maya language, a All the other jambs are decorated with sculpture of the
paved road of white stone. The Indians say it traversed same general character, and open into a corridor extending
the country from Kabah to Uxmal, and that on it couriers round three sides of the building. The doorway which
travelled, bearing letters to and from the lords of those faces the north presents the grandest appearance. It is 20
cities, written on leaves or the bark of trees. It is also feet wide, and is supported by two short massive columns
said that there is a calzada, or paved road, of 10 or 12 yards entirely covered with elaborate sculpture. This doorway
in width, running to the south-east from near Chemax, in gives access to a corridor which leads to an apartment 17
the district of Valladolid; but the truth of this report feet high. Within the chamber are two square pillars (see
Mr. Stevens had no opportunity of confirming. the engraving of this interior) 9 feet 4 inches high, having sculptured figures on all their sides, and supporting massive
COZUMEL sapote beams covered with carving of curious and intricate designs. These were so defaced and time-worn, that, in Is a desolate island, 30 miles long, lying upon the eastern the obscurity of the room, lighted only from the door, it shore of Yucatan, and so bound with coral reefs, that there was difficult to make out what subjects they represented. are only certain places where it is practicable for a boat to
Stepping out upon the platforin, an immense field of land. On the outer reef Mr. Stevens saw the wreck of a ruins is displayed, and here Mr. Stevens saw, for the first brig, her naked ribs above water, and the fate of her maritime, groups of small coluinns, which, on examination, ners no one knew. proved to be among the most remarkable and unintelligible The native name of the island is Cuzamil, signifying the of the remains. These stand in rows of three, four, and five Island of Swallows. It was discovered accidentally in 1518 abreast; they are very low, many of them only 3 feet high, | by Juan de Grijalva. The following are extracts from the while the highest were not more than 6 feet, and consisted | itinerary of his voyage, kept by the chaplain-in-chief of of several separate pieces, like millstones. Many of them the fleet. nad fallen, and in some places they lie prostrate in rows, all “We came near the shore of Cuzamil, which we coasted; in the same direction, as if thrown down by some force, the sea is very deep upon the borders. The country like that of an earthquake, coming from a given point. In appeared very agreeable. We counted fourteen towers. At some places they extended to the bases of large mounds, on sunset we saw a large white tower which appeared very which were ruins of buildings and colossal fragments of high. We approached, and saw near it a multitude of sculpture, while in others they branched off and terminated Indians, men and women, who were looking at us, and bruptly. Mr. Stevens caused them to be cleared from remained until the fleet stopped within musket-shot of the
tower. The Indians, who are very numerous in this districts used to go frequently in solemn procession. One island, made a great noise with their drums.
morning the courts of this temple were filled with Indians, “One hundred men embarked in the boats, and landed. and curiosity having also drawn many of us thither, we They were accompanied by a priest, and expected to be found them burning odoriferous resins like our incense, and attacked by a great number of Indians. They came to the shortly after an old man in a large loose mantle ascended to tower, where they found no one. The ascent was by the top of the temple, and harangued the multitude for a eighteen steps, the base was very massive and 180 feet considerable time. Cortez, who was present, at length in circumference. On the top rose a small tower of the called an interpreter, to question him concerning the evil height of two men placed one upon the other. Within doctrines which the old man was delivering. He then were figures, bones, and idols that they adored. When summoned all the caciques and chief persons to come before the commandant was at the top of the tower with many him, and, as well as he could, by signs and interpretations, of our people, an Indian, followed by three others, who explained to them that the idols which they worshipped kept the doors, put in the interior a vase of very odori were not gods, but evil things, which would draw their souls ferous perfumes, which seemed of storax. This Indian down to hell, and that if they wished to remain in brotherly was old; he burned many perfumes before the idols which connexion with us, they must pull them down, and place were in the tower, and sang in å loud voice a song, which in their stead the crucifix of our Lord, by whose assistance was always in the same tone. We supposed that he was they would obtain good harvests and the salvation of their invoking his idols.
souls, with many other good and holy reasons which he “These Indians carried our commandant with ten or expressed very well. The priests and chiefs replied that twelve Spaniards, and gave them to eat in a hall constructed they worshipped these gods as their ancestors had done, of stones very close together, and covered with straw. Be- because they were kind to them, and that if we attempted fore the hall was a large well, from which everybody drank.to molest them, the gods would convince us of their power They then left us alone, and we entered the village, whereby destroying us in the sea. Cortez then ordered the idols all the houses were built of stone. Among others, we saw to be prostrated, which we immediately did, rolling them five very well made, and commanded by small towers.down many steps. He next sent for lime, of which there The base of these edifices is very large and massive; the was abundance in the place, and Indian masons, by whom, building is very small at the top. They appeared to have under our direction, a very handsome altar was constructed, been built a long time, but there are also moderni ones. whereon we placed an image of the Holy Virgin, and the
“The village, or bourg, was paved with stones. The carpenters having made a crucifix, which was erected in streets, elevated at the sides, descended, inclining towards a small chapel close to the altar, mass was said by the the middle, which was paved entirely with large stones. reverend father Juan Dias, and listened to by the priests, The sides were occupied by the houses of the inhabitants. | chiefs, and the rest of the natives with great attention.” They are constructed of stone from the foundation to half Later historians are more explicit, and speak of Cozumel the height of the walls, and covered with straw. To judge as a place containing many adoratories and temples, as a by tlie edifices and houses, these Indians appear to be very principal sanctuary and place of pilgrimage, standing to ingenious; and if we had not seen a number of recent con- | Yucatan in the same relation as Rome to Papal counstructions, we should have thought that these buildings tries. were the works of the Spaniards."
These accounts induced Mr. Stevens to visit Cozumel. In February, 1519, the armament of Cortez rendezvoused | He found that amid all the devastations which attended the at this island. An eye-witness, Bernal Dias, says, “There progress of the Spaniards in America, none is more comwas on the island of Cozumel a temple containing some plete than that which has swept over this island. He hideous idols, to which all the Indians of the neighbouring | discovered it to be entirely uninhabited, and so overgrown with trees, that except along the shore, or around some, the watch-tower now, trees are growing around it; within deserted hut, it was impossible to move in any direction the walls the city is desolate and overgrown, and without without cutting a path. About 200 feet distant from the is an unbroken forest. The battlements, on which the sea some vestiges of the ancient population first attracted proud Indian strode with his bow and arrows, and plumes observation. The ruin stands on a terrace, and has steps of feathers, are surmounted by immense thorn bushes and on all four of its sides. It measures 16 feet square; it overrun by poisonous vines. The city no longer keeps had four doors facing the cardinal points. The exterior watch; the fiat of destruction has gone out against it, and is of plain stone, but was formerly stuccoed and painted. in solitude it rests, the abode of silence and desolation." The doorways open into a narrow corridor only 20 inches It is Mr. Stevens' firm belief that the city of Tuloom wide, which encompasses a small room 8; feet long, and continued to be occupied by its aboriginal inhabitants long 5 feet wide, South-south-east from this stands another | after the conquest. The strong impression of a comparasmall building, of the same general character, and these tively very recent occupation is derived from the appearance were the only structures that were discovered. The of the buildings themselves, which, though not less ruined, “ towers” seen by Grijalva and his companions, as they owing to the ranker growth of trees, have in some instances sailed along the coast, were evidently the same kind of an appearance of freshness and good keeping that, amid the edifices as are here described by Mr. Stevens.
desolation and solitude around, was alınost startling. The Ruins of Tuloom
The City of Izamal Stand upon the eastern shore of Yucutan, nearly opposite | Is situated between Merida and Valladolid, 15 leagues from the island of Cozumel. Amid the wildest scenery, upon the former place. It was formerly considered only as a the natural pediment of a cliff, heightened by art with a village; but has lately been raised into the rank of a city. gigantic but ruined staircase, is placed the Castillo. The There is, however, nothing of modern date to detain the steps, the platforın of the building, and the whole area in eye from immense mounds of ancient construction that rise front are overgrown with trees, the deep green foliage, and grandly above the tops of the houses. From these mounds the mysterious edifices around, present an image of a grove, the whole city, as it now stands, has been built, without sacred to Druidical worship. To the exciting interest of a seeming to diminish their colossal proportions, proclaiming ruined city was added the magnificence of nature. The the power of those who reared them, and destined, appaplatform of the Castillo looks over an immense forest, and rently, to stand when the feebler structures of their more Beyond the postern wall is spread the boundless ocean. civilized conquerors shall have crumbled into dust. Looking down from the cliff in fair weather and clear One of these mounds, about 200 feet long, and 30 feet water, large fish, eight and ten feet long, may be seen high, appeared to have had its vast sides covered from one gliding quietly in the depths below.
end to the other with colossal ornaments in stucco, most of “No words can convey the solemnity of the scene when which had fallen, but amongst the fragments may be seen a the traveller's axe first broke the stillness that had so long gigantic human head, nearly 8 feet high, and 7 feet in prevailed around. The building, including the wings, width. A stone, l, feet long, protrudes from the chin, measures at its base 100 feet in length. The grand staircase intended, perhaps, for burning copal on, as a sort of altur. is 30 feet wide, with 24 steps, and a substantial balustrade | In sternness and harshness of expression, it reminded Mr. on each side, still in good preservation, gives it an unusu- Stevens of the idols of Copan, drawings of which may be ally imposing character. The doorway is obstructed with seen in the Saturday Magazine, Vol. XXI., pages 81 and the gnarled roots of a lofty tree.
85, together with descriptions of these and other relics of “The wings are much lower than the principal building. Central America and Mexico. The immense proportions of The columns in the doorways are ornamented with devices that at Izamal correspond with the dimensions of the in stucco, one of which seemed a masked face, and the mound, and give an unusual impression of grandeur to the other the head of a rabbit.
beholder. “The back or sea-wall of the Castillo rises on the brink of Two or three streets distant from the plaza, or square, a high, broken, and precipitous cliff, commanding a magni but visible in its gigantic features, is the most stupendous ficent ocean view, and a picturesque line of coast, being mound that Mr. Stevens had yet seen in Yucatan. It itself visible from a great distance at sea. The wall is measured between 600 and 700 feet long, 60 feet high, and solid, and has no doorways or entrances of any kind, nor had, beyond all doubt, interior chambers. even a platform around it.
“ Turning from these memorials of former power to the "At evening, when the work of the day was ended, and depressed race that now lingers around them, the stranger our men returned to the hut, we sat down on the moulding might run wild with speculation and conjecture, but on the of the wall, and regretted that the doorways of our lofty north side of the plaza is a monument that recalls his roving habitation had not opened upon the sea. Night, however, thoughts, and holds up to his gaze a leaf in history. It is wrought a great change in our feelings. An easterly storin the great church and convent of Franciscan monks, standing came on, and the rain beat heavily against the sea-wall. on an elevation, and giving a character to the plaza which We were obliged to stop up the oblong openings that no other in Yucatan possesses. Two flights of stone steps admitted air, and congratulated ourselves upon the wisdom lead up to it, and the area upon which they open is proof the ancient builders. The darkness, the howlings of the bably 200 feet square; on three sides is a colonnade, formwinds, and cracking of branches in the forest, and the ing a noble promenade, overlooking the city and the surdashing of angry waves against the cliff, gave a romantic rounding country to a great distance. This great elevation interest to our occupation of this desolate dwelling." was evidently artificial, and not the work of the Spaniards.” STEVENS.
At the earliest period of the conquest we have accounts The forest-buried city of Tuloom was encompassed by a of the large aboriginal town of Izamal. In 1553, the padre wall, which has resisted all the elements of destruction at Fr. Diego de Landa was elected guardian of the convent of work upon it, and is still erect and in good preservation. Izamal, and charged to erect the building, the monks having This massive stone structure is in the strictest sense a city lived until that time in houses of straw. He selected as wall, forming a parallelogram abutting on the sea, the the place for the foundation one of the cerros, or mounds, high precipitous cliff constituting an impregnable sea- which then existed, “made by hand," and called by the wall, 1500 feet in length. Trees growing beside the wall natives, Phappholchac, “which," says the Padre Lizana,
vines of every description grow out of it, and the sharp gods. The place in which the priests of the idol lived, and spikes of the Agave Americana, or common American aloe, which had been the place of abomination and idolatry, was offer formidable barriers to the investigator. Rough, flat selected that it might become the place of sanctification, stones were laid upon each other without mortar or where the ministers of the true God should offer sacrifices cement of any kind, which form a wall varying in thick and adoration due to his Divine Majesty." ness from 8 to 13 feet. The south side has two gateways, This testimony proves beyond a doubt that these great each about 5 feet wide.
mounds had been temples and idols, and the habitations of “At the distance of 650 feet the wall turns at right angles, | priests, in the actual use of the Indians who were found and runs parallel to the sea. At the angle is a watch-tower, occupying the country at the time of the conquest; and elevated so as to give a commanding view, and reached by dispels much of the mystery that hangs over the ruins of ascending a few steps. It is 12 feet square, and has two the country. doorways. The interior is plain, and against the back wall
AKÉ. is a small altar, at which the guard might offer up prayers for the preservation of the city. But no guard sits in | The ruins of Aké are situated 9 leagues from Merida. A
great mound, called El Palacio, or the Palace, is worthy of Peten Grande, Peten itself being a Maya' word, signifying attention amidst so many structures of the same character an island. It now belongs to the government of Guatemala, abounding in Yucatan. The ascent is on the south side, by and is under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the bishop of an immense staircase, 137 feet wide, forming an approach of Yucatan. Formerly it was the principal place of the prorude grandeur, perhaps equal to any that ever existed in vince of Itza, which province, for one hundred and fifty the country. Each step is 4 feet 5 inches deep, and I foot years after the subjugation of Yucatan, maintained its fierce 5 inches in height. The platform on the top is 225 feet in and native independence. In the year 1608, sixty-six years length, and 50 in breadth. On this great platform stand after the conquest, two Franciscan monks, alone, without thirty-six shafts of columns in three parallel rows of twelve, arms, and in the spirit of peace, set out to conquer this proabout 10 feet apart from north to south, and 15 from east to vince by converting the natives to Christianity.” After a west. There are no remains of any structure, or of a roof. dangerous journey they landed on the island, and were
In the same vicinity are other mounds of colossal dimen-provided with a house by the king. They forthwith sions, one of which is also called the Palace, but of a dif- | preached to the Indians, who said that the time was not yet ferent construction and without pillars. On another, at the come for them to become Christians, and advised the monks head of a ruined staircase, is an opening under the top of a to go and return some other day. Nevertheless, they doorway, nearly filled up, leading into a dark chamber of carried them round the town, and in the middle of one of rude construction, and of which some of the stones in the the temples the monks saw a great idol of the figure of wall measured 7 feet in length. This is called Akabna, Casa a horse, which evidences the miserable weakness of the Obscura, or dark house. Near this are steps leading down unassisted, unenlightened human mind. It was intended to a spring of water, which once supplied the ancient city. | as an image of the horse which Cortez left at that place on The ruins cover a large extent, but all are overgrown, and his great journey from Mexico to Honduras. On that in a condition too ruinous to be presented in a drawing. occasion the Indians had seen the Spaniards fire their They are ruder and more massive than any of the others muskets from the backs of the horses, and supposing that above described, and bear the stamp of an older era. But the fire and noise were caused by the animals, they called it is most probable that the city was inhabited at the time the image Tzimin Chac, and adored it as the god of thunder of the conquest. In the year 1527, before the battle of and lightning. One of the monks, carried away by zealous Chichen, the Spaniards, under Don Francisco Montejo, had fervour, seized the foot of the horse with his hand, mounted reached a place called Aké, where they found themselves upon the statue, and broke it in pieces. confronted with a vast multitude of armed Indians. A The king saved the lives of the daring missionaries from desperate battle ensued, which lasted two days, and in the vengeance of a superstitious people; but obliged them which the Spaniards gained no easy triumph. There is no to leave the island. In 1619, the same monks, undaunted reason to doubt that the place now named Aké is identical | by their previous ill-success, returned; but the people rose with the scene of this battle.
up against them, and barely suffered them to escape in a
canoe with their lives. “With all their fanaticism and PATUS FOR TRAVELLERS.
occasional cruelty, there is something soul-stirring in the Parts of Yucatan offer untrodden fields to the undaunted | devotion of these early monks to the business of converting traveller. The whole triangular region from Valladolid to the souls of the Indians.” the Bay of Ascension on one side, and the port of Yalahao In 1695, the governor of Yucatan undertook the great on the other, is not traversed by a single road. It is a work of opening a road across the whole continent from region entirely unknown; no white man ever enters it. It Campeachy to Guatemala. This led to the conquest of is Mr. Stevens' belief that within this region cities like Itza. Don Martin Ursua, the governor, took the command those which are now in ruins in other parts of the country of the expedition in person, He left Campeachy in January were kept up and occupied for a long time, perhaps one or 1697, and sent before him a proclamation, giving notice that two centuries, after the conquest, and that, down to a com- the time had come when they should have one cup and one paratively late period, Indians were living in them, the plate with the Spaniards. "If not,” says the proclamation, same as before the discovery of America. “In fact, I I will do what the king commands me, but which it is conceive it not to be impossible that within this secluded not necessary now to express.” The Indians, however, region may exist at this day, unknown to white men, a withstood the power of the invader, but the spear was no living aboriginal city, occupied by relics of the ancient race, defence against the musket, and the island of Peten Grande who still worship in the temples of their fathers.”
displayed the Spanish standard. This took place one hun“There is a district of country situated between Guate dred and fifty-five years after the foundation of the city of mala, Yucatan, and Chiapas, that has never yet been sub Merida, and but one hundred and forty-nine years ago. dued. This section is surrounded by mountains, and is said | The monks found “twelve or more adoratorios of the heato be inaccessible, except by one way, and that not generally then idols, of the size of the largest churches, in the villages known. No one yet, who has had the boldness to follow of the Indians in the province of Yucatan, each one of the inhabitants to their wild retreat, has ever returned to which was capable of containing more than one thousand render an account of their journey. The inhabitants are persons.” In their private houses, even on the benches on represented as speaking the Maya and the Tchole languages, which they sat, were found small idols. The principal and many of them as conversing well in Spanish. From temple was of a square form, with handsome breastwork, the latter circumstance they are enabled to visit the nearest and is mentioned as having been built like a Castillo; such, cities, sell their tobacco, the principal article they cultivate, probably, as those at Chichen and Tuloom, above described. and afterwards to return to their retreats. They are consti It is said that the people of Itza came originally from the tuted of the Lacandones, and other savage tribes; are expert land of Maya, now Yucatan. At the time of the insurrecwarriors, remarkably athletic, and very cruel. They are | tion of the Caciques of Maya, and the destruction of the worshippers of idols, and their religious ceremonies are said native capital of Mayapan, which, according to tradition, to have undergone little or no change.
took place about one hundred years before the arrival of “ Palenque is in the neighbourhood of this settlement, the Spaniards, Canek, one of the rebellious caciques, got the population of which is estimated at thirty thousand possession of the city of Chichen-Itza. From thence he their secluded manner of life renders it almost impossible to withdrew to the most hidden and impenetrable part of the arrive at any correct impressions respecting them. The mountains, and took possession of the lake of Peten, estaIndians of Yucatan that have held conversation with per- blishing his residence on the large island which now bears sons from this district are unable to give any information that name. It follows, therefore, that the adoratorios and about the people. Could a friendly intercourse, by any temples which Don Martin Ursus found on the island must possibility, be established with this surprising country, have been erected within that time. This is an interesting There is scarcely a doubt that a knowledge of the former fact, that only one hundred and forty-nine years ago, a city inhabitants of the immense ruins scattered throughout the existed occupied by unbaptized Indians, precisely in the neighbouring provinces would be revealed. That their same state as before the arrival of the Spaniards, having teniples and records remain in safety, and are capable of temples resembling the great structures now scattered in speaking to posterity, there can scarcely be a question.”- ruins over Yucatan. NORMAN.
"And where are these temples and adoratorios? Where Beyond the village of Iturbide, which formed the most are the Indians whose heads, on that day of carnage southern point of Mr. Stevens' last expedition, is a wilder- and terror, covered the water from the island to the ness stretching off to the Lake of Peten and that region of main? Where are those unhappy fugitives, and the inhaLacandones, or unbaptized Indians, just now referred to. bitants of the other islands, and of the territory of Itza? “In this lake are numerous islands, one of which is called They fled before the terrible Spaniard, plunged deeper into