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Title: Commentary Upon the Maya-Tzental Perez Codex - with a Concluding Note Upon the Linguistic Problem of the Maya Glyphs
Author: Gates, William, 1863-1940
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber’s Note

Typographical errors in the original have been maintained in this
version. They are marked with a [TN-#]. A list of the errors is found
at the end of the present text.

The following codes are used for characters that are not found in the
character set used for this ebook:


                             OF THE


                         VOL. VI.--No. 1

                      UPON THE MAYA-TZENTAL
                           PEREZ CODEX



                        WILLIAM E. GATES


                        CAMBRIDGE, MASS.
                     PUBLISHED BY THE MUSEUM
                         NOVEMBER, 1910


  Point Loma, California


In presenting this Commentary on the Codex Perez to students of American
Archaeology, the Peabody Museum adds another paper to its series
relating to the study of the hieroglyphic writing of the ancient peoples
of Mexico and Central America.

The Museum is fortunate in adding to its collaborators Mr. William E.
Gates, of Point Loma, California, who for more than ten years has been
an earnest student of American hieroglyphs. From his lifelong studies in
linguistics in connection with his research in “the motifs of
civilizations and cultures,” he comes well-equipped to take up the
difficult and all-absorbing study of American hieroglyphic writing. Mr.
Gates has materially advanced this study by his reproduction of the
glyphs in type. These type-forms he has used first in his reproduction
of the Codex Perez, and now in this Commentary they are used for the
first time in printing. The method used in the construction of this font
of type is explained by Mr. Gates in the following pages. This important
aid to the study will be highly appreciated by all students of American
hieroglyphs, as it will greatly facilitate the presentation of the
results of future research.

It will be seen that this Commentary is more in the line of suggestion
to be expanded after further studies, than in the way of conclusions.

At the close of the paper the author presents the general deductions he
has drawn from his comparative study of languages and cultures. His
concluding paragraph forcibly presents the hope that the understanding
of the Maya glyphs will furnish new and important data in the life
history of man.



  October, 1910

[Illustration: PEREZ CODEX: PAGE 6]

[Illustration: PEREZ CODEX: PAGE 17]


The Perez Codex was discovered just fifty years ago by Prof. Léon de
Rosny, while searching through the Bibliothèque Impériale, Paris, in the
hope of bringing to light some documents of interest for the then newly
awakened study of Pre-Columbian America. It was found by him in a basket
among a lot of old papers, black with dust and practically abandoned in
a chimney corner. From a few words with the name Perez, written on a
torn scrap of paper then around it but since lost, it received its name.

Being restored to its proper place in the Library, it was in 1864
photographed by order of M. Victor Duruy, Minister of Instruction, and a
few copies issued without further explanatory notes than the printed
wrappers. The number of copies is stated by Prof. de Rosny to have been
very small; in Leclerc’s _Bibl. Amér._ (1878, No. 2290) it is given as
only 10, and in Brasseur’s _Bibl. Mex.-Guat._ (page 95), as 50. A copy
is in the library of the Bureau of Ethnology at Washington, and referred
to in their publications as a most fortunate acquisition. I had the good
fortune to secure a copy some ten years ago, and one other has recently
appeared in a Leipzig catalog at a high price. Beyond these I have not
traced any other copy.

In 1872 Prof. de Rosny published a reproduction, drawn by hand, which,
as stated by him later, may be disregarded for practical purposes.[7-*]

In 1887 he issued a facsimile edition in colors, 85 copies, which up to
the present time has remained the only attempt to show the Codex in its
proper colors, and has become exceedingly difficult to procure; so much
so that it was only after seven years search that I was able to secure
my own copy.[8-*]

In 1888 he reissued the Codex, uncolored, with the same letter-press,
and in an edition of 100 copies. This has also become scarce.

Each of these three editions has its advantages and disadvantages. The
colored edition of 1887, having been worked over by hand, in
lithography, is defective in various places, both as regards the black
of the figures and glyphs, and in the colors. Coloring exists on the
original codex which was not reproduced at all in the edition, and the
colors given are in many cases not exact. Thus on pages 19 and 20 two
different reds are used for the backgrounds, whereas but one is found in
the original; on pages 15, 16 the figures are a turquoise green, and on
pages 17, 18 an olive green, the correct color for all four being
turquoise green.

I have been able to find no inaccuracy in the 1888 edition, which is
indeed stated in the introduction to be entirely by mechanical process,
without hand intervention; but being reproduced by printer’s ink in
black only, not only do the colors not appear, but the chromatic values
are actually far inferior to the photographs of 1864. It was stated
further by Prof. de Rosny that some features of the MS. had been lost by
deterioration in the 25 years previous to his editions of 1887 and 1888,
but this I have not been able to verify in any important point.

The photographs and the edition of 1888 are to all general purposes
identical; but, notwithstanding that the photographs are steadily
yellowing by age, the chromatic values are so far superior that I have
continually come to find them the court of final decision in doubtful
matters. In a very considerable number of instances a close examination
of the photographs has suggested the presence of faint lines of color
on glyphs or figures, which was entirely indistinguishable in both of
the printed editions, and which was yet in every case confirmed,
although sometimes with difficulty, by the examination of the original

The proved value, as well as the scarcity, of these photographs was so
great, that in 1905 I had my set photographed twice, by dry and wet
plate processes, and a few copies printed after a careful comparison and
selection of the two sets of plates. It is from these that the present
edition has grown.[9-*]

The present edition, save for the photographs thus reproduced, having
been entirely redrawn, and partly restored, it is fitting to detail just
what has been done in this respect.

At the very beginning of my introduction to Maya studies the enormous
burdens placed on research therein at every turn, bore upon me as upon
every other student. The subject and its possibilities stimulate
enthusiasm to the highest degree; the rewards of success are greater
than those of any like problem today; and yet, fifty years since the
present Codex was discovered, and thirty years since Dr. Förstemann’s
unsurpassable edition of the Dresden Codex, the actual workers on the
problem are the barest handful. A few scattered and obscure references
amongst the volumes on volumes of Spanish writers, nearly all
untranslated, most of them scarce or almost unprocurable, and many not
even printed, make up the literature to be searched out. And a few
points of decipherment won and safely fixed by the researchers, from
Brasseur, de Rosny, Pousse, Brinton and others a generation ago, to
Messrs. Bowditch, Seler, Goodman and a few others of today, are all we
have--standing out in a wilderness of guesses by many writers, needless
of naming.

Of course the prime and absolute necessity of such a study is true
facsimiles; but the task of using even these, taken as they must be from
much defaced inscriptions and manuscripts, is too obvious for comment.
So from the very first of my studies I began to cherish thoughts of the
day when Maya could be printed with type, and classified indexes to the
glyphs at hand. From one point of view such facilities can only be
expected to come _after_ decipherment; from another, in absence of
bilingual keys, they are a necessity _before_ that can be attained. So
far as his work covers, a great deal has been done in this line by Mr.
A. P. Maudslay in the field of the inscriptions.

At the very outset therefore I must enter acknowledgment of the
assistance that I owe to the courtesy at that time of Prof. F. W.
Putnam, of Peabody Museum, and Mr. Chas. P. Bowditch, in placing, with a
freedom by no means universal among curators and researchers, their
material at my disposal, with privilege of copying. I am safe to say
that while I have reclassified the glyphs for my own use as my studies
went on, yet without the copy which by Mr. Bowditch’s courtesy I was
allowed to make of his card index to the glyphs of the three codices, as
a start, this edition of the Perez Codex would not yet have reached
daylight through the many other occupations among which Maya studies
have had to take their chances.

At first it seemed possible to prepare a font of separate types for the
various elements of the compound glyphs we find in the texts; but after
having such a font made a number of years ago, and printing a couple of
pages of the Dresden Codex, the result was unsatisfactory; it became
evident that the proper Maya font of type must be both separate and
composite, as is used in Chinese, and not separate only as we have for
Egyptian. The type for the text cards of this edition have therefore
been made this way.

As to the colored plates of the Codex herewith, it is evident that
nothing whatever is gained by preserving the irregularities of the
defaced parts of the Codex, while everything is to be gained by making
all as clear and distinct as possible. The first step therefore was to
have a set of photographed enlargements of two diameters, made direct
from the 1864 issue. From these I made careful tracings, myself, of the
black figure and glyph lines of the original, making at the same time
the separate enlarged drawings from which the type were afterwards made.
At this first drawing only the evident, the indisputable parts were
drawn. The type forms were then classified, arranged in parallel
columns, and compared. All was then gone over, and new points settled on
the basis of the familiarity thus gained. It is a fair estimate to say
that this process of checking and verifying was gone through, first to
last, down to the final proof-reading of the printed sheets, some fifty

One most important fact was established by this process, and must be
noted. In the Perez Codex at least, _nothing is to be taken for
granted_, nothing charged to a careless scribe, and no variants regarded
as being identical in value--with a very few exceptions, to which I
shall advert later. Wherever there remains enough of any glyph to show
its characteristic strokes, it can be regarded as safely indicated;
whenever the strokes are not just those characteristic of any glyph, it
cannot be inferred. Down to the very end of the various revisions I
found myself able to add glyphs which at first seemed hopeless, and yet
when once seen became clear and plain. Relying on the presence of the
photographs to check the work, I have thus added a very considerable
number to the glyphs at first apparent. In some cases, as in 6-b-11 and
17, and especially in 8-b-7, 8, 10, where glyphs were only partially
erased, but no other instances of perfect glyphs existed to compare them
with, I have let them alone, without attempting restoration. In short, I
may have made some errors of eye, but I have guessed nothing.

In a very few places I have restored glyphs totally erased, relying on
the parallelism of the passages. Such are some of the Ahau-numbers in
the upper sections of pages 2 to 11, and in the central sections on
those pages, the initial pairs of glyphs on pages 15 to 18-a, b, c, the
first columns of pages 19 and 20, and a few day-signs on pages 21, 23
and 24. These glyphs are all necessitated by their different series, and
hence can cause no confusions; while it seemed advantageous to have them
before the eye. A fair instance of the procedure is shown on page 3-b-1,
3. The temptation was strong to put the usual [Hieroglyph] glyph here as
on all the other pages, but the slight variation in the lines left of
glyph 3-b-3 forbade it.

The restoration will further be found a little bolder on the type-cards
than in the colored plates, where I have in general only endeavored to
reproduce what could be seen actually present. The glyphs restored on
the upper part of page 7 would seem hopeless at first sight; but they
are well-known and common forms, and the characteristic traces shown on
the photographs belong to these and to no others known.

       *       *       *       *       *

The cards of type-printed text, in parallel columns for convenience of
study, are self-explanatory. Such an arrangement has from the first
seemed to me indispensable for proper study and comparison. The paging
of the de Rosny editions I have retained, except to change the
practically blank page 1 to be page 25, since to number this as 1 is
confusing. For the divisions and the numbering of the glyphs I have made
my own arrangement. It is possible that section _b_ on pages 2 to 11
should only go to the bottom line of the central figure, leaving section
_d_ to read clear across the page, and another section to be made to the
left of the nearly erased figures at the bottom; but the chances as
shown by the lining and arrangement of the columns seemed to favor it as
I have given it. Only final decipherment can decide definitely.


[7-*] In _Archives paléographiques de l’Orient et de l’Amérique_, atlas,
t. I, pl. 117-142.

[8-*] In his _Commentar zur Pariser Mayahandschrift_, Danzig, 1903, Dr.
Förstemann does not know of the existence of this edition.

[9-*] _Codex Perez_: Maya-Tzental. Redrawn and Slightly Restored, and
with the Coloring as it originally stood, so far as possible, given on
the basis of a new and minute examination of the Codex itself. Mounted
in the form of the Original. Accompanied by a Reproduction of the 1864
Photographs; also by the entire Text of the Glyphs, unemended but with
some restorations, Printed from Type, and arranged in Parallel Columns
for convenience of study and comparison. Drawn and edited by William E.
Gates. (_Privately printed._) Point Loma, 1909.


The colors of the Codex afforded a number of questions for solution,
some of which I have cleared up and embodied in the plates; a few are I
believe insoluble. I have also been able to add a few wholly new points,
not indicated by any of the preceding editions.

Being unable to make a personal examination of the original, I prepared
from my enlarged black drawings, above mentioned, another full set
including the figures and all glyphs or other parts showing any
suggestions of color. Upon these I prepared a list of nearly 200
questions covering every detail, together with certain general
specifications, and had the whole made the subject of a careful and
exhaustive comparison with the original at the Bibliothèque Nationale.
This report, when duly returned with the various details set out, with
the various colors shown in their exact tints by water-colors, and with
a special analysis of the question of the fading of the colors, was
again checked and verified by the evidence of the three editions.

In doubtful questions arising from faded colors, I have sought to show
the condition of the original as it exists today. In the solid red
backgrounds and other places I have aimed to show as far as possible
what the Codex looked like when fresh.

This question as to what all the colors in detail were when fresh, I do
not feel that I have quite solved. The following palette scheme seems to
me about as near as the data permit us to formulate.

A permanent black, being the parts reproduced in black in the present

A brick-red, tinged with crimson, used for backgrounds, red numerals,
and probably elsewhere. This we may call unfading red.

A genuine brown, as on the animals, pages 5-a, 8-a; perhaps also
elsewhere as lining ornament.

A pale pink as flesh color on the human figures.

A blue, as on the possible katun number series on pages 23 and 24.

A turquoise-green, with varying amounts of blue tinge, on the spotted
figures and in the numeral columns of pages 15 to 18; also, with
somewhat less of the blue, for the “water” bands on pages 21 to 24.

The above colors are all definite and positive.

Then next appears a brownish color used for lining or ornamenting
various glyphs, and the clothing, headdress, etc., etc., of the figures.
We find many shades from a pale neutral up to a darker clear brown, and
also a definitely reddish, as on the tail of the bird on the right side
of page 23. This brown may be a fading of the red of the backgrounds and
numerals, but the permanence of the color in these latter places is so
positive that I believe it is not so. I think it should be regarded as

We next come to a color question related directly to decipherment, that
of the very difficult numeral columns on pages 15 to 18. There is no
practical reason discernable for the use of alternating colors save the
avoidance of confusion between bar combinations. Three bars together of
different colors stand of course for three 5’s; of one color they would
make a single number 15. We therefore find here our above black, red and
blue-green alternating and clearly marked in places; but we also find
many numerals of varying shades of brownish, bistre and grayish. I
called for especial care in the examination of these points on the
original Codex, and the water-color sheets and explanatory notes show in
detail the facts of the present state of the Codex. Prior to the
examination I supposed that these faded numerals were a faded red, but
this is stated in the report to be certainly not the case; the
suggestion is made that they are probably faded blacks.

From the latter conclusion I am inclined in part to dissent, at least as
to certain passages, for two reasons. These are, first the actual
permanence of the above noted main colors, everywhere else; and second,
passages in the second columns of pages 16 and 17. In each of these we
find faded brown or gray bars, so placed between or next to plain black
bars as would give, were they faded blacks, more than three black bars

Another point on page 17 is to be noted. In the top section, first
column, are five blue 3’s. Some of these blue dots, as shown in the 1887
edition and in my water-colors, have faded to the same light brown seen
elsewhere. The brown and the blue 5 in the second column of this page,
middle division, as just mentioned, have also an identical chromatic
value in the photographs.

My whole conclusion therefore, so far as I can formulate one, is that in
these columns we have:

Red, black, and blue-green numerals, as shown. Some of the blue numerals
seem to have been _outlined_ with black, of which traces still appear on
the original, are seen in the photographs, and indicated in the present
color plates.

Several instances where the Codex has been rubbed so as to leave only
the outlines of original black numerals. These are now gray in the
original, and I have left them as black outlines, touched in with gray.

Finally, a number of pale brown numerals which are either faded
blue-greens, or else indicate a fourth color in the original. Which of
these alternatives is the true one, I cannot say.

       *       *       *       *       *

The original Codex is still in practically as good condition as when the
three editions were taken from it. The material of which it is made is a
maguey paper of grayish tinge, and not a yellowish brown as would be
inferred from the 1887 edition. This is noteworthy, as the wearing away
of the coating with which the paper was surfaced for the writing, does
not leave a brownish place which, as in the 1887 edition, might be
mistaken for traces of applied color. This coating is indeed better
preserved in places than is shown by the 1887 edition; thus the
headdress at the extreme left of page 20, just to the right of the
restored 8 Ezanab on the present color plates, is shown with the coating
all erased and the black writing as if left on the ground-paper--which
is incorrect.


Coming then to the question of the subject-matter of the Codex, I feel
that little is in order beyond a simple analytical description of the
different pages, rather than any attempt at an interpretation. The road
of general deductions from superficial resemblances between unknown
elements and the details of other known things from other times and
places, is strewn by the wrecks of too many theories to be attractive
traveling. I am firmly convinced of the greatness and importance of the
study we have before us, and the exalted civilization which produced it;
but I do not know how to interpret these monuments. Indeed the very
persistence with which the interpretation (which will certainly be
self-evident and everywhere applicable when it does finally come) still
eludes us, is a sufficient proof that we have not yet found the right
road. When we do, great doorways to the past of mankind will open of
themselves, and we will know more of human life and evolution than we
now guess. Until then we can only describe, classify, and try to get rid
of some of the mechanical impedimenta of the search.

What we have of the Perez Codex is manifestly but a fragment; the extent
of it originally we have no means of even guessing. It is fortunate
however that what we have gives several practically complete chapters or
portions of the work. Taking first the side of the MS. paged 2 to 12, we
find the entire side covered by a series of pictures with text, all
identical in arrangement. The few remaining traces on page 12 show its
likeness to the others, for we see in their proper places parts of the
Tun-glyph on which the figures on the upper section are seated; of the
Cimi, Tun and Cauac glyphs just as in pages 11-c-2, 6 and 8; also of the
columns of glyphs to the left, and traces of the headdress. As will
appear further, at least two more pages are required to complete this
series, and it is as good a supposition as any other that they were
those which would be numbered 1 and 13--that is, one before page 2 and
one after page 12. For convenience of reference the divisions of these
pages may be lettered from _a_ to _e_; _a_ being given to the upper
portion, _b_ to the left columns of glyphs, _e_ to the large middle
picture, and _c_ and _d_ to the text divisions above and below this.

       *       *       *       *       *

Taking up first the central figures, section _e_, we find in each a
standing figure, with ceremonial headdress of varying character,
offering a dragon’s head (a universal symbol of wisdom) to another
figure, seated on a cushioned dais, the side of which bears various
“constellation” signs. The latter in turn extends his hands, either
holding some object, or else in a simple gesture. The standing figures
are all almost completely preserved; the seated ones unfortunately
largely or wholly obliterated. In front of the standing ministrant is a
vase of offerings, usually a triple Kan figure, and in two cases with
knives. In the upper part of the picture, facing in every case but one
towards the ministrant, is a bird figure, different on each page, and
having in two cases a human head. On each page is an Ahau sign with red
numeral, all of them together forming a series which (starting on the
supposed page 1 with 4 Ahau) gives the succession 4, 2, 13, 11, 9, 7, 5,
3, 1, 12, 10, 8, 6; in other words the numbers of thirteen consecutive
katuns. The Ahau numerals 13, 11, 9, on pages 3, 4 and 5, are entirely
distinct, and enough traces appear on other pages to establish this as a
katun series beyond question. If this chapter includes just a round of
numbers it would of course be complete in 13 pages. The chapter may be
historical in contents, but the presence of this numeral Ahau-series
clearly relates these pages to successive katuns in some way, whatever
other bearings they may have. The ten pages thus in some way definitely
have to do with the lapse of 72,000 days, or not quite 200 solar years,
and the extension of the series to a full cycle of 20 katuns is quite
likely. The background of this section _e_ is red on each alternate

Returning now to section _a_, we find on each page three figures, nearly
all of persons or animals, seated on a large base [Hieroglyph]
practically identical with the tun-glyph. Fourteen of the backgrounds to
these figures are red. Above each figure there seems to have been at
least six glyphs, of which but very few are left. Above these is a space
entirely erased. In the center of the section on each page is a column
containing at least two Ahaus with red numerals. The numerals of the
upper row exceed those of the lower by 6; each row decreases from page
to page by 4. The erased margins of the MS. do not afford space for
another picture besides the three, on either side, but they do just give
room for another Ahau-column on the left of each page. If this second
Ahau-column existed, we have again the katun-series repeated in each row
across. If it did not exist, the series (reading from the supposed page
1) of 13, 9, 5, etc., and 7, 3, 12, etc., decreasing by 4’s, give the
numbers of successive tuns. Once again the question of whether a simple
number-round of thirteen terms, or a full round of twenty terms, whether
tuns or katuns, was originally displayed on the Codex, must be left
undetermined. It is further to be noted that faint but exact traces of a
third Ahau, on a higher line, appear on page 5, as well as some doubtful
traces on page 8. No definite relationship between the pictures of this
section _a_ and those of section _e_ is apparent.

Section _b_ is made up of 45 or more glyphs in three columns. The first
column is almost totally erased on every page, and I have disregarded it
both in assigning reference numbers and in the type cards. The other two
columns I have numbered in double column sequence downwards; but this
can be regarded as solely for convenience’ sake. The glyph [Hieroglyph]
which is three times repeated at the beginning of page 2, and recurs in
parallel position repeated two to five times on each page, is the most
common glyph in the whole Codex. It is identifiable probably 38 times,
including twice at the top of the erased _first_ column on page 4. It
heads the second column several times on every page, except 7, which is
too erased for any determination, and page 3, where a slight variation
in what is left of the postfix at b-3 forbade its insertion under the
rules I have given limiting restorations. I suspect that this glyph
should be repeated at 3-b-9 and 11-b-9, for the following reason. In
positions b-6, b-8 or b-10 of each page occurs a certain face-glyph
[Hieroglyph] that is found nowhere else in either the Perez, Dresden or
Tro.-Cort. codices. If the initial glyph is repeated at 3-b-9 and 11-b-9
as suggested, then (with a slight variation on page 4) this series of
repetitions of the initial glyph will in each case be closed by the
face-glyph in question.

A marked feature of section _b_ is the occurrence, near the bottom of
each page, of a Cauac-sign, with or without the [Hieroglyph]
wing-postfix, and with prefixed and superfixed [Hieroglyph] numerals,
exactly as is so common in connexion with the Chuen-sign on the
Inscriptions. This Cauac-sign is usually accompanied by an Ahau and a
Tun, each with numerals that are for the most part erased. This
combination suggests distance-numbers and dates, somewhat as on the
Inscriptions; in this case the double-numbered Cauacs would stand for so
many uinals plus so many days. The following combinations, besides the
one above, are also found:


Section _c_ consists of 16 glyphs in two rows, above the central
picture. Glyphs 15 and 16 on each page are erased. The chief general
characteristic is the frequent repetition of the Cimi-compound,
[Hieroglyph]; the repetition on each page of a Cauac-sign with single or
double numerals as in section _b_; and of Tun-compounds, with
[Hieroglyph] subfix and with varying prefixes (frequently faces), as
especially see page 5.

Section _d_ is a triple row of glyphs, originally 21 in some instances,
but with many now erased. I am able to establish few general
characteristics for this section, save again the frequency of the
Cimi-compound as in section _c_, of various Tun-compounds, and of the
two glyphs [Hieroglyph] and [Hieroglyph][TN-1] With the exception of
10-b-4, the face with the tau-eye occurs only in this section _d_ and on
pages 15 to 18. This glyph is exceedingly common both in Dres. and
Tro.-Cort, the form in which it appears at 3-d-4, 6, [Hieroglyph]
occurring (including its secondary compounds) no less than 126 times in
Dres. and 33 times in Tro.-Cort.

Beneath section _d_ are the remains of red numerals and of heads and
headdresses of figures which are now too much erased to give any basis
for comment.

A most marked feature of the Codex is the very large number of
Tun-compounds, a feature confined exclusively, with one exception, to
the present pages 2 to 11, and pages 23, 24. A classified list shows 28
compounds of this glyph, [Hieroglyph] 20 of these showing the subfix,
and combined with a face or other prefix. The connexion of this fact
with the Tun-bases of section _a_, and with the katun-rounds shown by
the Ahau-series above referred to, is manifest.

To sum up the general characteristics of this side of the MS., and
without attempting to interpret any separate glyphs, we find the
following data:

The Cimi-compound [Hieroglyph] and its sub-compound [Hieroglyph] occurs
25 times.

The numeral-compounded Cauac occurs 20 times.

The glyph [Hieroglyph] occurs 13 times on this side and once on page 23.

The Chuen-compound [Hieroglyph] occurs 19 times and probably
oftener--once only on the other side of the MS.

The various Tun-glyphs occur 45 times, on the two sides.

The face-glyph [Hieroglyph] occurs 10 times.

The Kan-Ymix glyph [Hieroglyph] occurs 10 times.

The glyph [Hieroglyph] occurs 37 times on this side and, with a prefix
and a changed postfix, once on page 24.

With the exceptions noted, none of the above glyphs occur at all on the
reverse side of the MS.

There are finally 19 different Yax ([Hieroglyph]) compounds, occurring
in all 25 times, 16 of them on this side of the MS.

With three exceptions the above glyphs are the only ones that are
repeated in the Codex with any marked frequency. The three exceptions
are the face with tau-eye, already [Hieroglyph] mentioned, and the two
glyphs occurring as an initial [Hieroglyphs] pair twelve times on pages
15 to 18, sections _a_, _b_, _c_.

Of month signs used as such I am only [Hieroglyphs] satisfied of 12
Cumhu, at 18-b-4 and of 16 Zac, at 4-c-7. The glyph [Hieroglyph] at
7-c-2 may also be 1 Yaxkin.

The only cardinal point sign is that of the West, [Hieroglyph] occurring
at 4-b-14 and again at 16-a-6.

There are besides these numeral Cauacs, 15 other Cauac [Hieroglyph]
compounds, occurring in all 17 times on this side, and twice on pages
23, 24.

       *       *       *       *       *

Upon turning over the Codex, we find that whereas on the side we have
been considering the scribe limited himself to the conventional red
numerals and backgrounds, with here and there a touch of brown, upon
this other side we have a wealth of color united with a harmony of
composition and structure that marks a very high degree of artistic
skill. It is not alone the accuracy of the drawing and the writing, such
as we have noted in connexion with the study of the glyphs, but the
whole manuscript as it lies open before us shows that sense of
proportion, that ability to unify without seeming effort a multitude of
details into a perfectly balanced whole, which is the positive mark of
developed and genuine culture. When we remember the exceeding difficulty
of combining primary colors into a brilliancy that is not garish, and
the equal difficulty of achieving artistic mastery in a conventional
treatment of forms, we are simply forced to recognize that we have here
the evidence of an advanced school of art with full rights of
independent citizenship. If the figures look strange and sometimes
distorted, we must remember that our whole training has been in the
realistic school, by which we are prone to judge all others, but by
which they must not be judged. We have no more right to weigh these
compositions in the scales of our art motifs than we have to weigh Greek
rhythm of quantity or Saxon of alliteration against our weights by which
we measure rhythm of rhyme and stress. In fact it is impossible for us
even to judge concerning the true harmonic effect of these other
measures, and it may well be doubted whether the very soul itself of our
meter is not empty and tinny as compared with these others--quality for

There is one great broad line that divides the nations and civilizations
of the earth, past and present, in all their arts of expression. We may
call it that of the ideographic as against the literal. It controls the
inner form of language and of languages; it manifests in the passage of
thought from man to man; it determines whether the writing of the people
shall be hieroglyphic or alphabetic; it gives both life and form to the
ideals of their art. It is a distinction that was clearly recognized by
Wilhelm von Humboldt, when he laid down that the incorporative
characteristic essential to all the American languages is the result of
the exaltation of the imaginative over the ratiocinative elements of

The time has passed when we think that the absence of our perspective
drawing in Japanese pictures is due to the fact that these “children of
nature” never happened to recognize that a thing looks smaller in
proportion to its distance, so that they ought to come to us to learn.
We have come, in some measure if not yet fully, to recognize that
whereas we show a thing to the eye, these other peoples suggest a
thought to the mind, by their pictures. And we should remember, and
remember always, that while our modern art having won its technical and
artistic skill within the past few hundred years, is now beginning to
emancipate itself from the materialism of the eye by efforts towards the
“impressionist” methods, these ancient peoples had long since arrived at
the ability to convey “impressions” through the medium of harmonious
compositions of the most rigid conventional elements--an artistic
achievement which those who know its difficulties can alone begin to

It may be quite easily forgiven to one trained with Western, modern
eyes, who at first sight of these monuments, in total ignorance of their
meanings, sees them as strange or grotesque. But when, as their
strangeness wears away, one comes to see the unfailing accuracy with
which the glyphs are drawn, one’s opinion of their makers has to change.
And when, with this familiarity gained, one advances to an appreciation
of the work in its bearings as a whole, one has to acknowledge himself
facing the production of craftsmen who had the inheritance of not only
generations, but ages of training. Such a combination of complete
mastery in composition, perfect control of definite and fixed forms, and
hand technique, can grow up from barbarism in no few hundred years. I
would hesitate to think it could even come in a few thousands, unless
they were years of greater settledness and peaceful civilization than
our two thousand years of disturbed and warring European Christendom
have yet had an example of to show us. It is easy enough in the absence
of definite historical records, and in our general ignorance of human
evolution, to theorize and speculate about it all; but the commonly
accepted picture in our minds of a few savage wandering tribes settling
and growing up in this country some several hundred or a thousand years
after the Christian era, simply will not fit in with the fact of their
ability to produce such works a few hundred years later. Had we nothing
but the Perez Codex and Stela P at Copan, the merits of their execution
alone, weighed simply in comparison with observed history elsewhere,
would prove that we have to do not with the traces of an ephemeral, but
with the remains of a wide-spread, settled race and civilization, worthy
to be ranked with or beyond even such as the Roman, in its endurance,
development and influence in the world, and the beginnings of whose
culture are still totally unknown. As to the Codex before us, we can
only imagine what the beauty, especially of the pages we now come to
discuss, must have been when the whole was fresh and perfect.

The second side of the Codex has to be treated in four divisions or
chapters, the first of which includes pages 15 to 18. For numerical
reasons which will appear, this chapter must probably have begun,
however, at least one page further to the left.

These four pages are laid out with three main divisions, upper, middle
and lower. Too much of the upper section is erased for any comment other
than that its arrangement seems to have been parallel in all respects
with the middle section. This latter shows three subsections, the
backgrounds in some cases being red,[24-*] containing each a picture
(probably of a god or a human figure in every instance), surmounted by a
black and a red numeral and by six glyphs, in double column. This gives
12 subsections for the four pages, which we may refer to respectively as
15-_a_, _b_, _c_, etc. Of the initial pairs of glyphs in each subsection
many are complete, and no section is left without the correct traces of
the corresponding glyph for one or other of the positions; so that
although 5 of the 24 glyphs are totally erased, we may safely restore
them all. Other features of the comparative use and frequency of the
glyphs on these pages have already been given.

At the top of each picture is found a black and a red numeral. These
form the consecutive black “counters” or interval numbers, and the
corresponding red day numbers of subdivided tonalamatls, so common in
Dres. and Tro.-Cort. It is customary to find these tonalamatls divided
into fifths or fourths, 52 or 65 days respectively--four or five
trecenas. At the 53rd or 66th day the initial red number is again
reached, and the calculation is (by hypothesis) repeated, starting again
at the left with a new day-sign below the first. Such a column is seen
in the lower part of page 17, where we find 6 Oc, Ik, Ix; these are to
be completed by restoring below an erased Cimi and Ezanab, completing
the 260 days and bringing us around again to 6 Oc. The total of all the
black “counters” in any series must always be some multiple of 13,
usually 52 or 65, as stated. And since each “counter” is the interval
between its adjoining red numbers, wherever a red and a black number are
given, the other red number, whether before or after, can always be
filled in.

No traces of this initial column appear for the series in the middle
division, and several of the numerals are also erased. Two obscurities
must be cleared up before trying to fill out the series. On page 16
right is a partly erased black numeral, which from the traces may be
either 10 or 11. Taking it as 10, we have 13 plus 10 equals an erased
red 10; plus 5 (on page 17) equals the red 2 below the 5. This verifies
so far. But we next find--plus 5 equals 8, which is of course incorrect.
An inspection of the MS. and the photographs reveals a reddish spot (or
perhaps even _three_ such spots) in the extreme upper right corner of
the picture space, 17-a, and also a dark spot _under_ the black 5 in
17-b. It is possible that the separated red dots (one doubtful) are to
be read together as 3; or that the red dots under the 5 are to be
disregarded in the count (just as is the red 8 on the next page, 18-a),
and the red number for 17-a found in the upper right, above the seated
figure. If the red number in 17-a is 3, the two numbers in 16-c must be
11. Or it may be assumed that the spot under the 5 in 17-b belongs to
it, making 6 instead of 5, which figures out. The final result is the
same, as we have either 10 and 6, or 11 and 5, in these two places, and
either reaches properly the clear red 8 in 17-b.

In 18-a we find black 26, with a small red 8 below, and a large red 13
in the usual place at the side. The red 8 will have to be disregarded,
as not part of the series, which requires 13, and nothing else.

We may now possibly set down the series as follows, using small figures
above the the[TN-2] line for the black counters, and putting in
parentheses all numbers restored:

  or else

This leaves us the black number at the beginning, in 15-a, and both
numbers at the end, 18-c, still not filled in. Adding together all the
counters we get 82, plus at least the two missing black numbers, one at
each end. If the total were 104, we might expect it to have been
comprised within the four subsections 15-a to 18-a. But 104 is not a
tonalamatl fraction. 130 days, although a tonalamatl half, is an unknown
division, and would hardly get into the space. If we begin the series in
the upper division of the page (as occurs in Dres.) and come around to
the middle division, the probabilities would require that it displayed a
full series of 260 days, and again also that it began _to the left_ of
page 15. The probabilities of this series as it is, therefore, indicate
at least a page 14 to the left, arranged like the other four, and
forming one chapter with them.

We have now to deal with the puzzling numeral columns, in alternating
colors, found to the left of each subsection of the upper and middle
divisions--24 columns in all. These have been referred to at some length
in the preliminary discussion of the colors, and there is little more
that can be said. As there said, the entire reason for alternating the
colors can not be certainly assumed. Alternation of color occurs not
only where it is needed to distinguish bars, but also where we have only
lines of dots, which are of course self-separating. And to say that it
is only for artistic purposes is a mere begging of the question. Only
four or five of these columns are complete, and a footing of the numbers
in each gives us varying amounts from 113 to 153, and tells us nothing.
On the parts that are left we six times have a Chuen [Hieroglyph] with a
black number apparently belonging to it (perhaps a multiplier), and also
once a double Chuen, as in Tro.-Cort. The use of the red _kal_-sign, or
20, is frequent.

The lower division of these pages was also subdivided, into four
sections on each, which we may refer to as _d_, _e_, _f_, _g_. Each
contains a picture, with black and red numerals as above, surmounted by
four glyphs only. The pictures are all quite incomplete; neither is
there anything to add to what has been already said of the glyphs.

In the middle of page 17 one tonalamatl ends, with a red 6, and another
begins, also with 6. The second starts with the day 6 Oc, is divided
into fifths, and the initial column must have been in full: 6 Oc, Ik,
Ix, Cimi, Ezanab. The restoration of the series gives: 6^{22}2^{(15 in
two stages)}(4)^{10}1^{4}6. This however only gives a total of 51 for
the black counters. There is space to the right for another section, but
whatever may have been written there has entirely disappeared. The last
three numbers 1^{4}6 seem unmistakable, the [Hieroglyph] especially so.
If we regard the last 6 as an error for 5, and then restore ^{1}6 in
section 18-g, it would give the necessary 52. This is the one passage in
the Codex where I can see no way but to assume a mistake in the writing;
for 1 plus 4 does not equal 6, and unless for some entirely unknown
reason the error is clear.

The preceding tonalamatl may have been divided either into 52- or 65-day
periods. If the period was 52, it must have begun with an initial column
on page 15, right side. In this event it would be restored as follows:

  (initial 6)^{(19 in two stages)}(12)^{6}5^{7}12^{(12 in two stages)}

giving 52. In this case a third tonalamatl must have begun somewhere to
the left, and ended on the erased right side of page 15.

A different restoration would carry the initial column back to the
extreme edge of page 15, when we would have this:

  (initial 6)^{(2)}(8)^{8}3^{11}(1)^{(11 in two stages)}(12)^{6}5^{7}
  12^{(12 two stages)}(11)^{8}6

giving 65.

To choose between these two would be mere guessing.

       *       *       *       *       *

The well-known pages 19 and 20 come next. Together they make four
compartments, up and down the full length of the pages, two with red and
two with black backgrounds. Each is, or rather was, preceded by a column
of 13 “year-bearers.” The left column on each page I have restored,
although no traces of it are left. But apart from its manifest
necessity, as part of the series, if the width of the red ground on page
20 (see the photographs) is measured, it will be found to be just the
correct proportion, and part of the straight left edge of the red can
still be seen, just left of the rod in the hand of the mummy-figure, and
leaving just room for the Ezanab column. In the colored plates I have
only shown 12 instead of 13 day-signs in each column, but a measurement
of the space above and below shows that the missing four are to be
placed at the top and not at the bottom. These two pages therefore have
application in some way to 52 solar years, beginning with 1 Lamat and
ending with 13 Akbal (Votan).

These “year-bearers” are those of the Tzental instead of the Yucatecan
system, as described by Landa, and on these two pages rests, so far as
regards known subject-matter, the assignment of the Codex Perez to the
Palenque rather than to the northern Maya district. It is thus to be
considered with the Inscriptions of that region, and with the Dresden
Codex.[28-*] And in accord with what is known of the state of the
different parts of the country at the time of the Conquest, and of the
history of the break-up and extinction of the Maya empire, it must be
assigned the greater antiquity on that account.

It is probable that pages 19 and 20 had no text passages.

       *       *       *       *       *

Pages 21 and 22 again, judging from the coloring and the arrangement,
seem to form a pair. Each had on the upper part probably five rows of
glyphs, some 70 in all, of which only 10 or 12 are at all recognizable.
Contrary to all the pages hitherto discussed, it may be that these
glyphs are to be _read from right to left_. The faces in these all look
to the right, and the customary prefixes are all on the right. In
classifying these glyphs, therefore, they must be all reversed.

The greater part of page 21 is framed in and divided up by green bands,
evidently for water, two branches of which, after crossing a
constellation band near the bottom, end one in falling torrents, the
other in a circle surrounding a _kin_-sign, [Hieroglyph], the sun, and
itself surrounded by four dragon’s heads, all figured in the midst of
the torrents. Below this symbol is the open mouth of a dragon, towards
which is looking and pointing a black-faced figure, of the god D, the
Ancient of Days, described by Schellhas as the moon and night god. To
the left of the torrents is a figure, nearly erased, but with the
wristlets characteristic of the god of death, and holding in the hand a
torch. The glyph [Hieroglyph] occurs written in the torrents, at the
left side.

The green bands divide the middle of the page into six compartments
containing, so far as not totally erased, 65 day-signs, in columns of
five. All my efforts to relate these signs either to each other or to
any other series in the codices, have so far been fruitless. The upper
seven columns have each a black numeral beneath, running from right to
left, 1 2 3 3 5 6 and the dot of another 6.

Each of the columns of five day-signs forms a closed circuit returning
into itself. In the upper row the 1st and 6th columns show successive
days 8 apart in order; columns 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 are 16 apart in order.
The 1st in the lower row is at intervals of 8, the 2nd and 5th at
intervals of 16. The 3rd column is, with the 4th, an exception, the
intervals being successively 8, 4, 4, 8, 16. That this is probably not a
scribal error is shown by the fact that the same series, though
beginning with different days, occurs in both columns. The 6th and
possible 7th columns of the lower part are indeterminable.

We thus have three rounds of 5 times 8, or 40 days; seven rounds of 5
times 16, or 80 days; two irregular rounds of 40 days. These are not
such columns as could form the beginning of a series of tonalamatl
fifths, in which the successive days come 12 apart. So that this section
must be left unexplained.[29-*]

At the right of page 21 begins a solid red background which probably
extended right across page 22. Two standing spotted green figures appear
on page 21; seven seated figures, one green spotted, on page 22.

Page 22 is crossed by a winding dragon whose body is covered by the
“constellation band.” A narrow green band also winds across the page,
inclosing two of the upper figures. Below the dragon and this green band
are seen, seated above the open mouths of two erect dragons, two figures
in conversation, each bearing various insignia of the death god. A very
curious cartouche outline, partly erased, at the lower right, incloses
what seems to be 13 Ahau, 3, 6, the right hand dot of the 3 being

       *       *       *       *       *

On pages 23 and 24 the brilliant backgrounds of the preceding pages
disappear, and we have two pages, to be read together, of glyphs,
day-signs and small figures, finely and sparingly illuminated with the
usual four colors. The body of the dragon is apparently continuous from
page 21, and crosses these pages entirely with the constellation band,
displayed along its full length.

The upper part of these two pages contained originally 91 glyphs,
perhaps to be read _from right to left_, the same as 21 and 22. The
faces look to the right, the usual _pre_fixes and the few numerals are
also on the right of their respective compounds. Many of the glyphs are
the same as those on pages 2 to 11, reversed right for left. Glyph
23-a-11 should be specially noted. At first sight the numeral prefix, 6,
appears to belong, postfixed, to glyph 23-a-17. But on investigation we
find the same compound, a _yax-chuen_ with [Hieroglyph] prefix, also at
21-a-8 and 24-a-26, in each case with the 6 attached. The [Hieroglyph]
affix just below this number 6 is also plainly a _pre_fix to glyph
23-a-12; so that glyph 23-a-ll must be read [Hieroglyph] and include the
6 as prefix. At 24-a-26, [Hieroglyph] the same glyph is written left to

There are also a few other glyphs on these pages which cannot be
regarded as right to left. Such for instance, as [Hieroglyph] at
23-a-19 and 24-a-17. In this glyph the affix [Hieroglyph] at the side is
properly a prefix (perhaps the possessive), and I do not recall any
instance of its use as a postfix. In the affixes, the superfix and
prefix positions may as a general rule be regarded as wholly identical;
also the subfix and postfix positions. But also as a general rule the
two pairs are I believe not to be interchanged, any more than we
interchange prefixes and endings in English; this rule is not universal
for all affixes, as some seem able to go anywhere, but it is one I have
always regarded in my glyph classifying. As to [Hieroglyph] it is to be
noted that this is a symmetrical glyph and as there can be no doubt that
these glyphs were equally legible to the Maya reader written in either
direction, it may well be regarded as unimportant, and not to be rated
even as an error. [Hieroglyph] is a still stronger similar case. Here
the wing [Hieroglyph] affix to the right is certainly a postfix, the
superfix is in the usual left to right order, [Hieroglyph] and the main
element written left to right, as in all its other instances. And
[Hieroglyph] is again in point.

The face-_tun_ compounds on these pages, and also on the opposite side
of the manuscript, should be particularly noted.

Below the constellation band, inscribed on a wavy green band (the waters
of space?) are seven repetitions of [Hieroglyph] or the sun glyph
[Hieroglyph] within the shields.[31-*] Between each appeared probably
two black 8’s. The sun-shields are about to be seized by different
animals, dragon, tortoise, bird, etc., a seeming evident suggestion of
either an eclipse, or the passage of the sun into some zodiacal sign.
Another series of seven sun-shields, on the green band, separated by
numeral 8’s, and attacked by animals and a skeleton, crosses the lower
part of the pages.

Between these two bands we find a series of columns of five day-signs
each preceded by red numerals. Allowing for the space erased I have
restored the last column to the right, and part of the preceding. This
gives 12 columns only, whereas at least 13 are required. There may have
been a 12th column to the left of page 23, where there is just the
proper space for this,[32-*] leaving the dragon’s body to curve above
the column so as to pass to page 22. The series may have continued on
across page 25; 13 columns on pages 23, 24, and 7 more filling page 25,
would make a full cycle of 20 columns. And in this connexion it should
be noted that the dragon’s body with constellation band goes almost to
the edge of page 24 with no sign of ending or turning, such as might be
expected if the chapter ends here. And if the constellation dragon
continues over page 25, the column series may well have done the same.

Before discussing this series it will be of advantage to review what the
Codex gives us on the question of reading left to right or right to

First, in both the Dresden and Tro.-Cort. the glyph faces look to the
left; and, as shown by the calculations, reading is from left to right,
with a very few possible exceptions, such as the tables on Dres. 24, 64,
69, etc.

In the Perez, as shown by the tonalamatls on 15 to 18, the 52
year-bearers on 19 and 20, and the katun-series on 2 to 12, the general
direction of the reading is also left to right.

Above or below each of the red number columns of these pages 23, 24, is
to be found a blue number. These numbers make a katun-series, starting
with 4, decreasing by 2, if we read it left to right. It is not, to be
sure, accompanied by the customary Ahau-sign, [Hieroglyph], but, taken
in connexion with the marked parallelism of the glyphs, face-tun glyphs
and also others, on these two pages with those on pages 2 to 11, already
discussed, the possibility that a katun-series is a part of this
subject-matter must be considered.

On the other hand, the glyphs in the upper part of all four pages 21 to
24 face to the right, and, as already set out in detail, are practically
all written in _reverse position_ as regards their prefixes, etc. And so
also does the Eb-glyph in the day-columns we are now considering face to
the right. These columns, unlike those on page 21, which include all of
the 20 day-signs, only include 5 of the day-signs: Kan, Lamat, Eb, Cib
and Ahau; Eb being the only non-symmetrical one of these.

We have thus quite strong evidence, especially as provided by the
position of the prefixes, for a right to left reading, opposed by the
direction of this katun-number series--if it be one. In Egyptian
writing, of course, the direction of the reading changes with the facing
of the figures.

To return now to the columns themselves, all the day-signs in any one
column have each the same red numeral, so that we have: 8 Cib, 8 Ahau, 8
Kan, 8 Lamat, 8 Eb; and so on. The red numerals to each column also
decrease by 2 towards the right, pari passu with the blue numerals. If
we read each column downwards, it will form a closed circuit or round,
returning into itself, with intervals of 104 days, from 8 Cib to 8 Ahau,
etc., and again from 8 Eb back to 8 Cib. But if we next try to go to the
next column, the series breaks, for from 8 Eb to 6 Lamat is only 76
days. We get a like break whether we read upward or downward, or right
to left. Taking the columns separately then, the entire series (whether
made up of 13, 20 or any other number of columns) cannot be made to read
in one regular series, with a constant interval between the successive
days of the whole.

But, if we restore two columns, making 13 columns, and then read
horizontally _across_, either right to left, or left to right, one line
after another, the first day of the second line follows the last of the
first, and after going through the whole 65 terms, we return again from
the last of the last line to the first of the first--always with a
constant interval. In other words, this section could be written around
a wheel. If we read left to right, the distance from (10 Kan) to 8 Cib,
etc., is 232 days; 232×65=15,080. Or if from right to left,[33-*] the
interval from (12 Lamat) to 1 Cib, etc., is 28 days; 28×13 = 364, ×5 =
1820. That both of these products are multiples of 260 is a truism, and
cannot in any way require us to see a tonalamatl reckoning as the basis
of this passage. Nor is each separate day-column a tonalamatl in fifths,
as so often found.

Finally, if we should assume that the series went on across page 25, to
a full katun-round of 20 terms, the circuit would be broken; line 2
would not regularly follow line 1, and so on. The probabilities then, as
derived from the succession of the days, seem almost conclusive that
this is a section of 65 terms, to be read horizontally, in whichever
direction. And then, since the subdivision of 15,080 days (or 1820, if
read right to left) into 65 terms, _necessarily_ gives us successive
day-_numbers_ decreasing (or increasing) by 2, the likeness to the
katun-series may be only apparent--a simple truism. Or, on the other
hand, in view of the glyph similarities (a point which I think should
always be given close attention), there _may_ be some relation to the
katun-series--all in spite of the right-left or left-right difficulties.

What part the blue[34-*] number series plays, I cannot say. Dr.
Seler,[34-†] suggests that they are “corrections,” to set each term
ahead 20 days. This states a fact, but does not give any explanation.
Each blue number is 6 less than its red column, and 7 Kan _is_ of course
20 days later than 13 Kan.


[24-*] Dr. Förstemann (_Comm. z. Par. Mayahds._) speaks of the
background to the central figure on page 16 as black, instead of red; he
also describes the number columns as made up of red and black numerals
only. There are many similar errors in his Commentary, due to his
ignorance of the colors, and to the obscurity of the photographic

[28-*] Where to place the Tro.-Cort., in view of the _apparent_ Kan,
Muluc[TN-3] Ix, Cauac years indicated on pages 34-37, and the 13 Cumhu
immediately next to 13 Ahau on page 73 (13 Ahau 13 Cumhu falling only
possibly in a year 12 Lamat) I am not ready to say.

[29-*] Mr. Bowditch suggests to me that the numbers 1 2 3 3 5 6 6 are to
be read with each of the day signs in their respective columns, and,
being placed in the middle, may apply both to the upper and lower sets.
The strongest objection I can see to this is that the numbers are black,
instead of the usual red. In this case, instead of intervals of 8 and
16, giving rounds of 5×8=40 and 5×16=80 days, we would have intervals of
156 and 208 (from 1 Ymix to 1 Muluc, etc.), giving rounds of 780 and
1040 days respectively. Or, if read _upwards_, we would have 52 and 104
day intervals (1 Ben to 1 Chicchan, etc.), and rounds of 260 and 520
days. But whichever be the case, the page is _sui generis_, and its why
is still beyond us.

[31-*] I have retained the usual term “shields” for the flaring forms
which embrace the sun glyph, though without accepting its
appropriateness. They might with equal likelihood be conventionalized

[32-*] Dr. Förstemann ignores the space on the right of page 24, and
restores two columns to the left of page 23 in order to make up the
thirteen columns; but, as shown by the edges of the pages in the
photographs, one column restored in each place will just fill the
obliterated space.

[33-*] Dr. Seler’s reading; _Gesammelte Abhandlungen_, I, 515.

[34-*] The blue is a true blue, quite distinct from the turquoise blue
elsewhere, and is found in the case of these numbers only.

[34-†] _Gesammelte Abhandlungen_, I, 515; “Zur mexik. Chronologie.”


Up to date our knowledge of the meanings of the glyphs is still to all
intents and purposes limited to the direct tradition we have through
Landa, and the deductions immediately involved in these. We know the day
and month signs, the numbers, including 0 and 20, four units of the
archaic calendar count (the day, tun, katun and cycle), the cardinal
point signs, the negative particle. We have not fully solved the uinal
or month sign, which seems to be _chuen_ on the monuments and a _cauac_,
or _chuen_, in the manuscripts. We are able to identify what must be
regarded as metaphysical or esoteric applications of certain glyphs in
certain places, such as the face numerals.[35-*] But every one of these
points is either deducible directly by necessary mathematical
calculation, or else from the names of certain signs given by Landa in
his day and month list, and then found in other combinations, such as
_yax_, _kin_, etc. That we have as many of the points as we have, and
still cannot form from them the key--that we cannot _read_ the
glyphs--is a constant wonder; but a fact nevertheless.

The innumerable efforts to identify the glyphs by their superficial
appearance, calling the banded headdress a “pottery decoration,” and
explaining the face-glyph of the North thereby, because in Maya _xaman_
is north and _xamach_ a tortilla dish (to say nothing of others still
more fanciful, by a host of writers), have broken down, as was to be
expected. I mention this instance because it illustrates fully the
results of superficial analysis, united with a seeming ineradicable
tendency even among those most able students who have added the most to
our stock of Maya knowledge (among whom Dr. Brinton was certainly one of
the foremost), to treat these glyphs as carelessly done, to disregard
the differences between manifest variants, or else to talk freely,
whenever a passage does not fit the explanation which is being worked
out, of scribal errors.

In the first place, _if_ these glyphs are to be interpreted primarily by
the Yucatecan Maya dialect (one in which we have most ample printed and
MS. lexicographic material), and if in that dialect no other words at
all resembling _xaman_ and _xamach_ are found, as we are told, then
(_if_ the Mayas named the north star, or the North, by a pun on a
tortilla dish) wherever this banded headdress is found, we must assume
the text to be treating either of the North, or of tortillas. That might
safely be left to break down of its own weight; but we shall also see
that the explanation is given in total disregard of manifest, important
variants. This banded headdress appears ornamenting at least
[Hieroglyphs] five separate and distinct faces; one a wholly human face,
the others with various other definite characteristics, the most
frequent and prominent of which are the monkey-like face and mouth we
see in the [Hieroglyph] glyph for the north, and a sort of bird’s
plumage covering the back of the head. These two are separate, are never
combined, and must be classified rigidly apart. We have therefore three
elements, the monkey face, the plumage covering (if we may call it so),
and the banded headdress. It is obvious that while the monkey face may
be specific of the North, the bands are not specific at all, but

It is with the greatest diffidence that I suggest any interpretations on
my own part as yet, but it is of course certain that the distinction of
masculine and feminine existed in the spoken language, and it must exist
somewhere in the glyphs. And it will have to be a prefix, not a postfix;
for what I may call the syntax of glyph formation must follow that of
the speech. At the bottom of Dres. 61 and 62 are seven identical
Oc-glyphs with subfix, and with prefixes. Five of these prefixes are
faces with the woman’s curl, recognized on the figured illustrations.
One is a face with the banded headdress. Remembering that this headdress
occurs not infrequently on a plain human face with no other
characteristic, it is not a far guess that it may have denoted a
freeman, a lord, entitled to such a headdress. In this event it may on
the one hand serve as a simple masculine definitive, the prefix _ah-_,
and on the other, to attach the idea of lordship to other glyphs with
which it is incorporated, as: the North Star, or region, the Lord of the

This illustration serves to show what seems to me an essential
preliminary of the work we have in hand, and the part to which I have so
far devoted most effort. The glyphs must be determined, compared and
classified, and what I have called the “syntax” of their composition,
studied. The particles and their positions, the various _incorporated_
elements, are of the utmost importance, though they are very frequently
ignored. _They are the written picture of the spirit of the spoken
language._ The task I have most looked forward to in this connexion has
of course been with the Dresden, but having started upon the Perez for
the reasons I have given, it was a smaller task in itself, and could be
brought to completion within less time, while serving as part of the
larger work. As the determination and classification of the glyphs had
to proceed all as one work, it has enabled me not only to complete my
Index for this codex, but also to print the text in type, and to verify
and bring out such facts regarding the color questions as was possible
to do--both of them stages needed in the general work. In doing it I
have studied with my hands as well as with eyes, and I have been well
repaid. The actual labor has not been small, but it has been worth it
all if only to see before the eyes something of what this Codex must
have been when fresh and new. For as I have said, while in my colored
restoration I may have made some mistakes of eye, for which the
photographs will be a check, I have _guessed_ nothing.

The classification of the glyphs meets of course with some difficulties
in detail, but it can readily be cast into a quite simple general
outline. Something over 2000 different compound forms are found in the
three codices. The simple elements composing these are perhaps 350 in
number, and may be divided broadly into main elements and affixes or
particles. First of course come day and month signs, which, with _kin_,
_tun_, _kal_, and a few marked variants, use up 50 numbers. Next will
come the faces, about 75 simple elements. Next the animal and bird heads
and figures, about 50 numbers. Next the hands, crosses, etc., and the
list of conventional or geometric forms, another 75. Then some 75

The cards required for the first 50 numbers, including only compounds
formed from day-signs and excluding day-signs used simply as such,
amount to practically one half of the number required for the whole
index. Certain elements, notably the _kin_, the _tun_, the monkey-face
with banded headdress, already referred to, the face with tau-eye, the
_yax_, the cross, produce a great number of compounds--a fact of note,
as it is evident that the number of compounds, having due regard to our
limited material, is an index to the relative position of the idea in
the Mayan vocabularies. Some of the day-signs produce practically no
compounds, others a great many. The compounds fall readily into a system
of primary and secondary derivatives, by which their relations may be
easily studied, and their proportions recognized.

Coming to the distinguishing of variants, one first meets the fact that
the three codices differ. The writing of the Dresden and Perez is
regular and accurate, the Perez exceedingly so. Every different variant
must here be accounted for. In Tro.-Cort. the writing is crude and
careless, so that we have many evident abbreviations which are not
genuine variants. In the next place, certain regular differences occur
in this or that glyph or particle, between the forms of the different
manuscripts. Thus the Perez uses [Hieroglyph] and the others
[Hieroglyph] and so on. A comparison of the compounds shows that these
must be the same. The regular variations between the three manuscripts
and variations of abbreviation, when well evidenced, may be eliminated.

The day-signs have many variants, mostly quite simple, and all checked
positively by the use of the form in some day-series. Ix has many
forms. There are at least three entirely different Cimi forms:
[Hieroglyphs][TN-4] There are found two different forms of the closed
eye, one of which certainly is Cimi, the other occurs regularly in
such different compounds (and I think never as a simple day-sign), as
to make it necessary to separate it; [Hieroglyph] it has probably a
different meaning entirely--perhaps that of sleep.

       *       *       *       *       *

A noteworthy technical line is to be found in the drawing of the glyphs.
Whereas in the case of the day-signs, faces, and conventional forms in
general, certain variations of handwriting, etc., are evidently
permitted, but only within certain definite lines, in some few animal
glyphs no two instances are just alike. In other words, the glyphs in
general are conventions with established meanings--actual writing;[39-*]
but we also have _pictures_ of birds or animal forms, where the writer
is not following convention, but nature. The freedom of style used in
the latter case only serves to emphasize the conventionality of the
former, and to separate the entire system from either picture or rebus
writing. See the following fish-glyph forms:


These pictures are almost exclusively in uncompounded forms, whereas the
conventional glyphs, whether human, animal or otherwise, are subject to
the general rules of incorporation.

Writing is a system of conventional forms with established meanings,
corresponding to and reflecting the structure of the spoken language;
some picture elements whose value as such has remained either wholly or
partly present in the minds of those who use them, are not inconsistent
with genuine writing; when present they add vividness to the writing,
and emphasize its ideographic character. A combination of picture forms
only, may be used as means of communication to a certain degree, but can
never constitute _writing_; that, like speech, must provide for the
expression of the relationships and categories that make up the
structure of language.

Egyptian writing, which is of course _true writing_, contains elements
of every class. It has symbols and also pictures, not only of things or
creatures, but of actions as well, “contracted to a narrow space, made
cursive”; these pictures, although still ranking as such, stand for
_words_--they can be _pronounced_, and have syntax, which is the crucial
test. Egyptian next has unrecognizable forms, whose meaning has become a
simple convention, but which still stand for _words_, or particles. It
has elements which are not pronounced for themselves, but only serve as
determinatives. (Such a use of determinatives is not limited to
hieroglyphic writing, but is possessed also by alphabetic; the second
_o_ in the word _too_ is strictly a determinative, to distinguish the
adverb _too_ from the preposition _to_, both pronounced alike. Tibetan
has an elaborate system of silent letters used as grammatical
determinatives.) And then Egyptian writing finally has pure alphabetic

As to Maya, I think it far more than likely that, when at last
deciphered, it will be found to contain most if not all of these
classes--_mutatis mutandis_. There seems every evidence that it is made
up of pictures with probably both concrete and abstract meanings;
word-conventions; and grammatical particles. It is at least probable
that there are also silent determinatives and not unlikely that there is
also a pure phonetic or alphabetic element. That the latter element is
not the basic one may I think be now regarded as established.


[35-*] The Tibetan use of symbolical words in place of numerals is worth
noting here, even though we do not know the Maya face numerals well
enough as yet for any comparison. See Csoma de Kőrös, _Tibetan grammar_,
Calcutta, 1824, pp. 155 _et seq._; also Ph. Éd. Foucaux, _Grammaire
Tibétaine_, Paris, 1858, pp. 157 _et seq._

[39-*] “These [the Maya glyphs] do not represent a real script, as is so
often maintained, but are only pictures which have been reduced to the
appearance of letters, contracted to a narrow space, made
cursive.”!--Dr. Eduard Seler, _Codex Vaticanus No. 3773_, page


_Introite, nam et hic dii sunt._

It is not my desire to add, as a conclusion to a comment bearing on the
restoration and interpretation of Mayan hieroglyphic texts, any general
discussion of the data which tradition and the early Spanish writers
have left us of the mythology, rites and customs of the American races;
and still less to run out a line of attractive analogies between
isolated instances of their words, symbols or works, with those of any
of the various nations of the other hemisphere; nor to build up any
theory of descent or intercourse with any of these latter as today known
to history. The subject before us is on its very face too vast; the
written and traditional data are entirely too scanty and too little
understood; and while we are still obliged to designate the various gods
and personages of the Codices as god A, B, etc., and are unable to fix
definitely[41-*] a single inscribed date in terms of our chronology, or
tell the event attached to it, fancied comparisons amount to little. And
the favorite “linguistic” method is more fragile yet, especially when
the uncertainties of spelling and transliteration are considered, and
above all the frequent total ignorance of the past history and changes
the different words compared must have gone through since the time when
by any possibility a physical transmission from one locality to the
other could have taken place. These ought to be commonplaces of
research, but it is to be feared that they have not quite yet become
so.[42-*] There is no need to give instances of such false analogies
which have served as the bases for a multitude of filiation theories,
all equally well “supported” by details, and all mutually exclusive. Nor
on the other hand can we deny the existence actually of a very great
number of resemblances and identities which cannot be ignored, but must
imply connexions of some kind. The English nation is not a Hebrew people
because it had a prime minister Disraeli, nor Greeks because they have a
Queen Alexandra, nor Romans because of certain local names. Such facts
even when real, and established as such, may only be evidence of a
single continental culture or transcontinental intercourse.

It has been the dictum of a certain school of archaeology, still very
much in general favor, that all these identities are to be explained as
the natural result of the innate tendencies of untutored men, on their
evolutionary rise, at certain cultural stages, to imagine the same myths
and invent the same rites. From this as a principle I wholly dissent; it
simply does not meet the facts. There are of course many facts to which
it does apply, such as those that both Chinese and Americans made paper,
tanned leather, made feather ornaments, used star and flower names for
their children, and so on: facts which had been used to prove Chinese
and American identity, and to which Dr. Brinton justly added in retort
that they also slept at night, wore clothes when it was cold, and so on.
But there is a very great number of facts, a number constantly growing
with research, which cannot be so dismissed. Such are the employment of
abstract symbolism, the erection of great structures all having a
definite and identical astronomical bearing and evident use, the common
possession of so-called myths all telling the one story, and only
slightly modified locally, such as the birth-stories of Huitzilopochtli
and of Herakles, and the stories of the travail of Latona pursued by the
Python and of the Woman clothed with the Sun in _Revelation_; or the
universal tradition of seven ancestral caves or cities in America,
compared with the Tibetan and Purânic stories of the seven lotus-leaves
of Śveta-dvîpa, the first continental home of the race; the _Hacha de
cobre_ of the Miztecs and the ever-turning spear of jade of the Japanese
story of the place where the gods first descended on earth; or the whole
question of the origin of the Zodiac. These things, and a host of
others, need a different explanation--all the more since the more we are
learning of them the more we find that they enclose facts of which the
hypothetical “savage children” could not, _ex hypothesi_, have been
aware--some facts indeed which our very latest modern science is only
now learning.[43-*]

But while dissenting now wholly from this theory (of “coincidentalism”)
one cannot but hold in all respect those who in their time held it. It
is the duty of the savant to make the best logical use he can of what he
has, and he cannot be criticised for not using finer scales than the
time affords. And this theory was needed as an answer to the
absurdities, brought out in utter disregard of physical possibilities,
postulating off-hand migrations and filiations and evolutionary advances
totally impossible within the periods allowed for their completion, and
utterly without parallel in any known part of the world or page of
history. And yet, when this theory had its birth, the most of
Christendom was still enthralled by the Ussherian chronology of the
creation and history of the whole divine universe, which simply did not
have room in it for all these things to happen naturally and

And if it is urged that present science had already say a generation
ago, a second’s time we might say in the life of humanity, begun to
emancipate our ideas of time and evolution, still it is the fact that
that increase in breadth of vision has so far applied to every known
thing but man himself. The old belief that gave the world 6000 years of
life, at least put thinking man at its beginning; the modern nightmare
gives us a world for hundreds of millions of years without _thought_,
and makes human civilization an ephemeral episode of a few seconds of
universal duration. Disregarding, one is forced to say wilfully, the
fact that every single one of their own arguments in favor of anthropoid
descent for man would equally support a theory that the anthropoids are
debased offshoots of human stocks,[45-*] biology still demands such a
lapse of time for its physical evolution that its adherents oppose and
belittle to the utmost every bit of evidence of any antiquity even for
the physical frame of man. We have, to say nothing of the rest of the
world, Egyptian civilization now pushed back 10,000 years, and (together
with others as we slowly uncover them) as far removed as ever from
barbarism, if not indeed growing greater as we go back; but we are not
allowed anything but apelike, half arboreal savages 50,000 years ago.
And yet every observed _fact_ shows us savage or worn-out races
everywhere throughout the world deteriorating and dying out, and nowhere
any savages progressing or, unaided by outside influence, developing
what we know as civilization. We see everywhere the rise and fall of
nations, races and civilizations, and their utter blotting out; and we
refuse to accept that process as a universal law through which the
destiny of the human race is working itself out. In fact, we do not seem
to believe that the human race has any destiny; it may have beginning
and an end, but no destiny.

And so although this modern scientific school began as a reaction
against the narrowness of theological limitations, both of time and
greatness, so hampered and hypnotized has our thought been by both, that
man is of nearly as little universal account with one as with the
other, and we find a seemingly ineradicable repugnance to admit that any
people had “developed” writing before the least possible time ago we can
fix it, usually this side of the year 1 of the Christian era. And thus
we have M. Terrien de Lacouperie’s “450 _embryo_ scripts and
writings”--which another fifty years may show to be nearly as many
fragments of one or a few great stocks of ancient hieroglyphs. Of course
it is impossible to derive the American races or civilizations from the
Chinese, Phoenicians, Hittites, or any of the cultures of the other
hemisphere, if we limit the latter to what we know of their history
within the past two or three thousand odd years, and American
civilization to the past fifteen hundred years. The matter is somewhat
greater than that--just as man is somewhat greater than a fool of
natural caprice.

There is one point from which this question of American origins, at
least of American place in human society and civilization, can be
studied in its broader lines, even with what materials we have. It is
that of language in general. All these other matters we have touched
upon are necessary factors in the question of human evolution, and the
position of America cannot be considered apart from them, and all of
them. But Language touches both the glyphs directly and also all these
other things, and is itself of surpassing interest and importance as a
human study.

       *       *       *       *       *

From one point of view Language is man himself, and it certainly is
civilization. Without it man is not man, a Self-expressing and social
being. It is, as von Humboldt laid down, not an act but an activity, or
energy, not a thing done, but a doing. It is the constant effort of the
conscious self to formulate thought. It is the use of the energy of
creation, of objectivation, a veritable many-colored rainbow bridge
between the inner or higher man and the outer or lower worlds. And it is
not only the expression of Man as man, but in its varied forms it is the
inevitable and living expression of each man or body of men at any and
every point of time. Itself boundless as an ocean, it is in its infinite
forms and streams and colors and sounds, the faithful and exact exponent
both of the sources and channels by which it has come, and of the banks
in which it is held, racial, national or individual. It is living or
dead, forceful or weak, pure or foul, refreshing or flat, healing or
poisonous. It limits us, but yields to our force. Every word or form
comes to us with the thought impress of every man or nation that has
used or molded it before us. We must take it as it comes, but we give it
something of ourselves as we pass it on. If our intellectual and
spiritual thought is aflame, whether as nation or individual, we may
purify it, energize it, give it power to form and arrange the atoms
around it--and we have a new literature, a new and beneficent, creative
social vehicle of intercourse, mutual understanding, and human
unification. Or if our mental or spiritual life is stale, and petty, or
egoistic, or seeking for enjoyment only rather than action; if we have
nothing in us to give the words and forms we use, but only some national
force left to use and play with them, we for a while refine, and paint,
and pettify, and elaborate into meaningless subtleties of form, every
one of which in turn reacts upon our mental and spiritual life,
distracting and enchaining us, until at last the nation and its
language--die out; for neither can live without the other.

Now it is evident that the criterion of the perfectness of any language
is not to be found in a comparison of its forms or methods with those of
any other, but in its fitness as a vehicle for the expression of deeper
life, of the best and the greatest that is in those who use it, and
above all in its ability to react and stimulate newer and yet greater
mental and spiritual activity and expression. The force behind man,
demanding expression through him, and him only, into the human life of
all, is infinite--of necessity infinite. There is no limit, nor ever has
been any limit, to what man may bring down into the dignifying,
broadening and enriching of human life and evolution, save in his own
ability to comprehend, express, and _live_ it. And the brightness and
cleanness of the tools whereby he formulates his thought, as well as the
worthiness and fitness of the substance and the forms into which he
shapes it for others to see, are the essentials of his craft. For such
is the economy of nature, which wastes nothing in reality, that a fit
vehicle will be taken possession of by its own tenant; and the unfit
left to and be taken by those who can use no better.

Before, then, taking up the great formal classes into which language at
large is usually divided, it will be necessary to say a few words as to
the foundations of form itself in language, that we may then proceed to
consider these classes from the standpoint of their inner meaning rather
than solely of the outer form; and by seeking to understand the mental
and spiritual equipment and life of those that used them, may perhaps in
turn be better fitted finally to enter into the genius of their written
and spoken languages, and to interpret through them in the detail more
of the ideas which those forms were both fitted and used to express.
Such a method is essential for the understanding of any language or
culture, but it is absolutely necessary in the case of these non-Aryan
tongues, so great is the distance both of time and thought which
separates us from them. If we set out to compare the forms by which they
expressed their thought with those within which we develop ours, or
approach these cultures and peoples in the attitude of alien criticism,
study their “interesting ways” through a mental lorgnette and impale
their dead forms on the needles of our collection, we shall not only
show ourselves less broad in culture than many of them, but we shall
simply close and lock the doors of discrimination and understanding
before us. The question is not, How do their forms and ways appeal to
us? but, How did those forms, and ways, achieve their underlying
objects, and what was the _thought_ behind them?

Life is action, and without activity whatever powers lie within any
conscious being are only potential. Activity is the bridge between the
inner man and the outer world, by which he impresses his thought, in
forms, on chaos or the atoms about him, receiving in return increased
knowledge and experience of all he touches, and knowledge of himself
through the results of his own actions; and it is the bridge between man
and man. For this reason the verb, the word of action, is the most
important and most developed part of speech. The three hypostases of
life, as of language, are the self, activity, and the world; and it is
for the expression of all the possible varied relations between these
three, that all the forms of any language come into being. And from the
way in which these forms are developed, and the relative importance
which is given to this or that form of thought or activity, the
character of the people, their grasp of nature, and their own conception
of themselves and their relation to the world, can be seen.[49-*] Some
languages have the strong impress of impersonality, without any loss of
virility; others are strongly egotistic and self-assertive, with perhaps
the braggart’s lack of genuine strength. Each spoken language that we
know has its own color and tone, to which our thought must respond, if
we would know and use it well. To speak good Swedish, for instance,
requires clear thinking to an exceptional degree. To show this, the form
“come here,” which is the ordinary English expression, is simply _bad
grammar_ in Swedish; the use of “come _hither_” (_kom hit_, instead of
_kom här_) is imperative. We have the “hither” in English, but it has
become stilted, and the linguistic distinction lost. Compare also the
use of _få_, as a common auxiliary; nor are these exceptions, but, on
the contrary, characteristic examples. Also to enunciate the language
rightly one must hold the back and neck erect and the muscles firm.

In some languages the speaker thinks of himself and his completed action
as inseparable, as a single idea, as the Latin _edi_ for I have eaten;
in others he thinks of himself subconsciously as possessing the results
of his action, as our _I have eaten_; and in others, as among the Irish
peasantry, he separates himself and his action entirely, as _I am after
eating_. In some grammars, as in Maya, the verbal concept starts with
the past; in others, as our own, we live in the present; in the Welsh,
the future is the chief tense. The mere choice of _shall_ or _will_ as
the first person future auxiliary denotes a specific mental quality.

Now the expression of all these infinite shades of
relationtionship[TN-5] between the self, the activity and the world, is
achieved in two ways: position or placement--syntax; and form. The
customary division of languages is into Monosyllabic, Agglutinative,
Incorporating, and Inflectional, and this division will suit our
purpose, though it must be used with care. It is held in the ordinary
theory that these classes must represent successive stages of linguistic
perfection, each in turn being higher in the scale than the other, they
having grown one from the other as the race advanced. By the theory the
monosyllabic is lower than the agglutinative, and inherently less
useful. But the theory does not work out in practical application to the
facts we have to deal with, for while we cannot find still left in the
world any agglutinative languages representative of sufficient culture
to bring into our present consideration, we do find a monosyllabic in
the highest rank, and meeting the highest cultural requirements. In
short, the latter may be theoretically the inferior tool, but the genius
of thought behind is greater than the form. One man can draw a
masterpiece with a burnt stick, another only paint a daub with all the
brushes made. Once again we must not judge by our preconceived
preferences of form.

Omitting therefore the modern remnants of agglutinating languages,
outside of America, as affording us no literary material of value for
our study, we shall find at once drawn across all the other great
classes a single broad line of division, between the ideographic and the
literal--the same as already mentioned. And the moment we draw this line
as an exponent of the mental and spiritual thought-life of the different
peoples, we shall find it not only molding their language forms, both
written and spoken, but manifest as well in their art, philosophy, and
even their social polity. And of course we must be fair in our
comparisons, and not set a Chinese coolie in the concrete against an
English statesman, nor any concrete example of another kind of culture
in its decay with the highest bloom to which we believe our own type to
be able to carry us.

It would be absurd to say that the ratiocinative, literal mind is higher
than the ideal. One man sees directly the meaning of the things, the
events and situations before him; another reasons it all out. And
contrary to many of our current beliefs, the former is often the man of
action; he sees at a flash to the heart of the matter, and gets things
done. His thought, his activity, is vivid; and his words are likely to
be so as well. The idealist, if he be broadminded, and not merely
sentimental, is indeed likely to be the practical man. And the type of
mind that is made manifest to us by these great non-Aryan languages and
their forms, is the former. Of course idealism in its decadence becomes
negative, inactive, self-consuming and no longer creative. But in its
bloom the direct vision may be even more active, more practical, than
are the reasoned processes.

Much ink and paper has been spent over the question whether the Chinese
hieroglyphs are ideograms or phonograms, whether the character
[Illustration: Chinese character], for instance, conveys to those using it
primarily the idea of Heaven, or the spoken word _T’ien_. It is
necessarily both, in a sense; it would not be written language
otherwise. And it is equally true that the letter-combination _Heaven_
is in a way as much to us a picture of the idea as of the sound; but the
difference of procedure is radical. The glyph is related to the idea
directly, the spelled word only through the formal combination of
symbols for single vocal speech-elements, meaningless when separate. The
relation of spoken sound to glyph is wholly adventitious; the relation
of the idea to the spelled word is equally adventitious. The ascent, if
we so call it, of written speech from the ideographic to the alphabetic,
is the descent of the thought further into material forms.[53-*] And
while it may be (and in the course of universal evolution rightly so)
necessary for our thought to descend into the bondage of matter and
form, for its knowledge and experience, and for the development of
matter and form into fitter vehicles of thought, nevertheless the
process is a binding and for a time an enchaining one, and the thought
is, for a time at least, likely to be lost in the confusion of forms.

Thus we may lay down as our fundamental proposition that a hieroglyphic
form of writing is better fitted to, and must properly, in the period of
its natural development, accompany the imaginative processes of mind.
Or, since imagination to our literal thought implies in some degree the
fanciful (though wrongly so in essence), we might perhaps better say
that that form of writing is the fit attendant and exponent of those
functions of mind which cognize the inner meanings of the facts of life
directly, rather than those which study them through the correlation of
their phenomena. And also, that the development by any people of an
alphabetic out of a hieroglyphic system, does not imply a greater
advance in linguistic perfection on their part, but indicates a
corresponding mental and inner change of attitude towards ideas and
things, and a different conception of the self as related to them all.

It is not at all necessary to assume that the knowledge gained by one
method is deeper or more exact than the other. True science may exist as
fully under one set of circumstances as the other. If we will take the
type of the so-called most primitive form, the monosyllabic--the
Chinese, we shall find all this evidenced in the clearest manner. To
note but one illustration, a study of the scientific and philosophical
ideas involved in and conveyed by the word _k’ung_, for Space, ether,
the fundamental substratum of sound or vibration, as well as the
“interetheric” central point of balance and power, will disclose an
understanding that has nothing to fear from modern comparisons.

And the very fact that Chinese has had to depend on placement of its
monosyllables to express all the relations for which speech is called
upon, instead of relying on changes of form, seems to have, and indeed
has so stimulated the development of pure linguistic power that the
language is actually as perfect and clear a medium of cultured and
learned intercourse, as is the Sanskrit, the supreme type of the
so-called most developed form, the inflectional. And by reason of its
possession of the ideographic element it has a vividness which the
Sanskrit has not. No language can be a highly developed one which does
not provide in some way for the expression of all possible needed
relations between the three fundamental postulates of life and
activity--the self, the action and the world; and Chinese does this in
spite of its monosyllabic structure by the development of its syntax of
position. And it should be remembered further that Chinese syntax, in
strict correspondence to the genius of the language, is not the same
formal thing that syntax is with our inflectional tongues, but includes,
or rather is primarily based on the _harmonic adjustment of the inherent
basic ideas of or within the words_. The Chinese monosyllables are then
not the naked separate things they are in the dictionary, but the whole
phrase or sentence is on the contrary as much a unit as one of ours; and
often more so.

This integral unity of the whole sentence or expression, dominated by a
perspective of ideas rather than of forms, which is achieved in Chinese
by the elaboration of placement, is also characteristic of the structure
of the languages of the American continent; but, these languages being
polysyllabic, the vividness and unity are attained by a method described
as Incorporation, whereby the accessories of relation are so included in
or attached to the leading word that the whole expression assumes the
form and sound of a single word. And a similar process takes place with
the various elements of a compound sentence. So that although this one
of the divisions of language approaches very closely to the Inflectional
in its external forms, it yet has held to the vividness and essential
characteristics of the ideographic method. And it is a point of the
utmost importance for the decipherment of the Maya glyphs, to note as
has been stated before, that their syntax of combination must follow
that of the spoken language, which we know.

There is one broad line of division marking all the languages and
civilizations of the world--the line between the ideographic and the
literal; it marks the use of hieroglyphic or of alphabetic writing, and
it denotes a culture so widely different from ours, modes of thought so
distinct, views of life and man’s relation to it one might almost say so
opposite to ours, as to point unmistakably to a most distant past, and a
former world-culture probably as wide-spread in its day as is now
ours--or more so. And it is one of the strangest and most remarkable of
the phenomena we are considering, that the two divisions have overlapped
each other in time to such a degree that whereas we have in Sanskrit,
the most perfect type of Aryan, or inflectional languages, the oldest of
them all; on the other hand we have in Chinese an equally perfect
linguistic medium of the other type, kept alive into our own times.

When we consider the development and status of the American
civilizations which have been revealed to us, and especially when we
have once opened our minds to the possibility that world-civilizations
different in their time from ours in ours, may for all we know have
existed and been blotted out ages ago, leaving linguistic traces, and
perhaps perpetuating cultural remnants in a few parts of the earth, it
is impossible not to recognize the breadth of the problem we are
considering. All over the American continent at the time of the
Discovery we see cultures and systems whose time had come. Back of most
of the North and South American tribes we find the remains of mighty and
utterly extinct civilizations--only their dim memory left. In the
centers of higher culture from Mexico to Peru we see the ancient
civilization brought further down to our own times; but there also, in
process, all the incidents of break-up and an expiring greatness.
Internecine strife, invasion from outside, changes of center, are all
going on, and all marked by a _steady decrease_ in everything that means
civilization. Of the ancient mathematical and astronomical knowledge a
corner of which is revealed to us by the Maya glyph remains, only a
distorted fragment appears in the Mexican, where also hieroglyphs have
yielded to a cruder rebus-writing. The stately and incomparable
compositions and architecture of Palenque, Copan and Quiriguá have
yielded to the ball courts and local strifes of Chichen Itza--all this
following the very course of changing historical succession preserved in
the Chronicles. The later the date, the lower in every case the culture;
this is impossible not to recognize, nor have we traces of any different
course of events. Of course we see the rise of the Aztec nation, a small
cycle, but like the Gothic upon the Roman, it comes at the end of the
general American break-up--an incursion of barbarians settling on and
preserving for us fragments of the culture that preceded them, just as
has happened over and over again all over the world. And the same with
the Incas in Peru. And yet even the Mexican culture demands our high
respect, comparing favorably with European of the same period. Indeed it
was actually far ahead of the latter in matters of education and many
points of polity.

But in spite of its seeming greatness, its heart and energy were gone,
just as with Peru, and both yielded to what on the face seems a miracle,
but was only the expression of that force which was preparing the
American continent for a new race and civilization, still now only in
its beginnings. The Mayan empire had already broken up. And even as we
write, the archaeological history of the other hemisphere is being
repeated here; on the heels of Manabi comes the Chimu Valley, and soon
it will be with America as with Egypt--one will not be able to print an
up-to-date work on its early history, for new discoveries will carry it
back further, and to greater scope, before the previous ones can be
edited and gotten to press. Compare the few pages of earliest Egypt in
Sharpe’s history, with Flinders Petrie’s work of a decade or so ago, and
that with the situation today.

It is a simple fact that decipherment and publication all over the world
can no longer keep pace with discovery; and the time has come for
archaeology to begin to survey these remnants, engineering works that
would tax any modern nation with all our appliances, vast ruined
cities, one above the other, innumerable languages and writings, the
traces of peoples whose very names are lost to history--as a whole, and
to ask itself how long it must have taken for all these works to be
accomplished, let alone for the birth and decay of the civilizations
that supported them, and gave environment for the development of such
technical skill as could finish the enormous bulk of the Great Pyramid
with an accuracy beyond the fineness of our best instruments to measure.
For not only mere bulk is to be considered--though there is enough of
that scattered over the earth to keep all the possible available
craftsmen of the world a wholly incommensurate time achieving them, but
the ability to conceive and carry out such works. What _sort_ of people
leveled Monte Alban for its crown of pyramids, dreamed and executed the
stucco modelings of Palenque, built the temple of Boro Budur in Java,
cut the Bamian statues of the Hindû Kush, and so on, and so on, for page
after page? If they had such appliances as we have, they must be ranked
at least in our class for having them; if they did them without our
great engines, what sort of men were they? And if they could do these
things without our appliances, is it not a fair inference that they
could easily have made the tools, or others better perhaps?

One fact is becoming more prominent with every advance of archaeology
over the world, a fact of the greatest linguistic interest, namely that
ancient civilizations and empires, as a whole, _lasted longer_ than ours
of today. Consider how many different and successive empires Europe has
had in the last 2000 odd years, _our_ history; and how long each of our
cultures has lasted. All of them put together would go into one of these
older periods, and have plenty to spare. Passing over what may be the
real meaning and bearing of this fact on the problem of universal
history and human evolution, and the position of our race today, the
linguistic considerations which follow are most interesting.

If the fundamental thesis of language as a human activity is its direct
correspondence to and expression of all the inner motives and forces of
the users, we have here a key to the survival to our day, an unknown
period past its own time, of the Chinese type.

Of the development, modification and decay of languages we have ample
material in our own times for study, the periods over which the
modifying forces operate being an equal measure of the periods of
national activity and change. And, what is perhaps not always
sufficiently recognized, we have an elaboration of the formal elements
going on under very different impulses, at different periods of the life
of the language. The time has come in the history of a people for it to
play a greater part on the world’s stage: some danger has threatened the
national life and aroused its energies, or other causes have worked to
quicken the mental and spiritual life; an Elizabethan era is ushered in,
frequently by a forerunner, a Chaucer, and the language responds, its
forms develop and are perfected. Or else some fitting or amalgamating
force comes in from outside, the life of the people is widened, new
blood enters in every sense, and the forms of the language respond. Or
perhaps, when they may seem to have come to the tether end of things,
and men’s minds turn back to older, even prehistoric times, seeds long
buried and forgotten in the nature spring up, and a true national
Renaissance follows. In these cases the change and elaboration of forms
is a symptom of new life; the vehicle is being molded and expanded to
fit the growing thought.

But it is not always so. There comes a time when the outgoing force, the
activity of life, wanes and, after a greater or less period of settled
conditions, a period of proper use and government of the regions
occupied, a change sets in. And then we may have again the wholly
deceptive phenomenon of linguistic amplification; but it is the false
activity of decay. The energy has turned in and begun to feed upon
itself. The national impulse has changed from achievement to
gratification, more and more sources are drawn upon to minister to its
enjoyment, and that enjoyment becomes an art; forms of every kind are
subtly refined in its service, and linguistic forms with them. And this
is then the very period when all these material, formal elements are
pointed to with pride as the evidence of culture and progress. The
thought-life of the nation has lost itself in the conflict and
confusion, in the distractions of the forms into which it has molded the
matter its creative force had entered.

We have thus in nations and languages, as in individuals, the phenomena
of birth, growth, use, and a quick or a slow death, all marked by
various degrees and signs of health or disease, and _every one at root a
moral question_. These are the facts of general average, quite
corresponding to those that form the bases for life insurance tables.
But, as with these latter, not only are there variations for
inheritance, class, locality, and so on, but there are here and there
cases of out and out exception--which from all we can see must be
assigned to some external force in operation on the individual. We call
them “freak” occurrences, only because we cannot see the wider law or
causes at work. When we meet them in sufficient numbers, we make new
tables to cover them as far as we can, again in general only. Other
causes still elude us, though they must have a fountain somewhere.

We have, as great exceptions to our general averages, two opposite
phenomena. One is the sudden inexplicable and dazzling rise on the
world’s stage of a totally insignificant people, the other the seeming
arrest for long periods of time of the normal processes of even
incipient decay. And touching the latter point, it is strange indeed
that in two such widely different cultures as those of Iceland and China
we should find the same law apparently at work; the periods are vastly
unlike in actual, but not so in relative duration. We have no way of
properly placing the maintenance of Icelandic and Chinese as they have
been other than by simply laying down the existence of what we may call
a Law of Retardation, whose ultimate causes we cannot fathom or
classify, but which will stand as an opposite phase of the Law of
Stimulation, which is more frequent in operation, but is equally

If we will now regard the languages and cultures of the world, we will
find all the phases of linguistic and cultural activity, operative with
about the same degree of rapidity, all over both hemispheres, save in
places protected by our Law of Retardation. We will find the rate of
changes and successions generally far less rapid the farther back in
time we go; and finally we will find a special and marked acceleration
on both sides of the Atlantic during the last thousand years, all
incident to the placing of a new race in America.

So for the facts as we find them. They point to the descent of past
American civilizations from a past period of continental, or far more
probably, of world-wide extent. For who can imagine that people great
enough to build as these did, should not also have navigated? Why should
we assume in the face of other experiences, that Maya dates and
calculations mean nothing, except on the general principle that they did
not know as much as we do, and were doubtless liars? Bailly proved over
a hundred years ago that Hindû exact astronomical observations must date
back at least 5000 years, and that they were in possession of minutely
accurate tables[61-*] long before Europe was. And the rotundity of the
earth was certainly known both to them and the other great nations of

Archaeology is today pushing back the dates of fixed and acknowledged
history almost to the date given by the Egyptians to Solon for the
submersion of the great Atlantean island; and if we can but read the
Maya glyphs, and open _that_ door, another twenty years from now may
show us beyond all possible dispute evidences in every part of the earth
belt of a contemporaneous culture, different from and precedent to the

       *       *       *       *       *

I have so far in this monograph, based upon and having to do as it has
with the Maya glyphs, their interpretation and their place in the
linguistic field, limited myself to an analysis and consideration of the
facts presented to us by those linguistic and cultural data we have
actually before us. But there is one further problem which is suggested
by it all. It is this: Where, in point of time and place, is the change
in the world’s linguistic and cultural life from ideographic to literal
to be sought for, and what is its rationale? Separated from us by such
an enormous period of time as it is, I still cannot believe that some
view of it cannot be had. There are various facts of Old World history
and language, partly of prehistoric Europe, partly of Asia, an analysis
of which would extend this paper too far into other fields; but apart
entirely from the question of myths or traditions, there are various
actual observed phenomena both of language and writing, especially in
Central Asia, which do not fit into any of the ordinary theories, and
which do suggest this, as a simple linguistic conclusion. In point of
locality, at least, the conclusion agrees with the usual “Aryan home”
theory; but as far as concerns this latter it must be remembered that
however fully it demonstrates the unity of the Aryan race, beyond that
fact all questions of dates and even of the state of civilization at the
time, are not matters of history as yet for us, but only of theory--as
to which our present “perspective” may be once more as faulty as it has
often been heretofore.[62-*]

I believe that this center of transition lay somewhere in Central Asia,
to the north of the great Himâlayan range. That this region was a sort
of alembic, a melting-pot (as America is today) for various peoples of
an ancient world-wide culture, as broad at least in its scope as the
term Aryan is today. That this culture displayed the ideographic traits
we have discussed, and that it has left more or less definite traces at
different places in the world. That it covered the two Americas, in
whatever continental form they may then have existed, leaving us there
“les débris échappés à un naufrage commun.” That coincident with a new
and universal world-epoch, as wide in its cultural scope as the
difference between the ideographic and literal, there was finally formed
a totally new vehicle for the use of human thought, the inflectional,
literal, alphabetic. That this vehicle was perfected into some great
speech, the direct ancestor of Sanskrit, into the _forms_ of which were
concentrated all the old power of the ancient hieroglyphs and their
underlying concepts. For Sanskrit, while the oldest is also the
mightiest of Aryan grammars; and no one who has studied its forms, or
heard its speech from educated native mouths, can call it anything but
concentrated spiritual power. That the force which went on the one hand
into the Sanskrit forms, was on the other perpetuated on into the
special genius of Chinese, in which, as we know it, we have a retarded
survival, not of course of outer form so much as of method and essence.
And in Tibetan, in spite of all that is said to the contrary, I suspect
that we have a derivative, not from either Chinese or Sanskrit as we
know them, but by a medial line from a common point.[63-*] Of course
the time for such changes must have been enormous; but whatever it was,
it was no greater in its realm as time, than were the mental differences
in theirs. And they both are equally human data.

Certain other facts point to the American or Atlantic source and center
of this ancient epoch. They are briefly that all around the
Mediterranean basin we find traces of a vanished culture, unknown to our
history, and living only in tradition and some archaeological remains.
And of this culture various investigators, each approaching it from his
particular favorite locality, have constructed for us as many different
“Empires,” by theories each supported by various details of analogies.
One calls them Tartars, another Hittites, another Pelasgians, and so on.
And all of them, in each of the theories, have as a fact a great many
unexplained characteristics, different from those of our historical
nations. Some of these characteristics, most markedly the Basque, but
also not a few at greater distance, have definite American similarities.
It might not be a far guess that these fragments represent an eastward
movement, which later in the history of the Aryan development met and
was pushed back westward again by the fully formed and dominant Aryan
race from its Central Asian center. This is the future province of

       *       *       *       *       *

And I am convinced that the widest door there is to be opened to this
past of the human race, is that of the Maya glyphs. The narrow
limitations of our mental horizon as to the greatness and dignity of
man, of his past, and of human evolution, were set back widely by Egypt
and what she has had to show, and again by the Sanskrit; but the walls
are still there, and advances, however rapid, are but gradual. With the
reading of America I believe the walls themselves will fall, and a new
conception of past history will come.


[41-*] See _Memoranda on the Chilam Balam Calendars_, C. P. Bowditch,
1901. The obscurities of the Chronicles render the questions connected
with Ahpula’s death exceedingly difficult. For instance, the immediate
context in the books of Mani and Tizimin make the date 1536, as given in
numerals, an impossible one. But, if the date as given in _Maya terms_
is to be accepted at all (and it certainly is too specific to be
rejected), then by the long count such a date _must_ have been either
1502, 5350, or 12,786 years after the date of Stela 9, Copan. Mr.
Bowditch favors the lower figure, chiefly because it is the lower, and
thus puts Stela 9 at A. D. 34. To get this date the longest possible
distance from Ahpula’s death to the end of the katun must be used--that
is, “6 tuns short” must be taken to mean “almost 7 tuns short.” I can
only say here that if, in correcting the figures 1536, as demanded by
the immediate context, we make the simplest possible correction, and put
them one katun earlier, 1516, and then take as the unexpired time to the
end of the katun the shortest of the three terms given as possible, or 5
tuns 139 days, bringing the end of Katun 13-Ahau on Jan. 28, 1522, we
not only bring the end of Katun 11-Ahau within the year 1541, as is most
positively stated by the practically contemporary Pech Chronicle, but we
also bring in line nearly all the important events of the Chronicles,
from the fall of Mayapan, ca. 1450, the coming of the Spaniards, and the
smallpox, in 11-Ahau (1521 to 1541), the conversion to Christianity in
9-Ahau, down to Landa’s death (1579) in 7-Ahau; as well as many outside
references. Any other combination requires harsher emendations somewhere
else. But the above choice of the term of 5 tuns 139 days, thus
seemingly called for, means that Stela 9 at Copan is dated, by the long
count, 5350 years before Ahpula’s death, or B. C. 3824. Whether this is
right, is a question for the future.

[42-*] “In ethnology however one troubles oneself little with the detail
of linguistic structure. It is held quite sufficient to gather from
different peoples and collate a couple of hundred vocables, into whose
actual nature all insight is lacking, and then upon dubious, often
purely superficial and apparent similarities, to deduce linguistic
affinities. Or else, as is now most in fashion, the claims of linguistic
research towards the solution of ethnological questions are reduced to a
‘most modest share’ in comparison with other fields ‘somewhat more in
line with natural sciences’--meanwhile pointing for justification to the
absurdities set forth as the results of too far-fetched linguistic
deductions.... The errors and sophistries charged against ethnological
linguistics are rather an accidental result of the individuality of
single investigators, than essential to the subject. They are at least
scarcely greater than those to the credit of recent Anthropometry. A
brief glance at the strange changes of opinion in the latter field
during the last three decades, in spite of all its boasted figures,
shows how little ground it has to throw stones. Serious students, such
as Wallace and Dall, whose critical ability in Zoomorphology no one can
deny, and who do not rest content with a few skulls of doubtful
_provenance_, gathered à la Hagenbeck, have come to a wholly negative
view of the value of Craniometry.”--Dr. Otto Stoll, _Maya-Sprachen der
Pokom-Gruppe_, I, vii, ix.

[43-*] Our present day speculators never seem to think for a moment that
these things may conceal, _and thereby preserve_, some real meaning, or
be more than nonsense. The theory of mythological interpretation pushed
to such extremes as in the “animistic” _explanations_ of Weber,
Keightley, and others, and not absent from the writings of some
Americanists (namely, that it was all nothing but ridiculous or
concocted fancy, taken soberly) is bad enough, and argues little breadth
or insight, when applied to the myths of a single people, considered
alone. Applied to comparative mythology, in the state of things today,
it is simply impossible. The plain fact is, that such identities as
these must indicate one of two things: a common tradition, locally
modified by circumstances; or a _fact in nature_ or _history_,
symbolically expressed in different ways according to the times and
modes. And it most probably indicates both of these. It is indeed hard
to account for the extent, and the weight given to some of these
“myths,” now that we are coming to a better appreciation of the scope
and greatness of ancient civilizations--everywhere--except they do
correspond to actual _facts_ in nature and history. And it might be
worth our while to get at some of these.

[45-*] We might just as well acknowledge, once for all, that in spite of
its present-day currency in England and America, and its pre-emption of
the field of “science for the people,” the theory of man’s physical and
mental descent from the anthropoids, is not only _not proved_, but is
vehemently denied by an equally able and scientific, and withal more
logical, body of researchers than those who form its supporters. To
_fabricate_ a missing link in a chain (or even, as with Haeckel, several
links), whose only authority is acknowledged to be its necessity in
order to complete the evidence for the theory, and then to declare the
theory proved because the fabricated link fits perfectly the gap it was
created for, is equally vicious scientifically whether the fabrication
be the work of a physicist of renown or a linguistic theorizer. Let it
simply be agreed, as it now is by all science, that the _evolution of
form_ is a universal and well evidenced principle, working out through
the various well established and comprehensible incidents, such as
natural selection, adaptation to environment, and so on--yet this
statement of the fact is not an explanation of its cause. And every
scientific and logical requirement will be equally, and better, met by
regarding all forms, whether physical, linguistic, or of any kind, as
coming, or rather brought, into being by the force of a consciousness
which needs them as the vehicles of its expanding activity. That this is
absolutely true in language, anybody can see. That it is true in every
department of daily life about us, everybody _does_ see. That it should
be equally true in biology and physics, would not affect the standing or
verity of a single _observed_ fact.

There was, along about the beginning of the Christian era, and for some
time before and after, a very curious movement, which seemed to spread
itself over nearly the entire world, east and west. It is told of the
early Aztecs that “they destroyed the records of their predecessors, in
order to increase their own prestige.” It is related that writing once
existed in Peru, but was entirely wiped out, and the Inca records
committed to quipus alone. The “burning of the books” under Tsin Chi
Hwangti in B. C. 213 sought to do the same for China. The times of Akbar
witnessed much of the same in India. And in Europe almost nothing was
left to tell the tale of the great pre-Christian eastern empires and
systems of thought; so that from the establishment of State Christianity
under Constantine, and the final settlement of the Canon at the Council
of Nicaea, an impenetrable veil was drawn over the achievements and
greatness of the Past, and all connexion therewith broken off. It was
some time after this that we find the heliocentric theory, as well as
that of other habitable worlds, denied (in Europe), because “it would
deprive the Earth of its unique and central eminence.” Just as we also
today are served up with prehistoric savage and animal ancestors, to the
greater glory of our own present-day magnificence. But it really is in
sober truth only a question of mental perspective which does not affect
the facts of history, biology, archaeology or language in the least. It
is only a question of which end of the telescope we look through.

[49-*] It is exceedingly interesting to trace the course of criticism
since the appearance of Wilhelm von Humboldt’s great work, _Ueber die
Verschiedenheit des menschlichen Sprachbaues und ihren Einfluss auf die
geistige Entwickelung des Menschengeschlechts_ (Berlin, 1836). Dr.
Brinton gave it most unqualified approval; (see especially his monograph
read before the American Philosophical Society in 1885, and printed the
same year). Prof. H. Steinthal (_Grammatik, Logik und Psychologie_,
1855) calls the subject of “inner form” the most important one in
linguistic science, and von Humboldt’s treatment of it his greatest
contribution to that science. And so on. But the work has nevertheless
received little attention from a large number of writers, most of them
declaring it “unclear.” These two views, when one studies the various
writers, seem to follow closely upon the standpoints from which each
approaches the study. Those who study language (perhaps one should here
say, languages) as a phenomenon, a set of external forms, an act, a
thing done, get little use out of von Humboldt’s work. Those who see it
as a human “activity,” an energy, get much. This is quite apparent in
one of the clearest and ablest linguistic works which has recently
appeared, Dr. Adolf Noreen’s _Vårt Språk_ (in 9 vols., still in course
of publication, Lund, 1903 and later), a work of far wider linguistic
value than appears from its title. Dr. Noreen, however, dismisses von
Humboldt’s work, and the subject of “inner form,” with a few pages, and
the results are apparent in several interesting points. In the first
place, in the course of an acute and critical analysis, wherein he shows
that the purpose of speech is not simply _expression_ of thoughts or
ideas, but the communication to some other person of the _knowledge_ of
the ideas so held by the speaker, he goes on to say: “the same knowledge
of A’s wishes could be as well communicated by his saying ‘I want you to
come’ as by his saying just ‘Come.’” This is quite true; but the
_energic_ effect is quite different. Language is the bridge from man to
man, and it is also a _creative activity_ of man. Of course Dr. Noreen,
in a later volume, where he most lucidly analyses the terms ‘words,’
‘forms,’ and ‘concepts,’ etc. (_ord_, _morfem_, _semem_, etc.), and
corrects many errors of definition made by his predecessors,
acknowledges the difference between the two forms; still his whole
admirable work, analytical and critical as it is, is devoted to this
phase of language as a mere phenomenon, a set of forms which serve as a
medium of communication. From this standpoint, we know all there is to
know about language when we have classified its forms. But from the
other, the study is ever leading us into the regions and depths of man’s
consciousness, his creative activity as it goes out to the world; and
the true definition of language, from this position, “can hence only be
a genetic one.” (von Humboldt, _Gesammelte Werke_, VI, 42)

It is further not unworthy of note that, except where directly required
in treating of verbal categories, nearly all of the enormous number of
illustrations which Dr. Noreen chooses for his points, are _nouns_,
names of _things_, and vary rarely verbal forms, words of action and
_doing_. But it is simply a fact that all the _potency_ of language is
in the verb, and almost all there is of language, in a philosophic
sense, lies there. The verb is the bridge of communication and action
_upon_ external things, just as is language itself, going out of man.
And it is also noteworthy that the recognition of this position of the
verb, together with these other matters of which we are speaking, seems
nearer at hand and clearer to those students who are led beyond Aryan
languages to the study of American and Asiatic, especially Central and
Northern Asiatic. For instance, G. v. d. Gabelentz, _Die
Sprachwissenschaft_, and other works.

[53-*] It was not until after this paper was already in type that my
attention was directed to the complete agreement of this and the
succeeding sentences with the following passage in _The Secret Doctrine_,
by H. P. Blavatsky, London, 1888, vol. II, page 199. After saying that
some of the Atlantean races spoke the agglutinative languages, the
passage continues: “While the ‘cream’ of the Fourth Race _gravitated_
more and more toward the apex of physical and intellectual evolution,
_thus_ leaving as an heirloom to the nascent Fifth (the Aryan) Race the
inflectional, highly developed languages, the agglutinative decayed and
remained as a fragmentary fossil idiom, scattered now, and nearly limited
to the aboriginal tribes of America.” Note the words I have italicized,
marking the evolution of the “inflectional” languages as an attendant
phenomenon on physico-intellectual evolution, compare the passage with
von Humboldt’s thesis, already quoted, that the incorporative quality
denotes an exaltation of the imaginative over the ratiocinative processes
of mind in its users, and further with the surviving genius of Chinese,
the type of monosyllabic languages, and the agreement is evident. Von
Humboldt, however, did not carry out so fully the archaeological results,
for which indeed the materials were in his day still lacking. See also
other passages in _The Secret Doctrine_.

[61-*] _Traité de l’Astronomie Indienne et Orientale_, Disc. Prél. et

[62-*] The suggestion above is linguistic, and in that phase is given as
a corollary to the foregoing discussion; but, as stated, it is at the
same time in accord with the “Aryan” theory in its essentials (though
not in its hypothetical and ultra-historical speculations), and it also
finds confirmation by various passages in _The Secret Doctrine_, by H.
P. Blavatsky, as already quoted. “The traces of an immense civilization,
even in Central Asia, are still to be found. This civilization is
undeniably _prehistoric_.... The Eastern and Central portions of those
regions--the Nan-Shan and the Altyn-Tagh--were once upon a time covered
with cities that could well vie with Babylon. A whole geological period
has swept over the land, since those cities breathed their last, as the
mounds of shifting sand, and the sterile and now dead soil of the
immense central plains of the basin of Tarim testify.... In the oasis of
Cherchen some 300 human beings represent the relics of about a hundred
extinct nations and races--the very names of which are now unknown to
our ethnologists.” (Vol. I, page xxxii et seq.) See also Col.
Prjevalsky’s _Travels_. Why should it not be so? The above was written
in 1888, but the evidences are growing every day, and it will be against
all archaeological precedent if far-reaching results do not follow from
Dr. Stein’s _small_ find, and from Capt. d’Ollone’s recent researches
among the Lolos, and the securing by him, as we are informed, of the
long-sought knowledge of their hieroglyphic system.

[63-*] The study of Tibetan has so far been approached almost
exclusively from the south, that is by those already familiar with
Sanskrit and Pâli. To this fact, as well as to the overwhelming
influence exercised on literary Tibetan by the Buddhist propaganda, is
due the difficulty one meets in any study of its origins. The traces,
however, do nevertheless exist. Some interesting facts concerning both
Chinese and Tibetan, which seem to be entirely omitted in such later
standard works as those of Summers, Wade, and Giles, are to be found in
the almost forgotten _Chinese Grammar_ of Dr. Marshman, Serampore, 1814.

Transcriber’s Note

       Page Error
  TN-1  20  two glyphs [Hieroglyph] and [Hieroglyph] should  have a . at
            the end
  TN-2  25  above the the should read above the
  TN-3  34  Muluc Ix, Cauac should read Muluc, Ix, Cauac
  TN-4  38  Cimi forms: [Hieroglyphs] should have a . at the end
  TN-5  51  relationtionship should read relationship

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Commentary Upon the Maya-Tzental Perez Codex - with a Concluding Note Upon the Linguistic Problem of the Maya Glyphs" ***

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