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Title: Studies in Central American Picture-Writing - First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the - Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1879-80, - Government Printing Office, Washington, 1881, pages 205-245
Author: Holden, Edward S.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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:

This book was originally published as a part of:

  Powell, J. W.
  1881  _First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the
        Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1879-'80._ pp.
        205-245. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

The table of contents and index included in this version of the book was
extracted from the complete volume.

A number of typographical errors found in the original text have been
maintained in this version. They are marked in the text with a [TN-#].
A description of each error is found in the complete list at the end of
the text. Original spelling has been maintained. A list of inconsistently
spelled words is found at the end of the text.

                J. W. POWELL, DIRECTOR.



                   EDWARD S. HOLDEN,


List of illustrations                                              206
Introductory                                                       207
Materials for the present investigation                            210
System of nomenclature                                             211
In what order are the hieroglyphs read?                            221
The card catalogue of hieroglyphs                                  223
Comparison of plates I and IV (Copan)                              224
Are the hieroglyphs of Copan and Palenque identical?               227
Huitzilopochtli, Mexican god of war, etc.                          229
Tlaloc, or his Maya representative                                 237
Cukulean or Quetzalcoatl                                           239
Comparison of the signs of the Maya months                         243


  Figure 48.--The Palenquean Group of the Cross                    221
         49.--Statue at Copan                                      224
         50.--Statue at Copan                                      225
         51.--Synonymous Hieroglyphs from Copan and Palenque       227
         52.--Yucatec Stone                                        229
         53.--Huitzilopochtli (front)                              232
         54.--Huitzilopochtli (side)                               232
         55.--Huitzilopochtli (back)                               232
         56.--Miclantecutli                                        232
         57.--Adoratorio                                           233
         58.--The Maya War-God                                     234
         59.--The Maya Rain-God                                    234
         60.--Tablet at Palenque                                   234




Since 1876 I have been familiar with the works of Mr. JOHN L. STEPHENS
on the antiquities of Yucatan, and from time to time I have read works
on kindred subjects with ever increasing interest and curiosity in
regard to the meaning of the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the stones and
tablets of Copan, Palenque, and other ruins of Central America. In
August, 1880, I determined to see how far the principles which are
successful when applied to ordinary cipher-writing would carry one in
the inscriptions of Yucatan. The difference between an ordinary
cipher-message and these inscriptions is not so marked as might at first
sight appear. The underlying principles of deciphering are quite the
same in the two cases.

The chief difficulty in the Yucatec inscriptions is our lack of any
definite knowledge of the nature of the records of the aborigines. The
patient researches of our archæologists have recovered but very little
of their manners and habits, and one has constantly to avoid the
tempting suggestions of an imagination which has been formed by modern
influences, and to endeavor to keep free from every suggestion not
inherent in the stones themselves. I say the stones, for I have only
used the Maya manuscripts incidentally. They do not possess, to me, the
same interest, and I think it may certainly be said that all of them are
younger than the Palenque tablets, and far younger than the inscriptions
at Copan.

I therefore determined to apply the ordinary principles of deciphering,
without any bias, to the Yucatec inscriptions, and to go as far as I
could _certainly_. Arrived at the point where demonstration ceased, it
would be my duty to stop. For, while even the conjectures of a mind
perfectly trained in archæologic research are valuable and may
subsequently prove to be quite right, my lack of familiarity with
historical works forced me to keep within narrow and safe limits.

My programme at beginning was, _first_, to see if the inscriptions at
Copan and Palenque were written in the same tongue. When I say "to see,"
I mean to definitely prove the fact, and so in other cases; _second_, to
see how the tablets were to be read. That is, in horizontal lines, are
they to be read from right to left, or the reverse? In vertical columns,
are they to be read up or down? _Third_, to see whether they were
phonetic characters, or merely ideographic, or a mixture of the
two--rebus-like, in fact.

If the characters turned out to be purely phonetic, I had determined to
stop at this point, since I had not the time to learn the Maya language,
and again because I utterly and totally distrusted the methods which, up
to this time, have been applied by BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG and others who
start, and must start, from the misleading and unlucky alphabet handed
down by LANDA. I believe that legacy to have been a positive misfortune,
and I believe any process of the kind attempted by BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG
(for example, in his essay on the _MS. Troano_) to be extremely
dangerous and difficult in application, and to require a degree of
scientific caution almost unique.

Dr. HARRISON ALLEN, in his paper, "The Life Form in Art," in the
_Transactions of the American Philosophical Society_, is the only
investigator who has applied this method to Central American remains
with success, so it seems to me; and even here errors have occurred.

The process I allude to is something like the following: A set of
characters, say the alphabet of LANDA, is taken as a starting point. The
_variants_ of these are formed. Then the basis of the investigation is
ready. From this, the interpretation follows by identifications of each
new character with one of the standard set or with one of its
_variants_. Theoretically, there is no objection to this procedure.
Practically, also, there is no objection if the work is done strictly in
the order named. In fact, however, the list of _variants_ is filled out
not before the work is begun, but during its progress, and in such a way
as to satisfy the necessities of the interpreter in carrying out some
preconceived idea. With a sufficient latitude in the choice of
_variants_ any MS. can receive any interpretation. For example, the _MS.
Troano_, which a casual examination leads me to think is a _ritual_, and
an account of the adventures of several Maya gods, is interpreted by
BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG as a record of mighty geologic changes. It is next
to impossible to avoid errors of this nature at least, and in fact they
have not been avoided, so far as I know, except by Dr. ALLEN in the
paper cited.

I, personally, have chosen the stones and not the manuscripts for study
largely because _variants_ do not exist in the same liberal degree in
the stone inscriptions as they have been supposed to exist in the

At any one ruin the characters for the same idea are alike, and alike to
a marvelous degree. At another ruin the type is just a little different,
but the fidelity to this type is equally great. Synonyms exist; that is,
the same idea may be given by two or more utterly different signs. But a
given sign is made in a fixed and definite way. Finally the MSS. are, I
think, later than the stones. Hence the root of the matter is the
interpretation of the stones, or not so much their full interpretation
as the discovery of a _method of interpretation_, which shall be sure.

Suppose, for example, that we know the meaning of a dozen characters
only, and the way a half dozen of these are joined together in a
sentence. The _method_ by which these were obtained will serve to add
others to the list, and progress depends in such a case only on our
knowledge of the people who wrote, and of the subjects upon which they
were writing. Such knowledge and erudition belongs to the archæologists
by profession. A step that might take me a year to accomplish might be
made in an instant by one to whom the Maya and Aztec mythology was
familiar, if he were proceeding according to a sound method. At the
present time we know nothing of the meaning of any of the Maya

It will, therefore, be my object to go as far in the subject as I can
proceed with certainty, every step being demonstrated so that not only
the archæologist but any intelligent person can follow. As soon as the
border-land is reached in which proof disappears and opinion is the only
guide, the search must be abandoned except by those whose cultivated and
scientific opinions are based on knowledge far more profound and various
than I can pretend or hope to have.

If I do not here push my own conclusions to their farthest limit, it
must not be assumed that I do not see, at least in some cases, the
direction in which they lead. Rather, let this reticence be ascribed to
a desire to lay the foundations of a new structure firmly, to prescribe
the method of building which my experience has shown to be adequate and
necessary, and to leave to those abler than myself the erection of the
superstructure. If my methods and conclusions are correct (and I have no
doubts on this point, since each one has been reached in various ways
and tested by a multiplicity of criteria) there is a great future to
these researches. It is not to be forgotten that here we have no Rosetta
stone to act at once as key and criterion, and that instead of the
accurate descriptions of the Egyptian hieroglyphics which were handed
down by the Greek cotemporaries[TN-1] of the sculptors of these
inscriptions, we have only the crude and brutal chronicles of an
ignorant Spanish soldiery, or the bigoted accounts of an unenlightened
priesthood. To CORTEZ and his companions a memorandum that it took one
hundred men all day to throw the idols into the sea was all-sufficient.
To the Spanish priests the burning of all manuscripts was praiseworthy,
since those differing from Holy Writ were noxious and those agreeing
with it superfluous. It is only to the patient labor of the Maya
sculptor who daily carved the symbols of his belief and creed upon
enduring stone, and to the luxuriant growths of semi-tropical forests
which concealed even these from the passing Spanish adventurer, that we
owe the preservation of the memorials of past beliefs and vanished

Not the least of the pleasures of such researches as these comes from
the recollection that they vindicate the patience and skill of forgotten
men, and make their efforts not quite useless. It was no rude savage
that carved the Palenque cross; and if we can discover what his efforts
meant, his labor and his learning have not been all in vain. It will be
one more proof that human effort, even misdirected, is not lost, but
that it comes, later or earlier, "to forward the general deed of man."



My examination of the works of Mr. J. L. STEPHENS has convinced me that
in every respect his is the most trustworthy work on the _hieroglyphs_
of Central America. The intrinsic evidence to this effect is very
strong, but when I first became familiar with the works of WALDECK I
found so many points of difference that my faith was for a time shaken,
and I came to the conclusion that while the existing representations
might suffice for the study of the general forms of statues, tablets,
and buildings, yet they were not sufficiently accurate in detail to
serve as a basis for the deciphering I had in mind. I am happy to bear
witness, however, that STEPHENS'S work is undoubtedly amply adequate to
the purpose, and this fact I have laboriously verified by a comparison
of it with various representations, as those of DESAIX and others, and
also with a few photographs. The drawings of WALDECK are very beautiful
and artistic, but either the artist himself or his lithographers have
taken singular liberties in the published designs. STEPHENS'S work is
not only accurate, but it contains sufficient material for my purpose
(over 1,500 separate hieroglyphs), and, therefore, I have based my study
exclusively upon his earliest work, "_Incidents of Travel in Central
America, Chiapas, and Yucatan_," 2 vols., 8vo. New York, 1842 (twelfth
edition). I have incidentally consulted the works on the subject
contained in the Library of Congress, particularly those of BRASSEUR DE
BOURBOURG, KINGSBOROUGH, WALDECK, and others, but, as I have said, the
two volumes above named contain all the the[TN-2] material I have been
able to utilize, and much more which is still under examination.

       *       *       *       *       *

One fact which makes the examination of the Central American antiquities
easier than it otherwise would be, has not, I think, been sufficiently
dwelt upon by former writers. This is the remarkable faithfulness of the
artists and sculptors of these statues and inscriptions to a standard.
Thus, at Copan, wherever the same kind of hieroglyph is to be
represented, it will be found that the human face or other object
employed is almost identically the same in expression and character,
wherever it is found. The same characters at different parts of a tablet
do not differ more than the same letters of the alphabet in two fonts of

At Palenque the _type_ (font) changes, but the adherence to this is
equally or almost equally rigid. It is to be presumed that in this
latter case, where work was done both in stone and stucco, the nature
of the material affected the portraiture more or less.

The stone statues at Copan, for example, could not all have been done by
the same artist, nor at the same time. I have elsewhere shown that two
of these statues are absolutely identical. How was this accomplished?
Was one stone taken to the foot of the other and cut by it as a pattern?
This is unlikely, especially as in the case mentioned the _scale_ of the
two statues is quite different. I think it far more likely that each was
cut from a drawing, or series of drawings, which must have been
preserved by priestly authority. The work at any one place must have
required many years, and could not have been done by a single man; nor
is it probable that it was all done in one generation. Separate
hieroglyphs must have been preserved in the same way. It is this rigid
adherence to a type, and the banishment of artistic fancy, which will
allow of progress in the deciphering of the inscriptions or the
comparison of the statues. Line after line, ornament after ornament, is
repeated with utter fidelity. The reason of this is not far to seek.
This, however, is not the place to explain it, but rather to take
advantage of the fact itself. We may fairly say that were it not so, and
with our present data, all advances would be tenfold more difficult.



It is impossible without a special and expensive font of type to refer
pictorially to each character, and therefore some system of nomenclature
must be adopted. The one I employ I could now slightly improve, but it
has been used and results have been obtained by it. It is sufficient for
the purpose, and I will, therefore, retain it rather than to run the
risk of errors by changing it to a more perfect system. I have numbered
the plates in STEPHENS'S _Central America_ according to the following


  Stone Statue, front view, I have called Plate I    _Frontispiece._
  Wall of Copan, Plate II                                        96
  Plan of Copan, Plate III                                      133
  Death's Head, Plate III^a                                     135
  Portrait, Plate III^b                                         136
  Stone Idol, Plate IV                                          138
  Portrait, Plate IV^a                                          139
  Stone Idol, Plate V                                           140
  Tablet of Hieroglyphics, Plate V^a                            141
  No. 1, Sides of Altar, Plate VI                               142
  No. 2, Sides of Altar, Plate VII                              142
  Gigantic Head, Plate VIII                                     143
  No. 1, Stone Idol, front view, Plate IX                       149
  No. 2, Stone Idol, back view, Plate X                         150
  Idol half buried, Plate XI                                    151
  No. 1, Idol, Plate XII                                        152
  No. 2, Idol, Plate XIII                                       152
  No. 1, Idol, Plate XIV                                        153
  No. 2, Idol, Plate XV                                         153
  Idol and Altar, Plate XVI                                     154
  Fallen Idol, Plate XVII                                       155
  No. 1, Idol, front view, Plate XVIII                          156
  No. 2, Idol, back view, Plate XIX                             156
  No. 3, Idol, side view, Plate XX                              156
  Fallen Idol, Plate XX^a                                       157
  Circular Altar, Plate XX^b                                    157
  No. 1, Stone Idol, front view, Plate XXI                      158
  No. 2, Stone Idol, back view, Plate XXII                      158
  No. 3, Stone Idol, side view, Plate XXIII                     158
  Great Square of Antigua Guatimala, Plate XXIII^a              266
  Profile of Nicaragua Canal, Plate XXIII^b                     412

  Stone Tablet, Plate XXIV                           _Frontispiece._
  Idol at Quirigua, Plate XXV                                   121
  Idol at Quirigua, Plate XXVI                                  122
  Santa Cruz del Quiché, Plate XXVII                            171
  Place of Sacrifice, Plate XXVIII                              184
  Figures found at Santa Cruz del Quiché, Plate XXIX            185
  Plaza of Quezaltenango, Plate XXX                             204
  Vases found at Gueguetenango, Plate XXXI                      231
  Ocosingo, Plate XXXII                                         259
  Palace at Palenque, Plate XXXIII                              309
  Plan of Palace, Plate XXXIV                                   310
  Stucco Figure on Pier, Plate XXXV                             311
  Front Corridor of Palace, Plate XXXVI                         313
  No. 1, Court-yard of Palace, Plate XXXVIII                    314
  No. 2, Colossal Bas-reliefs in Stone, Plate XXXIX             314
  East side of Court-yard, Plate XXXVII                         314
  No. 1, Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate XL                         316
  No. 2, Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate XLI                        316
  No. 3, Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate XLII                       316
  Oval Bas-relief in Stone, Plate XLIII                         318
  Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate XLIV                              319
  General Plan of Palenque, Plate XLV                           337
  Casa No. 1 in Ruins, Plate XLVI                               338
  Casa No. 1 restored, Plate XLVII                              339
  No. 1, Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate XLVIII                     340
  No. 2, Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate XLIX                       340
  No. 3, Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate L                          340
  No. 4, Bas-relief in Stucco, Plate LI                         340
  No. 1, Tablet of Hieroglyphics, Plate LII                     342
  No. 2, Tablet of Hieroglyphics, Plate LIII                    342
  Tablet on inner Wall, Plate LIV                               343
  Casa di Piedras, No. 2, Plate LV                              344
  Tablet on back Wall of Altar, Casa No. 2, Plate LVI           345
  Stone Statue, Plate LVII                                      349
  Casa No. 3, Plate LVIII                                       350
  Front Corridor, Plate LIX                                     351
  No. 1, Bas-reliefs in Front of Altar, Plate LX                353
  No. 2, Bas-reliefs in Front of Altar, Plate LXI               353
  Adoratorio or Altar, Plate LXII                               354
  Casa No. 4, Plate LXIII                                       355
  House of the Dwarf, Plate LXIV                                420
  Casa del Gobernador, Plate LXV                                428
  Sculptured Front of Casa del Gobernador, Plate LXVI           443
  Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Plate LXVIII                          441
  Top of Altar at Copan, Plate LXVIII=V^a                       454
  Mexican Hieroglyphical Writing, Plate LXIX                    454

In each plate I have numbered the hieroglyphs, giving each one its own
number. Thus the hieroglyphs of the Copan altar (vol. i, p. 141) which I
have called plate V^a, are numbered from 1 to 36 according to this

   1   2   3   4   5   6
   7   8   9  10  11  12
  13  14  15  16  17  18
  19  20  21  22  23  24
  25  26  27  28  29  30
  31  32  33  34  35  36

And the right hand side of the Palenque Cross tablet, as given by RAU in
his memoir published by the Smithsonian Institution (1880), has the

  2020  2021  2022  2023  2024  2025
  2030  2031  2032  2033  2034  2035
  2040  2041  2042  2043  2044  2045
  2050  2051  2052  2053  2054  2055
    *     *     *     *     *     *
    *     *     *     *     *     *
  3080  3081  3082  3083  3084  3085

These are consecutive with the numbers which I have attached to the
left-hand side, as given by STEPHENS. Whenever I have stated any results
here, I have also given the means by which any one can number a copy of
STEPHENS'S work in the way which I have adopted, and thus the means of
testing my conclusions is in the hands of every one who desires to do

In cases where only a _part_ of a hieroglyphic is referred to, I have
placed its number in a parenthesis, as 1826 _see_ (122), by which I mean
that the character 1826 is to be compared with a part of the character
122. The advantages of this system are many: for example; a memorandum
can easily be taken that two hieroglyphs are alike, thus 2072=2020 and
2073=2021. Hence the _pair_ 2020--2021, read horizontally, occurs again
at the point 2072--2073, etc. _Horizontal pairs_ will be known by their
numbers being consecutive, as 2020--2021; _vertical pairs_ will usually
be known by their numbers differing by 10. Thus, 2075--2085 are one
above the other.

This method of naming the _chiffres_, then, is a quick and safe one, and
we shall see that it lends itself to the uses required of it.

I add here the scheme according to which the principal plates at
Palenque have been numbered.

PLATE XXIV (left-hand side).

  { 37        37       38      39   94   96    98    100   102   104   106
  {_See_     _See_    _See_
  { 1800      1800     1806
  { 40        40       41      42   95   97  99=127  101   103   105   107

   43=1810  43^a=46^a  44      45                                      108

   46=1810  46^a=43^a  47      48

    49                 50      51

                                                 In the middle of the
    52     52^a=1820?  53      54                  plate at the top.
    55      56=1840?   57      58                    109      115

    59        60       61     62=58?                 110      116

    63        64       65[+]   66                    111      117

    67        68       69      70                    112      118

    71      72=281     73      74                    113      119

    75      76=67      77      78                    114      120

    79        80       81      82

    83        84       85     86=56?

    86[*]     86[*]    87      88

    89        90       91      92


  [*] Accidental error in numbering here.

  [+] Possibly Muluc--a Maya day; the meaning is "reunion."

PLATE XXIV (right-hand side).

    121          122=86?[+]        123=87         124=88
   _See_ 74,                                      _See_ 61, 1822

    125           126[++]          127=99          128
                 _See_ 1940        _See_ 1940     _See_ (44), 64

    129           130              131=147         132
                                                  _See_ 50, 58, 62

    133           134               135           136=47?

    137           138               139            140
                 _See_ 39,         _See_ 1811

    141           142[§]            143            144
                 _See_ 54                         _See_ 50, 58,
                                                   62, 132

    145           146              147=131         148
                                   _See_ 71

    149           150               151            152
                 _See_ 56,

    153           154               155            156
                 _See_ 53          _See_ 50,
                                    58, 132

    157[*]        158               159            160
                 _See_ 68          _See_ 38       _See_ 46^a,
                                                   49^a, 52^a

   161=50         162           [+]163=1936        164
   _See_ 58,     _See_ 56,         _See_ 57       _See_ 58, 62
    62, 132       73, 1882

    165           166               167            168
                 _See_ 81?

    169           170               171            172
   _See_ 68?

    173           174               175            176
                 _See_ 67, 76,     _See_ 57       _See_ 126
                  90, 1910

    177           178               179            180
                 _See_ 43^a                       _See_ 50, 58, 62

    181           182               183            184
                 _See_ 57,
                  163, 1936


  [*] Possibly Ymix--a Maya day.

  [+] Possibly Chuen--a Maya day; meaning "a board," "a tree."

  [++] Possibly Ahau--a Maya day; meaning "king."

  [§] Possibly Ezanab--a Maya day.


   200    201   202      203    204    205   206    207  208  209    }
   210    211   212             214    215   216    217  218  219    } Line 1.
                                                             _See_   }
                                                              2020   }

   220    221   222      223  224=2060 225   226    227  228  229    }
  _See_        _See_                                         _See_   }
   2030         2060                                          1811-2 }
                                                                     } Line 2.
   230    231   232             234    235   236    237  238  239    }
  _See_                                                              }
   1822                                                              }

   240    241 242=2020 243=1951 244    245   246    247  248  249    }
   250    251   252             254    255   256    257  258 259=1943} Line 3.
               _See_                                                 }
                214                                                  }

   260    261   262      263    264    265   266    267  268  269    }
                               _See_  _See_ _See_                    }
                                2020   2021  2022                    }
                                                                     } Line 4.
   270    271                 274=244  275   276    277  278  279    }
                                                        _See_        }
                                                         204         }

   280   281=72 282      283    284    285   286    287  288         }
  _See_                                     _See_                    }
   1820                                      385                     } Line 5.
   290                          294    295   296    297  298  299    }

   300    301   302    303=360  304    305   306    307              }
  _See_                                                              }
   203                                                               } Line 6.
   310    311                   314    315   316    317  318  319    }

   320    321   322      323  324=1824 325   326    327  328  329    }
                        _See_  _See_  _See_ _See_                    }
                         203    204    285   305                     }
                                                                     } Line 7.
   330    331   332             334    335   336    337  338  339    }
               _See_                                                 }
                209                                                  }

   340    341   342      343    344    345   346    347  348  349    }
               _See_           _See_                                 }
                209             322                                  }
                                                                     } Line 8.
   350    351   352             354    355 356=1822 357  358  359    }
                               _See_        _See_                    }
                                267,         230                     }
                                298                                  }

  360=303 361   362      363    364    365   366    367  368  369    }
                                            _See_  _See_             }
                                             351    303,             } Line 9.
                                                    360              }
   370    371                          375   376    377  378  379    }

   380    381   382      383    384    385   386    387  388  389    }
                                      _See_                          }
                                       286,                          } Line 10.
                                       1822                          }
   390    391   392             394    395   396    397  398  399    }

   400    401   402    403=360  404    405   406    407  408  409    }
               _See_       367                     _See_             }
                326                                 360              }
                                                                     } Line 11.
   410    411   412             414    415   416    417  418  419    }
  _See_                                     _See_                    }
   326                                       324                     }

   420    421   422      423    424    425   426    427              }
                                            _See_                    }
                                             324                     } Line 12.
   430          432             434    435   436    437  438  439    }


[The upper left-hand square is No. 500, the upper right is 519, the
lower left-hand is 720, the lower right is 739. All the squares from 500
to 508, 520 to 528, 530 to 538, etc., up to 720 to 728, are obliterated
(and their numbers omitted here) except a few.]

            509   510     511     512      513    514   515   516  517  518  519
                                 _See_                 _See_ _See_
                                  1967                  509   510

            529   530     531     532      533    534   535   536  537  538  539

            549   550     551     552      553    554   555   556  557  558  559

                  570     571     572      573    574   575   576  577  578  579

            589   590     591     592      593    594   595   596  597  598  599

  604  605  609   610     611     612      613    614   615   616  617  618  619

       628  629   630     631     632      633    634   635   636  637  638  639

            649   650     651     652      653    654   655   656  657  658  659

            669   670   671=324 672=322? 673=323? 674   675   676  677  678  679
                         _See_                   _See_            _See_
                          2042                    77               1802

       688  689   690     691     692      693    694   695   696  697  698  699

       708  709   710     711     712    713=1802 714   715   716  717  718  719

            729 730=1845  731     732      733    734   735   736  737  738  739


     800     801     802      803       804        805     806    807    808     809       810       811       812     813
                                                                       _See_                        _See_    _See_   _See_
                                                                        1882                         26       1940    1941,

     900     901     902      903       904        905     906 907=1003  908     909       910       911       912     913
                                                                       _See_             _See_
                                                                        2020              1310

    1000    1001    1002   1003=907    1004       1005    1006   1007   1008    1009      1010      1011      1012    1013
                                                                               _See_     _See_     _See_
                                                                                2021      3054      1811-2

    1100    1101  1102=717   1103      1104     1105=2020 1106   1107   1108    1109    1110=1209   1113      1114    1115
                                      _See_              _See_  _See_  _See_
                                       1820               2021   1840   1841?

    1200    1201 1202=1110   1203    1204=1008    1205    1206   1207   1208  1209=1110   1210      1211      1212    1213
                _See_ 3054                               _See_

    1300    1301    1302   1303=1910   1304       1305    1306   1307   1308    1309      1310      1311      1312    1313

  1400=1823 1401    1402     1403      1404       1405    1406   1407   1408    1409      1410      1411      1412    1413

    1500    1501 1502=1010   1503    1504=717     1505    1506   1507   1508    1509      1510      1511      1512    1513

    1600    1601    1602     1603      1604       1605    1606   1607   1608  1609=1304 1610=1305 1611=1010   1612    1613

    1700    1701 1702=1911   1703      1704       1705    1706   1707   1708    1709      1710    1711=1702 1712=1708 1713

PLATE LVI (left-hand side--Palenque Cross).

          { 1801      1802      1803      1804                      1961  1962  1963  1964  1965
          {          _See_
          {           163,
     1800 {           175
          { 1805      1806      1807      1808                                              1966
          {_See_               _See_
          { 155                 138

  [*]1810   1811      1812      1813      1814      1815      1816                          1967
    _See_  _See_     _See_     _See_     _See_
     150    139,      (1852)    131,      126,
            179                 146       127,

     1820   1821      1822      1823      1824      1825      1826                          1968
    _See_            _See_                                   _See_
     161              124                                     122,

  1830=1820 1831      1832      1833      1834      1835      1836                          1969
  _See_ 161          _See_     _See_     _See_     _See_     _See_
                      123,      121       163       182       123

     1840   1841      1842      1843      1844    1845=1822   1846                          1970
                     _See_     _See_              _See_ 124  _See_
                      1835      124,                          179

     1850   1851      1852      1853    1854=1806   1855

     1860   1861      1862      1863      1864    1865=2021   1866
                     _See_                        _See_ 144  _See_
                      126,                                    136?,
                      127                                     184?

  1870=1820 1871 1872=1842?   1873=1803   1874      1875      1876
  _See_ 160,     _See_ 182

     1880   1881   1882         1883    1884=1834   1885
                  _See_        _See_    _See_ 163, _See_
                   150,         124      182        132,
                   162                              144

     1890   1891   1892         1893    1894=1822   1895
    _See_  _See_  _See_                 _See_ 124  _See_
     130,   131?,  132?                             144
     158    147?

     1900   1901   1902         1903      1904    1905=1803                                 1971
    _See_                      _See_                                                       _See_
     146                        157,                                                        1802

     1910   1911   1912       1913=1834   1914      1915                                    1972
    _See_  _See_  _See_            1884
     174    174    141

     1920   1921   1922         1923      1924      1925                                    1973
                  _See_        _See_
                   123          124

     1930   1931 1932=1811-2?   1933      1934    1935=1884         1975                    1974
                                                  _See_ 182

  1940=1862 1941   1942         1943    1944=1922 1945=1923
    _See_                               _See_ 123 _See_ 124

     1950   1951   1952         1953      1954      1955

  [*] At and after this place, in vertical columns, 1810-1-2, 1820-1-2,
1830-1-2, 1840-1-2, and 1860-1-2 may be taken as 2 or 3 symbols. I have
assumed them to be 3.

PLATE LVI (right-hand side--Palenque Cross).

        1980   1981     1982           2020   2021   2022   2023   2024 2025=123
                                      _See_  _See_                _See_
                                       131,   144                  163

                        1983           2030   2031   2032   2033   2034   2035
                                      _See_  _See_  _See_         _See_
                                       132    134,   1811,         124
                                              146,   1812

                        1984           2040   2041   2042 2043=123 2044   2045
                       _See_                                      _See_  _See_
                        131,                                       131,   132,
                        147                                        147    150

                               2000    2050   2051   2052   2053   2054   2055

                               2001    2060   2061   2062   2063   2064   2065

                             2002=122  2070   2071   2072   2073   2074   2075

                             2003=2021 2080   2081   2082   2083   2084   2085
                             _See_ 130

                               2004    2090   2091   2092   2093   2094   2095

                               2005    3000   3001   3002   3003   3004   3005

      { 1976   1978            2006    3010   3011   3012   3013   3014   3015
      {                       _See_
      {                        1902,
  [*] {                        1903
      { 1977   1979            2007    3020   3021   3022   3023   3024   3025
      {                       _See_
      {                        182?

                               2008    3030   3031   3032   3033   3034   3035

                               2009    3040   3041   3042   3043   3044   3045

                               2010    3050   3051   3052   3053   3054   3055

                               2011    3060   3061   3062   3063   3064   3065

                               2012    3070   3071   3072   3073   3074   3075

                               2013    3080   3081   3082   3083   3084   3085


  [*] These four each side of the main stem of the cross. 1976=_Ezanab_--a
Maya day[TN-3]

[Illustration: FIG. 48.--The Palenquean Group of the Cross.]



Before any advance can be made in the deciphering of the hieroglyphic
inscriptions, it is necessary to know in what directions, along what
lines or columns, the verbal sense proceeds.

All the inscriptions that I know of are in rectangular figures. At Copan
they are usually in squares. At Palenque the longest inscriptions are in
rectangles. At Palenque again, there are some cases where there is a
single horizontal line of hieroglyphs over a pictorial tablet. Here
clearly the only question is, do the characters proceed from left to
right, or from right to left? In other cases as in the tablet of the
cross, there are vertical columns. The question here is, shall we read
up or down?

Now, the hieroglyphs must be phonetic or pictorial, or a mixture of the
two. If they are phonetic, it will take more than one symbol to make a
word, and we shall have groups of like characters when the same word is
written in two places. If the signs are pictorial, the same thing will
follow; that is, we shall have groups recurring when the same idea
recurs. Further, we know that the subjects treated of in these tablets
must be comparatively simple, and that _names_, as of gods, kings, etc.,
must necessarily recur.

The _names_, then, will be the first words deciphered. At present no
single name is known. These considerations, together with our system of
nomenclature, will enable us to take some steps.

Take, for example, the right-hand side of the Palenque cross tablet as
given by RAU. _See_ our figure 48, which is Plate LVI of STEPHENS (vol.
ii, p. 345), with the addition of the part now in the National Museum at

Our system of numbering is here

  2020  2021  2022  2023  2024  2025
  2030  2031  2032  2033  2034  2035
    *     *     *     *     *     *
    *     *     *     *     *     *
    *     *     *     *     *     *
  3080  3081  3082  3083  3084  3085

Now pick out the duplicate hieroglyphs in this; that is, run through the
tablet, and wherever 2020 occurs erase the number which fills the place
and write in 2020. Do the same for 2021, 2022, etc., down to 3084. The
result will be as follows:


      2020     2021     2022     2023     2024     2025
      ^-----------^                       ^-----------^

      2030     2031     2032     2033     2034     2035

      2040     2041     2042   { 2025     2020     2021
                               {          ^-----------^
      2050     2051     2034   { 2053     2054     2055

      2053     2061     2062     2063     2064     2065

      2070     2071     2020     2021     2022?    2024? }
                        ^-----------^                    } ?
      2053     2020     2082     2083     2025     2053  }

      2021     2091     2092   { 2025     2094     2095
      3000     2023     2034   { 2053     2033     3005

      3010     2083     3012     2024     3014     2091

      2053     3021     2023     2020     3024     2024

    { 2024     2025     2021     3033   { 2025     2034*
  ? { ^-----------^                     {          ^----
    {                                   {
    { 2053*    3021     3042     3043   { 2035     3045

      3050     2083   { 2025     2034     3054     3055
     _See_ 2082       {
      ^-----------^   {
      2024     2020   { 2035     3063     2024     2025

      2021     2031     2020     2021     2035     3045

      3080     3081     2091     2093     2020     2021

  14 cases of horizontal pairs; 4 cases of vertical pairs; 102 characters
  in all, of which 51 appear more than once, so that there are but 51
  independent hieroglyphs.

Here the first two lines are unchanged. In the third line we find that
2043 is the same as 2025, 2044=2020, 2045=2021, and so on, and we write
the smallest number in each case.

After this is done, connect like pairs by braces whenever they are
consecutive, either vertical or horizontal. Take the pair 2020 and 2021
for example; 2020 occurs eight times in the tablet, viz, as 2020, 2044,
2072, 2081, 3023, 3061, 3072, 3084. In five out of the eight cases, it
is followed by 2021, viz, as 2021, 2045, 2073, 3073, 3085.

It is clear this is not the result of accident. The pair 2020 and 2021
means something, and when the two characters occur together they must be
read together. There is no point of punctuation between them. We also
learn that they are not inseparable. 2020 will make sense with 2082,
3024 and 3062. Here it looks as if the writing must be read in _lines_
horizontally. We do not know yet in which direction.

We must examine other cases. This is to be noticed: If the reading is in
horizontal lines from left to right, then the progress is from top to
bottom in columns, as the case of 3035 and 3040 shows. This occurs at
the end of a line, and the corresponding _chiffre_ required to make the
pair is at the other end of the next line. I have marked this case with
asterisks. If we must read in the lines from right to left we must
necessarily read in columns from bottom to top. Thus the _lines_ are

A similar process with all the other tablets in STEPHENS leads to the
conclusion that the reading is in lines horizontally and in columns
vertically. The cases 1835-'45, 1885-'95, 1914-'24, and 1936-'46 should,
however, be examined. We have now to decide at which end of the lines to
begin. The reasons given by Mr. BANCROFT (_Native Races_, vol. ii, p.
782) appeared to me sufficient to decide the question before I was
acquainted with his statement of them.

Therefore, the sum total of our present data, examined by a rational
method, leads to the conclusion, so far as we can know from these data,
that the verbal sense proceeded in _lines_ from left to right, in
_columns_ from top to bottom; just as the present page is written, in

For the present, the introduction of the method here indicated is the
important step. It has, as yet, been applied only to the plates of
STEPHENS' work. The definite conclusion should be made to rest on _all
possible_ data, some of which is not at my disposition at present.
Tablets exist in great numbers at other points besides Palenque, and for
the final conclusion these must also be consulted. If each one is
examined in the way I have indicated, it will yield a certain answer.
The direction of reading for that plate can be thus determined. At
Palenque the progress is in the order I have indicated.



It has already been explained how a system of nomenclature was gradually
formed. As I have said, this is not perfect, but it is sufficiently
simple and full for the purpose. By it, every plate in STEPHENS' work
receives a number and every hieroglyph in each plate is likewise

This was first done in my private copy of the work. I then procured
another copy and duplicated these numbers both for plates and single
_chiffres_. The plates of this copy were then cut up into single
hieroglyphs and each single hieroglyph was mounted on a library card,
as follows:

  |            |               |             |
  | No. 2020.  |  Hieroglyph.  |  Plate LVI. |
  |            |_______________|             |
  | Same as Numbers.  |  Similar to Numbers. |
  | ----------------  |  ------------------- |
  | ----------------  |  ------------------- |
  | ----------------  |  ------------------- |
  | ----------------  |  ------------------- |
  | ----------------  |  ------------------- |

The cards were 6.5 by 4.5 inches. The _chiffre_ was pasted on, in the
center of the top space. Its number and the plate from which it came
were placed as in the cut. The numbers of hieroglyphs which resembled
the one in question could be written on the right half of the card, and
the numbers corresponding to different recurrences of this hieroglyph
occupied the left half.

All this part of the work was most faithfully and intelligently
performed for me by Miss MARY LOCKWOOD, to whom I desire to express the
full amount of my obligations. A mistake in any part would have been
fatal. But no mistakes occurred.

These cards could now be arranged in any way I saw fit. The simple
_chiffres_, for example, could be placed so as to bring like ones
together. A compound hieroglyph could be placed among simple ones
agreeing with any one of its components, and so on.

The expense of forming this card catalogue of about 1,500 single
hieroglyphs was borne by the Ethnological Bureau of the Smithsonian
Institution, and the catalogue is the property of that bureau, forming
only one of its many rich collections of American picture-writings.



In examining the various statues at Copan, as given by STEPHENS, one
naturally looks for points of striking resemblance or striking
difference. Where all is unknown, even the smallest sign is examined, in
the hope that it may prove a clue. The Plate I, Fig. 49, has a twisted
knot (the "square knot" of sailors) of cords over its head, and above
this is a _chiffre_ composed of ellipses, and above this again a sign
like a sea-shell. A natural suggestion was that these might be the signs
for the name of the personage depicted in Plate I. If this is so and we
should find the same sign elsewhere in connection with a figure, we
should expect to find this second figure like the first in every
particular. This would be a rigid test of the theory. After looking
through the Palenque series, and finding no similar figure and sign, I
examined the Copan series, and in Plate IV, our Fig. 50, I found the
same signs exactly; _i. e._, the knot and the two _chiffres_.

[Illustration: FIG. 49.--Statue at Copan.]

[Illustration: FIG. 50.--Statue at Copan.]

At first sight there is only the most general resemblance between the
personages represented in the two plates; as STEPHENS says in his
original account of them, they are "in many respects similar." If he had
known them to be the same, he would not have wasted his time in drawing
them. The scale of the two drawings and of the two statues is different;
but the two personages are the same identically. Figure for figure,
ornament for ornament, they correspond. It is unnecessary to give the
minute comparison here in words. It can be made by any one from the two
plates herewith. Take any part of Plate I, find the corresponding part
of Plate IV, and whether it is human feature or sculptured ornament the
two will be found to be the same.

Take the middle face depending from the belt in each plate. The earrings
are the same; the ornament below the chin, the knot above the head, the
complicated beadwork on each side of this face, all are the same. The
bracelets of the right arms of the main figures have each the forked
serpent tongue, and the left-arm bracelets are ornamented alike. The
crosses with beads almost inclosed in the right hands are alike; the
elliptic ornaments above each wrist, the knots and _chiffres_ over the
serpent masks which surmount the faces, all are the same. In the steel
plates given by STEPHENS there are even more coindences[TN-4] to be seen
than in the excellent wood-cuts here given, which have been copied from

Here, then, is an important fact. The theory that the _chiffre_ over the
forehead is characteristic, though it is not definitively proved,
receives strong confirmation. The parts which have been lost by the
effects of time on one statue can be supplied from the other. Better
than all, we gain a test of the minuteness with which the sculptors
worked, and an idea of how close the adherence to a type was required to
be. Granting once that the two personages are the same (a fact about
which I conceive there can be no possible doubt, since the chances in
favor are literally thousands to one), we learn what license was
allowed, and what synonyms in stone might be employed. Thus, the
ornament suspended from the neck in Plate IV is clearly a tiger's skull.
That from the neck of Plate I has been shown to be the derived form of a
skull by Dr. HARRISON ALLEN,[225-*] and we now know that this common
form relates not to the human skull, as Dr. ALLEN has supposed, but to
that of the tiger. We shall find this figure often repeated, and the
identification is of importance. This is a case in regard to synonyms.
The kind of symbolism so ably treated by Dr. ALLEN is well exemplified
in the conventional sign for the _crotalus_ jaw at the mouth of the mask
over the head of each figure. This is again found on the body of the
snake in Plate LX, and in other places. Other important questions can
be settled by comparison of the two plates. For example, at Palenque we
often find a sign composed of a half ellipse, inside of which bars are
drawn. [Illustration] I shall elsewhere show that there is reason to
believe the ellipse is to represent the concave of the sky, its diameter
to be the level earth, and in some cases at least the bars to be the
descending and fertilizing rain. The bars are sometimes two, three, and
sometimes four in number. Are these variants of a single sign, or are
they synonyms? Before the discovery of the identity of the personages in
these two plates, this question could not be answered. Now we can say
that they are not synonyms, or at least that they must be considered
separately. To show this, examine the bands just above the wristlets of
the two figures. Over the left hands of the figures the bars are two in
number; over the right hands there are four. This exact similarity is
not accidental; there is a meaning in it, and we must search for its
explanation elsewhere, but we now have a valuable test of what needs to
be regarded, and of what, on the other hand, may be passed over as
accidental or unimportant.

One other case needs mentioning here, as it will be of future use. From
the waist of each figure depend nine oval solids, six being hatched over
like pine cones and the three central ones having two ovals, one within
the other, engraved on them. In Plate IV the inner ovals are all on the
right-hand side of the outer ovals. Would they mean the same if they
were on the left-hand side? Plate I enables us to say that they would,
since one of these inner ovals has been put by the artist on that side
by accident or by an allowed caprice. It is by furnishing us with tests
and criteria like these that the proof of the identity of these two
plates is immediately important. In other ways, too, the proof is
valuable and interesting, but we need not discuss them at this time.

These statues, then, are to us a dictionary of synonyms in stone--a test
of the degree of adherence to a prototype which was exacted, and a
criterion of the kind of minor differences which must be noticed in any
rigid study.

I have not insisted more on the resemblances, since the accompanying
figures present a demonstration. Let those who wish to verify these
resemblances compare minutely the ornaments above the knees of the two
figures, those about the waists, above the heads, and the square knots,
etc., etc.



One of the first questions to be settled is whether the same system of
writing was employed at Palenque and at Copan. Before any study of the
meanings of the separate _chiffres_ can be made, we must have our
material properly assorted, and must not include in the figures we are
examining for the detection of a clue, any which may belong to a system
possibly very different.

The opinion of STEPHENS and of later writers is confirmed by my
comparison of the Palenque and the Copan series; that is, it becomes
evident that the latter series is far the older.

In Nicaragua and Copan the statues of gods were placed at the foot of
the pyramid; farther north, as at Palenque, they were placed in temples
at the summit. Such differences show a marked change in customs, and
must have required much time for their accomplishment. In this time did
the picture-writing change, or, indeed, was it ever identical?

To settle the question whether they were written on the same system, I
give here the results of a rapid survey of the card-catalogue of
hieroglyphs. A more minute examination is not necessary, as the present
one is quite sufficient to show that the system employed at the two
places was the same in its general character and almost identical even
in details. The practical result of this conclusion is that similar
characters of the Copan and Palenque series may be used interchangeably.

A detailed study of the undoubted synonyms of the two places will afford
much light on the manner in which these characters were gradually
evolved. This is not the place for such a study, but it is interesting
to remark how, even in unmistakable synonyms, the Palenque character is
always the most conventional, the least pictorial; that is, the latest.
Examples of this are No. 7, Plate V^a, and No. 1969, Plate LVI. The
_mask_ in profile which forms the left-hand edge of No. 7 seems to have
been conventionalized into the two hooks and the ball, which have the
same place in No. 1969.

[Illustration: FIG. 51.--Synonomous[TN-5] hieroglyphs from Copan and

The larger of these two was cut on stone, the smaller in stucco.

The mask has been changed into the ball and hooks; the angular nose
ornament into a single ball, easier to make and quite as significant to
the Maya priest. But to us the older (Copan) figure is infinitely more
significant. The curious rows of little balls which are often placed at
the left-hand edge of the various _chiffres_ are also conventions for
older forms. It is to be noted that these balls always occur on the left
hand of the hieroglyphs, except in one case, the _chiffre_ 1975 in the
Palenque cross tablet, on which the left-hand acolyte stands.

The conclusion that the two series are both written on the same system,
and that like _chiffres_ occurring at the two places are synonyms, will,
I think, be sufficiently evident to any one who will himself examine the
following cases. It is the _nature_ of the agreements which proves the
thesis, and not the number of cases here cited. The reader will remember
that the Copan series comprises Plates I to XXIII, inclusive; the
Palenque series, Plate XXIV and higher numbers.

The sign of the group of Mexican gods who relate to hell, _i. e._, a
circle with a central dot, and with four small segments cut out at four
equally distant points of its circumference, is found in No. 4291, Plate
XXII, and in many of the Palenque plates, as Plate LVI, Nos. 2090, 2073,
2045, 2021, etc. In both places this sign is worn by human figures just
below the ear.

The same sign occurs as an important part of No. 4271, Plate XXII, and
No. 4118, Plate XIII (Copan), and No. 2064, Plate LVI (Palenque), etc.

No. 7, Plate V^a, and No. 1969, Plate LVI, I regard as absolutely
identical. These are both human figures. No. 12, Plate V^a, and No.
637, Plate LIII, are probably the same. These probably represent or
relate to the long-nosed divinity, YACATEUCTLI, the Mexican god of
commerce, etc., or rather to his Maya representative.

The sign of TLALOC, or rather the family of TLALOCS, the gods of rain,
floods, and waters, is an eye (or sometimes a mouth), around which there
is a double line drawn. I take No. 26, Plate V^a, of the Copan series,
and Nos. 154 and 165, Plate XXIV, to be corresponding references to
members of this family. No. 4, Plate V^a, and No. 155 also correspond.

No. 4242, Plate XXII, is probably related to No. 53, Plate XXIV and its

Nos. 14 and 34, Plate V^a, are clearly related to No. 900, Plate LIV,
Nos. 127 and 176, Plate XXIV, No. 3010, Plate LVI, and many others.

Plate III^a of Copan is evidently identically the same as the No. 75
of the Palenque Plate No. XXIV.

The right half of No. 27, Plate V^a, is the same as the right half of
Nos. 3020, 3040, and many others of Plate LVI.

No. 17, Plate V^a, is related to No. 2051, Plate LVI, and many others
like it.

The major part of No. 4105, Plate XIII, is the same as No. 124, Plate
XXIV, etc.

[Illustration: FIG. 52.--Yucatec Stone.]

It is not necessary to add a greater number of examples here. The
card-catalogue which I have mentioned enables me to at once pick out all
the cases of which the above are specimens, taken just as they fell
under my eye in rapidly turning over the cards. They therefore represent
the _average_ agreement, neither more nor less. Taken together they
show that the same signs were used at Copan and at Palenque. As the same
symbols used at both places occur in like positions in regard to the
human face, etc., I conclude that not only were the same signs used at
both places, but that these signs had the same meaning; _i. e._, were
truly synonyms. In future I shall regard this as demonstrated.



In the _Congrès des Américanistes, session de Luxembourg_, vol. ii, p.
283, is a report of a memoir of Dr. LEEMANS, entitled "Description de
quelques antiquités américaines conservées dans le Musée royal
néerlandais d'antiquités à Leide." On page 299 we find--

     M. G.-H.-BAND, de Arnhiem, a eu la bonté de me confier quelques
     antiquités provenant des anciens habitants du Yucatan et de
     l'Amérique Centrale, avec autorisation d'en faire prendre des
     fac-similes pour le Musée, ce qui me permet de les faire connaître
     aux membres du Congrès. Elles ont été trouvées enfouies à une
     grande profondeur dans le sol, lors de la construction d'un canal,
     vers la rivière Gracioza, près de San Filippo, sur la frontière du
     Honduras britannique et de la république de Guatémala par M.
     S.-A.-van BRAAM, ingénieur néerlandais au service de la

From the maps given in STIELER'S Hand-Atlas and in BANCROFT'S Native
Races of the Pacific States I find that these relics were found 308
miles from Uxmal, 207 miles from Palenque, 92 miles from Copan, and 655
miles from the city of Mexico, the distances being in a straight line
from place to place.

The one of these objects with which we are now concerned is figured in
Plate (63) of the work quoted, and is reproduced here as Fig. 52.

Dr. LEEMANS refers to a similarity between this figure and others in
Stephens' Travels in Central America, but gives no general comparison.

I wish to direct attention to some of the points of this cut. The
_chiffre_ or symbol of the principal figure is, perhaps, represented in
his belt, and is a St. Andrew's cross, with a circle at each end of it.
Inside the large circle is a smaller one. It may be said, in passing,
that the cross probably relates to the _air_ and the circle to the

The main figure has two hands folded against his breast. Two other arms
are extended, one in front, the other behind, which carry two birds.
Each arm has a bracelet. This second pair of hands is not described by
Dr. LEEMANS. The two birds are exact duplicates, except that the eye of
one is shut, of the other open. Just above the bill of each bird is
something which might be taken as a second bill (which probably is not,
however), and on this and on the back of each bird are five spines or
claws. The corresponding claws are curved and shaped alike in the two
sets. The birds are fastened to the neck of the person represented by
two ornaments, which are alike, and which seem to be the usual
hieroglyph of the _crotalus_ jaw. These jaws are placed similarly with
respect to each bird. In KINGSBOROUGH'S Mexican Antiquities, vol. I,
Plate X, we find the parrot as the sign of TONATIHU, the sun, and in
Plate XXV with NAOLIN, the sun. On a level with the nose of the
principal figure are two symbols, one in front and one behind, each
inclosing a St. Andrew's cross, and surmounted by what seems to be a
flaming fire. It is probably the _chiffre_ of the wind, as the cross is
of the rain. Below the rear one of these is a head with protruding
tongue (the sign of QUETZALCOATL); below the other a hieroglyph (perhaps
a bearded face). Each of these is upborne by a hand. It is to be
noticed, also, that these last arms have bracelets different from the
pair on the breast.

In passing, it may be noted that the head in rear is under a cross, and
has on its cheek the symbol U. These are the symbols of the left-hand
figure in the Palenque cross tablet.

The head hanging from the rear of the belt has an _open_ eye (like that
of the principal figure), and above it is a crotalus mask, with open
eye, and teeth, and forked fangs. The principal figure wears over his
head a mask, with open mouth, and with tusks, and above this mask is the
eagle's head. This eagle is a sign of TLALOC, at least in Yucatan. In
Mexico the eagle was part of the insignia of TETZCATLIPOCA, "the devil,"
who overthrew the good QUETZALCOATL and reintroduced human sacrifice.

The characteristics of the principal figure, 63, are then briefly as

I. His _chiffre_ is an air-cross with the sun-circle.

II. He has four hands.

III. He bears two birds as a symbol.

IV. The claws or spikes on the backs of these are significant.

V. The mask with tusks over the head.

VI. The head worn at the belt.

VII. The captive trodden under foot.

VIII. The chain from the belt attached to a kind of ornament or symbol.

IX. The twisted flames (?) or winds (?) on each side of the figure.

X. His association with QUETZALCOATL or CUCULKAN,[TN-6] as shown by the
mouth with protruding tongue, and with TLALOC or TETZCATLIPOCA, as shown
by the eagle's head.

We may note here for reference the signification of one of the
hieroglyphs in the right-hand half of Fig. 52, _i. e._, in that half
which contains only writing. The topmost _chiffre_ is undoubtedly the
name, or part of the name, of the principal figure represented in the
other half. It is in pure picture-writing; that is, it expresses the sum
of his attributes. It has the crotalus mask, with nose ornament, which
he wears over his face; then the cross, with the "five feathers" of
Mexico, and the sun symbol. These are in the middle of the _chiffre_.
Below these the oval may be, and probably is, heaven, with the rain
descending and producing from the surface of the earth (the long axis of
the ellipse), the seed, of which three grains are depicted.

We know by the occurrence of the hieroglyphs on the reverse side of the
stone that this is not of Aztec sculpture. These symbols are of the same
sort as those at Copan, Palenque, etc., and I shall show later that some
of them occur in the Palenque tablets. Hence, we know this engraving to
be Yucatec and not Aztec in its origin. If it had been sculptured on one
side only, and these hieroglyphs omitted, I am satisfied that the facts
which I shall point out in the next paragraphs would have led to the
conclusion that this stone was Mexican in its origin. Fortunately the
native artist had the time to sculpture the Yucatec hieroglyphs, which
are the proof of its true origin. It was not dropped by a traveling
Aztec; it was made by a Yucatec.

In passing, it may be said that the upper left-hand, hieroglyph of Plate
XIII most probably repeats this name.

I collect from the third volume of BANCROFT'S _Native Races_, chapter
viii, such descriptions of HUITZILOPOCHTLI as he was represented among
the Mexicans as will be of use to us in our comparisons. No display of
learning in giving the references to the original works is necessary
here, since Mr. BANCROFT has placed all these in order and culled them
for a use like the present. It will suffice once for all to refer the
critical reader to this volume, and to express the highest sense of
obligation to Mr. BANCROFT'S compilation, which renders a survey of the
characteristic features of the American divinities easy.

In Mexico, then, this god had, among other symbols, "five balls of
feathers arranged in the form of a cross." This was in reference to the
mysterious conception of his mother through the _powers of the air_. The
upper hieroglyph in Fig. 52, and one of the lower ones, contain this
sign: "In his right hand he had an azured staff cutte in fashion of a
waving snake." (See Plate LXI of STEPHENS.) "Joining to the temple of
this idol there was a piece of less work, where there was another idol
they called TLALOC. These two idolls were alwayes together, for that
they held them as companions and of equal power."

To his temple "there were foure gates," in allusion to the form of the
cross. The temple was surrounded by rows of skulls (as at Copan) and the
temple itself was upon a high pyramid. SOLIS says the war god sat "on a
throne supported by a blue globe.[TN-7] From this, supposed to represent
the heavens, projected four staves with serpents' heads. (See Plate
XXIV, STEPHENS.) "The image bore on its head a bird of wrought plumes,"
"its right hand rested upon a crooked serpent." "Upon the left arm was a
buckler bearing five white plums arranged in form of a cross." SAHAGUN
describes his device as a dragon's head, "frightful in the extreme, and
casting fire out of his mouth."

says they were "beset with pieces of gold wrought like birds, beasts,
and _fishes_." "For collars, they had ten hearts of men," "and in their
necks Death painted."

TORQUEMADA derives the _name_ of the war god in two ways. According to
some it is composed of two words, one signifying "a humming bird" and
the other "a sorcerer that spits fire." Others say that the last word
means "the left hand," so that the whole name would mean "the shining
feathered left hand." "This god it was that led out the Mexicans from
their own land and brought them into Anáhuac." Besides his regular
statue, set up in Mexico, "there was another renewed every year, made of
different kinds of grains and seeds, moistened with the blood of
children." This was in allusion to the nature-side of the god, as fully
explained by MÜLLER (_Americanische Urreligionen_).

No description will give a better idea of the general features of this
god than the following cuts from BANCROFT'S _Native Races_, which are
copied from LEON Y GAMA, _Las Dos Piedras_, etc. Figs. 53 and 54 are the
war god himself; Fig. 55 is the back of the former statue on a larger
scale; Fig. 56 is the god of hell, and was engraved on the bottom of the

[Illustration: FIG. 53.--HUITZILOPOCHTLI (front).]

[Illustration: FIG. 54.--HUITZILOPOCHTLI (side).]

These three were a trinity well nigh inseparable. It has been doubted
whether they were not different attributes of the same personage. In the
natural course of things the primitive idea would become differentiated
into its parts, and in process of time the most important of the parts
would each receive a separate pictorial representation.

[Illustration: FIG. 55.--Huitzilopochtli (back).[TN-9]]

[Illustration: FIG. 56.--MICLANTECUTLI.]

[Illustration: FIG. 57.--Adoratorio.]

By referring back a few pages the reader will find summarized the
principal characteristics of the Central American figure represented in
Fig. 52. He will also have noticed the remarkable agreement between the
attributes of this figure and those contained in the cuts or in the
descriptions of the Mexican gods. Thus--

I. The symbol of both was the cross.

II. Fig. 52 and Fig. 55 each have four hands.[233-*]

III. Both have birds as symbols.

It is difficult to regard the bird of Fig. 52 as a humming bird, as it
more resembles the parrot, which, as is well known, was a symbol of some
of the Central American gods. Its occurrence here in connection with the
four arms fixes it, however, as the bird symbol of HUITZILOPOCHTLI. In
the _Ms. Troano_, plate xxxi (lower right-hand figure), we find this
same personage with his two parrots, along with TLALOC, the god of rain.

IV. The claws of the Mexican statue may be symbolized by the spikes on
the back of the birds in Fig. 52, but these latter appear to me to
relate rather to the fangs and teeth of the various crotalus heads of
the statues.

V. The mask, with tusks, of Fig. 52, is the same as that at the top of
Fig. 55, where we see that they represent the teeth of a serpent, and
not the tusks of an animal. This is shown by the forked tongue beneath.
The three groups of four dots each on HUITZILOPOCHTLI'S statue are
references to his relationship with TLALOC.

With these main and striking duplications, and with other minor and
corroborative resemblances, which the reader can see for himself, there
is no doubt but that the two figures, Mexican and Yucatec, relate to the
same personage. The Yucatec figure combines several of the attributes of
the various members of the Mexican trinity named above, but we should
not be surprised at this, for, as has been said, some writers consider
that this trinity was one only of attributes and not of persons.

What has been given above is sufficient to show that the personage
represented in Fig. 52 is the Yucatec equivalent of HUITZILOPOCHTLI, and
has relations to his trinity named at the head of this section, and also
to the family of TLALOC. I am not aware that the relationship of the
Yucatec and Aztec gods has been so directly shown, on evidence almost
purely pictorial, and therefore free from a certain kind of bias.

If the conclusions above stated are true, there will be many
corroborations of them, and the most prominent of these I proceed to
give, as it involves the explanation of one of the most important
tablets of Palenque, parts of which are shown in Plates XXIV, LX, LXI,
and LXII, vol. ii, of STEPHENS.

Plate LXII, Fig. 57, represents the "Adoratorio or Alta Casa, No. 3" of
Palenque. This is nothing else than the temple of the god
HUITZILOPOCHTLI and of his equal, TLALOC. The god of war is shown on a
larger scale in Plate LXI, Fig. 58, while TLALOC is given in Plate LX,
Fig. 59, and the tablet inside the temple in Plate XXIV, Fig. 60. The
resemblances of Plate XXIV and of the Palenque cross tablet and their
meanings will be considered farther on.

Returning to Plate LXII, the symbols of the roof and cornice refer to
these two divinities. The faces at the ends of the cornice, with the
double lines for eye and mouth, are unmistakable TLALOC signs. The
association of the two gods in one temple, as at Mexico, is a strong

Let us now take Plate LXI, Fig. 58, which represents HUITZILOPOCHTLI, or
rather, the Yucatec equivalent of this Aztec god. I shall refer to him
by the Aztec appelation, but I shall in future write it in italics; and
in general the Yucatec equivalents of Aztec personages in italics, and
the Aztec names in small capitals.

Compare Fig. 52 and the Plate LXI (Fig. 58). As the two plates are
before the reader, I need only point out the main resemblances, and,
what is more important, the differences.

The sandals, the belt, its front pendant, the bracelets, the neck
ornament, the helmet, should be examined. The four hands of Fig. 52 are
not in LXI, nor the parrots; but if we refer to KINGSBOROUGH, Vol. II,
Plates 6 and 7 of the LAUD manuscript, we shall find figures of
HUITZILOPOCHTLI with a parrot, and of TLALOC with the stork with a fish
in its mouth, as in the head-dress here. The prostrate figure of Fig. 52
is here led by a chain. At Labphak (BANCROFT, Vol. iv., p. 251), he is
held aloft in the air, and he is on what _may be_ a sacrificial yoke.
The _Tlaloc_ eagle is in the head of the staff carried in the hand. This
eagle is found in the second line from the bottom of Fig. 52, we may
remark in passing. Notice also the crescent moon in the ornament back of
the shoulders of the personage of Fig. 58. The twisted cords which form
the bottom of this ornament are in the hieroglyph No. 37, Plate XXIV
(Fig. 60).

Turning now to Plate LX (Fig. 59).

This I take to be the sorcerer _Tlaloc_. He is blowing the wind from his
mouth; he has the eagle in his head-dress, the jaw with grinders, the
peculiar eye, the four TLALOC dots over his ear and on it, the snake
between his legs, curved in the form of a yoke (this is known to be a
serpent by the conventional crotalus signs of jaw and rattles on it in
nine places), the four TLALOC dots again in his head-dress, etc. He has
a leopard skin on his back (the tiger was the earth in Mexico) and his
naked feet have peculiar anklets which should be noticed.

Although I am deferring the examination of the hieroglyphs to a later
section, the _chiffre_ 3201 should be noticed. It is the TLALOC eye
again, and 3203 is the _chiffre_ of the Mexican gods of hell.

[Illustration: FIG. 58.--Maya War God.]

[Illustration: FIG. 59.--Maya Rain God.]

In passing I may just refer the reader to p. 164, Vol. ii, of STEPHENS'
book on Yucatan, where a figure occurring at Labphax is given. This I
take to be the same as _Huitzilopochtli_ of Plate LXI. Also in the MS.
_Troano_, published by BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG, a figure in Plate XXV and
in other plates sits on a hieroglyph like 3201, and is _Tlaloc_.
This is known by the head-dress, the teeth, the air-trumpet, the serpent
symbol, etc. In Plates XXVIII, XXXI, and XXXIII of the same work
HUITZILOPOCHTLI and TLALOC are represented together, in various

[Illustration: FIG. 60.--Tablet at Palenque.]

In Plate LX (Fig. 59) notice also the _chiffre_ on the tassels before
and behind the main personage.

Now turn to the Plate XXIV (Fig. 60), which is the main object in the
"Adoratorio" (Fig. 57), where the human figures serve as flankers.

First examine the caryatides who support the central structure. These
are _Tlalocs_. Each has an eagle over his face, is clothed in leopard
skin, has the characteristic eye and teeth, and the wristlets of Plate
LX (Fig. 59).

A vertical line through the center of Plate XXIV (Fig. 60) would
separate the figures and ornaments into two groups. These groups are
very similar, but never identical, and this holds good down to the
minutest particulars and is not the result of accident. One side (the
right-hand) belongs to _Tlaloc_, the other to _Huitzilopochtli_.

The right-hand priest (let us call him, simply for a name and not to
commit ourselves to a theory) has the sandals of Plate LXI; the
left-hand priest the anklets of Plate LX.

The beast on which the first stands and the man who supports the other
are both marked with the tassel symbol of Plate LX. There is a certain
rude resemblance between the supplementary head of this beast and the
pendant in front of the belt of Fig. 52. Four of these beasts supply
rain to the earth with _Tlaloc_ in Plate XXVI of the MS. _Troano_. The
infant offered by the right-hand priest has the _two_ curls on his
forehead which was a necessary mark of the victims for TLALOC'S
sacrifices. The center of the whole plate is a horrid mask with an open
mouth. Behind this are two staves with _different_ ornaments crossed in
the form of the air-cross. On either hand of this the ornaments are
different though similar.

A curious resemblance may be traced between the positions, etc., of
these two staves and those of the figure on p. 563, vol. iv, of
BANCROFT'S _Native Races_, which is a Mexican stone. Again, this latter
figure has at its upper right-hand corner a crouching animal (?) very
similar to the gateway ornament given in the same volume, p. 321. This
last is at Palenque. I quote these two examples in passing simply to
reinforce the idea of similarity between the sacred sculptures of
Yucatan and Mexico.

I take it that the examination of which I have sketched the details will
have left no doubt but that the personage of Fig. 52 is truly
_Huitzilopochtli_, the Yucatec representative of HUITZILOPOCHTLI; that
Plate LXI (Fig. 58) is the same personage; that Plate LX (Fig. 59)
represents TLALOC; and that Plate XXIV (Fig. 60) is a tablet relating to
the service of these two gods.

I have previously shown that the Palenque hieroglyphs are read in order
from left to right. We should naturally expect, then, that the sign for
_Tlaloc_ or for _Huitzilopochtli_ would occupy the upper left-hand
corner of Plate XXIV. In fact it does, and I was led to this discovery
in the way I have indicated.

No. 37 is the Palenque manner of writing the top sign of Fig. 52. I
shall call the signs of Fig. 52 _a_, _b_, _c_, etc., in order downwards.

The crouching face in _a_ occupies the lower central part of No. 37.
Notice also that this face occurs below the small cross in the detached
ornament to the left of the central mask of Fig. 60. The crescent moon
of Plate LXI (Fig. 58) is on its cheek; back of this is the sun-sign;
the cross of _a_ is just above its eye; the three signs for the
celestial concave are at the top of 37, crossed with rain bands; the
three seeds (?) are below these. The feathers are in the lower
right-hand two-thirds. This is the sign or part of the sign for
_Huitzilopochtli_. If a Maya Indian had seen either of these signs a few
centuries ago, he would have had the successive ideas--a war-god, with a
feather-symbol, related to sun and moon, to fertilizing rain and
influences, to clouds and seed; that is _Huitzilopochtli_, the companion
of _Tlaloc_. Or if he had seen the upper left-hand symbol of the
Palenque cross tablet (1800), he would have had _related_ ideas, and so

What I have previously said about the faithfulness with which the
Yucatec artist adhered to his prototypes in signs is perfectly true,
although apparently partly contradicted by the identification I have
just made. When a given attribute of a god (or other personage) was to
be depicted, the _chiffres_ expressing this were marvellously alike.
Witness the _chiffres_ Nos. 2090, 2073, 2021, 2045, 3085, 3073, 3070,
3032 of the Palenque cross tablet. But directly afterwards some other
attribute is to be brought out, and the _chiffre_ changes; thus the
hieroglyph 1009 of Plate LIV, or 265, Plate LII, has the same protruding
tongue as 2021, etc., and is the same personage, but the style is quite
changed. In Fig. 52, _Huitzilopochtli_ is the war-god, in Plate XXIV he
is the rain-god's companion; and while every attribute is accounted for,
prominence is given to the special ones worshipped or celebrated. Scores
of instances of this have arisen in the course of my examination.

Again, we must remember that this was no source of ambiguity to the
Yucatecs, however much it may be to us. Each one of them, and specially
each officiating priest, was entirely familiar with every attribute of
every god of the Yucatec pantheon. The sign of the attribute brought the
idea of the power of the god in that special direction; the full idea of
his divinity was the integral of all these special ideas. The limits
were heaven and earth.

This, then, is the first step. I consider that it is securely based, and
that we may safely say that in proper names, at least, a kind of picture
writing was used which was _not_ phonetic.

From this point we may go on. I must again remark that great familiarity
with the literature of the Aztecs and Yucatecs is needed--a familiarity
to which I personally cannot pertend[TN-10]--and that it is clear that
the method to reach its full success must be applied by a true scholar
in this special field.



Although there is no personage of all the Maya pantheon more easy to
recognize in the form of a _statue_ than _Tlaloc_, there is great
difficulty in being certain of _all_ the hieroglyphs which relate to
him. There is every reason to believe that in Yucatan, as in Mexico,
there was a family of rain-gods, _Tlalocs_, and the distinguishing signs
of the several members are almost impossible of separation, so long as
we know so little of the special functions of each member of this

In Yucatan, as in Mexico, _Tlaloc's_ main sign was a double line about
the eye or mouth, or about both; and further, some of the _Tlalocs_, at
least, were bearded.[237-*]

CUKULCAN was also bearded, but we have separated out in the next section
the _chiffres_, or certainly most of them, that relate to him. Those
that are left remain to be distributed among the family of rain-gods;
and this, as I have said, can only be done imperfectly, on account of
our slight knowledge of the character of these gods.

If we examine the plates given by STEPHENS, we shall find many pictorial
allusions to _Tlaloc_. These are often used as mere ornaments or
embellishments, as in borders, etc., and probably served only to notify,
in a general way, the fact of the relationship of the personage
represented, to this family, and probably not to convey any specific

Thus, in Plate XXXV of STEPHENS' work the upper left-hand ornament of
the border is a head of _Tlaloc_ with double lines about eye and mouth,
and this ornament is repeated in a different form at the lower
right-hand corner of the border just back of the right hand of the
sitting figure, and also in the base of the border below the feet of the
principal figure.

Plate XLVIII (of STEPHENS') is probably CHALCHIHUITLICUE (that is, the
Yucatec equivalent of that goddess), who was the sister of _Tlaloc_. His
sign occurs in the upper left-hand corner of the border, and in Plate
XLIX the same sign occurs in a corresponding position.

Plate XXIV (our Fig. 60) is full of _Tlaloc_ signs. The bottom of the
tablet has a hieroglyph, 93 (_Huitzilopochtli_), at one end and 185
(_Tlaloc_) at the other. The leopard skin, eagle, and the crouching
tiger (?) under the feet of the priest of _Tlaloc_ (the right-hand
figure) are all given. The infant (?) offered by this priest has two
locks of curled hair at its forehead, as was prescribed for children
offered to this god.

In Plate LVI (our Fig. 48) the mask at the foot of the cross is a human
mask, and not a serpent mask, as has been ingeniously proved by Dr.
HARRISON ALLEN in his paper so often quoted. It is the mask of _Tlaloc_,
as shown by the teeth and corroborated (not proved) by the way in which
the eye is expressed. The curved hook within the eyeball here, as in
185, stands for the air--the wind--of which _Tlaloc_ was also god. The
Mexicans had a similar sign for breath, message.

The _chiffre_ 1975, on which _Huitzilopochtli's_ priest is standing, I
believe to be the synonym of 185 in Plate XXIV. Just in front of
_Tlaloc's_ priest is a sacrificial yoke (?), at the top of which is a
face, with the eye of the _Tlalocs_, and various decorations. This face
is to be found also at the lower left-hand corner of Plate XLI (of
STEPHENS'), and also (?) in the same position in Plate XLII (of
STEPHENS'). These will serve as subjects for further study.

Notice in Plate LVI (our Fig. 48) how the ornaments in corresponding
positions on either side of the central line are similar, yet never the
same. A careful study of these pairs will show how the two gods
celebrated, differed. A large part, at least, of the attributes of each
god is recorded in this way by antithesis. I have not made enough
progress in this direction to make the very few conclusions of which I
am certain worth recording. The general fact of such an antithesis is
obvious when once it is pointed out, and it is in just such paths as
this that advances must be looked for.

I have just mentioned, in this rapid survey of the plates of vol. ii of
STEPHENS' work, the principal pictorial signs relating to _Tlaloc_.
There are a number almost equally well marked in vol. i, in Plates VII,
IX, X, XIII, and XV, but they need not be described. Those who are
especially interested can find them for themselves.

The following brief account and plate of a _Tlaloc_ inscription at Kabah
will be useful for future use, and is the more interesting as it is
comparatively unknown.


This hitherto unpublished inscription on a rock at Kabah is given in
_Archives paléographiques_, vol. i, part ii, Plate 20. It deserves
attention on account of its resemblances, but still more on account of
its differences, with certain other Yucatec glyphs.

We may first compare it with the Plate LX of STEPHENS (our Fig. 59).

The head-dress in Plate 20 is quite simple, and presents no resemblance
to the elaborate gear of Plate LX, in which the ornament of a leaf (?),
or more probably feather, cross-hatched at the end and divided
symmetrically by a stem (?) or quill about which four dots are placed,
seems characteristic.

_Possibly_, and only possibly, the square in the rear of the head of
Plate 20, which has two cross-hatchings, may refer to the elaborate
cross-hatchings in Plate LX. The four dots are found twice, once in
front and once in rear of the figure. The heads of the two figures have
only one resemblance, but this is a very important one. The tusks belong
to HUITZILOPOCHTLI and to his trinity, and specially to TLALOC, his

Both Plate 20 and LX have the serpent wand or yoke clearly expressed. In
LX the serpent is decorated with crotalus heads; in 20 by images of the
sun (?), as in the FERJAVARY MS. (KINGSBOROUGH). The front apron or
ornament of Plate 20 is of snake skin, ornamented with sun-symbols.
Comparing Plate 20 with Fig. 52 (_ante_), we find quite other
resemblances. The head-dress of 20 is the same as the projecting arm of
the head-dress of Fig. 52; and the tusks are found in the helmet or mask
of Fig. 52.

These and other resemblances show the Kabah inscription to be a TLALOC.
It is interesting specially on account of its hieroglyphs, which I hope
to examine subsequently. The style of this writing appears to be late,
and may serve as a connecting link between the stones and the
manuscripts, and it is noteworthy that even the style of the drawing
itself seems to be in the manner of the Mexican MS. of LAUD, rather than
in that of the Palenque stone tablets.

From the card catalogue I select the following _chiffres_ as
appertaining to the family of the _Tlalocs_. As I have said, these must
for the present remain in a group, unseparated. Future studies will be
necessary to discriminate between the special signs which relate to
special members of the family. The _chiffres_ are Nos. 3200; 1864; 1403;
811; 1107?; 1943?; 4114??; _b_?; 1893 (bearded faces, or faces with
teeth very prominent); 166?; 4??; 807?; 62?; 155?; 26; 154?; 165?; 164?;
805; 4109; 1915?; 675??; 635?? (distinguished by the characteristic eye
of the TLALOCS).

Here, again, the writing is ideographic, and not phonetic.



The character 2021 occurs many times in Plate LVI (Fig. 48), and
occasionally elsewhere. The personage represented is distinguished by
having a protruding tongue, and was therefore at once suspected to be
QUETZALCOATL. (See BANCROFT'S _Native Races_, vol. iii, p. 280.) The
protruding tongue is probably a reference to his introduction of the
sacrificial acts performed by wounding that member.

The rest of the sign I suppose to be the rebus of his name,
"Snake-plumage"; the part cross-hatched being "snake," the feather-like
ornament at the upper left-hand corner being "plumage." It is necessary,
however, to prove this before accepting the theory. To do this I had
recourse to Plates I and IV (Figs. 49, 50), my dictionary of synonyms.

This _cross-hatching_ occurs in Plate I. In the six tassels below the
waist, where the cross-hatching _might_ indicate the serpent skin,
notice the ends of the tassels; these are in a scroll-like form, and as
if rolled or coiled tip. In Plate IV they are the same, naturally. So
far there is but little light.

In Plate IV, just above each wrist, is a sign composed of ellipse and
bars; a little above each of these signs, among coils which may be
serpent coils, and on the horizontal line through the top of the
necklace pendant, are two surfaces cross-hatched all over. What do these
mean? Referring to Plate I, we find, in exactly the same relative
situation, the forked tongue and the rattles of the crotalus. These are,
then, synonyms, and the _guess_ is confirmed. The cross-hatching means
serpent-skin. Is this _always_ so? We must examine other plates to

The same ornament is found in Plates IX, XIV, XVI, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI,
XXXV (of STEPHENS'), but its situation does not allow us to gain any
additional light.

In Plate XII (STEPHENS') none of the ornaments below the belt will help
us. At the level of the mouth are four patches of it. Take the upper
right-hand one of these. Immediately to its right is a serpent's head;
below the curve and above the frog's (?) head are the rattles. Here is
another confirmation. In Plate XVIII I refer the cross-hatching to the
jaw of the crocodile. In Plate XXII I have numbered the _chiffres_ as

  4201  4202  4203  4204.
  4211  4212  4213  4214.
    *     *     *     *
    *     *     *     *
    *     *     *     *
  4311  4312  4313  4314.

4204 has the cross-hatching at its top, and to its left in 4203 is the
serpent's head. The same is true in 4233-4. In 4264 we have the same
symbol that we are trying to interpret; it is in its perfect form here
and in No. 1865 of the Palenque series. In the caryatides of Plate XXIV
(Fig. 60) the cross-hatching is included in the spots of the leopard's
skin; in the ornaments at the base, in and near the masks which, they
are supporting, it is again serpent skin. Take the lower mask; its jaws,
forked-tongue, and teeth prove it to be a serpent-mask, as well as the
ornament just above it. In Plate LX (Fig. 59) it is to be noticed that
the leopard spots are not cross-hatched, but that this ornament is given
at the lower end of the leopard robe, which ends moreover in a crotalus
tongue marked with the sign of the jaw (near the top of this ornament)
and of the rattles (near the bottom). This again confirms the theory of
the rebus meaning of the cross-hatching. In Plate XXIV (Fig. 60) the
cross-hatching on the leopard spots probably is meant to _add_ the
serpent attribute to the leopard symbol, and not simply to denote the

Thus an examination of the _whole_ of the material available, shows that
the preceding half of the hieroglyph 2021 and its congeners is nothing
but the _rebus_ for QUETZALCOATL, or rather for CUKULCAN, the Maya name
for this god. BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG, as quoted in BANCROFT'S _Native
Races_, vol. ii, p. 699, foot note, says CUKULCAN, comes from _kuk_ or
_kukul_, a bird, which appears to be the same as the _quetzal_, and from
_can_, serpent; so that CUKULCAN in Maya is the same as QUETZALCOATL in
Aztec. It is to be noticed how checks on the accuracy of any deciphering
of hieroglyphs occur at every point, if we will only use them.

The Maya equivalents of HUITZILOPOCHTLI and TLALOC are undoubtedly
buried in the _chiffres_ already deciphered, but we have no means of
getting their names in Maya from the rebus of the _chiffres_.

In the cases of these two gods we got the _chiffre_, and the rebus is
still to seek. In the case of _Quetzalcoatl_ or CUKULCAN, the rebus was
the means of getting the name; and if the names of this divinity had not
been equivalent in the two tongues, our results would have led us to the
(almost absurd) conclusion that a god of certain attributes was called
by his Aztec name in the Maya nations.

Thus every correct conclusion confirms every former one and is a basis
for subsequent progress. The results of this analysis are that the Maya
god CUKULCAN is named in each one of the following _chiffres_, viz: Nos.
1009, 265, 2090, 2073, 2021, 3085, 2045, 3073, 3070, 3032, 1865, 265,
268?, 4291? 73?? I give the numbers in the order in which they are
arranged in the card-catalogue. There is, of course, a reason for this

BANCROFT, vol. iii, p. 268, says of QUETZALCOATL that "his symbols were
the bird, the serpent, the cross, and the flint, representing the
clouds, the lightning, the four winds, and the thunderbolt."

We shall find all of his titles except one, the bird, in what follows.
We must notice here that in the _chiffre_ 2021 and its congeners the
bird appears directly over the head of CUKULCAN. It is plainly shown in
the heliotype which accompanies Professor RAU'S work on the Palenque
cross, though not so well in our Fig. 48.

In what has gone before, we have seen that the characters 2021, 2045,
2073, 3073, 3085, 265, etc., present the portrait and the rebus of
CUKULCAN. It will not be forgotten that in the examination of the
question as to the order in which the stone inscriptions were read we
found a number of _pairs_ in Plate LVI, Fig. 48; the characters 2021,
etc., being one member of each. The other members of the pairs in the
Plate LVI were 2020, 2044, 2072, 3072, 3084, etc. 264-265 is another
example of the same pair elsewhere.

I hoped to find that the name CUKULCAN, or 2021, was associated in these
pairs with some adjective or verb, and therefore examined the other
members of the pair.

In a case like this the card-catalogue is of great assistance; for
example, I wish to examine here the _chiffres_ Nos. 2020, 2044, 2072,
3072, 3084, etc. In the catalogue their cards occur in the same
compartment, arranged so that two cards that are exactly alike are
contiguous. We can often know that two _chiffres_ are alike when one is
in a far better state of preservation than the other. Hence we may
select for study that one in which the lines and figures are best
preserved; or from several characters known to be alike, and of which no
one is entirely perfect, we may construct with accuracy the type upon
which they were founded. In this case the hieroglyph 2020 is well
preserved (see the right-hand side of Plate LVI, Fig. 48, the upper
left-hand glyph). It consists of a _human hand_, with the symbol of the
_sun_ in it; above this is a sign similar to that of the Maya day
_Ymix_; above this again, in miniature, is the rebus "snake plumage" or
_Cukulcan_; and to the left of the hieroglyph are some curved lines not
yet understood. No. 2003 of the same plate is also well preserved. It
has the hand as in 2020, the rebus also, and the sign for _Ymix_ is
slightly different, being modified with a sign like the top of a cross,
the symbol of the _four winds_. The symbol _Ymix_ may be seen, by a
reference to Plate XXVII (lower half) of the MS. _Troano_, to relate to
the _rain_. The figure of that plate is pouring rain upon the earth from
the orifices represented by _Ymix_. The cross of the _four winds_ is
still more plain in Nos. 2072, 3084, and 3072.

The part of this symbol 2020 and its synonyms which consists of curved
lines occupying the left hand one-third of the whole _chiffre_ occurs
only in this set of characters, and thus I cannot say _certainly_ what
this particular part of the hieroglyph means; but if the reader will
glance back over the last one hundred lines he will find that these
_chiffres_ contain the _rebus_ CUKULCAN, the sign of a _human hand_, of
the _sun_, of the _rain_, and of the _four winds_.

In BANCROFT'S _Native Races_, vol. iii, chapter vii, we find that the
titles of QUETZALCOATL (CUKULCAN) were the _air_, the _rattlesnake_, the
_rumbler_ (in allusion to thunder), the _strong hand_, the lord of the
_four winds_. The bird symbol exists in 2021, etc. Now in 2020 and its
congeners we have found every one of these titles, save only that
relating to the _thunder_. And we have found a meaning for every part of
the hieroglyph 2020 save only one, viz, the left-hand one-third,
consisting of concentric half ellipses or circles. It may be said to be
quite _probable_ that the unexplained part of the sign (2020)
corresponds to the unused title, "the rumbler." But it is not rigorously
proved, although very probable. The thunder would be well represented by
repeating the sign for sky or heaven. This much seems to me certain. The
sign is but another summing up of the attributes and titles of CUKULCAN.
2021 gave his portrait, his bird symbol, made allusion to his
institution of the sacrifice of wounding the tongue, and spelled out his
name in rebus characters. 2020 repeats his name as a rebus and adds the
titles of lord of the four winds, of the sun, of rain, of the strong
hand, etc. It is his biography, as it were.

In this connection, a passing reference to the characters 1810, etc.,
1820, etc., 1830, etc., 1840, etc., 1850, etc., of the left-hand side of
Plate LVI should be made. Among these, all the titles named above are to
be found. These are suitable subjects for future study.

We now see _why_ the pair 2020, 2021 occurs so many times in Plate LVI,
and again as 264, 265, etc. The right-hand half of this tablet has much
to say of CUKULCAN, and whenever his name is mentioned a brief list of
his titles accompanies it. Although it is disappointing to find _both_
members of this well-marked pair to be proper names, yet it is
gratifying to see that the theory of pairs, on which the proof of the
order in which the tablets are to be read must rest, has received such
unexpected confirmation.

To conclude the search for the hieroglyphs of CUKULCAN'S name, it will
be necessary to collect all those faces with "_round_ beards" (see
BANCROFT'S _Native Races_, vol. iii, p. 250). TLALOC was also bearded,
but all the historians refer to QUETZALCOATL as above cited. I refer
hieroglyphs Nos. 658, 651?, 650?, and 249? to this category.

Perhaps also the sign No. 153 is the sign of QUETZALCOATL, as something
very similar to it is given as his sign in the _Codex Telleriano
Remensis_, KINGSBOROUGH, vol. i, Plates I, II, and V (Plate I the best),
where he wears it at his waist.

In Plate LXIII of STEPHENS (vol. ii) is a small figure of CUKULCAN
which, he calls "Bas Relief on Tablet." WALDECK gives a much larger
drawing (incorrect, however, in many details), in which the figure, the
"Beau Relief," is seen to wear bracelets high up on the arm. This was a
distinguishing sign of QUETZALCOATL (see BANCROFT'S _Native Races_, vol.
iii, pp. 249 and 250), and this figure probably is a representation of
the Maya divinity. He is on a stool with tigers for supports. The tiger
belongs to the attributes which he had in common with TLALOC, and we see
again the intimate connection of these divinities--a connection often

This is the third proper name which has been deciphered. All of them
have been pure picture-writing, except in so far as their rebus
character may make them in a sense phonetic.



We have a set of signs for Maya months and days handed down to us by
LANDA along with his phonetic alphabet. _A priori_ these are more likely
to represent the primitive forms as carved in stone than are the
alphabetic hieroglyphs, which may well have been invented by the
Spaniards to assist the natives to memorize religious formulæ.[243-*]

BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG has analyzed the signs for the day and month in
his publication on the MS. _Troano_, and the strongest arguments which
can be given for their phonetic origin are given by him.

I have made a set of MS. copies of these signs and included them in my
card-catalogue, and have carefully compared them with the tablets XXIV
and LVI. My results are as follows:

PLATE XXIV (our Fig. 60).

  No. 42 is the Maya month _Pop_, beginning July 16.
  No. 54 is _Zip_??, beginning August 25.
  No. 47 is _Tzoz_??, beginning September 14.
  No. 57 is _Tzec_? beginning October 4.
  No. 44-45 is _Mol_?, beginning December 3.
  No. 39 is _Yax_, _Zac_, or _Ceh_, beginning January 12, February 1,
  February 21, respectively.

PLATE LVI (our Fig. 48).

  No. 1804 is _Uo_????
  No. 1901 is _Zip_????
  No. 1816 is _Tzoz_??
  No. 1814 is _Tzec_?
  No. 1807 is _Mol_?
  No. 1855 is _Yax_, _Zac_, or _Ceh_.
  No. 1844 is _Mac_?

The only sign about which there is little or no doubt is No. 42, which
seems pretty certainly to be the sign of the Maya month _Pop_, which
began July 16.

No. 39, just above it, seems also to be _one_ of the months _Yax_,
_Zac_, or _Ceh_, which began on January 12, February 1, and February 21,
respectively. Which one of these it corresponds to must be settled by
other means than a direct comparison. The signs given by LANDA for these
three months all contain the same radical as No. 39, but it is
impossible to decide with entire certainty to which it corresponds. It,
however, most nearly resembles the sign for _Zac_ (February 1); and it
is noteworthy that it was precisely in this month that the greatest
feast of TLALOC took place,[244-*] and its presence in this tablet,
which relates to _Tlaloc_, is especially interesting.

In connection with the counting of time, a reference to the bottom part
of the _chiffre_ 3000 of the Palenque cross tablet should be made. This
is a _knot_ tied up in a string or scarf; and we know this to have been
the method of expressing the expiration and completion of a cycle of
years. It occurs just above the symbol 3010, the _chiffre_ for a metal.

An examination of the original stone in the National Museum, Washington,
which is now in progress, has already convinced me that the methods
which I have described in the preceding pages promise other interesting
confirmations of the results I have reached. For the time, I must leave
the matter in its present state. I think I am justified in my confidence
that suitable methods of procedure have been laid down, and that certain
important results have already been reached.

I do not believe that the conclusions stated will be changed, but I am
confident that a rich reward will be found by any competent person who
will continue the study of these stones. The proper names now known will
serve as points of departure, and it is probable that some research will
give us the signs for verbs or adjectives connected with them.

It is an immense step to have rid ourselves of the phonetic or
alphabetic idea, and to have found the manner in which the Maya mind
represented attributes and ideas. Their method was that of all nations
at the origin of written language; that is, pure picture-writing. At
Copan this is found in its earliest state; at Palenque it was already
highly conventionalized. The step from the Palenque character to that
used in the Kabah inscription is apparently not greater than the step
from the latter to the various manuscripts. An important research would
be the application of the methods so ably applied by Dr. ALLEN to
tracing the evolution of the latter characters from their earlier forms.
In this way it will be possible to extend our present knowledge


[225-*] The Life Form in Art, Trans. Amer. Phil. Soc., vol. xv, 1873, p.

[233-*] From KINGSBOROUGH, vol. i, plate 48, it appears that TLACLI
TONATIO may have had four hands. His name meant (?) Let there be light.

[237-*] See KINGSBOROUGH, vol. ii, Plate I, of the LAUD MS.

[243-*] Since this was written I have seen a paper by Dr. VALENTINI,
"The LANDA alphabet a Spanish fabrication" (read before the American
Antiquarian Society, April 28, 1880), and the conclusions of that paper
seem to me to be undoubtedly correct. They are the same as those just
given, but while my own were reached by a study of the stones and in the
course of a general examination, Dr. VALENTINI has addressed himself
successfully to the solution of a special problem.

[244-*] See BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG, _Histoire du Mexique_, vol. i, p.


Allen, Dr Harrison 208, 225, 238, 245

Bancroft, H. H., Huitzilopochtli, description of 231
  , Maya hieroglyphics, mode of reading 223

Band, G. H. 229

Braam, S. A. van 229

Brasseur de Bourbourg, C. E. 208, 210, 243, 244

Card catalogue of hieroglyphs 223

Chalchihuitlicue 237

Codex Telleriano Remensis 243

Copan, Statues of 207, 224, 227, 228, 229, 245

Cortez, H. 209

Cuculkan. (_See_ Quetzalcoatl.)

Deciphering, Principles of 207

Desaix, le Capitaine 210

Herrera 232

Hieratic art 210

Hieroglyphs 210
  are read in a certain order 223

Huitzilopochtli 229, 230, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 238, 239, 241

Kingsborough, Lord 210

Landa, Bishop 208, 243

Landa's hieroglyphic alphabet 208

Leemans, Dr 229

Leon y Gama 232

Lockwood, Miss Mary 224

Manuscript Troano 234

Miclantecutli 229, 232

Months, their hieroglyphs 243

MS. Troano 234

Müller, J. G., Mexican gods 232

Naolin 230

Nomenclature 211, 220

Palenque, Statues of 207, 224, 237-239, 245

Quetzalcoatl 230, 237, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243

Rau, Dr 221

Stephens, John L. 207-210

Teoyaomiqui 229

Tetzcatlipoca 230

Tlaloc 229, 230, 231, 233-239, 241, 244

Torquemada 232

Touatihu 230

Troano, Manuscript 234

Valentini 243

Variank 208

Waldeck 210, 243

Transcriber's Note

  TN-1   209  cotemporaries should read contemporaries
  TN-2   210  the the should read the
  TN-3   220  Maya day should read Maya day.
  TN-4   225  coindences should read coincidences
  TN-5   227  Synonomous should read Synonymous
  TN-6   230  Cuculkan should read Cukulcan
  TN-7   231  blue globe. should read blue globe."
  TN-8   232  Tezcatlipoca should read Tetzcatlipoca
  TN-9   Fig. 55  Huitzilopochtli should read HUITZILOPOCHTLI
  TN-10  237  pertend should read pretend

The following word was inconsistently spelled:

Labphak / Labphax

The following phrase had inconsistent use of italics and

_MS. Troano_ / _Ms. Troano_ / MS. _Troano_

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Studies in Central American Picture-Writing - First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the - Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1879-80, - Government Printing Office, Washington, 1881, pages 205-245" ***

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