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Title: A Primer of Mayan Hieroglyphics
Author: Brinton, Daniel G. (Daniel Garrison)
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Primer of Mayan Hieroglyphics" ***


                               SERIES IN

                  Philology Literature and Archæology

                             VOL. III NO. 2

                              A PRIMER OF
                          MAYAN HIEROGLYPHICS


               DANIEL G. BRINTON, A.M., M.D., LL.D., Sc.D.

                          OF SCIENCE, ETC., ETC.

                           “Hieroglyphics old,
           Which sages and keen-eyed astrologers,
           Then living on the earth, with labouring thought,
           Won from the gaze of many centuries.”


                             GINN & COMPANY
             Agents for United States, Canada, and England
                   7–13 Tremont Place, Boston, U.S.A.

                              MAX NIEMEYER
                   Agent for the Continent of Europe
                          Halle, a S., Germany



In the following pages I have endeavored with the greatest brevity to
supply the learner with the elements necessary for a study of the native
hieroglyphic writing of Central America. The material is already so
ample that in many directions I have been obliged to refer to it, rather
than to summarize it. This will explain various omissions which may be
noted by advanced scholars; but they will not, I believe, diminish the
usefulness of the work as an elementary treatise.

In conclusion I would express my thanks to the officers of the Bureau of
American Ethnology, Washington, and of the Peabody Museum of Archæology,
Cambridge, for various facilities they have obligingly furnished me.


                           _I. Introductory._

  1. GENERAL CHARACTER OF MAYAN HIEROGLYPHICS,                         9

  2. THE MAYAN MANUSCRIPTS OR “CODICES,”                              11


                    _II. The Mathematical Elements._

  1. THE CODICES AS TIME-COUNTS,                                      18

  2. THE MAYAN NUMERAL SYSTEM,                                        19

  3. NUMERICAL AND ALLIED SIGNS,                                      19

  4. THE RHETORICAL AND SYMBOLIC USE OF NUMBERS,                      24

  5. THE MAYAN METHODS OF COUNTING TIME,                              25

  6. THE CALCULATIONS IN THE CODICES,                                 29


  8. THE CODICES AS ASTRONOMICAL TREATISES,                           32


                     _III. The Pictorial Elements._

  1. THE RELIGION OF THE ANCIENT MAYAS,                               37

          Itzamna—Cuculcan—Kin ich—Other Gods—The Cardinal
            Points—The Good Gods—The Gods of Evil—The Conflict of
            the Gods.

  2. THE COSMOGONY OF THE MAYAS,                                      46

  3. THE COSMICAL CONCEPTIONS OF THE MAYAS,                           47

  4. PICTORIAL REPRESENTATIONS OF DIVINITIES,                         50

          Representations of Itzamna—Of Cuculcan—Of Kin ich—Of
            Xaman Ek, the Pole Star—Of the Planet Venus—Of Ghanan,
            God of Growth—Of the Serpent Goddess—of Xmucane—Of Ah
            puch, God of Death—Of the God of War—Of Ek-Ahau and
            other Black Gods.

  5. THE MAYA PRIESTHOOD,                                             68

  6. FANCIFUL ANALOGIES,                                              69

  7. TOTAL NUMBER OF REPRESENTATIONS,                                 70

  8. FIGURES OF QUADRUPEDS,                                           71

  9. FIGURES OF BIRDS,                                                72

 10. FIGURES OF REPTILES,                                             74

 11. OCCUPATIONS AND CEREMONIES,                                      76

                       _IV. The Graphic Elements._


  2. COMPOSITION OF THE GLYPHS,                                       81

  3. THE PROPER METHOD OF STUDYING GLYPHS,                            81

  4. AN ANALYSIS OF VARIOUS GRAPHIC ELEMENTS,                         82

          The Hand—The Eye and Similar Figures—The “Spectacles”—The
            Ear—Crescentic Signs—Sun and Moon Signs—Supposed
            Variations of the Sun Sign—The Knife Signs—The “Fish
            and Oyster” Sign—The Sacred Food Offerings—The _Ben ik_
            and Other Signs—The Drum Signs—The Yax and Other
            Feather Signs—The Cross-hatched Signs—Some Linear Signs
            and Dots—Linear Prefixes—The “Cloud-balls” and the
            “Cork-screw Curl”—Signs for Union—The “Tree of
            Life”—The “Machete” and Similar Signs—Supposed Bird
            Signs—The “Crotalean Curve”—Objects Held in the
            Hand—The Aspersorium, the Atlatl and the Mimosa—The
            “Constellation Band”—The Signs for the Cardinal
            Points—The Directive Signs—The “Cuceb.”

  5. THE HIEROGLYPHS OF THE DAYS,                                    109

  6. THE HIEROGLYPHS OF THE MONTHS,                                  116

  7. THE HIEROGLYPHS OF THE DEITIES,                                 121

                        _V. Specimens of Texts._



       CODEX,                                                        129





  8. CUCULCAN MAKES NEW FIRE. CODEX TROANO,                          133

       CODEX,                                                        133


 11. AN INSCRIPTION FROM KABAH,                                      135

 12. LINEAR INSCRIPTION FROM YUCATAN,                                136


 14. INSCRIPTION ON THE “TAPIR TABLET,” CHIAPAS,                     138




                              A PRIMER OF
                          MAYAN HIEROGLYPHICS.

                            I. Introductory.

The explorations among the ruined cities of Central America undertaken
of late years by various individuals and institutions in the United
States and Europe, and the important collections of casts, tracings and
photographs from those sites now on view in many of the great museums of
the world, are sure to stimulate inquiry into the meaning of the
hieroglyphs which constitute so striking a feature on these monuments.

Within the last decade decided advances have been made toward an
interpretation of this curious writing; but the results of such studies
are widely scattered and not readily accessible to American students.
For these reasons I propose, in the present essay, to sum up briefly
what seem to me to be the most solid gains in this direction; and to add
from my own studies additional suggestions toward the decipherment of
these unique records of aboriginal American civilization.

              1. _General Character of Mayan Hieroglyphs._

One and the same hieroglyphic system is found on remains from Yucatan,
Tabasco, Chiapas, Guatemala, and Western Honduras; in other words, in
all Central American regions occupied at the Conquest by tribes of the
Mayan linguistic stock.[1] It has not been shown to prevail among the
Huastecan branch of that stock, which occupied the valley of the river
Panuco, north of Vera Cruz; and, on the other hand, it has not been
discovered among the remains of any tribe not of Mayan affinities. The
Mexican manuscripts offer, indeed, a valuable ancillary study. They
present analogies and reveal the early form of many conventionalized
figures; but to take them as interpreters of Mayan graphography, as many
have done, is a fatal error of method. In general character and
appearance the Mayan is markedly different from the Mexican writing,
presenting a much more developed style and method.

Although the graphic elements preserved in the manuscripts and on the
monuments vary considerably among themselves, these divergencies are not
so great but that a primitive identity of elements is demonstrable in
them all. The characters engraved on stone or wood, or painted on paper
or pottery, differ only as we might expect from the variation in the
material or the period, and in the skill or fancy of the artist.

The simple elements of the writing are not exceedingly numerous. There
seems an endless variety in the glyphs or characters; but this is
because they are composite in formation, made up of a number of
radicals, variously arranged; as with the twenty-six letters of our
alphabet we form thousands of words of diverse significations. If we
positively knew the meaning or meanings (for, like words, they often
have several different meanings) of a hundred or so of these simple
elements, none of the inscriptions could conceal any longer from us the
general tenor of its contents.[2]

It will readily be understood that the composite characters may be
indefinitely numerous. Mr. Holden found that in all the monuments
portrayed in Stephen’s _Travels in Central America_ there are about
fifteen hundred;[3] and Mr. Maudslay has informed me that according to
his estimate there are in the Dresden Codex about seven hundred.

Each separate group of characters is called a “glyph,” or, by the French
writers, a “katun,” the latter a Maya word applied to objects arranged
in rows, as soldiers, letters, years, cycles, etc. As the glyphs often
have rounded outlines, like the cross-section of a pebble, the Mayan
script has been sometimes called “calculiform writing” (Latin,
_calculus_, a pebble).

                2. _The Mayan Manuscripts or “Codices.”_

The hieroglyphic writing is preserved to us on two classes of
remains—painted on sheets of native paper, about ten inches wide and of
any desired length, which were inscribed on both sides and folded in the
manner of a screen; and engraved or painted on stone, wood, pottery, or

Of the former only four examples remain, none of them perfect. They have
all been published with great care, some of them in several editions.
They are usually spoken of as “codices” under the following names: the
_Codex Troanus_ and the _Codex Cortesianus_, probably parts of the same
book, the original of which is at Madrid; the _Codex Peresianus_, which
is in Paris; and the _Codex Dresdensis_, in Dresden. The two former and
the two latter resemble each other more closely than they do either
member of the other pair. There are reasons to believe that the two
first mentioned were written in central Yucatan, and the last two in or
near Tabasco.[5] This district and that of Chiapas, adjacent to it on
the south, was occupied at the time of the Conquest by the
Tzental-Zotzil branch of the Mayan stock, who spoke a dialect very close
to the pure Maya of Yucatan; they were the descendants of the builders
of the imposing cities of Palenque, Ococingo, Toniná and others, and we
know that their culture, mythology, and ritual were almost identical
with those of the Mayas. I shall treat of them, therefore, as
practically one people.

Although Lord Kingsborough had included the Dresden Codex in his huge
work on “_Mexican Antiquities_,” and the _Codex Troanus_ had been
published with close fidelity by the French government in 1869, it
cannot be said that the serious study of the Mayan hieroglyphs dates
earlier than the faithful edition of the Dresden Codex, issued in 1880
under the supervision of Dr. E. W. Förstemann, librarian-in-chief of the
Royal Library of Saxony.

The most important studies of the codices have been published in
Germany. Besides the excellent writings of Dr. Förstemann himself, those
by Dr. P. Schellhas and Dr. E. Seler, of Berlin, are of great utility
and will be frequently referred to in these pages. In France, Professor
Leon de Rosny, the competent editor of the _Codex Peresianus_, the Count
de Charencey, and M. A. Pousse, whose early death was a severe loss to
this branch of research, deserve especial mention. In England no one has
paid much attention to it but Mr. Alfred P. Maudslay, whose
investigations have yielded valuable results, forerunners of others of
the first importance. The earlier speculations of Bollaert are wholly
fanciful. In our own country, the mathematical portions of the essays of
Professor Cyrus Thomas are worthy of the highest praise; and useful
suggestions can be found in Charles Rau’s article on the inscriptions of
Palenque, and in Edward S. Holden’s paper on Central American

                    3. _Theories of Interpretation._

The theories which have been advanced as to the method of interpreting
the Mayan hieroglyphs may be divided into those which regard them as
ideographic, as phonetic, or as mixed. The German writers, Förstemann,
Schellhas, and Seler, have maintained that they are mainly or wholly
ideographic; the French school, headed by the Abbé Brasseur, de Rosny,
and de Charencey, have regarded them as largely phonetic, in which they
have been followed in the United States by Professor Cyrus Thomas, Dr.
Cresson, Dr. Le Plongeon, and others.

The intermediate position, which I have defended, is that while chiefly
ideographic, they are occasionally phonetic, in the same manner as are
confessedly the Aztec picture-writings. In these we constantly meet with
delineations of objects which are not to be understood as conveying the
idea of the object itself, but merely as representing the sound of its
name, either in whole or in part; just as in our familiar “rebus
writing,” or in the “chanting arms” of European heraldry. I have applied
to this the term “ikonomatic writing,” and have explained it so fully,
as it is found in the Mexican manuscripts, in my “_Essays of an
Americanist_,” that I need not enter upon it further in this connection,
but would refer the reader to what I have there written.[7]

The attempt to frame a real alphabet, by means of which the hieroglyphs
could be read phonetically, has been made by various writers.

The first is that preserved in the work of Bishop Landa. It has failed
to be of much use to modern investigators, but it has peculiar value as
evidence of two facts; first, that a native scribe was able to give a
written character for an unfamiliar sound, one without meaning, like
that of the letters of the Spanish alphabet; and, secondly, that the
characters he employed for this purpose were those used in the native
manuscripts. This is proof that some sort of phonetic writing was not

This alphabet was extended by the Abbé Brasseur, and especially by de
Rosny, who, in 1883, defined twenty-nine letters, with numerous variants
from the Codices and inscriptions.[9]

Two years later, Dr. A. Le Plongeon published an “Ancient Maya Hieratic
Alphabet according to Mural Inscriptions,” containing twenty-three
letters, with variants. This he applied to the translating of certain
inscriptions, but added nothing to corroborate the correctness of the
interpretations. Each sign, he believed, stood for a definite

[Illustration: FIG. 1.—Landa’s Alphabet; after a photograph from the
original manuscript.]

Another student who devoted several years to an attempt to reduce the
hieroglyphs to an alphabetic form was the late Dr. Hilborne T. Cresson.
His theory was that the glyphs stood for the names of pictures worn down
to a single phonetic element, alphabetic or syllabic. This element he
conceived was consonantal, to be read with any vowel, either prefixed or
suffixed; and the consonant was permutable with any of its class, as a
lingual, palatal, etc. On this basis he submitted, shortly before his
death in 1894, to the American Association for the Advancement of
Science several translations from the Codex Troano. Previous to this, in
1892, he had announced his method in the journal “_Science_,” and
claimed that he had worked it out ten years before.[11]

An alphabet of twenty-seven characters, with variants, which the author
considered in every way complete, was published in 1888, by F. A. de la
Rochefoucauld.[12] By means of it he offered a volume of interlinear
translations from the inscriptions and codices! They are in the highest
degree fanciful, and can have little interest other than as a warning
against the intellectual aberrations to which students of these ancient
mysteries seem peculiarly prone.

In 1892 Professor Cyrus Thomas, of the Bureau of Ethnology, announced
with considerable emphasis that he had discovered the “key” to the Mayan
hieroglyphs; and in July, 1893, published a detailed description and
applications of it.[13] In theory, it is the same as Dr. Cresson’s, that
is, that the elements of the glyphs were employed as true phonetic
elements, or letters. In the article referred to he gives the characters
for the following letters of the Maya alphabet: _b_, _c_, _c’_, _dz_,
_ch_, _h_, _i_, _k_, _l_, _m_, _n_, _o_, _p_, _pp_, _t_, _th_, _tz_,
_x_, _v_, _z_; also for a large number of syllabic sounds which he
claimed to have recognized. With such an apparatus, if it had any value,
one would expect to reach prompt and important results; but, aside from
the doubtful character of many of his analyses, the fact that this “key”
has wholly failed to add any tangible, valuable addition to our
knowledge of the inscriptions is enough to show its uselessness; and the
same may be said of all the attempts mentioned.

                  *       *       *       *       *

A slight inspection of the Maya manuscripts and of almost any of the
inscriptions will satisfy the observer that they are made up of three
classes of objects or elements:—

1. Arithmetical signs, numerals, and numerical computations,

2. Pictures or figures of men, animals, or fantastic beings, of
ceremonies or transactions, and of objects of art or utility; and,

3. Simple or composite characters, plainly intended for graphic elements
according to some system for the preservation of knowledge.

I shall refer to these as, (1) the Mathematical Elements, (2) the
Pictorial Elements, and (3) the Graphic Elements of the Mayan
hieroglyphic writing.


Footnote 1:

  In accordance with usage in this study, I employ the adjective “Mayan”
  when speaking of the whole stock, and confine “Maya,” in an adjectival
  sense, to that branch of the stock resident in Yucatan.

Footnote 2:

  This is also the opinion of Dr. Seler: “Es ist eine verhältnissmässig
  geringe Zahl von Bildern und Grundelementen, die in diesen
  Schriftzeichen wiederkehren.” _Verhand. Berliner Anthrop. Gesell._,
  1887, S. 231.

Footnote 3:

  “Studies in Central American Picture Writing,” in _First An. Rep. of
  the Bureau of Ethnology_, p. 210.

Footnote 4:

  Among those who have especially merited the thanks of archæologists in
  collecting material for the study of the monuments are M. Désiré
  Charnay, Mr. A. P. Maudslay, Prof. F. W. Putnam; and I shall hope to
  add Dr. Le Plongeon, when he makes public his material.

Footnote 5:

  The _Peresianus_ has been supposed by some to have been written in
  Guatemala; by others, both it and the _Dresdensis_ have been
  considered of Tzental origin. See Pousse, in _Arch. de la Soc. Amer._,
  1885, p. 126, and Paul Perrin, “Les Annotations Européennes du Codex
  Peresianus,” in the same, June, 1887, p. 87 sqq. Förstemann
  (_Entziff._ III.) gives several cogent reasons for believing that the
  Dresdensis was written in or near Palenque.

Footnote 6:

  The four Codices can be obtained by placing an order with one of the
  leading importers of foreign books in New York City. The four cost
  about one hundred dollars. The study of the German writers is
  indispensable. The contributions of Dr. Schellhas and Dr. Seler will
  be found in the numbers of the Berlin _Zeitschrift für Ethnologie_,
  1886 and later. Dr. Förstemann has likewise published in the
  _Zeitschrift_, 1891, and also in the _Centralblatt für
  Bibliothekwesen_, in which remote quarter some of his most thoughtful
  contributions have appeared; and in the Proceedings of the
  International Congress of Americanists. Four of his articles bear the
  general title, “Zur Entzifferung der Mayahandschriften,” I, II, III,
  IV. I refer to them by these numbers. The articles of Professor
  Thomas, Professor Rau, and Mr. Holden are contained in the annual
  reports of the Bureau of Ethnology, Washington, where they can be
  readily consulted by American students.

Footnote 7:

  The essays to which I particularly refer are: “The Phonetic Elements
  in the Graphic Systems of the Mayas and Mexicans;” “The Ikonomatic
  Method of Phonetic Writing;” “The Writing and Records of the Ancient
  Mayas;” and “The Books of Chilan Balam.” All these are reprinted in my
  _Essays of an Americanist_, published by Porter & Coates,
  Philadelphia, 1890. As to how far this or any phonetic system is
  consistent with the known differences of dialects in the Mayan stock,
  is a question which space does not permit me to enter upon. I can only
  say that the signification seems to me to have been fixed in the
  Maya-Tzental district, and thence carried to the Chortis, Quiches,

Footnote 8:

  The first copy of Landa’s alphabet published in the United States was
  by myself in the _American Historical Magazine_, 1870. Twenty years
  later, 1890, in my _Essays of an Americanist_, p. 242, I reproduced a
  photographic fac-simile of it from the original MS. Though not without
  considerable value in certain directions, I do not think it worth
  while to dwell upon it here.

  Bishop Landa’s important work, _Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan_,
  written about 1570, must be carefully read by every student on this
  branch. It has been twice published, first by the Abbé Brasseur, at
  Paris, 1864, and more fully at Madrid, under the competent editorship
  of Juan de Dios de la Rada y Delgado, in 1884. On the relative merits
  of the two editions, see my “Critical Remarks on the Editions of Diego
  de Landa’s Writings,” in the _Proceedings_ of the American
  Philosophical Society, 1887.

Footnote 9:

  The Abbé Brasseur’s whimsical speculations are in his introduction to
  the Codex Troano, published by the French government in 1869. The
  chief work of de Rosny on the subject is his _Essai sur le
  Déchiffrement de l’Ecriture Hiératique de l’Amérique Centrale_, folio,
  Paris, 1876. He fully recognizes, however, that there are also
  ideographic and pictorial characters as well as phonetic.

Footnote 10:

  Dr. Le Plongeon’s “Alphabet” was published in the Supplement to the
  _Scientific American_, New York, for January, 1885.

Footnote 11:

  At the time of his unexpected death, Dr. Cresson had left with me a
  full exposition of his theory. His enthusiasm was unbounded, and the
  sacrifices he had made in the pursuit of archæological science merit
  for his memory a kindly recognition among students of this subject.

Footnote 12:

  _Palenqué et la Civilisation Maya_ (Paris, 1888). The “Alphabet
  phonétique des anciens Mayas” is on pp. 10 sqq. The author was at one
  time attached to the French legation in Guatemala.

Footnote 13:

  In the _American Anthropologist_, Washington, D. C.

                     II. The Mathematical Elements.

                    1. _The Codices as Time-Counts._

In another work I have explained the numeral system in vogue among the
ancient Mayas, as well as the etymology of the terms they employed.[14]
It will be sufficient, therefore, to say here that their system was
vigesimal, proceeding by multiples of twenty up to very large sums. In
the same work I have quoted from original sources the information that
the fives up to fifteen were represented by single straight lines and
the intermediate numbers by dots. This has also been discovered
independently by several students of the manuscripts.

The frequency and prominence of these elementary numerals in nearly
every relic of Mayan writing, whether on paper, stone, or pottery,
constitute a striking feature of such remains, and forcibly suggest that
by far the majority of them have one and the same purpose, that is,
_counting_; and when we find with almost equal frequency the signs for
days and months associated with these numerals, we become certain that
in these records we have before us _time-counts_—some sort of
ephemerides or almanacs. This is true of all the Codices, and of nine
out of ten of the inscriptions. Here, therefore, is a first and most
important step gained toward the solution of the puzzle before us.

But did this incessant time-counting refer to the past or to the future?
Was it history or was it prophecy? Or, passing beyond this world, was it
astronomy? Was it mythology or ritual, the epochs and the eons of the
gods? Perhaps the disposition, sequence, and values of the numbers
themselves, once comprehended, will answer these vital questions.

                     2. _The Mayan Numeral System._

Unfortunately, the old writers, either Spanish or native, tell us little
about Maya mathematics. They say the computation ran thus:—

         20 units     = one _kal_, 20.
         20 _kal_     = one _bak_, 400.
         20 _bak_     = one _pic_, 8000.
         20 _pic_     = one _calab_, 160,000.
         20 _calab_   = one _kinchil_ or _tzotzceh_, 3,200,000.
         20 _kinchil_ = one _alau_, 64,000,000.

The Tzental system was the same, though the terms differed somewhat: 20
units = one _tab_ (cord or net-ful); 20 _tabs_ = one _bac_; 20 _bacs_ =
one _bac-baquetic_ (bundle of bacs); 20 _bac-baquetics_ = one _mam_
(grandfather); 20 _mams_ = one _mechun_ (grandmother); 20 _mechuns_ =
one _mucul mam_ (great-grandfather), 64,000,000.[15]

No doubt in the numerical notation there were special signs for each of
these higher unities; but neither Bishop Landa nor the native writers
who composed the singular “Books of Chilan Balam” have handed them down.
Modern sagacity, however, has repaired ancient negligence, and we can,
almost to a certainty, restore the numerical notation of the aboriginal

The scholar who has worked most successfully in this field is Dr.
Förstemann, the editor of the Codex of Dresden, and I shall introduce a
condensed statement of his results, referring the student to his own
writings for their demonstration.

                    3. _Numerical and Allied Signs._

The first important discovery of Dr. Förstemann in this direction was
that of the sign for the naught or cipher, 0. It is given in Fig. 2.[16]
It has a number of variants, some ornamental in design. Next, he
discovered the system of notation of high numbers. This is not like
ours, but resembles that in use in the arithmetic of ancient Babylonia
and some parts of China. The numerals are arranged in columns, to be
read from below upward, the value of each unit of a given number being
that power of 20 which corresponds to the line on which it stands
counted from the bottom. This will be readily understood from the
following example:—

     _Maya      _Simple values._                                _Composite
   numerals._                                                    values._

 [Illustration]  8 (1 = 20^4, = 160,000; hence,  8 × 160,000) =  1,280,000

 [Illustration] 11 (1 = 20^3, =   8,000; hence, 11 ×   8,000) =     88,000

 [Illustration]  8 (1 = 20^2, =     400; hence,  8 ×     400) =      3,200

 [Illustration]  7  (1 = 20,  =      20; hence,  7 ×      20) =        140

 [Illustration]  0  (1 =  1,  =       1; hence,  0 ×       1) =          0


                                                       Total     1,377,340

                         FIG. 2.—Maya Notation.

This would be according to the regular system of the Maya numeration as
given above; but in applying it to the calculations of the native
astronomer who wrote the Dresden Manuscript, Dr. Förstemann discovered a
notable peculiarity which may extend over all that class of literature.
In the third line from the bottom, where in accordance with the above
rule the unit is valued at 20 × 20 = 400, its actual value is 20 × 18 =

It immediately suggested itself to him that in time-counts this
irregular value was assigned in order that the series might be brought
into relation to the old solar year of 360 days, composed of 18 months
of 20 days each, in the native calendar.

This correction being made, the above table would read:—

                 8 (1 = 7200 × 20 = 144,000) = 1,152,000
                11 (1 =  360 × 20 =   7,200) =    79,200
                 8 (1 =   20 × 18 =     360) =     2,880
                 7 (1 =  20)                 =       140
                 0 (1 =   1)                 =         0

[Illustration: FIG. 3.—Maya Numerals.]

An examination of the mural inscriptions showed that on them also the
same plan for the expression of high numbers had been employed, and Dr.
Förstemann was enabled to interpret with accuracy the computations on
the monuments from Copan, Quirigua, and Palenque; developing
incidentally the remarkable fact that the inscriptions of Copan contain
as a rule higher numbers and are therefore presumably of later date than
those of Palenque. The highest is that on “Stela N,” as catalogued by
Mr. Maudslay, which ascends to 1,414,800 days, or 3930 years of 360

The next step was the identification of the graphic signs for the higher
unities, 20, 360, and 7200,—corresponding to the native _kal_, _bak_,
and _pic_.

That generally used for 20 was identified by several students. It is
shown in Fig. 3, No. 3; another also employed under certain
circumstances for 20 is shown Fig. 3, No. 2. This was identified
independently, first by Pousse, later by Seler.[18] No. 4 is perhaps a
variant of it.

The signs for the _bak_, 360, and the _pic_, 7200, are not so certainly
established, but Dr. Förstemann has given cogent reasons for recognizing
them respectively in the two shown Fig. 4, Nos. 6 and 7.

Higher signs than these in the direct numerical scale have not yet been
ascertained; but such plausible reasons have been advanced by Dr.
Förstemann for assigning calendar values to certain other signs that
they should be added in this description of the numerals.

The first is that shown in Fig. 4, No. 8. It represents the katunic
cycle of 52 years of 365 days each, = 18,980 days. The second is No. 9.
This is taken to be the sign of the _ahau katun_, 24 years of 365 days,
= 8760 days. The third is No. 10. This corresponds to one-third of an
_ahau katun_, = 2920 days. The fourth, shown No. 11, is an old cycle of
20 years of 360 days, = 7200. No. 12 means an old katunic cycle of 52
years of 360 days, = 18,720 days, and No. 13 an old year of 360

[Illustration: FIG. 4.—Calendar Signs.]

There are also a series of other signs evidently connected with the
numerals, the precise value of which is yet undetermined. One of these
is a small right or oblique cross, or sometimes two arcs abutting
against each other, connected or not. It is usually by the side of a
single dot or unit, or between two such. In certain places, it seems to
be a multiplier with the value 20; in others, it would indicate a change
or alternation in the series presented of days or years. (See Fig. 5,
Nos. 1–4.)

[Illustration: FIG. 5.—Numeral Signs.]

[Illustration: FIG. 6.—The “Cosmic Sign” and its Combinations.]

Of somewhat similar value are the calendar signs [Illustration], Fig. 4,
Nos. 2, 3, 4, like an _S_ placed lengthwise. This is also understood to
be a sign of alternation or change of series of years or cycles.

Of an opposite sense is the sign No. 5, the spiral, and also the sign
No. 1, both of which are held to represent union.

This list exhausts the mathematical signs so far as they have been
ascertained with probability. Those for high numbers brought forward by
Brasseur,[20] have no evidence in their favor.

Mr. Maudslay has offered reasons for believing that the character in
Fig. 6, _a_, stands for the numeral 20 in a certain class of mural
inscriptions.[21] He further points out that the character _b_ is not
unfrequently united with _a_, and that it (_b_) almost alone of the
mural glyphs is found with a double set of numerals attached to it as in
_c_. One or both these sets of numerals are at times replaced by the
sign _a_, giving the composites _d_, _e_, and _f_. It is thus evident
that _a_ has some numerical or calendar meaning. As a character itself,
it is the “cosmic sign,” conveying the idea of the world or universe as
a whole, as is seen by the examples to which Mr. Maudslay refers, from
various Codices. The cross-hatching upon it means, as I shall show
later, “strong, mighty,” and is merely a superlative. It may very well
mean 20, as that is the number conveying completeness or perfection in
this mythology.[22] That it appears on what Mr. Maudslay calls the
“Initial Series” of glyphs (which I consider terminals), is explained by
the nature of the computations they preserve. Another combination,
belonging most likely to a similar class, is the following
[Illustration] where the “cosmic sign” is united as a superfix to the
_pax_ and the flint. It has usually been explained as a “phallic
emblem,” and by Thomas as “tortillas.”[23]

            4. _The Rhetorical and Symbolic Use of Numbers._

In the old Maya language we find that certain numbers were used in a
rhetorical sense, and this explains their appearance in some
non-mathematical portions of the Codices and inscriptions. The two most
commonly employed were 9 and 13. These conveyed the ideas of indefinite
greatness, of superlative excellence, of infinity, etc. A very lucky man
was a “nine-souled man;” that which had existed forever was “thirteen
generations old,” etc. The “demon with thirteen powers” was still
prominent in Tzental mythology in the time of Nuñez de la Vega. Other
numerals occasionally employed in a symbolic sense were 3, 4, and 7.[24]

All these occur in the Codices as prefixes in relations where they are
not to be construed in their arithmetical values, but in those assigned
them by the usages of the language or the customs of religious
symbolism. Thus, “twenty,” owing to the vigesimal method of numeration,
conveyed the associated ideas of completeness and perfection; and as the
month of 20 days was divided into four equal parts of 5 days each, by
which markets, etc., were assigned, these numbers also stood
independently for other concepts than those of computation.

                5. _The Mayan Methods of Counting Time._

Having ascertained the characters for the numerals, and having learned
that these records are mainly time-counts, the next question which
arises is: How did the Mayas count time?

About this we have considerable information from the works of the
Spanish writers, Landa, Aguilar, Cogolludo, Pio Perez, etc., which has
been supplemented by the researches of modern authors.

The Maya system was a complicated one, based on several originally
distinct methods, which it was the duty and the aim of the
astronomer-priests to bring into unison,—and the effort to accomplish
this will chiefly explain their elaborate computations.

Undoubtedly their earliest time-count was that common to primitive
tribes everywhere—a measurement of the solar year by lunations or
“moons.” The exact lunar month is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, 3
seconds; but primitive peoples usually estimate it at 28 days, and allow
13 months to the solar year, as do yet many North Asiatic peoples, and
as probably did the early Aryans;[25] or, they estimate the “moon” at 30
days, and allow 12 moons to the year. There are good grounds for
believing that the Mayan tribes were at one time divided in custom about
this, some using one, some the other method. At the time of the Conquest
they had undoubtedly reached a knowledge of the length of the year as
365 days; and there is considerable probability that some of them at
least made the correction arranged for in our bissextile or leap

This is all familiar enough and would create no difficulty in
deciphering these aboriginal almanacs; but a disturbing element enters.
The real time-count by which they adjusted the important events of their
lives, and which is most prominent in their records, had nothing to do
with the motions of the sun, or the moon, or any other natural
phenomenon. It was based on purely mythical relations supposed to exist
between man and nature. As the number 20 (fingers and toes) completes
the man, and as all the directions, that is, potencies, of the visible
and invisible worlds were held to be 13, these two numbers, 13 and 20,
formed the basis of an astrological and ritual calendar, by which
auspicious and inauspicious days were assigned, future events foretold,
the major feasts and festivals of religious worship dictated, and the

This singular time-count of 20 × 13 = 260 days was adopted with slight
variations by every semi-civilized nation of Mexico and Central America,
and even the names of the 20 days are practically of the same meaning in
all these languages.[27] It constituted the _tonalamatl_ of the Nahuas,
the “Book of Days,” used in divination.

This sacred period was subdivided into four equal parts of 65 days each,
each of which was assigned to the rule of a special planet or star, and
to a particular cardinal point with attendant divinities; and each was
marked with a color of its own, white, black, red, or blue.

Each “month” of 20 days was subdivided into four periods of five days
each, again each having its own divinity, assignment, etc.

But the importance to us of the _tonalamatl_ is that its computations
underlay the measurement of long periods of time, the less and greater
cycles. These were estimated by the methods of the sacred year, in
groups of 13, 20, 24, 52, 104, 260 years, etc. These irregular numbers
had to be brought into unison with the lunar and solar years, with the
vigesimal system of counting by 20 and its multiples, and with the
observed motions of the planets, who were divinities controlling the
ritual divisions of time.

To devise a mathematical method of equalities and differences by which
these conflicting numbers could be placed in harmonious relations,
subsumed under common measures, and the ceremonies and forecasts which
they controlled assigned by uniform laws—this is the arithmetical
problem which fills the pages of the Mayan Codices, and in parts or at
length is spread over the surface of the inscribed monuments and painted
vases. We need not search for the facts of history, the names of mighty
kings, or the dates of conquests. We shall not find them. Chronometry we
shall find, but not chronicles; astronomy with astrological aims;
rituals, but no records. Pre-Columbian history will not be reconstructed
from them. This will be a disappointment to many; but it is the
conclusion toward which tend all the soundest investigations of recent

Let us recapitulate the numbers which the Maya mathematician had to deal
with and adjust under some scheme of uniformity:—

  1. The “week” of 13 days,                                          13.

  2. The “month” of 20 days,                                         20.

  3. Its division into four parts (called _tzuc_), each,              5.

  4. The complete _tonalamatl_, 13 × 20 days,                       260.

  5. Its divisions into four parts, each,                            65.

  6. The solar year, counted as 18 months of 20 days each,          360.

  7. The solar year, counted as 12 months of 30 days each,          360.

  8. The solar year, counted as 13 lunar months of 28 days each,    364.

  9. The solar year, counted as 28 weeks of 13 days each,           364.

 10. The true solar year, days,                                     365.

 11. The bissextile year (?),                                       366.

 12. The apparent revolution of Venus (_Noh-ek_, the Great Star),
       days,                                                        584.

 13. The apparent revolution of Mercury (?), days,                  115.

 14. The apparent revolution of Mars (?), days,                     780.

 15. The _kin katun_, or day-cycle of years,                         13.

 16. The older cycle of years,                                       20.

 17. The newer cycle of years,                                       24.

 18. The _katun_ cycle of years,                                     52.

 19. The double cycle of years,                                     104.

 20. The great cycle of years,                                      260.

                 6. _The Calculations in the Codices._

The Codices contain numerous calculations intended to bring these
various quantities into definite relations as aliquot parts of some
arithmetical whole, which might be taken as a general unit. The scribes
appear to have begun by establishing a period of 14,040 days. This
equals 39 years of 360 days each, and also 54 years of 260 days each,
together, of course, with the divisors of these numbers, 13, 18, 20, 65,
etc. Then followed the determination of the period of 18,980 days, = 73
_tonalamatl_, = 52 solar years, so prominent in the calendar and ritual
of the Nahuas.

This number, however, could not be adjusted to the cycle of the _ahau
katun_, which was 24 years of 365 days each;[28] nor to the ceremonially
prominent revolution of “the Great Star,” Venus, which coincides with
the Earth’s revolutions in 2920 days, or eight solar years. To bring
these into accord with the _tonalamatl_ required a period of 104 solar
years, or 37,960 days; and to adjust under one number the _katuns_, the
_ahau katuns_, the revolutions of Venus, the solar year, and the
_tonalamatl_, three times that number of days are required, that is,
113,880, = 312 years.

This period had still to be brought into relation to the old year of 360
days, and this requires the estimation of a term covering 1,366,560
days, or 3744 years; and this extended era we find expressed in the
Dresden Codex, page 24, in the following simple notation, the
interpretation of which into our system of calculation, according to the
method above explained, I add to the right.

This long period allowed all their important time-measures to be dealt
with as aliquot parts of one whole, and would seem to be sufficient for
the purposes they had in view. The credit of establishing it from their
ancient writings is exclusively due to Dr. Förstemann, whose
demonstrations of it appear to be conclusive.[29]

             [Illustration]  9 (unit = 144,000) = 1,296,000

             [Illustration]  9 (unit =   7,200) =    64,800

             [Illustration] 16 (unit =     360) =     5,760

             [Illustration]  0 (unit =      20) =         0

             [Illustration]  0 (unit =       1) =         0
                                         Total,   1,366,560

This acute observer has, however, discovered some reasons to suppose
that the native priests occasionally contemplated a much more extended
era; some of their calculations seem to require an era which embraced
12,299,040 days, that is, 33,696 years![30]

No doubt each of these periods of time had its appropriate name in the
technical language of the Maya astronomers, and also its corresponding
sign or character in their writing. None of them has been recorded by
the Spanish writers; but from the analogy of the Nahuatl script and
language, and from certain indications in the Maya writings, we may
surmise that some of these technical terms were from one of the radicals
meaning “to tie, or fasten together,” and that the corresponding signs
would either directly, that is, pictorially; or ikonomatically, that is,
by similarity of sound, express this idea.

Proceeding on the first of these suppositions, Dr. Förstemann has
suggested that the character, Fig. 4, No. 8, signifies the period of 52
years, the Nahuatl _xiuhmolpilli_, “the tying together of the years,”
represented in the Aztec pictographs by a bundle of faggots tied with
cords. The Maya figure is explained as the day-sign _imix_, representing
the first day of the calendar, and, by a kind of synecdoche, the whole
calendar, with a superfix.

       7. _Rules for Tracing the Tonalamatl, or Ritual Calendar._

That the computations of the _tonalamatl_ underlie most of the numerals
in the Codices is shown by the rules for reading them, formulated by
Pousse with reference to the red and black numerical signs. These rules
are as follows:—[31]

1. If to a red number be added the black number immediately following
it, the total less 13 (or its multiples, when the total is above 13)
equals the next following red number.

2. When the red and black numbers are written alternately on the same
line, they are to be read from left to right; when written one above the
other, they are to be read from below upward; when in two vertical
columns, they are to be read passing from one column to the other,
beginning with the first black number on the left, passing to the first
black number on the right, returning to the second black number on the
left, and so on.

Sequences of this kind are governed by the following rules:—

1. In any of the above systems the beginning is always marked by one or
more columns of days surmounted by a number.

2. This number is always the same as that which ends the series, and
both are written in red.

3. The sum of the numbers written in black, multiplied by the number of
days with different names represented by the hieroglyphs attached,
always equals 260, that is, the number of days in the _tonalamatl_.

The above rules enable the student to recognize the relations of the
different parts of the Codices. They prove, for instance, that the pages
are not to be read from top to bottom, but that the separate parts or
chapters are to be read in many instances from left to right in the
section of the page in which they begin, without respect to the folds of
the MSS.; and that evidently in reading these “books” they were unfolded
and spread out. A good example of this is in Cod. Dresden, pages 4–10,
on which one chapter covers all the upper thirds of the seven pages.

              8. _The Codices as Astronomical Treatises._

A careful examination of Dr. Förstemann’s remarkable studies, as well as
a number of other considerations drawn from the Codices themselves, have
persuaded me that the general purpose of the Codices and the greater
inscriptions, as those of Palenque, have been misunderstood and
underrated by most writers. In one of his latest papers[32] Professor
Cyrus Thomas says of the Codices: “These records are to a large extent
only religious calendars;” and Dr. Seler has expressed his distrust in
Dr. Förstemann’s opinions as to their astronomic contents. My own
conviction is that they will prove to be much more astronomical than
even the latter believes; that they are primarily and essentially
records of the motions of the heavenly bodies; and that both figures and
characters are to be interpreted as referring in the first instance to
the sun and moon, the planets, and those constellations which are most
prominent in the nightly sky in the latitude of Yucatan.

This conclusion is entirely in accordance with the results of the most
recent research in neighboring fields of American culture. The profound
studies of the Mexican Calendar undertaken by Mrs. Zelia Nuttall have
vindicated for it a truly surprising accuracy which could have come only
from prolonged and accurately registered observations of the relative
apparent motions of the celestial bodies.[33] We may be sure that the
Mayas were not behind the Nahuas in this; and in the grotesque figures
and strange groupings which illustrate the pages of their books we
should look for pictorial representations of astronomic events.

Of course, as everywhere else, with this serious astronomic lore were
associated notions of astrology, dates for fixing rites and ceremonies,
mythical narratives, cosmogonical traditions and liturgies, incantations
and prescriptions for religious functions. But through this maze of
superstition I believe we can thread our way if we hold on to the clue
which astronomy can furnish us. In the present work, however, I do not
pretend to more than prepare the soil for such a labor.

A proof of the correctness of this opinion and also an admirable example
of the success with which Dr. Förstemann has prosecuted his analysis of
the astronomical meaning of the Codices is offered by his explanation of
the 24th page of the Dresden Codex, laid before the International
Congress of Americanists, in 1894.

He showed that it was intended to bring the time covered in five
revolutions of Venus into relation to the solar years and the ceremonial
years, or _tonalamatl_, of 260 days; also to set forth the relations
between the revolutions of the Moon and of Mercury; further, to divide
the year of Venus into four unequal parts, assigned respectively to the
four cardinal points and to four divinities; and, finally, to designate
to which divinities each of the five Venus-years under consideration
should be dedicated.

This illustrates at once the great advance his method has made in the
interpretation of the Codices, and the intimate relations we find in
them between astronomy and mythology.

Such a theory of the Mayan books which we have at hand is world-wide
distant from that of Thomas and Seler. Take, for example, the series of
figures, Cod. Cort., pp. 14^a, 15^a, 16^a.[34] Förstemann and myself
would consider them to represent the position of certain celestial
bodies before the summer solstice (indicated by the turtle on p. 7);
while Thomas says of them, “It may safely be assumed that these figures
refer to the Maya process of making bread!!”[35]

           9. _Astronomical Knowledge of the Ancient Mayas._

Our information from European sources as to the astronomical knowledge
possessed by the Mayas is slight.

That they looked with especial reverence to the planet Venus is evident
from the various names they applied to it. These were: _Noh Ek_, “the
Great Star” or “the Right-hand Star;” _Chac Ek_, “the Strong Star” (or
“the Red Star”); _Zaztal Ek_, “the Brilliant Star;” _Ah-Zahcab_, “the
Controller or Companion of the Dawn;”[36] and _Xux Ek_, “the Bee or Wasp
Star,” for reasons which will be considered later. In the Tzental
dialect it was called _Canan Chulchan_, “the Guardian of the Sky,” and
_Mucul Canan_, “the Great Guardian.”

The North Star was well known as _Xaman Ek_ (_xaman_, north, _ek_,
star), and also as _Chimal Ek_, “the Shield Star,” or “Star on the
Shield.”[37] It was spoken of as “the Guide of the Merchants” (_Dicc. de
Motul_), and therefore was probably one of their special divinities.

The historian Landa states that the Mayas measured the passage of time
at night by observations of the Pleiades and Orion.[38] The name of the
former in their language is _Tzab_, a word which also means the rattles
of the rattlesnake. In the opinion of Dr. Förstemann,[39] their position
in the heavens decided the beginning of the year (or, perhaps, cycle, as
with the Nahuas), and they were represented in the hieroglyphs by the
_moan_ sign (to be explained on a later page).

Certain stars of the constellation Gemini were defined, and named _Ac_,
or _Ac Ek_, “the Tortoise Stars,” from an imagined similarity of outline
to that of the tortoise.[40] This may explain the not infrequent
occurrence of the picture of that animal in the Codices, and its
representations in stone at Copan and elsewhere.

The terms for a comet in Maya were _Budz Ek_, “Smoking Star,” and
_Ikomne_, “Breathing or Blowing,” as it was supposed to blow forth its
fiery train; in Tzental it was _Tza Ec_, “Star Dust.” Shooting stars
were _Chamal Dzutan_, “Magicians’ Pipes,” as they were regarded as the
fire-tubes of certain powerful enchanters.

The stars in Orion were known as _Mehen Ek_, “the Sons,” doubtless
referring to some astronomical myth.

The Milky Way was spoken of under two different names, both of obscure
application, _Tamacaz_ and _Ah Poou_. Another meaning of the former word
is “madness, insanity;” and the latter term was also applied to a youth
who had just attained the age of puberty.[41] Perhaps the connection of
the word lies in the ceremonies of initiation practiced by many tribes
when a youth reached this age, and which, by fasting and the
administration of toxic herbs, often led to temporary mania; and the
deity of the Milky Way may have presided over these rites.

The moon in opposition was referred to as _u nupptanba_, from _nupp_,
opposed, opposite. When in conjunction, the expression was _hunbalan u_,
“the rope of the moon,” or, “the moon roped.” When it was in eclipse, it
was _chibil u_, “the moon bitten,” the popular story being that it was
bitten by a kind of ant called _xulab_. An eclipse of the sun was also
_chibil kin_, “the sun bitten;” but more frequently the phrase was
_tupul u uich kin_, or, _tupan u uich kin_, “the eye of the day is
covered over,” or, “shut up.” It is useful to record such expressions,
as they sometimes suggested the graphic representations of the


Footnote 14:

  See my Library of Aboriginal American Literature, No. 1: _The Maya
  Chronicles_, Introduction, pp. 37–50 (Philadelphia, 1882).

Footnote 15:

  Vincente Pineda, _Gramatica de la Lengua Tzel-tal_, pp. 154, sqq.
  (Chiapas, 1887). Pineda makes the multiplier 400 instead of 20, in
  which he is certainly in error.

Footnote 16:

  The object portrayed is evidently a _shell_, probably selected as a
  rebus; but the name of the species I have not found. The ordinary
  terms are _puy_ and _xicin_.

Footnote 17:

  Förstemann, _Entzifferung_, No. IV, and Maudslay, _Biologia
  Centrali-Americana, Archæology_. Part IV.

Footnote 18:

  According to Pousse (_Archives de la Soc. Amer. de France_, 1887, p.
  165), it is used to designate the particular day which falls on the
  20th of the month, that is, the last day of the month, and has
  therefore the sense of “last,” “final,” rather than of 20. It is
  written as an affix to the month sign. Thomas states that it is used
  with month symbols “only where the month (of 20 days) is complete or
  follows one completed.” _Amer. Anthropologist_, Vol. VI, p. 246. There
  is some doubt whether No. 4 is not an element of union. Compare Seler,
  _Zeitschrift für Ethnologie_, 1887, p. 57.

Footnote 19:

  Dr. Förstemann’s article, “Zur Maya-Chronologie,” assigning the
  reasons for these identifications, appeared in the Berlin _Zeitschrift
  für Ethnologie_, 1891.

Footnote 20:

  _Etude sur le Manuscrit Troano_, p. 220.

Footnote 21:

  A. P. Maudslay: _Biologia Centrali-Americana; Archæology_, Part II.
  Text, pp. 40–42 (London, 1890). The character _b_ closely resembles
  the day-sign _chuen_. This could readily be chosen to express
  ikonomatically _chun_, “the beginning, the first,” and my studies
  convince me that it repeatedly must be so understood. To this I shall
  recur on a later page.

Footnote 22:

  Since the above was written, Mr. Stewart Culin, Director of the museum
  of the University of Pennsylvania, has called my attention to the fact
  that the cross-hatching on the “cosmic sign” would, in Oriental,
  especially Chinese symbolism, convey the idea of the fundamental dual
  principles of existence,—male and female, upper and lower, etc. The
  same interpretation may quite possibly apply in the Mayan symbolism.

Footnote 23:

  See my _Native Calendar of Central America_, pp. 49–59 (Philadelphia,

Footnote 24:

  The dictionaries give: “_bolon pixan_, bien adventurado;” _bolon
  dzacab_, and _oxlahun dzacab_, “cosa eterna.” The numeral “one,” as in
  English, had a superlative sense, as _hun miatz_, “the one scholar,”
  _i. e._, the most distinguished. Why a symbolic or superlative sense
  was attached to such numbers is a question too extensive to discuss
  here. I have touched upon it in my _Native Calendar of Central
  America_, pp. 8, 13, and in an article on “The Origin of Sacred
  Numbers” in _The American Anthropologist_, April, 1894. In another
  connection we find _maay_, odor from something burning; “_bolonmayel_,
  qualquier olor suavissimo y transcendente”—_Dicc. Motul._ Dr. Seler
  has suggested that the number 13 may refer to the thirteen heavens;
  but offers no evidence that the Mayas entertained the Nahuatl myth to
  which this refers.

Footnote 25:

  Schrader: _Prehistoric Antiquities of the Aryan Peoples_, pp. 307–9.

Footnote 26:

  To enter into this debated question at length would not be possible in
  this connection; but I would merely note: (1) The positive assertion
  of Landa that the Maya year “invariably” began July 16 (_Cosas de
  Yucatan_, p. 236), could not be true even for five years, unless the
  bissextile correction was made, which he asserts was done; (2) the
  example of a Maya year given by Aguilar (_Informe contra Idolum
  Cultores del Obispado de Yucatan_, Madrid, 1639), is actually one
  containing six intercalary days, “_seis_ dias que fueron sus
  caniculares;” and (3) Father Martin de Leon, in his “_Calendario
  Mexicano_,” pointedly states that the fourth year was a bissextile
  year (_Camino del Cielo_, fol. 100, Mexico, 1611). I do not maintain
  that this knowledge was general, but that it had been acquired by the
  astronomer-priests of certain localities. The investigations of Mrs.
  Zelia Nuttall tend to demonstrate this opinion.

Footnote 27:

  On these points I would refer the reader to my work, _The Native
  Calendar of Central America and Mexico; A Study in Linguistics and
  Symbolism_ (Philadelphia, 1893).

Footnote 28:

  Professor Cyrus Thomas, in his carefully written article, “The Maya
  Year,” in the _Bulletins_ of the Bureau of Ethnology (Washington,
  1894), has collected evidence that the same calendar system, based, he
  believes, on the year of 365 days, was used in Palenque, Menche
  (Lorillard City), and Tikal, as well as in the Cod. Dresdensis. That
  the Mayas had, at the time of the Conquest, long known the year of 365
  days, was demonstrated from the Codices by Dr. Förstemann. (See his
  _Erläuterungen zur Maya-Handschrift_, Dresden, 1886, p. 21, and his
  “Die Zeitperioden der Mayas,” in _Globus_, January, 1892).

Footnote 29:

  See especially his articles, _Die Zeitperioden der Mayas_, 1892, and
  his _Zur Entzifferung der Maya-Handschriften_, IV, 1894.

Footnote 30:

  The grounds for this opinion are stated in his _Zur Entzifferung_,
  etc., No. II.

Footnote 31:

  A. Pousse, in _Archives de la Société Américaine de France_, 1886,

Footnote 32:

  In the _American Anthropologist_ for July, 1893.

Footnote 33:

  See her “Note on the Ancient Mexican Calendar System,” communicated to
  the Tenth International Congress of Americanists, Stockholm, 1894.

Footnote 34:

  As the pages of the Codices are generally divided into compartments by
  transverse lines, the custom of students is to designate these from
  above downward by small letters added to the number of the page.

Footnote 35:

  In _American Anthropologist_, July, 1893, p. 262.

Footnote 36:

  “El lucero de la mañana, que parece hacer amanecer.” _Dicc. de Motul._

Footnote 37:

  Like _chimal ik_, “north wind.” _Chimal_ is the Nahuatl _chimalli_,
  shield, so these terms must be of late origin in Maya.

Footnote 38:

  “Regianse de noche, para conocer la hora, por el lucero, i las
  cabrillas i los astilejos; de dia, por el medio dia.” Landa, _Cosas de
  Yucatan_, cap. 34.

Footnote 39:

  _Entzifferung der Mayahandschriften_, No. IV.

Footnote 40:

  “Las tres estrellas juntas que estan en el signo de Geminis, las
  quales, con otras, hacen forma de tortuga.” _Dicc. de Motul._

Footnote 41:

  These definitions are given in the _Dicc. Motul_.

Footnote 42:

  In Cod. Peres., pp. 18, 19, the sun is shown bitten by birds, snakes,
  etc. We probably have in this a reference to an eclipse. On a later
  page I shall show the hieroglyph of the double loop of the rope, which
  probably signifies the moon in conjunction.

                      III. The Pictorial Elements.

To understand the pictorial portions of the inscriptions some
acquaintance with the native mythology is indispensable.

                1. _The Religion of the Ancient Mayas._

The religion of the Mayas was a polytheism, but the principal deities
were few in number, as is expressly stated by Father Francisco
Hernandez, the earliest missionary to Yucatan (1517);[43] and these,
according to the explicit assertion of Father Lizana, were the same as
those worshipped by the Tzentals of Tabasco and Chiapas.[44] Both these
statements are confirmed by a comparison of the existing remains, and
they greatly facilitate a comprehension of the Codices and epigraphy.

The spirit of this religion was dualistic, the gods of life and light,
of the sun and day, of birth and food, of the fertilizing showers and
the cultivated fields, being placed in contrast to those of misfortune
and pain, of famine and pestilence, of blight and night, darkness and
death. Back of them all, indeed the source of them all, was _Hunab Ku_,
“the One Divine;” but of him no statue and no picture was made, for he
was incorporeal and invisible.[45]

_Itzamna._—Chief of the beneficent gods was _Itzamna_. He was the
personification of the East, the rising sun, with all its manifold
mythical associations. His name means “the dew or moisture of the
morning,” and he was the spirit of the early mists and showers. He was
said to have come in his magic skiff from the East, across the waters,
and therefore he presided over that quarter of the world and the days
and years assigned to it.

For similar reasons he received the name _Lakin chan_, “the Serpent of
the East,” under which he seems to have been popularly known. As light
is synonymous with both life and knowledge, he was said to have been the
creator of men, animals, and plants, and was the founder of the culture
of the Mayas. He was the first priest of their religion, and invented
writing and books; he gave the names to the various localities in
Yucatan, and divided the land among the people; as a physician he was
famous, knowing not only the magic herbs, but possessing the power of
healing by touch, whence his name _Kabil_, “the skilful hand,” under
which he was worshipped in Chichen Itza. For his wisdom he was spoken of
as _Yax coc ah-mut_, “the royal or noble master of knowledge.”

_Cuculcan._—In some sense a contrast, in others a completion of the
mythical concepts embodied in Itzamna, was _Cuculcan_ or Cocol chan,
“the feathered or winged serpent.”[46] He also was a hero-god, a deity
of culture and of kindliness. He was traditionally the founder of the
great cities of Chichen Itza, and Mayapan; was active in framing laws
and introducing the calendar, at the head of which some Maya tribes
placed his name; was skilled in leechcraft, and was spoken of as the god
of chills and fevers.

As Itzamna was identified with the East, so was Cuculcan with the West.
Thence he was said to have come, and thither returned.[47] In the
Tzental calendars he was connected with the seventh day (_moxic_, Maya,
_manik_); hence he is mystically associated with that number. He
corresponds to the _Gukumatz_ of the Quiche mythology, a name which has
the same signification.

In the myth he is described as clothed in a long robe and wearing
sandals, and, what is noteworthy, _having a beard_. In the calendars of
the Tzentals he was painted “in the likeness of a man and a snake,” and
the “masters” explained this as “the snake with feathers, which moves in
the waters,” that is, the heavenly waters, the clouds and the rains; for
which reason Bishop Nuñez de la Vega, to whom we owe this information,
identified him with the Mexican Mixcoatl, “the cloud serpent;”[48]
whereas Bishop Landa was of opinion that he was the Mexican

_Kin ich._—As Itzamna was thus connected with the rising, morning sun,
and Cuculcan with the afternoon and setting sun, so the sun in the
meridian was distinguished from both of them. As a divinity, it bore the
name _Kin ich_, “the eye or face of the day.” The sacrifices to it were
made at the height of noontide, when it was believed that the deity
descended in the shape of the red macaw (the _Ara macao_), known as _Kak
mo_, “the bird of fire,” from the color of its plumage, and consumed the
offering. Such ceremonies were performed especially in times of great
sickness, general mortality, the destruction of the crops through
locusts, and other public calamities. It seems probable from the
accounts that Kin ich was a much less prominent divinity in the popular
mind than either of the other two solar deities, and his attributes were
occasionally assigned to Itzamna, as we find the combination _Kin ich
ahau Itzamna_ among the names of divinities.

[Illustration: FIG. 7.—The Beneficent Gods draw from their Stores.
(Photographed from the Cortesian Codex.)]

_Other Gods._—To Itzamna was assigned as consort _Ix Chel_, “the
rainbow,” also known as _Ix Kan Leom_, “the spider-web” (which catches
the dew of the morning). She was goddess of medicine and of childbirth,
and her children were the _Bacabs_, or _Chacs_ (giants),[49] four mighty
brethren, who were the gods of the four cardinal points, of the winds
which blow from them, of the rains these bring, of the thunder and the
lightning, and consequently of agriculture, the harvests, and the food
supply. Their position in the ritual was of the first importance. To
each were assigned a particular color and a certain year and day in the
calendar. To _Hobnil_, “the hollow one” or “the belly,” were given the
south, the color yellow, and the day and years _kan_, the first of the
calendar series, and so on. The red Bacab was to the east, the white to
the north, and the black, whose name was _Hozan Ek_, “the
Disembowelled,” to the west.[50]

_The Cardinal Points._—Much attention has been directed to these
divinities as representing the worship of the cardinal points and to the
colors, days, cycles, and elements mythically associated with them.
Uniform results have not been obtained, as the authorities differ, as
probably did also the customs of various localities.[51] Pio Perez
assigns _kan_ to the east, _muluc_ to the north, _ix_ to the west, and
_cauac_ to the south. The arrangement based on Landa’s statements would
be as follows:—

 _Cardinal            _Bacab._             _Days._ _Colors._ _Elements._

 South,   Hobnil (the Belly),             Kan,    Yellow,   Air.

 East,    Canzicnal (Serpent Being),      Muluc,  Red,      Fire.

 North,   Zaczini (White Being),          Ix,     White,    Water.

 West,    Hozan ek (the Disembowelled     Cauac,  Black,    Earth.
            Black one),

On the other hand, it should be noted that the names of the winds in
Maya distinctly assign the color white to the east, thus:—

          East wind,      _zac ik_, “white wind.”
          Northeast wind, _zac xaman ik_, “white north wind.”
          Southeast wind, _zac nohol ik_, “white south wind.”

The solution of these difficulties must be left for future

_The Good Gods._—Divinities of a beneficent character were _Yum Chac_,
“Lord of Waters or Rains;” _Yum Kaax_, “Lord of the Harvest Fields;”
_Cum Ahau_, “Lord of the Vase,” that is, of the rains, who is described
in the Dic. Motul as “Lucifer, Chief of the Devils” and is probably a
name of Itzamna; _Zuhuy Kak_, “Virgin Fire,” patroness of infants;
_Zuhuy Dzip_, “The Virgin of Dressed Animals,” a hunting goddess; _Ix
Tabai_, “Goddess of the Ropes or Snares,” also a hunting goddess as well
as the patroness of those who hanged themselves; _Ah Kak Nech_, “He Who
Looks after the Cooking Fire,” _Ah Ppua_, “the Master of Dew,” and _Ah
Dziz_, “The Master of Cold,” divinities of the fishermen.

To this list should be added _Acan_, “the God of the Intoxicating Mead,”
the national beverage, that being its name; _Ek Chua_, “the Black
Companion,” god of the cacao planters and the merchants, as these used
the cacao beans as a medium of exchange; _Ix Tub Tun_, “she who spits
out Precious Stones,” goddess of the workers in jade and amethysts; _Cit
Bolon Tun_, “the Nine (_i. e._, numberless) Precious Stones,” a god of
medicine; _Xoc Bitum_, the God of Singing, and _Ah Kin Xoc_ or _Ppiz Lim
Tec_, the God of Poetry (_xoc_, to sing or recite); _Ix Chebel Yax_, the
first inventress of painting and of colored designs on woven stuffs
(_chebel_, to paint, and a paint-brush).

A minor deity was _Tel Cuzaan_, “the swallow-legged,” a divinity of the
island of Cozumel (“Swallow Island”).

On a lofty pyramid, where is now the city of Valladolid, Yucatan, was
worshipped _Ah zakik ual_, “Lord of the East Wind.” His idol was of
pottery in the shape of a vase, moulded in front into an ugly face. In
it they burned copal and other gums. His festival was celebrated every
fourth year with sham battles.[52] Probably this was a representation of
Itzamna as lord of the cardinal point.

The “Island of Women,” Isla de Mugeres, on the east coast, was so named
because the first explorers found there the statues of four female
divinities, to whom altars and temples were dedicated.[53] They were
_Ix-chel_, _Ix-chebel-yax_, _Ix-hun-yé_, and _Ix-hun-yeta_. The first
two have already been mentioned. The last two seem to have been
goddesses connected with the moonrise and sunrise, as the dictionaries
give as the meaning of _yé_, “to show one’s self, to appear;” as in the
phrases _yethaz y ahalcab_, “at the appearance of the dawn;” _yethaz u
hokol u_, “at moonrise;” _yet hokol kin_, “at sunrise.”

Prominent among mythical beings were the dwarfs, known as _ppuz_, “bent
over;” _ac uinic_, “turtle men;” _tzapa uinic_, “shortened men;” and
_pputum_, “small of body.” They are sometimes represented in the
carvings, an interesting example being in the Peabody Museum. A legend
concerning such brownies was that before the last destruction of the
world the whole human race degenerated into like diminutive beings,
which prompted the gods to destroy it.[54] One class of these little
creatures, called _acat_, were said to become transformed into flowers.

As I have shown elsewhere,[55] many similar superstitions survive in the
folk-lore of Yucatan and Tabasco to-day. But it is not safe to look at
such survivals as part of genuine ancient mythology. For instance, the
goddess _Ix-nuc_, or _Xnuc_, said by Brasseur to have been goddess of
the mountains, by Seler, goddess of the earth, and by Schellhas, goddess
of water, is in fact not a member of the Maya Pantheon. The name means
simply “old woman,” and was first mentioned by an anonymous modern
writer in the _Registro Yucateco_.

_The Gods of Evil._—In contrast to the beneficent deities were those who
presided over war, disease, death, and the underworld. Distinctively war
gods were _Uac Lom Chaam_, “He whose teeth are six lances,” worshipped
anciently at Ti-ho, the present Mérida; _Ahulane_, “The Archer,” painted
holding an arrow, whose shrine was on the island of Cozumel; _Pakoc_
(from _paakal_, to frighten) and _Hex Chun Chan_, “The dangerous one,”
divinities of the Itzaes; _Kak u pacat_, “Fire (is) his face,” who is
said to have carried in battle a shield of fire; _Ah Chuy Kak_, “He who
works in fire,” that is, for destruction; _Ah Cun Can_, “The serpent
charmer,” also worshipped at Ti-Ho; _Hun Pic Tok_, “He of 8000 lances,”
who had a temple at Chichen Itza.

Chief of all these evil beings was the God of Death. His name is
preserved in the first account we have of Yucatecan mythology, that by
Father Hernandez, and, according to Father Lara, it was the same among
the Tzentals, Maya, _Ah-puch_, Tzental, _Pucugh_. These words mean “the
Undoer,” or “Spoiler,” apparently a euphemism to avoid pronouncing a
name of evil omen.[56] In modern Maya he is plain _Yum cimil_, “lord of
death.” He was painted as a skeleton with bare skull, and was then
called _Chamay Bac_, or _Zac Chamay Bac_, “white teeth and bones.”[57]

The spirit (_pixan_) after death was supposed to go to the Underworld,
which was called _Mitna_, or _Metna_ where presided the god _Xibilba_ or
_Xabalba_, sometimes called _Hun Ahau_, “the One lord,” for to his realm
must all come at last.[58] Another name for this Hades was _tancucula_
(perhaps _tan kukul_, “before the gods,” _i. e._, where one is judged),
which is given by the _Dicc. Motul_ as an “ancient word” (vocablo
antiguo). The happy souls then passed to a realm of joy, where they
spent their time under the great green tree _Yaxche_, while those who
were condemned sank down to a place of cold and hunger.

_The Conflict of the Gods._—Between these two classes of deities—those
who make for good and those who make for evil in the life of man—there
is, both in the myths and in the picture writings, an eternal conflict.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.—The gods of Life and of Growth plant the tree.
Death breaks it in twain. (Photographed from the Cortesian Codex.)]

In the Codex Troano, as Dr. Seler remarks, “The god of death appears as
the inevitable foil of the god of light and heaven. In whatever action
the latter is depicted, the god of death is imitating it, but in such a
manner that with him all turns to nought and emptiness. Where the
light-god holds the string, in the hands of the death-god it is torn
asunder; where the former offers incense, the latter carries the sign of
‘fire’ wherewith to consume it; where the former presents the sign
_kan_, food, the latter lifts an empty vase bearing the signs of drought
and death.”

                    2. _The Cosmogony of the Mayas._

We know practically nothing of the cosmogony of the Mayas; but it is
instructive in connection with their calendar system to find that, like
the Nahuas, they believed in Epochs of the Universe, at the close of
each of which there was a general destruction of both gods and men. The
early writer, Aguilar, says that he learned from the native books
themselves that they recorded three such periodical cataclysms. The
first was called _Mayacimil_, “general death;” the second, _Oc na
kuchil_, “the ravens enter the houses,” that is, the inhabitants were
all dead; and the third, _Hun yecil_, a universal deluge, a term which
the _Dicc. Motul_ seems to explain by mentioning a tradition that the
water was so high “that its surface was within the distance of one stalk
of maguey from the sky!” Another term for this catastrophe was
_bulcabal_, _haycabal_ or _haycabil_ (destruccion, asolamiento y diluvio
general con que fué destruido y asolado el mundo. _Dicc. Motul_).

This would make the present the fourth age of the world (not the fifth,
as the Nahuas believed); and this corresponds to the prophecies
contained in the “Books of Chilan Balam,” which I have quoted in another
work. The scene of the creation of man, the “terrestrial Paradise,” was
known as _hun anhil_, and the name of the first man was _Anum_, both
apparently from the verb _anhel_, to stand erect.

Many of the high calculations of the priests must have been for the
purpose of discovering the length of the present epoch and how soon the
world would end. They seem to have thought this would take place when
all their various time-measures would merge together into a common
unity, which each could divide without remainder.[59]

                3. _Cosmical Conceptions of the Mayas._

The cosmical conceptions of the ancient Mayas have not hitherto been
understood; but by a study of existing documents I believe they can be
correctly explained in outline.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.—The Universe. (From the Chilan Balam of Mani.)]

One of these is the central design in the Chilan Balam, or Sacred Book,
of Mani (Fig. 9). It was copied by Father Cogolludo in 1640, and
inserted in his History of Yucatan, with a totally false interpretation
which the natives designedly gave him.

The lettering in the above figure is by the late Dr. C. H. Berendt, and
was obtained by him from other books of Chilan Balam, and native
sources. In Cogolludo’s work, this design is surrounded by thirteen
heads which signify the thirteen _ahau katuns_, or greater cycles of
years, as I have explained elsewhere.[60] The number thirteen in
American mythology symbolizes the thirteen possible directions of
space.[61] The border, therefore, expresses the totality of Space and
Time; and the design itself symbolizes Life within Space and Time. This
is shown as follows: At the bottom of the field lies a cubical block,
which represents the earth, always conceived of this shape in Mayan
mythology.[62] It bears, however, not the lettering, _lum_, the Earth,
as we might expect, but, significantly, _tem_, the Altar. The Earth is
the great altar of the Gods, and the offering upon it is Life.

Above the earth-cube, supported on four legs which rest upon the four
quarters of the mundane plane, is the celestial vase, _cum_, which
contains the heavenly waters, the rains and showers, on which depends
the life of vegetation, and therefore that of the animal world as well.
Above it hang the heavy rain clouds, _muyal_, ready to fill it; within
it grows the _yax che_, the Tree of Life, spreading its branches far
upward, on their extremities the flowers or fruit of life, the soul or
immortal principle of man, called _ol_ or _yol_.[63]

Turning now to the central design of what has been called the “Tableau
of the Bacabs,” in the Codex Cortesianus, Fig. 10, we can readily see in
the light of the above explanation that its lesson is the same. The
design is surrounded by the signs of the twenty days, beyond which the
field (not shown in this cut) is apportioned to the four cardinal points
and the deities and time-cycles connected with them.

[Illustration: FIG. 10.—Our First Parents. (From the Cortesian Codex.)]

Again it is Life within Space and Time which the artist presents. The
earth is not represented; but we readily recognize in conventionalized
form the great Tree of Life, across it the celestial Vase, and above it
the cloud-masses. On the right sits Cuculcan, on the left Xmucane, the
divine pair called in the _Popol Vuh_ “the Creator and the Former,
Grandfather and Grandmother of the race, who give Life, who give
Reproduction.”[64] In his right hand Cuculcan holds three glyphs, each
containing the sign of Life, _ik_. Xmucane has before her one with the
sign of union (sexual); above it, one containing the life-sign (product
of union); and these are surmounted by the head of a fish, symbolizing
the fructifying and motherly waters.

The total extension of the field in these designs resembles the glyph
_a_ in Fig. 6. It is found in both Mayan and Mexican MSS.,[65] and
expresses the conception these peoples had of the Universe. Hence I give
it the name of the “cosmic sign.”

             4. _Pictorial Representations of Divinities._

Turning to the Codices and the monuments with the above mythological
lore in one’s memory, it seems to me there is no difficulty in
identifying most of the pictures presented by them. That this has not
been accomplished heretofore, I attribute to the neglect of the myths by
previous writers, and a persistent desire to discover in the mythology
of the Mayas, not the divinities which they themselves worshipped, but
those of some other nation, as the Nahuas, Quiches, Zapotecs, or Pueblo
dwellers.[66] I shall pay small attention to such analogies, as the
Mayas had a religion of their own, and it is that which I wish to
define. We may turn first to the—

[Illustration: FIG. 11.—Monogram of Itzamna.]

_Representations of Itzamna._—I have no hesitation in identifying
Itzamna with the “god B,” as catalogued by Dr. Schellhas in his
excellent study of the divinities of the Codices,[67] and which he
believes to be Cuculcan, while the Abbé Brasseur, followed by Dr. Seler,
argue, that it is a “Tlaloc” or Chac, _i. e._, a rain god.[68] He is
extremely prominent in the Codices, being painted in the Dresden Codex
alone not less than 130 times, and in the others about 70 times. No
other deity has half so many representations, and we may well believe,
therefore, that he was the Jove of their Pantheon.

This at once suggests Itzamna; but a phrase of the historian Cogolludo
leaves no doubt about it. The “god B” is associated with the signs of
the east, and his especial and invariable characteristic are two long,
serpent-like teeth, which project from his mouth, one in front, the
other to the side and backward.[69] These traits enable us to identify
“B” with Lakin Chan, “the serpent of the east,” who was portrayed “with
strangely deformed teeth,” and this was unquestionably but another name
for Itzamna, the god of the east.[70]

[Illustration: FIG. 12.—Itzamna: from the Codex Troano.]

[Illustration: FIG. 13.—Itzamna: from the Inscription of Kabah.]

An abundance of evidence may be adduced to confirm this opinion. This
deity is represented in close relations with the serpent, holding it in
his hand, sitting upon it, even swallowed by it, or emerging from its
throat. As a “medicine man” he carries the “medicine bag,” and the wand
or baton, called in Maya _caluac_, “the perforated stick,”[71]
surmounted with a hand, hinting at his name above given, _Kabil_, the
Skilful Hand. He is often in a boat, to recall his advent over the
eastern sea, and he is frequently associated with the showers, as was
Itzamna, who said of himself, _itz en muyal, itz en caan_, “I am what
trickles from the clouds, from the sky.” As the rising sun which dispels
the darkness, or else as the physician who heals disease, he is
portrayed sitting on the head of the owl, the bird of night and
sickness; and as the giver of life he is associated with the emblem of
the snail, typical of birth.

He himself is never connected with the symbols of death or misfortune,
but always with those of life and light. The lance and tomahawk which he
often carries are to drive away the spirits of evil.

Besides the above peculiarities, he is portrayed as an elderly man, his
nose is long and curved downward, his eye is always the “ornamented
eye,” which in the Maya Codices indicates a divinity. He is associated
with all four quarters of the globe, for the East defines the cardinal
points; and what is especially interesting, it is he who is connected
with the Maya “Tree of Life,” the celebrated symbol of the cross, found
on so many ancient monuments of this people and which has excited so
much comment. This I shall consider later.

[Illustration: FIG. 14.—Itzamna: from the Dresden Codex.]

[Illustration: FIG. 15.—Mask of Itzamna (?).]

We know from the mythology that Itzamna, like most deities, was
multiform, appearing in various incarnations. In the ceremonies this was
represented by masks; with this in mind I class as merely one of the
forms or epiphanies of Itzamna that figure in the Codices described by
Dr. Schellhas as a separate deity, “the god with the ornamental nose,”
whom he catalogues as “god K.” I am led to this conclusion by a careful
study of all the pictographs in which this deity appears; they all seem
to show that it is Itzamna wearing a mask to indicate some one
manifestation of his power (see especially Cod. Dresden., pp. 7, 12, 25,
26, and 34, 65, and 67, where Itzamna is carrying the mask on his head).
That there is a particular monogram for this character merely indicates
that it was a separate mythological manifestation, not a different

A remarkable and constant feature in the representations of Itzamna is
his _nose_. Thomas calls it “elephantine,” but, as Waldeck and Seler
have shown, it is undoubtedly intended to imitate the snout of the

When we remember that this animal was sacred to Votan, who played the
same part in Chiapas that Itzamna did in Yucatan, dividing and naming
the land, etc.; and that the interesting slate tablets from Chiapas, in
the National Museum of Mexico, portray the sacred tapir in intimate
connection with the symbol of _the hand_,[73] that associated with
Itzamna,—we are led to identify the two mythical personages as one and
the same. According to Bishop Landa the tapir was not found in Yucatan
except on the western shore near the bay of Campeche,[74] which shows
that the myth of the tapir god was imported from Tzental territory.

It may be asked why the tapir, a dull animal, loving swamps and dark
recesses of the forests, should have been chosen to represent a divinity
of light. I reply, that it arose from the “ikonomatic” method of
writing. The word for tapir in Maya is _tzimin_, in Tzental _tzemen_,
and from the similarity of this sound to _i-tzam-na_ the animal came to
be selected as his symbol. No such sacredness attached to the brute
among the Quiches, for in their tongue the allusive sound did not exist,
the tapir being called _tixl_. This rebus also confirms the identity of
Itzamna with the tapir-nosed deity of the Codices.[75]

The annual festival to Itzamna was called _Pocam_, “the cleansing.” On
that occasion the priests, arrayed in all their insignia, assembled in
the house of their prince. First, they invoked Itzamna as the founder of
their order and burned to him incense with fire newly made from the
friction of sticks. Next they spread out upon a table covered with green
leaves the sacred books, and asperged their pages with water drawn from
a spring of which no woman had ever tasted. This was the ceremonial
“cleansing.” Then the chief priest arose and declared the prognostics
for the coming year as written in the holy records.[76]

We may well believe that the Dresden Codex, pages 29–43, which are
entirely taken up with the deeds and ceremonies of Itzamna, was one of
the books spread out on this solemn occasion.

_Representations of Cuculcan._—As I believe the reasons above given are
sufficient to establish the identity of the “god B,” of Dr. Schellhas’
catalogue, with Itzamna, so I think his “god D” is Cuculcan.[77] He
himself believes it to be a “night god,” or a “moon god,” while Dr.
Seler considers it to portray Itzamna.

[Illustration: FIG. 16.—Monogram of Cuculcan.]

[Illustration: FIG. 17.—Cuculcan, with owl head-dress.]

The characteristics of this divinity are: A face of an old man, with
sunken mouth and toothless jaws, except one tooth in the lower jaw,
which, in the Tro. and Cortes. Codices, is exaggerated as a distinctive
sign; he has the “ornamented eye” peculiar to deities; and to his
forehead is attached, or over it hangs, an affix, which generally bears
the sign _akbal_, which means “darkness,” because he is the setting or
night sun; for which reason his head-dress is often the horns of the
eared owl. He is clearly a beneficent deity, and is never associated
with symbols of misfortune or death. Indeed, he is at times evidently a
god of birth, being accompanied with the symbol of the snail, above
explained, and is sometimes associated with women apparently as an
obstetrician. He is connected with serpent emblems, and holds in his
hand a sacred rattle formed of the rattles of the rattlesnake.

All these traits coincide with the myths of Cuculcan; but when we
perceive that he, and he alone of all the deities, is occasionally
depicted _with a beard under his chin_, just as Cuculcan wore in the
legend, the identification becomes complete.[78]

The most striking of his representations, and that which is most
distinctive of his identity with the “green-feathered serpent,” is the
picture which extends over pp. 4 and 5, middle, of the Dresden Codex.
Here he is seen with face emerging from the mouth of the great,
green-feathered snake-dragon, indicative of his own personality, his
hieroglyph immediately above his head.[79]

_Representations of Kin ich._—As has already been observed, the sun at
noon, conceived as a divinity, did not occupy a prominent place in Maya
mythology; and this is also the case in the pictorial designs.

[Illustration: FIG. 18.—Monogram of Kin ich.]

There is no doubt as to his representation. It is accompanied by the
well-known ideogram of the sun scattered over his body and represented
above him. It will be seen on a later page.

He is richly arrayed with large ear-rings and a characteristic,
prominent nose decoration. He has the “ornamented eye” and a full head
dress. (God “G” of Schellhas.)

Proceeding now to consider other divinities of the beneficent class, I
begin with—

_Representations of Xaman Ek, the Pole Star._—This is the “god C, of the
ornamented face,” of Dr. Schellhas’ list, who suggests its identity with
the pole star. The very characteristic face recurs extremely frequently,
especially in Codices Troano, Cortesianus, and Peresianus. We have
evidently to do with an important divinity, and, as Dr. Schellhas says,
“one of the most remarkable and difficult figures in the manuscripts.”
That it is the personification of a star he argues, (1) from the ring of
rays with which it is surrounded, Cod. Cort., p. 10; (2) from its
appearance in the “constellation band;” (3) from its surmounting in
certain pictures the “tree of life;” and that it is the North Star is
shown by its presence in the hieroglyph of that quarter and its
association with the sign for north.

There is another, and, to me, decisive argument, which at once confirms
Dr. Schellhas’ opinion, and explains why the north star is represented
by this peculiar, decorated face.

The term for “north” in Maya is _xaman_, whence _xaman ek_, north star.
The only other word in the language which at all resembles this is
_xamach_, the flat, decorated plate or dish (Nahuatl, _comalli_) on
which tortillas, etc., are served. In the rebus-writing the decorations
on the rim of this dish were conventionally transferred to the face of
the deity, so as to distinguish it by recalling the familiar utensil.
For a similar reason it is also called “the shield star,” _chimal ek_
(like _chimal ik_, north wind); but as this is a foreign word (from the
Nahuatl, _chimalli_, shield), it was doubtless later and local. I shall
refer to this peculiar edging or border as the “pottery decoration,” and
we shall find it elsewhere.

That the figure is associated at times with all four quarters of the
world, and also with the supreme number 13 (see above, p. 24), are not
at all against the identification, as Dr. Schellhas seems to think, but
in favor of it; for at night, all four directions are recognized by the
position of the pole; and its immovable relation to the other celestial
bodies seems to indicate that it belongs above the highest.

The North Star is especially spoken of as “the guide of merchants.” Its
representation is associated with symbols of peace and plenty (removing
the contents of a tall vase, C. Cortes., p. 40; seated under a canopy,
ibid., p. 29). In front of his forehead is attached a small vase, the
contents of which are trickling into his mouth (?).

[Illustration: FIG. 19.—The North Star God.]

He is especially prominent in the earlier pages of the Cod. Peres.,
where his presence seems to have been practically overlooked by previous
writers; and it is true that the drawings are nearly erased. Close
inspection will show, however, that he is portrayed on both sides of the
long column of figures which runs up the middle of page 3. On the left,
he is seated on the “Tree of Life,” as in Cod. Troanus, p. 17, _a_
(which is growing from the vase of the rains, precisely as in Cod. Tro.,
14, _b_, where the star-god is sailing in the vase itself). On the right
of the column he is shown in the darkness of night (on a black
background), holding in his hand the _kan_ symbol of fortune and food. A
similar contrast is on page 7, where on the right of the column he is
seen above the fish, and on the left, in the dark, again with the _kan_
symbol. On the intermediate page he is seated opposite the figure of Kin
ich Ahau, which is head downward, signifying that when the sun is absent
the pole star rules the sky.

[Illustration: FIG. 20.—The Bee god. (Codex Troano.)]

_Representations of the Planet Venus._—In view of the prominent part
which the Venus-year plays in the calculations of the Codices, it has
surprised students that no pictorial figures of this bright star appear
on their pages. On this point I have some suggestions to make.

In one part of the Codex Troano (pp. 1*–10*) there are a great
many—nearly fifty—pictures of an insect resembling a bee in descending
flight. These pages have been explained by Thomas as relating to
apiculture and the festivals of the bee-keepers, and by Seler, who
rejects that rendering, as referring generally to the descent of deities
to receive offerings. Direction downward is indicated not only by the
position of the insect, but by the accompanying hieroglyph, which reads
_caban_, the first syllable of which, _cab_, means “downward.” My
suggestion is that in this bee-like insect we have an ikonomatic
allusion to the Evening Star, which, as I have already stated, was
sometimes called _xux ek_, “the bee or wasp star.”[80]

Not only is the picture phonetically appropriate, and the “sign”
consistent, but that a deity is referred to is shown by three
anthropomorphic pictures of the bee (two on p. 4* and one on p. 5*).
Furthermore, the “sign” or monogram of the bee deity (Fig. 20) appears
on the so-called “title pages” of the Cod. Tro. and Cod. Cortes.,
adjacent to that of the north star, indicating that another stellar
deity is represented.

The object toward which the insect descends is generally either a fire,
or that shown in Fig. 22.[81] This was supposed by Brasseur to be a
honeycomb, and by Seler, a food offering. It is almost precisely the
conventional representation of the clouds, as may be noted in the
interesting scene on Cod. Tro., p. 5*, where this object is placed upon
the earth, below which is the cloud symbol. Often it is yellowish, a
point which has been urged in proof that it is honey. Does it not mean
the golden-hued clouds of sunset, and the fire, the flame of the setting
sun, into which the Evening Star descends?

The sign _caban_, “downward,” naturally refers to the Earth.[82] Thither
sinks the star of evening to join the departed orb of day; hence this
star mythically becomes the Earth-goddess, the associate of the setting
sun. Cuculcan is very frequently depicted in relation to an old crone,
having, like himself, but one tooth, and, like himself, ever engaged in
kindly offices, good to men. She, I take it, is the Evening Star in her
epiphany as Mother Earth, source of life, ancestress of the race.

[Illustration: FIG. 21.—Monograms of the Bee God.]

[Illustration: FIG. 22.—Offerings to the Bee God.]

A striking verbal analogy supports this. In the Popol Vuh, the sacred
book of the Quiches, the “feathered serpent,” Gukumatz, is positively
said to be the bisexual principle of life represented by the male
Xpiyacoc and the female Xmucane, ancestor and ancestress of all that
is.[83] Here, _x-mucane_ is most likely the Quiche feminine form of
_muc_ (_ul_) _canan_, which is a Tzental name for the planet Venus, as I
have already mentioned.[84] My conclusion is, therefore, that the old
woman so frequently associated with Cuculcan is the Evening Star, in her
form as the Earth-Goddess. I shall recur to her on a later page.

I think all these representations of the bee should be interpreted as
indicating the movements of Venus, and the mythical conceptions with
which they were connected in the native mind.

_Representation of Ghanan, God of Growth and Fertility._—Bishop Nuñez de
la Vega tells us that in the calendar he discovered among the natives of
his diocese, the fourth “sign” or day corresponded to the Mexican
Centeotl, god of fertility and the maize harvests. This fourth day in
the Tzental calendar bore the name _Ghanan_, and on turning to the
Tzental Dictionary prepared by Father Lara, we find that _ghan_ is the
general term for the ear of maize; _aghan_, when the grains are still

His representations in the Codices are moderately frequent and quite
peculiar. They all present in a marked degree the flattening of the
forehead and prolongation of the occiput upward which is so striking in
many of the sculptures.

[Illustration: FIG. 23.—From the Head-dress of the God of Growth.]

Dr. Schellhas, indeed (who catalogues him as “God E”), is so impressed
by this that he argues that all such forms were imaginary, obtained by
the artists through copying the conventional drawings of an ear of maize
arranged as a head-dress. This, however, is going too far, as there is
evidence, derived from ancient skulls, that certain classes of Maya
priests used to have the head artificially flattened in this manner.[85]
Perhaps they were those destined for the service of this or similar
deities. The officiants on the Palenque “Tablet of the Cross,”
presenting offerings to the “tree of life,” are both deformed in this

The maize god is associated with symbols of food, of vegetable growth,
and of prosperity. He carries a vase or is drawing forth the contents of
one, Cod. Cort., p. 40; he is seen with the loom, Cod. Dres., p. 45, and
he generally has about him the _kan_ symbol, that of means and comfort.

_Representations of the Serpent Goddess._—One of the most striking
pictures in the Codices is the Serpent Goddess, whose familiar is the
rattlesnake, which she wears as a head-dress or as a girdle. She is
depicted as an old woman, her costume ample and often splendid,
decorated with embroidery and bells, with necklace and ear-rings of

In expression she is severe, her lips protrude in anger, and her hands
and feet sometimes end in claws. The sinister cross-bones sometimes
decorate her skirts. Her business is with water and the rains. She is
pouring from a vase (_Cod. Dres._, pp. 43, 67, 74); or water is flowing
from her armpits, hands, and mammæ; or she is ejecting it forcibly from
her mouth (_Cod. Tro._, pp. 25, 27, 34*).

She is, however, not always represented as in old age, or else there was
another serpent goddess in the mythology; for in a number of places a
similar serpentine head-dress is borne by a young woman who holds a vase
containing the rattles of the rattlesnake (_Cod. Dres._, pp. 15, 18); or
(ibid., p. 20), a figure which shows seven black dots. May this be a
sign of the constellation of the Pleiades, which in the Maya language
bore the same name as the rattles of the rattlesnake, _tzab_?

As to the signification of the serpent goddess, I think there can be no
question of it, from a study of her appearance, signs, and associations.
She was the _personification of the thunderstorm_. The vase she empties
is the descending torrent of rain, the rattles she carries are the
thunderclaps, her severe mien is the terror inspired by the din of the
elements. In Maya, the word for “thunder,” _pecchac_, is derived from
the noun _pec_, which means “a sound like that of a bell or rattle”
(_Dicc. Motul_).

_Representations of Xmucane._—A third goddess who can be clearly
distinguished is one with features of an old woman, her face wrinkled,
her mouth sunken, and but one tooth left in her lower jaw. She usually
wears her hair in a peculiar style, two wisps or ends of it twisted
above her head.

She does not appear in the Peresianus, and perhaps not in the Dresden
manuscript, but holds a prominent place in the Troanus and Cortesianus.
Her occupations are peaceable; she is weaving on a loom (C. Tro., p.
11), carrying a plate of cakes, etc. (Cod. Cortes., pp. 10, 11).

In appearance she is the female counterpart of Cuculcan, and is plainly
intended to represent his companion or wife. In the “Tableau des Bacabs”
of the Codex Cortes., these two alone are represented sitting under the
central “tree of life,” where they are placed back to back (see above,
p. 49); while in the section of the tableau showing the West, they are
placed face to face, she seated under a canopy hung with black and red
dotted lines.

In her, therefore, we have a person of great importance, the consort of
Cuculcan, intimately associated with the quarter of the West to which he
belongs. Dr. Seler has argued that she was the goddess Ix chel, and the
personification of the Earth. With the last supposition I agree, but not
with the name. Ix chel was distinctly by name and myth the goddess of
the rainbow. Much more probably we have in this ancient crone, as I have
already said, the personification of the Evening Star, and the Earth,
Xmucane, the companion of the sun when worn out by his day’s work, whose
home is with him in the West, and whom she soon joins.

_Representation of Ah-Puch, God of Death._—Next to Itzamna, god of Life,
the god of Death, Ah-Puch, is represented most frequently on both
Codices and monuments. In the former his picture is given about eighty
times, usually as a skeleton with tremendous jaws, always with fleshless
skull and backbone,—a true “God Barebones,” as the _Dicc. de Motul_
describes him.

His symbols are unmistakeable,—the head of a corpse and cross-bones, the
ill-omened owl and the ravenous dog,—wonderfully “European” indeed. He
has numerous costumes and head dresses, some quite fanciful, and
occasionally bells are attached to his ankles and clothing. Some of his
delineations seem to reveal a sense of ghastly humor, as we see in the
medieval “dance of death.”

[Illustration: FIG. 24.—The God of Death. (From the Codices.)]

He is associated with the north, because in that direction lay the
mythical home of departed souls; but he is also present in the other
quarters of the compass, for death knows no distinction of places or
persons. Besides the cross-bones, usually shown as in Fig. 25, No. 1, he
often bears the curious design No. 2,[86] which I take to be _a maggot_,
and his head-dress is sometimes as No. 3, decorated with teeth, or
flints, with rays.

[Illustration: FIG. 25.—Symbols of the God of Death.]

[Illustration: FIG. 26.—The God of War.]

_Representation of the God of War._—Frequently associated with the
figure of death is that of a deity with a black line across his face.
This is numbered by Dr. Schellhas the “god F,” and called by him a “god
of death.” Much has been made of the line across his face as identifying
him with the Mexican god Xipe, “the flayer;” but this is not a constant
mark of Xipe, as Father Duran neither mentions it nor portrays it. In
fact, it is nothing more than the line of black paint athwart the face
which meant “war” very generally among the American Indians. An
inspection of the pictures clearly indicates that this is a war god. For
instance, in Cod. Tr., 27*, 28*, 29* _c_, he is shown repeatedly at full
length, armed with a flaming torch in one hand and a flint knife in the
other, firing the canopies of princes, his body striped with war-paint
like his face, following the god of death, who goes before him beating
on a drum and singing a song of war (as shown by the lines issuing from
his mouth). In Cod. Dresden., p. 6 _e_, he wears a war helmet with
nose-piece, and his body is black-striped also.

Which of the gods of war I have named this leading one may have been, I
leave undetermined.

_Representations of Ek Ahau and Other Black Gods._—In the Codices there
are about fifty figures painted black, evidently intended to represent
deities supposed to be thus colored. Forty of them are in the Codex
Troano, which is in parts devoted to a prominent character of this hue.
He is depicted with a truculent expression, a reddish-brown band around
his mouth, and with a large, hanging under-lip. He is generally armed
and often fighting. His figure is sometimes drawn unusually large, of a
ferocious appearance, and carrying a huge spear, a shield, a tomahawk, a
lighted torch, or other fearful sign of war. (See Cod. Tro., pp. 24,

Previous writers have not been able to assign a name to this deity.
Prof. Thomas suggested that it was Ek Chuah, said by Landa to be the god
of the cacao planters; but to this, Schellhas objects that his warlike
traits exclude such a supposition.[87] So the latter refers to him
merely as “the god M.”

[Illustration: FIG. 27.—Ek Ahau, the Black Captain.]

About his name, however, there can be no doubt. The paintings correspond
precisely with what Nuñez de la Vega tells us of the Tzental divinity
_Ical Ahau_, Maya, _Ek Ahau_, names which he translates, “the black
chief,” or, “the king of the blacks.” He was reported to have been “a
famous warrior and most cruel.” He was depicted “in the figure of a
ferocious blackamoor with the members of a man.”[88] The “blacks” of
whom he was king were seven in number, and were painted in most of the
native calendars which the bishop found among the Tzentals. They were
the signs of seven days, beginning, he adds, with Friday, which may have
been an erroneous explanation of the “masters.”

Among the remainder of the seven were doubtless the god _Ek Chuah_, of
the cacao planters, and the god “L” of Dr. Schellhas’ list. The latter
is found in the Cod. Dresden., pp. 7, 14, 21, 24, 46; but not at all in
the Troanus. It is evident, however, that, as Dr. Schellhas observes,
several minor black gods are depicted, which is explained by the
statement of the Bishop of Chiapas, that there were seven of them.[89]

                       5. _The Maya Priesthood._

Not all the designs of the inscriptions and Codices are to be considered
deities, however. Doubtless the priests, their representatives, also
appear. These were numerous and of both sexes, called respectively,
_ah-kin_ and _ix-kin_, masters of days and mistresses of days, that is,
having power to predict auspicious and inauspicious days. The chief
priest was variously called _ah-kin mai_ and _ahau can mai_, the word
_mai_, dust, fragrance, vapor, referring to the sacred rite of blowing
substances through a tube in incantation, as we find often represented
in the Codices.[90] _Ahau can_, which at times means “rattlesnake,”
should perhaps here be translated, “master of words,” as another term
for the high priest was _ah-chun can_, which is rendered “one who has
the right of the first speech in business; also, high priest.” (_Dicc.

They were divided into a number of classes exercising special functions;
as the _ah-mac ik_, who conjured the winds; the _ah-uai chac_, who could
bring rains; the _ah-pul_, “fetchers,” who could cause sickness, induce
sleep, etc.; the _ah-uai xibalba_, who made a specialty of interviewing
departed spirits; the _ah-cunal than_, who conjured by magical words;
and others.[91]

[Illustration: FIG. 28.—A Maya Priestess, bearing the _Moan_ Bird. (From
the Dresden Codex.)]

In their rites they were accustomed to appear in masks, _koh_, and
dressed in skins of wild animals, as tigers, etc.[92] Their ceremonies
were often painful, as the old writers report, and as the words to
express them, _kup_, to cut, _ppeta_, to cry out with pain, testify.
This is also abundantly shown by the pictures of scarifying the body and
transfixion of the tongue and ears, on the monuments.

They are said to have worn their hair uncombed and long, often matted
with the blood of the sacrifices. The expression for this was _hunhun
buclah u tzotzel hol_, (el que trae largos revueltos y marañados los
cabellos como los traen los idolatras. _Dicc. Motul_).

                        6. _Fanciful Analogies._

It were easy in these names, myths, and pictures, to pick out abundant
analogies to the mythologies of Peru and Mexico, of the Pueblos and of
the Old World. It has been done over and over again, usually with a
total oversight of the only point in which such analogies have much
value—the similarity disclosed the world over by independent evolutions
of the religious sentiment. The effort by such resemblances to prove
identity of historical origin is to be deprecated whenever the natural
growth of myths and rites will explain the facts considered. For that
reason I shall say nothing about “Tlaloc deities,” “serpent gods,” etc.,
with which so many pages of other writers have been fruitlessly taken
up. That the adjacent nations of equal culture influenced the people of
Yucatan to some extent, was no doubt a fact. It could not have been
otherwise. But that the Mayan mythology and civilization were distinctly
independent, and were only superficially touched by their neighbors, I
am deeply convinced.

On the other hand, just how far the influence of this potent and
personal culture of the Mayas extended, it is difficult to delimit. I
have found no trace of its peculiar forms in South America, nor anywhere
in North America, beyond the boundaries within which that extraordinary
calendar was accepted, upon which so much of it was based; but this, as
I have shown elsewhere, included not less than seven entirely different
linguistic stocks.[93]

                 7. _Total Number of Representations._

The actual progress toward an analysis of the pictorial elements of the
Codices which the above identifications indicate, may best be shown by a
few statistics.

I find that the total number of figures of men and women, or of
anthropomorphic deities, which are preserved in the manuscripts, is just
about 950, of which 825 are males and 125 are females.

They are distributed as follows:—

                Codex Peresianus,  40  males no  females
                Codex Cortesianus, 157 males  6  females
                Codex Troanus,     345 males 47  females
                Codex Dresdensis,  283 males 72  females
                                   ———       ———
                                   825       125

Confining our attention to the male deities, the attributes of which
have been above described, we find their pictures are distributed as

    Itzamna,                    4           30       32         130
    Cuculcan,                               22       54          20
    Kin Ich,                    4            2        8          22
    Xaman Ek,                   7           20       20           5
    The God of Maize,                       16       60           6
    Ah Puch,                    2           21       25          29
    The God of War,             9            3       26          13
    The Black Gods,             2            2       39           4
         Total,                28          116      264         229

This gives a total of 638 figures which have been recognized; in other
words, more than three-fourths of the whole number.

Of the remainder a considerable portion are unimportant men and persons,
victims of sacrifice, captives, attendants, etc.; others are priests or
officiants in ceremonies; allowing for which, it is certain that no
prominent figure in Mayan mythology under the human form remains to be
discovered in the Codices. This is a satisfactory result, and shows
that, as far as their pictographs go, the contents of these once
mysterious volumes are scarcely an unsolved enigma.

                      8. _Figures of Quadrupeds._

The pictorial portions of the Codices contain delineations of various
animals, some of which are evidently introduced with symbolical
meanings, and others probably so.

The dog, Maya, _pek_, is one of the most conspicuous. It is the native
breed, with smooth coat and erect ears. In many instances it is
associated with the sign for night, _akbal_, and with the god of death
(Cod. Tro., pp. 2, 3, 32, 33); also with the storm and the lightning.
For that reason Dr. Schellhas and Dr. Seler regard him as a symbol of
lightning.[95] But I am persuaded that while not disconnected with this,
the dog represents primarily some star or constellation. At times he is
dotted with spots to represent stars, Cod. Dres., p. 21; the _akbal_
sign refers to the night. His body is often in human form, carrying a
torch in each hand, Cod. Dres., p. 39. (Compare Cod. Tro., p. 23*.) In
Cod. Dres., p. 40, he falls from the sky; and in ibid., p. 47, he is
slain by the shaft of Itzamna. (Compare id. 2, where Itzamna is sitting
upon him.) He plays on the medicine drum, Cod. Tro., p. 20, and is
associated with the rains, id. pp. 26, 27. He represents the end and
beginning of time-periods, Cod. Cort., p. 32.

The spotted leopard, the jaguar, Maya, _balam_, whose name is attached
to the Chacs, and which appears in the calendar and in many of the myths
of the Mayan stock, is represented in a number of passages of the
Codices, as Cod. Dres., pp. 8, 26; Cod. Tro., pp. 17, 20, 21, 22. In one
part, Cod. Tro., 14, he enters dressed as a warrior with a human body.

The monkey, _maax_, is not often depicted, but is found with astronomic
relations, Cod. Tro., 25*; his sign is distinguishable by the markedly
prognathic jaws.

Deer are numerous, especially in the Cod. Troanus, where the pages 9–12
are occupied with a series of pictures of the animal in snares. On page
14 a large one is shown, sitting on his rump, his organ erect and
prominent. I have little doubt these represent a constellation. In Cod.
Dres., p. 2, a composite figure with deer’s hoofs appears three times,
sailing through the sky on the serpent’s head. (Compare Cod. Cort., p.

The small edentate, the nine-banded armadillo, _Tatusia novemcincta_, in
Maya, _ibach_, is shown twice in the Cod. Tro., both times caught under
a trap, once, p. 9, under the wind sign, again, p. 22*, under the
_cauac_ sign. What it represents is unknown.

                         9. _Figures of Birds._

Birds had important symbolical functions, and a number are figured in
the Codices. In their identification I have had the advantage of the
advice of Mr. Witmer Stone, who has pursued his ornithological studies
in Yucatan itself. The following are recognizable:—

1. The red macaw, _Ara macao_, Maya, _moo_ or _ahlo_; the type is shown
in Fig. 29. This was the symbol of Kin ich.

[Illustration: FIG. 29.—Bird Symbols from the Codices.]

2. The horned or eared owl, a large raptorial bird of the genus _Bubo_,
Maya, _coz_.[96] He is usually shown in full face to display his ears or
horns, _e. g._, Cod. Tro., 18*. He appears as an associate of the gods
of death and war, and symbolizes clouds, darkness, and inauspicious
events. His horns frequently appear on the head-dress of Cuculcan to
indicate the departing sun and night, like the _akbal_ sign. (See Cod.
Tro., pp. 19, 29*, 35*.) He is often associated with the number 13, and
may represent in the calendar the 13–day period.

3. Two species of vulture, the king vulture, _Vultus papa_, and the
turkey vulture, _Cathartes aura_, both abundant in Yucatan, Maya, _kuch_
and _ahchom_. The former is the bird seated on the “tree of life,”
tearing out the eyes of the victim, Cod. Dres., p. 3; Cod. Tro., pp. 15,
17, or the entrails, Cod. Tro., p. 15, 17. The naked head and neck of
the vulture on a human body is seen Cod. Dres., pp. 8, 13, 19, 38; Cod.
Cort., p. 10, etc. His head is his monogram, frequent in Cod. Peres.,
pp. 4, 7, 9, etc. (See Fig. 29, No. 2.) Its body is sometimes black, at
others more or less white.

4. The quetzal bird, _Trogon splendens_, is distinctly shown in Cod.
Dres., p. 16, above the middle figure.

5. The crested falcon, _Spizætus tyrannus_, the _moan_ bird, in Maya
_muan_ or _muyan_. This has well-developed tufts of erectile feathers on
the head and resembles in the drawings the horned owl. It is believed by
Förstemann to be the symbol of the Pleiades; by Seler, to be associated
with the clouds and rains. Both are probably correct.[97] (See Fig. 28.)

6. The pelican or cormorant is drawn with a human body and the “fish and
oysters” sign in Cod. Cort., pp. 20, 21.

7. Blackbirds, of which two species live in Yucatan, are portrayed in
Cod. Tro., p. 31.

8. The wild turkey is easily recognized by his head and “wattle” among
the food offerings.

                       10. _Figures of Reptiles._

Among reptilians, the turtle or tortoise (Maya, _ac_) is one of the most
prominent. By Dr. Schellhas it has also been called a _Blitzthier_, or
animal symbolical of the lightning, basing his opinion especially on
Cod. Dres., p. 40, where a human figure with a tortoise head is seen
holding a torch in each hand. It is distinctly represented as a
celestial body in Cod. Cort., pp. 13, 17, 37, and 38; and when we are
informed that the Mayas called a portion of the constellation Gemini by
the name “the tortoise,” it is quite clear that we are dealing with an
astronomical, not a meteorological, emblem.

Dr. Förstemann has advanced the theory that at least one and an
important function of the tortoise was as a symbol of the summer
solstice, in accordance with which he explains Cod. Dres., p. 40; and
that on the earth-plane it indicated the northeast and northwest
directions. His arguments for this opinion, if not conclusive, certainly
attach to it a high probability.

Between the tortoise and the snail (Maya, _hub_ or _ut_) there is in the
Codices some mythical relation. In the Aztec symbolism the snail is
often an emblem of death; but also of birth. It is likely that the same
holds true of the Maya designs. The animal is associated distinctly with
the beneficent deities, notably with Itzamna and Cuculcan, Cod. Dres., 5
and 37. But it is also visible in close relation with the god of death,
Cod. Dres., pp. 9, 12, 13, 14, 23.

Regarding it as a counterpart of the tortoise, Dr. Förstemann has given
various reasons for holding that it symbolizes the winter solstice and
the directions southwest and southeast, and thinks it probable that it
is found in the hieroglyph of the month _mol_, which occurs about that
season of the year.[98]

The frog, Maya, _much_, _uo_, is a well-known symbol of water and the
rains. It is shown falling from the sky in Cod. Cort., p. 17; and on p.
12, Itzamna, in his character as a rain god, appears with the body of

The scorpion (Maya, _zinaan_) is depicted several times, especially in
Cod. Cort., p. 7, and Tro., pp. 9, 13, where it is of large size. Its
symbolic sense is not clear. The Mayas applied the term _zinaan ek_,
“scorpion stars,” to a certain constellation, but it is possible they
derived it from the Spaniards. Another possibility is that the animal
represents _the earth-plane_. The word _zinaan_ is derived from the
radical _zin_, which means to stretch out, to extend; and the entire
earth, as one extended plane, was called _zinil_.

The rattlesnake appears to be the only serpent which is represented as a
symbol. It was distinctively called, both in Tzental and Maya, “the
Snake King” (Maya, _ahau can_, Tzental, _aghau chan_). Its rattles were
termed _tzab_, and hence its name _ahau tzab can_, also in use.
According to the _Dicc. Motul_, the natives believed there were four
varieties, corresponding to the four sacred colors, white, black, red,
and yellow.

It is shown in the Codices, realistically, biting a man’s foot, Tro., p.
7; astronomically, in the sky among the stars, Cod. Dres., p. 43; Cort.,
pp. 12, 13; as the head-dress of the serpent goddess, already described;
as the companion of Itzamna and Cuculcan, frequently; as the body of
Itzamna, Cod. Cort., 10, in Cod. Dres. and Cod. Tro. It carries the
“constellation band,” and may generally be regarded as one of the
symbols of Time.

                   11. _Occupations and Ceremonies._

[Illustration: FIG. 30.—A Religious Function. (From the Dresden Codex.)]

Among the illustrations are a number which throw light on the habits and
customs of the ancient Mayas. We see persons engaged in spinning and
weaving, Cod. Tro., pp. 11*, 16*, etc., Cod. Dres., p. 45; others making
idols, Cod. Tro., p. 12*, Dres., p. 6, etc. Various religious ceremonies
are pictured, as piercing the tongue, Cod. Tro., pp. 16*, 17*; baptizing
children, which was performed at the age of four years,[99] Cod. Tro.,
20*; and the important functions at the end of the years, depicted both
in Cod. Tro., pp. 20–24, and Cod. Dres., pp. 25–28.[100]

A curious scene is that Fig. 29, from the Dresden MS., p. 35.

In the center, resting upon an altar of three degrees surmounted by the
sign _caban_, earth, is the head of the god of fertility, his soul
escaping from his nostril. Below, on each side of the altar, are two
figures, one playing on a flute, the second on the medicine drum. Above
are also two, one shaking the sacred rattle, the second squatted before
a flaming altar, in one hand the holy staff, _caluac_, while the other
lifts above his head the “fish and oyster” sign, symbol of the products
of the sea. On the right hand are other offerings, the turkey and the
dog; and below them a ladder, _eb-che_, probably signifying the day
_eb_, on which this ceremony took or should take place. Its successful
result is shown in the picture which follows it in the Codex.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Those who would follow Förstemann’s (and my own) views in understanding
the Codices, must accustom themselves to look upon the animals, plants,
objects, and transactions they depict as largely symbolic, representing
the movements of the celestial bodies, the changes of the seasons, the
meteorological variations, the revolutions of the sun, moon, and
planets, and the like; just as in the ancient zodiacs of the Old World
we find similar uncouth animals and impossible collocations of images
presented. The great snakes which stretch across the pages of the
Codices mean Time; the torches in the hands of figures, often one
downward and one upward, indicate the rising and the setting of
constellations; the tortoise and the snail mark the solstices; the
mummied bodies, the disappearance from the sky at certain seasons of
certain stars, etc. A higher, a more pregnant, and, I believe, the only
correct meaning is thus awarded to these strange memorials.


Footnote 43:

  The account of Hernandez is given by Las Casas, _Historia de las
  Indias_, cap. CXXIII. The monk says that the principal lords alone
  knew the histories of the gods.

Footnote 44:

  Lizana’s work, of which only one complete copy is known to exist (in
  Madrid), has been partly republished by Brasseur in the Appendix to
  Landa, _Cosas de Yucatan_. He says the votaries came from Chiapas and
  Tabasco, p. 359.

Footnote 45:

  The _Dicc. Motul_ defines _Hunab Ku_ thus: “the one true and living
  God; the greatest of all the gods of Yucatan was so named, and he had
  no idol, because they said that he could not be represented, seeing
  that he was incorporeal.” This dictionary, to which I shall often
  refer, is one of the Maya language, composed at the Convent of Motul,
  about 1570. A copy is in my possession.

Footnote 46:

  In my work, _American Hero-Myths_ (Philadelphia, 1882), Chap. IV, “The
  Hero-gods of the Mayas,” I have treated at considerable length the
  duplicate traditions relating to Itzamna and Cuculcan.

Footnote 47:

  “Todos conforman en que este (Cuculcan) entró por la parte del
  poniente.” Herrera, _Historia de las Indias_, Dec. IV, cap. 2. Looking
  toward the North, Itzamna was the right-hand god, Cuculcan the
  left-hand; hence, the arrival of the former was called _nohnial_,
  “right-hand coming,” of the latter, _dzicnial_, “left-hand coming.”
  (Cogolludo, _Hist. de Yucatan_, Lib. IV, cap. IV.)

Footnote 48:

  “En los Repertorios mas generales tienen pintado el 7 signo en figura
  de hombre y de Culebra, que llaman _Cuchul chan_, y han explicado los
  Maestros que es culebra de plumas que anda en el agua.” Nuñez de la
  Vega, _Constituciones Diocesanas_, Parte II, p. 132.

Footnote 49:

  The word _chac_ means “strong; the color red; heat; water.” The _Dicc.
  Motul_ says: “Significa agua en algunas maneras de decir; tambien dios
  de las aguas, relampago y trueno; _chacal ik_, tempestad de agua,

Footnote 50:

  Mr. J. Walter Fewkes is certainly correct in his argument that the
  “ceremonial circuit,” of the Mayas,—the direction of movement in their
  ceremonies—was sinistral, that is, from right to left, in most
  instances. This should be remembered in studying the pictorial portion
  of the Codices. See Mr. Fewkes’ article, “A Central-American
  Ceremony,” in the _American Anthropologist_, July, 1893.

Footnote 51:

  An article by Dr. C. Schultz-Sellack, entitled “Die Amerikanischen
  Götter der vier Weltrichtungen,” in the _Zeitschrift für Ethnologie_,
  Bd. XI, may be profitably read in this connection, though some of its
  statements are antiquated.

Footnote 52:

  _Relacion de la Villa de Valladolid_ (1579), caps. I and X. This
  _Relacion_ was printed in the Compte Rendu of the Congress of
  Americanists, the Madrid Meeting.

Footnote 53:

  Landa, _Rel. de las Cosas de Yucatan_, p. 72 (Madrid Ed.). The ruins
  of this ancient fane are still plainly visible from the sea. J. L.
  Stephens, _Travels in Yucatan_, vol. II, p. 358.

Footnote 54:

  Carrillo, _Historia Antigua de Yucatan_, p. 207.

Footnote 55:

  See the article “The Folk-lore of Yucatan,” in my _Essays of an
  Americanist_ (Philadelphia, 1890).

Footnote 56:

  In Maya, _ppuch tun_ means to stone to death, matar à pedradas, _Dic.

Footnote 57:

  Beltran, _Arte de la lengua Maya_, p. 217. Another name he gives is
  _Ox kokol tzek_, “thrice beaten bones.”

Footnote 58:

  Dr. Seler (_Verhand. Berlin. Anthrop. Gesell._, 1886, S. 416)
  considers Hun Ahau to be a calendar name; but it is significant,
  without having recourse to this roundabout explanation. Xibilbay, “the
  place of disappearance,” is the Quiche name for the underworld,
  corresponding to the Mictlan of the Nahuas. Both the terms in the text
  may therefore be borrowed. See my _Essays of an Americanist_, pp. 127,

Footnote 59:

  There are some reasons to believe that at the time of the composition
  of the Cod. Dres. the priests calculated that the world had then been
  in existence 3744 years. See Förstemann, in _Compte Rendu du Congrés
  des Américanistes_, VII Session, p. 746. Elsewhere, however, another
  suggestion as to the meaning of that number is offered.

Footnote 60:

  See my _Essays of an Americanist_, p. 269; and also an article by me,
  “Notes on the Codex Troano and Maya Chronology,” in the _American
  Naturalist_, September, 1881.

Footnote 61:

  See the interesting observations of Mr. F. H. Cushing in my _Native
  Calendar of Central America and Mexico_, p. 8.

Footnote 62:

  Thus in the _Popol Vuh_, pp. 4, 6, it is called “the quadrated earth,
  four-pointed, four-sided, four-bordered.”

Footnote 63:

  “OL; el corazon formal y no el material.” _Dic. Motul._

Footnote 64:

  “E alom, e qaholom.” _Popol Vuh_, p. 6. Ximenes adds: “y mas en los
  nacimientos de los niños son los que asisten.” _Origen de los Indios_,
  p. 158.

Footnote 65:

  See numerous examples in Prof. Cyrus Thomas’s suggestive monograph,
  “Notes on certain Maya and Mexican Manuscripts,” in the third annual
  _Report_ of the Bureau of Ethnology (Washington, 1884). Mr. Francis
  Parry, in an article entitled “The Sacred Symbols and Numbers of
  Aboriginal America,” in _Bull. of the Amer. Geog. Soc._, 1894, classes
  it as a “sun symbol;” but in this, as in most of his identifications,
  I find myself unable to agree with him.

Footnote 66:

  The doubts expressed by Dr. Schellhas as to the worth of mythology in
  these studies (_Zeitschrift für Ethnologie_, 1892, p. 102), are
  justified by the confusion of Mayan with Mexican myths in Dr. Seler’s
  writings; but I hope to show not by the facts themselves.

Footnote 67:

  Schellhas, “Die Göttergestalten der Mayahandschriften,” in
  _Zeitschrift für Ethnologie_, 1892. This is a classical article which
  I shall have frequent occasion to quote.

Footnote 68:

  Brasseur, _Le MS. Troano_, p. 214.

Footnote 69:

  Without pausing to discuss whether this is “tooth” or “tongue,” it is,
  at any rate, a serpentine trait, as may readily be seen by comparison
  with many serpents pictured in the Codices. I may add that Professor
  Cyrus Thomas writes me that he also considers the “long-nosed god” to
  be Itzamna.

Footnote 70:

  The phrase of Cogolludo is: “con dientes muy disformes.” The name
  _Lakin Chan_, is in the Tzental dialect. The Maya would be _Likin
  can_; though _lakin_, east, appears in the “Books of Chilan Balam.”

Footnote 71:

  _Caluac_ is from _calacal_, “cosa muy agujerada” (_Dicc. Motul_). The
  mayordomo was called _ah caluac_, the baton being his staff of office.
  Landa omits the prefix by mistake, _Rel. de Yucatan_, p. 40. It is
  well shown on a later page.

Footnote 72:

  Waldeck, _Voyage Pittoresque dans l’Yucatan_, pp. 37, 74, etc. (Paris,
  1838.) This writer recognized the tapir snout on various masks and
  statues at Palenque, and adds that he found the animal still venerated
  by the natives. Dr. Seler does not mention Waldeck’s remarks, but
  extends the identification to the figures in the codices. _Zeitschrift
  für Ethnologie_, 1888.

Footnote 73:

  On the symbolism of the tapir see the erudite remarks of Don Alfredo
  Chavero in the _Antiguedades Mexicanas publicadas por la Junta
  Colombina de Mexico_,—Texto, p. xxxv (Mexico, 1892).

Footnote 74:

  _Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan_, p. 109 (Madrid Edition).

Footnote 75:

  In the _American Anthropologist_, July, 1894, Mr. J. Walter Fewkes
  devotes an article to what he calls “the long-nosed god” in the
  Cortesian Codex (Itzamna). He does not mention the similarity of the
  nose to the snout of the tapir, and his conclusion is that it is a
  “snake rain god,” “probably Cuculcan,” “parallel with Tlaloc.” He
  thinks the heads portrayed in the Codices are “masks or ceremonial
  helmets.” It is needless to point out the divergence between his
  opinions and mine on these points.

Footnote 76:

  Landa: _Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan_, p. 87.

Footnote 77:

  The name has various orthographies; that which I here adopt appears to
  have most in its favor. It is a compound of _cucul_, covered (_i. e._,
  with feathers), and _can_, snake; (_cucul_ also means “revolving”).

Footnote 78:

  Examples are frequent; a good one is Cod. Tro., p. 24*_a_. Not to be
  confounded with the _moan_ hairs around the mouth, nor with the chin
  beard of the black monkey.

Footnote 79:

  Space does not permit me to enter into the symbolism and myths
  connected with “the feathered serpent” of Central American mythology.
  Mr. Fewkes has argued that it also extended to the Pueblo tribes, and
  traces may be found still further north. See Fewkes, in _American
  Anthropologist_, July, 1893.

Footnote 80:

  Father Lara, in his _Vocabulario Tzental_, MS., gives the name of one
  variety of bee as _xanab xux_; in Maya, _xux_ is usually translated
  “wasp,” “abispa brava.” As a radical, it seems to mean “to go or sink
  slowly into something.”

Footnote 81:

  The two bees, one waking, one sleeping, Cod. Tro. 33*, are placed
  between signs representing the winds.

Footnote 82:

  The word _cab_ has various meanings: a bee; a bee-hive; honey; the red
  or white clay with which potters painted their jars; strength or
  power; town, place, or world; short or low; down, downward, or below
  (all given in the _Dicc. de Motul_).

Footnote 83:

  “Thus it is that are named, sung, and celebrated those who are the
  grandmother and grandfather, whose name is Xpiyacoc, Xmucane,
  preserver, protector, twofold grandmother, twofold grandfather. * * *
  They alone, the Maker, the Former, the Ruler, the Serpent clothed in
  feathers, They who beget, They who impart life, They rest upon the
  waters like a growing light. They are clothed in color green and blue.
  Therefore their name is _Gucumatz_, ‘Feathered Serpent.’” _Popol Vuh_,
  pp. 4, 6.

Footnote 84:

  The root _muc_, in all the Mayan dialects, also means “to cover over,
  to hide, to bury.” The word _mucul_ (“that which is disappearing”) is
  applied to the moon when in the wane (luna menguante).

Footnote 85:

  See Crescencio Carrillo, in _Anales del Museo Nacional de Mexico_,
  Tomo III, and Dr. Boas, in _Proceedings of the American Antiquarian
  Society_ for 1890, pp. 350–357; the _Dic. Motul_ gives the Maya word
  for one with head thus flattened, “_pechhec hol_, el de cabeza chata.”
  Landa, _Cosas de Yucatan_, cap. XXX, speaks of the custom.

Footnote 86:

  Former students have been unable to explain this design. It is also
  found in Mexican pictography, as Cod. Vien., pp. 20, 22.

Footnote 87:

  In Cod. Tro., p. 29*, et seq., the black god has a girdle, to which
  are attached the leg and claw of a scorpion. The name of the large
  black scorpion in Maya is _ek chuh_, literally “the black scorcher.”
  Dr. Seler appositely suggests that this may be a rebus for the name of
  the god.

Footnote 88:

  “En figura de feroz negro, como una imagen de esculptura, con los
  miembros de hombre. * * * Fué gran guerreador y crudelissimo. * * *
  Quiere decir negro principal, ó Señor de los negros.” Nuñez de la
  Vega: _Constituciones Diocesanas_, p. 9; _Carta Pastoral_, IX. (Rome,

Footnote 89:

  “En muchos pueblos de las provincias de este obispado tienen pintados
  en sus Repertorios ó Calendarios siete negritos para hacer
  divinacionès y prognosticos correspondientes à los siete dias de la
  semana, comenzandola por el viernes à contar.” Nuñez de la Vega:
  _Constituciones Diocesanas_, p. 9.

Footnote 90:

  I add the following definitions: “MAI, polvillo que sale del tabaco,
  etc., cuando le tratan con las manos. MAAY, espuma del palo que se
  quema. BOLON MAYEL, qualquier olor suavissimo y transcendente.”
  _Bolon_, nine, in the last word is used in Maya as an expression of
  admiration. (See p. 25.) The term is from Landa, _Cosas de Yucatan_,
  c. 7.

Footnote 91:

  Among feminine forms I find _ix-bouat_, prophetess; _ix-cunal than_,

Footnote 92:

  The _Dicc. Motul_ gives: _Ah-koh keuel_, for the wizard wearing a mask
  and clothed in the skin of the jaguar.

Footnote 93:

  See _The Native Calendar of Central America and Mexico_, p. 5.

Footnote 94:

  My count does not agree entirely with that of other observers (Fewkes,
  Schellhas). I have limited my identifications to such figures as
  seemed to me beyond reasonable doubt.

Footnote 95:

  There may be here an ikonomatic allusion, or play on words. The word
  _pek_, dog, is close to _pec_, to sound, to make a noise, which was
  used for the thunder, as in the current phrase _pecni caan_, “the sky
  rang” (sonó el cielo, _Dicc. Motul_).

Footnote 96:

  In Spanish, _bujarro_. The _Dicc. Motul_ says of it, _sub voce, coz_,
  “ave de rapina; coge gallinas y grita como muchachos.”

Footnote 97:

  Some writers have thought that the _moan_ bird was a mythical animal;
  but Dr. C. H. Berendt found the name still applied to the falcon. In
  the form _muyan_, it is akin in sound to _muyal_, cloud, _moan_,
  cloudy; which may account for its adoption as a symbol of the rains,

Footnote 98:

  Förstemann, _Entzifferung_, No. III.

Footnote 99:

  _Relacion de la Villa de Valladolid_ (1579), cap. 14.

Footnote 100:

  These are described at length by Landa, and their representations in
  the Codices have been explained by Thomas in his _Manuscript Troano_.

                       IV. The Graphic Elements.

Having made this satisfactory progress in explaining the numeral and the
pictorial portions of the Codices, we are well prepared to approach the
more difficult part of our task, the interpretations of the hieroglyphs

Fortunately, an even superficial inspection of the manuscripts shows us
that we are not without material aids to this end. It is clear that many
of the hieroglyphs are those of the twenty days and the eighteen months
of the Maya year, which are preserved to us in the work of Bishop Landa;
others, again, by their arrangement, must be connected with the cardinal
points; and others suggest, by their appearance and disposition, that
they portray the celestial bodies, the sun, moon, and stars; others are
in the columns of numerals, and must have numerical values; and others
are so related to the pictures that they are plainly a repetition of
them in a partial and conventional manner, as the written characters for
divinities, which are usually merely the head of the divinity more or
less cursively expressed.

         1. _The Direction in which the Glyphs are to be read._

The first step in the decipherment of any inscription is to ascertain
the direction in which it is to be read.

In my earliest essay on this subject,[101] I stated that whatever the
prevailing rule in this respect might have been, the native artists had
no hesitation in disregarding it, when artistic or other reasons
presented themselves. This is the conclusion which has since been
arrived at by conservative later students. I shall have numerous
illustrations of it to offer in the following pages. Most of the
diversity in this respect was not capricious, however, but in accordance
with rules, some of which have been ascertained.

Three points in this connection will immediately attract the attention
of the student. The movement of the principal figures in the records,
both manuscript and mural, is generally from right to left; the main
portion of the composite characters are drawn on the right, and the
minor portions or affixes are added on the left;[102] and in placing
numerals on a line, the upright strokes which mean the fives are placed
to the right, and the dots which mean units less than five are placed to
the left. These facts look as if the lines were _written_ from right to
left. The general opinion, however, is that expressed by Pousse and by
Thomas, that the characters when arranged in lines are to be read from
left to right, and when in columns from top to bottom.[103] That this
rule does not hold good in a number of instances, as I shall show, need
not surprise us, as precisely the same uncertainty in the arrangement is
found in the Mexican picture-writing, as Chavero has pointed out,[104]
and exists to-day in the manuscripts of the Tuaregs of the Sahara.[105]
Dr. Förstemann has shown conclusively that the numerical elements in the
long computations to which I have referred (above p. 30) are to be read
from below upward and from right to left.[106]

Great aid in settling this question in any given instance can be
obtained by a close examination of the _rubrication_ of the manuscript.
The native scribe, before he filled in the glyphs or letters, divided
his sheet into small compartments by faint red lines, bounding as it
were the different sentences or paragraphs he intended to set down. Each
such sentence consists usually of four or six characters, arranged
either in a column or in a square, the whole of which may be called a
“cartouche.” The following diagram illustrates the manner in which the
separate glyphs are to be read in ordinary cases:—

  │   _a_    │   _a_        _b_    │   _a_        _b_    │   _a_    │
  │          │                     │                     │          │
  │   _b_    │   _c_        _d_    │   _c_        _d_    │   _b_    │
  │          ├─────────────────────┴─────────────────────┤          │
  │   _c_    │                                           │   _c_    │
  │          │                                           │          │
  │   _d_    │       picture               picture       │   _d_    │
  └──────────┘                                           └──────────┘

Without the aid of the rubrics, from an independent study of the
characters themselves, M. Pousse demonstrated that this is a necessary
arrangement of the majority of the written passages.[107]

The signs for the days are usually placed in columns on the left of the
groups of hieroglyphic characters, the numeral belonging to each being
inscribed above it; while immediately below the groups are numerals in
black and red, generally indicating certain days. This disposition of
the elements of the writing shows that it was intended for a
“time-count,” as I have before stated. For the somewhat voluminous
analysis of the Codices in this direction, the reader is referred to the
works of Förstemann and Thomas, who have paid fruitful attention to this

                    2. _Composition of the Glyphs._

I have already stated, p. 10, that the main elements of the Mayan
hieroglyphic writing are not numerous. The apparent complexity of many
of the glyphs arises from the combination of a number of frequently
recurring elements which are placed in different positions and
relations, and each of which has many variant forms, dependent on the
degree of skill or care of the scribe or sculptor, and the material
which he used for the record.

Usually each glyph or katun consists of one main element with a number
of others drawn in or around it, which are generally known as “affixes.”
An element within another is called an “infix;” placed in front of it, a
“prefix;” behind it, a “suffix” or “postfix;” above it, a “superfix;”
and below it, a “subfix.” The same element will often be found first in
one and then in another of these positions; and a certain class of
elements are employed as affixes only. I shall refer to the single
elements as “simple characters,” and to the complex glyphs as “composite

             3. _The Proper Method of Studying the Glyphs._

The proper method to adopt in studying composite characters is first
carefully to separate them into the simple characters of which they are
composed, noting the relative positions of these.

The next step is vitally important and often most difficult. It is to
determine what visible objects these simple characters were intended to
represent. They are often so conventionalized or so negligently sketched
that the most careful students have reached absurdly different opinions
as to what they were designed to portray.[108]

This identification accomplished, the student should proceed to
ascertain the name of the object in the Maya language; because, though
it may be employed as pure ideogram in one connection, in another it may
be used for its phonetic value according to the “ikonomatic,” or rebus
method, as I have above explained, and instances of which I give in
these pages. I do not believe that a further phonetic analysis—that to
the isolation of distinct alphabetic elements—as has been pursued by a
number of writers already referred to, is justified by the nature of the
Maya script, or will yield useful results.

             4. _An Analysis of Various Graphic Elements._

I shall now proceed, in the manner above described, to examine a number
of simple and composite characters, not by any means exhausting the
stock, but rather merely offering suggestions and examples for future
students. In their application it must always be remembered that any
Maya character may be employed in either of three values: 1, As an
ideogram; 2, as a rebus; 3, as an astronomical or numerical sign.

[Illustration: FIG. 31.—The Hand.]

The _hand_ contributes to some of the most numerous hieroglyphs in the
Mayan writing; and the significant poses assigned it in the pictures and
statues prove how expressive it was to this people.

The forms presented in Fig. 30 by no means exhaust its delineations.
They are drawn from gesture-speech and each is significant. No. 1, from
the Cod. Cort., is the usual sign “to give;” No. 2, from the Cod. Tro.,
shows it in hasty writing; No. 3 is the hand closing (“la main qui se
ferme,” Brasseur). It is the sign for the day _manik_, and is explained
by Dr. Seler, “to eat;” but I take it to be the rebus for _mach_, “to
grasp” (“asir, tomar con las manos,” _Dic. Motul_). No. 4, the hand
closed, thumb downward (_pollice verso_), has probably an inauspicious
significance (very common, _e. g._, Cod. Per., pp. 2, 3, 6, 7); No. 5 is
the “supporting hand” (very frequent, usually in composition); No. 6 is
intended to show the hand, palm upward, forming a cup (Cod. Dres., p.
40, Cod. Tro., p. 21),—it would signify “offering;” No. 6½, from the
stelæ of Copan, must mean union or friendship. The two hands held as No.
7 occur repeatedly in Cod. Dres., pp. 6, 7, in the Tro. and Cort. often
thus, [Illustration], to which Thomas, by means of his “key,” assigns
the wonderful meaning, “a meat pie”! Nos. 8 and 9 are explained by Seler
as the supporting hand; No. 10 shows the hand and arm pointing; No. 12,
Cod. Tro., 30, 31, is the index finger extended; No. 11, Cort., p. 28,
shows the closed hand as a suffix to the sign _ik_.[109]

Phonetically the hand is _kab_, which also means “arm, finger, juice,
sap, tears;” and as a rebus it could stand for _kaba_, name.

By some writers all the signs, Fig. 32 are supposed to represent the
_eye_. Nos. 1 and 2 may also stand for a tooth, and for the small bells
worn as ornaments. No. 3 has been called the “weeping eye,” and by
Brasseur “une hache;” but I take it to be the space within the closing
hand (Figs. 31, No. 3). No. 4 shows the eyelashes of the closed eye, and
signifies sleep or death. No. 5 is the “ornamented” or “serpent” eye,
and, according to Thomas, is the characteristic of a deity. Nos. 6 and 8
are supposed by Seler to be the eye torn out. They are extremely common
affixes. Schellhas explains No. 6 as “the head and creeping foot of a
snail.” I am persuaded that it is a bird’s wing, or the chief feather of
a wing, and means “superior,” “supremacy,” or something of that
kind.[110] For that reason it always appears in the sign of Kin ich
ahau. No. 8 I regard also as copied from a feather ornament.[111] No. 7,
called by Seler the “bleeding eye,” I take to be a sign for stars.

[Illustration: FIG. 32.—The Eye and Similar Figures.]

In Maya, _ich_, the eye, also means “face” and “twins.”

The design, Fig. 33, No. 1, abundant in the Codices and on the stone and
ceramic remains, shows eyes, but is believed by Förstemann to represent
the planet Venus, and to be a variant of Fig. 37, No. 4. Seler thinks it
an ornamental _kin_ (see Fig. 36). It is carved on the great tortoise of
Copan, and Nos. 2, 3, and 4 are from the pottery of that city, on which
it is the most common glyph I have noted. In No. 5, from Cod. Dres., p.
57, it is postfixed to a human figure reversed. Brasseur explains it as
“the spectacles of Tezcatlipoca,” and for a name, we may call it “the
spectacles glyph.”

[Illustration: FIG. 33.—The “Spectacles.”]

[Illustration: FIG. 34.—The Ear.]

The human _ear_ has been represented by No. 2, Fig. 34, as has been
proved by de Rosny and Thomas. No. 1 (Cod. Cort., p. 16) is either an
ear or an ear ornament. It is not the ordinary ear-ring, which is
clearly shown in Figs. 12, 17, etc. This latter is often used as an
affix, and has been confused with the serpent rattle, and with No. 3,
which is the lower jaw bone, _cham_ or _camach_. (See Cod. Cort., pp.
35, 36, etc.)

The ear is _xicin_, which also means “shell.” Ear-rings are _tup_, a
word which as a verb signifies “to stop up, to cover over, to

The group of signs, Fig. 35, beginning with a person seated, are, in the
opinion of Seler, all derivatives from “man.” Nos. 2, 3, and 4 he calls
“eyes,” and Nos. 5–11 outlines of the mouth, jaws, and face, with a
general value, “person.” Other suggestions are, that the crescentic
outlines, Nos. 6, 7, 11, refer to a crescent moon, or an ear
(Schellhas), or to a serpent’s mouth (Allen); while No. 10 may be an eye
and eyelashes (Allen), a comb (Valentini), a claw, a feather, part of a
plant, etc. It may be called the “comb sign.”[113]

[Illustration: FIG. 35.—Crescentic Signs.]

My belief is that some of these affixes show the necklace on which beads
and precious stones were strung. This was called _u_, which is also the
word for moon, and in sound is akin to _uil_, food.[114]

By the latter fact I would explain the frequent appearance of this sign
[Illustration] on the neck of vases and on haunches of venison (Cod.
Tro. 22, etc.). The picture of a necklace shown in the _Lienzo de
Tlascala_, p. 7, will demonstrate how close is the resemblance. That in
Landa’s alphabet (see above, p. 15) this sign is given for _u_, confirms
my supposition.

[Illustration: FIG. 36.—Sun and Moon Signs.]

The hieroglyphs of the _sun_, Fig. 36, Nos. 1 and 2, cannot be mistaken.
In the latter, the four teeth indicate the biting heat. This design
often occurs on war shields. No. 1 is that usually employed in
composition. The word for sun is _kin_, which has the further meanings,
“day, light, festival, time, news, to rule;” from it are derived
_kinal_, “heat, hot;” _kinam_, “strength, bravery, power, poison, fear,
veneration;” _ah-kin_, “a priest,” etc. The _kin_ sign usually indicates
a beneficent divinity.

The third sign in Fig. 36 is that for moon (Schellhas). Dr. Seler,
however, claims that it is the symbol of “night,” and that where it
means 20 (see above, p. 21), it is not derived from _u_, moon, but from
_uinic_, man. He explains the figure as a human head with a “bleeding
eye,” and bare teeth.

In all these points I think he is in error. Maya grammar does not
authorize the derivation of _uinal_ from _uinic_ (in which Seler follows
Brasseur); but it may come from _u_, month, _uin_ or _uen_, “relating to
a month.” His statement that the 20–day period was not spoken of as an
_uinal_, is disproved by Landa, who calls it _uinal hun ekeh_, “a dark
month,” to distinguish it from one lighted by the moon. A close
examination of most of the drawings will show that the line on which the
supposed bare teeth are shown is not that of the mouth, but that of the
necklace above mentioned, which has the value _u_. Cf. Fig. 3, No. 3.

No. 1, Fig. 37, I introduce from Mexican pictography; it is the sacred
green jade jewel, the _xihuitl_, meaning “precious, divine.” By it I
explain the very common No. 2, a modification either of it or of the
_kin_ sign, constantly associated with deities (on the hand, Cod. Dres.,
p. 21; on the leg, id., 12; on the back, id., 39; and always on the
head-dress of the God of Growth).

[Illustration: FIG. 37.—Supposed Derivatives of the Sun Sign.]

No. 3 may be a modification of the _kin_. It is given in Landa’s
alphabet, where it stands for _be_, footprints. It may also be the
stones of the hearth, and signify “house.” As a “directive sign,” it
stands for the point south, and the color yellow; and it appears as an
occasional variant of the day-signs _lamat_, _muluc_, and _chuen_.

No. 4 is thought by Seler to be merely an ornamental form of the _kin_
sign; but by Förstemann is taken for the monogram of the planet Venus,
at least in the Cod. Dres., where it is very frequent on pp. 46–50. It
is repeated with slight variations on the Copan pottery.

[Illustration: FIG. 38.—The Knife Signs.]

The flint knife was an important implement. Landa speaks of the numerous
large ones kept by the priests for slaughtering their victims.[115] They
were called _ta_, and _licil dzicil_; in Tzental, _chinax_, from _chi_,
to bite. Fig. 38, Nos. 1, 2, and 4, show the usual forms in which they
are drawn, the small squares at the end being the biting edges. No. 3,
surmounted by the “trinal” sign, refers probably to lightning. No. 6 is
a rare sign for a dog, showing his biting teeth (Cod. Tro., p. 25). The
flint knife typifies sacrifice, death, war, the East, and fire. As a
rebus, it could stand for _ta_, excrement; _tah_, a dramatic
representation, etc.

No. 5 is a very common affix. It has been regarded as a variant of the
knife (Seler, etc). But it is too constantly distinguished from it to
have this meaning. I consider it the sacred bean, with which divination
was practiced and lots cast. This was called _bul_, a word which, as an
affix, means “all,” the whole of anything, as _bulkin_, “the whole day.”
This may suggest its signification.

[Illustration: FIG. 39.—The “Fish and Oyster” Sign.]

The curious objects in Fig. 39 were long a puzzle to me, and have not
been explained by previous writers. I believe them to be representations
of the food products of the sea, showing a fish and two shellfish. My
reasons for this are that in Cod. Dres., p. 34, they are seen along with
other food-offerings (see Fig. 30); in some places the fish tail is
unmistakeable (Cod. Dres., pp. 6, 7, 36); in Cod. Cort., pp. 20, 21,
they are associated with a fishing bird,—a pelican or cormorant; in Cod.
Dres., p. 50, the two shells are replaced by one conch shell; and in
Cod. Dres., p. 67, a fish and two shells are painted separately, to
represent food from the sea. The two shells are often seen in other
relations, as sprinkled with blood (Cod. Tro., p. 18*), and as an affix
(see Fig. 31, No. 10). I shall refer to this as the “fish and oyster”

Shells had a peculiar sacredness in Maya symbolism. The robes of some of
the priests were bordered with them.[116]

[Illustration: FIG. 40.—The Sacred Food-Offerings.]

Some other sacred food-offerings are shown in Fig. 40. The first is the
haunch of venison tied up (identified as such by Brasseur); the second
is the fish, here shown with a subfix; the third is the wild turkey,
represented by his head in a dish. Another is the iguana (see p. 122,
No. 14); and a fifth is the object shown on p. 122, No. 12. It has been
explained as a grain of corn sprouting from the ground, or a mole
emerging from its hole (Schellhas). The true explanation is that of
Brasseur, that it portrays the forequarter and head of a food-animal,
tied up. He does not specify what animal, but in some of the drawings I
distinctly recognize the dog, with his sharp teeth, the species raised
by the Mayas to be eaten on festival occasions, as stated by Landa.[117]

[Illustration: FIG. 41.—The _ben-ik_ and other Signs.]

Nos. 1 and 2, Fig. 41, are variants of an element often occurring with a
_ben-ik_ superfix. Dr. Seler, who is apt to see gory human heads
everywhere, thinks it is one carried in a sling and means “conquered in

Dr. Förstemann, with greater probability, considers that it symbolizes
an astronomical event connected with the motions of the sun. (See the
significant designs, Cod. Tro., 28* _b_.)

The _ben-ik_ sign referred to is rendered by Seler to mean conquest and
destruction; by Förstemann, astronomically, as the lunar month of 29
days; in a general sense, I would say, “strength and deific power.” It
is a very constant association of the two day-signs so named, _ben_
giving the idea of motion, and _ik_ of life and power.

In No. 3 is a long worm-like figure under the _ben-ik_ sign. Brasseur
pointed out that it is a variant of the day-sign _men_, and explained it
as a caterpillar (_chenille_). Seler speaks of it as an eagle, and as a
symbol of “mother earth;” Schellhas, as perhaps the serpent goddess. It
sometimes is drawn to have a fish-like appearance (Cod. Per., p. 7), and
may symbolize the waters; the more so as it has occasionally as a
superfix the “cloud-balls.”

No. 4 is explained by Brasseur as the girdle, _xoc_, around the body;
and I prefer this to later suggestions. A similar design was the tress
of hair, _kax pol_ or _kaaxi_, worn by women (see Cod. Tro., p. 27; Cod.
Dres., p. 45). Its signification would seem to be “to tie together, to
join,” or, as a rebus, “rain, to rain,” for _kaxala_ (llover, y la

[Illustration: FIG. 42.—The Drum Signs.]

No more prominent hieroglyph than No. 1, Fig. 42, can be found in the
Mayan inscriptions, and none which has proved such a stumbling block to
interpreters. Valentini has called it the picture of a censer or
brazier; de Rosny thought it a variant of the _ahau_ sign; Dr. Seler
explained it as a precious stone; and Thomas as “a stone heap!” It is
the upper figure in the “Initial Series” of glyphs at Palenque, Copan,
Quirigua, etc. (see above, p. 24), and recurs with but slight variations
in all the Codices.

I first announced what it represents and its signification at the
meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science,
August, 1894.[118] It is the picture of a _drum_, the large variety,
made of the hollow trunk of a tree resting upon short feet, the trunk
being sawed across partly through so as to give two vibrating surfaces,
which were often decorated with cross-hatching. Such drums are described
by the early Spanish writers, and one is shown in the Atlas to Duran’s
History.[119] Their sound could be heard for two leagues, and they were
important adjuvants in the services in the temples.

In the hieroglyphics the significance of this design is primarily
phonetic. The name of this particular kind of drum was _pax che_, from
_pax_, musical instrument, and _che_, wooden; a large one was _bolon pax
che_, the word _bolon_, nine, being a superlative prefix in Maya.
Employed according to the ikonomatic method, this expressed the word
_paxan_, a very common term in Maya, meaning “it is finished,” and
applied to anything completed, ended, or destroyed, in a good or bad
sense.[120] This is why in the numeral signs it marks the end of a
series (see above, p. 22), and in the so-called “Initial Series” (which
I believe to be terminal), it surmounts and thus closes (reading from
below upward) the rows of computation signs. For the same reason it is
the support of the figure representing the dying year in the ceremonies
at its termination (Cod. Tro., pp. 20–24), and is often associated with
the deities of old age, destruction, and death.

Several other varieties of drums were in use among the Mayas. That shown
Fig. 42 No. 2, is noteworthy. It is the _dzacatan_ (Berendt), or
medicine-drum (from _dzacah_, to cure, to practice medicine). It was
used in the sacred ceremonies (see Fig. 30), and Itzamna is portrayed
playing upon one (Cod. Dres., p. 34). Its representations in the Codices
are peculiar, and have been entirely misunderstood by previous writers.
I show them in Fig. 43, Nos. 1, 2, 3. In a more highly conventionalized
form we find them in the Cod. Troano, thus: [Illustration] which has
been explained by Pousse, Thomas, and others, as making fire or as
grinding paint. It is obviously the _dzacatan_, what I have called the
“pottery decoration” (see p. 58) around the figures, showing that the
body of the drum was of earthenware.

Fig. 42, No. 3 shows the ordinary hand drum, the _huehuetl_ of the
Mexicans. Its name in Maya is _tunkul_, properly _tankul_, which means
either “before the gods,” or “now one worships” (ahora se adora, Baeza.)
It was either of wood and was struck with a stick; or of pottery with a
skin stretched over its mouth, when the sound was produced by the
fingers. Some were large and stood upright, as shown in Fig. 43.[121]
Representations of these are common in the Codices, and have generally
been mistaken for vases. (See Cod. Cort., p. 27.) Even Nos. 4 and 5,
Fig. 44, are probably some such musical instruments. (See Cod. Cort.,
pp. 12, 30, 31.)

[Illustration: FIG. 43.—A Standing Drum. (From the Cortesian Codex.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 44.—Graphic Delineations of Drums.]

[Illustration: FIG. 45.—The _yax_ and other Feather Signs.]

Few glyphs are more frequent than No. 1, Fig. 45, either alone or in
such combinations as Nos. 2 and 3. The guesses as to what it represents
have been singularly divergent. Brasseur said, a kind of gourd; Seler, a
tree; Schellhas, the zapote; Rosny and Förstemann, the phallus, etc.

None of these suggestions seems to me tenable. I believe it represents a
common feather decoration made of short green or blue feathers, attached
to a style or staff. It is frequent on Mexican and Maya figures, and in
No. 4, Fig. 45, I copy one from a Maya war dress. The lower portion
represents the ornament to which I allude. It was called _yax kukul_,
and this gives the phonetic rebus value of the sign, which is _yax_,
green, and (metaphorically) new, young, fresh, strong, virile, etc.


Care must be taken not to confound this with the character seen in the
sign of the dog (see p. 70), which really represents the ribs and
breast-bone, although called a “phallus” by Rosny, an “article of food”
by Thomas, a “breastplate” by Allen, and a “vertebral column” by

The three feathers which surmounted the _yax kukul_, as shown in No. 4,
Fig. 45, also developed in the hieroglyphs to an important sign. It is
shown in Fig. 46, No. 1, and is the uppermost sign in the “Initial
glyph” of Palenque (see p. 137) and was a mark of eminent distinction.
(See Fig. 47, No. 2.)

These three feathers indicated in Maya symbolism the highest place and
power. They appear on the head of the important statue unearthed by Dr.
Le Plongeon at Chichen Itza, which he calls “Chac Mool,” in the form
given Fig. 46, No. 2. Three was a sacred number with the Mayas, and with
this in mind I shall refer to it as the “trinal” sign.

[Illustration: FIG. 46.—The “Trinal” Feather Emblem.]

In Mexican writing the three feathers appear in the ikonomatic sign for
_tecpan_, royal, in the _Lienzo de Tlascala_, pp. 56, 57, 78. As feather
in Maya is _kukum_, which is allied in sound to _ku_, god, _kul_,
divine, etc., we see what an appropriate rebus the “trinal” makes.

Rounded figures, identified by Seler as “feather balls,” are sometimes
portrayed above the _men_, or “Mother Earth” sign, and in other
relations. See Cod. Peres., p. 7, for a good example.

[Illustration: FIG. 47.—The “Cross-hatched” Signs.]

A number of drawings in the Codices represent textile materials—mats,
cotton cloth, wicker-work, etc. That Fig. 47, No. 1 is frequent, both as
an affix and as part of costume. Thomas calls it a trellis or lattice
work; Seler, an imitation of a snake skin; Förstemann, of the shell of a
tortoise. In some places it is clearly a part of a helmet made of
interlaced and twisted cords attached to a frame. (See Cod. Tro., pp. 2,
3, 6, 19, 22*, 23*.)[123] In Nos. 2 and 3 it appears as a written
character with superfixes. It forms part of the sign of the day
_chicchan_, and is attached to the sign of the sun and of the world.

This cross-hatching I regard as showing woven stuff, or that twisted,
knotted, and plaited; and I consider its value when used phonetically to
be “strong, mighty,” because the word for “strong” in Maya is _chich_,
and that for twisting and interlacing cords is _chich-kuch_,—again a
simple rebus.[124]

The designs, on p. 129, are supposed by Seler and Thomas to represent a
house, the roof of which is indicated by the cross-hatched or plaited
objects, [Illustration] and [Illustration]. I regard them as meaning a
_canopy_, the practical and symbolic uses of which article are often
referred to by the early visitors to these tribes.[125]

In Fig. 48, No. 1, I give a frequent postfix. In the pictures it
portrays the wing of a bird, the foot of an animal, the claw of a
reptile or insect, or the tail of a dog (Cod. Tro., p. 27).

No. 2 is the conventional sign for _smoke_, as may be seen in Cod. Tro.,
pp. 5*, 6*, etc.

No. 3 is called by Seler an ideogram for “man” or “person.”

[Illustration: FIG. 48.—Some Linear Signs and Dots.]

[Illustration: FIG. 49.—The Use of Dots.]

No. 4 I introduce from the Mexican pictography to illustrate the use of
black dots. They have many significations which I have not traced in
Mayan Codices, such as seed, salt, ashes, stars, sand, earth, and from
the latter, place, region, world.[126] In the sign for the day, _ix_, I
believe we see the dots with the signification _xiix_, “grain-husks.” A
line or lines of dots mean “speech” or vocal sound, as attached to the
drum, Fig. 44, No. 3; coming from the mouth of a dog, Cod. Tro., p. 20,
singing, etc. Some have mistaken this for the sign of death. Dots in
Maya are _ua_ or _ual_, akin in sound to _u_, month, _uil_, food, and
may be allusive for these ideas.

The _kan_ and _imix_ signs are often associated under two superfixes
enclosing dots, as in Fig. 49, No. 1. These have been interpreted by
Seler to indicate copal gum, or the burning of incense. The sign is
associated with various deities, especially those of a beneficent

The same objects, however, occur elsewhere as superfixes over various
glyphs, as Fig. 49, No. 2, where it is not easy to assign them any such

[Illustration: FIG. 50.—Linear Prefixes.]

Modifications of Fig. 50, No. 1 are quite frequent. This sign has had
various explanations, as typifying fire, lightning, or wind (Seler,
Schellhas); but I believe it represents divine or magical power exerted
by blowing. As I have explained in my _Nagualism_, “the act of blowing
was the essential feature in the practice of the ‘medicine men.’ It
symbolized the exercise and transfer of spiritual power.”[127] Where the
deity is portrayed with this addition, he is in the act of exerting his
divine influence. For examples, see the “bee god,” in Cod. Tro., pp. 5*
and 10*, where the head is as in No. 2; and the scorpion, in Cod. Tro.,
p. 2, precisely like one in the Cod. Porfirio Diaz, lam. I. At times it
also conveys the idea of speech, or vocal sound, or that from a drum,
etc., _e. g._, Fig. 44, No. 3.

No. 3 represents the usual mode of portraying the antennæ of scorpions,
insects, etc., of interest because the word for these in Maya, _matzab_,
also means the rays of the sun and of light, and the figure might so be

Dr. Förstemann believes that the circle of dots, as in the lower portion
of No. 2, means “movement or precession;” as in Cod. Dres., p. 68. The
[Illustration] sign is so surrounded, indicating the junction of two
time-periods; or, as others would say, the crooked lightning darting
from the sky.

[Illustration: FIG. 51.—The “Cloud-Balls” and the “Cork-screw Curl.”]

In Fig. 51, Nos. 1 and 2, copied from the great tortoise of Copan, show
the rain-clouds as conceived by the native artist. In the Codices they
are seen in the day-sign _cauac_; and elsewhere. An almost identical
conception appears in the pictography of the northern tribes.[128] Seler
speaks of them as _Wolkenballen_, “cloud-balls,” an appropriate name for
the element.

[Illustration: FIG. 52.—Symbols for the Earth.]

No. 3 has been explained by Thomas and Seler as the portrayal of
trickling fluid; or, again, by the latter, as a “nose ornament.” Dr.
Schellhas first saw its real intention. It is a picture of a twisted
lock of hair, or “cork-screw curl,” worn by the Maya women. It appears
in the monograms of various goddesses. Ideographically it has two
meanings, one, woman or female; the other, down or downward; either from
its name (which we do not know), or because it hangs downward. In the
latter sense, it is in the hieroglyph of the Earth, as that which is
down or below us, Fig. 52; although, as the Earth is the feminine
principle in nature,—Mother Earth,—I would suggest that this is the
intimation conveyed by the sign.

[Illustration: FIG. 53.—Signs for Union.]

No. 1, Fig. 53, occurs with great frequency. Allen explains it as “the
radical of the mouth,” others as “falling water,” etc., but I accept
without hesitation Brasseur’s identification of it as the side view of
the joint of a reed or maize stalk, with the meaning “union.” In the
writing it is probably among other things the conjunctive conjunction,
_yetal_, “and,” which explains its frequency. It is common in the form
No. 2, in the Vienna Codex, signifying the union of day series (pp. 58,
61, 64, etc.); it may imply sexual union, as in the “Tableau des Bacabs”
(see above, p. 50.)

[Illustration: FIG. 54.—The Knotted Head Dress.]

Other signs for union are No. 3, which is a knotted head-dress common on
males, and No. 4, from the Cod. Troano, p. 5, which perhaps indicates
the union of two month periods, or the new and old moons, in relation.
The middle design between the two crescents is frequent as an affix (_e.
g._, Cod. Tro., p. 7, etc.).

[Illustration: FIG. 55.—The “Tree of Life.”]

I have already hinted at the significance of the “tree of life” in Mayan
mythology. It is shown in the Codices under two forms, Fig. 55, Nos. 1
and 2. In the former it seems to be growing from a bottle-shaped vase.
The leaves (omitted in this instance) are well shown in Cod. Tro., p.
17*. They are cordate and pendent.

No. 2 is taken from the Cod. Peres., p. 3; it beautifully shows the
sacred tree, here distinctly anthropomorphic,[129] in the vase of the
heavenly waters, lifting its fourfold branches. In the original, the god
of the north star is resting upon them. Usually the tree is associated
with Itzamna. Both forms are frequent in the Mexican manuscripts, and
the myths relating to them have been subjects of study by various

[Illustration: FIG. 56.—The “Machete” and Similar Signs.]

Forms like Nos. 1 and 2, Fig. 56, and perhaps No. 3, are usually taken
to represent a chopper or _machete_. The representation of this weapon
or implement is seen in Cod. Tro., p. 17, where a man is killing a snake
with one. In the conventional and negligent manner in which these
characters are often written, it is not easy to distinguish them from
others of different origin and meaning. Nos. 2 and 3 may be feather
signs. Seler explains the machete as the symbol of striking or wounding
(“Ausdruck des Schlagens”).

[Illustration: FIG. 57.—Supposed Bird Signs.]

Characters like the above recur in all the forms of writing. No. 1 has
been called by Seler the representation of “man,” but this is doubtful.
It may be a variant of No. 2, which is a “closing hand” from Fig. 31,
No. 3. Nos. 3 and 4, from Copan and Guatemalan pottery, follow closely
the Codices. With a “comb affix,” Förstemann calls No. 4 “a well-known
form of _moan_,” meaning the Pleiades (_Entziff._ IV); while Dr. Seler
explains it as an owl symbol. The design enclosed is held to depict the
bill of a bird.

The “Crotalean curve,” the outline of the jaws of the rattlesnake,
_Crotalus horridus_, has been dwelt upon with emphasis by Allen and
Maudslay as one of the most notable emblems in Maya art.[131] Fig. 58,
Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, show some of its forms in the Codices, and No. 5, from
Stephens, illustrates its radical. As a graphic element, it is less
prominent than in architecture.

[Illustration: FIG. 58.—The “Crotalean Curve.”]

Fig. 59, Nos. 1–4, are outlines of objects often seen in the Codices.
No. 1, which looks like a carriage-wrench, is in fact a serpent wand, as
can readily be seen by comparing Cod. Tro., pp. 6, 7, 31*, with Cod.
Dres., pp. 40, 42, 43.

[Illustration: FIG. 59.—Objects Held in the Hand.]

No. 2 is the “medicine rattle.” Sometimes it was a gourd, at others of
earthenware, as we see by the “pottery decoration” in Cod. Tro., 34, 35,
etc. Sometimes it looks like a fan or a mirror.[132]

No. 3 is the hatchet, and No. 4 the chisel. The peculiar shape and mode
of use of the latter are seen Cod. Tro., 34, etc. Both of these
implements were made of metal obtained from Tabasco, and Landa
especially says that the latter was that with which they carved their
idols, exactly as we see in the MSS.[133]

The word for the tomahawk in Maya was _bat_; and from the same root come
_batul_, “to fight;” _batab_, “a chief;” _batan_, “first or in front
of;” _bat_, “hail;” for any of which ideas the weapon might be a symbol
or a rebus. It is of frequent occurrence in the texts. One of its uses,
I am persuaded, was to indicate a thunderbolt or stroke of lightning.
The name for this in Maya was “the blow of the cloud,”[134] and in the
group of the _moan_ sign and the tomahawk we have this well expressed.

The first design in Fig. 60 shows the aspersorium, _lilābal_, with which
the high priest sprinkled the holy water (which was the dew collected in
the early morning) during the ceremonies. To it were attached the
rattles of the rattlesnake and tails of poisonous serpents.[135] It is
often portrayed in the Codices and inscriptions.

The second design is the throwing-stick, in Nahuatl, _atlatl_. The
admirable monograph of Mrs. Zelia Nuttall explains its important
symbolic uses.[136] Examples where it is well portrayed are: Cod. Dres.,
p. 60, 65; Cod. Tro., pp. 21* and 22*.

[Illustration: FIG. 60.—The Aspersorium, the Atlatl, and the Mimosa.]

The third design in Fig. 60 is what Seler calls a broom (Spanish,
_escobilla_, Nahuatl, _mallinalli_,) and Schellhas, a feather. But that
it is, as Brasseur said, a mimosa, seems clear from Cod. Tro., p. 29,
where it is shown growing. In id., p. 32*^c, where it is above the
turtle, it has an astronomic significance.

Other objects sometimes depicted are fans, _ual_ or _picit_; mirrors,
_nen_; shields, _chimal_; and planting sticks, _xul_.

The designs shown in Fig. 61 recur in all the Codices, and I agree with
Dr. Förstemann that they must refer to the celestial bodies and their
relative motions (contrary to the view of Dr. Seler). That they have not
all been identified is perhaps because none of the students of the
subject has been astronomer enough to understand the lessons they

A few we are certain about. No. 1 is the sun, No. 2 the moon; No. 13
must be “the rope of the moon” (see above p. 36) indicating its
conjunction;[137] No. 12, from the Cod. Peres., might reasonably
indicate its opposition; No. 14 is the pole star, occurring in Cod.
Tro., pp. 20, 22, 23. Dr. Förstemann has offered certain reasons,
reaching a moderate probability, that Nos. 3 and 4 symbolize the planet
Mercury; Nos. 5 and 6 the planet Venus; No. 7, Jupiter; No. 8, Mars; and
No. 11, Saturn; No. 15 I have seen only on the casts from Sastanquiqui,
Peten, at the World’s Columbian Exposition.

[Illustration: FIG. 61.—The “Constellation Band.”]

These designs are arranged in rows of three or more, forming ribbons or
bands, and therefore I shall refer to the series as “the constellation
band.” Some members of it usually are placed above the representation of
the sun and moon (day and night), frequent in the Codices and
represented in Fig. 62.

[Illustration: FIG. 62.—The “Heavenly Shield.”]

This has been called “the heavenly shield,” a designation I shall
retain. Its signification was first explained by Schellhas. The orbs are
suspended from the “constellation band” by curious bearings, which seem
to be developments from a form very common in the Mexican MSS., and
which is shown in Fig. 63, No. 1, which, however, I have copied from a
potsherd brought from Copan. Figs. Nos. 2 and 3, from the same source,
also seem of astronomical intent, though No. 3 may be a variant of the
_ik_ (comp. Cod. Dres., pp. 56, 57).

[Illustration: FIG. 63.—Designs from Copan Potsherds.]

After considerable discussion the signs for the cardinal points have
been definitely determined to be as in Fig. 64, reading from left to
right, East, North, West, South. The East sign is composed of the _kin_
(sun) sign with the _ahau_ as a superfix and the “claw” postfix; the
North has the north star god’s monogram with the lunar prefix; the West
the _kin_ sign with the _mach_ as a superfix (see p. 83) and the “claw”
postfix; the South has the _yax_ with the _mac_ superfix and sometimes
an augment. Space will not permit a further analysis of these important
composites, but each is highly significant. These signs never occur
isolated, but always together; where one is found, the others may
confidently be looked for.

[Illustration: FIG. 64.—The Signs for the Cardinal Points.]

Another series of signs are intimately associated with these. They are
shown Fig. 65, and read from left to right, South, East, North, West.

[Illustration: FIG. 65.—The “Directive Signs.”]

[Illustration: FIG. 66.—The “Cuceb.”]

The precise purpose of these has remained obscure. Dr. Seler has
suggested that they indicate the colors which were assigned to the four
directions. This is true as far as it goes, but does not explain many of
their uses. My own studies have led me to believe they are primarily
“directive signs,” intended to guide the learner in the use of the
calendar wheel. This was somewhat intricate, made by the superposition
of two surfaces, the lower marked with the cardinal points, etc., the
upper, I take it, with these directive signs. That any quarter in the
native astrology could be transferred into any other, explains why they
are all found with all the signs of the cardinal points.[138] My view is
borne out by the Books of Chilan Balam. In this work the rotation of the
time-periods is called _cuceb_, “the squirrel,” and their beginning is
marked with the Fig. 66. This is identical with several variants of the
North “directive sign” above; and the reason it was called _cuceb_ was
that the verb _cucul_ means “to move round and round” as they did their
calendar wheels.

These four directive signs occur repeatedly as affixes. They may be
read, (1) ideographically: either as directions, south, east, north,
west; or for colors, yellow, red, white, black; or, (2) ikonomatically:
for the homonyms of the names of these colors, that is, for the other
meanings of the color names. These are numerous. Thus, _kan_, yellow,
also means “jewels, money, food, abundance, a rope, a hamac;” _chac_,
red, may also signify “strong, water, rain, the rain god, a tempest;”
_zac_, white, is also an intensive particle, “much, very,” and is close
to _zacal_, to weave, a web, and _zacan_, bread; while _ek_, black, may
also be translated “dark, darkness, a star, dyewood, the fat of meat.”
The sign for the East, the flint knife, may as such have the values
assigned above to that object (see p. 89). This, however, does not make
the method so complicated as one may think, for in all rebus-writing we
find the ordinary signs employed are limited to a few recognized

                   5. _The Hieroglyphs of the Days._

In my work on “The Native Calendar of Central America” I pointed out
that the hieroglyphs of the names of the days are to be looked upon as
rebuses, and therefore do not tell us the real meaning of the name given
the day. They are merely the pictures of some familiar visible object or
objects, the name of which has more or less similarity to the name of
the day, and would serve by an ocular representation to recall it to
mind. To repeat what I there said on this essential point: “It is quite
misleading to seek the real meaning or derivation of a day-name or other
word from the figure which represents it in the hieroglyphic writing.
The latter usually stands for a word of an entirely different meaning,
the only connection being a more or less similarity of sound.”[139]

It should be remembered, therefore, that some of these hieroglyphics of
the day-names recur as independent characters with other than calendar


1. _Kan._ The object represented is a polished stone, shell pendant, or
bead, in Maya, _kan_. It was their circulating medium, and it stands for
_money_, and all which that magic word conveys,—food, prosperity,
abundance.[140] The dot or eye in the upper portion is the perforation
by which it was strung on a cord. Others explain it as an eye (Seler); a
tooth (Brasseur); a grain of maize (Schellhas).


2. _Chicchan._ The allusive design to suggest the name is supplied by
the twisted threads _chich kuch_. See above, p. 96. Brasseur sees in it
a petticoat, Seler a serpent’s skin, etc.


3. _Cimi._ Represented either by an eye closed as in death, _cimil_; or
by the maggot (see above p. 65).


4. _Manik._ Correctly explained by Brasseur as a hand in the act of
grasping, “une main qui se ferme.” Its phonetic value is not _kab_,
hand, but _mach_, “to grasp” (see above p. 83).


5. _Lamat._ The figures bear a close resemblance to some of the sun
signs. See Fig. 37. They seem to show the orb partly below a line—the
horizon—which would give as a rebus _lamal kin_, the sunsetting; enough
to recall the day name.


6. _Muluc._ The day sign _muluc_ and the month sign _mol_ have a
resemblance, as do the words. The root _mol_ or _mul_ means a coming
together, or piling up. The hurricane is called _molay ik_, “the winds
united;” the word for religion is _umolay_, literally, “a congregation
or meeting.” Both signs seem to portray one thing inside of another of
the same kind, with a probable reference to the sense of the root.


[Illustration: FIG. 67.—A Cartouche.]

7. _Oc._ Among its various meanings this word signifies “a trail” and
“footprints.” Such seems the design in the first variant. Brasseur, and,
following him, Seler, think that the others portray the ears of a dog,
as in some Mayan dialects the dog is called _oc_. The full glyph is
thus: [Illustration] It is of frequent occurrence in such a cartouche as
shown in Fig. 67, where _a_ is the strengthened _pax_; (See p. 92), _b_,
the dog sign; _c_, the haunch of venison; and _d_, the monogram of
Xmucane with a vigesimal or personal prefix.


8. _Chuen._ The figure is that of a mouth, _chi_, with fangs; but as
that was not very near in sound, a calabash, _chu_, is sometimes
portrayed at the bottom of the circle, within. The mouth of no
particular animal is intended, as is evident from allied designs; though
Brasseur and Seler claim that it is of a monkey, Schellhas, of a snake,
etc. The day name is close in sound to _chun_, the first, the beginning,
and appears occasionally as a numeral (see above, p. 23). Piles of
_chuen_ are shown as offerings, _e. g._, Cod. Dres., pp. 26, 42; Cod.
Cort., p. 3. Do they mean “first fruits?”[141]


9. _Eb._ The face of an old man with a peculiar pointed ear mark. The
word _eb_ means “ladder;” _ebtun_, a stone stairway; _ebzah_, to sharpen
or point a flint; this last may explain the sharpened ear and dots.


10. _Ben_, or _Been_. Explained by Brasseur as showing a path, _be_; by
Seler, as a mat and a straw roof. To me, it looks like a _be che_, a
wooden bridge, the two supports of which are shown and which was
sometimes covered with a straw mat. This rebus gives the first syllable
of the name. In Tzental tradition _Been_ was the ancient hero who
erected the inscribed stelæ (piedras paradas) at Quixté, near
Comitan,[142] which the natives still decorate at certain times with
garlands of flowers, etc.[143]

11. _Ix._ The usual figure contains a number of black dots. These
suggest the word _xiix_, scattered grain husks. Seler thinks it shows
“the round hairy ear and spotted skin of the jaguar.” Brasseur proposed
that it conventionally portrays the feminine parts, as _ix_ is the
feminine prefix in Maya.



12. _Men._ The head of an aged person, supposed by Brasseur and Seler to
be Mother Earth. Sometimes it is extended worm-like, as in Fig. 43, No.


13. _Cib._ Brasseur and Seler believe the enclosed spiral represents the
fermented liquor, _ci_, trickling down. The “pottery decoration” (see p.
58) certainly indicates a jar or vase.


14. _Caban._ The design is that of the “cork-screw curl” of a woman, and
stands for _cab_ (see p. 99).


15. _Ezanab._ The picture is of the sacrificial knife of flint, which
closely corresponds with the name.


16. _Cauac._ The design shows a side face, with pendent clouds for the
eye, the “windcross” for the ear, and, perhaps, as Seler thinks, the
hairy mouth of the _moan_ bird. On the other hand, Rosny explains it as
“the plan of a building,” and Thomas as “the sign for wood.”


17. _Ahau._ Usually considered to be the conventional drawing of a full


18. _Imix._ Generally regarded as representing a mammary gland, though
it is not quite like those shown in the Codices. It is typical of
prosperity and is often attached to the _kan_ sign. In the calendar it
indicated the beginning of a time-period.[144]


19. _Ik._ The word means air, wind, breath, spirit, soul, and life. The
design is a katun enclosing the sign of the four directions or four
winds, the “wind-cross.” Brasseur calls it a flower, because it is
sometimes shown with what looks like leaves emerging from it (Cod Tro.,
pp. 5*, 6*, etc.). This indicates, however, the spirit of life coming
forth (or, as Seler thinks, is a sign of sacrifice; the same superfix
occurs on the _kan_, Cod. Cort., p. 37, etc.).


20. _Akbal._ The word resembles _akab_, night, and is probably derived
from it. The design may be that of a mouth with teeth (Brasseur, Seler),
or the rays of the sun after sinking below the horizon. As a general
glyph it is frequent with the signification of night and darkness, not
necessarily in a bad sense.

                  6. _The Hieroglyphs for the Months._

These are more intricate than those of the days, and show wider
variation. In the designs given below, the first on the line is from
Landa’s work, the second and third are from the Dresden Codex.


1. _Pop._ The word means “a mat.” The principal element in the glyph is
the south or yellow sign, referring perhaps to the color of a mat, with
the alar subfix. The prefix to the first variant shows the “windcross.”


2. _Uo._ The usual meaning of this term is a prickly pear; also, a
species of frog; _uooh_, a written character or letter. The prefix
indicating speech (see p. 98) seems to indicate the latter. The chief
element is the _mol_ sign with the night sun as a subfix.


3. _Zip._ The design shows the sun below the flint knife, that is, the
slain or departed sun, a play on the phrase, _zipik kin_, the sun set
(ponerse el sol, _Dicc. Motul_). The idea is strengthened by the _mac_
as a prefix, signifying “to extinguish.”


4. _Zodz._ The word means “bat,” and the design shows the head of one
with the _kin_ as a superfix.


5. _Zec_, or _Tzec_. The design is explained by Brasseur as a death’s
head, Maya, _tzekel_; by others, as an open mouth with teeth (compare
_chuen_, p. 112). The projecting curved lines above the head are
supposed by Schellhas to represent a peculiar mode of wearing the hair.
But as _tzec_ means “scorpion,” they may depict conventionally the claws
of that animal.[145]


6. _Xul._ The three signs are quite unlike. The first presents the
conical bill of a bird of the finch or sparrow family; the second, the
horned owl or the falcon (?); the third, a conventionalized bird’s head.
The second may be ikonomatic for _xulub_, horns. The word _xul_ means to
end or to finish; and, the end, limit, or extremity.


7. _Yaxkin._ This means “new sun” or “strong sun.” The glyph expresses
this by the _yax_ sign, “new” or “strong;” the _kin_ (sun) sign and the
dotted postfix, _ual_, month. According to the Dicc. Motul, the phrase
_dze yax kin_ was applied by the Mayas to the hottest part of the


8. _Mol._ See remarks on the day sign _muluc_, p. 111. Dr. Förstemann
suggests that the above designs represent either (1) a snail in its
shell, or (2) an egg with its yolk, or (3) the sun after setting. Seler
holds that it shows the heart, Maya, _ol_, within the body, making a
rebus for _mol_.


9. _Ch’en._ This means a spring or well of water. The second sign shows
a water jar bearing the sign of fluid, with reference to the sense of
the word. The first is more complex. The main element is a face with a
_moan_ mouth, referring to water; for an eye the infix _u_, for month;
and two prefixes, the sign of union (see p. 100), and above it what may
be a variant of _ben_ (see. 113).


10. _Yax._ The feather sign _yax_ (see p. 94) is the superfix to the
_cauac_ sign, which carries the postfix _ual_, month.


11. _Zac._ This word means “white,” and this is here expressed by the
_cauac_ sign carrying as a superfix the north directive sign (see p.
109), as white was the color sacred to the North.


12. _Ceh._ The meaning of _ceh_ is “deer,” and the design shows the
flint knife used in slaughtering that animal, placed as a superfix to
the _cauac_ sign.


13. _Mac._ The first glyph represents the cover of a jar, the name of
which in Maya is _mac_, thus making a perfect rebus.[146] The second,
not plain, is a variant of the _kan_ or _imix_, with the “comb” subfix.
In this month was celebrated the important rite of _tupp kak_, “the
extinguishing of the fire,” the aim of which was to secure rain for the
growing crops. The figure may refer to this.


14. _Kan kin._ This expression means “the yellow sun.” The first glyph
is a perfect rebus, showing the sun sign, _kin_, and the south directive
sign (see Fig. 65), which means “yellow.” The second glyph is the sign
for a breast-bone, a shield, or dog (see p. 125).


15. _Muan._ The head of the _muan_ bird, the crested falcon, with his
ears or horns, see p. 74.


16. _Pax._ The only or main element is the drum, _pax che_, above
explained (see p. 91).


17. _Kayab._ The main element was recognized by Schellhas as the head of
a turtle. In Landa’s alphabet this has the value _a_ or _ak_. It is
applied as a rebus to recall the first syllable of the name.


18. _Cum ku._ The glyph in one case combines _kan_ and _cum_, with
prefixes of _cauac_ and _cib_. Dr. Förstemann fancifully explains it as
portraying “from one point two flashes of lightning or sun’s rays
striking the maize field.” Rather, we have here the rebus _cum kan_,
recalling the name, and the _cauac_ sign, which is repeated in a number
of the month signs.

                  7. _The Hieroglyphs of the Deities._

I have already mentioned that in the texts the gods are severally
represented by their signs or monograms. The credit of defining these in
a clear and satisfactory manner is due almost entirely to Dr. Schellhas,
and I shall here present the results of his careful studies, retaining
his alphabetic nomenclature, which has in some degree been accepted by
Dr. Förstemann and others.

_A._ The god of Death.


His signs are clearly established and vary but little, Nos. 1–4. Two of
them are usually written. The prefix to 1 and 3 has been already
referred to (see p. 84). The bean (or flint) appears as a prefix in No.
2, as a subfix in No. 3. Frequently associated with his monogram is No.
5, which Seler explains as the sign of the owl. No. 6, from Cod. Dres.,
p. 50, with a skull for a head-dress, may be a priest of this divinity;
No. 7, from Dres., p. 22, may also be a priest or a companion.

_B._ Itzamna, or “the god with the snake-like tongue.”


His hieroglyphs are, beyond mistake, Nos. 8 and 9. The directive sign,
No. 10, is occasionally associated with his monogram. In Cod. Dres., p.
33, one of his attributes is shown in No. 11, the hand closing on the
rattles of the crotalus. The food symbols, Nos. 12, 13, 14, 15, are
often connected with him. Some regard them as the four elements, etc.

_C._ The North Star, or “the god with the ornamental face.”


It is easy to recognize his monogram, Nos. 16, 17, 18, 19, 21. I have
already explained the “pottery decoration” (above, p. 58). As prefixes,
we find the bean, No. 20; the crescent, as in 21; the number 13,
indicating completeness or perfection; and the vase, as in 16 and 17.

_D._ Cuculcan, “the moon god, or night god.”


The complete hieroglyph is No. 22, generally followed by No. 23. He is
“the old man god,” with one tooth, as in No. 24; sometimes connected
with the moon symbol as in No. 25; and often holds in his hand the
aspersorium, shown in Nos. 26 and 27. See p. 105.

_E._ Ghanan, “a male maize god.”


His usual monogram is No. 28. No. 29 is a picture of the maize plant
from Cod. Tro., p. 29, from which Dr. Schellhas argues that the
head-dresses of this divinity, as shown in Nos. 30–34, are conventional
designs for growing maize. My own collations persuade me that the maize
should here be understood as a general symbol for vegetable growth,
fertility, and the harvests.

_F._ The god of War, or, “a companion of the god of death.”


His hieroglyphs, shown in Nos. 35–41, often contain the number 11. The
black line is characteristic. His signs appear in connection with all
four cardinal points.

_G._ Kin ich, “the sun god.”


His monogram is uniform No. 42. It is the sun with the _ben ik_ superfix
and alar postfix. (See p. 90). His nose ornament, No. 43, and the
“flower,” No. 44, are usually distinctive of his portraits.[147]

_I._ “The serpent goddess.”

Her signs are not distinct. Dr. Schellhas believes them to be Nos.
49–51; but I cannot accept that they are intended for the same

_H._ “The serpent god.”


The hieroglyph and the personage, No. 45, are doubtful. He is supposed
to be shown in Cod. Dres., pp. 11, 12, 20, etc. Nos. 46 and 47, from
Cod. Tro., p. 17, are also assigned him. The rattle, No. 48, appears as
a hieroglyph in Cod. Dres., p. 61, and elsewhere. I doubt this deity.

_K._ “The god with the ornamented nose.”

The hieroglyph is No. 52, often accompanied by the “dog” sign, No. 53. I
have already expressed the belief that this is merely one of the
manifestations of Itzamna. (See p. 54.)

_L._ Ical Ahau, “a black god.”


Dr. Schellhas distinguishes between a divinity whose sign is No. 54, and
“_M_,” “a second black god,” whose hieroglyph is No. 55, 56, and whose
face is shown No. 57. He appears in Cod. Dres., pp. 13, 16, 43, and is
common in the Cod. Tro. The sign No. 58 is occasionally associated, as
in Cod. Tro., p. 5, and Cod. Cort., p. 28.

_N._ “A god with the features of an old man.”


His sign is No. 59, which may be translated “5 Zac,” and may refer to
his festival on that date (Seler). His face and peculiar head-dress,
with the _pax_ sign, are shown No. 60. These do not strike me as
representing divinity, but simply “old age.”

_O._ “A goddess with features of an old woman” (Xmucane?). Her
hieroglyphs are shown Nos. 61, 62; the latter is more frequent.

_P._ “A figure with features of an old man.”

It is seen Cod. Dres., p. 21, with the sign No. 63. It is doubtful if a
deity is intended.

_Q._ “An isolated deity.”

Shown Cod. Dres., p. 20, with the signs Nos. 64 and 65; probably a mere


_R._ The _moan_ bird.

He is often associated with the god of death, and bears the hieroglyphs
Nos. 66–69, sometimes with the 13.

_S._ No. 70 is the usual hieroglyph of the dog, and _T_, No. 71, is that
of the vulture.

_U._ No. 72 is the sign of the jaguar, as seen in Cod. Tro., p. 17, and
in Cod. Dres., pp. 8, 26.


_V._ The turtle or tortoise. Its monogram is seen Nos. 73, 74, 75. It is
the _a_ of Landa’s alphabet. There is no doubt but that the turtle’s
head and not that of the parrot is intended, though some have thought


Footnote 101:

  “The Ancient Phonetic Alphabet of Yucatan,” in the _American
  Historical Magazine_, for 1870.

Footnote 102:

  A notable exception to this, commented on by de Rosny, is seen on
  pages 18 and 19 of the _Codex Peresianus_. Why the rule should be
  reversed in those sections is still a problem.

Footnote 103:

  _Study of the MS. Troano_, Preface, p. viii.

Footnote 104:

  Alfredo Chavero, _Antiguedades Mexicanas_, p. xi (Mexico, 1892). The
  _Codex Porfirio Diaz_ must be read from right to left.

Footnote 105:

  D. G. Brinton, “The Alphabets of the Berbers” in _Proceedings of the
  Oriental Club of Philadelphia_, p. 64 (Philadelphia, 1894).

Footnote 106:

  For instances, the numerals in connection with the snakes in Cod.
  Dres., pp. 61–64, and 69–73, are to be read from right to left, and
  from below upward, beginning at the last page of the series, and
  proceeding toward the left on the extended sheet. Förstemann,
  _Entzifferung_, No. II, 1891.

Footnote 107:

  In the _Archives de la Société Américaine de France_, for 1887, pp.
  27, 28, 113, etc.

Footnote 108:

  In this connection I would call the especial attention of students to
  the article by Dr. Schellhas, “Vergleichende Studien auf dem Felde der
  Maya-Alterthümer,” in the _Internationales Archiv für Ethnographie_,
  1890. He there illustrates their methods of tattooing, wearing the
  hair, personal ornaments, costumes, utensils, etc., as shown in the
  Codices and other remains.

Footnote 109:

  On the interpretation of these and allied signs the student should
  consult Garrick Mallery, _Sign Language among the North American
  Indians_, in _Rep. of the Bureau of Ethnology_, Vol. 1, and W. P.
  Clark, _The Indian Sign Language_ (Philadelphia, 1885). It is not
  possible for me here to give more than the most meager details on this
  important topic.

Footnote 110:

  Bird’s wing in Maya is _xik_. Close in sound is _xikal_, queen (señora
  principal, _Dicc. Motul_). The first wing feather was also called “a
  knife” (la primera pluma de la ala del halcon se llama “cuchillo
  maestre,” “_u cicil ulum_.” _Dicc. de San Francisco_).

Footnote 111:

  In the museum of the University of Pennsylvania there is a beautiful
  vase from Guatemala, with a vitrified surface; on it a face and head,
  with a necklace entirely of this sign, repeated in a pattern.

Footnote 112:

  “_Tup_; ciertas arracadas de palo antiguas; y llamanse ahora las
  arracadas ó zarcillos.” _Dicc. Motul._

Footnote 113:

  In Maya a comb is _xel_. This as a verb means “to cut in two;” and as
  a numeral prefix it divides in half unities less than 20; as _xel u
  yox kinbe_, “two-and-a-half-day journeys.” Ikonomatically, the comb
  sign may have these significations. Landa gives it as the sign for
  _ca_, perhaps, as Valentini suggests, for _cac_, to pull out hair.

Footnote 114:

  _Uil_ also means anything favorable or advantageous—“cosa provechosa,”
  _Dic. Motul_. The word _u_ never means “vase,” as Prof. Thomas has
  repeatedly stated, following the unreliable Brasseur.

Footnote 115:

  “Los navajones para los sacrificios, de los quales tenian buen recaudo
  los sacerdotes,” p. 107, Ed. Madrid.

Footnote 116:

  _Relacion de la Villa de Valladolid_ (1579), Chap. XIV. I am aware
  that some variants of this glyph have a striking resemblance to a
  _penis flaccidus cum testiculis_; but after close comparison I have
  rejected this rendering. Thomas sees in the two shells “tortillas.”

Footnote 117:

  _Cosas de Yucatan_, p. 112 (Ed. Madrid). What looks like the _kan_
  sign below it is the strap which fastens it.

Footnote 118:

  Mr. Marshall H. Saville, in a paper published in the _Journal of
  American Folk-lore_, September, 1894, and stated to have been read
  before the American Association the preceding month, entitled “A
  Comparative Study of the Graven Glyphs of Copan and Quirigua,”
  observes of the design of the _paxche_ that it “is probably a drum.”
  No expression to this effect was in the paper as read before the
  Association, and in the following number of the Journal Mr. Saville
  concedes that I was the first to offer this identification.

Footnote 119:

  Duran: _Hist. de las Indias_, Trat. I, Lam. 29; Trat. II, Lam. 6.

Footnote 120:

  I quote the explanation from the _Dicc. de Motul_,—“_Paxaan_: cosa que
  esta quebrada, como vasija, cabeza, barco, etc.; cosa que esta
  desparecida; _paaxan in cab_, huido se me han mis abejas; _paaxan in
  cuchtel_, _paaxan in cahal_, despoblado se me ha el pueblo, ido se me
  ha mi gente. Y asi se puede decir de muchachos, de hormigas, humo,
  niebla, nublados, dolor de cabeza, de la voluntad, etc., anadiendose
  al _paaxan_ el nombre de la cosa.” In a similar sense the phrases
  _paaxal yit caan_, “the edge of the sky is broken,” _paaxal u chun
  caan_, “the beginning of the sky is broken,” are translated, “reir el
  alba, venir el dia, ò amanecer asi.”

Footnote 121:

  In the Tzental dialect the drum entirely of wood was called _culinte_;
  that with a skin stretched across it, _cayob_. Lara, _Vocabulario
  Tzental_, MS.

Footnote 122:

  A similar design is found on Mexican shields, _e. g._, _Lienzo de
  Tlascala_, plate 12, _Cod. Porf. Diaz._, lam. s. and on the curious
  sculptures at Monte Alvan, Oaxaca, figured in Captain Dupaix’s Second
  Expedition, plate 21, in Kingsborough’s _Mexican Antiquities_.

Footnote 123:

  Probably the “morriones de madera,” to which early writers allude as
  part of the armor of a Maya warrior.

Footnote 124:

  “Torcer hilo con huso; _chich kuch_. Hilo torcido; _chichin bil
  kuch_.” _Dicc. de Motul._ Meanings of _chich_, are: “strong, swift,
  hard, violent,” also “grandmother.”

Footnote 125:

  Father Ximenes speaks of the “asiento del rey;” “tenia un docel de
  pluma; sobre el guarda polvo, tenia cielos de diversos colores, tres,
  dos, etc.” _Origen de los Indios de Guatemala_, p. 196. The symbol is
  therefore one of power and authority, rather than of a mere inanimate

Footnote 126:

  See Antonio Peñafiel, _Nombres Geograficos de Mexico; Estudio
  Jeroglifico_, passim (Mexico, 1885). I would especially recommend this
  easily obtainable work to the student who would familiarize himself
  with the method of “ikonomatic” writing as it was used by the ancient
  Mexicans. Another series of admirable examples are in the “Lienzo de
  Tlascala,” published by the Junta Colombina (Mexico, 1892), under the
  editorship of the distinguished antiquary, Don Alfredo Chavero.

Footnote 127:

  _Nagualism; a Study in Native American Folk-lore and History_, p. 20,
  note. Sometimes water was used, when the word in Maya is _puhaa_, “to
  blow water,” and is translated in the dictionaries, “rociar con la

Footnote 128:

  Mallery: _Picture Writing of the American Indians_, p. 700. The double
  curves that we see on the snake, Cod. Cort., p. 15, etc., I construe
  as the sign of the sky. The expression in Maya was _u nak caan_, “la
  boveda del cielo;” literally, the “belly” of the sky.

Footnote 129:

  The transformation of the human into the arboreal form and its
  opposite are frequently referred to in the myths and pictography of
  the red race. Some interesting observations upon this point, by the
  Rev. S. D. Peet, may be found in the _American Antiquarian_, for
  September, 1894.

Footnote 130:

  See the Codex Borgia, plates 8, 16, 17, 18, 19; Cod. Vaticanus, plate
  65; Cod. Colomb., Lam. 5, 17; Cod. Vienna, pp. 18, 37, etc.; and
  consult Pousse in _Arch. de la Soc. Amer._, 1887, p. 102; Schellhas,
  _Zeitschrift für Ethnologie_, 1886, p. 53.

Footnote 131:

  Dr. Harrison Allen: _An Analysis of the Life Form in Art_, p. 37
  (Philadelphia, 1875); A. P. Maudslay: _Biol. Cent. Amer. Archæology_,
  Part II, plate 23, etc.

Footnote 132:

  Mr. E. P. Dieseldorff, in a description of a very beautiful decorated
  vase from the vale of Chamá, Guatemala, says that fans were not in use
  among the natives, and that the object in the paintings usually
  identified as such is a “soplador,” or fire-blower, made of woven palm
  leaves, and still found in every house. _Verhand. der Berliner
  Anthrop. Gesell._, 1894, p. 374.

Footnote 133:

  “Tenian cierto azofar blando y con alguna poca mezcla de oro, de que
  hazian las hachuelas de fundicion y unos cascabelejos con que vaylavan
  y una cierta manera de escoplillos con que hazian los idolos.”
  _Relacion de Yucatan_, p. 107. (Madrid edition.)

Footnote 134:

  _U hadz muyal_, literally, “its blow, the cloud.” Another figure which
  seems to indicate the same is the broad, pointed object seen in the
  hands of deities. Cod. Cort., p. 28; Cod. Tro., pp. 29, 30, 38, 39. It
  is the same as the Nahuatl _tlauitequiliztli_, portrayed in the hands
  of Tlaloc, in plate 70, of Boban’s _Catalogue Raisonné_ of the Goupil

Footnote 135:

  The name is from _lil_, to sprinkle, _haa_, water, and _bal_, the
  instrumental termination. The _Relacion de la Villa de Valladolid_,
  1579, cap. xiv, says: “el ahkin llevaba un hisopo, atado en el muchas
  colas de vibora y culebras ponzoñosas.”

Footnote 136:

  The _Atlatl or Spear Thrower of the Ancient Mexicans_. By Zelia
  Nuttall (Cambridge, Mass., 1891).

Footnote 137:

  See Cod. Dres., p. 50. Precisely the same design recurs in the
  (Mexican) Codex Borgia, published in Kingsborough’s _Mexican
  Antiquities_. No. 11 is also a Mexican calendar sign (Gama).

Footnote 138:

  I hesitated some time to assign the flint knife to the East, but
  believe the evidence is in its favor. As Chavero has pointed out
  (_Antiguedades Mexicanas_, p. xxxv), in Mexican symbolism, the
  _tecpatl_ belongs decidedly to the West.

Footnote 139:

  _The Native Calendar of Mexico and Central America_, p. 4
  (Philadelphia, 1893).

Footnote 140:

  “_Kan_: cuzcas ò piedras que servian à los indios de moneda y de
  adorno al cuello.” _Dicc. de Motul._ I owe this identification to my
  late friend, Dr. C. H. Berendt, a profound Maya scholar. Its
  correctness will be confirmed by examining Cod. Cort., p. 12. Cod.
  Dres., p. 48, etc. This circulating medium of the Mayas is mentioned
  in the _Relacion de Valladolid_, 1579, cap. 33. In purchasing a wife
  the expression was _ah coy kan_, “he who must pay _kans_,” as these
  were the consideration. (_Dicc. Motul._) Other meanings of _kan_ are:
  yellow, and hence ripe fruit, the yolk of an egg, cooked maize, etc.;
  anything precious or valuable; a measure of length; a set task; a net,
  and to fish or hunt with one.

Footnote 141:

  Variants of the _chuen_ are extremely frequent in the mural
  inscriptions, and its correct interpretation, therefore, highly
  important. As stated in the text, I believe they generally stand for
  _chun_, which means “the foundation, the beginning, the first, the
  cause.” We find such expressions as _tu chun che_, “at the foot of the
  tree;” _tu chun uitz_, “at the base of the hill,” etc. In Tzental,
  _chu_ is the teat or mamma, _chunel_, to suck the teat. In many
  inscriptions the position of the _chun_ is antithetic to the _pax_,
  the one indicating the beginning, the other the end of a series.

Footnote 142:

  Nuñez de la Vega, _Constituciones Diocesanas_, p. 10. The story was
  that Been inscribed his own name upon them. I have not ascertained
  that this locality has been examined by modern travelers. It might
  offer valuable material.

Footnote 143:

  E. Pineda, _Descripcion Geografica de Chiapas_, pp. 7, 8.

Footnote 144:

  See Förstemann, _Entzifferung_, IV, S. 15.

Footnote 145:

  Seler observes, on doubtful premises,—“_Tzec_ scheint der Zermalmer zu

Footnote 146:

  “_Mac_, tapa de vasija.” The opinion of Allen that the sign represents
  the extended arms, the “great span,” is inappropriate. The measure
  called _mac_ was much greater (doce brazas, Pio Perez). Another
  meaning of _mac_ is the sea turtle and its shell (galapago y concha

Footnote 147:

  Dr. Seler, in _Zeitschrift für Ethnologie_, 1891, p. 111, gives
  another monogram for Kin ich—the _cauac_, with the “blowing” prefix
  (see p. 98) and the “machete” subfix.

                         V. Specimens of Texts.

In the selection of the following texts I have been guided principally
by the desire to illustrate Mayan palæography as presented on different
surfaces, paper, stone, earthenware, etc., and as it is found in the
various regions occupied by tribes of Mayan culture and affinity. Some
of the examples have not been previously published, and for this reason
have a special value.

[Illustration: FIG. 68.—The God of Time brings in the Dead Year. (From
the Dresden Codex.)]

Fig. 68 I would explain as the god of time bringing in the dead year. It
is part of the ceremonies depicted as belonging to the close of the
year. That the wolf-headed figure represents time, the Devourer, I infer
from its relations in the early pages of the Ferjevary Codex, where it
is shown eating a string of days, etc. (in Kingsborough’s _Mexican

These ceremonies are represented in the Cod. Troano, pp. 20–23, and the
Cod. Dres., pp. 25–28. The recognition of their significance is
principally due to Prof. Cyrus Thomas.

The god arrives in the vase of the heavenly waters. In his left hand he
holds the rattle, in his right the magic wand, or magician’s staff,
_caluac_, and the medicine bag (Maya _chimil_, Nahuatl, _xiquipilli_);
around his waist is the broad carrying-band, in the loop of which he has
the dying year, _kan_.

[Illustration: FIG. 69.—A Sacrifice at the Close of the Year. (From the
Dresden Codex.)]

In Fig. 69 is another scene from the same ceremonies. The person on the
right is the celebrant, holding a beheaded fowl in his right hand, while
his left strews grain. Before him is a haunch of venison and a turkey.
Above the latter is the moon symbol with the number 15. To the left of
these stands the statue of Mam, the Grandfather, a log folded in a robe
and surmounted by the leaves of the Tree of Life.[148] In front are seen
the serpent’s head, the sign of Time; below this are footprints, to
indicate that time is gone; and beneath the form of the god is the sign
_pax_, with the meaning, “it is ended.”

[Illustration: FIG. 70.—Symbolic Representation of the Close of one
Time-Period and the Beginning of another. (From the Cortesian Codex.)]

In interesting contrast to these two is Fig. 70, showing the beginning
of a time-period. On the left, two dogs, back to back beneath the same
canopy, indicate the closing of one period and the beginning of another.
On the right, the serpent of time, resting on the earth, brings to the
heavens the new sun. The youthful god between the serpent’s jaws carries
the world-sign for an eye, and holds in his hand the symbol _yax kin_,
“new sun.” Above are appropriate hieroglyphs, the tenor of which the
diligent student of my previous pages will have little difficulty in

In Fig. 71 the God of Growth and Fertility holds an elaborate _caluac_
surmounted by a bird, its apertures filled with shells. Behind him is
seated the God of Death, his _caluac_ tipped with a formidable
spear-head. The God of Growth has not his own monogram, but that of the
old Cuculcan.

When we recall that the shell is the sign for “nought,” the indication
seems that the God of Death with his spear will bring to nought the
efforts of the God of Fertility.

We see in Fig. 72 the North Star in a series of relations to other
celestial bodies or divinities. Beginning at the left, he is seated on
his own sign which is surrounded by rays; next, he is upon the sign of
the four winds and four quarters of the earth; in the third he is
suspended in a sling from the “constellation band” between the sun and a
planet; and fourth, he is above the clouds, which rest upon a canopy
protecting a pile of _kans_, money or food emblems.

The three figures in Fig. 73 present the beneficent deities, each
bearing in the hand the food symbol, _kan_.

The group copied in Fig. 74, show the God of Death followed by Kin ich,
who seems remonstrating with him, who in turn is followed by the God of
War with a wrathful visage. The positions of the hands are especially
noteworthy. The sign _mol_ leads each of the cartouches.

In Fig. 75 Cuculcan is making fire from the friction of two pieces of
wood. On his head is the _moan_ symbol, on his thigh the _kin_. Each of
the three cartouches begins with the drum sign. His own monogram is the
third member of the second cartouche.

In Fig. 76 the text is the same in each of the three cartouches except
the monograms of the three divinities represented.

[Illustration: FIG. 71.—The God of Growth and the God of Death. (From
the Cortesian Codex.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 72.—Auguries from the North Star. (Cortesian

[Illustration: FIG. 73.—Itzamna, the Serpent Goddess, and Kin ich.
(Dresden Codex.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 74.—The God of Death, Kin ich, and the God of War.
(Dresden Codex.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 75.—Cuculcan Makes New Fire. (Codex Troano.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 76.—The Gods of Death, of Growth, and the North
Star. (Dresden Codex).]

In Fig. 77 each cartouche begins with _mol_, and is immediately followed
by the monogram of the god. The lower glyphs differ materially.

[Illustration: FIG. 77.—The God of Growth, Kin ich, and Itzamna.
(Dresden Codex.)]

All the above specimens of texts have been photographed from the
Codices, without restoration. They show, therefore, not only the general
character of those documents, but also their state of preservation. In
many instances the pages have been defaced, and portions of the
inscriptions upon them injured. Sometimes it is possible to restore the
obliterations by a comparison of parallel passages, and this has been
done successfully by various scholars.

The extracts have been selected also with the object of showing the
representations of the most prominent deities, Itzamna, Kin ich,
Cuculcan, the God of Death, etc., in the manner in which we find them in
the Codices.

[Illustration: FIG. 78.—The Inscription of Kabah.]

In this interesting inscription from Central Yucatan, we recognize
familiar signs, as the medicine-drum and the cloud-signs at the bottom,
and _cauac_, _chikin_, _yax_, etc., within the square area. It is
sufficient to prove that at Kabah the same writing was in use.[149]

There is some reason to suppose, however, that in this part of the Mayan
territory there had been a development of this writing until it had
become conventionalized into a series of lines and small circles
enclosed in the usual square or oval of the katun. I have seen several
examples of this remarkable script, and give one, Fig. 79, part of an
inscription on a vase from Labna, Yucatan, now in the Peabody

[Illustration: FIG. 79.—Linear Inscription from Yucatan.]

The tablets at Palenque are too extensive a study for me to enter upon
in the present work. The engraving, Fig. 80, is merely to show the
character of the writing and to present the “initial glyphs,” upon
which, in Copan and elsewhere, Mr. Maudslay lays so much stress (see
above, p. 23).

Incidentally, they seem to me to prove that the proper reading of the
tablet is to begin at the top of the two right-hand columns, read them
together downward (as Thomas suggested), then the next two to the left
in a similar manner; but the last two on the left, those headed by the
great _pax_, should be read from below upward. This differs from any
scheme yet proposed, but alone corresponds with the natural sequences of
the groups of glyphs. The terminal (upper left) glyph shows the _pax_
surmounted by the _xihuitl_ and this by the “trinal” signs. The student
of the preceding pages will not be at a loss to explain their purport.

[Illustration: FIG. 80.—The “Initial Series” of the Tablet of the Cross,

I have already referred (above, p. 54) to the singular “bas-reliefs of
Chiapas.” They are covered with elaborate designs carved in low relief
on the argillaceous slate of which they consist. Nearly all have
hieroglyphics of a decorative Mayan character. For the sake of
comparison I add Fig. 81, a tracing of the four glyphs which are placed
in front of the tapir on the “tapir tablet.”

[Illustration: FIG. 81.—Inscription on the “Tapir Tablet,” Chiapas.]

The interesting group, Fig. 82, is the most complete example of the
ancient writing I know of, from the region of the Zotzils. The original,
formerly in the possession of Don Secundino Orantes, in the city of
Chiapas, measures 26 by 17 inches. The front is badly injured, but the
back well preserved. We find in this cartouche of twenty glyphs enough
familiar forms to convince us of the identity of the graphic method.
_Pax_, _chuen_, the iguana, etc., are soon recognized. The copy was made
by the late Dr. C. H. Berendt.

[Illustration: FIG. 82.—Inscription on a Tablet from Toniná, Chiapas.]

Toniná is about 80 miles south of Palenque and near Ococingo, whence Mr.
Squier obtained the amulet bearing the neat inscription shown in Fig.
83. The original is now in the American Museum of Natural History, New
York City.

[Illustration: FIG. 83.—Inscription on an Amulet from Ococingo,

The beautiful inscription, Fig. 84, hitherto unpublished, is on a burial
vase from the Quiche district of Guatemala, near Huehuetenango. It is
not only the longest and most perfect example known of Quiche
palæography, but it is also the most extensive inscription I have seen
on pottery from any part of the Mayan territory. The original, a vase of
high artistic merit, is in the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania.
Again we see familiar signs, the _imix_, the _pax_, the numerals, the
bean subfix, etc.

[Illustration: FIG. 84.—Inscription on a Vase from a Quiche Tomb,

                  *       *       *       *       *

The limits which I have prescribed for this work do not permit me to add
further comparisons in Mayan palæography. Fortunately, the student can
find ready access to abundant examples. The inscriptions of Copan and
Quiriguá, of Chichen Itza, and Palenque, are or will be represented with
admirable fidelity in Mr. Maudslay’s work already referred to; others
from Tikal have been made accessible by the labors of Berendt, Charnay
and de Rosny; and we are justified in believing that before many years
the intelligent explorations of competent archæologists will add
hundreds of texts from the relics in stone, clay, and wood which still
exist to attest the character of ancient Mayan literature.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The most urgent duty resting upon the present generation of students
interested in this subject is to collect and accurately reproduce as
many of these texts as possible, before they are destroyed or lost.
Extended comparisons will ultimately reveal their meaning, as will
readily be seen from the advances in that direction chronicled in the
preceding pages.


Footnote 148:

  See Cogolludo: _Historia de Yucatan_, Tom. I, p. 317.

Footnote 149:

  This inscription, painted on stucco, was copied by H. F. Becker and
  printed in the _Archives de la Société Américaine de France_. See de
  Rosny, _L’Interpretation des anciens Textes_ Mayas, p. 12., note
  (Paris, 1875).

Footnote 150:

  Another example is in the Thompson collection, and a third, somewhat
  similar, also from a vase from Yucatan (now in Berlin), has been
  published by Dr. Schellhas, _Internat. Archiv. für Ethnographie_, 1890
  (p. 3 of his separatum).


                 (T. _signifies the Tzental dialect_.)

 _ac_, a tortoise, or turtle, 35, 74

 _acan_, mead, 42

 _ac ek_, a constellation, 35

 _aghan_, T., young ear of maize, 62

 _ahau_, ruler, lord, 41; a day name, 115

 _ahau can_, rattlesnake, 68, 75

 _ahau can mai_, chief priest, 68

 _ahau katun_, 22

 _ahau tzab can_, the rattlesnake, 75

 _ah-caluac_, the staff bearer, the mayordomo, 52

 _ah-ch’om_, a vulture, 73

 _ah-chun can_, high priest, 68

 _ah-coy-can_, v. p. 110, note

 _ah-cunal than_, word-conjurer, 68

 _ah-kin_, priest, 68

 _ah-kin-mai_, chief priest, 68

 _ah koh-keuel_, a masked priest, 69

 _ahlo_, the macaw, 73

 _ah-mac ik_, wind conjurer, 68

 _ah-poou_, the milky way, 35

 _ah-pul_, a conjurer, 68

 _ah-uai-chac_, rain conjurer, 68

 _ah-uai xibalba_, conjurer of departed souls, 68

 _ah-zahcab_, Venus, 34

 _akbal_, night, darkness, 56; a day name, 116

 _alau_ (64,000,000), 19

 _anhel_, to stand erect, 46

 _bacab_, 40

 _bac-baquetic_, a numeral, 19

 _balam_, the jaguar, 72

 _bak_, four hundred, 19

 _bat_, an axe; hail, 104

 _batab_, a chief, 104

 _batul_, to fight, 104

 _be_, footprints, 88

 _be che_, a bridge, 113

 _ben_, or _been_, a day name, 91, 113

 _ben-ik_, a graphic sign, 90, 123

 _bolon_, nine, 25

 _bolon paxche_, a large drum, 92

 _budz ek_, a comet, 35

 _bul_, a bean; all, the whole, 89

 _bulcabal_, a destruction, 46

 _caan_, the sky, 52

 _cab_, down, downward, etc., 60, 99, 114

 _caban_, a day name, 114

 _cac_, to pull out, 86

 _calab_ (160,000), 19

 _calacal_, perforated, 52

 _caluac_, the “staff of office,” 52, 128, 130

 _camach_, a jaw bone, 85

 _canan_, a sentinel, guardian, 34

 _canan chulchan_, Venus, 34

 _canzicnal_, serpent being, 41

 _cauac_, a day name, 115

 _cayob_, T., a drum, 93

 _ceh_, a deer; a month name, 119

 _chaam_, the (molar) teeth, 43

 _chac_, red, strong; water, etc., 34, 40, 109

 _chac ek_, Venus, 34

 _chacal ik_, strong wind, 40

 _cham_, a jaw bone, 85

 _chamal dzutan_, shooting stars, 35

 _che_, tree, wood, 45

 _chebel_, to paint; a paint brush, 42

 _chel_, the rainbow, 40

 _ch’en_, a month name; a well, 118

 _chi_, to bite, 89; a mouth, 112

 _chibil kin_, a solar eclipse, 36

 _chibil u_, a lunar eclipse, 36

 _chicchan_, a day name, 111

 _chich_, strong, powerful, swift, hard, 96

 _chich kuch_, to twist thread, 96

 _chimal_, shield, 34

 _chimal ek_, the north star, 34

 _chimal ik_, the north wind, 34

 _chimil_, a medicine bag, 128

 _chinax_, T., a knife, 89

 _chu_, a calabash, 112

 _chuen_, a day name, 23, 112

 _chulchan_, the sky or heavens, 34

 _chun_, the first, the beginning, 23, 113

 _ci_, to trickle, 114

 _cib_, a day name, 114

 _cicil_, a knife, 84

 _cimi_, a day name, 111

 _coz_, an owl, 73

 _cuceb_, a squirrel, 109

 _cucul_, covered; revolving, 56, 109

 _culinte_, T., a drum of wood, 93

 _cum_, a vase, 41, 48

 _cum ku_, a month name, 121

 _cun_, to conjure, 44

 _cuzaan_, or _cuzam_, a swallow, 42

 _dzacab_, a generation, 25

 _dzacah_, to heal by magic rites, 93

 _dzacatan_, a medicine drum, 93

 _dzicnial_, 39

 _dzip_, to skin animals, 42

 _dziz_, coolness, cold, 42

 _eb_, a day name, 113

 _eb-che_, a ladder, 77

 _ebtun_, a stone stairway, 113

 _ebzah_, to sharpen, 113

 _ek_, star; black, 34; dyewood, fat, 109

 _ek chuh_, scorpion, 67

 _ezanab_, a day name, 114

 _ghan_, T., maize, 62

 _haycabal_, a destruction, 46

 _hobnil_, hollow; the belly, 40

 _hozan_, disembowelled, 41

 _hub_, a snail, 75

 _hun_, one, 25

 _hunab_, only, sole, 37

 _hunbalan u_, the moon in conjunction, 36

 _ibach_, an armadillo, 72

 _ical_, or _ic_, T., black, 67

 _ich_, an eye; a face; twins, 84

 _ik_, wind, breath, life, soul, etc., 50, 115

 _ik_, a day name, 91, 115

 _ikomne_, a comet, 35

 _imix_, a day name, 115

 _itz_, fluid, 52

 _ix_, feminine prefix, 40

 _ix-bouat_, a prophetess, 68

 _ix chel_, the rainbow, 40

 _ix-cunal than_, a conjuress, 68

 _ix kan leom_, a spider-web, 40

 _ix kin_, priestess, 68

 _ix nuc_, old woman, 43

 _kaax_, a knot; a harvest-field, 41

 _kab_, a hand, arm, finger, juice, sap, tears, 83

 _kaba_, a name, 83

 _kabil_, his hand, 38

 _kak_, fire, 42, 120

 _kak mo_, a bird, 39

 _kal_, twenty, 19

 _kan_, money, food, etc., 109

 _kan kin_, a month name, 120

 _katun_, 11, 22, 28

 _kax_ or _kaax_, a knot, 91

 _kax pol_, the tress of the hair, 91

 _kaxala_, to rain; the rain, 91

 _kayab_, a month name, 120

 _kin katun_, 28

 _kin_, }

 _kinal_, } see p. 87

 _kinam_, }

 _kinchil_ (3,200,000), 19

 _kin ich_ (deriv.), 39

 _koh_, a mask, 69

 _ku_, a god; divine, 37

 _kuch_, a vulture, 46, 73

 _kul_, divine, 95

 _kukum_, a feather, 95

 _kup_, to sacrifice, to cut, 69

 _lakin chan_ (deriv.), 38

 _lamat_, a day name, 111

 _licil dzicil_, a knife, 89

 _lilābal_, a sprinkler, 104

 _lom_, a lance, 43

 _lum_, the earth, 48

 _maax_, a monkey, 72

 _mac_, to extinguish; a cover; a turtle; a month name, 119

 _mach_, to grasp, 83

 _mai_ or _maay_, dust, smoke, fume, 25, 68

 _mam_, a numeral, 19; grandfather, 128

 _manik_, a day name, 39, 111

 _matzab_, antennæ, rays, 98

 _mechun_, a numeral, 19

 _mehen ek_, a constellation, 35

 _men_, a day name, 114

 _miatz_, a scholar, 25

 _moan_, see muan

 _mol_, a month name, 118

 _molay ik_, a hurricane, 112

 _moo_, the macaw, 73

 _moxic_, T., a day name, 39

 _muan_, a falcon, cloudy, 74; also, a month name, 120

 _muc_, to cover, to bury, 61

 _much_, a frog, 75

 _mucul canan_, Venus, 34

 _mucul mam_, a numeral, 19

 _mucul u_, the waning moon, 61

 _muluc_, a day name, 111

 _muyal_, clouds, 48, 52, 74

 _muyan_, see muan

 _nak caan_, the sky, 99

 _na_, a house, 37

 _nen_, a mirror, 105

 _noh_, great, strong; right hand, 34

 _noh ek_, great star, 34

 _nohnial_, 39

 _nuc_, old, 43

 _nech_, provisions, 42

 _oc_, to enter; a day name, 112

 _ol_, the soul or spirit, 48

 _oxlahun_, thirteen, 25

 _paakal_, to frighten, 44

 _pacat_, face, 44

 _pax_, a musical instrument, 92; a month name, 120

 _paxan_, completed, finished, 92, 125, 129

 _pax che_, a wooden drum, 92

 _pec_, to rattle, to thunder, 63, 71

 _pec chac_, thunder, 63

 _pechhec hol_, flat-headed, 62

 _pek_, a dog, 71

 _pic_, eight thousand, 19

 _picit_, a fan, 105

 _pixan_, the soul, 25

 _pocam_, a cleansing, 55

 _pop_, a mat; a month name, 116

 _ppeta_, to perform religious rites; to cry with pain, 69

 _ppua_, dew, 42

 _pputum_, small, 43

 _ppuz_, bent over, 43

 _puch_, to spoil, to undo, to destroy, 44

 _puhaa_, to blow forth water from the mouth, 98

 _puy_, a shell, 19

 _ta_, a knife; excrement, 89

 _tah_, a dramatic representation, 89

 _tab_, cord, twenty 19, 42

 _tamacaz_, the milky way, 35

 _tan kukul_, before the gods, 44

 _tankul_, a drum, 93

 _tem_, an altar of stone, 48

 _tixl_ (Cak.), the tapir, 55

 _tub_, to spit, 42

 _tun_, a stone, a jewel, 42

 _tunkul_, see _tankul_

 _tup_, to stop up, to extinguish; also, ear-rings, 85, 120

 _tupul u uich kin_, a solar eclipse, 36

 _tzab_, rattles of the rattlesnake; the Pleiades, 35, 63

 _tza ec_, a comet, 35

 _tzapa_, short, 43

 _tzec_, a scorpion; a month name, 117

 _tzekel_, a death’s head, 117

 _tzimin_, the tapir, 55

 _tzotzceh_ (3,200,000), 19

 _tzuc_, a five-day period, 28

 _U_, the moon.; a necklace; his; 36, 86, 87

 _ua_ or _ual_, a dot, 97; a fan, 105

 _uac_, six, 43

 _ual_, month, 118

 _u nupptanba_, the moon in opposition, 36

 _uil_, food; advantageous, 86

 _uinal_, month; twenty, 87

 _uinic_, a man, 43, 87

 _uo_, a frog, 75; a month name, 116

 _uooh_, a book; a letter, 116

 _ut_, a snail, 75

 _xamach_, a platter, 58

 _xaman_, north, 34

 _xaman ek_, the north star, 34

 _xanab xux_, a bee, 60

 _xel_, a comb, etc., 86

 _xicin_, an ear; a shell, 85

 _xik_, wing of a bird, 84

 _xikal_, a queen, 84

 _xiix_, bran, husks of grain, 97

 _xoc_, to sing, to chant, 42

 _xoc_, the breech clout, 91

 _xul_, a planting stick, 105; to end; a month name, 117

 _xulab_, an ant, 36

 _xulub_, horns, 118

 _xux_, a wasp, 60

 _xux ek_, Venus, 60

 _yax_, green; blue; fresh; strong; virile; early, 95; a month name, 119

 _yax che_, green tree, 45, 48

 _yax kin_, a month name, 118, 129

 _yax kukul_, a feather ornament, 95

 _yé_, to appear, to show oneself, 43

 _yetal_, and, 100

 _yum_, father, ruler, 41

 _zac_, white, east, v. pp. 109, 110; a month name, 119

 _zacal_, to weave, 109

 _zacan_, bread, 109

 _zac ik_, east wind, 41

 _zac nohol ik_, southeast wind, 41

 _zac xaman ik_, northeast wind, 41

 _zac zini_, white being, 41

 _zaztal ek_, Venus, 34

 _zec_, a month name, 117

 _zin_, to stretch out, 75

 _zinaan_, a scorpion, 75

 _zinaan ek_, a constellation, 75

 _zinil_, the earth, 75

 _zip_, a month name, 117

 _zipik kin_, the sunset, 117

 _zodz_, a bat; a month name, 117

 _zuhuy_, a virgin, 42

                         II. INDEX OF AUTHORS.

 Aguilar, 26, 45

 Allen, H., 86, 95, 103, 119, etc.

 Baeza, P., 93

 Becker, H. F., 137

 Beltran de Santa Rosa, 44

 Berendt, C. H., 48, 74, 93, 110, 138

 Boas, F., 62

 Boban, E., 104

 Brasseur, Abbé, 13, 14, 15, 23, 51, 83, 86, 90, 112, etc.

 Carrillo, C., 62

 Charencey, H. de, 12

 Charnay, D., 11, 143

 Chavero, A., 54, 79, 97, 109

 Chilan Balam, Books of, 46, 47, 109

 Clarke, W. P., 83

 Cresson, H. T., 13, 15

 Cogolludo, P., 39, 47, 51

 Culin, S., 24

 Cushing, F. H., 48

 Dieseldorff, E. P., 104

 Dupaix, C., 95

 Duran, D., 66, 92

 Fewkes, J. W., 41, 55, 57, 70

 Förstemann, E. W., 12, 13, 18, 29, 33, 74, etc.

 Hernandez, P. R., 37

 Herrera, A., 39

 Holden, E. S., 11, 13

 Kingsborough, Lord, 12, 95

 Landa, D. de, 14, 26, 35, 39, 43, 54, 68, 104, 116

 Lara, D., 60, 93

 Las Casas, B., 37

 Leon, M., 26

 Lizana, P., 37

 Mallery, G., 83, 99

 Maudslay, A. P., 11, 12, 21, 23, 102, 136

 Motul, Dicc., 37

 Nuñez, de la Vega, 25, 39, 62, 67, 68, 113

 Nuttall, Z., 26, 32, 105

 Orantes, S., 138

 Parry, F., 50

 Peet, S. D., 101

 Peñafiel, A., 97

 Perrin, P., 12

 Pineda, E., 113

 Pineda, V., 19

 Pio Perez, 41, 119

 Plongeon, Dr. Le, 11, 15, 95

 Popol Vuh, 48, 50, 61

 Pousse, A., 12, 21, 31, 79, 80, 101

 Putnam, F. W., 11

 Rada y Delgado, J. D., 14

 Rau, C., 13

 Rochefoucauld, F. A., 16

 Rosny, L. de, 12, 14, 85, 115, 137

 Saville, M. H., 92

 Schellhas, P., 12, 43, 50, 51, 62, 71, 81, 121, 136, etc.

 Schrader, Dr., 26

 Schultz-Sellack, Dr., 41

 Seler, E., 10, 25, 32, 43, 44, 45, 71, 83, 86, 124, etc.

 Squier, E. G., 141

 Stephens, J. L., 11

 Stone, W., 72

 Thomas, C., 13, 16, 24, 29, 32, 34, 50, 51, 76, 86, 128, etc.

 Thompson, E. C., 136

 Valentini, F., 86

 Waldeck, F., 54

 Ximenes, F., 50, 96

                          III. GENERAL INDEX.

 Acan, 42

 Acat, 43

 Ah chuy kak, 44
   cun can, 44
   dziz, 42
   kak nech, 42
   kin xoc, 42
   ppua, 42
   puch, 44, 64

 Ahulane, 44

 Ah zakik ual, 42

 Alphabets, of Landa, 14; of other writers, 15–17

 Anum, the first man, 46

 Armadillo, the, 72

 Aspersorium, the, 105, 123

 Atlatl, the, 105

 Bacabs, the, 40

 Baptism, native, 76

 Baton of office, 52, 128, 130

 Bean symbol, 89, 121, 122
   sign, 89

 Beards, on images, 39, 57

 Bee god, the, 59–61, 98

 Bells, as ornaments, 64, 83

 Ben, or Been, myths of, 113

 _Ben-ik_ sign, 91, 123

 Birds, figures of, 72

 Bissextile years, 26

 Black gods, 66, 124

 Calendar signs, 22
   systems, 26–29

 Canopies, 96

 Canzicnal, 41

 Cardinal points, the, 40, 41, 108

 Centeotl, 62

 Ceremonial circuit, the, 41

 Chac mool, 95

 Chacs, the, 40

 Chamay bac, 44

 Chiapas, 37, 138

 Chichen Itza, 38

 Chilan Balam, Books of, 14, 19

 Cit bolon tun, 42

 Cloud balls, 98

 Codices, the, 11; as time-counts, 18

 Colors, symbolism of, 40, 41
   signs for, 109

 Comb sign, 86

 Comets, 35

 Conjurers, 68

 Constellation band, the, 106

 Copan, inscriptions, 21, 107, 136

 Cork-screw curl, 98

 Cosmic sign, the, 24, 50

 Cosmogony of Mayas, 46

 Cross hatching, 24, 96

 Cross, Tablet of, 62, 137

 Crotalean curve, 102

 Cuculcan, 38, 49, 55–57, 61

 Cum ahau, 41

 Days, hieroglyphs of, 109

 Death, god of, 44, 64, 121
   signs for, 84, 97

 Deers, 72, 119

 Directive signs, 88, 108

 Dogs, figures of, 71, 129
   signs for, 89, 95, 112, 125
   as food animals, 90

 Dots, their meanings, 97

 Drum signs, 91. See _pax_

 Dwarfs, 43

 Ear rings, 85

 Earth-goddess, the, 61, 64, 91, 95, 100

 Eclipses, 36

 Ek ahau, 66, 67
   chua, 42, 66, 67

 Epochs of the Universe, 46

 Evening Star, the, 61, 64

 Evil, gods of, 43

 Eye, signs for, 83–85

 Falcon, the crested, 74

 Fans, 104, 105

 Feather balls, 95
   signs, 84, 94

 Female divinities, 40–44

 Fish, 90

 “Fish and oyster” sign, 89

 Flatheads, 62

 Flint-knife, the, 88, 109

 Folk-lore of Yucatan, 43

 Food offerings, the, 90
   sign for, 86

 Frog, the, 75

 Gemini, 35

 Ghanan, 62, 123

 Gukumatz, 38, 61

 Hand, the, as deity, 38
   the closing, 102
   signs for, 82

 Hex chun chan, 44

 Hobnil, 40

 Holy water, 104

 House, signs for, 88

 Hozan ek, 41

 Huastecan, 10

 Hunab ku, 37

 Hun ahau, 44
   pic tok, 44

 Ical ahau, 67, 124

 Iguana, the, 90, 122

 Ikonomatic writing, 13, 82, 97

 “Initial series” of glyphs, 24, 92, 93, 136

 Itzamna, 37, 51–55, 101, 122, 124

 Ix chebel yax, 42
   chel, 40, 64
   hun yé, 43
   hun yeta, 43
   kan leom, 40
   nuc, 43
   tabai, 42
   tub tun, 42

 Jade, jewels of, 88

 Jaguar, the, 72, 126

 Jupiter, planet, 106

 Kabah, inscription of, 52, 135

 Kabil, 38, 51

 Kak u pacat, 44

 “Keys” to the hieroglyphs, 16, 17

 Kin ich, 39, 57, 123, 124
   ahau Itzamna, 40

 _Kin_ sign, the, 88

 Knife signs, 88, 109

 Knives, sacrificial, 89

 Knots, 100

 Labna, 136

 Lakin chan, 38, 51

 Life, symbol of, 49, 115
   tree of, 49, 53, 59, 62, 101, 128

 Lightning, symbols, 71, 74, 89, 104

 Lorillard City, 29

 Lunar years, 26

 Macaw, the, 73

 Machete, the, 102

 Maize god, the, 62, 123

 Mam, the god, 128

 Man, the first, 46
   signs for, 86, 97

 Mars, planet, 106

 Masks, use of, 54, 55

 Mayan, meaning of, 10

 Medicine drum, 93
   rattle, 104
   bag, 128

 Menche, 29

 Mercury, planet, 106

 Metals, use of, 104

 Mexican writing, 10, 79

 Mimosa, the, 105

 Mirrors, 104, 105

 Mitna, 44

 Mixcoatl, 39

 Milky Way, the, 35

 _Moan_ bird, the 74, 125

 Money, the native, 110

 Monkey, the, 72

 Monograms of gods, 121

 Months, signs for, 88

 Moon, words for, 36
   signs for, 87

 Mother Earth, sign for, 91, 95, 100

 Mugeres, Isla de, 42

 Nagualism, 98

 Necklace, sign for, 86

 North Star, the, 34, 57–59

 Numbers, sacred and symbolic, 24, 25

 Ococingo, 139

 Orion, 35

 Owl, the, 73

 Pakoc, 44

 Palæography, Mayan, 127

 Palenque inscriptions, 13, 16, 21, 54, 62, 95, 136, 137

 Pelican, the, 74

 Phallic emblems, 24, 90, 95

 Picture writing, 98

 Pleiades, the, 35, 63

 Pole star, the, 57–59

 Pottery decoration, 58, 122

 Ppiz lim tec, 42

 Priesthood, the, 68

 Pucugh, 44

 Quetzal bird, 73

 Quetzalcoatl, 39

 Quiches, 44, 140

 Quirigua, 21

 Rainbow goddess, 40

 Rain signs, 91–94
   symbols, 72, 74, 75

 Rattlesnake, the, 75

 Rays, signs for, 98

 Rebus writing, 13

 Rhetorical use of numbers, 24

 Rubrication of codices, 79

 Sacred numbers, 25

 Sastanquiqui, ruins of, 106

 Saturn, planet, 106

 Scorpion symbol, 67, 75, 117

 Serpent eye, the, 84
   goddess, the, 63, 124
   gods, 38, 124, 128
   the feathered, 38, 56, 57
   wand, 103

 Shells, symbolism of, 19, 90

 Shield, the heavenly, 107
   star, the, 58

 Shields, designs on, 95

 Shooting stars, 35

 Smoke, sign for, 97

 Solstice, symbol of, 74

 Souls, fate of, 44

 “Spectacles” sign, 85

 Speech, sign for, 97, 98

 Spider-web goddess, 40

 Sun god, the, 39, 57, 123
   signs, 87

 Tableau des Bacabs, 48, 64

 Tancucula, 44

 Tapir, the, 54, 138

 Tel cuzaan, 42

 Terrestrial Paradise, 46

 Textile signs, 96

 Thirteen, as symbolic, 25

 Thunder, personified, 63

 Tikal, 29

 Time, symbols of, 76, 127, 128

 Tlaloc, 51, 55

 Tomahawk, the, 104

 _Tonalamatl_, the, 27, 29, 31

 Tongue, piercing, 76

 Toniná, 139

 Tree of life, 48, 53, 59, 62, 101, 128

 “Trinal” emblem, 95, 136

 Turkey, the, 74, 90

 Turtle, the, 74, 119, 126

 Tzental dialect, 19, 35, 113

 Tzentals, 37, 38, 113

 Uac lom chaam, 43

 Underworld, the, 44

 Union, signs for, 100

 Venus, the planet, 33, 34, 106
   sign for, 88, 106

 Vigesimal system, 18

 Vultures, 73, 125

 War, gods of, 44, 65, 123

 Water deities, 40, 41

 Wind cross, the, 115, 116

 World-sign, the, 129

 Writing, direction of, 79

 Xabalba, 44

 Xaman ek, the North Star, 57

 Xibilba, 44

 Xipe, 66

 _Xiuhmolpilli_, the, 31

 Xnuc, see Ix nuc

 Xmucane, 49, 50, 61, 63, 112, 125

 Xoc bitum, 42

 Xpiyacoc, 61

 Xux Ek, Venus, 60

 Yax coc ah-mut, 38

 Yellow, sign for, 88

 Yucatan, 9, 37, 42, etc.

 Yum chac, 41
   cimil, 44
   kaax, 41

 Zac chamay Bac, 44

 Zac zini, 41

 Zotzils, 12, 138

 Zuhuy dzip, 42

 Zuhuy kak, 42


                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. Changed “plainly visibly” to “plainly visible” on p. 43.
 2. Changed “presented Fig. 30” to “presented in Fig. 30” on p. 83.
 3. Changed “Fig. No. 2” to “Fig. 42 No. 2” on p. 93.
 4. Changed “ths divinity; No. 7, fromi” to “this divinity; No. 7, from”
      on p. 122.
 5. “_Dicc. Motul_” is frequently referred to as “_Dic. Motul_”. Did not
 6. Silently corrected typographical errors.
 7. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.
 8. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.

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