« PrécédentContinuer »
THE following invocation to the god of rain was made known for the first time to students of American antiquities by the learned Abbé Brasseur in his Chrestomathy.' He tells us he had it from a native, while at the hacienda of X-Canchakan. It is one of the many ancient prayers yet extant among the natives, who still repeat them when, in the obscure recesses of the forests, or in the depths of the dark, mysterious subterranean caves with which the country is honeycombed, they perform some of the antique rites of the religion of their forefathers.2
As published, the invocation, adulterated by the interpolation of Christian words taught the natives by the Catholic priests, despoiled of its archaic form, loses much of its interest. The individual who translated it for the Abbé, either did it very carelessly, or purposely did not interpret all the words, or was very illiterate. As presented it is stripped of its most
'Abbé Brasseur, "Chrestomathie," in his Eléments de la Langue Maya, Troano MS., vol. ii., p. 101.
Alice D. Le Plongeon, Here and There in Yucatan, pp. 88–89.
instructive features, which relate to certain religious practices in use among devotees in olden times. Although the learned Abbé says he has tried to improve the translation, it is certain that he himself is far from having apprehended the true meaning of the Maya words. As for Dr. Brinton-who in his books poses as authority on all matters pertaining to the Mayas and their language, and is very prone to criticise others—by rendering verbatim, in English, the French abbé's version, he has conclusively demonstrated that he does not understand the context of the prayer better than Brasseur, who, he affirms, "knew next to nothing about Maya."3
On our return to Yucatan in June, 1880, Señor Dn. Vicente Solis de Leon, one of the present owners of the hacienda of X-Canchakan, within the boundaries of which are situated the ruins of the ancient city of Mayapan, invited Mrs. Le Plongeon and myself to visit the remains of the famous abodes of the powerful king Cocom, and of his descendants until the year 1446 of the Christian era, when, according to Landa, the lords and nobles of the country, with the chief of the Tutuxius at their head, put to death the then reigning Cocom and his sons, sacked his palace, and destroyed by fire his city and stronghold, after removing the libraries and other precious things from the temples and private dwellings.*
Being at X-Canchakan, I met a native, Marcelo Canich, an old Mayoral who had lived for more than forty years on the 1 Dr. Brinton presumes to criticise, without adducing his reasons for so doing, the assertion made by the author that the ancient Maya architects made use, in the construction of their edifices, of a lineal measure identical with the metre. For an answer to this unfounded criticism, see Appendix,
notes xii, and xiv.
D. G. Brinton, Essays of an Americanist, p. 167.
Ibid., p. 261. For a reply to this assertion, see Appendix, note xv.
Landa, Las Cosas de Yucatan, chap. viii., p. 50.
hacienda. He had a clear remembrance of John L. Stephens and his companions Messrs. Catherwood and Cabot. He also remembered well Abbé Brasseur, to whom he had recited the invocation to the god of rain. When he repeated it to me, notwithstanding the admixture of Christian ideas, I saw in it not only one of those archaic prayers that continue to live in the memory of the natives, but that it contained most interesting information, and the explanation of certain ceremonies that the ancient sculptors have so graphically portrayed in their bas-reliefs.
Some months later we again established our residence in Uxmal, that ancient metropolis of the Tutul-Xius. While there, the head man of the laborers who accompanied me was the late Dn. Lorenzo Pacab. He was a lineal descendant of the kings of Muna. His commands, given in a soft low voice, were instantly obeyed by the men. He understood Spanish, was fond of reading, but hated to speak the tongue of the destroyers and persecutors of his race. He himself had cruelly suffered at the hands of the white man. Still, when he died, so highly respected was he by his townfolk, that they honored his remains with as grand a funeral as had taken place for many years in Muna; the principal inhabitants, white as well as native, accompanying his body, reverentially, to its last abode.
I do not remember having ever seen him laugh. Sometimes a sad, bitter smile would play upon his lips, when allusion was made to the history of his people. Notwithstanding the color of my skin, a great friendship sprang up between us-a true, sincere attachment. He was well informed concerning the traditions, antique lore, customs, and religious rites of his ancestors. I could seldom induce him to speak on that subject,
to him so replete with painful, cruel memories. Only when I pointed out to him the strange similarity of the customs and manners of ancient Mayas and those of ancient Egyptians, Chaldees, and other historical nations of antiquity, would he relax from his habitual secrecy, and ask me questions that, to my mind, were like the lifting of a veil hung over a bright panorama.
When I showed him the invocation as given to me by Canich, he smiled, and passed his pencil, without speaking, over the words referring to Christian ideas.1
INVOCATION TO THE GOD OF RAIN.
Tippen lakin yumé ti ú canté tzil cáan, ti ú canté the tzil luúm, cú lubúl in than ti cancan xotħol, ti ú kab yumbil.
When the master rises in East, the four parts of heaven, the four corners of the earth, are shattered, and my broken accents fall in the hands of the Lord.
Ú likil muyal lakin, ti When the cloud rises in the nacahbal chumuc ti cánil East, and ascends to the centre Ahtepal, ti oxlahun taz where sits the Orderer of the muyal, Ahtzolan, Kan thirteen banks of clouds, King chac; ú páatahbal yum Ahtzolan, the "tearer," the tzibol ul-laahbalob Ahtzo-"yellow thunder," where the lan, Kanchéob ti cilich lords who tear await the comɔami balché, yetel ú cilich ing of Ahtzolan, then the yacunah ti yumtzilob, Ah- keeper of the troughs wherein canan colob utial ú cħaob is fermenting the precious
I present here, side by side, the Maya text and my own English translation. Dictionary in hand, Maya students will be able to verify its
ú cilich ɔabilah, tu cilich | balché, full of love for the noh yumbil.
lord's tearers, "guardians of the crops," presents the holy offerings that they may place them in the presence of the Most High, whom they reverence as a father.
I also offer the virgin bird with my holy love. Thou wilt look at me when I cut my
Cin kubic ú zuhuy cħiicħil yetel in cilich yacunahil; tech bin yanac á pactic, en ti ú xotħol ma- privities, I who beg thy blessah kintzil; cin katoltic ings with my heart full of love á putic á cicitħan tu uolol for thee, and ask thee to accept á puczikal ca kubic a cil- my precious offerings and place ich yacunah á chic Zuhuy them in the hands of the Most ɔabilah; bay-tumen pay- High.
ben utial kubic ti ú Kab
The mutilation of the devotee by his own hand, and his prayer that the gods should look upon him whilst he performs the operation, recall vividly the practices in use among the Phoenicians and the Phrygians during the orgiastic rites, and their worship of the goddess Amma (Agdistis), the "great mother of the gods," Maïa, when young men were wont to make themselves eunuchs with a sharp shell, crying out at the same time," Take this, Agdistis." 1 Herodotus tells us that at the feast of Isis, at Busiris, "after the sacrifices, men and women, to the number of several myriads, beat themselvesin honor of what god, it would be impiety to say. The 'Max Duncker, History of Antiquity, vol. i., p. 531. 'Herodotus, History, lib. ii., lxi.