Images de page
PDF
ePub

deceased, is pictured without a head. The ruler of the country has been slain. He is dead. The people are without a chief.

With the customary rites Prince Coh's remains have been made to return to their primitive elements by means of the all-purifying flame; the vital parts, in which intelligence and sensation were believed to have their seat, have been preserved incorruptible in separate urns, so that when the spirit of the departed warrior returns to earth to reanimate the stone image made in his likeness he will find them ready, placed by it in his mausoleum. With due respect they have been entrusted to the care of mother earth.

Queen Móo is now a widow. What is to prevent her marrying my master, the powerful Prince Aac?" So speaks the messenger who has brought to her house a basket of oranges; golden apples whose acceptance would mean that of Prince Aac also, and constitute betrothal-a custom still existing among the natives of Yucatan.' (Plate LI.) No sooner has she dismissed this first messenger, who has left the basket of fruit on the ground outside of the house-a sign that she has refused it-than a second presents himself, and, with supplicating gestures, entreats the lady to accept the proffered love of his master, who is at the foot of the elevation on which stands her residence. Aac is dressed in the color peculiar to the royal family-yellow. He bows and lowers his weapons, in token of his submission, and that he places them at her command. The deformed figure of the messenger indicates the abjectness of his entreaties. It also shows that the wise men of Mayach had studied the science of physiognomy, and had reached the conclusion that the moral qualities leave their imprint on the physical body.

1 See Appendix, note xix.

Queen Móo, with outstretched hand, seems to protect the brazier and armadillo on whose shell the Fates wrote her destiny when consulted by the H-men in the ceremony of Pou. She refuses to listen to the proposal of Prince Aac, whose totem, a serpent, name of his dynasty, is pictured at the top of a tree, trying to charm a macaw, her own totem, perched higher up on another tree, symbol of her more exalted political position. Here, then, we have woman, garden, fruit, and a tempter whose title is Can, "serpent," an episode in ancient American history.

It is this refusal to accept the fruit, not the acceptance of it as asserted by the highpriest Hilkiah in his book Genesis, that eventually brought dire calamities upon Queen Móo, caused the misfortunes of her people and the decline of the Maya civilization, occasioned by the dismemberment of the empire in consequence of intestine feuds and civil war that put an end to the Can dynasty, as we learn from the author of the Troano MS.1 and the much distorted tradition that has reached us."

1

Clinging to the tree on the top of which the macaw is perched, we see a monkey. His right arm is raised as if about to strike, or at least menacing, the second messenger, who addresses the queen. What has the artist wished to indicate by introducing this monkey in this scene, by its attitude and its gestures? If, in consequence of events, Queen Móo became Queen Mau in Egypt, or the goddess Isis, then the solution of the riddle is easy. Thoth, the god of letters, the scribe of Osiris in Amenti, represented as a cynocephalus ape, was said to have been the preceptor of Isis and Osiris, therefore the protector of their youth. The presence here of this monkey, 'Troano MS., part ii., plate xvii.

Landa, Las Cosas de Yucatan, ¿ v., p. 34.

as protector of the widowed Queen Móo, would be naturally explained.

It is impossible to even conjecture the meaning of the group formed by a rattlesnake entwined to a tree, angrily facing an unknown animal resembling a kangaroo. This animal exists

no longer in Yucatan. It is, therefore, difficult to surmise what or whom it is meant for, consequently to assign to him a rôle in this history. That he and the serpent were inimical is certain, since he seems to have been bitten by the latter, judging from the drops of blood which cover his visage.

If the events that followed the rejection of Prince Aac's love were also portrayed on the walls of the funeral chamber, as they probably were, that pictorial record is destroyed. For the knowledge of these we are indebted to the above-mentioned Maya author, whose book, having happily escaped the iconoclastic hands of the fanatical friars that came to Mayach at the beginning of the Spanish Conquest, illumines the darkness which until now has hung over the ancient history of America and that of the builders of Chichen and Uxmal.

Aac's pride being humiliated, his love turned to hatred. His only wish henceforth was to usurp the supreme power, to wage war against the friend of his childhood. He made religious disagreement the pretext. He proclaimed that the worship of the sun was to be superior to that of the "winged serpent," genius of the country; also to that of the worship of ancestors, typified by the feathered serpent, with horns and a flame or halo on the head.1 To avenge himself on the woman he had so much loved became the sole aim of his life. To gratify his desire for vengeance he resolved to plunge the country into civil war; to sacrifice his friends, his own wel1 Ubi supra, plate vii.

fare, that of the people, if necessary. Prompted by such evil passions, he put himself at the head of his own vassals and attacked those who had remained faithful to Queen Móo and to Prince Coh's memory.

Here, then, we have the origin of the enmity between the woman and the serpent, to which we find allusion in Genesis; and of that of the sun and the serpent, prevalent in all countries where vestiges of Maya civilization are found.

At first, Queen Móo's adherents successfully opposed her foes. The contending parties, forgetting in the strife that they were children of the same soil, blinded by their prejudices, let their passions have the best of their reason. Fortune favored now one side, now the other. At last Queen Móo fell a prisoner in the hands of her enemy.1 (Plate LII.)

Let us hear what the author of the Troano says: "The people of Mayach, having been whipped into submission and cowed, no longing opposing much resistance, the lord seized her by the hair and, in common with others, caused her to suffer from blows. This happened on the ninth day of the tenth month of the year Kan;" that is, on the seventh Eb, of the month Yax, of the year Kan.

"Being completely routed, she passed to the opposite seacoast, toward the east. Seeking refuge, the queen went to the seacoast in the southern parts of the country, which had already suffered much injury. This event took place on the first day of the sixth month of the year Muluc;" that is to say, on the tenth of the month Xul, in the year Muluc, or eight months and twelve days after she had been made a prisoner.

"The northern part of the country being subjected, he con1 Troano MS., part ii., plates xvi. and xvii.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »