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steps toward compelling the preservation of ancient works of art, even in their deteriorated condition. The legend on the right, in front of the figure, translated verbatim, reads as follows:
That is: Ta ox uuɔ, u tem kam uuch noocol oxmal. Freely translated: "The thrice bent man," "the altar welcomes the crushed body, lying face downward, of the man from Uxmal."
It is well to notice that all the signs forming this legend are
Egyptian as well as Maya; that, therefore, any one able to read Egyptian inscriptions can, without difficulty, with the aid of a Maya dictionary, translate it as well as I. This proves that the ancient Maya hieratic alphabet discovered by me and published, in 1886, side by side with the Egyptian, on page xii of the introduction of my book, "Sacred Mysteries among the Mayas and the Quichés," is a true key to the deciphering of some, at least, of the Maya mural inscriptions, notwithstanding the slanderous aspersions of Dr. Brinton, and his assertion on page 15 of his "Primer of Mayan Hieroglyphs" "that I have added nothing to corroborate the correctness of the interpretations.' But may I ask why he has not verified them? Has he no Maya dictionaries? The trouble with him is, judging from his own books, that he knows personally nothing on the subject. Is he not utterly ignorant of the true meaning of a single Maya character, when in composition with other signs to form words and sentences? Can he decipher one single sentence of the Maya books? Does he even know Maya as spoken to-day? How, then, does he dare to attack the knowledge of those who, by hard study during several years passed among people who speak nothing but Maya, have made themselves familiar with the subject, and set himself up as an authority on what he does not know? Let him not lose sight of the fact that we are no longer in those times when the people, as Bishop Synesius says (in "Calvit.," p. 515), wish absolutely to be deceived. To-day honest inquirers after knowledge object to being gulled by mere pretenders, even if these boast of the titles of doctor and professor in a university.
We know that the ancient Mayas were serpent worshippers. They worshipped the serpent, not that they believed it 'Aug. Le Plongeon, Sacred Mysteries, p. 109.
to be wiser than, or intellectually superior to, any other animal-they had too much good sense for that--but because it was the emblem of their country, the contour of which figures a serpent with an inflated breast, like the Egyptian uræus, for which reason they called it nohoch can, “the great serpent." 1 The serpent was the emblem of Mayach, as the eagle is that of the United States, the lion that of England, the bear that of Russia, the cock that of France, etc.
Judging from their descendants in our day, the ancient Mayas must have been fanatical lovers of their country. The title of their rulers was can (serpent), as khan is to this day that of the kings of Tartary, Burmah, and other Asiatic countries; as it was that of the Emperor of China even in the days of Marco Polo, and its emblem is yet a dragon. Like the Egyptian kings the Maya cans were initiates to the sacred mysteries performed in the secrecy of their temples.
No one has ever explained why the Asiatic rulers took upon themselves the title of khan, or adopted the serpent for an emblem as did the Egyptian kings. The Maya language offers a simple explanation.
Can, "serpent," "king," by permutation becomes nac, the meaning of which is "crown," and also "throne," insignias of royalty. But the verb Naacal means "to be elevated," "to be raised." It was the title adopted by the initiates among the Mayas, corresponding to our modern
Cogolludo, Hist. de Yucathan, lib. i., chap. i.
2 Troano MS., part ii., plate xvii., 2; plate xxvii., 1. The tree was another emblem of Mayach (Troano MS., part ii., plates viii. to xiii.; Codex Cortesianus, plates vii. and viii.). It is well to recall here that Egypt was likewise called the Land of the Tree, although the valley of the Nile was well-nigh devoid of trees. (Samuel Birch in Gardner Wilkinson, Customs and Manners of Ancient Egyptians, vol. iii., chap. xiii., p. 200.)