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being emblematic of the invincible power of royalty;” 1 but he does not inform us why it was selected as such an emblem, nor does Plutarch, although he also tells us that it was the symbol of royalty. Pausanias : affirms that the asp was held sacred throughout Egypt, and at Omphis particularly enjoyed the greatest honor. Phylarchus states the same thing."
Still the Egyptian sages must have had very strong motives for thus honoring this serpent and causing it to play so conspicuous a part in the mysteries of their religion. Was it perchance in commemoration of the mother country of their ancestors, beyond the sea, toward the setting sun? There the ancient rulers, after receiving the honors of apotheosis, were always represented in the monuments as serpents covered with feathers, the heads adorned with horns, and a flame instead of a crown; often, also, with simply a crown.
It is well to remember that in Egypt the cerastes, or horned snakes, were the only serpents, with the asp, that were held as sacred. Herodotus 5 tells us that “when they die they are buried in the temple of Jupiter, to whom they are reputed sacred."
The Maya Empire comprised all the lands between the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and that of Darien, known to-day as Central America. The history of the sovereigns that had governed it, and of the principal events that had taken place in the nation, was written in well-bound books of papyrus or parchment, covered with highly ornamented wooden
· Ælian, Nat. An., lib. vi., 33.
boards,' while the most important occurrences were likewise carved in stone on the walls of their public edifices, to preserve their record in a lasting and indelible manner for the knowledge of future generations. It is from these sculptured and written memoirs graven on their palaces at Uxmal and Chichen in the peninsula of Yucatan, the head of the imperial serpent and the seat of the government of the Maya Empire, that the author has learned the history of Queen Móo and her family.
At its southern extremity and on the top of the east wall of the tennis court at Chichen, there is a building that is of the greatest interest to the archæologist, the historian, and the ethnologist; while the architect may learn from it many useful lessons. John L. Stephens, who visited it in 1842, speaks of it as a casket containing the most precious jewels of ancient American art. 2
It was a memorial hall erected by order of Queen M6o, and dedicated to the memory of her brother-husband, Prince Coh, an eminent warrior. Those paintings so much admired by Stephens, rivalling the frescos in the tombs of Egypt and Etruria, or the imagery on the walls of the palaces of Babylon mentioned by Ezekiel, were a pictorial record of the life of Prince Coh from the time of his youth to that of his death, and of the events that followed it. They thus form a few
* Landa, Las Cosas de Yucatan, pp. 44, 316. Cogolludo, Historia de Yucathan, etc., lib. iv., cap. v.
These books were exactly like the holy books now in use in Thibet. These also are written on parchment strips about eighteen inches long and four broad, bound with wooden boards, and wrapped up in curiously embroidered silk.
C. F. Gordon Cumming, In the Himalayas and on the Indian Plains,
· John L. Stephens, Incidents of Travels in Yucatan, vol. ii., p. 310, et passim.