« PrécédentContinuer »
of the ancient history of the Maya nation, and of the last days of the Can dynasty.
This interesting edifice is now in ruins. Enough, however, remains to have enabled the writer to make not only an accurate plan of it, but a restoration perfect in all its details.
After climbing to the top of the wall, that formed a terrace six metres wide, levelled and paved with square marble slabs carefully adjusted, we find a broad stairway composed of five steps. Ascending these, we stand on a platform, and between two marble columns each one metre in diameter. The base of these columns is formed of a single monolith one metre twenty centimetres high and two metres long, carved in
the shape of serpent heads with mouth open and tongue protruding. The shaft represents the body of the serpent, emblem of royalty in Mayach, as it was in Egypt and as it is yet in many countries of Asia. It is covered with sculptured feathers, image of the mantle of feathers worn in court ceremonials by the kings and the highpriests as insignia of their rank.
Between these columns there was a grand altar supported by fifteen atlantes, three abreast and five deep, whose faces
were portraits of friends and relatives of the dead warrior. On this altar, placed at the door of the inner chamber, they were wont to make offerings to his manes, just as the Egyptians made oblations of fruits and flowers to the dead on altars erected at the entrance of the tombs. From Papyrus IV., at
the Bulaq Museum, we learn that the making of offerings to the dead was taught as a moral precept. “Bring offerings to thy father and thy mother who rest in the valley of the tombs; for he who gives these offerings is as acceptable to the gods as if they were brought to themselves. Often visit the dead, so that what thou dost for them, thy son may do for thee.”' ?
* Sir Gardner Wilkinson, Manners and Customs of Ancient Egyptians, vol. iii., chap. xvi.
· Papyrus IV., Bulaq Museum. Translation by Messrs. Brugsch and E. de Rougé. Published by Mariette.