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in our day, have made a study of the effect produced by colors on the nervous system of man and animals-that blue induces sadness and melancholy? Blue, from the color of the vault of heaven, was typical of holiness, sanctity, chastity, hence of happiness; it was then worn in Mayach, Egypt, and Chaldea during the period of mourning, in token of the felicity the soul, free from the trammels of matter and the probations of earthly life, was enjoying in realms beyond the grave. They believed that all things existed forever; that to cease to be on the earth was only to assume another form somewhere else in the universe, where dwelt the spirits of the justified—the maxeru of the Egyptians, that, translated in Maya, xma-xelel, means "without tears, "whole." Landa tells us that, to the time of the Spanish conquest, the bodies of the individuals who offered themselves, or were offered, as propitiatory victims to Divinity, as well as the altars on which they were immolated, were painted blue, and held holy. We have seen these victims, painted blue, represented in the ancient fresco paintings. The image of Mehen, the engendered, that ancestor of all beings, seated in the cosmic egg, was painted blue; so was the effigy of the god Kneph, the Creator, in Egypt; and the gods, the boats, the shrines, carried in the funeral processions, were likewise painted blue. In Hindostan, the god Vishnu, seated on the mighty seven-headed serpent Caisha, the Ah-acchapat of the Mayas, is painted blue, to signify his exalted and heavenly nature. The plumes worn on the heads of the
Landa, Las Cosas de Yucatan, chap. xxviii., p. 166.
"Y llegado el dia, juntavanse en el patio del templo, y si avia de ser sacrificado a saetadas, desnudavanle en cueros y untavan el cuerpo de azul," etc.
'Eusebius, Præp. et Demons. Evang., lib. iii., chap. xi., p. 215.
Sir Gardner Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, vol. ii., c. xiii., p. 400.
kings and queens of the Mayas, for the same reason, were blue, the king being the vicegerent and vicar of Deity on earth. The ceremonial mantle of the highpriest was made of blue and yellow feathers, to indicate that in his office he partook both of the divine and the kingly.
In another work I have treated at length of the meaning which the Mayas attached to colors. The limits of this book do not allow for lengthy explanations on this subject; but a few words must be said about yellow and red, colors which have been held by all civilized nations of antiquity as distinctive of royalty and nobility of race.
The unearthing of the altar at the entrance of Prince Coh's funeral chamber has revealed the fact that among the Mayas yellow was the distinctive color of the royal family.
It is well known that throughout China the emperor and his family are the only persons allowed to wear yellow garments. Red is the other color set apart for the particular use of the imperial family.
In the islands of the Pacific, the Sandwich Islands especially, yellow was likewise the distinctive color of royalty. The king alone had the right to wear a cloak made of yellow feathers.3 "The cloaks of the other chiefs were adorned with red and yellow rhomboidal figures, intermingled or disposed in alternate lines, with sometimes a section of dark purple or glossy black."
In Thibet, the dress of the lamas consists of a long yellow robe, fastened by a red girdle, and a yellow cap surmounted by Is this the reason why the Egyptians also placed feathers alike on the heads of their gods and their kings?
'Memoir of Father Ripa, p. 71. "Thirteen Years' Residence at the Court of Pekin." Marco Polo Travels, by Hugh Murray, in 1250, p. 74.
'William Ellis, Polynesian Researches, vol. iv., chap. vi., p. 119.
a red rosette.1 The king of the lamas, the Guison-Tamba, when he travels, is carried in a yellow palanquin.2
In India, yellow and red are colors used in the worship of the gods. Yellow is set apart for Vishnu and Krishna and their wives. Widows who immolate themselves on the funeral pyre of their husbands, in the Suttee ceremony, have their bodies painted yellow with an infusion of sandalwood and saffron.3 Yellow is likewise the color of the dress of the bonzes in Laos, Indo-China; and the priests officiating at the funerals of Siamese kings wear yellow robes.
Among Christians, even, yellow is the distinctive color of the Pontiff, whose seat is in the Solar City. The papal banner is white and yellow. Several learned writers, whose opinion is authority on all matters pertaining to customs and manners of the ancient civilized inhabitants of Asia and Africa, in trying to account for the selection of yellow as distinctive color for the kings, pontiffs, and priests officiating at funerals of kings, have suggested that, as the emperors of China, like the kings in India, Chaldea, Egypt, and other countries, styled themselves "Children of the Sun," it was but natural that they should select for color of their own garments that of their father the Sun, and to make it the mark of their exalted rank, and the privilege of their family.
M. Huc, Recollections of a Journey through Tartary, Thibet, and China, vol. i., chap. i., p. 22.
Ibid., chap. iv., p. 89.
'Abbé Dubois, Description of the Manners of the People of India, pp. 240-243.
Cartaud de la Villate, Critical Thoughts on Mathematics (vol. i., Paris, 1752), says: "The Cardinal Dailly and Albert the Great, Bishop of Ratisbonne, distribute the planets among the religions. To the Christians they assign the Sun. This is the reason why they hold the Sun in great veneration, and why the city of Rome is styled the Solar City, and the cardinals wear dress of a red color, this being that of the Sun."
The selection of that color may, however, have an esoteric and more scientific origin; one pertaining to the ancient sacred mysteries, known only to the initiates who had been admitted to the higher degrees.
It is well to remember that the kings of Mayach, also, styled themselves "Children of the Sun," as did the emperors of Mexico and the Yncas of Peru.
We have seen that Kan was the name of the first Bacab,1 the powerful genius to whom the Creator had entrusted, from the beginning, the keeping of the pillar that supported the sky on the south, the fiery region whence comes the greatest heat; hence Kan, for yellow, the color of fire, that direct emanation from the sun, Kin, the vivifying, the life sustainer, the GOD, without whom nothing could exist, and everything would perish on earth-that God who is, therefore, the visible image of the Creator.
Kan is but a variation of caan, "heaven," "that which is above," caanal, and also of can, "serpent," which was the emblem of the Maya Empire.
But Can is also the numerical "Four," the tetraktis, that most solemn and binding oath of the initiates into the mysteries. The number four, according to Pythagoras, who had learned from the Egyptians the meaning of numbers, represents the mystic name of the creative power. Can, again, is a copulative particle that, united to verbs, indicates that the action is verified frequently and with violence. Hence the name Kancab for yellow or red clay, the dry land, upheaved from the bottom of the deep by volcanic fires, anthropomorphized in Homen.
According to Nahuatl cosmogony, "when Omeyocar, the Creator, who dwelt in himself, thought that the time had come when all things should be created, he arose, and from one of his hands, resplendent with light, he darted four arrows, which struck and put in motion four molecules, origin of the four elements that floated in space. These molecules, on being hit by the divine arrows, became animated. Heat, which determined movement in matter, was developed in them. Then appeared the first rays of the rising sun, which brought life and joy throughout nature."1
What conclusions are we to derive from the fact that the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Nahuatls, and the Mayas assigned the number Four to the creative power? That the Chinese, other Asiatic, and Polynesian nations adopted, like the Mayas, as a distinctive badge for their kings and their religious chiefs, vicars of the Deity on earth, the yellow color, whose name in the Maya language, Kan, is but a variant of that of the numerical FOUR, or that of heaven, or that of the serpent, emblem of the Creator in Egypt, Chaldea, China, as in Mayach? In China, Long or Ti-Hoang, the Tse-yuen, the "engendered," who had the body of a serpent, is the protector and arranger of all things; and Hoa, the "god of life," of the Chaldees, was represented as a serpent. I may quote in this connection the following remarks from Canon Rawlinson: “There are no means of strictly determining the precise meaning of the word (Hoa) in Babylonian, but it is perhaps allow
1 Lord Kingsborough, vol. ii., copy of a Mexican manuscript in the Vatican library, No. 3738. Compare with the recital of Creation in Manava-Dharma-Sastra, lib. i., Slokas 5-7.
2 The origin of the Nahuatls is unknown, and a matter of discussion among Americanists. Were they Huns?
'Berosus, Fragments, 1. 3. Helladius, 1. s. c.