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The study of the Troano MS. will convince any one that the learned author of that book, and no doubt many of his associates, had not only a thorough knowledge of the geographical configuration of the Western Continent and the adjacent islands, but also of their geological formation. The "Lands of the West" are represented by these symbols,
which some have translated Atlan.' They leave no room for doubting that the
Mayas were acquainted with the eastern coasts of said continent, from the bay of Saint Lawrence in latitude north 48° to Cape St. Roque, in Brazil, in latitude south 5° 28'. The two signs or of the locality placed under the symbols represent the two large regions of the Western Continent, North and South America; whilst the signs and seen within the curve figuring the northern basin of the Atlantic, stand for the Land of Mu, that extensive island now submerged under the waves of the ocean.
that forms the upper
The sign, as well as this part of the symbol, is familiar to all students of Egyptology. These will tell you that the first meant, in the Egyptian hieroglyphs, "the sun setting on the horizon," and the second, "the mountainous countries in the west."
As to the conventional posture given to all the statues of the rulers and other illustrious personages in Mayach it confirms the fact of their geographical attainments. If we compare, for instance, the outlines of the effigy of Prince Coh discovered by the author at Chichen-Itza in 1875, with
Kingsborough, Mexican Antiquities, vol. i., and Comment, vol. v. Atlan is not a Maya but a Nahuatl word. It is composed of the two primitives Atl,"water," and Tlan, "near," ""between." The Maya name for the symbol is Alau.
the contour of the eastern coasts of the American continent,
belly of the statue, between the hands, would then be symbolical of the Gulf of Mexico and of the Caribbean Sea.1 1
Again, the outlines of the profile of the statue may also represent with great accuracy the eastern shores of the Maya Empire the head being the peninsula of Yucatan, anciently the seat of the government; the knees would then correspond to Cape Gracias a Dios, in Nicaragua; the feet to the Isthmus of Darien, the southern boundary of the empire; and the shallow basin on the belly would in that case stand for the Bay of Honduras, part of the Caribbean Sea. The Antilles were known to the Mayas as the "Land of the Scorpion," Zinaan, and were represented by the Maya hierogrammatist by the figure of that arachnid, or in his cursive writing by this other proof evident that he was as well acquainted as we are with the general outlines of the archipelago.
'Various other statues discovered by the writer at Chichen-Itza have the same position, and hold a basin on the belly, between their hands. Others, again, are to be seen in the "National Museum" of Mexico, all having the same conventional attitude, with the head turned to the right shoulder.
2 Troano MS., part 11, plates vi., vii.
In the tableau, plate v., which forms the middle section of plate xiii. in the second part of the Troano MS., the author describes the occurrence of a certain phenomenon of volcanic origin, whose focus of action was located in the volcanoes of the island of Trinidad, figured by the image of a
The ancient Maya sages sometimes likened the earth to a caldron, cum, because as nutriment is cooked in such utensil, so also all that exists on the surface of the earth is first elaborated in its bosom. Sometimes, likewise, on account of its rotundity, and because it contains the germs of all things, they compared the earth to a calabash, kum, full of seeds. These similes seem to have been favorite ones, since they made frequent use of them in illustrating their explanations of the geological phenomena which have convulsed our planet. Perhaps also the second reason was what caused them to generally adopt a circular shape for the characters they invented to give material expression to the multitudinous conceptions of their mind (unless it be that they gave that form to these characters from that of their skull, containing the brain, organ of thought). The fact is that their symbol for the name Mayach, of the peninsula of Yucatan, affects the shape of a calabash, with its tendril just sprouted—a yach or ach, as the natives call a young sprout.
What can have induced the hierogrammatists to select a hand at the end of the scorpion's tail. The rope that connects said hand with the raised right forefoot of the deer indicates that not only the seismic action was felt throughout the length of the Caribbean Sea, from south to north, but that it produced the upheaval of some locality in the northern parts of said sea. Beginning, naturally, the reading of the legend by the column on the right, we find that he describes the phenomenon in the following words: "Oc ik ix canab ezah nab" (that is, "A handful (small quantity) of gases, escaped from the crater, caused canab to show the palm of his hand "). According to its location this raised forefoot may be the upheaval of the large volcano that looms high in the air in the middle of the island of Roatan, the largest of the group called Guanacas in the Bay of Honduras, where the Mayas met the Spaniards for the first time in 1502. The second column reads: "Cib canalcunte lam a ti ahau O." ("The lava having filled (raised) the submerged places, the master of the basin," etc.) (The last sign being completely obliterated, we cannot know what the author had said.)