« PrécédentContinuer »
judgment, to indicate their good deeds. The same custom obtained in Mayach. This we learn from the various statues of personages of high rank discovered at Chichen by the writer-that of Prince Coh and others. They invariably hold between their hands a vase placed on the abdomen. Mayach this vase was typical of the Gulf of Honduras. Whence such strange customs among the Egyptians? Porphyry tells us that in Egypt, "When the bodies of persons of distinction were embalmed, they took out the intestines and put them into a vessel, over which (after some other rites had been performed for the dead) one of the embalmers pronounced an invocation to the sun in behalf of the deceased." These intestines, with the other viscera, were deposited in four vases; each contained a separate portion. They were placed in the tomb with the coffin, and were supposed to belong to the four genii of Amenti, whose heads and names they bore. These funeral vases were called canopi. Sir Gardner Wilkinson asks, "Why call these funeral vases canopi, a word without an etymon in the Egyptian language ? ” 5
For the answer we must come to America. In ancient Peru the canopa were household gods; but the Quichua offers no explanation of the name. If we want to know its meaning we must inquire from the learned men of Mayach. They will tell us that, in remote ages, their ancestors imagined that the vault of heaven was sustained on four pillars, placed one at each of the cardinal points, whose names were Kan, Muluc, Ix, and Cauac; that the Creator assigned the care of these
1 Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, etc., vol. iii., chap. xvi., p. 470. Porphyry, De Abstinencia, lib. iv. 10.
'Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, vol. iii., chap. xvi., p. 481.
pillars to four brothers, whose names were Kan-Bacab, the yellow Bacab, who stood at the south; Chac-Bacab, the red Bacab, who occupied the east; Zac-Bacab, the white Bacab, to whom was intrusted the north; and Ek-Bacab, the black Bacab, whose place was the west. They were held in great veneration, and regarded as the genii of the wind. These learned men will also inform us that those powerful genii were represented by four jars with narrow necks, surmounted by human heads, which jars, during certain religious ceremonies, were filled with water, and called Canob, that is, the "Four," the "strong," the "mighty." From the Maya Canob the Egyptians no doubt called canopi the four vases in which were deposited the entrails of the dead. Do not these four Bacabs recall the four gods of the Hindoo mythology who preside at the four cardinal points-Indra, the king of heaven, to the east; Kouvera, the god of wealth, to the north; Varouna, the god of the waters, to the west; and Yama, the judge of the dead, to the south? Or the Four Mountains, Sse-yo, of the Chinese the "four quarters of the globe," as they are wont to designate their country-Tai-Tsong being the yo of the East; Sigan-fou, that of the west; Hou-Kowang, that of the south; and Chen-si, that of the north? Or, again, the four
1 Landa, Las Cosas de Yucatan, p. 206, et passim.
Bac means, in the Maya language, "to pour water from a narrowmouthed vase." Pio Perez, Maya dictionary. Plate xxxiii.
3 Cogolludo, Historia de Yucathan, lib. iv., cap. viii., p. 197. Edit., 1688. Manava-Dharma-Sastra, lib. 1, Sloka 87.
Chou-King, chap. i. Yoa-tien, part i. These four mountains recall the four pillars that support heaven; that is, the four cardinal points of the Mayas, of the Hindoos, of the Chaldeans, and of the Egyptians. On a Stela of Victory of Thotmes III., in the Bulaq Museum, it is written: "I, Amon, have spread the fear of thee to the four pillars of Heaven." Do not the bags of Eolus, that contain the winds in Grecian mythology, recall the four bottles, or jars, of the Bacabs?