Images de page
PDF
ePub

returned to the bosom of their ancestors in the realms of Amenti. There King Osiris sat on a throne in the midst of the waters; there, also, it was that Thoth performed his office of scribe. Was, then, the worship of the cynocephalus, his totem, brought to Egypt from the Lands of the West?

Another funeral custom among the Egyptians, mentioned by Champollion Figeac1 and Sir Gardner Wilkinson,' was that of placing the right arm of the mummies of distinguished persons across the chest, so that the right hand rested on the left shoulder. We find that this same custom obtained in Mayach. We shall refer to it more at length, later on, when explaining the sculptures that ornamented Prince Coh's mausoleum.

If we examine the ornaments worn by the personages represented by the atlantes, those portrayed in the bas-reliefs on the jambs of the doorway and on the antæ that supported the entablature of the portico of Prince Coh's Memorial Hall, likenesses, probably, of individuals who lived when the structure was erected, who were, no doubt, friends and relatives of the deceased prince, we find that said ornaments consisted of ear-rings, nose-rings, nose-studs, armlets, bracelets, anklets, garters, necklaces, breastplates, and finger-rings. From times immemorial to our day, the same kind of jewelry has been used in India, Chaldea, Asia Minor, Egypt, and Greece. Nose rings and studs, however, seem to have been ornaments essentially belonging to the Western Continent. They are still as much the prevalent adornment among the tribes living on the banks of the upper Amazon River and its affluents, in the very

1

Champollion Figeac, L'Univers, Egypte, p. 261.

Sir Gardner Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, vol. iii., chap. xvi., p. 486.

3

heart of the southern American continent,' and with the majority of the Mexican tribes, as they were among the Mayas even at the time of the Spanish Conquest. They are habitually worn by women of all classes in India; by Arab women of Mesopotamia," as they were by Jewish women in the time of Isaiah. He threatened the daughters of Zion, on account of their haughtiness, with the loss of their ornaments, among which were their rings and other nose jewels. So far as we know, nose-rings and nose-studs were not in vogue among the ancient Aryans. They, therefore, did not introduce the custom of wearing such ornaments in the countries they invaded. Said custom must have been brought to Asia, in very remote ages, by immigrants from America. It is a noticeable fact that it only obtained in countries where vestiges of the Mayas and their civilization are found.

Must we regard as a mere coincidence the use of these nose and lip ornaments that, to us, seem not only extremely inconvenient, but rather disfiguring than beautifying the face of the wearer, yet so prevalent among many peoples living thousands of miles apart, knowing nothing of each other's existence?

Perhaps those knowing professors who pretend to explain all these identical customs existing in so many diverse nations, by the tendency of the human mind, in its struggles to free

'Paul Marcoy (Lorenzo de Saint-Bricq), Travels in South America, vol. ii.

3

'Bancroft, Native Races of America, vol. i.

Diego de Cogolludo, Hist. de Yucathan, lib. xii., chap. vii., p. 699. Diego de Landa, Las Cosas de Yucatan, p. 182.

'C. F. Gordon Cumming, In the Himalayas and on the Indian Plains, chap. iv., p. 90. Bishop Heber, Narratives of a Journey through the Upper Provinces of India, vol. ii., pp. 179, 188.

5

Henry Layard, Nineveh and Babylon, pp. 153-262.

Isaiah, chap. iii., verse 21.

itself from the darkness of barbarism, when placed in similar conditions, to act in the same manner and repeat the same actions, will find here an incontrovertible proof of the accuracy of their pet theory. But we who want more than theories, who require proofs for every scientific or historical fact asserted, will ask them, How is it that the strange custom of wearing rings hanging from the nose or lips, or studs fastened on either or both sides of the nose, has obtained and does still obtain with peoples who have had intimate relations with the ancient Mayas, and with these only?

Who can assign limits to the extravagance of the votaries of fashion, that most merciless of tyrants? In all times, in all countries, it has held, and still holds, sway over them, be they civilized or savage. It incites them to deck their bodies with the most ridiculous and unbecoming appendages under pretext of adorning them; and they, its slaves, humbly obey.

Next to these nose and lip jewels, the ornament that most attracts attention in the portraits represented in the sculptures and paintings of the Maya artists is the necklace, of which there is a great variety, worn by persons of rank. It would seem that it was used as a badge of authority, as was the breastplate, since some necklaces bear a notable resemblance to those seen round the necks of the images of the gods and goddesses in Egypt. We know that there, as in Chaldea and many other countries, they were bestowed on the wearers as a mark of royal favor; whilst armlets and bracelets were tokens of rank, seldom worn except by officers of the court or persons of distinction.2

'Genesis, chap. xli., verse 42. Gardner Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, vol. iii., p. 370.

'Rawlinson, The Five Monarchies, vol. i., p. 568; vol. iii., p. 370.

XII.

BEFORE entering the funeral chamber, let us examine the graceful decorations that embellished the entablature of the Memorial Hall. From them we shall learn by whom, to whom, and for what purpose it was erected. Properly speaking, there is not a single inscription, not a single letter or character, on any part of the building; and yet the architect who conceived the plan, and had it executed, so cleverly arranged the ornaments that they form the dedication. We must, of course, read it in the Maya language. (Plate XXXV.)

Beginning at the top of the entablature, we notice that the first line of ornaments represents a rope loosely twisted, and that within the open strands there are circles. This ornament is three times repeated.

There are

One of the names for rope, in Maya, is kaan. two words for circle, hol and uol. Taking hol to be the first syllable of a dissyllable suggested by the two distinct objects that compose the ornament, and kaan to be the second, we have, by changing the k into c, the word holcan, which means a "warrior." Holcan,' moreover, was a title correLanda, Las Cosas de Yucatan, ¿ xxix., p. 174.

1

[merged small][graphic]
« PrécédentContinuer »