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low scroll issuing from his mouth, symbolize Aac's feelings. The pontiff, however, is unmoved by them. In the name of the gods, with serene mien, he denies the request of the proud nobleman, as his speech indicates. The winged serpent, genius of the country, that stands erect and ireful by Aac, is also wroth at his pretensions, and shows in its features and by sending its dart through Aac's royal banner, a decided opposition to them, expressed by the ends of his speech being turned backward, some of them terminating abruptly, others in sharp points.
Prince Coh sits behind the priest, as one of his attendants. He witnesses the scene, hears the calm negative answer, sees the anger of his brother and rival, smiles at his impotence, is happy at his discomfiture. Behind him, however, sits a spy, who will repeat his words, report his actions to his enemy. He listens, he watches.
The highpriest himself, Cay, their elder brother, sees the storm that is brewing behind the dissensions of Coh and Aac. He trembles at the thought of the misfortunes that will surely befall the dynasty of the Cans; of the ruin and misery of the country that will certainly follow. Divested of his priestly raiment, he comes nude and humble, as it is proper for men in presence of the gods, to ask their advice how best to avoid the impending calamities. The chief of the aruspices is in the act of reading their decrees on the palpitating entrails of a fish (Cay). The sad expression on his face, that of humble resignation on that of the pontiff, of deferential astonishment on that of the assistant, speak of the inevitable misfortunes that are to come in the near future. (Plate XLVII.)
Could the history portrayed by these fresco paintings be
given here in all its details, it would prove most interesting; but the limits assigned to this work do not allow it. Skipping, therefore, over several very curious tableaux, we shall consider the one in which Prince Coh is pictured at the head of his warriors (Plate XLVIII.) in the heat of battle, accompanied and overshadowed by the winged serpent as by an ægis. The genius of Mayach guards him, fights at his side, leads his followers to victory.
This serpent is not the rattlesnake, covered with feathers (Kukulcan), image of the rulers of the country. It is the winged serpent, whose dart is the South American continent. It is the Nohoch Can, the great serpent, protective genius of Mayach, as the uræus, that "winged serpent with inflated breast, represented standing erect on a sieve, was of Lower Egypt.1
The sieve was in Egypt emblematic of power and dominion; singular antithesis, indeed, which none of the learned Egyptologists have explained. Still the Egyptian priests never selected an object as symbol without good and sufficient reasons. These were made known to initiates only, in the seclusion of the temples. What could have induced them to choose, as emblem of domination and authority, an utensil used solely by slaves and menials, and place, standing erect upon it, the emblem of the genius of Lower Egypt, has never been accounted for in modern times.
In the Maya language we again find the explanation of such seeming mystery. In it the word for sieve is Mayab.
1 Those who consider themselves authorities on Maya antiquities always confound these two serpents, and call them Kukulcan, although they are very distinct symbols.
2 Clement of Alexandria, in Stromata 12, says: "It is requisite to hide in a mystery the wisdom spoken." He had been initiated in the mysteries.