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But Mayab, we are told, was in remote times one of the names of the Yucatan peninsula, given to it on account of the porosity of its soil, which allows the water to filter through it as through a sieve, and gather, cool and pure, in pools and lakes, in the immense subterranean caves with which the country is honeycombed.
Did, then, the wise men of Egypt select as symbol of their country the serpent with wings and an inflated breast, in remembrance of the birthplace of their ancestors; did they place it erect on a sieve to signify that the first settlers coming from Mayab (the sieve) conquered and dominated the former dwellers in the valley of the Nile?
Pursuing our study of the fresco paintings, we pass over interesting battle scenes, including one (Plate XLIX.) representing a village1 invaded by the hosts of Prince Coh. women and children flee for safety, carrying their most precious belongings. Their defenders have been defeated by the Mayas.
Coh will return to his queen loaded with spoils that he will lay at her feet with his glory, which is also hers, and his love, which she claims in return for hers. She loves him because he is brave and generous. The people idolize him because he gives fame, riches, and happiness to the nation. His warriors cherish him because, always foremost in battle, he leads them to triumph and conquest.
We next see him in a terrible altercation with his brother Aac. The figures in that scene are nearly life size, but so much disfigured and broken as to make it impossible to obtain
1This is evidently a Mexican village in the now state of Vera Cruz. The traveller who to-day goes by rail from the port of Vera Cruz to the City of Mexico sees, on his way, villages, the women of which come to offer for sale chirimoyas and other tropical fruits. In their features and dress they resemble those pictured here by the Maya artist.
good tracings. Coh is portrayed without weapons, his fists clinched, looking menacingly at his foe, who holds three spears, typical of the three wounds he inflicted in his brother's back when he killed him treacherously.
Coh is now laid out, being prepared for cremation. (Plate L.) His body has been opened under the ribs to extract the viscera and the heart, which, after being charred, are to be preserved in a stone urn with cinnabar, where the writer found them in 1875. His sister-wife, Queen Móo, in sad contemplation of the remains of her beloved, ozil in Maya, and his second sister, Niké (the flower), kneeling at his feet, recall vividly the picture of Isis (Mau) and her sister Niké lamenting over the body of their much loved brother Ozir-is. Coh's children and mother stand by him in affliction. One of the children, probably the eldest, carries the band which is to be wrapped round the chest and waist to hide the gash made for the extraction of those parts regarded as vital organs, and which are to be preserved and placed in the tomb with the statue of the deceased. Another, who seems to be a girl, holds in her hands and contemplates with sadness the brains of the dead hero. These are to be kept in a separate urn. The youngest child is pictured with the heart of his father in his right hand. He is crying. The grandmother comes last. All the figures in this tableau are represented naked or nearly so; for in Mayach, as in India and Egypt, the presence of a dead body polluted those present, who had to submit to purification by appropriate ceremonies.1 The winged serpent, protective genius of the
"The presence of a corpse defiles those who come near it."-ManavaDharma-Sastra, lib. v., Sloka 62.
"He who has touched a corpse purifies himself by bathing."-Ibid., lib. v., Sloka 85.
"The death of a parent or relative causes one to become defiled."