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Egyptian as well as Maya; that, therefore, any one able to read Egyptian inscriptions can, without difficulty, with the aid of a Maya dictionary, translate it as well as I. This proves that the ancient Maya hieratic alphabet discovered by me and published, in 1886, side by side with the Egyptian, on page xii of the introduction of my book, "Sacred Mysteries among the Mayas and the Quichés," is a true key to the deciphering of some, at least, of the Maya mural inscriptions, notwithstanding the slanderous aspersions of Dr. Brinton, and his assertion on page 15 of his "Primer of Mayan Hieroglyphs" "that I have added nothing to corroborate the correctness of the interpretations." But may I ask why he has not verified them? Has he no Maya dictionaries? The trouble with him is, judging from his own books, that he knows personally nothing on the subject. Is he not utterly ignorant of the true meaning of a single Maya character, when in composition with other signs to form words and sentences? Can he decipher one single sen
tence of the Maya books? Does he even know Maya as spoken to-day? How, then, does he dare to attack the knowledge of those who, by hard study during several years passed among people who speak nothing but Maya, have made themselves familiar with the subject, and set himself up as an authority on what he does not know? Let him not lose sight of the fact that we are no longer in those times when the people, as Bishop Synesius says (in "Calvit.," p. 515), wish absolutely to be deceived. To-day honest inquirers after knowledge object to being gulled by mere pretenders, even if these boast of the titles of doctor and professor in a university.
We know that the ancient Mayas were serpent worshippers. They worshipped the serpent, not that they believed it 'Aug. Le Plongeon, Sacred Mysteries, p. 109.
to be wiser than, or intellectually superior to, any other animal-they had too much good sense for that-but because it was the emblem of their country, the contour of which figures a serpent with an inflated breast, like the Egyptian uræus, for which reason they called it nohoch can, "the great serpent." 1 The serpent was the emblem of Mayach,' as the eagle is that of the United States, the lion that of England, the bear that of Russia, the cock that of France, etc.
Judging from their descendants in our day, the ancient Mayas must have been fanatical lovers of their country. The title of their rulers was can (serpent), as khan is to this day that of the kings of Tartary, Burmah, and other Asiatic countries; as it was that of the Emperor of China even in the days of Marco Polo, and its emblem is yet a dragon. Like the Egyptian kings the Maya cans were initiates to the sacred mysteries performed in the secrecy of their temples.
No one has ever explained why the Asiatic rulers took upon themselves the title of khan, or adopted the serpent for an emblem as did the Egyptian kings. The Maya language offers a simple explanation.
Can, "serpent," "king," by permutation becomes nac, the meaning of which is "crown," and also "throne," insignias of royalty. But the verb Naacal means "to be elevated," "to be raised." It was the title adopted by the initiates among the Mayas, corresponding to our modern
'Cogolludo, Hist. de Yucathan, lib. i., chap. i.
Troano MS., part ii., plate xvii., 2; plate xxvii., 1. The tree was another emblem of Mayach (Troano MS., part ii., plates viii. to xiii.; Codex Cortesianus, plates vii. and viii.). It is well to recall here that Egypt was likewise called the Land of the Tree, although the valley of the Nile was well-nigh devoid of trees. (Samuel Birch in Gardner Wilkinson, Customs and Manners of Ancient Egyptians, vol. iii., chap. xiii., p. 200.)
"His Highness," they being elevated above their fellow-men by their knowledge and superior wisdom. Transported to India the word became corrupted, in the course of time, into Naaca or Nâgá. The title was kept by the initiates who were among the Maya colonists that settled in Dekkan and Burmah. They also preserved as emblem of their new nationality that of their mother country in the antipodes, and worshipped the serpent in remembrance of the home of their ancestors.
Elsewhere I have shown that the title of the highpriest, chief of the adepts or naacals in Mayach, was Hach-mac, "the true, the very man." The title of the pontiff or chief of the Magi, in Chaldea, was Rab-mag, or, according to the Maya, Lab-mac, the "old man; "2 another of his titles was Nargal, Maya Naacal, Hindoo Nágá, "initiate, adept."
(2) John L. Stephens, "Incidents of Travels in Yucatan (vol. ii., p. 311), speaking of these remarkable pictures, says: "The colors are green, yellow, red, blue, and a reddish brown, the last being invariably the color given to the human flesh. Wanting the various tints, the engraving, of course, gives only an imperfect idea of them, though even in outline they exhibit a freedom of touch which could only be the result of discipline and training under masters."
(1) William Osburn, in his "Monumental History of Egypt" (p. 260), says: "By comparing together the remains of different epochs, it clearly appears that Egyptian art has had its periods of perfection, of decline, and of renaissance, just the same as art in Greece and Italy. But we have no trace whatever of such beginnings in these first productions of art in Egypt. It burst upon us at once in the flower of its highest
perfection. Where, then, are the imperfect attempts which issued in this perfection to be found? No such have been discovered, either at Ghizeh or in any other locality in Egypt, notwithstanding that no work of man perishes there. This circumstance compels us to assume that the skill of these primitive artists of Egypt was a portion of that civilization which its first settlers brought with them when they located themselves in the valley of the Nile."
NOTE XII. (Page 105.)
(1) Dr. Daniel G. Brinton, "Essays of an Americanist " (p. 439), says: "I do not know of any measurements undertaken in Yucatan to ascertain the metrical standard employed by the ancient architects. It is true that Dr. Augustus Le Plongeon asserts positively that they knew and used the metric system, and that the metre and its divisions are the only dimensions that can be applied to the remains of the edifices. But apart from the eccentricity of this statement, I do not see from Dr. Le Plongeon's own measurements that the metre is in any sense a common divisor for them."
Abbé Brasseur is now dead-he cannot, therefore, refute Dr. Brinton's imputations; but I am still in the land of the living, and will speak for the learned Abbé and for myself.
The measurements that Dr. Brinton ignores to have been undertaken in Yucatan, I have made most carefully, as proved by my plans of the buildings and my restorations of the same. The exactness of these surveys can be vouched for by the officers of my escorts in the ruined cities, they having helped me in that work.
Unlike some genuinely good things, the would-be critic's memory does not seem to improve with age. It is, indeed, a pity. When he wrote the lines just quoted he surely had forgotten that, once upon a time, after the one visit with which he has ever honored me, he stated in the November (1885)