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THE study of the atlantes that supported the table of the altar at the entrance of the funeral chamber is most interesting. In these, and in the portraits of personages carved on the pillars and antæ of the portico and the jambs of the doorway, the ethnologist can study the features of the ancient Mayas, and, perhaps, discover the race to which they belonged. Whatever this may have been, one fact is evident-the Mayas did not deform their skulls artificially, as did the inhabitants of Copan and Palenque. These, therefore, were not Mayas. Their mode of writing was not Maya; their language was most probably different from the Maya; consequently it is absurd to try to interpret the inscriptions left by them, as the late Professor Charles Rau,1 of the Smithsonian Institution, Mess. Hyacinthe de Charancey and Léon de Rosny, in France, and others, have done. Being unable to read one
Charles Rau, Tablet of Palenque, chap. v. Aboriginal Writings of Mexico, Yucatan, and Central America. Smithsonian Institution's publications. Hyacinthe de Charencey, Essai de Déchiffrement d'un Fragment d'Inscription Palenquenne, tom. 1, No. 3, Mars, 1876. Actes de la Société Philologique, p. 56.
Léon de Rosny, Essai sur le Déchiffrement de l'Écriture Hiératique de l'Amérique Centrale, p. 13.
single sentence of those inscriptions, how can these gentlemen assert that they are written in the Maya language? Because a few characters resemble the Maya? What does that prove? English, French, Spanish, Italian, and other modern languages are all written with Latin letters: does that mean that they are one and the same?
It is not easy to surmise what common relationship can possibly be claimed to have existed between the squat-figured, coarse-featured, large-nosed, thick-lipped, flat-headed people, with bulging eyes, represented in the stucco bas-reliefs of Palenque, whose "heads, so very unusual, not to say unnatural," have been compared with those of the Huns;1 or the short-statured individuals with round heads, oval faces, high cheek bones, flat noses, large gaping mouths, small oblique eyes, portrayed on the obelisks of Copan and Quirigua, that recall the Tartar or Manchu type (Plate XXX.); and the goodlooking Mayas, whose regular features, lithe figures with well-proportioned limbs, finely formed heads, high foreheads, shapely noses, small mouths with firm thin lips, eyes open, straight, and intelligent, that we see pictured in fresco paintings or sculptured in low and high reliefs and statues. (Plates XXV., XXVI., XXVII.)
No one, surely, will presume to maintain that they belong to the same family or race, and that the difference in their appearance is due to unknown causes that have effected such remarkable changes at various periods of their national existence.
'William Burckhardt Barker, Lares and Penates, or Cilicia and its Governors, chap. iv. Plate XXIX.
See Appendix, note viii.
John Ranking, Historical Researches on the Conquest of Peru, Mexico, etc., p. 275. According to this author the builders of Palenque were Mongols. (A. L. P.)