Images de page

pillars to four brothers, whose names were Kan-Bacab, the yellow Bacab, who stood at the south; Chac-Bacab, the red Bacab, who occupied the east; Zac-Bacab, the white Bacab, to whom was intrusted the north; and Ek-Bacab, the black Bacab, whose place was the west. They were held in great veneration, and regarded as the genii of the wind. These learned men will also inform us that those powerful genii were represented by four jars with narrow necks, surmounted by human heads, which jars, during certain religious ceremonies, were filled with water, and called Canob, that is, the "Four," the "strong," the "mighty." From the Maya Canob the Egyptians no doubt called canopi the four vases in which were deposited the entrails of the dead. Do not these four Bacabs recall the four gods of the Hindoo mythology who preside at the four cardinal points-Indra, the king of heaven, to the み east; Kouvera, the god of wealth, to the north; Varouna, the god of the waters, to the west; and Yama, the judge of the dead, to the south? Or the Four Mountains, Sse-yo, of the Chinese the "four quarters of the globe," as they are wont to designate their country-Tai-Tsong being the yo of the East; Sigan-fou, that of the west; Hou-Kowang, that of the south; and Chen-si, that of the north? Or, again, the four


Landa, Las Cosas de Yucatan, p. 206, et passim.

Bac means, in the Maya language, "to pour water from a narrowmouthed vase." Pio Perez, Maya dictionary. Plate xxxiii.

Cogolludo, Historia de Yucathan, lib. iv., cap. viii., p. 197. Edit., 1688.
Manava-Dharma-Sastra, lib. 1, Sloka 87.

Chou-King, chap. i. Yoa-tien, part i. These four mountains recall the four pillars that support heaven; that is, the four cardinal points of the Mayas, of the Hindoos, of the Chaldeans, and of the Egyptians. On a Stela of Victory of Thotmes III., in the Bulaq Museum, it is written: "I, Amon, have spread the fear of thee to the four pillars of Heaven." Do not the bags of Eolus, that contain the winds in Grecian mythology, recall the four bottles, or jars, of the Bacabs?


principal protecting genii of the human race among the Chaldeans,1 whose names were: Sed-Alap or Kirub, who was represented as a bull with a human face; Lamas or Nirgal, as a lion with a man's head; Ustur, after the human likeness; and Nattig, with the head of an eagle?

These last were said by Ezekiel to be the four symbolical creatures which supported the throne of Jehovah in his visions by the river Chebar.2

In this connection also may be mentioned the four genii of Amenti, Amset, Hapi, Tesautmutf, and Qabhsenuf, said by the Egyptians to be present before Osiris while presiding in judgment; protecting, by their influence, every soul that entered the realms of the West. It was to these genii that a portion of the intestines, taken from the body of the deceased, was dedicated, and placed in the vase, or canop, which bore their respective heads, as we have already seen. If the name given to these vases by the Egyptians is not of Maya origin, it must be admitted that it is a most remarkable coincidence.


In Mayach, the brains, the charred viscera, and other noble parts, preserved in red oxide of mercury,3 were deposited in stone urns, which were placed with the statues of the deceased, in superb mausolei, where they are found in our day. Landa and several other chroniclers tell us that the Mayas made statues of stone, wood, or clay, according to the wealth of the individual, in the likeness of the deceased, and, after cremating the remains, put the ashes in the head of said statues, which, for the purpose, had been made hollow.


1 F. Lenormant, Chaldean Magic and Sorcery, p. 121.

2 Ezekiel, chap. i., verse 10; chap. x., verse 14.

See Appendix, note ix.

See farther on Prince Coh's Mausoleum (Plate lvii.)

Landa, Las Cosas de Yucatan, ? xxxiii., p. 193.

In Egypt, likewise, they sculptured on the lid of the coffin, or fastened on it, a cast of the features of the person whose remains it contained.

After clearing from the altar the débris of the roof of the portico, that in falling had not only injured, but so completely buried it that it had escaped the notice of John L. Stephens and others who had visited the spot before us, we found that the atlantes and the bas-reliefs that adorned the upper side and the edges of the table had been brilliantly colored. The pigments used by the Maya artists were of such lasting nature that the colors were actually as bright as when they were laid on; and the vehicle or menstruum in which they were dissolved had deeply penetrated the stone without injuring the surface. Here was the confirmation of a very interesting fact that we had already discovered that the Mayas, like the Hindoos,1 the Chaldees, the Egyptians, and the Greeks, colored their sculptures and statues, and provided them with eyes and nails made of shell. Shall it be said that this is a mere coincidence, or shall we regard it as a custom transmitted from one nation to another; or, again, taught to the rest by the people who introduced among them the sculptor's art?



Bishop Heber in his Narrative of a Journey through the Upper Provinces of India, vol. i., p. 386; vol. ii., pp. 430, 525, 530; vol. iii., pp. 48-49. Henry Layard, Nineveh and its Remains, vol. ii., part ii., chap. iii. Eusebius, Prop. et Demons. Evang., lib. iii., chap. xi. See Appendix,


note x.

« PrécédentContinuer »