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MAYA


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MAYA


was rather to make prisoners than to kill. As the peninsula had no mines, tlie Maya were without iron or any metal excepting a few copper utensils and gold ornaments imported from other countries. Their tools were almost entirely ot flint or other stone, even for the most intricate monumental carving. For house- hold purposes they used clay pottery, dishes of shell, or gourds. Their pottery was of notable excellence, as were also their weaving, dyeing, and feather work. Along the coast they had wooden dugout canoes capa- ble of holding fifty persons.

They had a voluminous literature, covering the whole range of native interests, either written, in their own peculiar " calculiform " liieroglypliic characters, in books of maguey paper or parchment which were bound in wood, or carved upon the walls of their pub- lic buildings. Twenty-seven parchment books were publicly destroyed by Bishop Landa at Man! in 1562, ethers elsewhere in the peninsula, others again at the storming of the Itzd capital in 1697, and almost all that have come down to us are four codices, as they are called, viz., the "Codex Troano ", published at Paris in 1869; another codex, apparently connected with the first, published at Paris in 1S.S2; the "Codex Peresi- anus ", pulilished at Paris in 1S09-71 ; and the" Dresden Codex ", originally mistakenly pubhshed as an Aztec book in Kingsborough's great work on the "Antiqui- ties of Mexico" (London, 1S30-4S). Besides these pre-Spanish writings, of which there is yet no adequate interpretation, we haveanumber of later works written in the native language by Christianized Maya shortly after the conquest. Several of these have been brought together by Brinton in his " Maya Chroni- cles". The intricate calendar system of the Maya, which exceeded in elaboration that of the Aztec, Zapotec, or any other of the cultured native races, has been the suliject of much discussion. It was based on a series of kutuns, or cycles, consisting of 20 (or 24), 52, and 260 years, and by its means they carried their history down for possibly thirteen centuries, the com- pletion of each lesser katun being noted by the inser- tion of a memorial stone in the wall of the great temple at Mayapan.

The art in which aljove all the Maya excelled, and through which thcj^ are best known, is architecture. The splendid ruins of temples, pyramids, and great cities — some of which were intact and occupied at the time of the conquest — scattered by scores and hun- dreds throughout the forests of Yucatan, have been the wonder and admiration of travellers for over half a century, since they were first brought prominently to notice by Stephens. Says Brinton: "The material was usually a hard limestone, which was polished and carved, and imliedded in a firm mortar. Such was also the r-haracter of the edifices of the Quiches and Cakchiqucls of Guatemala. In view of the fact that none of these masons knew the plumlj-linc or the square, the accuracy of the adjustments is remarkable. Their efforts at sculpture were equally bold. They did not hesitate to attempt statues in the round of life size ami larger, and the fa(;ades of the edifices were covered with extensive and intricate designs cut in high relief upon the stones. All this was accom- plished without the ase of metal tools, as they did not have even the bronze chisels familiar to the Aztecs. " The interior walls were also frequently covered with hieroglyphic inscriptions carved in the stone or wood, or painted upon the plaster. Among the most noted of the Maya ruins are those of Palenque (in Chiapas), Uxmal, Chichen-Itza, and Mayapan.

The Maya language has received much attention from missionaries and scientists from an early period. Of grammars the earliest is the ' ' Arte y Vocabulario de la lengua de Yucatan" of Luis de Villalpando, pub- lished aliout 1555. Others of note are "Arte de la Lengua Maya" by Father Oabriel San Buenaventura (Mexico, 1684), and republished by the Abb6 Brasseur


de Bourbourg in volume two of the "Mission Scienti- fique au Mcxiquc" (Paris, 1870); "Arte de el Idioma Maya" by Father Pedro de Santa Rosa Maria Beltran, a native of Yucatan and instructor in the Maya lan- guage in the Franciscan convent of Mi'Tida (Mexico, 1J4(), and Merida, 1859); "Gramdtica Yucateca" by Father Joaquin Ruz, of the Franciscan convent of Merida, also a native of Yucatan and "the most fluent of the writers in the Maya language that Yucatan has produced" (Merida, 1844), and ripublished in an Eng- lish translation by the Baptist missionary, Rev. John Kingdom (Belize, 1847). Each of these writers was also the author of other works in the language.

0/ published dictionaries may be mentioned: first and earUest, a "Diccionario", credited to Father Vi- llalpando (Mexico, 1571) ; then " Diccionario de la Len- gua Maya", by Juan Perez (M(5rida, 1866-77); and " Dictionnaire, Grammaire et Chrestomathie de la langue Maya", by the Abbi5 Brasseur de Bourbourg (Paris, 1872). The most valuable dictionaries of the language are still in manuscript. Chief is the one known as the "Diccionario del Convento de Motul", from the name of the Franciscan convent in Yucatan in which it was found; it is now in the Carter Brown library at Providence. It is beautifully written and is supposed to be a copy of an original written by a Franciscan priest, who was evidently a master of the language, about 1590. "In extent the dictionary is not surpassed by that of any aboriginal language of America" (Bartlett). Other manuscript dictionaries are those of the Convent of Merida (about 1640); of the Convent of Ticul (about 1690); and one by the Rev. Alexander Henderson, a Methodist missionary of Belize (1859-66), now the property of the Bureau of American Ethnology. (See also Brinton, "Maya Chronicles", and Maya titles in Pilling, "Bibliog- raphy, Proofsheets" (Washington, 1885).)

Physically, the Maya are dark, short, muscular, and broad-headed. Intellectually, they are alert, straight- forward, reliable, of a cheerful disposition, and neat and orderly habits. Their wars with Mexico have been waged, however, with the utmost savagery, the provocation being as great on the other side. Their daily life differs little from that of the ordinary Mexi- can peasant, their ordinary dwellings being thatched huts, their dress the common white shirt and trousers, with sandals and straw hat, for men, and for women white embroidered skirt and sleeveless gown. They cultivate the ordinary products of the region, including sugar and hennequin hemp, while the indepentlent bands give considerable attention to hunting. While tliey are all now Catholics, with resident priests in all the towns, that fact in no way softens their animosity towards the conquering race. They still keep up many of their ancient rites, particularly those relating to the planting and harvesting of the crops. Many of these survivals are descriljcd by Brinton in a chapter of his "Essays of an Americanist". The best recent account (1894) of the independent Maya is that of the German traveller Sapper, who praises in the highest terms their honesty, punctuality, hospitality, and peaceful family life. A translation of it is given in the Bowditch collection. At that time thi> Mexican gov- ernment officially recognized three in<lcprii(lcnt Maya states, or tribes, in Southern and Eastern Yucatan, the most important being the hostilcs of the Chan- Santa-Cruz district, estimated at not more than 10,000 souls as against about- 40,000 at the outbreak of the rebellion of 1847. The other two bands together numbered perhaps as many, having decreased in about the same ratio.

Ancona, Hist, de Yucatan (2 vols., Merida, 1878); Bancroft (H. H.), Native Races: II, Civilized Nations: III, Mythology and Language (San Francisco, 1882); Idem, Hist, of Central America (3 vols.. .San Francisco, 1886-87); Idem, Hist, of Mexico (6 vols., San Francisco. 1886-88); Bowditch (ed.), Mexican and Central American Antiquities (t.r. from the Ger- man of FoRSTEMANN, SeleR, .SaPPER, ScHELLHAS, DiESEL-

dorff), in Bulletin 28, Bureau of Am. Ethn. (Washington,