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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/685

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669
CUSTOMS AND SUPERSTITIONS OF THE MAYAS.

which they said was to feed the souls of the animals they had eaten during life, so that these might not harm them.

They bred a species of dog, quite hairless, called tzom, considered a great delicacy. They killed them by choking them in a pit, and this seems to have weighed heavily on their conscience, for they were particularly careful to provide deceased relations with food to pacify the slaughtered tzoms.

Being constant and careful observers of Nature, and seeing the remarkable works of many creatures, they attribute intelligence to small insects, such as the ants and bees. In some parts of England it is supposed that bees will not remain on the premises after there is a death in the house of their owner, unless an intimation of the fact be conveyed to them. Therefore some go and tell the bees; others tie a piece of crape to a stick, and set it in front of the hives.

The Indians in question would not tie crape near their hives, for they themselves never use any kind of mourning, retaining always their white garments. They suspend from the hives gourds filled with a beverage made from corn, in order that the bees may not go away, but produce abundant honey and keep sickness from the home. The hives are not like those in use among us, but simply pieces of trunk hollowed out, wooden walls being fitted into the ends and covered with mud so that the name

PSM V44 D685 A yucatan village.jpg
A Yucatan Village.

of the owner may be stamped on it with white ashes. A small hole is left in the middle of each end for the passage of the bees. If the hives are not cleaned from time to time, the bees desert them. In order to do this, the operator removes the end walls, cleans the interior thoroughly, and rubs it with a little honey and an aromatic plant that is much liked by the bees. Unlike our bees, these are quite harmless, black and small, though they mani-