Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/137

This page has been validated.

such times. The twenty days were also named, and like the months, had their hieroglyphic sign. Every fifth day throughout the month was a market day. In recording the events of their history, the precise cycle of fifty-two years in which a given circumstance occurred, was first indicated, and not the century, as with us, and consequently the cycles were numbered from a certain epoch.

The year of the cycle in which an event happened was not indicated by its number, but by a more complex mode, which I will briefly explain. The cycle of fifty-two years was subdivided into four equal parts of thirteen years each, called tlalpilli; one of four hieroglyphic signs—Tochli, a rabbiy—Acatl, a reed—Tecpatl, a flint—and Calli, a house, were applied to each year in succession, throughout the fifty-two; and thus in every cycle there would be thirteen years designated by each sign. The number of each of the thirteen years composing each of the four tlalpilli was designated by dots; and the Mexican in pointing out the year of any event, would first name the number of the cycle, say two—then the number of the tlalpilli in such a cycle, say four—then the number of the year in such a tlalpilli, say three and then the hieroglyphic sign of the year. So cycle . . .—tlalpilli . . .,—year . . .,—and the sign Acatl, will indicate the forty-second year, in the second cycle of their history. Each succeeding fourth year, coming under the sign of the rabbit, was called a "divine year;" and, at the termination of the cycle of fifty-two years, a solemn astronomical festival was held.

The Reckoning of the Moon was yet more complex, and I will only allude to its main features. Their "religious year" was composed of a series of periods of thirteen days, alternating with the hieroglyphics of the twenty days of the month in the civil year, by which a cycle of two hundred and sixty days is formed.

Seventy-three cycles of two hundred and sixty days amounted exactly to fifty-two years, so that their great