Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/168

This page has been validated.
162
THE PYRAMIDS.

the exception of a few, which had evidently served as ornaments upon some earthen vessels, all seemed to have been found in the state in which they were modelled. The composition is a fine clay, well tempered and slightly baked.

Fragments of pottery of divers colours, and a small baked mass of clay with two perforations side by side, which, whatever were its original uses, would not make a bad candlestick for those who had no better, are also picked up in great numbers; as well as an inconceivable quantity of fragments of obsidian or rather jade arrows and quadrangular knive blades, from one to two inches long. I was greatly struck in observing the uniformity of the angles presented by the majority of the latter, and several circumstances combine to make me believe that the people who fabricated them had some method of working them into shape, by taking advantage of the conchoidal fracture.

In the vicinity of Real del Monte there are ancient obsidian mines which must have been worked in very ancient times. The mineral is disposed in thin beds alternately, with fine sand, and was reached by means of numberless small shafts or pits. It is said to lie there in inexhaustible quantities, and from thence, doubtless, the Toltecs drew much of the material for their weapons, and for the beautiful masks with which they covered the faces of their illustrious dead. But there is no lack of it elsewhere in New Spain, both above and under ground.

By some unaccountable forgetfulness we left the teocallis without visiting the so-called "Fainting Stone," which lies in the hollow between two of the smaller pyramids at the foot of the House of the Moon. It is a large square mass with a sculptured face, and the popular belief with regard to it is, that any one sitting down on it faints dead away. We heard one anecdote, singularly confirmatory of this incredible tradition, from some of our European acquaintances in Mexico, and therefore regretted the more having been so neglectful, as to have omitted to set the matter at rest by our own experience.