Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/102

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V.

 

MAYAPAN, THE ANCIENT EMPIRE.

 

IN bringing to a close these desultory remarks upon the ruins of Yucatan, I am reminded that there yet remain two of the most important groups, Mayapan and Chichen-Itza, without which the hundred-mile radius around Merida would be incomplete. Mayapan, about thirty miles south of Merida, was the seat of the ancient Maya empire, and the city was called El Pendon de los Mayas—the banner city of the country—by the early Spanish writers on Yucatan. Here, in this ancient city, among the ruins of palaces once occupied by native kings, it would seem most fitting that we should review, though hastily, the aboriginal history of Yucatan, as it has been handed down to us According to the Maya genesis, as interpreted by Spanish priests and monks, the Creator formed the first man of a handful of sacate (or grass) and earth; from the latter came his flesh and bones, and from the grass his skin and his comely appearance. Dwarfs and giants were the first people of this portion of the country, and the former, as usual, always got the better of the latter.

The most ancient traditions seem to point to two distinct immigrations into the peninsula; but it is usually conceded that there existed, in that portion of Central America where Yucatan, Guatemala, and Southern Mexico come together, a great and potent theocratic empire. This was in ages past. Successive immigrations, from the north and from the south, have swept over it, until all distinctive race individuality of the people who lived there has been obliterated. The capital city of this empire was Xibalba (Hibalba), thought to be the Palenque of the present day. The tribes coming down from the north, the Nahuatls, built another city, which they called Tula, or Tulhá, near the