Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/153

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NORTH COAST OF YUCATAN.

of time since the visit of Stephens. He, however, locates it at the south end of the island, while Stephens erroneously places it at the north. The building is of stone, twenty-eight feet long and fifteen deep; the interior is divided into two corridors, the ceiling has the triangular arch, and it gives evidence of being the work of the builders on the mainland. Portions of the structure have been used for building purposes, but to-day, says the Doctor, the people obtain stone from a large ruined city on the mainland opposite Mujeres, where they go with fear and trembling, lest they should meet with Indians from Tulum, and be made prisoners. "A very happy confirmation of the statement of Diaz that these people burned incense was made here. Desiring to varnish some negatives, in order to carry them safely home, I put some live coals in the bottom of the incense burner, and entered the shrine to be protected from the wind; when lo! a slight vapor arose from among the coals, and a sweet, delicious perfume filled again the antique shrine as in the days of its splendor, when the devotees and pilgrims from afar used to make their offerings, and burn the mixture, carefully prepared, of styrax, copal, and other aromatic resins, on the altar of the goddess."

The ancient inhabitants of Yucatan and the coasts of Mexico made great use of the gums of storax, and copal as incense.

Says the chronicler of Grijalva's expedition (1517), speaking of their visit to the temple in Cozumel, "While they were at the top of the tower an old Indian put in a vase with very odoriferous perfumes, which seemed of storax; he burned many perfumes before the idols which were in the tower, and sang in a loud voice a song, which was always in the same tune."

An historian of Yucatan, Landa, says: "The very travellers carried incense with them in a small dish. At night, wherever they arrived, they placed together three small stones, depositing upon them grains of incense."

The Spaniards, in their first voyages to these coasts, found it the custom to fumigate all strangers, and burn odorous gums before the idols in the temples. One of the complaints of an early voyager was against this prevailing custom, for he was