Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/92

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century, sadness and penitence gave way to the greatest hilarity, the beginning of the feast being signalized by the priests, who, with the aid of two dry sticks, ignited a tire which was carried far and wide in token of the continuance of the world's existence.



PSM V31 D092 Colossal head of tenango.jpg
Colossal Head of Tenango.

Placed near by is a cast of an immense head, which is supposed to have occupied a position in the great Aztec temple. Some archæologists believe that it represents the lost Atlantis, with her head-dress of water dotted with shells. In the Mexican town of Tenango was found a stone about five feet ten inches high, upon which are sculptured the four fatal epochs in Nature which the Aztecs assert had taken place. These epochs are Atonatiuh, or water-sun (corresponding to our deluge); Ehecatonatiuh, or wind-sun; Tletonatiuh, or fire-sun; and Tlaltonatiuh, or earth-sun. A cast of this stone is among the series. We also notice a cast of the "Cross of Palenque." The use of this symbol by the Mexicans of remote date is by some advanced as an argument to prove that, at that time, Christianity was established, or at least taught, in their country. Others, however, regard the symbol merely as an astronomical sign, indicative of the four seasons, four winds, etc. On this cross is represented a priest offering up a child to the sacred bird, which is perched on the top. At the bottom of the cross is a large face with open mouth and an ornament hanging from its nose. The "Palenque Divinity" is represented by the figure of a god on whose head is a diadem of plumes. On the forehead is typified "Eve's Serpent," in the form of a star, whose presence in the heavens is significant of harvest-time. This is the god that creates and is opposed to the destructive genius. The serpent referred to was Sérapis among the Egyptians, Wischnou with the Indians, Vitzlipultzi in Mexico, Fohi in China, Esculapie with the Greeks, and Thor among the Scandinavians. There is also a cast of a bas-relief supposed to have come from Palenque. On it is depicted a man being punished in some way, his hands tied behind him, and