Page:Queen Moo and the Egyptian Sphinx.djvu/75
In the tableau the Maya Empire is portrayed by the beb — a tree with the trunk full of thorns. The trunk is the image of the chain of mountains that traverses the whole country from north to south. There dwelt the masters of the earth, the Volcanoes. They gave it life, power, and strength. This chain is, as it were, its backbone. It terminates at the [[w:Isthmus of Darien|Isthmus of Darien]], to the south. This is why the tree is planted in the character kan, that Landa tells us was the name for south anciently. At the north, the branch of the tree extends eastward, that is, to the right of the trunk. This branch, the peninsula of Yucatan, is represented by this symbol , which, with but a slight difference in the drawing, is the same as that placed in the vertical legend, in an inverted position, against the trunk of the tree, by which the author has designated the whole country, calling it u Ma yach, the "land of the shoot," the "land of the vérêtrum," from the name of the peninsula that seems to have been the seat of the government of the Maya Empire.
The motive for the slight change in the drawing is easily explained. The peninsula jutting out into the sea from the mainland, as a shoot, a branch from the trunk of the tree, is indicated by the representation of a yach, a vérêtrum, the base of which rests on the sign of land , ma; or also of a shoot, projecting beyond two imix, symbols of two basins of water — that is, of the Mexican Gulf and the Caribbean Sea — that are on each side of it. The whole hieroglyph, name of the peninsula, reads therefore
- Landa, Las Cosas de Yucatan, chap. xxxiv., p. 206.