Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/293

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MEXICO


251


MEXICO


Mixteco-Tzapoteca in Oaxaca; the Mijea, or Zoque, in parts of Oaxaca, Vera Cruz, and Chiapas; the Chontal and Hviave, in Tabasco, Oaxaca, and Chiapas; the Maya in Yucatan. Among the less important races are the Huaxteca in the north of Vera Cruz and Southern Tamaulipas, tlie Totonaca in the centre of the State of Vera Cruz, the Matlalzinca in the State of Mexico, and the Guaycures and Lairaones in Lower California. Remarkable ruins, found in many parts of the republic, bear witness to the degree of civilization to which these nations had attained. Chief among these may be mentioned the ruins of Uxmal and Chichen-Itza in Yucatan (Maya nation), those of Palenque and Mitla in Oaxaca (Tzapotec nation), the baths of Netzahua- coyotl in Texcoco (Chichimeca-Nahoa nation), and the pyramids of Teotihuacan (Toltec nation) . The separa- tion of Church antl State has been established by law, but the religion of the country is Catholic, there being actually very few who profess any other. Railroads, 14,857 miles'; telegraph Hnes, 40,640 miles. In 1907 the product of the mines amounted to SS3,07S,500, $42,- 723,500 of this being gold, $19,048,000 silver, and $12,400,000 copper. In 1908 $12,001,000, $8,300,000 gold and $3,701,800 silver, was minted. The princi- pal products besides minerals are corn, cotton, agave plant (henequen), wheat, sugar, coffee, cabinet woods, tobacco, petroleum, etc.

History. — Pre-Cortcs Period. — ^The chronology and historical documents of the Aztecs give us a more or less clear account of their history for eight centuries prior to the conquest, but these refer only to their own history and that of the tribes living in close proximity to them, little or nothing being said of the origin of the Otomies, Olenques, Cuitlatecos, and Michoacanos. According to Clavijero the Toltecs came to Mexico about A. D. 648, the Chichimecs in 1170, and the Aztecs in 1 196. That their ancestors came from other lands, is asserted by all these tribes in their traditions, and the north is generally the direction from which they claim to have come. It seems probable that these first immigrants to Mexico came from .-Vsia, either by way of Behring Strait, or across the Pacific Ocean. The theory that these people had some close connex- ion with the Egyptians and other peoples of Asia and Africa has some substantiating evidence in the ruins still extant, the pyramids, the exact and complicated method of computing time, the hierogl.yphics, and the costumes (almost identical with those of the ancient Egyptians), seen in the mural paintings in the ruins of Chichen-Itza. It seems that the Otomies were one of the oldest nations.of Anahuac, and the Itzaes of Yuca- tan. These were followed by the Mayas in Yucatan, and in Anahuac the Toltecs, the Chichimicas, and Nahoas, with their seven tribes, the Xocliimilcas, Chalcas, Tec- panecs, Acolhuas, Tlahuicas, Tlaxcaltecs, and Aztecs. The last-named founded the city of Tenochtitlan, or Mexitli, in 1325, and gradually, overpowering the other tribes, extended their empire north as far as the Kingdom of Michoacan, and the domain of the savage Otomies, east to the Gulf, west to the Pacific, and south to Nicaragua. This was the extent of the Aztec empire at the tinw of the Spanish invasion in 1519.

Language and religion. — Nahuatl, or Aztec, some- what modified in the region of the central tableland, was the official language of the empire, but many other dialects were in use in other sections. The principal ones were: Tarascan in Michoac<an, Mayan in Yucatan, Otomian in the northern Umits of the empire, Mixteco-Tzapotecan and Chontal in Oaxaca, and Chiapanecan and Tzendal in Chiapas and Tabasco. The religion of all the.se nations was a monstrous poly- theism. Human sacrifice was a feature of the worship of nearly all the tribes, but in none did it a.ssume the gigantic proportions that it did among the Azt«cs in their great teocalli, or temple, at the capital. Father Motolinia in his letter of 2 January, 1553, to the Em-


peror Charles V, speaking of the human sacrifices with which the Emperor .\huitzotl (1486-1502) celebrated the opening of the great temple in Mexico, says: "In a sacrificial service lasting three or four days 80,400 men were sacrificed. They were brought through four streets walking single file until they reached the idols. " Father Duran, speaking of this same sacrifice and of the great number of victims, adds: " Which to me seemed so incredible, that, if history and the fact that I found it recorded in many places outside of history, both in writing and pictorially represented, did not compel me to beheve it, I should not dare to assert it". The Vatican and Tellerian manuscripts give the number of victims as 20,000; this number seems more probable.

Upon this occasion victims were simultaneously sacrificed in fourteen principal temples of the city. In the great teocalli, there were four groups of sacrifices, and the same was probably the case in other places ; the time for the sacrifices was from sun- rise to simset, about thirteen hours, each victim re- quired about five minutes, so that computing by this standard the number of victims might easily reach the above-mentioned number. Father Mendieta, as well as Father Motolinia and other authorities, agree in affirming that the number of victims annually sacrificed to Huitzilopozotli and other Aztec deities reached the number of 15,000 to 20,000. To the stu- dent of .A.ztec history this will not appear unlikely, for they kept up a continuous warfare with their neigh- bours, not so much to extend their empire as for the avowed purpose of securing victuns for the sacrifices. In battle their idea was not so much to kill as to take their enemies prisoners. To this, in very great meas- ure, the Kingdom of Michoacan and the Republic of Tlaxcala, situated in the very heart, of the Aztec em- pire, only a few miles from the capital, owed their in- dependence, and the Spaniards many of their victories. Herndn Cortds may for this reason have escaped death at the hands of the Indians in the numerous battles of the siege of the capital. Notwithstanding the hitleous form of worship and the bloody sacrifices, the peoples of ancient Mexico preserved a series of traditions which may be classified as Biblical and Christian ; the Biblical traditions are undoubtedly the remnants of the religious beliefs of the first races who migrated to these snores; the probable origin of the Christian traditions will be explained later.

Biblical Traditions. — (1) Idea of the Unity of God. — The Aztecs gave the name of Teotl to a supreme, in- VLsible, eternal being, whom they never attempted to portray in visible form, and whom they called Tolque- Nahuaque, Creator of all things, Ipalneomani, He by whom we live. The Mayas called this same supreme being, Hunab-ku, and neither does this tribe seem to have ever attempted to give form and personality to their deity. The Michoacans adored Tucui)acha, one god and creator of all things. (2) Creation. — Among the Aztecs the idea of the creation had been preserved. They believed that Tloque-Nahuaque had created a man and a woman in a delightful gar- den; the woman was called Cihuacohuatl, the snake woman. (3) Deluge. — ."Vmong the Michoacans we find traditions of the Deluge. Tezpi, to escape from drowning in a terrible deluge that occurred, em- barked in a boat shaped like a box, with his wife and children, many species of animals, and pro- visions of grain and seeds. When the rain had abated, and the flood subsided, he liberated a bird called an aura, a water bird, which did not return. Then others were released, and all but the h\imming bird failed to return. The illustration on the follow- ing page of an Aztec hieroglyphic taken from the Vati- can manuscript represents the Deluge as conceived by the Aztecs. The symbol Calli is seen in the water, a house with the head and hand of a woman [jrojecting to signify the submersionjsf all dwellings and their in-