Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/90

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feet and a half in height. The original was found buried in the city of Mexico ninety-six years ago. Humboldt believes that this and other idols were placed under-ground by Cortes and his men in order to escape the observation of the Aztecs, to whom these idols would doubtless prove a serious obstacle to their embracing Christianity; but it seems more reasonable to suppose that these idols were buried by the Aztecs themselves, in order to prevent their capture by the soldiers. The goddess Teoyoamiqui was charged with the gathering in of the souls of persons killed in battle, it being supposed that their souls went to the mansion of the sun in heaven, where they were eventually transformed into hummingbirds.[1] Near this is a cast of the statue of the goddess Mictlanteuhtli, who presided over Mictlanteuhtli, by which name the Mexicans denoted the place to which the souls of those who died natural deaths were transmitted.

Perhaps the most interesting cast in this collection is that of the Sacrificial Stone, which was found ninety-five years ago in the city of Mexico. The complex figures and hieroglyphics on this stone utterly astound the visitor to the Museum, and are only to be descried, to say nothing of being understood, after the most careful examination. This stone is about two feet eleven inches high and more than twenty-seven feet in circumference. On its face is sculptured the image of the sun, and around the stone are fifteen groups of two persons each, one of each couple being represented as victorious over the other. The number of victims indicates the number of conquered tribes. In two couples the victim is a woman, which probably denotes that those two tribes were governed by women. A groove running to the margin from the center marks the course for the flow of the victim's blood. The conqueror is Tizoc, sixth king of Mexico, who reigned from 1481 to 1486, and the monument is commemorative of his victories. A cast of the famous statue of Chac-Mool (tiger), about two feet six inches high, is in the collection. The statue is believed to be twelve thousand years old, and was, it is said, erected to the memory of Chac-Mool by his wife. In the valley of Mexico and in Tlascala statues of similar form have been found, and it is therefore assumed by some that the same divinity was worshiped both in Mexico and Yucatan. The statue was discovered by Dr. A. Le Plongeon in the ruins of Chichen-Itza, Yucatan, and removed by the Mexican Government to the National Museum of Mexico. Of exceeding interest is the reproduction of the Commemorative Stone in remembrance of laying the foundation of the great temple of the Aztecs, the building of which was commenced by Tizoc, who was desirous of erecting a sacred edifice which should be the wonder of all the nations on earth. It was not finished by him, its completion being reserved for Ahuitzotl, his successor, in the year 1487. This temple has now given place to a magnificent

  1. Charero, in his "Anales del Museo National de Mejico," vol. ii, p. 293, holds that it represents the earth-god, Coatlicue.