Page:Queen Moo and the Egyptian Sphinx.djvu/51

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xxix
INTRODUCTION.

Vicente Yanes Piuzon came in sight of its eastern coasts in 1506, they did not land nor make known their discovery.[1]

Herrera, in his Decadas, tells us that when Columbus, in his fourth voyage to America, was at anchor near the island of Pinos, in the year 1502, his ships were boarded by Maya navigators. These came from the west; from the country known to its inhabitants under the general name of the Great Can (serpent) and the Cat-ayo (cucumber tree).[2] The peninsula, then divided into many districts or provinces, each governed by an independent ruler who had given a peculiar title to his own dominions, seems to have had no general name. One district was called Chacan, another Cepech, another Choaca, another Mayapan, and so on.[3] Mayapan, however, was a very large district, whose king was regarded as suzerain by the other chieftains, previous to the destruction of his capital by the people, headed by the nobility, they having become tired of his exactions and pride. This rebellion is said to have taken place seventy-one years before the advent of the Spanish adventurers in the country. The powerful dynasty of the Cocomes, which had held tyrannical sway over the land for more than two centuries, then came to an end.[4]

Among the chroniclers and historians, several have ventured to give an etymology of the word Maya. None, however, seem to have known its true origin. The reason is very simple.

At the time of the invasion of the country by the turbu-

  1. Antonio de Herrera, Hist. general de los hechos de los Castellanos en las islas y la tierra firme del Oceano. (Madrid, 1601.) Decada 1, lib. 6, cap. 17.
  2. Ibid. Decada 1, lib. 5, cap. 13.
  3. Landa, Relacion, etc., chap. v., p. 30.
  4. Cogolludo, Historia de Yucathan, lib. iv., cap. iii., p. 179. See Appendix, note ii.