Page:Queen Moo and the Egyptian Sphinx.djvu/60

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

among them, to which they adhere with great tenacity, and that the persecution and ill-treatment they have endured have been powerless to extirpate.[1] Yes, indeed, up to the present time, they keep whatever knowledge of their traditions they may still possess carefully concealed in their bosoms; their lips are hermetically sealed on that subject.

Their confidence in, their respect and friendship for, one not of their blood and race must be very great, for them to allow him to witness their ceremonies, or become acquainted with the import of certain practices, or be told the meaning of peculiar signs and symbols, transmitted to them orally by their fathers. This reserve may be the reason why some travellers, unable to obtain any information from the aborigines, have erroneously asserted that they have lost all traditionary lore; that all tradition has entirely disappeared from among them.[2]

Maya was the name of a powerful nation that in remote ages dwelt in the peninsula of Yucatan and the countries, to-day called Central America, comprised between the Isthmus of Tehuantepec on the north and that of Darien on the south. That name was as well known among the ancient civilized nations the world over as at present are the names of Spain, France, England, etc. As from these countries colonists, abandoning the land of their birth, have gone and still go forth in search of new homes in far distant regions; have carried and do carry, with the customs, manners, religion, civilization, and language of their forefathers, the name even of the mother country to their new abodes — so we may imagine it happened with the Mayas at some remote period in the past.

  1. See Appendix, note iv.; Cogolludo, Hist. de Yucathan, lib. v., cap. xvi., xvii., xviii.
  2. John L. Stephens, Incidents of Travels in Yucatan, vol. ii., pp. 446, 449.