Page:Queen Moo and the Egyptian Sphinx.djvu/79

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INTRODUCTION.

more or less remote, intimate relations and communications must have existed between the inhabitants of the valley of the Nile and the peoples dwelling in the "Lands of the West"?

We shall begin the interpretation, of the symbol with the analysis of the character ma that Landa tells us [1] stood, among the Maya writers, either for ma, me, or mo. Some would-be critics among the Americanists, our contemporaries,[2] have accused the bishop of ignorance regarding the writing system of the Mayas, or of incompetency in transmitting to us the true value of this character, simply because he gave it a plurality, or what seems to be a plurality, of meanings.

What right, it may be asked, have we to dispute the fact asserted by Bishop Landa, that in his time, among the Mayas, the character ma was equivalent to ma and perhaps to me and mo? Had he not better opportunity than any of us for knowing it? Did not the chiefs of the Franciscan Order in Yucatan consider it a prime duty to become thoroughly versed, and have all their missionaries instructed, in the language of the natives to whom they had to preach the gospel, and, after converting them to Christianity, to administer the sacraments of their Church? Were they not scholars, men conversant with grammatical studies? Who but they have reduced to grammatical rules the Maya

  1. Landa, Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan, ch. xli., p. 322.
  2. Heinrich Wüttke, Dei enstehung der Schrift, S. 205, quoted and whose opinions are indorsed by Professor Charles Rau, chief of the archæological division of the National Museum (Smithsonian Institution) at Washington. Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, chap, v., No. 331. "The Palenque Tablet in the United States National Museum." Dr. Ed. Seler, Uber die Bedeutung des Zahlzeichens 20 in der Mayaschrift, in Verhandlungen der Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, etc., 1887, S. 237-241. J. J. Vallentini, "The Landa Alphabet a Spanish Fabrication," in Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, April, 1880.