Page:Queen Moo and the Egyptian Sphinx.djvu/85

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lvii
INTRODUCTION.

we examine the drawing still more closely, and notice the four lines drawn in the lower part, as if to shade it. If we con- sider each line as equivalent to one unit, their sum represents the numerical fourcan — in the Maya language. We have already seen that can also means "serpent," one of the symbols for the sea, canah. Then the two imix imix are placed, one on each side of the geometrical figure peninsula image of the peninsula, to typify the two gulfs whose waters bathe its shores — on the left that of Mexico, on the right the Caribbean Sea. That this was the idea of the inventors of the symbol is evident; for as the Gulf of Mexico is smaller than the Caribbean Sea, and the western coast line of Yucatan shorter than the eastern, so in the drawing the imix on the left of the figure peninsula is smaller than the imix on the right, and the line on the left shorter than that on the right.

This explanation being correct, it clearly proves, as much as a proposition of that nature can be demonstrated, that the character Yucatan symbol owes its origin, among the Mayas, to the configuration of the Yucatan peninsula, and its position between two gulfs, and that the inventors were acquainted with their extent and contour.

Not a few, even among well-read people, often express a doubt as to the ancient Mayas having possessed accurate information respecting the existence of the various continents and islands that form the habitable portions of the earth; questioning likewise if they were acquainted even with the geography and configuration of the lands in which they lived; seeming to entertain the idea that the science of general geography belongs exclusively to modern times.

The name Maya, found among all civilized nations of