Page:Queen Moo and the Egyptian Sphinx.djvu/91

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lxi
INTRODUCTION.

The ancient Maya sages sometimes likened the earth to a caldron, cum, because as nutriment is cooked in such utensil, so also all that exists on the surface of the earth is first elaborated in its bosom. Sometimes, likewise, on account of its rotundity, and because it contains the germs of all things, they compared the earth to a calabash, kum, full of seeds. These similes seem to have been favorite ones, since they made frequent use of them in illustrating their explanations of the geological phenomena which have convulsed our planet. Perhaps also the second reason was what caused them to generally adopt a circular shape for the characters they invented to give material expression to the multitudinous conceptions of their mind (unless it be that they gave that form to these characters from that of their skull, containing the brain, organ of thought). The fact is that their symbol for the name Mayach, of the peninsula of Yucatan, affects the shape of a calabash, Avith its tendril just sprouted — a yach or ach, as the natives call a young sprout.

What can have induced the hierogrammatists to select a

    hand at the end of the scorpion's tail. The rope that connects said hand with the raised right forefoot of the deer indicates that not only the seismic action was felt throughout the length of the Caribbean Sea, from south to north, but that it produced the upheaval of some locality in the northern parts of said sea. Beginning, naturally, the reading of the legend by the column on the right, we find that he describes the phenomenon in the following words: "Oc ik ix canab ezah uab" (that is, "A handful (small quantity) of gases, escaped from the crater, caused canab to show the palm of his hand"). According to its location this raised forefoot may be the upheaval of the large volcano that looms high in the air in the middle of the island of Roatan, the largest of the group called Guanacas in the Bay of Honduras, where the Mayas met the Spaniards for the first time in 1502. The second column reads : "Cib canalcunte lam a ti ahau obliterated writing." ("The lava having filled (raised) the submerged places, the master of the basin," etc.) (The last sign being completely obliterated, we cannot know what the author had said.)