Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/108

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and appears to be blowing with his mouth or breathing incense. At his back are two astronomical signs, representing, one the four phases of the moon, and the other the great Period of the Sun. The figure at the right (in the museum at Mexico) is larger than the other. It stands erect with outstretched arms offering a child before the cross. This priest differs from the other in being without the sacred mask and the robe of ocelotl skin. Both figures open their lips in prayer to the deity, the cross, here united with the sign Acatl, an arrow thrust through the upper half making another smaller cross. At the right of the cross are the signs of the four seasons of the year, vernal equinox, summer solstice, autumnal equinox, and winter solstice. The bird above the cross is the star of the morning, and the strange figure below may be a skull, to represent the star of the evening. According to this explanation the famous tablet of Palenque, with its accidental likeness to the Christian cross, was dedicated to the Sun as the great creative power, and to the Year with its four seasons, and change of morning and evening. Palenque is by no means the only monument of the ancient people in this region. Yucatan is covered with interesting ruins, the remains of different branches of the mighty Mayan race. It can hardly be doubted, moreover, that extensive ruins lie yet hidden in the unexplored regions of the peninsula. Chichen-Itza is one of the few towns which has preserved its ancient Mayan name, from chichen, opening of a well, and Itza, one of the chief branches of Mayapan confederacy. Itza maintained its inde-