Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/149

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117
AZTEC CHARACTER.

each. The days had delightful names, such as "Sea Animal," "Small Bird," "Monkey," "Rain,"; not recurring every week, but different for the twenty different days of the month. The cardinal points were named "Reed," "House," "Flint," "Rabbit," for east, west, north, and south. Thus an Aztec might say, "I am going House on Sea-Animal," which would merely mean that he was starting for the west on Monday. The months likewise had descriptive names: thus the third month, which might correspond to our March, was called "Victims flayed alive," while the more agreeable title for the sixth month, which we call July, was "Garlands of corn on the necks of idols," As their writing was by pictures instead of by combinations of letters selected from an alphabet, they could give a long name in brief space with a few adroit turns of their writing instrument.

The Mexican archæologist, Leon y Gama, considers the stone not only to be a calendar, but a solar clock, which by means of shadows cast in a certain manner gave eight intervals of the day between the rising and setting sun. He adds that the stone clearly shows the dates of the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, summer and winter solstice. On the other hand, the antiquarian Chavero is of opinion that the stone could not have been used as a calendar on account of lacking certain indispensable elements for the computation of time. He considers it a gigantic votive monument to the sun, above which sacrifices were offered. Whatever was the original intention of the sculptures of this great stone, it has survived