Edward Burnett Tylor
Part 6 out of 6
As for ourselves individually, we may be excused for cherishing a
lurking kindness for the quaint, picturesque manners and customs of
Mexico, as yet un-Americanized; and for rejoicing that it was our
fortune to travel there before the coming change, when its most curious
peculiarities and its very language must yield before foreign
[Illustration: THE REBOZO AND THE SERAPE.]
* * * * *
I. THE MANUFACTURE OF OBSIDIAN KNIVES, ETC. (_Note to p. 97._)
Some of the old Spanish writers on Mexico give a tolerably full account
of the manner in which the obsidian knives, &c., were made by the
Aztecs. It will be seen that it only modifies in one particular the
theory we had formed by mere inspection as to the way in which these
objects were made, which is given at p.97; that is, they were cracked
off by pressure, and not, as we conjectured, by a blow of some hard
Torquemada (_Monarquia Indiana, Seville_, 1615) says; (free
translation) "They had, and still have, workmen who make knives of a
certain black stone or flint, which it is a most wonderful and
admirable thing to see them make out of the stone; and the ingenuity
which invented this art is much to be praised. They are made and got
out of the stone (if one can explain it) in this manner. One of these
Indian workmen sits down upon the ground, and takes a piece of this
black stone, which is like jet, and hard as flint, and is a stone which
might be called precious, more beautiful and brilliant than alabaster
or jasper, so much so that of it are made tablets and mirrors. The
piece they take is about 8 inches long or rather more, and as thick as
one's leg or rather less, and cylindrical; they have a stick as large
as the shaft of a lance, and 3 cubits or rather more in length; and at
the end of it they fasten firmly another piece of wood, 8 inches long,
to give more weight to this part; then, pressing their naked feet
together, they hold the stone as with a pair of pincers or the vice of
a carpenter's bench. They take the stick (which is cut off smooth at
the end) with both hands, and set it well home against the edge of the
front of the stone (_y ponenlo avesar con el canto de la frente de la
piedra_) which also is cut smooth in that part; and then they press it
against their breast, and with the force of the pressure there flies
off a knife, with its point, and edge on each tide, as neatly as if one
were to make them of a turnip with a sharp knife, or of iron in the
fire. Then they sharpen it on a stone, using a hone to give it a very
fine edge; and in a very short time these workmen will make more than
twenty knives in the aforesaid manner. They come out of the same shape
as our barbers' lancets, except that they have a rib up the middle, and
have a slight graceful curve towards the point. They will cut and shave
the hair the first time they are used, at the first cut nearly as well
as a steel razor, but they lose their edge at the second cut; and so,
to finish shaving one's beard or hair, one after another has to be
used; though indeed they are cheap, and spoiling them is of no
consequence. Many Spaniards, both regular and secular clergy, have been
shaved with them, especially at the beginning of the colonization of
these realms, when there was no such abundance as now of the necessary
instruments, and people who gain their livelihood by practising this
occupation. But I conclude by saying that it is an admirable thing to
see them made, and no small argument for the capacity of the men who
found out such an invention."
Vetancurt (_Teatro Mejicano_) gives an account, taken from the above.
Hernandez (_Rerum Med. Nov. Hisp. Thes.: Rome_, 1631) gives a similar
account of the process. He compares the wooden instrument used to a
cross-bow. It was evidently a T-shaped implement, and the workman held
the cross-piece with his two hands against his breast, while the end of
the straight stick rested on the stone. He furthermore gives a
description of the making of the well-known _maquahuitl_, or Aztec
war-club, which was armed on both sides with a row of obsidian knives,
or teeth, stuck into holes with a kind of gum. With this instrument, he
says, a man could be cut in half at a blow--an absurd statement, which
has been repeated by more modern writers.
II. ON THE SOLAR ECLIPSES RECORDED IN THE LE TELLIER MS.
The curious Aztec Picture-writing, known as the _Codex
Telleriano-Remenensis_, preserved in the Royal Library of Paris,
contains a list or calendar of a long series of years, indicated by the
ordinary signs of the Aztec system of notation of cycles of years.
Below the signs of the years are a number of hieroglyphic pictures,
conveying the record of remarkable events which happened in them, such
as the succession and death of kings, the dates of wars, pestilences,
&c. The great work of Lord Kingsborough, which contains a fac-simile of
this curious document, reproduces also an ancient interpretation of the
matters contained in it, evidently the work of a person who not only
understood the interpretation of the Aztec picture-writings, but had
access to some independent source of information,--probably the more
ample oral traditions, for the recalling of which the picture-writing
appears only to have served as a sort of artificial memory. It is not
necessary to enter here into a fuller description of the MS., which has
also been described by Humboldt and Gallatin.
Among the events recorded in the Codex are four eclipses of the sun,
depicted as having happened in the years 1476, 1496, 1507. 1510.
Humboldt, in quoting these dates, makes a remark to the effect that the
record tends to prove the veracity of the Aztec history, for solar
eclipses really happened in those years, according to the list in the
well-known chronological work, _L'Art de Verifier les Dates_, as
follows: 28 Feb., 1476; 8 Aug., 1496; 13 Jan., 1507; 8 May, 1510. The
work quoted, however, has only reference to eclipses visible in Europe,
Asia, and Africa, and not to those in America. The question therefore
arises, whether all these four eclipses recorded in _L'Art de Verifier
les Dates_, were visible in Mexico. As to the last three, I have no
means of answering the question; but it appears that Gama, a Mexican
astronomer of some standing, made a series of calculations for a
totally distinct purpose about the end of the last century, and found
that in 1476 _there was no eclipse of the sun visible in Mexico_, but
that there was a great one on the 13th Feb., 1477, and another on the
28th May, 1481.
Supposing that Gama made no mistake in his calculations, the idea at
once suggests itself, that the person who compiled or copied the Le
Tellier Codex, some few years after the Spanish Conquest of Mexico,
inserted under the date of 1476 (long before the time of the Spaniards)
an eclipse which could not have been recorded there had the document
been a genuine Aztec Calendar; _as, though visible in Europe, it was
not visible in Mexico_. The supposition of the compiler having merely
inserted this date from a European table of eclipses is strengthened by
the fact that _the great eclipse of 1477, which was visible in Mexico,
but not in Europe, is not to be found there_. These two facts tend to
prove that the Codex, though undoubtedly in great part a copy or
compilation from genuine native materials, has been deliberately
sophisticated with a view of giving it a greater appearance of
historical accuracy, by some person who was not quite clever enough to
do his work properly. It may, however, be urged as a proof that the
mistake is merely the result of carelessness, that we find in the MS.
no notice of the eclipse of 25th May, 1481, which was visible both in
Mexico and in Europe, and so ought to have been in the record. This
supposition would be consistent with the Codex being really a document
in which the part relating to the events before the Spanish Conquest in
1521 is of genuine ancient and native origin, though the whole is
compiled in a very grossly careless manner. It would be very desirable
to verify the years of all the four eclipses with reference to their
being visible in Mexico, as this might probably clear up the
III. TABLE OK AZTEC ROOTS COMPARED WITH SANSCRIT, ETC.
Several lists of Aztec words compared with those of various
Indo-European languages have been given by philologists. The present is
larger than any I have met with; several words in it are taken from
Buschmann's work on the Mexican languages. It is desirable in a
philological point of view that comparative lists of words of this kind
should be made, even when, as in the present instance, they are not of
sufficient extent to found any theory upon.
As the Aztec alphabet does not contain nearly all the Sanscrit
consonants, many of them must be compared with the nearest Aztec
SANSCRIT, t, th, d, dh, &c. ... AZTEC, t.
SANSCRIT, k, kh, g, gh, &c. ... AZTEC c.q.
SANSCRIT, l, r. ... AZTEC, l.
SANSCRIT, b, bh, v. ... AZTEC, v. or u.
The Aztec c is soft (as s) before e and i, hard (as k) before a, o, u.
The Aztec ch as in _cheese_. I have followed Molina's orthography in
writing such words as _uel_ or _vel_ (English, _well_) instead of the
more modern, but I think less correct way, _huel_.
1. a-, _negative prefix_ (_as_ qualli, _good_; aqualli, _bad_). SANS.,
a-; GREEK, a-, &c.
2. o-, _preterite augment_ (_as_ nitemachtia, _I teach_; onitemachti,
_I taught_); SANS., a-; compare GREEK e-.
3. pal, _prep. by_: compare SANS. _prep._, para, _back_; pari,
_circum_; pra, _before_; GREEK, para; LAT., per.
4. ce-, cen-, cem-, _prefix collective_ (_as_ tlalla, _to place_,
centlalla, _to collect_); SANS., sa-, san-, sam-; GREEK, syn; LAT.,
5. ce, cen-, cem-, _one_. SANS., sa (_in_ sa-krit, _once_: comp. Bopp,
Gloss., p. 362.) LAT., se-_mel_, si-_mul_, sim-_plex_.
6. metz (metz-tli), _moon_. SANS., mas.
7. tlal (tlal-li), _earth_. SANS., tala, dhara. LAT., terra, tellus.
8. citlal (citlal-in), _star_. SANS., stri, stara. LAT., stella. Eng.,
9. atoya (atoya-tl), _river_. SANS., udya.
10. teuh (teuh-tli), _dust_. Sans., dhu-li (_from_ dhu, to drive
11. teo (teo-tl),_god_. Sans., deva. Greek, _Theos_. Lat., deus.
12. qual (qual-li),_good_. Sans., kalya, kalyana. Greek, kalor.
13. uel, _well_. Sans., vara, _excellent_; vli, _to choose_. Lat.,
velle. Icel., vel. Eng., well.
14. uel, _power, brave, &c_., (uel-e, tla-uel-e.) Sans., bala,
_strength_. Lat., valeo, valor.
15. auil, _vicious, wasteful_. Sans., avila, _sinful, guilty;_ abala,
_weak_. Eng., evil.
16. miec, _much_. Sans., mahat, _great_; manh _or_ mah, _to grow_.
Icel., miok, _much_. Eng., much.
17. vey, _great_. Sans., bahu, _much_.
18. -pol, _augmentative affix_ (as tepe-tl. _mountain_; tepepol, _great
mountain_.) Sans., puru, _much_; pula, _great, ample_. Greek,
19. naua (naua-c), _near, by the side of_. Sans., nah, _to join or
connect_. German, nah, _near_.
20. ten (ten-qui), _fuil_. Sans., tun, _to fill_.
21. izta (izta-c), _white_. Sans., sita.
22. cuz (cuz-tic), _red_. Sans, kashaya, kasaya.
23. ta (ta-tli), _father_. Sans., tata.
24. cone (cone-tl), _child. Compare_ Sans., jan, _to beget_. Lat.,
gen-itus. German, kin-d. Eng., kin.
25. pil (pil-li), _child. Compare_ Sans., bala, _boy, child_; bhri, _to
bear children_, &c. Greek, polos, _foal_. Lat., pullus, filius.
Eng.,_foal_, &c., &c.
26. cax (cax-itl), _cup_. Sans., chasbaka.
27. paz(?)(a-paz-tli), _vase, basin_. Sans., bajana. _Compare_ Lat.,
vas. Eng., vase.
28. com (com-itl), _earthen pot_. Sans., kumbha.
29. xuma (xuma-tli), _spoon_. Sans., chamasa; _from_ Sans., cham, _to
30. mich (mich-in), _fish_. Sans., machcha.
31. zaca (zaca-tl), _grass_. Sans., saka.
32. col (te-col-li, col-ceuia, &c.), _charcoal_. Sans., jval, _to burn,
flame_; Icel., kol; Eng., coal; Irish, gual.
33. cen (cen-tli), _grain, maize_. Sans., kana, _grain_.
34. ehe (ehe-catl), _wind_. Sans., vayu.
35. mix (mix-tli), _cloud_. Sans., megha; Icel., and Eng., mist.
36. cal (cal-ii),_house_. Sans., sala. Greek, kalia; Lat., cella.
37. qua (qua-itl), _head_. Sans., ka.
38. ix (ix-tli), _eye, face_. Sans., aksha, _eye_; asya, _face_.
39. can (can-tli), _cheek_, Sans., ganda; Lat., gena.
40. chichi (chichi-tl), _teat_. Sans., chuchuka.
41. nene (nene-tl), _pupil of eye_. Sans., nayana.
42. choloa, _to run or leap_. Sans., char.
43. caqui (caqui-ztli), _sound_. Sans., kach, _to sound_.
44. xin (xi-xin-ia), _to cut, ruin, destroy_. Sans., ksin, _to hurt,
45. tlacc (tlacc-ani), _to run_. Sans., triks, _to go_; Greek, trecho.
46. patlani, _to fly_. Sans., pat.
47. mati, _to know_. Sans., medh, _to understand_; mati, _thought,
mind_; Greek root math.
48. it (it-ta), _to see_. Sans., vid; Greek root id, eidomai, &c.;
49. meya, _to flow, trickle_. Sans., mih.
50. mic (mic-tia), _to kill_. Sans., mi, mith.
51. cuica, _to sing_. Sans., kuj. _to sing, as birds_, &c.
52. chichi _to suck_. SANS., chush.
53. ahnachia, _to sprinkle_: _compare_ SANS. uks.
54. coton (coton-a),_to cut_. SANS. kutt.
55. nex (nex-tia), _to shine_. SANS, nad; LAT., niteo.
55. notz (notz-a), _to call_. SANS., nad.
57. choc (choc-a),_to lament, cry_. SANS, kuch, _to cry aloud, scream;_
such, _to wail_.
58. me(?)(in me-catl, _binding-thing, chain?) to bind_ SANS., mu, mava.
59. qua, _to eat, bite_: compare SANS. charv, _to chew, bite, gnaw_;
chah, _to bruize_; khad, _to eat_.; GERMAN, kauen; ENG., to chew.
60. te, _thou_. SANS. tvam; LAT., tu.
61. quen, _how?_ SANS. kena.
_Other curious resemblances between the Aztec and European languages
62. pepeyol, _poplar_. LAT., populus; ICEL., popel.
63. papal (papal-otl), _butterfly_; LAT., papilio.
64. ul (ul-li), _juice of the India-rubber tree, used as oil for
anointing, &c._ LAT., oleum; ENG., oil, &c.
* * * * *
ANAHUAC. _Aztec_. "By the water-side."
The name at first applied to the Valley of Mexico, from the
situation of the towns on the banks of the lakes; afterwards
used to denote a great part of the present Republic of Mexico.
ACOCOTE (_Aztec_, acocotl, water-throat), aloe-sucker's gourd; _see p._
ADOBE, a mud-brick, baked in the sun.
(Perhaps a _Moorish-Spanish_ word.
_Ancient Egyptian_, tobe, a mud-brick;
_Arabic_, toob, pronounced with the article
_at-toob_, whence adobe?)
AGUAMIEL (honey-water), unfermented aloe-juice.
AGUARDIENTE (burning-water), ardent spirits.
AHUEHUETE (_Aztec_, ahuehuetl), the deciduous cypress.
ALAMEDA (poplar-avenue), public promenade; _see p._ 57.
ALCALDE, a magistrate (_Moorish-Spanish_, al cadi, "the cadi").
ANQUERA (hauncher), covering for horses' haunches; _see p._ 164 (_and
cut, p._ 260).
ARRIERO, a muleteer.
ARROYO, a rivulet, mountain-torrent.
ATAMBOB, a drum.
ATOLE (_Aztec_, atolli), porridge.
AVERSADA, a freshet.
BARATILLO, a Rag-fair, market of odds and ends; _see p._ 169.
BARBACOA, whence English "barbecue;" _see p._ 95; a native Haitian
BARRANCCA, a ravine.
CAPA, a cloak.
CAYO, a coral-reef.
CHAPARREROS, over-trousers of goatskin with the hair on, used in
CHINAMPA (_Aztec_, "a place fenced in)," a Mexican "floating garden;"
_see p._ 62.
CHINGUERITO, Indian-corn brandy.
CHIPI-CHIPI (_Aztec_, chipini, drizzling rain); _see p._ 26.
CHUPA-MIRTO (myrtle-sucker), a humming-bird.
COLEAR, to throw a bull over by the tail (cola); _see p._ 71.
COMPADRE. COMADRE; _French_, compere, commere; _see p._ 250.
CORRAL, an enclosure for cattle.
COSTAL, a bag, or sack.
COYOTE (_Aztec_, coyotl), a jackal.
CUARTA, a leather horse-whip; _see_ p. 264.
CUARTEL, a barrack.
CUCARACHA, a cockroach.
CUCHILLO, a knife.
CURA, a parish-priest.
DESAGUE, a draining-cut.
EMANCIPADO (emancipated negro); see p. 6.
ESCOPETA, a musket.
ESCRIBANO, a scribe or secretary.
FANDANGO, a dance.
FIESTA, a church-festival.
FUERO, a legal privilege; _see pp._ 19, 249.
GACHUPIN, a native of Spain. Supposed to be an Aztec epithet,
_cac-chopina_, that is, "prickly shoes," applied to the Spanish
conquerors from their wearing spurs, which to the Indians were
strange and incomprehensible appendages.
GARROTE, an instrument for strangling criminals.
GENTE DE RAZON (reasonable people), white men and half-breed Mexicans,
but not Indians;_ see p._ 61.
GUAJALOTE (Aztec, huexolotl), a turkey: _see p._ 228.
GULCHE, a ravine.
HACENDADO, a planter, landed proprietor, from HACIENDA (literally
"doing," from _hacer_, or _facer_, to do). An estate, establishment,
HACIENDA DE BENEFICIO, an establishment for "benefiting" silver, i.e.,
for extracting it from the ore.
HONDA, a sling.
HORNITOS (little ovens), the small cones near the volcano of Jorullo,
which formerly emitted steam; see p. 92.
HULE (_Aztec,_ ulli. India-rubber?) a waterproof coat.
ICHTL (_Aztec,_ thread), thread or string of aloe-fibre.
ITZTLI (Aztec), obsidian; _see_ p. 100.
LAZADOR, one who throws the lazo.
LAZO. a running noose.
LEPERO, lazzarone, or proletaire; _see p._ 251.
MACHETE, a kind of bill-hook.
MALACATE (_Aztec,_ malacatl), a spindle, spindle-head, windlass, &c.
MATRACA, a rattle; _see p._ 49.
MESON, a Mexican caravansery; _see p._
MESTIZO (mixtus) a Mexican of mixed Spanish and Aztec blood.
METATE (_Aztec_, metlatl) the stone used for rubbing down Indian corn
into paste; see p. 88.
METALPILE (_Aztec_, metlapilli, i.e. little metlatl), the stone
rolling-pin used in the same process.
MOLE (_Aztec,_ mulli), Mexican stew.
MOLINO DE VIENTO (literally a windmill), a whirlwind; _see p._ 31.
MONTE (literally a mountain), the favourite Mexican game; _see p. _256.
MOZO, a lad, servant, groom.
NINO, a child.
NOPAL (_Aztec_, nopalli), the prickly pear.
NOETE, the north wind; see p. 21.
OCOTE (_Aztec_, ocotl), a pine-tree, pine-torch. OLLA, a boiling-pot.
PASADIZO, a passage; _see p._ 231.
PASEO, a public promenade.
PASO, a kind of amble; _see p._ 163.
PATIO, a court-yard, especially the inner court of a house.
PATIO-PROCESS, method of extracting the silver from the ore, so called
from its being carried on in paved yards; _see p. _92.
PATRON, a master, landlord.
PEDRIGAL, a lava-field.
PEOS, a debt-slave; _see_ p. 291.
PETATE (_Aztec_, petlatl), a palm-leaf mat.
PITO, 1, a whistle, pipe; 2, aloe-fibre thread.
POTRERO, a water-meadow.
PULQUE, a drink made from the juice of the aloe; _see_ p. 38. (It is a
corruption of a native South American word, introduced into Mexico by
RANCHERO, a cottager, yeoman.
RANCHO, a hut.
RAYA (literally a line), the paying of workmen at a hacienda, &c.
RAYAR, to pull a horse up short at a line; _see_ p. 163.
REATA, a horse-rope; _see_ p. 264.
REBOZO, a woman's shawl; _see_ p. 56.
RECUA, a train of mules.
SALA, a hall, dining-room.
SERAPE, a Mexican blanket; _see_ p. 169.
SOMBRERO, a hat.
TACUMENILES, pine-shingles for roofing.
TEMAZCALLI, Indian vapour-bath; _see_ p. 301.
TEOCALLI (_Aztec_, god's house), an Aztec pyramid-temple.
TEFONAZTLI, Indian wooden drum.
TEQUESQUITE (_Aztec_, tequesquiti), an alkaline efflorescence abundant
on the soil in Mexico, used for soap-making, &c.
TETZONTLI, porous amygdaloid lava, a stone much used for building in
TIENDA, a shop; _see_ p. 82.
TIERRA CALIENTE, the hot region.
TIERRA FRIA, the cold region.
TIERRA TEMPLADA. the temperate region.
TLACHIQUEBO (_Aztec_, tlacbiqui, an overseer, from tlachia, to see), a
labourer in an aloe-field, who draws the juice for pulque; _see_ p.
TORO, a bull.
TORTA (literally, a cake); _see_ p. 92.
TORTILLAS, thin cakes made of Indian corn, resembling oat-cakes; _see_
TRAPICHE, a sugar-mill.
ULEI, _see_ Hule.
ZOPILOTE (_Aztec_, zopilotl), a turkey-buzzard.
* * * * *
V. DESCRIPTION OF THREE VERY RARE SPECIMENS OF ANCIENT MEXICAN
MOSAIC-WORK (IN THE COLLECTION OF HENRY CHRISTY, ESQ.).
These Specimens, two Masks and a Knife, (_see page_ 101.) are
interesting as presenting examples of higher art than has been supposed
to have been attained to by the ancient Mexicans, or any other of the
native American peoples. Their distinctive feature is an incrustation
of Mosaic of Turquoise, cut and polished, and fitted with extreme
nicety,--a work of great labour, time, and cost in any country, and
especially so amongst a people to whom the use of iron was
unknown,--and carried out with a perfection which suggests the idea
that the art must have been long practised under the fostering of
wealth and power, although so few examples of it have come down to us.
Although considerably varied, they are all three of one family of work,
so to speak; the predominant feature being the use of turquoise; and
the question which presents itself at the outset is--what are the
evidences that this unique work is of Aztec origin?
The proofs are so interwoven with the style and structure of the
specimens that their appearance and nationality are best treated of
The Mask of wood is covered with minute pieces of turquoise--cut and
polished, accurately fitted, many thousands in number, and set on a
dark gum or cement. The eyes, however, are acute-oval patches of
mother-of-pearl; and there are two small square patches of the same on
the temples, through which a string passed to suspend the mask; and the
teeth are of hard white shell. The eyes are perforated, and so are the
nostrils, and the upper and lower teeth are separated by a transverse
chink; thus a wearer of the mask (which sits easily on one's face) can
see, breathe, and speak with ease. The features bear that remarkably
placid and contemplative expression which distinguishes so many of the
Aztec works, in common with those of the Egyptians, whether in their
massive stone sculptures, or in the smallest and commonest heads of
baked earth. The face, which is well-proportioned, pleasing, and of
great symmetry, is studded also with numerous projecting pieces of
turquoise, rounded and polished.
In addition to the character of the work and the style of face, the
evidence of the Aztec origin of this mask is confirmed by the wood
being of the fragrant cedar or cypress of Mexico. It may be remarked
also that the inside is painted red, as are the wooden masks of the
Indians of the North-west coast of America at the present day.
The Knife presents, both in form and substance, more direct evidence of
its Aztec origin; for, in addition to its incrustation with the unique
mosaic of turquoise, blended (in this case) with malachite and white
and red shell, its handle is sculptured in the form of a crouching
human figure, covered with the skin of an eagle, and presenting the
well-known and distinctive Aztec type of the human head issuing from
the mouth of an animal. (_See cut_, p. 101.) Beyond this there is in
the stone blade the curious fact of a people which had attained to so
complex a design and such an elaborate ornamentation remaining in the
Stone-age; and, somewhat curiously, the locality of that stone blade is
fixed, by its being of that semi-transparent opalescent calcedony which
Humboldt describes as occurring in the volcanic districts of
Mexico--the concretionary silex of the trachytic lavas.
The second Mask is yet more distinctive. The incrustation of
turquoise-mosaic is placed on the forehead, face, and jaws of a human
skull, the back part of which has been cut away to allow of its being
hung, by the leather thongs which still remain, over the face of an
idol, as was the custom in Mexico thus to mask their gods on
state-occasions. The mosaic of turquoise is interrupted by three broad
transverse bands, on the forehead, face, and chin, of a mosaic of
obsidian, similarly cut (but in larger pieces) and highly polished,--a
very unusual treatment of this difficult and intractable material, the
use of which in any artistic way appears to have been confined to the
Aztecs (with the exception, perhaps, of the Egyptians).
The eye-balls are nodules of iron-pyrites, cut hemispherically and
highly polished, and are surrounded by circles of hard white shell,
similar to that forming the teeth of the wooden mask.
The Aztecs made their mirrors of iron-pyrites polished, and are the
only people who are known to have put this material to ornamental use.
The mixture of art, civilization, and barbarism which the hideous
aspect of this green and black skull-mask presents accords with the
condition of Mexico at the time of the Conquest, under which human
sacrifices on a gigantic scale were coincident with much refinement in
arts and manners.
The European history of these three specimens is somewhat curious. With
the exception of two in the Museum at Copenhagen, obtained many years
ago by Professor Thomsen from a convent in Rome, and, though greatly
dilapidated, presenting some traces of the game kind of ornamentation,
they are believed to be unique.
The Wooden Mask and the Knife were long known in a collection at
Florence. Thirty years ago the mask was brought into England from that
city, as Egyptian: and, somewhat later, the knife was obtained from
Subsequently the Skull-mask, with a wig of hair said to be a scalp, was
found at Bruges; a locality which leads to the presumption that the
mask was brought from Mexico soon after the Conquest in 1521, and prior
to the expulsion of the Spaniards from Flanders consequent on the
revolt of the Low Countries in 1579.
_Note_.--It happens singularly enough, that a curious old work,
_Aldrorandus, Musaeum Metallicum, Bologna_, 1613, contains drawings of
a knife and wooden mask ornamented with mosaic-work of stone, made just
in the came way as those described above, and only differing from them
in the design. What became of them I cannot tell.
* * * * *
VI. DASENT'S ESSAY ON THE ETHNOGRAPHICAL VALUE OF POPULAR TALES AND
Whilst treating of legendary lore in connection with Ethnographry, we
must not forget to refer the reader to the highly useful and
philosophical remarks on this subject in Dasent's Introduction to his
_Popular Tales from the Norse_. Here we see that not only are the
popular tales of any nation indicative of its early condition and its
later progress, but also that the legends, fables, and tales of the
Indo-European nations, at least, bear internal evidence of their having
grown out of a few simple notes--of having sprung from primaeval germs
originating with the old Aryan family, from whom successive migrations
carried away the original myth to be elaborated or degraded according
to the genius and habits of the people.
Thus other means of resolving the relations of the early races of Man
are added to those previously afforded by ethnographical and
Africans and Chinese, 13.
Agriculture, 26, 61, 63, 89, 157-161, 172, 216.
Ahuehuetes, 57, 155, 215, 265.
Alluvial Deposits, 150.
Aloes, 35, 136;
huts built of, 36.
Aloe-fibre, manufacture of, 88.
Aloe-juice, collected for Pulque, 36, 91.
American War, 118-120.
Anahuac, 57, 270.
Antiquities, collections of, 222-236, 262.
Antonio, our man, 321.
Aqueduct of Chapultepec, 55.
Arch, Aztec, 153, 276.
Armadillo, 312, 319, 325.
Arms of Mexico, 42.
Army, Mexican, 114-119.
Art, Aztec, 186, 230, 316.
Astronomy, Aztec, 237-241, 244.
Atotonilco, 82, 85.
Aztec Antiquities, 35, 137, 141-148, 150-156, 183-195, 222-244,
Aztec Civilization, 103.
Aztec Language, 143, 227, 235, 243, 279, 333.
Barometer, height of, 68.
Barrancas, 89, 179, 310, 313.
Baths of Santa Fe, 7.
Bells, ancient, 235.
stone-cutting with, 138-140;
bells and needles, 235.
Bull-dogs in Mexico, 149.
Bull, lazoing the, 253, 323.
Cactuses, 73, 90, 140, 144.
Calendar-stone of Mexico, 237-240.
Canals, 58, 130.
Canoes, 60, 129, 132, 134.
Cascade of Regla, 93.
Castor-oil plant, 9.
Casa Grande, 77, 135.
Cattle, 16, 31, 323.
Cave of Cacahuamilpan, 203-205.
Central American Antiquities, 189-193.
Cerro de Navajas, 95-100.
Canal of, 58;
Chapultepec, 55, 57.
Chinese in Cuba, 12.
Church, the, 113, 213, 285-290.
Churches in Mexico, 36, 46.
Civil-war, 112, 283, 328.
Clergy of Mexico, 7, 79, 287.
Clay figures, 229, 275.
Coach, old-fashioned, 59.
Cockfighting, 254, 256.
Comonfort, President, 19, 112.
Commerce of Mexico, 105.
Convents in Mexico, 46, 287.
Corrida de Toros, 70.
Costumes, 51, 62, 168.
Courier, 167, 310.
Cura of New Gerona, 9.
Cypress-trees, 57, 155, 215, 265.
Dancing, 207, 211.
Dasent on Popular Legends, &c., 339.
Diligence, travelling by, 37, 173.
Dishonesty of Mexicans, 80-82.
Dress of the Indians, 61.
Eclipses observed in Mexico, 333.
Emancipados, 6, 14.
English in Mexico, 73, 318.
Estacion de Mejico, 121.
Ethnology, 17, 102-104, 187-195, 241-244, 276-280.
Evaporation, rapid, 75.
Flies' eggs, 156.
Floating gardens, 62.
Flooded streets, 65.
Florida, free blacks from, 5, 10-12.
Forests, destruction of by Spaniards, 45.
Future of Mexico, 329.
Gambling, 15, 207, 256-258, 320.
Goddess of War, 222.
Gold and Silver work, 234.
Grove of Cypresses, 57.
Guadalupe (Our Lady of), 66, 120-224.
Hams, Toluca, 219.
Havana, 1, 326.
Hedges of Cactus, 73.
Highlands of Mexico, 35.
Hill of Drums, 215.
Holy Week, 47-54.
Horses, 163-165, 317.
Hotel d'Yturbide, 39.
Houses, 25, 36, 91, 135, 172;
built on piles, 41.
Huehuetoca, draining-cut of, 45.
Indian Baptism, 207.
Indian Ointment, 324.
Indians of Mexico, 47,60-64, 80-88, 173, 182, 197-199, 200-208,
Indian Soldiers, 23, 120, 122.
Indulgences, 52, 124.
Inquisition, the, 128.
Intemperance, 47, 83, 307.
Inundations, 44, 65, 123.
Iron, 102, 140.
Irrigation, 86, 157-161, 179.
Isle of Pines, 4.
Jacal, Mount, 95.
Judas's Bones, 49.
Junta, La, 314.
Justice, Administration of, 246-248, 300.
Lakes in Valley of Mexico, 44-46, 65, 130-134, 173.
Lava-fields, 28, 35, 118.
Law-courts of Mexico, 249.
Lazoing, 71, 252-254, 323.
Legends, 236, 276-279, 340.
Leper Hospital, 251.
Le Tellier MS., on Eclipses, 332.
Loadstone mountain, 102.
Machinery in Mexico, 109.
Magnetic Iron-ore, 102.
Manufacture of Obsidian Knives, 97, 331.
Marble Quarries in the Isle of Pines, 6.
Market, Indian, 85, 89.
Martin, our servant, 273, 321.
Masks, 110, 226, 235, 337.
Mestizos, 48, 61, 300.
Mexican Dishes, 51;
Words, 227, 263.
Mexican Police, 149;
War with United States, 118.
Mexico, City of, 41-44, 111;
Formation of the country of, 27;
Future of, 329;
People of, 55;
Valley of, 40-46, 270.
Military Statistics, 115.
Miners, 79, 258.
Mineria, or School of Mines, 47.
Mongolian Calendar, 241.
Monks, 205, 209, 213.
Morals of Servitude, 81, 293.
Mosaic work, 101, 110, 235.
Mosquitos, 5, 325.
Mules, Mexican, 175.
Museum of Mexico, 222-237.
Negress, white, 323.
Negros in Mexico, 13, 323.
Nevado de Toluca, 219.
Nopals, Plantations of, 24.
Nortes, 21, 23.
Nuestra Senora de Remedies, 121.
Nueva Gerona, 4, 8.
Numerals, Mexican, &c., 107-110.
mines of, 95, 99;
knives, &c., 95-102, 137, 229, 331.
Old Mexico, 147;
Baths near Tezcuco, 153;
Bridge near Tezcuco, 153.
town of, 26;
volcano of, 18, 29, 226.
Ornament, common styles of, 185.
Pachuca, 69, 74.
Palma Christi, 9.
Paseo, or Alameda, 57.
Passport-system (Cuba), 3.
Penon de los Banos, 131.
People of Mexico, 55.
Picture-writings, 104, 130, 232-234.
Pirates of the Spanish Main, 5.
Police, Mexican, 149.
Political Economy, 105, 217, 264, 294, 302-309, 328.
Politics of Mexico, 19, 111-118, 282-284, 290, 328.
Popocatepetl, ascent of, 265-273.
Population, 217, 302-309.
Pottery, 85, 88, 151, 226, 275.
Priests, 9, 79, 285-290.
Promenade of Las Vigas, 64.
Protective duties, 104, 264.
Puebla, 113, 281-291.
Pulque, 35, 37, 91.
Pyramids, 43, 141-148, 190, 274-278.
Quarries in the Isle of Pines, 6;
of obsidian, 99;
of Teotihuacan, 137.
Rag-fair in Mexico, 169.
Railway, 2, 24, 121.
Rain, 136, 266.
Rainy Region, 26.
Ranches, 25, 266, 299.
Real del Monte, 77.
Reform in Mexico, 117.
cascade of, 93.
Revolutions, 20, 114, 282-284.
Roads in Mexico, 29, 37, 76.
Robbers, 32, 117, 170, 297;
Priest-captain of, 34.
Sacred trees, 215, 265.
Sacrifice of Spaniards, 145.
Saddles, &c., 162-167.
St. Thomas's, W. Indies, 327.
Salinas of Campeche, 84.
Saline condition of the soil, 133.
Salt, 83, 154.
Salto del Agua, 55.
San Andres Chalchicomula, 312.
San Antonio de Abajo, 296.
San Jose and Earthquakes, 67.
San Nicolas, 272.
Santa Anita, 63.
Santa Maria de Guadalupe, 121.
Santa Rosita de Cocoyotla, 196.
School of Mines, 47.
Scorpions, 319, 322.
Sculptures at Xochicalco, 185.
Shrines of Xochicalco, 193.
Silver-mines, &c., 74, 92, 105, 107.
Siege & Capitulation of Puebla, 113, 282.
Skull decorated with mosaic work, 337.
Slave-trade, 13, 16.
Smuggling, 273, 296.
Solar Eclipses observed in Mexico, 331.
Soldiers, 23, 114, 171.
Stalactitic Cave, 200.
Statistics of Mexico, 115, 249, 286.
Stone knives and weapons, 90, 103.
Streets of Mexico, 41, 55.
of Santa Rosita, 196;
of Temisco, 180.
Sugar-plantations of Havana, 2.
Tacubaya, 57, 69.
Tasco, Silver-mines at, 74.
Ten Tribes, the, 17.
Teocallis, _see_ Pyramids.
Pyramids of, 141-148;
Quarries of, 137, 141.
Tezcuco, 129, 150, 260-264;
Aztec Bridge at, 153.
Tezcuco, Lake of, 65, 129, 138.
Thieves, 52, 170, 245.
Tropical Vegetation, 2, 24, 179.
Valley of Mexico, 45.
Yapour-bath, native, 301.
Vegetation, zones of, 21-27, 178, 216.
Vera Cruz, 18-21, 325.
Virjen de Remedios, 123.
Virgins, the rival, 123.
Xochimilco, Lake of, 173.
Xochicalco, Ruins of, 183-195.
[1: The mahagua tree furnishes that curious fibrous network which is
known as _bast_, and used to wrap bundles of cigars in. The mahogany
tree is called _caoba_ in Spanish, apparently the original Indian name,
as the Spaniards probably first became acquainted with it in Cuba. Is
our word "mahogany" the result of a confusion of words, and corrupted
[2: We heard talk elsewhere, however, of a war going on in the interior
of the country between the white inhabitants and the Indian race; the
apparent object of the whites being to take Indian prisoners, and ship
them off for slaves to Cuba.]
[3: They must be judged by courts whose members belong to their own
body, and in these special tribunals one can imagine what sort of
justice is meted out to complainants and creditors. Comonfort's hope
was to conciliate the mass of the people by attempting to relieve them
of this enormous abuse. I believe he was honest in his intentions, but
unfortunately the people had already had to do with too many
politicians who were to redress their wrongs and inaugurate a reign of
liberty. They had found very little to come of such movements, but
extra-taxation and civil war, which left them worse off than they were
before, and the patriots generally turned out rather more greedy and
unprincipled than the others; so it was not to be wondered at that no
one came forward to give any very energetic support to the new
[4: No one ill uses them but the dogs, who drive them away when
anything better than usual is met with, and they have to stand round in
a circle, waiting for their turn.]
[5: Ahuehuete, pronounced _a-hwe-hwete_. Thus, Anahuac is
pronounced Ana-hwac; and Chihuahua, Chi-hwa-hwa.]
[6: In the Swiss Alps, between 4,000 and 5,000 feet above the sea,
there is a similar plant to be seen fringing the branches of the
pine-trees; but it only grows to the length of a few inches, and will
hardly bear comparison to the long trailing festoons of the Spanish
moss, often fifteen or twenty feet in length.]
[7: Chalco was and is a freshwater lake, and here they had not even
this to do.]
[8: The "Lonja" is a feature in the commercial towns of Spanish
America. It is not only the Merchants' Exchange, but their club,
billiard-room, and smoking-room; in fact, their "lounge," and I fancy
the two words are connected with one another.]
[9: Atotonilco, "Hot-water-place," so called from the hot springs in
[10: Soquital, "Clay-place," from the potter's clay which abounds in
the district. Earthenware is the staple manufacture here.]
[11: The book-name for obsidian is _itztli_, a word which seems to mean
originally "sharp thing, knife," and thence to have been applied to the
material knives are made of. Obsidian was also called _itztetl_,
knife-stone. But no Indian to whom I spoke on the subject would ever
acknowledge the existence of such a word as _itztli_ for obsidian, but
insisted that it was called _bizcli_, which is apparently the corrupt
modern pronunciation of another old name for the same mineral,
[12: There is an Aztec word "puztequi" (_to break sticks, &c_.) which
may belong to the same root as "tepuztli." The first syllable "te" may
be "te-tl" (_stone_).]
[13: The researches instituted by Mr. I. Horner in the alluvium near
Heliopolis and Memphis _(Philos. Transact.,_ 1855 & 1856), although
very elaborate, still leave much to be desired before we can arrive at
[14: _Corixa femorala_, and _Notonecta uniforciata_, according to MM.
Meneville and Virlet d'Aoust, in a Paper on the subject of the granular
or oolitic travertine of Tezcuco in the Bulletin (1859) of the
Geological Society of France.]
[15: Huauhtli is an indigenous grain abounding in Michoacan, for which
"wheat" is the best equivalent I can give. European wheat was, of
course, unknown in the country until after the Conquest.]
[16: The _meson_ of Mexico is a lineal descendant of the Eastern
Caravanserai, and has preserved its peculiarities unchanged for
centuries. It consists of two court-yards, one surrounded by stabling
and the other by miserable rooms for the travellers, who must cook
their food themselves, or go elsewhere for it.]
[17: The Aztecs were accustomed, before the Conquest, to perform dances
as part of the celebration of their religious festivals, and the
missionaries allowed them to continue the practice after their
conversion. The dance in a church, described by Mr. Bullock in 1822,
was a much more genuine Indian ceremony than the one which we saw.
Church-dancing may be seen in Europe even at the present day. The
solemn Advent dances in Seville cathedral were described to me, by an
eyewitness, as consisting of minuets, or some such stately
old-fashioned dances, performed in front of the high altar by boys in
white surplices, with the greatest gravity and decorum.]
[18: This assertion must be qualified by a remark of the Abbe Brasseur
de Bourbourg, who tells us that in some places the Indians still use
lancets of obsidian to bleed themselves with. I believe there is
nothing of the kind to be found in the part of Mexico which we
[19: The Aztecs had but one word to denote both gold and silver, as
they afterwards made one serve for both iron and copper. This curious
word _teocuitlatl_ we may translate as "Precious Metal," but it means
literally "Dung of the Gods." Gold was "Yellow Precious Metal," and
silver "White Precious Metal." Lead they called _temetztli_,
"Moon-stone;" and when the Spaniards showed them quicksilver, they gave
it the name of _yoli amuchitl_, "Live Tin."]
[20: It is curious that these latter resemblances (as far as I have
been able to investigate the subject) disappear in the signs of the
Yucatan calendar, though its arrangement is precisely that of the
Mexican. Any one interested in the theory of the Toltecs being the
builders of Palenque and Copan will see the importance of this point.
If the Toltecs ever took the original calendar, with the traces of its
Asiatic origin fresh upon it, down into Yucatan with them, it is at
any rate not to be found there now.]
[21: The Aztec name for an eclipse of the sun is worthy of remark. They
called it _tonatiuh qualo_, literally "_the sun's being eaten_." The
expression seems to belong to a time when they knew less about the
phenomenon, and had some idea like that of the Asiatic nations who
thought the sun was occasionally swallowed up by the great dragon.]
[22: I was surprised to find Iztaccihuatl classed among the active
volcanos in Johnston's Physical Atlas, and supposed at first that a
crater had really been found. But it is likely to be only a mistake,
caused by the name of "Volcan" being given to both mountains by the
Mexicans, who used the word in a very loose way.]
[23: See the illustration at page 281.]
[24: In the original, _aras_. In the Latin of Hernandez, _arae_ I
suppose to be the little polished stone slabs which are set on the
altars in Roman Catholic churches, and in which their sacred quality
is, so to speak, contained.]
[25: _Popular Tales from the Norse_. (Translated from Asbjoernsen and
Moe's Collection.) By George Webbe Dasent, D.C.L. With an Introductory
Essay on the Origin and Diffusion of Popular Tales.--_Second Edition,
Page 5, line 2, _for_ verandalis _read_ verandahs.
Page 8, line 12, _for_ il _read_ el.
Page 17, line 17, _for_ part _read_ port.
Page 20, line 8, _for_ pronunciamento _read_ pronunciamiento.
Page 22, line 10, _for_ I could _read_ one can.
Page 27, line 2, _for_ Mexicans _read_ Americana.
Page 31, Heading, _for_ THE HLANS. HUEMANTLA. _read_ THE RAINS.
Page 31, line 4, _for_ molina de viente _read_ molino de viento.
Page 101, in description of woodcut. Delete _bone_.
Page 216, line 9, _for_ hands _read_ hand.
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