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ROWS OF DEATH S HEADS.
was extraordinary. The engraving which follows represents one of them.
At the time of our visit, we had no doubt that these were death's heads; but it has been suggested to me that the drawing is more like the scull of a monkey than that of a man. And, in connexion with this remark, I add what attracted our attention, though not so forcibly at the time. Among the fragments on this side were the remains of a colossal ape or baboon, strongly resembling in outline and appearance the four monstrous animals which once stood in front attached to the base of the obelisk of Luxor, now in Paris,* and which, under the name of Cynocephali, were worshipped at Thebes. This fragment was about six feet high. The head was wanting; the trunk lay on the side of the pyramid, and we rolled it down several steps, when it fell among a mass of stones, from which we could not disengage it. We had no such idea at the time, but it is not absurd to suppose the sculptured sculls to be intended for the heads of monkeys, and that these animals were worshipped as deities by the people who built Copan.
* As it standi in Paris, these figures are wanting to nuke it complete is it stood at Thebes, the obelisk alone having been removed.
Among the fragments lying on the ground, near this place, is a remarkable portrait, of which the following engraving is a representation. It is probably the por
trait of some king, chieftain, or sage. The mouth is injured, and part of the ornament over the wreath that crowns the head. The expression is noble and severe, and the whole character shows a close imitation of nature.
At the point marked D stands one of the columns or 11 idols" which give the peculiar character to the ruins of Copan, the front of which forms the frontispiece to this volume, and to which I particularly request the attention of the reader. It stands with its face to the
CHARACTER OF THE ENGRAVINGS. 137
east, about six feet from the base of the pyramidal wall. It is thirteen feet in height, four feet in front, and three deep, sculptured on all four of its sides from the base to the top, and one of the richest and most elaborate specimens in the whole extent of the ruins. Originally it was painted, the marks of red colour being still distinctly visible. Before it, at a distance of about eight feet, is a large block of sculptured stone, which the Indians call an altar. The subject of the front is a fulllength figure, the face wanting beard, and of a feminine cast, though the dress seems that of a man. On the two sides are rows of hieroglyphics, which probably recite the history of this mysterious personage.
As the monuments speak for themselves, I shall abstain from any verbal description; and I have so many *o present to the reader, all differing very greatly in detail, that it will be impossible, within reasonable limits, to present our own speculations as to their charac'er. I will only remark that, from the beginning, our great object and effort was to procure true copies of the originals, adding nothing for effect as pictures. Mr. Catherwood made the outline of all the drawings with the camera lucida, and divided his paper into sections, no as to preserve the utmost accuracy of proportion. The engravings were made with the same regard to truth, from drawings reduced by Mr. Catherwood himself, the originals being also in the hands of the engraver; and I consider it proper to mention that a portion of them, of which the frontispiece was one, were sent 4o London, and executed by engravers on wood whose names stand among the very first in England; yet, though done with exquisite skill, and most effective as pictures, they failed in giving the true character and expression of the originals; and, at some considerable Vol. I.—S
loss both of time and money, were all thrown aside, and re-engraved on steel. Proofs of every plate were given to Mr. Catherwood, who made such corrections as were necessary; and, in my opinion, they are as true copies as can be presented; and, except the stones themselves, the reader cannot have better materials for speculation and study.
Following the wall, at the place marked C is another monument or idol of the same size, and in many respects similar. The engraving opposite represents the back. The character of this image, as it stands at the foot of the pyramidal wall, with masses of fallen stone resting against its base, is grand, and it would be difficult to exceed the richness of the ornament and sharpness of the sculpture. This, too, was painted, and the red is still distinctly visible.
The whole quadrangle is overgrown with trees, and interspersed with fragments of fine sculpture, particularly on the east side, and at the northeast corner is a narrow passage, which was probably a third gateway.
On the right is a confused range of terraces running off into the forest, ornamented with death's heads, some of which are still in position, and others lying about as they have fallen or been thrown down. Turning northward, the range on the left hand continues a high, massive pyramidal structure, with trees growing out of it to the very top. At a short distance is a detached pyramid, tolerably perfect, marked on the plan Z, about fifty feet square and thirty feet high. The range continues for a distance of about four hundred feet, decreasing somewhat in height, and along this there are but few remains of sculpture.
The range of structures turns at right angles to the left, and runs to the river, joining the other extremity