Sidor som bilder
[ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors][merged small][graphic]


from making the least movement. The head priest then approached, and with a knife made of flint cut an aperture in the breast, and tore out the heart, which, yet pal pitating, he offered to the sun, and then threw it at the feet of the idol. If the idol was gigantic and hollow, it was usual to introduce the heart of the victim into its mouth with a golden spoon. If the victim was a prisoner of war, as soon as he was sacrificed they cut off the head to preserve the scull, and threw the body down the steps, when it was taken up by the officer or soldier to whom the prisoner had belonged, and carried to his house to be dressed and served up as an entertainment for his friends. If he was not a prisoner of war, but a slave purchased for the sacrifice, the proprietor carried off the body for the same purpose. In recurring to the barbarous scenes of which the spot had been the theatre, it seemed a righteous award that the bloody altar was hurled down, and the race of its ministers destroyed.

It was fortunate for us, in the excited state of the country, that it was not necessary to devote much time to an examination of these ruins. In 1834 a thorough exploration had been made under a commission from the government of Guatimala. Don Miguel Rivera y Maestre, a gentleman distinguished for his scientific and antiquarian tastes, was the commissioner, and kindly furnished me with a copy of his manuscript report to the government, written out by himself. This report is full and elaborate, and I have no doubt is the result of a thorough examination, but it does not refer to any objects of interest except those I have mentioned. He procured, however, the image of which a front and side view appear in the engraving opposite, and which, without my venturing to express a wish for it, he kindly gave to me. It is made of baked clay, very hard,

Vol. II.—A A

and the surface as smooth as if coated with enamel. It is twelve inches high, and the interior is hollow, including the arms and legs. In his report to the government, Don Miguel calls it Cabuahuil, or one of the deities of the ancient inhabitants of Quiche. I do not know upon what authority he has given it this name, but to me it does not seem improbable that his supposition is true, and that to this earthen vessel human victims have been offered in sacrifice.

The heads in the engraving were given me by the cura. They are of terra cotta; the lower one is hollow and the upper is solid, with a polished surface. They are hard as stone, and in workmanship will compare with images in the same material by artists of the present day.

In our investigation of antiquities we considered this place important from the fact that its history is known and its date fixed. It was in its greatest splendour when Alvarado conquered it. It proves the character of the buildings which the Indians of that day constructed, and in its ruins confirms the glowing accounts given by Cortez and his companions of the splendour displayed in the edifices of Mexico. The point to which we directed our attention was to discover some resemblance to the ruins of Copan and Quirigua; but we did not find statues, or carved figures, or hieroglyphics, nor could we learn that any had ever been found there. If there had been such evidences we should have considered these remains the works of the same race of people, but in the absence of such evidences we believed that Copan and Quirigua were cities of another race and of a much older date.

The padre told us that thirty years before, when he first saw it, the palace was entire to the garden. He was



then fresh from the palaces of Spain, and it seemed as if he was again among them. Shortly after his arrival a small gold image was found and sent to Seravia, the president of Guatimala, who ordered a commission from the capital to search for hidden treasure. In this search the palace was destroyed; the Indians, roused by the destruction of their ancient capital, rose, and threatened to kill the workmen unless they left the country; and but for this, the cura said, every stone would have been razed to the ground. The Indians of Quich6 have at all times a bad name; at Guatimala it was always spoken of as an unsafe place to visit; and the padre told us that they looked with distrust upon any stranger coming to the ruins. At that moment they were in a state of universal excitement; and coming close to us, he said that in the village they stood at swords' points with the Mestitzoes, ready to cut their throats, and with all his exertions he could barely keep down a general rising and massacre. Even this information he gaveus with a laugh. We asked him if he had no fears for himself. He said no; that he was beloved by the Indians; he had passed the greater part of his life among them; and as yet the padres were safe: the Indians considered them almost as saints. Here he laughed. Carrera was on their side; but if he turned against them it would be time to fly. This was communicated and received with peals of laughter; and the more serious the subject, the louder was our cachinnation. And all the time the padre made continual reference to books and manuscripts, showing antiquarian studies and profound knowledge.

Under one of the buildings was an opening which the Indians called a cave, and by which they said one could reach Mexico in an hour. I crawled under, and

« FöregåendeFortsätt »