« FöregåendeFortsätt »
drawings of the same subjects, which I thought, being printed, would please them better; but they had examined Mr. Catherwood's drawing in its progress, and were not at all satisfied with the substitute. The moment I saw these tablets I formed the idea of purchasing them and carrying them home as a sample of Palenque, but it was some time before I ventured to broach the subject. They could not be purchased without the house; but that was no impediment, for I liked the house also. It was afterward included among the subjects of other negotiations which were undetermined when I left Palenque. The two figures stand facing each other, the first on the right hand, fronting the spectator. The nose and eyes are strongly marked, but altogether the development is not so strange as to indicate a race entirely different from those which are known. The headdress is curious and complicated, consisting principally of leaves of plants, with a large flower hanging down; and among the ornaments are distinguished the beak and eyes of a bird, and a tortoise. The cloak is a leopard's skin, and the figure has ruffles around the wrists and ancles. The second figure, standing on the left of the spectator, has the same profile which characterizes all the others at Palenque. Its headdress is composed of a plume of feathers, in which is a bird holding a fish in its mouth; and in different parts of the headdress there are three other fishes. The figure wears a richlyembroidered tippet, and a broad girdle, with the head of some animal in front, sandals, and leggins: the right hand is extended in a prayerful or deprecating position, with the palm outward. Over the heads of these mysterious personages are three cabalistic hieroglyphics. We considered the oratorio or altar the most interestVol. II.
ing portion of the ruins of Palenque; and in order that the reader may understand it in all its details, the plate opposite is presented, which shows distinctly all the combinations of the doorway, with its broken ornaments, the tablets on each side; and within the doorway is seen the large tablet on the back of the inner wall. The reader will form from it some idea of the whole, and of its effect upon the stranger, when, as he climbs up the ruined pyramidal structure, on the threshold of the door this scene presents itself. We could not but regard it as a holy place, dedicated to the gods, and consecrated by the religious observances of a lost and unknown people. Comparatively, the hand of ruin has spared it, and the great tablet, surviving the wreck of elements, stands perfect and entire. Lonely, deserted, and without any worshippers at its shrine, the figures and characters are distinct as when the people who reared it went up to pay their adorations before it. To us it was all a mystery; silent, defying the most scrutinizing gaze and reach of intellect. Even our friends the padres could make nothing of it. Near this, on the top of another pyramidal structure, was another building entirely in ruins, which apparently had been shattered and hurled down by an earthquake. The stones were strewed on the side of the pyramid, and it was impossible even to make out the groundplan. Returning to No. 1 and proceeding south, at a distance of fifteen hundred feet, and on a pyramidal structure one hundred feet high from the bank of the river, is another building, marked on the plan No. 4, twenty feet front and eighteen feet deep, but in an unfortunately ruined condition. The whole of the front wall has fallen, leaving the outer corridor entirely exposed.