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A CURIOUS BAS-RELIEF. 351
The interior, again, is divided into two corridors, about nine feet wide each, and paved with stone. The engraving opposite represents the front corridor, with the ceiling rising nearly to a point, and covered at the top with a layer of flat stones. In several places on each side are holes, which are found also in all the other corridors; they were probably used to support poles for scaffolding while the building was in process of erection, and had never been filled up. At the extreme end, cut through the wall, is one of the windows before referred to, which have been the subject of speculation from analogy to the letter Tau.
The back corridor is divided into three apartments. In the centre, facing the principal door of entrance, is an enclosed chamber similar to that which in the last building we have called an oratory or altar. Its shadow is seen in the engraving. The top of the doorway was gorgeous with stuccoed ornaments, and on the piers at each side were stone tablets in bas-relief. Within, the chamber was four feet seven inches deep and nine feet wide. There were no stuccoed ornaments or paintings, but set in the back wall was a stone tablet covering the whole width of the chamber, nine feet wide and eight feet high.
The tablet is given in the frontispiece of this volume, and I beg to call to it the particular attention of the reader, as the most perfect and most interesting monument in Palenque. Neither Del Rio nor Dupaix has given any drawing of it, and it is now for the first time presented to the public. It is composed of three separate stones, the joints in which are shown by the blurred lines in the engraving. The sculpture is perfect, and the characters and figures stand clear and distinct on the stone. On each side are rows of hieroglyphics. The principal personages will be recognised at once as the same who are represented in the tablet of the cross. They wear the same dress, but here both seem to be making offerings. Both personages stand on the backs of human beings, one of whom supports himself by his hands and knees, and the other seems crushed to the ground by the weight. Between them, at the foot of the tablet, are two figures, sitting cross-legged, one bracing himself with his right hand on the ground, and with the left supporting a square table; the attitude and action of the other are the same, except that they are in reverse order. The table also rests upon their bended necks, and their distorted countenances may perhaps ba considered expressions of pain and suffering. They are both clothed in leopard-skins. Upon this table rest two batons crossed, their upper extremities richly ornamented, and supporting what seems a hideous mask, the eyes widely expanded, and the tongue hanging out. This seems to be the object to which the principal personages are making offerings.
The pier on each side of the doorway contained a stone tablet, with figures carved in bas-relief, which are represented in the two following engravings. These tablets, however, have been removed from their place to the village, and set up in the wall of a house as ornaments. They were the first objects which we saw, and the last which Mr. Catherwood drew. The house belonged to two sisters, who have an exaggerated idea of the value of these tablets; and, though always pleased with our coming to see them, made objections to having them copied. We obtained permission only by promising a copy for them also, which, however, Mr. Catherwood, worn out with constant labour, was entirely unable to make. I cut out of Del Rio's book the