Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

000,000 cubic feet of stone must have even larger, though less elaborate, than been used for this structure. Next in those at Copan. Most of the Guatema. interest to the main edifice are fourteen lan ruins, however, belong to a different elaborately sculptured obelisks, one of class and a more recent period, being which is presented as among the finest productions of native American art. They are from eleven to thirteen feet high, and before each stands an altar, clearly indicating their original use as idols. At Copan appear several samples of the ancient Maya hieroglyphics, which have not been interpreted. They may be seen on the side of the obelisk

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Sacred Inclosure - Honduras.

[ocr errors]

pictured. The sculpture was all executed without the aid of iron or steel implements. Some early Spanish writers mention an immense stone hammock here, suspended by pivots between two pillars. Mr. Bancroft's later authorities do not credit such reports, but a gentleman of San Francisco who is familiar with these ruins tells me he has seen this peculiar monument. Copan must be referred to the earliest period of American civilization which has left any traces of its existence.

Near by, but across the state line in Guatemala, there is a group of obelisks

Copan Obelisk, side view,

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

the remains of the cities occupied at the magnificent structures. The building time of the conquest by the nations of material is a rubble of rough stones and the Quiché - Cakchiquel empire. Patin- mortar, faced with blocks of hewn stone. amit and Utatlan, formerly capitals of The buildings stand on pyramidal terthe leading nations, are most prominent; raced bases, are long and low with flat but little remains to be seen but irregu- roofs, and are usually divided into two lar masses of fallen walls scattered over parallel rows of rooms.

The arrangea ravine-guarded plateau, inaccessiblement of the rooms and method of consave at one or two points. A copper struction is made clear by the annexed medal found in this state has excited cross-section and ground - plan of the much discussion among antiquarians, Casa del Gobernador at Uxmal. The who have vainly tried to decipher the ceiling is always formed by overlapping meaning of its figures. The authentici- blocks, beveled at the corners so as to ty of this relic is, however, doubtful. There are several interesting groups of ruins in the lake district of Peten, but they are of the class to be noticed farther north on the peninsula,

Yucatan contains more ruined cities than any other part of America. It has been by no means fully explored, yet at

Uxmal Palace, section. least sixty such cities have been described, some of them containing the most

Uxmal Palace, plun.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

produce a smooth surface, often plaster- ing to build the successive stories on the ed, and sometimes painted. The floors receding terraces of a pyramid, the roof are of a hard cement. Only a few of the of one serving as a platform in front of cities are inclosed by walls or were lo- the next above. Lofty pyramids withcated with any apparent view to defense; out buildings occur, and in a few cases and no regular plan was followed in lay- they have interior galleries. The building them out, the oft-repeated statement ings are often so located as to inclose that the buildings face exactly east and square or rectangular courts; and among west being erroneous. Lintels over the those of the usual type the longest is door - ways are both of stone and of a hard and rare wood, sometimes deco

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Round Building Chichen.

Stop at Kabah. rated with carvings. The partial ruin 322 feet, the widest thirty-nine feet, and of some of the finest buildings has been the highest thirty-one feet. One of the caused by the breaking of wooden lin- most notable exceptions to the type is tels. Wooden poles often stretch across the round structure at Chichen, of which the ceilings from side to side, supposed a plan and section are given. There are to have been used to support hammocks; no doors, windows, or ventilators to these in one instance a flat roof is supported gloomy palaces and temples, and sculptby wooden beams. There is only a sin- ured decorations on the interior are rare; gle case of a building of two stories, one yet in a few cases hieroglyphic tablets above the other; the usual method be- occur, the figures being the same as at

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

Serpent Facade at Uxmal.

[ocr errors]

they were fixed in the walls. So varied are these decorations that only a drawing of each could give an idea of their nature. The cut shows part of a façade of the Casa de Monjas at Uxmal. All the fronts bear traces of having been originally painted in bright colors. Strangely enough, only very few idols or altars are found in this state, and the comparative absence of pottery and implements is equally remarkable. None of the cities of Yucatan are the work of an extinct race; a few date back to the ancient Maya empire, or nearly to the time of Christ; most were built within

the three or four centuries preceding the Cara Gigantesca.

conquest, and several were occupied Copan, and showing the builders to have when the Spaniards came. One of the been the same or a kindred race. The most curious relics in this group is the cut pictures an interior step before a Cara Gigantesca,about seven feet square, door-way at Kabah. The exterior fa- in the base of a pyramid at Izamal. It çades are usually divided at mid-height is rudely formed of rough stones and by a projecting cornice, the space be perfected with stucco. neath being plain, while that above is Farther westward in Chiapas stands covered with the most elaborate, often the famous Palenque, probably the most elegant, sculptured decorations. The ancient American ruin. Its buildings, sculpture was wrought on the faces of like those on the peninsula, are long, rectangular blocks, apparently before low, and narrow, standing on pyramidal bases, and built of hewn stone. One in their regular columns a most interof the finest and the largest of its struct- esting historic tale. No idols have been ures is known as “The Palace," a res- found, nor weapons; and both impletoration of which is taken from a Ger- ments and pottery are of very rare ocman artist, and so modified as to agree currence. The finest piece of work at with the best authorities. The pyra. Palenque, if not in all aboriginal Amer. midal base is 260 by 310 feet on the ica, is the stucco tablet known as “The ground, and over forty feet high. The Beau Relief,” in one of the smaller temchief contrasts with the Yucatan build- ples. This city is evidently older than ings are found in the exterior form of those of Yucatan, but was built by a the roof, and in the use of stucco orna- kindred people. It was abandoned ap

[graphic]
[graphic][merged small]

parently long before the cities occupied in the sixteenth century were built.

Stucco Figures at Palenque.

Ococingo Idol. mentation instead of sculptured stone Next to Palenque, Ococingo is the on the façades. Each of the spaces be- most remarkable ruin in Chiapas, havtween the numerous door - ways bears a ing some claims to have been the angroup of figures in stucco hard as stone, cient Tulan, the capital of the Toltec one of which groups is represented in nations before they left Central Amerithe annexed cut. The resemblance of ca. Of all its interesting monuments I one of the head-dresses to an elephant's have space for but one idol. trunk is noticeable. Sculpture is never North of the isthmus, in Oajaca, there found on exterior walls, but on the inte- are grand ruins in the form of pyramids, rior sculptured hieroglyphic tablets are fortresses, and temples, at Guiengola, found, which doubtless hold locked up Monte Alban, and Mitla, besides many

« AnteriorContinua »